Comedian Lawrence Macharia, alias Terence Creative, has made a name for himself with creative videos, which have made the rounds on social media.
His breakthrough came when he made a video called ‘Kamami’. It left fans asking for more because it entailed what goes on in the world of women, and most of them could relate.
The comedian shared his life story with Radio Jambo, recounting his hard-knock life before fame, which saw him languish in the streets and struggle with a smoking addiction.
Terence started doing comedy way back when he was in high school, in Muli Children’s Family Home. After that, he used to do set-book plays at the Kenya National Theatre.
He then joined TV to co-host ‘Crazy Comedy’ on KTN with Fred Omondi. He quit and became a creative developer, “one of my biggest passions,” he said.
Terence has been behind the scenes of several comedy shows, including ‘Jalango with the Money’, ‘Churchill Show’ and ‘Untamed with Eric Omondi’.
He regards Churchill as his mentor. “I want to thank Churchill for nurturing and guiding my talent and career to where I am, always giving me advice and the right direction to follow. I respect what you are doing to the industry at large, may God continue giving you grace. Long live Churchill,” he said.
LIFE IN THE STREETS
Terence was brought up in a family of three, with him being the lastborn. The siblings and their uncles grew up in Mathare slum in the house of his grandmother.
“My parent died when I was nine years old, and the same year, I started smoking. I quit smoking a year ago,” he said.
Growing up, Terence thought of how he could walk out and go look for food because there was little in the granny’s house.
“That is how I became a street kid for seven years,” he said. “At only nine, I started using drugs. I was a chokora but at least I knew how to speak English.”
Life was not easy, and so he became a drug peddler so he could get money.
Terence would also fake disability so he could get pity from people.
“I sold scrap metals as well and I became a thug. I would snatch bags from people and steal side mirrors za gari za watu,” he said.
“Bhangi was present for me in the environment that was present. If my fans met me like 15 years back, they would find I was drooling because of the drugs.”
All this, Terence said, was out of frustrations in life and lack of hope. “I was almost raped in Eastleigh,” he recalled.
His brother, who was also in the streets, was rescued first. He recommended Terence, and that is how Muli saved his life.
“I went to Saint Bridget as a ‘chokora’ day scholar, where I scored 201 out 700 marks. This means I would go to school, then after school go to the street to beg for money and wait for hotels to be closed. We would go and wash utensils for them and feed ourselves,” he said.
At Muli’s Children’s Home, Terence went through rehabilitation for three years, returning to school in class 3. That was how he started focused focusing.
In 2022, Terence wants to vie for a political seat in Mathare, where he was a street child. “I still think those people in power are not representing them so well. A lot of people we were with in the streets are still there,” he said.
Terence said street children should be rehabilitated instead of neglected.
“During Obama’s visit to Kenya, the street children were handled very badly, and most of them went through hell in those places they were taken because no one was feeding them,” he said.
Terence has started a project called ‘Transforming the streets’. This is his way of giving back to the community and also trying to raise people in terms of art because “there are so many talents in the street”.
He has already started radio theatre on Ghetto Radio, choosing to play it there because that is where he grew up and still would be were it not for Muli.
“I go back there every time just to make sure I remind myself where I came from and even challenge myself on what I can try to change the life of those people still using the drugs and living there,” he said.
Terence hopes to work with Nacada to see if they can do something for those areas where drugs are openly abused.
“A lot of young children there are using drugs. Myself, by the age of 11, I was abusing all types of drugs. So you can imagine those days we were not so much exposed like nowadays. I want to direct my focus there at least nione nimesaidia watu wawili watatu,” he said.
“When thugs steal and escape, the people who suffer are the street children because they are beaten up, trying to get information from you ata kama haujui. Nobody cares. That is my challenge to the national government because there is no plan for the street families. That’s my take out of my study from Red Cross and experience of what is happening.”
COMEDY AS REFORM TOOL
Terence is not doing comedy for himself. He wants to use it as a tool of transforming the society. “All benefits that I have been getting, some will be going to charity specifically for street kids,” he said.
Before he started posting videos on Instagram, his followers were about 18,000. Then he used to do advertisements for different companies, until when he posted the ‘Kamami’ video.
“Let me say it is God who directed me to post that video. The feedback was so positive, my first video got to 60k views. Previously, I was getting like 3,000. My aim was to at least get 1,000 views.”
Explaining the concept behind the video, Terence said: “Kamami is an ordinary Kenyan lady. I speak on behalf of both the men and women. When you watch that video as a man, you think of your sister or your mum. When you watch it as a woman, you think of yourself with other women out there. That is why many women like it.”
His videos are inspired by all women, unlike what people have been thinking that it is his wife. He has been setting up baby showers, birthdays and hanging around with women. His research is from the interactions he has been having.
His content reflects how a woman behaves in day-to-day life. He knows what others do but wants to speak on behalf of other women.
“Even if you watch my content 30 years from now, you will still relate with the videos. They are timely and that is what makes my work unique,” Terence said.
His wife sometimes tells him that he is imitating her, but Terence insists that when he is doing those videos, she is mostly not even in his mind.
“But when I see her and hear her tell me that, I conclude that well, the video is working because if my wife is victimising herself in the video, how many others out there are also doing the same?” he said.
Like anyone else in showbiz, Terence has had to deal with trolls. He knows it cannot be smooth all through, and believes the only way to know you are growing is when you receive both positive and negative comments. The way to handle it, he said, is to use the negative feedback to grow the positive sentiments.
“My worst troll was when someone wrote on my DM, saying that I impregnated them and ran away. When I inquired who she was, she blocked me and never came back,” he said.
“Others tell me to behave like a man and stop posting the videos. Sometimes others sex-chat me and I feel like I can fall into the trap, but nakumbuka hawa wanaeza nimaliza. So much happens in our DMs. But when you have a purpose you can manage yourself.”
Terence is happy that Kenyans have started embracing comedy.