By Prudence Minayo
She has been in the media industry for a long time bringing informative, elaborate and extensive news to Kenyan homes. Yvonne Okwara Butita Matole is a household name and has amplified her voice in fighting for the rights of disabled members of the community. Through her segment, “The Explainer,” she has helped Kenyans understand the world around them from politics to current market trends. Yvonne is an ambitious, analytical and self driven journalist who is known to speak her truth to powers.
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She was born on the 16th of March 1983 in Western, Kenya. She is 38 years old.
The TV news anchor is the last born in a family of three. Her mother’s name is Esther Ambale Sande and she had a deaf blind brother named Albert Okwara who passed away in 2018 at the age of 50. The late Albert had a condition known as German measles. The disease, which gave way to mental retardation, blindness and deafness caused a lot of grief to the family. Many showed pity and asked too many questions while their mother visited several hospitals for help in vain.
The savvy anchor opened up about her brother’s illness in a long emotional post. A lot of Kenyans came out to show support and she thanked them for it. Later, she posted a post on Instagram when her brother passed on. Part of it read:
“ I’ve lost my beloved brother! A few years ago, I gained the courage to speak about his disability and our family’s long journey with him. So many of you reached out and were kind and empathetic! I thank you. My journey with Albert Okwara is now over, at least in this realm. He left us as peacefully and as quietly as he lived his entire life….”
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Her University major and career path are worlds apart. She graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) with Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry.
Okwara had a very humble start to her career. She worked at Walker’s Hotel as a waiter where she was earning peanuts:
“ The restaurant opened at 9:00AM. We had to be in at 7 AM. Closed at 8 PM. Stayed till 10 to clean up. All for 150 bob. But I learnt a lot. To respect wait staff and dealing with people! “ A smile goes a long way. Earned more in tips this way!” she said.
Her passion for journalism started a long time ago when she was 10 years old. She hosted a kids variety show on KBC at the age of 10.
Q FM (under Nation Media Group) was the first radio station she worked for. She was a talk show host and would do voice overs for NTV business show money matters. When Nation Media Group opened QTV, she was assigned producer.
In 2012, she moved to KTN in what would be 5-year-journey that would gain her popularity and success in the media industry. She hosted the Sunday show #Checkpoint on KTN where she moderated political analysts in assessments of the biggest stories that made the headlines in the week.
The moderation role broadened her horizons and got her a chance to moderate the Conference of African Finance Ministers in Abuja, Nigeria. Later, she was promoted to head of news anchors at KTN.
While at KTN, Yvonne hosted national discussions on civic education, Kenya’s constitution and historic 2013 general elections. She also covered the political party primaries and general elections of 2013, the Supreme Court election petition and inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In 2018, she moved to Royal Media Services and was assigned host to “The Explainer” which airs every Thursday at 9:00PM.
On 2nd April, the Citizen TV news anchor ignited an online outburst following her rant during the show. She expressed her dissatisfaction with how Kenyans were treating Covid -19 survivors, especially Brenda who had faced a lot of cyber bullying. She felt the bullying was targeted more on the female rather than male turning it into a gender war. Kenyans turned on her wondering why she would ignite a gender war in the face of this pandemic.
On December, 2014, Yvonne Okwara got married to Andrew Matole, who is a veterinary surgeon, in an invite only ceremony held at Crown Plaza Hotel, Nairobi.
However, there were rumors that wedding venue had to be changed several times after Andrew’s mistresses threatened to ruin the ceremony. Pastors at NPC valley road denied officiating the wedding since he was not officially divorced from Alice.
Andrew was married to Alice Manyole Matole and had 3 children with her. The couple (Yvonne and Andrew) are still growing stronger and Yvonne once said her husband is her greatest fan and critic.