Even being one of the Country’s most recognized Kalenjin comedians, you’d think he has made it. “I am just getting started. I believe to have been put in this world for a purpose. Therefore, I am determined to leave behind a great name to run across generations to come.” Vitalis Kiplagat alias Senge Helena says with a burning desire evident in his eyes; as soon as I acknowledged how much of a gifted comedian I think he is.
Senge Helena- whose several comic videos have gone viral on different occasions- and is still just 24 years of age- goes on to describe his different life encounters in what you’d ordinarily consider life breakthroughs. From curating his pathway to recognition; To bagging the ‘prestigious’ civil servant job at only 19(bruh!) and then resigning to pursue his passion, which by the way is evident that he was born for. To him, however, he desires more- to break the glass ceiling.
I meet him for a chat, in one of his favorite places to be; The Noble. He is seated on a sun-shield shade on the neatly trimmed lawn overlooking the lounge area, away from the unrelenting heat of the mid-morning sun. He is rocking a smart casual outfit, highlighted by a radiant face. As I approach him he stands to greet me, something that only a handful of people have done before. His unassuming demeanor is however not to be taken as a weakness because from what I observed, he has quite a commanding presence.
Senge Helena the Character
Vitalis Kiplagat passionately describes his comic character Senge Helena as an inspiration that came to him while on set with other friends before. “Senge Helena is a happy and loving character.” For those who may not know, ‘Senge’ in Kalenjin, means aunty. “I can’t say I have a dramatic woman like that in my life, but after branding myself Senge Helena I started picking little characters from women in my life. Sometimes my cucu (grandmother), sometimes my mum, our neighbor, or even my aunties.” Says Vitalis.
The much older aunty is costumed in a notorious maroon Dera and a tacky red sweater, and a loosely tied pink leso as her headwrap; speaks in Kalenjin for the most part, with a hint of Kiswahili and English to express herself and her thoughts on different real-life scenarios. The comedy is in her choice of words, and mode of expression, together with the creative relatability to real-life scenarios of how a woman that age would express themselves and behave.
‘Tos majehovah ooh’ which translates to ‘Isn’t it God?’ is Senge Helena’s deep-rooted slogan. Her identity as ‘Senge nebo lakok tugul’ as in, ‘Auntie to all children’ is what warms many hearts. So much so that, he can easily pass for one.
Vitalis, a middle child to a family of three, who is also an event’s Mcee and an Influencer can sing as well! “I am a passionate musician who likes singing very much. I believe I can sing well. My passion led me to participate in music festivals in high school.” I would assume that is why he is so passionate about talent, enough to dream of building a talent Centre in Nandi County someday. The talent Centre, it shall be a one-stop building with a studio, a theatre, and all other talent facilities. “I would like to bring different stakeholders together. I have mentioned this to Eliud Kipchoge; with the hope of bringing it to life. Even if I got a chance today to talk to the president, that would be my vision.” He expressed with much enthusiasm.
In addition to the funny man’s extensive list of abilities, he shares his strong desire to venture into political leadership. What would that mean for him though? “I would still do comedy first of all. I have a lot of great plans for my brand. But am equally passionate about people! I believe I have been a leader for most of my life. I have a great vision in uniting and empowering different groups of people as well as supporting talents.”
Lessons from Vitalis’ Experience
Even amidst his understandable expression of how challenging pursuing this path has been; his main message to other creatives is to hold on to that vision and work towards it. Relentlessly! “Nothing comes easy. As they say, easy come, easy go! Understand yourself first. Don’t necessarily want other people to understand you before you understand yourself. Try as much as possible to research within yourself the craft that you are most talented in the pursue it.”
And to wrap up our chat; he lets me in, on his desire to do stand-up comedy, something you should look forward to this year in December! See you there!
Oh! and whatever they meant when they said vibes on vibes, that’s Senge Helena for you.