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'Vioja' Judge Lucy still keen to make rulings

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 Vioja Mahakamani judge Lucy Wangui. [Sanch Photography]

Few need an introduction to the Vioja Mahakamani long-serving magistrate, Lucy Wangui. She issues her judgements in the Vioja Mahakamani court comedy with vigour and passion.

Her decisiveness in court matters left most Kenya Broadcasting Corporation television viewers convinced that she is an actual judge.

The actress became famous in the 70s when TVs were the privilege of a few.

Lucy, a mother of three who has featured in the programme for the last 30 years, says that the show is not about to end.

“Vioja Mahakamani comedy show is here to stay. We have content and talented actors of repute, who keep joining us at will, and all of us are committed. Sadly, we have lost a number of pioneer members,” she says.

Before she got the role, which had been occupied by the late Ann Wanjugu, Lucy played different roles in the same show.

Wanjugu was the pioneer Vioja Mahakamani Principal Magistrate at its birth in the mid-70s and acted in it for several years before she left Kenya for the US to record shows in Hollywood.

“When I was tasked to take over from her by the programme director, at first I hesitated, wondering If I could fit in her (Wanjugu's) shoes because they were too big. But, I was equally determined to give it a shot,” says Lucy, recalling how she joined the show in 1978.

It later emerged that Lucy was just as good as Wanjugu. Needless to say, Lucy’s convincing acting in the show has schooled many on how basic court processes are conducted.

At the time, the programme's director was Alex Mutahi, who pioneered several programmes, which included Kivunja Mbavu, Chipukizi, Darubini and Vitimbi.

“We have always thought she (Lucy) was a qualified magistrate owing to her vast experience in court matters and the legal jargon she uses when jailing or acquitting convicts,” says a fan Mary Gikonyo.

Some of her 'convicts' include Ondiek Nyuka Kwota (Hiram Mungai Ngige), Makacha Makokha (Matayol Kehya), the late Makanyaga, Othorong’ong’o Danger and Maliwasa.

 Lucy Wangui [Photo/State Department for Youth Affairs and Arts]

New faces

Long-serving Prosecutor Gibson Gathu, died in December last year.

Gathu was replaced by David Aliwa, whom Lucy describes as an actor that has steadily embraced the traits of the comedy show.

“He (Aliwa) is willing to learn, and is catching up and steadily fitting into Gathu’s shoes,” said the actor.

Other comedians who have since died include Amka Twende (Benjamin Otieno), Othorong’ong’o Danger (Joseph Anyong’a), Mzee Tama Bin Tama (Peter Lukoye) and Masanduku Arap Smit.

The show's crew is on a mission to recruit more members.

“We will always have content, and that is why the programme will stay on for much longer because many other actors are willing to join us,” says Lucy.

Asked why the show may not be as hilarious as it was in the 70s and 80s, Lucy says, “It cannot be so because most pioneer members have died. We have commenced afresh in training and recruiting new members to fit in the shoes of their predecessors, but it will take time”.

Lucy says every comedian comes in with a unique character that adds flavour to the show, which is a win-win situation for the team.

 Vitimbi Artists Makoha( Matayo Keya), Judge( Lucy Wangui) and Nyasuguta( Eunice Wambui at the late mzee Ojwang's( Benson Wanjau) house in Mbotela Estate Nairobi. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

“The uniqueness of every character in the team has made Vioja Mahakamani a most popular comedy,” she says.

Giving the example of Nyuka Kwota who acts as a wealthy entrepreneur, Lucy said that “it makes the programme lively and adored among his peers in real life experience.”

Lucy's acting career has taken her to many countries around the world. The 65-year-old and her peers went to Cairo in 1981 and also toured Germany the same year, where they participated in several traditional dances and comedy shows.

The group toured the UK between 1986-89, ahead of their Morocco visit in the Tusker Twende Kazi Programme, which attracted top Kenyan celebrities.

They included rugby stars Humphrey Khayange, Collins Injera and former National Olympic Committee of Kenya chairman Kipchoge Keino, in a programme that culminated in the UK.

Lucy says she considered the late Mzee Ojwang’ Hatari (Benson Wanjau) a brilliant actor.

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