There are many Kenyans abroad who have made major strides career wise and became global stars, among them television journalists.
Today, we feature five Kenyan journalists who have achieved enormous success on the international stage working for media giants over the years. The list is by no means exhaustive and was randomly picked.
Vincent Makori is the Managing Editor of Voice of Africa and also anchors Africa 24, a live news magazine show.
Previously, he worked as an editor at Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcasting agency, which he joined in 1998.
Locally, he served as a reporter and editor on KBC TV and radio. He also hosted Face to Face and Mambo Leo, which was a current affairs show.
As a reporter, Vincent interviewed then president George W. Bush in 2003 and thereafter travelled with the president and the White House press corps on a five nation trip to Africa.
2. Jeff Koinange
Despite the acrimonious manner in which he left CNN, Jeff Koinange remains one of the most respected media personalities across the globe.
Jeff got into trouble over his February 2007 Behind the Scenes Series story that covered the activities of a Nigerian militia, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, and the general state of affairs in the southern region that he said had been neglected for years leading to unrest.
The story was apt material for a blockbuster movie as he narrated how they were nearly killed on several occasions by machine-wielding youthful militiamen before eventually getting the rare chance of interviewing “Major General Tamuno,” the field commander of MEND.
He took photos with the militants as they paraded foreign hostages they were holding, including 20 Filipinos seized from a cargo ship, the first time they were being featured on TV.
However, the Nigerian government was furious, saying the report “utterly disregards the most elementary principle of journalism because no government official was interviewed.”
They accused Jeff of stage managing the story. Subsequently, he has narrated how he was asked to pull off the highway and told he had been fired.
Before then, he had reported for CNN in Africa on the crisis in Darfur, the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the famine in Niger, for which he won an Emmy award.
Outside of Africa, he covered several major events, including Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq.
Prior to joining CNN, he worked for Reuters Television (1995-2001) and was their chief producer for Africa from 1999 to 2001. He also worked as a producer at NBC News in 1994 and for ABC News earlier in his career from 1991 to 1992.
Jeff Koinange at K24
After being fired, he returned home to join the fledgling K24 Television, which had been established by Rose Kimotho as a 24-hour news channel, along the lines of CNN. He hosted the Capital Talk, a current affairs show.
He later moved to KTN to found Jeff Koinange Live but later moved the show to Citizen TV after it was stopped following an outcry of rape remarks made against Esther Passaris by Miguna Miguna on live TV.
3. Zain Verjee
Zain Verjee is another Kenyan who starred on CNN before quitting in April 2014 to launch Zain Verjee Group, which offers offers consultancy and advice on programming for African businesses and investors interested in venturing into the continent through mobile and digital platforms. She is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Akomanet, Africa’s premier storytelling platform.
Verjee is one of the world’s most respected and recognised journalists, with an action-packed background and experience at Capital FM, KTN and BBC before moving to CNN, where she worked for 14 years as an anchor, reporter and master interviewer.
She was the anchor of CNN International’s European daytime program “World One”.
Verjee also worked as a newsreader for The Situation Room, as a State Department correspondent, and as a co-anchor of CNN International’s Your World Today with Jim Clancy. In May this year, she joined Bloomberg.
4. Sophie Ikenye
Sophie Ikenye is the presenter of Focus on Africa TV programme on BBC. Before joining BBC, she worked at NTV, Citizen TV and KBC, where she launched her career by way of internship.
In a previous interview with a Kenyan newspaper, she told of the importance of telling the African story through African eyes.
“These stories are reported by African journalists on the continent who live and breathe the stories,” she says.
“That is the core of what we do on BBC World News. We often report on stories before they’re on the radar of other broadcasters and we stay there long after the other cameras have gone. For example, we were reporting on the first cases of Ebola from West Africa in Focus on Africa long before other broadcasters started reporting on it,” Sophie says.
5. Catherine Wambua-Soi
Catherine Wambua-Soi is Al Jazeera’s East and Central Africa producer. She covers Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Central African Republic, Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda.
She has worked for Al Jazeera since 2008 and covered major stories in the region including Somalia’s elections and the recent assasination bid of the Somali president.
She has covered the ongoing conflict between M23 rebels and the government in Eastern Democratic republic of Congo as well as South Sudan’s independence and the conflict between rebels and the government in Sudan’s Blue Nile region.”