By Prudence Minayo
Janet Mbugua, the former Citizen TV news anchor wears many hats. She is a mother, news anchor, YouTuber, actress, businesswoman, philanthropist and author. Her authoritative voice and fashion sense kept many tuned to Citizen TV. The seasoned news anchor also has a sense of humor as was evidenced when she pranked her colleague Hussein Mohammed on live TV. She feigned contractions leaving Hussein all panicky. The philanthropic woman is very passionate about educating young girls and hygiene practices during the menstrual period. Over the years, she has grown to become a household name. Below is her journey to success and what she does now.
She was born on 10th January 1984 and raised in Mombasa, Kenya.
Janet attended Brookhouse high school then proceeded to United States International University (USIU). She worked for a while before going to Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Malaysia for a degree in Mass Communication.
The popular personality also has an MBA in Global Business Management from the Swiss Management Academy, Nairobi, Kenya.
The former news anchor has a twin brother known as Timothy Mbugua. Details about her parents and other siblings are not available to the public since she is a very private person. She will only share what she wants people to know.
Marriage and Children
The ever radiant media personality is married to Edward Ndichu, a banker. The two meet back in high school but re-connected later in life. They got married on Saturday, 30th May, 2015 at a lovely invite only ceremony at the Chaka ranch, Nyeri. The bride’s beautiful wedding dress and the groom’s grey tuxedo were a perfect combination that left many drooling.
In a 2019 interview with Betty on Upclose, she revealed marriage was not easy and people should take time before getting into it.
“ Family and trying to balance family and work and expectations is really hard. And I always tell people when they say “Oh my God, I can’t wait to start a family!” I say two things: take your time and make sure you are ready coz you could be good at being in love but you’re just, you don’t need to be married” Replied Janet when asked about her relationship with Mr. Ndichu
Janet and the husband have two kids: Ethan Huru Ndichu and Mali Mwaura.
After high school, she told her parents she wanted a gap year. They agreed on the condition that she finds a way to earn money. She got a job at Pulse FM, Mombasa. The salary was about Sh10,000. That was way back in 2003. Although she had this job, she was eyeing for Capital FM. At one time, she had her friend record her while she was live. She walked into Capital FM with the recording and asked the receptionist to hand over the cassette to the boss since she wanted a job there. After a while, they got back to her and she got the job with a salary of sh50,000. During the one year period, she presented the mid-morning show, drive and other shows.
After this, she went to University in Malaysia. Upon returning to the country, she wanted to go back to Capital FM but there was a lot of restructuring going on. Someone suggested she tries TV and her response was to laugh. She never imagined she’d work on TV since she was a scrawny awkward girl. Despite that, she gave it a try and once again walked into a media house with a recording and asked for a job. Luckily, at the time, KTN were looking for a travel show host and she got the job. The 6 months contract came to an end but one day while in Mombasa shopping for lessos, she got a call from Faridah Karoney asking her to come to go do a screen test and start doing news. Janet started presenting late night news, then weekend and lunchtime news for a year before finally going to primetime news- the most coveted in newsrooms.
In 2009, she moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she worked for two years at ETV. At ETV, she was a news anchor, reporter and producer of pan – African content affairs show, Africa 360.
In 2011, she came back to Kenya and at the time Faridah Karoney had moved to Citizen TV. They reconnected and she was offered a job as a prime time news anchor on Citizen TV. She hosted two very big segments called Monday Special and The Big Question. Her pairing with Hussein Mohamm was one of the greatest TV pairings. The two had a wonderful on-screen chemistry that attracted viewers for a very long time.
After a long run in the media industry, she decided to call it quits and focus on other projects. On the Upclose interview with Betty, she also revealed it had gotten to a point where her son was more familiar with the nanny than with her. This made her snap and finally she decided to put her finances in order and ensure she has an investment that will sustain her for two years and she left Citizen TV.
Interview Gone Horribly Gone
The news anchor recently recounted how- together with her colleagues-she lost equipment over half a million shillings to con artists. Sharing her experience during Janjaruka’s lockdown challenge, Janet said they were lured by a man claiming that his son was a victim of serial killer Philip Ondari Onyancha.
It was big news back in 2010 and media houses would not let such a story slip so they went to interview the victims father.
Here is her account of what transpired:
“It was in 2010, there was a trending story on Onyancha, who was allegedly a serial killer; carrying out some gruesome murders in Nairobi..”
“We finally identified a man who said his son was allegedly a victim and we decided and agreed to go but asked to be provided with extra security as we had very expensive equipment with us. All I remember is we went deep into the hearts of Lenana to capture his story.”
The con man masquerading as the victim’s father organized a group of young men to provide the journalist and his crew to his house for the interview. She was served a cup of tea. Her colleagues were left behind with the security detail.
“It was almost 5pm. The distance where I was going to record was short. I went to the house and got to know the family as I wait for the videographer to come so he films us. It took long, 10, 20 minutes and I was like, it’s taking long, why hasn’t he come back?
“It is almost 6pm, so I told them, we need to go check what was happening. The man who had led us to the house says let me go check to make sure they are okay. He left the house and 10 minutes later, he ran into the house, saying, ‘Wameibiwa! Gari imeenda’,” she added.
Mbugua said all their equipment, their previous footage and her personal effects had been stolen. With the help of police, they managed to locate the cameraman whose shoes had also been stolen.
“Everything we had filmed in Mombasa was gone with the equipment, worth half a million. We just cried and we could not continue with our work, but we were alive,” she said.
In 2014, she was the lead actress in a sitcom called Rush. She played the role of Pendo Adama, the inner and editor in chief of Rush magazine.
Projects / humanitarian work
The 36-year-old is the founder and director of Media Avenue Limited, which provides people with services, like, Emceeing, public speaking and moderation. The following global events have been hosted by her:
- Moderator, SDGs Implementation Stakeholder Engagement, New York, 2019
- Moderator, TED Talk (TEDx), Nairobi, 2019
- MC/Moderator, ICPD Global Summer, Nairobi, 2019
- Speaker, TED talk (TEDx) Nairobi, 2019
4 days ago she tweeted about a function she was to moderate
“ I’m moderating a conversation this afternoon with the country representative of @unicef_Kenya to discuss safety, education and welfare of our children during covid-19 plus speak to the rep of WHO Kenya on the latest updates in Kenya…..” read part of the Tweet.
Janet Mbugua also reinforced the empowerment of young females through the Inua Dada campaign endorsed by the first lady, Margret Kenyatta. At one time, a featured story that aired at a channel she worked for, showed girls using unsanitary products, such as, chicken feathers and goat hide to manage their menstruation. This and other stories prompted her to start a foundation to educate girls on proper menstrual hygiene, types of sanitary towels and how to appropriately use them.
In 2019, she finished writing a book called “My First Time.” Kenya is a progressive country with lots of development both socially and economically yet for some people menstrual periods is still a taboo subject. There are also thousands of women facing intense cramping during their periods prompting them to use birth control pills. Those without access to these pills have no option but to toughen up. These and many other things are the inspiration behind the book. Stories from different people, including, males, about periods have been compiled and written. In the book, you get to live the experiences of different people, such as an ex Kamiti prisoner that recounts how hard it was to gain access to sanitary towels in prison. Some inmates even resorted to sharing pads. This book is suitable for women and also dads out there afraid to talk to their girls about this issue.