Citizen TV talk show host Hussein Mohammed faced thousands of his viewers in an emotional last bulletin on Tuesday evening to say goodbye, ending his 10-year stint at Royal Media Services on a high note.
Viewers immediately started showering him with praises for a job well done, as RMS went back to the drawing board to find a replacement for the big shoes that Hussein leaves.
At times looking secretly shaken perhaps conscious of his exit, Hussein, the host of Newsnight news bulletin said he was leaving Royal Media Services, which runs Citizen TV, but certainly not retiring from media. He indicated early October that he would be leaving to concentrate on “other matters”.
“It has been an amazing journey, 10 years and you the viewers have made it all worth it,” he said at the end of the bulletin. “You all have made it worth it, including my guests.”
Still, Hussein acknowledged for the first time that RMS founder Samuel Kamau (SK) Macharia and his wife, who doubles as vice-chairman, played a role in moulding him into the highly regarded talk show host he is today.
“I appreciate the support and guidance of RMS Chair S.K. Macharia and Vice-Chair Gathoni Macharia, the managing director Wachira Waruru, the management, the Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney who was our boss here a while back,” he said.
He did not forget his wife. “And, of course, my family. Always. Especially my dear wife who has been my support system all through.”
Hussein’s colleagues at Royal Media Services surprised him with a Newsnight-branded cake and gifts to mark his farewell after 10 years at the multi-media broadcaster.
The station is likely to deploy an insider to take over the programme from a galaxy of stars it has who include Linus Kaikai, Joe Ageyo, Yvonne Okwara, Jeff Koinange and Victoria Rubadiri, among others.
Hussein has interviewed some of the big shots in politics, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga. In 2016, he interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Sunday Live show. The PM’s trip was the first by an Israeli leader to Africa in 50 years.
In his final show yesterday, Hussein Mohamed moderated a discussion pitting Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen against National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi.
Last year, he won the male media personality of the year at the Somali Glamour Awards last year.
His next stop remains secret though there have been pointers to a foreign media house, more so Al Jazeera. Other sources indicate he could end up in a local TV station, possibly K24.
Leaving a big job and salary – he is estimated to have been earning about Ksh600,00 per month at RMS – means he has got a bigger deal wherever he is going.
What Kenyans are saying
Many Kenyans have praised Hussein Mohammed for his work. ODM leader Raila Odinga said Hussein was professional and thorough, doing his homework before any interview. He said he said tongue-in-cheek his persistence in questioning bordered on nuisance.
“I want to wish him all the best. He has been one of the best interviewers Citizen TV has ever had,” he said on Twitter. He always does a lot of background research before the interview. Whenever he is posing questions he always has an answer for it.”
He added: “I have been there a lot and I have found myself in an uncomfortable situation, especially when you are economical with the truth. Sometimes he is irritating when he persists with his questions, trying to get to the bottom of the matter. He will persist until you answer. You may find him a little bit uncomfortable but his stances have enriched our political landscape.”
Royal Media Services CEO, Waruru Wachira said of him, “You and I have spoken a lot about your departure and you know how much we as a company have valued your contribution. You are a hard worker, committed and above all a man of integrity. I believe as you progress in the future you will do well. All the best Hussein.”
Classic FM presenters Maina Kageni and Daniel Ndambuka aka Mwalimu King’ang’ni spared time to talk about Hussein, saying he was the best talk show host in Kenya comparable only to Stephen Sackur of BBC HARDTalk.
“He’s the best in the game why lie,” said Maina as King’ang’ani shook Kayamba for him, the highest sign of honour from Classic FM.
Farida Karoney: Former RMS Chief of Staff and current Lands Cabinet Secretary, Farida Karoney: “My heart swells with pride watching how much he has grown in a short 10 years. Wherever he is going, he should remember that excellent work will speak eloquently. He is talented and does not need luck but good luck, read the Message from his former boss,” Karoney said.
Francis Gachuri, Citizen TV political editor: “Not many people had the pleasure of working with Mohamed. There is no thorough profession like you. I am disappointed but I know you are going to shine.”
Jeff Koinange and his co-host on Hot 96 breakfast show Prof Hamo assured Hussein of a place if he changes his mind and decides to come back. “You are the best of the best and we wish you all our luck and we will be with you and if you plan to come back anytime, you will be welcome. This is your home and we will miss you,” Koinange said.