7 Journalists Shining in Kenya’s Hall of Fame

  • Victoria Rubadiri.
    Victoria Rubadiri.
  • Over the years, Kenya has produced a rich crop of journalists with stories so powerful, that they literally shape national conversation.

    From Badi Muhsin, the man who somehow made Swahili alluring. To the sultry-voiced Cathrene Kasavuli, whose eloquence and grace had the entire nation glued to their screens each night without fail.

    Once they hang up their crisp suits and perfectly pressed dresses, it was time to pass the baton to a new generation  of passionate scribes that were just yearning to take centre stage and prove their mettle.

    The youngins-turned-legends spent their formative years conjuring up the potent blend of lessons from their predecessors, a dash of new school flavour and their very personalities.

    A news set at K24 studios in Nairobi
    A news set at K24 studios in Nairobi
    K24 Digital

    As legendary former Times magazine Chief Editor Henry Anatole Grunwald once stated, "Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault."

    Some have faced limb-tearing rebels in pursuit of news, while others have stared the infamous 'system' in the face and gone on to share stories that rocked the national government to its core.

    Here's a look at 7 of Kenya's most impactful journalists over the last decade, in no particular order

    Victoria Rubadiri

    It is rather fitting to kick things off with the 2020 BBC World News Komla Dumor Award winner. The Citizen TV Senior News Anchor's latest achievement is just one of many feathers on her bedazzled cap.

    According to the BBC, her win was attributed to her eloquence and passion for telling African stories on both traditional media platforms and social media.

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    File image of Citizen TV anchors Victoria Rubadiri and Jeff Koinange reading prime time Sunday news
    File

    "Not having the comfort of ‘belonging’ kept me hungry to learn more and strive to tell a story as it is. It is a privilege to do what I do and give my audience a view of their world through my lens," she confessed

    The Komla Dumor Award winner is following in the footsteps of Solomon Serwanjja, Waihiga Mwaura (her colleague), Amina Yuguda, Didi Akinyelure and Nancy Kacungira. Not bad company at all.

    Dennis Okari

    NTV's go-to guy when it comes to tackling stories that could land you in an unmarked grave needs little introduction.

    His latest exposé dubbed Covid-Millionaires has led to senior government officials turning on each other for 2 weeks straight.

    The investigative journalist is responsible for several other features that rocked the entire country such as the Red and White Alert, and the aflatoxin scandal that threatened our beloved Ugali

     A Senior Investigative Journalist at Nation Media Group (NMG), Okari has collected a plethora of journalistic awards over the years.

    Unknown to most, the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) alumnus started out as a Voice over artist, reporter and researcher for Metro TV's Grapevine Entertainment Show.

    Lulu Hassan

    If there was a 'Media Darling Award', Lulu would be bagging them year after year. I mean, we are talking about the woman who brought us Maria.

    However, don't let her scripting skills distract you from the one stage in which her God-given gift shines through. The news desk.

    Lulu Hassan (Left) and her husband Rashid Abdalla share a light moment. December 14, 2019.
    Lulu Hassan (Left) and her husband Rashid Abdalla share a light moment. December 14, 2019.
    Instagram

    Her exceptional command of Swahili, coupled with her unquenchable thirst for social justice has led her to stories that melt even the most stubborn of hearts.

    The entire nation was moved by an episode of her Prison Diaries feature in which she highlighted the plight of a middle-aged man that had spent 10 years at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for a crime that he had not committed.

    Her authentic persona and stellar delivery has seen her morph into one of he most loved news anchors in the industry

    John Allan Namu

    The Godfather of investigative journalism is how I'd describe the legendary reporter.

    If you see Namu on your screens you can bet that something is about to go down. Not in a good way for any perpetrator.

    A list of all the explosive features under his belt would need an entire article of their own.

    Hinged on his unwavering principles of good and evil, John Allan Namu's features were so lethal that he had to go underground when they aired for obvious reasons.

    Kenyan journalist John Allan Namu.
    Kenyan journalist John Allan Namu.
    File

    From exposing to rogue officers, to Kenya's Pablo Escobars, you name it and he has done it.

    Yvonne Okwara

    She is arguably one of the most eloquent orators over the last decade.

    The Senior New Anchor at Citizen TV is no shrinking violet. Never one to shy away from controversial topics, her 'call a spade a spade' attitude has endeared her to millions of Kenyans

    A Highly opinionated journalist, Okwara has interviewed the 'who is who' in Kenya, and called them out live on air whenever they veered off the straight and Narrow. 

    Citizen TV News Anchor Yvonne Okwara during a past set.
    Citizen TV News Anchor Yvonne Okwara during a past set.
    Twitter

    Unknown to most, the JKUAT alumnus holds a B.Sc. Microbiology Field Of Study Zoology, Botany, Chemistry degree. Beauty and brains has always been a lethal combination.

    She started out serving in both the radio and TV departments at NMG, producing a 4 hour Kiswahili talk show on QFM and producing and hosting the English breakfast TV show on NTV, NTV This Morning.

    Jeff Koinange

    This one has done it all. From running for his life from arm-chopping rebels in West Africa, to interviewing the warlords of Liberia. All in pursuit of a story for his viewers.

    A veteran in his own right, Koinange has always found a way to reinvent himself over the years, to ensure that his audience always gets the very best version of himself.

    His list of high profile interviews and awards reads like a work of fiction.

    Jeff Koinange reads his autobiography Through My African Eyes on Monday, June 22, 2020
    Jeff Koinange reads his autobiography Through My African Eyes on Monday, June 22, 2020
    YouTube

    When Koinange talks, the nation listens as his oratory skill is arguably second to none.

    Not bad for a guy who started out as a flight attendant.

    Betty Kyallo

    When it comes to matters lifestyle, Betty is definitely your go-to person.

    The bubbly former K24 News anchor has managed to curve out a niche for herself. Her ardent fans are as vocal as they come, and she knows just how to serve their plate of news sprinkled with all kinds of exotic spices.

    From Njugush, to Kartelo, to Akothee, Betty has brought us upclose and personal with our favourite celebrities.

    A respected News Anchor in her own right, the energetic presenter has proven that there's so much more than meets the eye when it comes to her.

    Having identified a nationwide thirst for a break from mainstream 'Jubilee-ODM' news, she quietly went about serving up insightful feel-good stories.

    Her decision to walk away from K24 raised doubts, which were quickly extinguished when she launched her record-setting YouTube page. She is still quenching our lifestyle thirst.

    Former K24 presenter Betty Kyallo.
    Former K24 presenter Betty Kyallo.
    Instagram

    There are several other journalists who warrant a sort of part 2 article of their own, based on their phenomenal achievements.

    They include Waihiga Mwaura, Asha Mwilu,Trevor Ombijja, Larry Madowo, Lillian Muli, Swaleh Mdoe, Nimrod Taabu, Mwanaisha Chidzuga, Mark Masai, Ken Mijungu, Mashirima Kapombe, Shiksha Arora, among others.

    Notable mentions who walked off the news desk in pursuit of noble quests include Hussein Mohamed, Janet Mbugua and Julie Gichuru.

    A sneak at the future shows the likes of Grace Kuria and Purity Museo, earning their stripes with each passing day.