Where Are They Now: Journalists Who Moderated Kenya's First-Ever TV Presidential Debate

  • Presidential candidates during the 2013 presidential debate hosted at Brookhouse in Nairobi
    Presidential candidates during the 2013 presidential debate hosted at Brookhouse in Nairobi
    File
  • In 2013, Kenya hosted its first-ever televised presidential debate where candidates responded to questions from top journalists.

    The debate put together eight candidates who were gunning to take over the mantle of leadership from the late former President Mwai Kibaki.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga were the top two candidates to participate in the debate. Others included Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, James ole Kiyiapi, Mohamed Abduba Dida and Senior Counsel Paul Muite.

    Only two journalists, Linus Kaikai and Julie Gichuru made the cut to interview the eight with the debate centring around the economy, foreign policy, and land issues.

    Media celebrity Julie Gichuru
    A file image of media personality Julie Gichuru.
    File

    At that time Kaikai was an anchor at NTV while Guchuru worked at Citizen TV. Inside the ornate Hogwarts-Esque Brookhouse International School, Kaikai and Gichuru played host as millions of Kenyans watched on TV, and listened on their radios while others live-streamed the debate.

    At that time, Twitter was picking pace in the country, granting Kenyans the first-ever opportunity to live-tweet, making the debate one of the world's top trending topics. 

    Kaikai and Gichuru asked the eight candidates to discuss public finances, education, health, and corruption. They hosted the professional debate with minimal interruptions allowing the candidates to spell out their manifestos.

    Where They are Now

    Two years later after hosting the first-ever televised debate, Gichuru quit Citizen TV. She had stayed in the Royal Media Services (RMS) station for seven years before departing in 2015.

    Gichuru later launched her own production house known as Arimus Media Limited which is focused on producing quality African content.

    Uhuru appointed her to the Brand Kenya parastatal board and she later resolved to live a private life.

    Recently, the celebrated media personality received an honorary doctorate degree in law from Concordia University in Canada in recognition of her role in promoting peace and leadership in Africa.

    Citizen TV Director of innovation and Strategy Linus Kaikai on November 15, 2019.
    Citizen TV Director of innovation and Strategy Linus Kaikai on November 15, 2019.
    Instagram

    Kaikai on the other hand was among the moderators picked for the 2017 Presidential debate alongside Yvonne Okwara and Joe Ageyo who both worked at KTN at that time.

    In 2018, Kaikai left NTV where he worked as a General Manager and moved to Citizen TV. Kaikai assumed the position of Editorial Director at RMS after Joe Ageyo moved to NTV in March 2022. 

    Kaikai, Ageyo, and Okwara are among the top journalists in line to moderate the 2022 Presidential Debate. 

    Although Deputy President William Ruto had expressed his reservations, a meeting with organisers ironed out the thorny issues and he is expected to grace the debate alongside Raila, Roots Party Presidential candidate Goerge Wajackoyah and Agano party candidate Waihiga Mwaure.

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