SK Macharia: How Loyalty to Jaramogi Made Me Launch Citizen TV

  • c
    From left: Undated images of ODM leader Raila Odinga, billionaire SK Macharia and former Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
  • Media mogul Samuel Kamau Macharia, better known as SK Macharia, recounted how his loyalty and admiration for Kenya’s first Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, compelled him to launch Citizen TV and other stations under the Royal Media Services (RMS) umbrella. 

    Speaking in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County, on Tuesday, October 19, Macharia stated that he was a confidant of the late Jaramogi, the father to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, Raila Odinga. 

    During the 1992 multi-party election, Macharia funded Jaramogi who vied against the late President Mzee Daniel Moi, former President Mwai Kibaki and activist Kenneth Matiba. 

    The tycoon added that he faced stiff opposition from his community members while campaigning for Jaramogi, against Mwai Kibaki and the late Kenneth Matiba. At one time, he was reportedly beaten up by certain politicians and residents.

    Founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta (right) with his first Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga at a conference in 1965

    This, however, did not deter him from carrying on with the campaigns as he further paid all TV commercials for Jaramogi at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), but was aggrieved when the state-owned station failed to air them. This necessitated him to open his own media house. 

    “We built the station because of his (Raila’s) father. In 1992, KBC did not air even one commercial I paid for Jaramogi. I almost died when he lost the election for I believed he could never lose." 

    “I walked to KBC and told them I wanted a license. I applied for one, to broadcast my own TV and radio. We did not know how to do it (broadcast). However, we fought for four years in court until I was given my license,” Macharia stated in a meeting attended by Raila. 

    He also recalled that when his station was shut down twice, Meru Governor, Kiraitu Murungi, led a group of activists and politicians in rallying residents to boycott KBC

    The friendship between Jaramogi and Macharia was birthed in the post-colonial era, when the former was the Vice President and the latter a student in Seattle, US. Jaramogi, according to the RMS media mogul, sent a team of officials to invite Kenyans studying in the US to return and work in Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s government. 

    Macharia would work and horn his skills under Jaramogi. That was when he met a young Raila Odinga. During the struggle for multi-party democracy, Jaramogi used to send his son to collect donations from Macharia to fund their movement. 

    “I had founded a tissue paper factory - Raila can tell you if I used to give him money or not. I knew Raila when he was his father’s servant." 

    “I followed Raila because I knew his father while I was working for him in Kenyatta’s government. His agenda against corruption is crucial for the development of our country,” Macharia lauded. 

    He further disclosed that he was the last person to see off Jaramogi from Nairobi when he travelled upcountry to retire in Nyanza. 

    “I am the one who escorted him from Cargen House, assisted him to board a car in Nairobi and bade him goodbye,” Macharia stated. 

    82-years-old Jaramogi passed away on January 20, 1994.

    An undated image of former Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (left) and his son Raila Odinga (right)
    died corruption killed