By Prudence Minayo
Kanze Dena became a household name while working at Citizen TV where she was a Swahili news co-anchor with her friend and co-host Lulu Hassan. After a successful career, spanning more than a decade, she resigned after being appointed as deputy State House spokesperson.
Weeks into her new post, she ascended to Spokesperson in the Executive Office of the president and the head of the President’s Strategic Communication Unit (PSU).
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However, this career success was forged in pain, loss and willingness to stand up and move on. This is her story as told by WoK:
Background and Education
Kellen Beatrice Kanze Dena hails from Kwale county. Born the fourth in a family of six children, life was not always easy for her. They were brought up by a single mother after her parents went separate ways. She lost her mother to colon cancer before the birth of her son.
Her education journey was shaped at Kianjokoma boarding school followed by Kyeni Girls High School in Embu. She then pursued Journalism and Mass Communication at Foundation College of Professional Studies.
She opted for the college after unsuccessful attempts to join Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC).
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Due to what she called ‘bow legs’ a lot of people made fun of her. This turned her into a shy girl with low esteem. When men would talk about how she walked, it would hurt her and she sought solace in books. It was the one place they could not get her.
“I am also a talented actor; so during drama festivals, I would act and recite poems exemplary well. I had something that everyone applauded me for. That was my escape,” she said.
Commanding the audience during performances was a source of joy. Boys were impressed by her performance and way of articulating Swahili.
However after the drama festivals, her bubble would burst as she went back to feeling insecure. She says it took her a while to gain her self esteem and by this time she was so used to slouching.
This even pushed her to contemplating suicide but luckily she salvaged her confidence.
Dena was working as a hotel waitress when she met the father of her child.
“When I got pregnant, he ran away and I was left alone,” she recalled.
She hid the pregnancy from her mother until the baby was born. Wanting to give baby Natasha up for adoption, she was convinced otherwise by her mother. She proceeded with her studies while the baby went to stay with her mother.
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Three months after the birth of Natasha, her aunt told her she was urgently needed at home, back in the Coastal area. Upon arriving, she was met by a huge crowd.
A premonition began to form and she rushed to the house. She discovered her baby laying down and thought she was asleep. It was then that she was told the baby passed way at night having showed no signs of ailments.
The pain was unbearable as she asked God why he had prevented the adoption only to take the baby away. It made her feel like God was punishing her.
The experience was so painful that it became hard for her to visit friends soon after they gave birth. She would be excited about the pregnancy but only visit after the baby was past the three-months bracket.
“When Lulu had her second born, I was thinking yeah, let me do this, but in the end, I pulled out, and I bet she does not know why I pulled out. It really got to me at some point and I would find myself always crying so I figured the best thing to do was to stay away,” Kanze Dena told Parents Magazine.
After the death of her baby, she was depressed and found solace in church. She joined the worship team and after a while became pregnant again. Thinking she had miscarried, Kanze found out she was still pregnant at 7 months. She then gave birth to a boy named Amani.
Her son is now 16 years old and although she separated with the father of her son they still co-parent.
Kanze Dena shared this sweet message on his birthday:
“My peace champion…Your love for sports is unmatched..and with each sport, you have picked you have worked hard to be the top of the pack,” the post read.
She went on to add:
“My son .. Son of my youth… I will always keep cheering as I always have at each competition as you dribble through life and swim through life’s waters. As I have always told you, The coach of this game called life will constantly watch over you. Happy 16.”
The Statehouse spokesperson got married in 2019 in an invite only ceremony held at Ol Pejeta.
According to The Standard, the ceremony was so discreet that even those working at Ol Pejeta didn’t know whose wedding it was, even during the morning hours of the ceremony. The former Citizen TV anchor married Nick Mararo, CEO of Nuvision Media.
Guests were not allowed to take pictures and phones were confiscated. A source told The Standard, they had to go outside to take selfies.
The couple were blessed with a baby boy named Joe.
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