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Louis Otieno: I Was Never Paid Ksh 1 Million Salary And Used My Savings Holding People Up

In Summary

  • Louis Otieno’s rise from a junior clerk at Post Bank to one of the most sought-after news anchors was meteoric.
  • But his career crashed after a pancreatic infection and the murder of his friend, Careen Chepchumba which saw him interrogated by the police.

Rolling drums and picking numbers

In his early 20s, Loius Otieno had already established a solid career in Kenya’s fourth estate. It was his risk-taking nature that paid the biggest career dividends.

Otieno was working as a junior clerk at Post Bank at a time when the institution had a popular program running just before the news segment at KBC TV. A young Otieno wanted to be offered the opportunity to present this show because he thought one of the high-ranking individuals who was broadcasting was not good enough.

To get this job, Otieno approached the manager and told him that the job was ‘too small for him’ and that he’d rather employ him as he could fire him if he messed up.

Otieno’s calculative move paid off and he became the face of Post Bank Premium Bonds Draw. The show entailed rolling drums with the participants picking numbers.

Otieno’s mastery of communication skills was top-notch and a few months later, KBC offered him a job to air the Good Morning Kenya program before he became a news anchor at the same station.

Nobody mentored me

Otieno’s mother was also working at KBC at that time and he didn’t want anyone to associate his new job to the mother’s influence. As he wore bespoke suits to the station, he also preened his journalistic nous.

Soon, Nation came calling. Otieno recalls shocking the HR personnel during the signing of the deal. He was asked what he would do for the company, but he fired the question back.

“Actually sir, the proper question should be: what can you do for me?”

According to Otieno, he was never good at bargaining and whenever a salary deal was put on the table, he would simply tell the bosses that if another deal came then he’d be leaving.

“I will never come back to your office to discuss my salary, not even one day but just remember, when somebody comes knocking on the door, I am out,” he said.

Otieno takes pride in rebranding Nation TV from a Nairobi-based audience to a countrywide presence. He also introduced live calls into the studio whenever he invited leaders into the studio. Later he had stints with KTN and Citizen TV.

Otieno owes this brilliance to God’s grace and insists that nobody mentored him.

If anybody walks up to you and says that they mentored me, it is a lie. I’d like to see someone tell me that to my face because it is a lie. They did nothing for me, I was operating on God’s grace,” he told Lynn Ngugi.

Ksh 1 million salary? Savings?

In an interview with Lynn Ngugi, Otieno symbolically equated his risk-taking nature to being a pathfinder and that he suffered all the bruises that came with it including being branded as arrogant. According to Otieno, he never was fired and has never written any application letters as he was being approached and poached by potential employers.

But did he ever earn a million shillings as his salary?

“Not even near! But did I bring in more than that? – All the time!”

“In fact, in two stations, none other than the finance director actually comes and says you ought to ask for a different salary because right now, you can even pay yourself,‘ he says.

Factually speaking, Otieno did take home a good amount during his heyday. And so the big question is whether he made some savings for a rainy day.

According to him, he never got the chance to enjoy being a lastborn as he had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities. He recalls helping a lot of people who cannot even pick up his calls right now.

“I was busy holding people up. Some people started careers because they associated with me, there are people who sit in offices because they associated with me,” he says.

Murder that changed Louis Otieno’s life

In February 2012, the murder of Careen Chepchumba, a 26-year-old engineer thrust Louis Otieno into the limelight with the police questioning him as one of the suspects. Otieno was pursued because he was a close friend of the late and frequented her house.

But Otieno maintains innocence over the murder and blames the media for publishing false information about the matter. According to him, he is the one who suggested to the police to have his DNA samples taken, and never was he arrested for the samples as the media reported.

The police, together with investigative agencies were unable to identify the man or woman who murdered Careen Chepchumba.

Sickness and loss of hearing ability

A battle with pancreatitis and an alleged drug-induced hearing loss left Otieno in a difficult and painful life. According to Otieno, while he was admitted at one of the city hospitals, a nurse keen on having him sleep administered a drug that served this purpose only for him to wake up with hearing loss. Suddenly, he couldn’t walk a straight line and could not stand for more than 2 minutes.

The medical bills to have his hearing rectified saw a huge sum amounting to millions of shillings which saw family members chip in. Currently, Otieno uses a cochlear implant for him to have a conversation.