A chance to shine

Namib­ian stu­dent Omar Kaiho speaks Ba­hasa Malaysia and is the star of a lo­cal tele­movie.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By ANGELIN YEOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

STU­DENT Omar Kaiho has a knack for telling jokes.

The 29-year-old Namib­ian picked up Ba­hasa Malaysia when he ar­rived as a stu­dent here in 2013.

He en­rolled at Univer­siti Pen­didikan Sul­tan Idris (UPSI) in Tan­jung Malim, Perak, where he is com­plet­ing his fi­nal year hon­ours de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion.

“I started learn­ing Malay out of cu­rios­ity. I didn’t take any for­mal classes. I just learned on my own.”

Two years later, he was so con­fi­dent in his grasp of the na­tional lan­guage that he joined a pub­lic speak­ing com­pe­ti­tion. With a laugh, he shared that he won ... last place.

“I was first from be­hind!” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view in Kuala Lumpur, re­cently.

Though he tech­ni­cally didn’t win, Omar’s abil­ity to speak Ba­hasa Malaysia caught the at­ten­tion of a lo­cal TV pro­ducer who ap­proached him with a small act­ing role. He was then cast in the third sea­son of Ke­las Se­be­lah ,a 13-episode sit­com on RTM.

When his class­mates found out he was act­ing, Omar said they were mostly sup­port­ive.

He is also care­ful not to let his new­found fame get to his head. “Some have said that I’m poyo (pre­ten­tious)!”

His big­gest role to date is the new Hyp­pTV tele­movie Cinta Kholdi, where he plays the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter with Aisya Has­naa as his hero­ine.

“Cinta Kholdi has a bit of ev­ery­thing like drama, com­edy and good mes­sages. I play a man who de­vel­ops a re­la­tion­ship with Aisya. Then my char­ac­ter must prove to her con­ser­va­tive par­ents that he is a wor­thy fu­ture son-in­law.”

Omar de­scribed his ex­pe­ri­ence of act­ing in lo­cal TV pro­duc­tions as “amaz­ing”. There­fore, he is con­stantly on the look­out for a new gig.

“I’m ad­dicted. The more you act, the more ex­pe­ri­ence you get. Af­ter this, I have an­other pro­duc­tion com­ing up with As­tro.”

Omar – who can also speak Man­darin – has even recorded a Malay-lan­guage song com­posed by Harry, a gui­tarist for lo­cal rock band Khal­i­fah. The song is his ode to a coun­try which has ac­cepted him for his abil­i­ties. “It’s called Malaysia Yang Ku Cinta.”

Omar hopes to do an English­language pro­duc­tion one day. How­ever, he re­vealed that his mother hopes he would re­turn to Namibia for good once his stud­ies are com­pleted. He and his nine sib­lings were raised by his mother, a sin­gle par­ent who worked as a cleaner.

“I al­ways tell her I’m fight­ing to re­alise my goals. I told her ... what if this is my call­ing? I don’t know how far this will go. If it ends here, then I will take the ex­pe­ri­ence home and see how we go from there.” He joked that his sib­lings are ap­par­ently “actors” too: “But I’m the only one do­ing it pro­fes­sion­ally (laughs).”

Omar ad­mit­ted that he does get home­sick at times. He keeps him­self go­ing with a pos­i­tive mantra.

“I al­ways tell my­self that I’m a grown man. As long as I’m alive and al­ways call home, I’m fine. Don’t be a mama’s boy.”

Liu is a 72-year-old farmer who has worked vol­un­tar­ily for 41 years to pro­tect the Great Wall of China. — Pho­tos: ANN

Omar hopes to act in a lo­cal English pro­duc­tion one day. — SA­MUEL ONG/The Star

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