Phelix ‘Jalang’o’ Odiwuor, the comedian and media personality turned politician and Langata MP, has been in the headlines in recent months after attending various meetings hosted by President William Ruto, the political nemesis of ODM party leader Raila Odinga.
Jalang’o is among parliamentarians elected on an ODM ticket who have insisted on working closely with the government ‘for development’. Odinga and ODM however maintain that the 2010 Constitution guarantees development for all, rubbishing the MPs over what they consider betrayal.
But far from the political intrigues, Jalang’o is also an accomplished businessman involved in media, hospitality and events. His recent experiences show how politics can impact businesses associated with political figures.
This week, Wapek Delicacies, the restaurant he opened with his wife Amina Chao is celebrating its first anniversary.
Raila Odinga himself was among those who paid a visit to the restaurant and enjoyed a meal soon after it was launched. The restaurant specializes in African dishes, including delicacies from the lakeside. It also hosts regular theme nights featuring popular Ohangla artists such as Emma Jalamo and Musa Jakadalla.
“Wapek is a Luo word that means were are heavy yaani sisi ni wazito (Heavy). We are big on good food, comfort, style and space,” Jalang’o previously stated while explaining the restaurant’s name.
Despite its early popularity, the restaurant located in the Nairobi CBD is bearing the brunt of its owner’s political moves. A spot check by Business Today revealed comparatively low foot traffic at peak lunch hours on weekdays, lending credence to media reports that have in recent weeks claimed that Odinga’s supporters are staying away from businesses associated with Jalang’o including the restaurant.
Indeed, his presumed association with the Luo Festival, a themed cultural night, is also affecting the event’s planning. Announcements of the event in Nairobi shared on Instagram on its official page feature dozens of negative comments, from individuals pledging not to attend the event over the presumed association with the MP.