By Sarah Adhiambo
Larry Madowo is many things in one: an award winning BBC correspondent, news anchor, columnist and speaker. He was named a Young Global Leader in 2020 by the World Economic Forum for his contribution to journalism.
Larry worked as BBC Africa business editor. He has been a news anchor who specialised in current affairs, technology, popular culture and political interviews. The affable journalist has previously worked for leading networks like Kenya Television Network (KTN) and CNBC Africa. The free spirited Madowo resigned from Nation Media Group in 2018 to join the BBC. He hosted a show on Nation Fm and wrote a weekly column, ‘Front Row’ in the Daily Nation, establishing his name among the region’s top journalists. He also hosted popular shows like ‘The Trend’ and ‘Sidebar’ on NTV. His last show on ‘The Trend,’ was on June 30th 2017.
Madowo is currently an international correspondent for CNN based in Nairobi.
Larry Madowo will be turning 34 in 2020. He was born on July 14th 1987 in Barding, Siaya county. Madowo has one sister Liz Madowo, who is a fashion blogger. His mother, Treazer Madowo, was a teacher. She passed away in 2001.
Larry attended Usingo and Karapul primary schools for his primary education. He later joined St.Gabriel’s seminary for his secondary education. He harbored thoughts of training as a catholic priest but later on changed his mind and went to study broadcast journalism at Daystar University.
Larry lost his dad in 1994 when he was only 7 years old. His mother,Treazer Anyango Madowo was a primary school teacher and a divisional KNUT official. Treazer Madowo died in 2001 leaving Madowo and his only sister and sibling Liz Madowo as orphans.
In his FrontRow column-that was discontinued, the journalist revealed how they had to survive on their mother’s meagre salary. As a little boy he would watch how his mother struggled to take care of her family while juggling between being a teacher and a business woman in order to make ends meet and supplement the little salary she got. Larry’s sister Liz Madowo is a graduate at Moi university and is a stylist as well as a fashion blogger.
Larry Madowo is not married and has no known girlfriend.
Madowo started his journalism career while he was still in school. He enrolled at Daystar University for a communications degree in 2006. A year later, he interned at a vernacular radio station known as Bahasha FM where he read news in English.
He dropped out of college after a year and a half of studies to take a job with KTN. Madowo was to later resume his studies and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication. The unsettled journalist joined NTV as a business anchor and reporter after three years of working with KTN. In 2012 May, he joined South Africa based CNBC Africa as one of the main anchors and pioneered the show ‘Eye on Kenya’. His stint at
CNBC was short lived as he lasted a few months. In December 2012, he went back to NTV as the technology edition and news editor.
Madowo joined the BBC in April 2018 after moving from NTV where he was a prime time news anchor and talk show host. He exited the journalism scene in July 2019 after announcing at the time he was taking a sabbatical leave after he was named among the 2019-2020 Knight Baghot fellow at Columbia University.
Larry graduated on May 20, with a masters degree in business and economic journalism. His graduation came after he was crowned the winner of the 2020 Philip Greer Award for his financial writing skills.
He was also the first black person to deliver the Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondents lecture at Canada’s Carleton University in 2020.
In May 2020, it was announced that he will be joining CNN as the Nairobi correspondent.
“I have long admired CNN International’s award-winning coverage, and I’m honored to be joining such a talented team. I look forward to sharing the full spectrum of life in one of the most dynamic parts of the world with CNN’s global audience,” he said.
Like most journalists working in Africa, Madowo became a victim of government censorship and a press controlled by the powers that be. His column FrontRow that appeared on the Daily Nation every Tuesday for four years was cancelled after he wrote an article criticising Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i’. The journalist said that the Nation Media Group Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi was making good his threat to kill his column if he continued to criticise the Interior CS.
He said of the Nation snub in 2018
“This week, the @dailynation refused to print my column for the first time in nearly 4 years. The irony aside, the same piece is now published on CNN…”
But the most scary moment for the journalist is when together with the then General Manager Linus Kaikai and Ken Mijingu defied Tom Mshindi and livestreamed the mock swearing-in of its leader Raila Odinga on January 30, 2018.
The state was not impressed with that decision and the three journalists had to stay put at the NTV studios to evade arrest.
Madowo in his acceptance speech for the Association of Foreign Correspondents (AFC) in the US on November 4, 2019, at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute in New York said of what transpired:
I had to evade arrest by my own government and ended up in a safe house. We crouched under a car that came out of the basement of the building where I used to work”
“We were basically at the very bottom of the belly of the car, but we somehow managed to get away. It’s very dramatic in the movies, but in real life, it’s very smelly so please vacuum your cars,” the outspoken journalist said.