Veteran KTN Anchor Makes TV Comeback

  • A file image of the KTN studios
    A file image of the KTN studios
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  • Veteran KTN journalist-turned-actor John Sibi Okumu has made a comeback on TV starring in a new show.

    Okumu popularly referred to as JSO features in the new Showmax original series Crime and Justice portraying a character, Barasa, a high-profile lawyer on a campaign trail to become a member of parliament.

    The role is his first on-screen appearance in eight years having maintained a low profile as he prefers keeping his private life away from the limelight.

    "He is no celebrity. He doesn’t want to be one either," he was described by a local publication.

    Veteran journalist John Sibi Okumu anchoring news at KTN in the 1990s
    Veteran journalist John Sibi Okumu anchoring news at KTN in the 1990s
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    As a journalist, he hosted a popular TV program, The Summit aired on Kenya Television Network (KTN), in which he interviewed Kenyan politicians.

    Between 1997 and 2002 on The Summit, conducting incisive, one-on-one TV interviews with such personalities as former Presidents Daniel Arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki, Robert Mugabe, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as well as renowned conservationists Richard Leakey and Wangari Maathai.

    He was also a quizmaster for a half-hour, inter-university, general knowledge show, Celtel Africa Challenge (later Zain Africa Challenge).

    The show, which aired in English-speaking nations across Africa and via direct broadcast satellite on DStv, featured university teams from eight African nations. The show concluded its broadcast run in 2010.

    In the acting realm, Sibi has taken on close to 40 lead roles on stage and appeared in local and international films, including The Constant Gardener, Shake Hands With The Devil and The First Grader.

    He boasts of over 50 years in the theatre and film industry in Kenya, landing his first major role in the Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Born Free early in his acting career. 

    In 2007, he played UN special envoy Booh-Booh in the war drama Shake Hands with the Devil about the events leading to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

    He also appeared in The First Grader, the biographical film about Kenya’s Kimani Maruge, the world’s oldest pupil, alongside Oscar nominee Naomi Harris (Moonlight).

    Speaking during a previous interview, the celebrated journalist-cum-actor termed The Constant Gardener as one of his best movie roles where he played a corrupt health minister, a performance that helped the film win an Oscar Award and ten other major awards abroad.

    John Sibi Okumu (seated) playing the role of Barasa in the Showmax Original Show Crime and Justice
    John Sibi Okumu (seated) playing the role of Barasa in the Showmax Original Show Crime and Justice
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