By Prudence Minayo
With so many new breed of reporters rising in Kenya everyday, some of the old ones are fading away. There were popular voices Kenyans heard on radio in the past but today people still wonder what happened to them. Did they retire? Did they quit the media? These are just but two among the many questions asked by Kenyans.
Meanwhile, while so many faded from the limelight, some have managed to remain relevant and continue to adapt to the ever changing media space. This is especially the case with Lincoln Njogu. He has worked on the radio as a presenter for over 15 years and continues to capture the attention his listeners with both his commanding voice and exceptional command of the Swahili language.
The seasoned radio presenter attended a primary school in the village where he was born. He then joined Othaya Boys for his secondary education in 1994 and completed in 1997.
Upon completion, he joined Moi University to a pursue a Bachelors Degree in Language and Literary Studies.
Lincoln was born in Karatina, Nyeri county in the 1970s. TV was not very popular when he was growing up so he would listen to the radio with the station at the time being KBC radio.
Growing up, he never aspired to be a journalist. He thought that was an unachievable dream meant for those who were probably rich or very popular, but he loved how presenters would speak.
Lincoln’s dream was to work in an office, especially as an accountant.
One day in class, the teacher asked everyone to read aloud specific parts during a Literature lesson on set books. He read and the teacher was very impressed saying he had the voice of a reporter. This was the first time he felt he could be a reporter but he didn’t dwell on it.
After completing high school, he got a chance to join Moi University where they were given the opportunity to change the course that had been chosen for them. Since his dream of being an accountant was still alive, he decided to change his course to Bachelor in Commerce. Unfortunately, he had failed to reach the marks required for the course by a single point. He had no choice but to stick with Language and Literary Studies. It was during his university days that he began to have a passion for reporting.
By the time Lincoln was graduating, a number of radio stations were beginning to rise and KBC was no longer the only dominant station. He decided he was not going to start dropping his CV everywhere but chose two radio stations to try out his luck, KBC and Radio Citizen. The fresh graduate went to Nairobi, found Radio Citizen offices which was located at Anniversary Towers at the time and dropped of his CV at the reception. The receptionist told him to call back after a week which he did. He was sent to the then radio manager, Waweru Mburu but was told the station was only interested in hiring those capable of reporting in Swahili and not in English. He had expressed interest in reporting in English but upon hearing the news, he declared he could also report in Swahili.
Mr. Waweru gave him a chance and he was to start reporting in two weeks. The two weeks gave him a chance to practice reporting news in Swahili. He read the “Taifa Leo” newspaper and practiced the way other reporters were reporting in Swahili. After two weeks, he went back to Radio Citizen and started reporting news.
When Citizen TV was launched, there was a shortage of reporters. This forced him to work seven days a week. During Weekdays he would work at the radio and on weekends at the TV station. The pay at this time was also not much. Another challenge those days, was that verifying news was not an easy thing and he was afraid to misinform the public, especially when reporting government news.
To date, Mr. Njogu still works for the Royal Media Services owned station, Radio Citizen. Over the course of his career, he has interviewed a number of politicians with deputy president William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga being among them.
Challenges encountered in the profession
- At one time he was threatened by a member of the “Mungiki” gang for reporting news about them.
- Sometimes politicians would try to to use a reporter so as to promote his/her agenda and this calls for one to be very vigilant and principled. One time while interviewing a minister of finance, listeners sent in a question concerning anglo leasing at the time. The politician did not want to answer and was therefore making signs using his hands for Lincoln to drop the question. He ended up asking it anyway but when such things happen it is very hard for the reporter.
Interview with NIBS radio