Veteran TV presenter Mark Masai was early this year laid off by Nation Media Group, where he worked for NTV. He then joined a public relations agency, in a career shift that took him off the screen – at least for now.
At PMS Group, Masai leads the PR and corporate communication department and has been tasked with growing the agency’s market share.
After NMG exit, he toyed with the idea of starting his own podcast/digital show, but shelved it to join PMS. “This is not the end of my career in the media,” he said moments after receiving his termination letter. “I will be back on other platforms. All I have to say is watch this space.”
Mark Masai donned a brave face rare for someone who had just lost a job, walking tall out of a job he had known for over a dozen years.
Many who have come to know Mark Masai barely know that this is not his birth name. At some point, he changed his name to fit into a system where, as a politician remarked few years ago, your name betrays you. “I was actually born Abdullahi Masai, in Narok County, where I grew up,” Masai says, revealing that he was raised by a foster mother, Mary Wight, a British missionary.
Abdullahi was a Muslim name while he grew up in a Christian setting. “The reason I chose Mark was because my friends used to abbreviate my names Masai Abdullahi Kasim and would call me MAK so I just decided to go with it.”
Kasim, it should be noted, was also a nick name. Mark was born in a Muslim family and his birth name was Masai Abdullahi Kasim. Mark’s biological mother, Fatuma Abdullahi, gave him up for adoption while he was still a baby.
At hope FM, where Mark Masai started honing his skills, he used the name Abdullahi Masai. This was somewhat surprising given that this was a Christian radio station with an anchor with a Muslim name.
“As much as it was a Christian station, producers thought it was interesting since it would raise questions,” Mark Masai says in a past interview.
Later on, he says, he went through the legal process and changed his names completely.
Despite this mixed upbringing, Masai Abdullahi Kasim a.k.a Mark Masai has risen to the top in Kenya’s television industry as an anchor and talkshow host.
His media career started in 2008 when he got an internship at Hope FM, the radio station owned by CITAM church. He then was hired at Radio Africa before he joined NTV. He briefly left Nation Media Group for CCTV (now CTGN) and returned to NTV where he worked until February 2023.
At NTV, apart from presenting primetime news, he hosted Press Pass, a TV weekly show that interrogated and critiqued the big stories that are covered by local media.