From A Bartender to A Top TV Host: NTV’s Kobi Kihara’s Story (Part 2)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:10 , Written by 

Kobi Kihara's journey to stardom, part two

What did she do?
I volunteered with the Smithsonian Kaplan Institute and the Kennedy Centre, did freelance photography, but still it was a struggle and quite challenging.

“Later, I landed a temporary job with the International Organisation for Migration in the US, assisting with overseeing the Iraqi elections. There I saw the beauty of working hard and getting something out of your work. For a long time I was afraid of structure, but I was now happy to be productive, earning a salary, having benefits – the full nine yards.

She lost that job, how did she handle it?
The job came to an end after three months and Kobi found herself back at square one – job hunting, broke and disillusioned, armed with qualifications but still with no paid work forthcoming.

What made her return to Kenya?
I fell in love with Kenya again. There was a lot of scepticism and anxiety over my decision, because I had no tangible prospects to come back to and nobody could understand why I wanted to return.

How was the job hunt back?
As I had been putting out my CV and all my networks were active, Tom Mshindi contacted me while I was still in Washington about a producer position. I interviewed for it and, as I landed back in Kenya, there was an air of expectancy, as at least I would be earning. My mother was with me on this trip and we were staying with two of my sisters who were here.

Did she get the job?
I did not get the job. The disappointment was overwhelming. My mum asked me if I wanted to go back with her to Washington, but I was here to stay. I looked for a job everywhere I possibly could.

When did she get her first break?
My big break came through my photography, when a friend of mine introduced me to the management at the Windsor Golf and Country Club to do photography for their property. Then I got work with UNDP and, from there, the jobs just started coming in.

How did she land a job at citizen?
With things finally falling into place, a call from Citizen TV. I didn’t give it much thought, because I had got so used to doors being shut to me, so it was one of those ‘OK, I’ll do it’ things, but I wasn’t expecting anything to come from it.”

A month later, the station called to offer her a producer position as they were launching breakfast TV.

What is her opinion on being poached by Radio Africa?
No offence to any single individual, but the media industry in Kenya is lacking in professional structures that properly address under-appreciation, unfair compensation and poor talent recognition.

As a news anchor and studio producer at Radio Africa, I get full responsibility on the deliverables. I am part of a young and creative team, which is great. My role is to come up with programme ideas for the station, and I want to create more.

(Kobi has since moved to NTV)

What is her most memorable gig as a photographer?
Her first memorable gig was the visit of then Sen. Barrak Obama to Kenya, on this particular day he was tree planting with Nobel peace prize winner Wangari Maathai, as she was pushing and shoving with other journalists to get the best shot, the senator stopped and commended her for being a great photographer

What’s the biggest lesson she has learnt in life?
Never take yourself too seriously unless you really, really have to. The moment you do, you over-think everything and then chances of you messing it up are greater.


Adopted from Career Point

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