By Isaac Blessings
Being a news anchor in Kenya is a job that comes with a lot of prestige, respect and money especially if you are working for the leading media houses. However, all this can change due to sickness, or if you get fired and mostly if you have poor management of finances.
In this article, WoK brings you the story of Louis Otieno – the ex KBC, Citizen TV, K24, NTV and KTN news anchor who went from being one of the highest paid news anchors to falling back in poverty in the midst of medical complications.
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Louis Otieno Career
Louis Armstrong Otieno started his career in the late 1980s working as a junior officer at Post Bank Kenya. After working in the position for quite some time, he started developing interest in the media space.
He decided to try his luck and he one day walked into his manager’s office pitching an idea of becoming a presenter of the company’s popular show ‘Post Bank Premium Bonds Draw’ that aired just before the news on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) TV.
He was rejected a few times but remained determined to take the position and a few months later the then 21 year old made his debut on television as the show’s presenter. It wasn’t long before Kenyans started noticing him due to his captivating voice and interesting personality.
A few years into the media space, Otieno was the most sought after presenter in Kenya. He was later poached from KBC and joined KTN as a 9.00pm prime time news anchor where he attracted a huge fan base and became one of the highest paid news anchors in the country.
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The Downfall of Louis Otieno
The news presenter was accused of being unpredictable and one had to be careful when approaching him when he was at the apex of his career.
“He was unpredictable and moody, so you had to approach him with caution,” said a former colleague who requested to remain anonymous when speaking to Standardmedia.co.ke.
Rumours started swirling around that he had been trapped in the unforgiving grip of alcoholism and partying. But these rumours seemed far-fetched as the once celebrated news anchors stated in an interview he granted a leading media house that he has never had a drinking.
He had been sick for sometime and thought it was food poisoning but it persisted prompting him to seek medical attention. The news anchor said that while he was laying at the hospital bed he overhead the doctors say that he should quit the bottle.
“I was in the laboratory for all I know…that’s the first time I heard a doctor say he’s got to stop drinking. That this is alcohol and these are doctors around my bed and they’re having this conversation. And I’m thinking to myself who is going to explain to these people I don’t have a drinking problem? They never actually told me this particular thing crushed the pancreas,” He was quoted by nairobinews.co.ke.
He would still put on a brave face and continue reading news and hosting great interviews with influential politicians.
Then one thing happened that brought Otieno’s life to a stand hill back in 2012. It was the news that he was allegedly involved in the murder of College student, Careen Kipchumba who was apparently one of his mistresses. In a blink of an eye, Otieno disappeared from the TV screens when he was just at the peak of his promising career.
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Louis Otieno Struggles
He had now lost his job and his reputation was damaged such that no media house would dare employ him. To compound to his problems, he was diagnosed with acute pancreatic infection – a disease that crashed his hearing system. All his friends and powerful politicians who often begged him for an interview deserted him and was left stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
He couldn’t even pay his rent and had to go back to live with his mother. The Range Rover sport vehicle that he used to drive was sold at a throw away price to cater for his hospital bills. The family has borrowed loans up to a point where they can’t access any loan to cater for his hospital bills. He at one point appealed to Kenyans to help raise Ksh 4 million that will be used to help him restore his hearing. Well-wishers chipped in to help raise the money and was admitted at the Mater hospital where he underwent an operation that restored his hearing.
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Louis Otieno and her wife fell apart with their son Silas Miami after learning that he was g*y. The son who is a filmmaker, photographer, lecturer and musician based in South Africa was kicked out of home when he was 17 years of age.
He went on to become a successful filmmaker behind popular local films like ‘Disconnect’, ‘Supa Modo’ and ‘Lusala.’ The son has been publicly accusing his parents for soliciting money from him even though they are against his g*y relationships.
At one point when his mother was sick, Silas refused to visit her in hospital. He went on to write on twitter;
“I’m told my abusive mother is very unwell. But this information was relayed to me by a third party because she is too proud to reach out herself. Even at death’s door, she refuses to swallow it and apologise. That is what narcissism looks like. Sending thoughts and prayers,” the tweet read.
On 2 October 2020, Louis Otieno announced his return to TV screens after regaining his hearing. In a video shared on various social media, the veteran news anchor said that he plans to be back with a program titled ‘The Second Act.’
“This has taken a lot of work and is happening because certain people have put together their time, money, efforts and they want to see me back because the country is going through a difficult time. When this happens, I would like to talk to people who deal with the difficult decisions and get answers for you from them. Before I even start to meet these people, I must give thanks to you, the Kenyans, because I reached out to the country and you came out, and you made your efforts and sacrificed because you wanted me back,” he said in the video.
He further revealed that his new show will primarily focus on current affairs and issues affecting Kenyans. He however didn’t disclose where and when the show will start airing.
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I remember when you asked Kenyans to come to your aid, I’m one out of the millions of Kenyans who is proud of you. When God says yes, no one can say No. The word of God prevails, but the heavens and Earth shall pass….wish you well.