The man who makes Presidents cry with laughter is in town. Ben Phiri jetted in Monday to give Presidents Museveni and Obasanjo a good laugh at the 40th independence anniversary celebrations.
The Zambian Comedian would force laughter out of anyone who listens to his lines. His strongest point is his ability to mimic just about anybody. Vision Weekend caught up with him recently. Heâ€™s still the same old funny fellow who made the President almost roll with laughter when he imitated him at last yearâ€™s Independence day celebrations.
Phiri had gone back to Zambia to contest for a Parliamentary seat in his constituency, which he unfortunately lost. â€œThis was in Kasenengwa constituency, Eastern Zambia. But, I think the results of these polls are subject to a probe,â€ he jested.
Occasionally raising his hands and animatedly rolling his big eyes, Phiri said he was touched by the plight of the displaced people in Northern Uganda and here was to see how they could be helped. â€œI want to spearhead the raising of funds that are going to assist traumatised women and children in the war torn northern Uganda.â€
â€œI think the talent God gave me to raise to my current status can also be utilised to alleviate the suffering of these people.â€
He said: â€œI think people who enjoy my comedic acts can contribute by attending my fundraising shows. Government alone cannot help these unfortunate people. We need to come to their rescue.
Phiri said he began mimicking people at the age of eight. His dad (the school headmaster) used to beat him up for mimicking his teachers.
However, his big break was in September 1989, when at a national function, he mimicked the then Zambian head of state, Kenneth Kaunda, who almost fell off his seat laughing. From then on, his popularity as a comedian soared. He became the biggest stand up comedian in Zambia.
On how he met President Museveni and how they have since become good friends, Phiri says that he thinks Museveni read about him in The New Vision. Somehow he got summons from the Presidentsâ€™ aides that the big man wanted him to perform at a public function.
Comedian Phiri to help Northern Uganda war victims