The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

Charles 'Charli' Ouda: Saying goodbye to film, theatre giant

Arts and Culture
 The late Charles Ouda 

His face is familiar to many 30 or 40-something-year-olds who saw him in the early days of his acting career. Like when he played ‘Tosh’ on KTN’s Better Days. Or in his 12-season role as P.P. on Makutano Junction.

Charles ‘Charli’ J Ouda is a household name by all definitions, and even teens and 20-year-olds can recognize him today. They see him on Second Family or Salem. He has also directed many projects.

Now, the Kenyan entertainment scene is mourning the celebrated actor and director following his sudden February 3 demise. From the outpouring of love, one thing is evident, he touched many lives, inspired fellow actors and adored his craft.

How it began

The actor spoke about his life and career in a 2018 interview with The Standard.

It was a time when he had moved to New York to attend the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. He missed Kenya every single day, he said at the time, before adding that it was a worthwhile experience he described as “a calling too big to be ignored.”

“I am Nairobi born and bred. Grew up like any other middle-class kid in Nairobi. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I never got the opportunity to attend university. I jumped straight into the industry right out of high school,” Ouda said.

He opened up about how his acting career began, saying that he toyed with the idea of different careers while growing up, but by the end of high school knew for sure that he wanted to act and create films for the rest of his life.

“It was actually serendipitous because the producers of the first play I did – ‘Lwanda: Man Of Stone’ – noticed me and I have been working professionally ever since,” he said, before singing praises about the theatre, which he obviously held close to his heart.

Ouda added: “Every show is a milestone. I have had some delightful experiences with some of Kenya’s finest theatre actors. From Mkamzee Mwatela to June Gachui, Maqbul Mohamed to Lydia Gitachu. And to do it in such a revered place as the theatre, that is a dream come true.”

In a September 2023 interview with Trace FM, Ouda was humble as the radio host commended his lustrous film career and the many titles he held, including voice acting and scriptwriting.

“Right now I’m on set shooting this wonderful show called Salem with a couple of really talented actors and a great crew. I’m also building a wonderful little podcast with the one and only, the marvelous Ciru Muriuki.”

It was a glance to his sweet and tender side, a loving comment directed towards his fiancé, who had accompanied him on the interview.

Ouda said he was involved in another project, dubbed Talent Studio, an initiative geared toward training the next generation of Kenyan actors.

“One way for our industry to grow is through unity and training.”

He added: “In my experience, I think there are three theatre spaces in Kenya; two in Nairobi and one in Mombasa that I believe are very important for any performer of a certain generation. Kenya National Theatre is one of them. Anybody who is anybody went there. If you are a performer, I always say that you should never dive straight into film or TV, start with a play.”

When asked what type of roles he likes to play, Ouda said that he had his fair share of experience with a vast range of characters.

“But the ones I found the greatest joy playing- it’s going to sound weird saying, but I enjoyed the unpredictability of the psychopath. If you shape it well, nobody knows where you are going, not even your director.”

 Charles Ouda

As he spoke about his roles, Ouda beamed, grinning and laughing as he explained how he took on different characters.

“Those kinds of things make me happy, and also characters who are off the beat- not your regular 9 to 5 office type. Characters who challenge the norms of society.”

The actor, who passed away at the age of 38 years had a career rooted in the love of film and the theatre stage.

He said so back in his interview on The Standard, noting: “Yes, there is money in the craft, but if we do not love what we do if we do not need it, what is the point? I honestly believe that there isn’t an actor I know or whom I have worked with that does this as an easy pay cheque.”

Ouda then looked back at one of his first roles, hosting The Know Zone. It was an educational children’s show that showed his patient, nurturing side as he guided young ones through the English language, Math, and life skills through the screen. Multiple reports indicate that the actor was good with children.

“The producer at the time approached me to help them write one of the segments of the show, and we began talking about the rest of the show. The producer at the time then asked my co-host and I to present the show,” Ouda said.

He added: “I was convinced because I believe that education is the key to true development and growth. And the basic issues we would tackle on The Know Zone always helped with numeracy and literacy for the children exposed to the show. Also, I loved hosting the games.”

News of the actor’s death broke early this week, rocking Kenya’s film scene.

Headlines reminded readers that his passing came months after he and media personality Ciru Muriuki announced their engagement.

It was a heart-wrenching end to the pair’s love story, which the public had only just been let in on.

In September 2023, Ciru shared the good news of their engagement on Instagram, showing off the pretty ring that her beau had given her, before panning over the camera to show a smiling Ouda embracing her.

In the days after his passing, Ciru has been expectedly withdrawn from the public eye, breaking her silence briefly to repost sympathy messages, like one from Ouda’s former secondary school, St Mary’s School- Nairobi.

 Ciru Muriuki and Charles Ouda

As tributes continue to pour in, information on how the actor passed away has been limited, and there is an ongoing police investigation.

On the night he died, Ouda had reportedly attended an after-shoot party with his Salem colleagues, and stars who were present shared clips of Ouda having a good time at the event.

“I’m not ready to say goodbye, Charlie, make it make sense!” actress Jackie Matubia captioned a photo of Ouda on Instagram.

“Our time together on set was filled with laughter, dedication, and shared passion for our craft,” actor Dennis Drisky wrote.

Actress Foi Wambui wrote: “If only we knew that Saturday was the last day we’d see you, talk to you, sing and dance with you. If only we knew these last words were your last words to us, maybe…just maybe!”

One of Ouda’s final speeches to colleagues has made its rounds on social media, with reports saying this may have been a motivational message that the actor told his castmates at the Salem farewell party.

“Some of us survived a year; some of us survived two. Some of us survived more. But as we survived, I ask us to remember one thing: we survived. We are here,” Ouda said.

He added: “The inches we fought for, the loves we lived for, everything. I ask that we love each other as we move forward. I ask that we understand that it is no longer their industry; it is ours.”

Related Topics


Popular this week


Latest Articles


Recommended Articles