Going to interview Madam OCS as most know her posed a bit of a challenge for me. Being an ardent cheerleader of successful actresses in Kenya I considered switching my pens and notepad for some pompoms. Deciding on the saner option of sticking to my stationery, I set out to meet her.
I haven’t met her before and I tried to imagine how she is off the screen. I tried looking for clues that would give me a peek into what lay behind the severe veneer that so please thousands of fans across the country. People have been known to have more luck finding needles in hay sacks. I thought grimly and settled down to extracting information from her, after our encounter in town. Part of our interview takes place at the village market where her photo shoot is done.
Madam OCS has kept Kenyans glued to the screen with her no nonsense and uncompromising performance in the Popular Inspekta Mwala; a police comedy aired on Citizen Television on Mondays.
She is a definite genius when it comes to generating impressive arrays of Swahili methalis (sayings).
Born and bred at the coast, her lineage has the Swahili blood.
“You must be a real tough person,” I ask.
“No, I am actually a very down to earth woman, I like fun and I am also very affable,” she says in very articulate Kiswahili.
“How comes you bring out the character of madam OCS so well, as a no-nonsense character?” I ask a bit peeved at having my cocky assumptions shattered so abruptly.
“My name is Asha Nzunga Kiteme. I was born and bred in Mombasa,” Madam Dorothy, the OCS begins her narration in pure Swahili.
“I hope you will be able to record in Kiswahili”, she forewarns me lightly as we begin the interview; by this time, it was apparent that she would use Swahili.
“Hakuna shida, nitajaribu kuelewa yale wamaanisha (Not a problem, I will try to understand what you mean)”, I try to intimidate her in my Swahili from bara( Nairobi).
Asha’s mood is infectious. That she’s pretty is obvious when she poses for the camera. However, it’s when she
speaks that one gets to realize that her beauty is more than just skin deep. She is also thoroughly unassuming in the most refreshing way.
“I am a first born in a family of two girls and four boys. I began schooling at AIC nursery school in Kongowea,” says the 38 year old “inspekta” remembering that they had a white shirt and a blue skirt as their uniform.
“After two years, I was taken to Hadija primary school along Kisauni road. However, after class two, the school relocated to New Malindi road and a big mosque was put up where the school was formerly,” she takes us back to her childhood years.
“My mum passed when I was a candidate in class eight. It was such a blow to the whole family.
However, that did not dissuade me from proceeding to high school. I attended Ndavaya high school which is in Mombasa,” Asha elucidates.
In the course of high school her father passed on too and this brought lots of confusion to this young teenager as she narrates.
“As an orphan, life was hard. I succumbed to peer pressure, partying and illicit sexual affairs At a tender age of seventeen years, I conceived,” she shares very candidly.
“I did not know that I was expectant until very late in the pregnancy. Despite having missed my periods, I could not comprehend how it had happened. I shared with my aunt about it. After the gestation period I got a baby girl in 1989. She is now in university.
My family was very supportive. They helped me open a charcoal and Viazi karai business at Frere town.
The business picked up well and it was able to support my baby and I,” she states noting that her daughter was brought up by her grandmother.
“I got married at 22 years and got a baby boy, Johri who is currently in Form 2.
However, our marriage did not last due to religious differences. My ex-husband was a Christian while I am a Muslim. I expected that he would change to our religion as our faith dictates but he was adamant that I should be the one to change.
Thus, in respect we parted ways,” she reveals as words come tumbling out of her as if she is in a race for the finish time, she is very talkative.
“I have been in the acting industry for fifteen years. It all started when a friend; Esther, an artist in Mombasa told me I needed to make ‘good use’ of my jokes. That sounded ridiculous but when I realized she was serious, I took heed.
Through Esther, Asha met Ntenga Alori who was working for KBC in Mombasa, he saw my talent and I got a small part to act in the Mahari program as a bar attendant. My stage name was ‘dada chizi’ meaning a crazy girl.
My talent was unmistakable and that is how I earned another chance to act in the program dubbed Wakati which was written by Susan Kadide.
She shares that those opportunities exposed her to the public and it was not long before Kibwana Onguso called her to start a new program, kisuli suli that was to air on Metro TV.
I was acting as mayeye, a lady who had a big beard and who was very weird. I was scared of taking up the role as I thought people would think I was satanic.
My son too did not like it at all. He would tell me that kids in school would ridicule him that his mother was a shetani,” the warm smiling Asha explains noting that this program too, lifted her career wise.
“After three years, Kisuli suli couldn’t continue as most people left for other opportunities. Having had their talents exposed, there was a lot of poaching from other television stations. I remember the famous Churchill acted in this program as a blind man,” she affirms.
“Kibwana was moved to KBC and as the saying goes Kizuri chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza, the popular Vioja Mahakami’s magistrate, Lucy Wangui approached me.
I was given a scene where I was acting as a salon owner doing massage. I did my best and later secured a permanent acting role as Alexanda’s wife. Alexander ni mcheshi sana..kufanya kazi na yeye ilinipendeza sana( Alexanda is very funny. Working with him was so much fun”, she shares.
Her role as madam OCS
“In acting, you must keep growing. I was approached by Citizen Television as they wanted to come up with a police comedy. Initially, I was a bit hesitant as some of my friends warned me of leaving KBC, a well established media house to go to an upcoming station which they feared may not last.
However, after soul searching, I took the risk. The salary package was also very appealing; five times more than what I was getting.
Mwala, Abdi, Muliro, I and a few others were pioneers of this program. We are grateful for the support from all the managers at Royal media services.
We shared the concept with them and they supported us fully.
That is how Inspekta Mwala, a police comedy was born. The producer is Ngugi Ngige who is our elder brother. He has a lot of faith in the Inspekta mwala’s family,” madam elaborates saying she enjoys her role wholly.
She shares that one of the actors in the program had suggested that she gets a role as mama mdaku (a lady gossiper).
However, it was agreed that this role wouldn’t last long thus her managing director suggested that she would take up the position of Officer Commanding Station (OCS).
“That is how I earned the position of OCS, being the head of the police station. As a police woman you are supposed to act tough and in a no-nonsense way. However, I also show a lot of sympathy to all the victims who are brought to me. I sham as an understanding, caring OCS,” she states
At this juncture I can’t help but ask how she is able to meticulously bring out that character, having noted that in normal circumstances she is a very soft-spoken lady.
“In normal life, I am soft spoken, a mother and I like having fun enjoying a good laugh. I am also very talkative. That is Asha Kiteme. On the other hand, Madam Dorothy, the OCS, is a serious, feared and respected person.
The secret is; once I put on my acting uniform, I automatically switch on to Madam Dorothy. I like both people, Dorothy and Asha,” she jokes adding that she gets ecstatic watching madam Dorothy perform.
“I applaud Madam Dorothy, I like the way she behaves,” says the proud actress who says that if the case is beyond her, there is an OCPD she reports to.
“Madam Dorothy just listens to the problems that people go through on a daily basis, and she offers very wise counsel.
She meets all those whose names are recorded in the Occurrence Book (OB)”She says.
In conclusion Asha Kiteme says,” Our team is great, I love working with all of them, we understand each other and our desire is to bring the best out of each other.
What beauty regime do you follow on a daily basis?
I always ensure that I wash my face before sleeping. I use herbal products. ‘Miti ya Mombasa (liwa na majano). I use beauty soaps to wash my face in the morning and I have a facial at least once in a month.
Do you make up on a daily basis?
No. I hate make up and only use it when we are doing a shoot
Do you do pedicures and manicures?
Yes. I love having those services once every two weeks. They help me relax my body and mind.
Who does your hair?
Juliana of Unity school of hair dressingand beauty. I use Dr. Miracles products for my hair.
Where do you buy your clothes?
I am in a buibui most of the times. However, I have a lady who brings me clothes from Dubai, China and India.
Facts file about
Born on 12th December 1972in Mombasa
Favorite food: I love junk but I also take a lot of vegetables, ugali and fish
Favorite music: I basically love all music but soul and jam tops the list
Hobbies: traveling, socializing and shopping
Favorite movie: Tyler’s ‘why did I get married’
Acts as Madam Dorothy in the popular Inspekta Mwala program. She is a mother of two, a boy and a girl She loves speaking in Swahili language. She is a Muslim