8 Little-Known Women Shaping Kenyan Journalism In 2023

Gone are the days when Kenyans would only be familiar with a certain big name on TV and radio.

8 Little-Known Women Shaping Kenyan Journalism In 2023
A collage of Cynthia Mwangi, Caren Kibbett, Kalondu Musyimi and Flora Limukii. /VIRALTEAKE

The news and media atmosphere in Kenya has dramatically changed, with the birth of digital journalism changing the style and manner in which Kenyans consume news in real-time, from wherever they are.

Gone are the days when Kenyans would only be familiar with a certain big name on TV and radio. These days, anytime you tell Brayo or Kevo about a media personality city folk know of, the common responsive question would be "that one who is famous on Instagram?"

With the increase in the number of television, radio stations and print media in Kenya broadcasting in various languages other than English and Swahili, Kenya's media industry is democratised and telling a series of stories their own way. However, it is the age of digital disruption that has single-handedly transformed the media space all over the world- not just in Kenya- as we know it.

Women in media have completely changed the course of the industry, with common mwananchi synonymous with the likes of Catherine Kasavuli, Yvonne Okwara, Smriti Vidyarthi, Sophia Wanuna and Cynthia Nyamai among others. However, 2023 has brought little-known faces to the limelight who have turned a digitized industry upside down.

A collage of SPM Buzz reporter Liz Jackson. /FILE

Viral Tea takes a look at little-known women changing the course of Kenyan journalism in 2023:

Liz Jackson

Arguably nobody in Kenya has breathed life into budding journalists more than SPM Buzz reporter, Liz Jackson, who is only 23 years old!

Liz is a digital strategist who runs SPM Buzz’s digital department as well as a Lifestyle and Travel Content creator with her own YouTube channel which captures her documenting her expeditions to the Coast, Maasai Mara, and Wajir, among others.

On Wednesday, November 9, she was captured in a video interacting with Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Alfred Mutua at State House after she was again captured fielding a catchy question to Presidents William Ruto and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa after they both agreed to lift the visa regulations between the two nations.

She shared the clip on her official handles which drew all manner of wild reactions, which were intensified by Viral Tea’s sharing of the same video but including Minority Leader Junet Mohamed’s famous phrase “Hii imeenda (it’s gone)”, all of them turning her into a star overnight. 

"He (Mutua) turned to look at who was asking the question because he was a filmmaker who did Beba Beba and Cobra Squad. He acknowledged my question. Nobody else asked about Entertainment.

"Thereafter he said hello to the whole media team, just that the rest were not recorded. I asked if we could do an exclusive interview and he shared his number with us," she exclusively told Viral Tea, further dismissing speculations ignited by KOT that Mutua seemingly found a new catch.

She has since covered events such as The Real Housewives of Nairobi launch as well as interviewed the likes of Nigerian artist Ayra Starr, who was recently in the country for the much-hyped Shoke Shoke concert. She also boasts of a massive 111,000 followers on Instagram.

Caren Kibbett

2022 was a standout year for the KBC sports anchor as her ravishingly good looks at the station blew up tenfold in July thanks to a photo on Instagram of her taking viewers through the four presidential candidates at the time; William Ruto (now president), Raila Odinga, George Wajackoyah and David Mwaure while she was promoting the schedule of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA, which was broadcasted by the state-owned media house.

Her outfit at the time was a hugging, dark turquoise-blue dress that accentuated her God-given curves in a way that Kenyan men find it hard to delete from their minds.

In August 2021, KBC poached her following a massive rebranding in July 2021 in a bid to get back to its glory days. On Saturday, October 15, she bagged two awards at the Zikomo Africa Awards 2022 in Lusaka, Zambia; Best TV Personality of the Year and Best Journalist of the Year, having been shortlisted for both.

Kibbett could prove vital in enhancing the image and popularity of the state broadcaster seeking to get back to its glory days in 2023 and provide a bright future in terms of women breaking into Kenyan sports journalism.

Lizah Mutuku

The TV47 news anchor, political and parliamentary reporter shocked Kenyans when reports emerged that she was in 2022 nominated by Wiper party leader, Kalonzo Musyoka, to the Senate, a nomination that sadly did not materialise.

In an emotional message on Monday, October 17, 2022, Mutuku expressed her gratitude to the Wiper party who nominated her to the point of making it to the final shortlist.

"Having been in a volatile, sometimes treacherous political terrain, I fully know well someone’s name does not end up in a clogged list of a political party by accident. It takes painstaking deliberate effort and lobbying. I’m therefore honoured by the trust and confidence Wiper and Party leader bestowed in slotting my name," she wrote.

Lizah Mutuku at TV47 studios. /FILE

Despite her nomination not culminating in her swearing-in at the National Assembly to represent the youth, she expressed gratitude to Kalonzo who acted as a father figure in her life and cited his belief in growing the next generation of leaders amongst the youth to higher positions.

Since then, her rise has been astronomical, having previously held multiple roles as a broadcast journalist and reporter and a news anchor at ATG Radio where she worked for seven years, between 2014 and 2021.

On Tuesday, March 7, she was picked among an ensemble line-up of radio presenters for TV47's newest radio station, Radio 47.

Cynthia Mwangi

Many have been used to hearing the sultry voice of Cynthia 'Ythera' Mwangi in voice-overs and on air at Hot 96 every Saturday, but her appearance through a new show dubbed 'Behind the Mic' on Citizen Digital was her first real test behind the silver screen.

The show that runs every Friday through the Citizen Digital mobile application has so far seen her interview some of Kenya's most popular media personalities, some of whom work alongside her at Royal Media Services (RMS) ranging from Lillian Muli to Stephen Letoo to Ayub Abdikadir as they share the stories of their humble beginnings, stories of success, betrayal and other tales that happen behind the scenes of the personalities on TV and radio stations.

Besides being the Head of Radio at Hot 96, a radio host, and a content producer, Mwangi is also a Public Relations (PR) consultant and a Life coach. 

"As a content producer, I have served as part of the best Swahili Afternoon Shows, Mambo Mseto with Willy M Tuva on Radio Citizen, produced one of the most listened to/watched breakfast shows on English Radio, Hot Breakfast which was then hosted by Jeff and Jalas. What I love about content production is the ability to bring ideas to life which remains one of my biggest assets and strengths," she revealed in a #KenyaWomenSeries feature in 2021, which was published by Viral Tea.

Flora Limukii

Mutuku's counterpart at TV47 is a 24-year-old with a captivating voice that would drive men crazy anytime they watch her present a news bulletin, but that's not her only major selling point.

With close to 11,000 followers on Twitter, she is one of the most popular young journalists in the country. Limukii's timely updates have been praised by many who go to the extent of interacting with the content, and in this world of changing journalism trends, those in the media industry are using their accounts more often to update their followers on what goes on every day.

"I mostly leverage updating people on the news because I’m in that industry. I also engage people on current affairs through interviews.

"One thing about creating content is to stay consistent and find out what your audience needs and focus on that. Finally, growth is gradual, and patience is key," she revealed in an interview with MNews Digital, which also ranked her amongst the top 10 most influential comrades on Twitter.

Before TV47, Limukii previously held stints at TUKO.co.ke, Opera News and Switch Media (formerly Switch TV). She also has academic qualifications from Goethe Institute with a German B2 Level in German studies, meaning she is competent in written and spoken German.

Liz Kalondu Musyimi

The multi-award-winning entertainment journalist and TV personality joined the Kenyan media industry back in 2016 and has risen sporadically to become one of the top entertainment journalists in the country.

She joined Radio Africa Group in November 2016 where she aggressively built her portfolio to a highly-sought-after lifestyle scribe who has interviewed A-listers such as Diamond Platnumz, Khaligraph Jones, Jeff Koinange, Konshens, Nadia Mukami, Olakira, Size 8 and Rudeboy, among others.

"Of my many interviews that went viral, my best two picks would be when Trevor Ombija revealed how he was dumped by a woman he had been with for a decade.

"He had just paid the dowry when the lady decided to leave him. Then when Willis Chimano publicly came out as gay. I have never seen Kenyans so excited like that," she revealed in a recent interview with the Nation.

Among her bucket list interviewees for this year are Huddah Monroe and Larry Madowo.

"I would love to pick Monroe’s brain on her journey into business. I would also love to know the last time Madowo cried, does he ever get angry? All those little things about their personality," she added.

Nissie Imano

She is a lunchtime news anchor at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and just like her colleague, Caren Kibbett, Kenyan men simply can't get enough of her ravishingly good looks and melodious voice anytime she presents the latest news bulletins.

Nissie Okoth Imano is a gospel artist who graduated from Daystar University in 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in Communication and Media Studies. 

Sarafina Robi

The KBC news anchor has held multiple roles previously, beginning from a video editor in 2015 to a news anchor, photo editor, scriptwriter, narrator, and marketing & public relations officer for transport in 2018.

She holds a Bachelor of Mass Communication degree from the Multimedia University of Kenya. She has 360 degrees of experience in the media and communication industry, having worked in radio, print, advertising and public relations.

She has covered various stories from politics, environment and science, court reporting, health, gender issues and human interest stories. Her delivery makes her stand out due to the uniqueness of how she handles any assignment she is given.

KBC news anchor, Sarafina Robi. /FACEBOOK

Key among the stories and interviews she has conducted include having the privilege to interview the first female Chief Justice of Kenya, Martha Koome, as well as covering the emotive Mau Forest evictions, a series of elections and election petitions among others.

"For anyone out there, do not stress about tomorrow, work on what you have today. The microwave effect of instant gratification doesn’t work in life unless it’s wash-wash or lottery," she advised during an interview with the Nation.