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The power of small opportunities: Ben Kitili


Getting into the media industry is not easy, but you have not only managed to get in, but have also made a name for yourself.  How long have you been in the media?

I started close to five years ago at K24 where I was an intern at the sports desk. I was still a student at Daystar University then. My dream was to anchor news, but I had to start somewhere.

I got my wish in 2009 when I became a reporter/anchor for two years before leaving for NTV in December 2011. I joined KTN in July this year.

You must be lucky considering you are barely 30 and have achieved such success...

I guess I am. I also believe you will get noticed if you do a good job. You also need to know when to make a move. I got many offers before I decided to move. I, however, did not want to move for the sake of moving.

I wanted a vertical not horizontal move. I wanted to move to a better career space, so when the opportunity came to move from news anchor/news reporter to news anchor/editor, I took it.

You mostly deal with hard news; often in the political direction when most people your age would prefer something lighter like lifestyle or entertainment. Do you get bored?

I have always loved telling stories. I decided that I wanted to be an anchor while still in high school. I have always been drawn to do news. I used to watch news on CNN and BBC, and I wanted to be like the news anchors I saw. I guess I just have the passion for news. I do not see myself branching into something else. I love what I do.

Is it important to, occasionally, report even when one is an anchor? 

Being a reporter before becoming an anchor was the best thing that could have happened to me. When you are a reporter, you get a lot of exposure and are aware of what is happening on the ground. This prevents you from being a bimbo anchor who just reads the tele-prompter and when something happens and it gets disconnected, you are lost.

What else do you do apart from working in the media?

I am a businessman — a poultry farmer. I have been doing it for a year and I want to expand it since it is a good business. Other than that, we have a production house called Psych Media together with my friends. We do television shows, dance shows, documentaries and films.

Why farming? A lot of young people would consider it degrading?

I have always had an interest and passion for farming. It is a lucrative business. The problem with young people these days is that they just want to focus on white-collar jobs, yet there are many opportunities to make money, especially in farming. Apart from expanding, I plan to introduce new products, such as a type of egg that is very nutritious and on high demand. I love farming so much that I dream of owning a ranch some day.

Tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kitui. I am the firstborn in a family of six children — four boys and two girls. I went to Lenana High School and then Daystar University.

How is it being a firstborn?

Being the firstborn comes with huge responsibilities because you are supposed to be a good example for those who come behind. It is, therefore, easy to get caught up in always being the good example that you forget to live your life. Any firstborn can attest to how difficult it is to balance between being a good example and enjoying your life. It, however, gets easier as one grows older. You also need to be able to make your mistakes and learn from them.

I am very close to my siblings, especially my brothers who are closer to me in age.

When did you know without doubt that you wanted to be in the media?

My parents always wanted me to be a lawyer and like most children, that also becomes your dream. Something, however, happened in the course of some career talks we had in high school. I realised Law was not for me and instead I wanted to be a news anchor.

Any advice for young people who want to follow in your footsteps?

It is a competitive world, so when you get a chance, grab it with both hands. An internship, for example, gives you a huge platform to make a name for yourself.

The media industry is fickle; today you are hot, and tomorrow no one even remembers your name. How do you ensure you are relevant?

All you can do is to be the best you can be.


Who is your role model?

Locally, I have many, but Linus Kaikai, who is also a friend, stands out. He has grown from a reporter to a news manager. He has also stayed relevant even though he has been in the industry for long. Another one is Christiane Amanpour. She is so good at her job that at one point, she worked for both CNN and ABC news at the same time. 

What do you do when you are not working?

I go to watch rugby and football whenever I get the chance. I am an Arsenal fan and locally I support AFC Leopards. I also play rugby with my friends when I get time; I used to play rugby competitively in high school and college.

Do you have someone special in your life?

Yes, I am dating; her name is Amina. She is special to me because she  is loving, caring, hardworking and of course, beautiful.

Being in your position, it is so easy to get caught up with the spotlight. How do you keep yourself grounded?

I always remember where I came from. I do not come from a well off family, and my parents worked very hard to take care of us.

Where do you want to be ten years from now?

I want to be working for an International agency like CNN or Aljazeera, or maybe to own a media house.

What code do you live your life by?

I love playing chess and I live my life by the saying: At the end of the day, the pawn and king go into the same box even though king is more valuable than the pawn when playing the game.


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