Accomplished news anchor Jeff Koinange candidly spoke about the struggles he and his wife went through to get a baby and how South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela would ask about their progress.
Speaking on Engage Talk, Jeff recalled his first meeting with Mandela and how excited he was to meet the African icon in person.
It was during a press conference that he stood up to ask a question and to his surprise, Mandela recognised him, thanks to his surname.
Jeff said despite his achievements at work, back home they were struggling to get a child and tried various options to change their situation.
“The greatest challenge my wife and I had during that time was having a child. I do not know if the machine wasn’t working.
“My wife and I tried everything…the IVF the whole shebang but it wouldn’t work for the longest time. We would be invited to friends’ houses and there would be kids in the yard playing, swimming and all that and it was tough for us having a child,” he said.
A family friend then recommended a clinic in Spain and they finally welcomed their bundle of joy on July 31, 2007.
Jeff recalled how Mandela would always ask whether they had made progress and would even offer help.
“Every time Mandela would see me he would say, “Oh the son of chief how are you?” he would often ask whether I’d gotten him a grandson yet and I would say, “Mr President we are trying.”
“And he would say, “Do you need some help?” and I would be like “This guy spent 27 years in prison and wants to help me out?” said Jeff.
When their son Mbiu was 8 months old, Jeff and his wife decided to reach out to Mandela’s office for an appointment before they left for Nairobi and their request was granted.
“I called his office and said it’s Jeff, can you tell Madiba that we finally have a son and he is 8 months old and we are heading back to Nairobi, can we bring him so that he can bless him?” he requested.
They later got a call back and were advised to be at the Johannesburg office the following day at noon.
Excited to meet the President, Jeff, his wife and their baby arrived almost half an hour before time and a few minutes to noon, Mandela’s motorcade drove in.
Jeff recalled how his son bonded with Mandela, touching his ageing face and chin.
“Most times when kids were brought to Madiba they would be screaming because they did not know who this stranger was but when my son was put on Mandela’s hands he just touched him on the cheek and the chin and they bonded.
“I met the most amazing people from Oprah Winfrey to Bill Clinton to Gaddafi…my job took me to those places and I was able to tell the African story because I loved what I did,” he said.