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Top Kenyan Journalists Who Grew Up In Slum –






Journalists are among the most admired members of the society owing to the huge following and respect they command in their line of duty. From their mastery of language to their lifestyles, these men and women have become the ultimate measure of success with many Kenyans working to become like them.
However, things did not start on a rosy ground for some of these journalists as some had to contend with rather challenging childhoods, but this did not deter them from chasing their dreams.
Practising journalism in a county where their freedom and independence of the media is not guaranteed is not easy either.
Some journalists grew up in low income areas, what is commonly referred to as informal settlements to become the face of television news in Kenya. has compiled a list of journalists who have grew in the informal settlements to become leading media personalities.
1. Salim Swaleh
Salim Swaleh is a Swahili news anchor working with NTV.  He graces the screen on weekdays on the NTV Jioni. Swaleh, who also doubles as the media house’s Swahili Managing Editor, revealed that his passion for journalism began in Bondeni slum, Nakuru, where he was born and raised.
“I would take a newspaper and fold it into a microphone. I would then go to my mother’s room and pose as a reporter presenting news in front of the mirror,” he stated in an interview.
Swaleh studied journalism in Kenya and began his career as a radio host at Ghetto FM, before joining Radio Mwananchi in Nakuru. He later got a job opportunity in Iran, where he furthered his education while still working. He joined Citizen TV from Iran and later decamped to Nation Media Group’s NTV.
2. James Smart.
Born in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum, James Smart is among the top English news presenters. Now working with the Nation Media Group, Smart also had a brief stint at KTN.
In past interviews he revealed that he was brought up in Highbridge B, in Korogcho by his grandparents in a shanty ten by ten house, which he shared with his extended family. Smart added that they would be forced to move their beds when it rained due to a leaking roof.
He managed to go through primary and secondary schools, but would later go back to the slums as his family was not able to raise the requisite fees for his university education. While volunteering to teach table tennis in a church, he got a scholarship to study journalism at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).
Smart joined KBC as an anchor, then moved to Capital FM after which he joined  NTV, where he pioneered The Trend Show. He moved to KTN before making a return to NTV.
3. Hassan Mugambi
The Citizen TV Anchor and presenter, who is rated as one of the best bi-lingual reporters, makes it to the list having been born in the country’s largest slum of Kibera.
Unlike Swaleh, Mugambi begun his career in the slum where he was born and raised. He was a broadcaster at Pamoja FM, a radio station in the informal settlement.
“I was born and brought up in Kibra. At some point in my life, I went to Meru for boarding school in Class Five to Form Four,” he narrated.
He applied for a job at K24 and was called for a screen test. Mugambi disclosed that he had to borrow a suit from one of his friends who worked as a political reporter.
He worked at K24 TV for five years before joining Royal Media Services in 2017.
4. Ken Wa Kuraya
Unlike the other journalists, Ken Wa Kuraya, may have not grown up in a slum, but also went through hardship.
In a post by the Inooro TV journalist on his social media, he shared a photo of a mud house where he and his siblings were brought up. Ken revealed that they lived in hardship and had to do odd jobs to sustain themselves.
“I decided to sell second-hand clothes to sustain myself. I sold panties and socks, I also worked at various construction sites,” he narrated.
5. Gidi
Joseph Ogidi Oyoo alias Gidi was brought up in Dandora. The Radio Jambo presenter attended Aquinas High for his secondary education before joining the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where he acquired a Bachelors Degree in Information Technology.
Gidi rose to fame as a vernacular rapper and was part of the pair Gidi Gidi Maji Maji, which took Kenya by storm in the early 2000s.
Unknown to many, Gidi is a holder a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Strathmore University.
Other notable media personalities who hailed from slums include Shaffie Weru and Johnson Mwakazi, both who were brought up in Kibera.  


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