Meet Hassan Jumaa, the KTN sports reporter with a drawl to his name. He tells Sylvia Wakhisi what he's all about.
The way you pronounce your name in your news reports has got people talking. So, is it Juma or Jumaaa......?
(Laughs)Many of my viewers tend to think it’s an exaggeration or some form of swag. But the truth is that it’s actually my real name. I am a Digo and in our community, am not just called Juma like any other, but the name has several AAA’s at the end. It has to be mentioned differently than the normal Juma and this has been the case since childhood. It’s my identity.
Has it ever landed you in problems?
As much as some people would make fun of it, others didn’t like it. Even my bosses didn’t receive it positively. But after doing some research, they realised it’s my true identity and have lived to appreciate and embrace it. The name has now become a popular brand and that makes me happy. People should not be worried about the name, but the content of the story.
You have been in the industry for many years. Did you always aspire to have a career in TV?
I joined KTN in 2006 as a trainee reporter and have risen through the ranks to my current position as a Senior Reporter. I must say it has been the best experience ever. When I was young, I dreamt of venturing into either three of these careers- journalism, law or become a pilot. I am contended because I got into journalism and so far so good.
You were voted the best TV journalist during the 2010 KPL footballer of the year awards. For the past nine years, you have become a unique brand in sports reporting. What would you say has carved your success in journalism?
Since I was a young boy, I loved telling stories. I would gather my friends then we would sit in a circle and I would tell stories of my day-to-day experiences. Back in school, I used to take part in debate contests and I guess that even raised my confidence to a higher level to speak in front of people. I am happy that am now telling other people’s stories through TV. I do what I do because of my audience.
Give us a little sneak peek into your early life.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a Digo, which is part of the greater Mijikenda ethnic group and was born in the South Coast of Mombasa in Kwale County. I started my schooling in Bamburi Primary School in Mombasa and later joined Mother of Apostles Secondary school in Eldoret. I then enrolled at United States International University – USIU for my undergraduate degree in Journalism and International Relations.
What was the experience like studying in a seminary school?
There is this misconception that students in seminary schools just want to be priests. That is not true. I was the only ‘Hassan’ in that school and I got to interact with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds and in the process, learnt a lot. I learnt about religious tolerance and that religion does not embrace violence. That is something I always live with.
What has been the highlight of your career?
I covered the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. That was an eye opener and interesting time in my life. I met people from all walks of life, some of whom I never imagined I would meet.
What is the most embarrassing moment of your career as a journalist?
I once went out with some friends at some joint to unwind then all of a sudden a lady, who had spotted me at a corner, rushed to hug me and we tumbled. You can imagine all the blank stares we got from people. It was embarrassing. But it’s part of the baggage that comes with being in the public domain. Sometimes you just want to lead a quiet life but you can’t because of your fans. As much as I appreciate my fans, I love my private life and try as much as possible to be incognito.
What don’t people know about you?
I am not a snob. I love to interact with others and pick my calls whenever they come in. I love cooking. The kitchen is my second love after Manchester United (laughs). I like trying out new recipes. I can make tasty chapatis. On the other hand, I love mentoring young people. I visit schools and talk to students on various issues including making the right career decisions. It’s my small way of giving back to the community.
What next for Hassan Jumaa?
I currently produce and host a Kiswahili sports show, ‘Utesi Ugani Show’ on KTN every Sunday at 6.30pm. I would want us to one day have a TV station that airs only sports. There are so many opportunities in the world of sports especially with the devolved government. I might consider going back to Kwale and start something in sports. I would also want to become a journalism lecturer.
Are you married, single?
I am dating.