3 Kenyan Journalists Who Rose to Serve in Cabinet

Jubilee Party secretary-general Raphael Tuju addresses journalists in Nairobi on July 2, 2018.
Jubilee Party secretary-general Raphael Tuju addresses journalists in Nairobi on July 2, 2018.

Journalism is widely acknowledged as a bold and brazen industry that delves deep into intricacies to educate, inform, and entertain the public. They are the voice of the local man and are respected for shedding light on societal issues. 

Around the world, journalists have used their work experience to pursue other public interest matters such as UK's current Prime Minister who started out as a journalist before venturing into politics. Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa also started out as an editor before rising to the highest office in the land. 

In Kenya, many Kenyan journalists have occupied top positions within the government but only three have served as the Cabinet - the country's highest decision-making organ. 

Here are the three:

Farida Karoney

Farida Karoney, who holds a postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication at the University of Nairobi, spent most of her prime years in the newsroom bouncing from top positions in various media houses. She has served as an editor, anchor, and correspondent during her tenure in both local and international media houses.

Having begun her career at the Nation Media Group in 2001, she switched to Standard Group for a period of two years. Years later, she moved to the Royal Media Services where she was promoted as the Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Her time spent at Citizen TV studios came to a close when President Uhuru appointed her as the cabinet Secretary for Lands on January 26, 2018. 

Lands CS Farida Karoney
Lands CS Farida Karoney

Raphael Tuju

Hailed as the Cabinet Secretary without a job, Raphael Tuju holds a Master's degree in Mass Communication at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.

Unbeknownst to many, the CS would grace Kenyans' screens reading the 9pm prime bulletin at KTN.  

He was first appointed into Cabinet in 2003 after the election of President Mwai Kibaki's. He served as the Minister in charge of Tourism, Communications, and later in Foreign Affairs. 

His appointment to Cabinet in President Uhuru Kenyatta's government left many Kenyans confused because it was the first time the title was introduced in government.

He noted that the simplest way to understand his job was to view it from the perspective that the President is at liberty to deploy him to any task. He also revealed that he had been monitoring government performance against the targets set during the campaign period.

“The Jubilee Party made promises to Kenyans of what we will do in the five years Kenyans gave us the mandate. It is my responsibility to monitor what we are doing to ensure that we are on the right track as per the Party's manifesto. That is why I sit in the Cabinet," he stated.


Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju addresses journalists at Jubilee Headquarters, Thika Road in 2019

Paul Ngei

The late Paul Ngei, who widely rose to fame due to the infamous Kapenguria six, was trained as a journalist at the Makerere University in Uganda.

Upon graduation, he became the editor of Sauti ya Mwafrika, (The Voice of Africa), which he used to advocate for the rights of Africans in Kenya. 

The politician was arrested in 1952 for charges of using his newspaper to incite the Maumau against the colonial regime.

After leaving detention, he quit journalism and served in government for 27 years during both Jomo Kenyatta and Moi's reign. 

Other journalists have also followed the same path as they have secured senior positions in government.

Kanze Dena, the former Swahili news anchor, became the epitome for inspiration for many Kenyans when President Uhuru appointed her as the official State House spokesperson and the head of the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU).

Munira Mohammed, in June 2018, was appointed as the Deputy Head of the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) and Head of the Presidency Library.

The former KTN reporter leads a team tasked with designing and developing the presidential library. She heads all media and broadcast operations.

Carol Nderi, in 2018, was appointed by Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga as the county Head of Communications after an illustrious career as a reporter.

A studio at Citizen TV located in Kilimani, Nairobi.
A studio at Citizen TV located in Kilimani, Nairobi.
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