Ken Mijungu: I’ve never had an easier interview than the one I had with Ruto
Witty is the trait that comes to mind when chatting with NTV reporter and news anchor, Ken Mijungu.
But if you delve deeper into the conversation his style and passion quickly comes to the fore.
Quickfire Friday had a sit down with the lawyer-turned-journalist, to get to know his personality away from the TV screens.
Here is how it went down:
Quickfire: Hi Ken, please introduce yourself.
Ken: Why should I? (laughs). Okay, Ken Mijungu is my name, I do a lot of things here at Nation; I serve people tea, I ensure that everyone has a seat in the newsroom and I provide writing materials. At times when there’s no one to go on air, I’m sent to the studio, and I also do reporting. (laughs)
Quickfire: Briefly tell us briefly about your upbringing.
Ken: Born and raised in county 044 (Migori County). I went to three primary schools; one in Homa Bay, another in Mbita and the last one in Migori, so basically 2 counties. For High School, I attended Maseno School and after that, I joined Moi University.
Quickfire: You are a very stylish man Ken, do you have a stylist?
Ken: I do it myself. My dad was a very smart guy, very smart. I grew up looking up to him in terms of dressing. Matching coats with ties and shirts is the most difficult thing, so what I did when I started my career in 2008, I used to look at how President Barack Obama dressed, and put on like he did. He had a stylist and so, by extension, his stylist was my stylist.
Quickfire: How many suits do you have?
Ken: I make a point of giving out what I no longer use at the end of every year, but all in all I think I have 60 suits and close to 150 neckties. I am a collector…
Quickfire: (Gasp) How many countries have you been to?
Quickfire: (Bigger gasp) Let’s talk about your career journey. You are a lawyer by profession but first, tell us about your media career.
Ken: My journalism career began on February 28, 2008 at Regional Reach, that’s Mediamax currently. I was there for 4 years before I went to CCTV Africa for about 15 months, then in February 2013, I came to NMG. Actually, this is the longest I have been at a place.
Quickfire: Why did you go to school to study law, and are you practicing law?
Ken: I don’t practice law, because I didn’t finish my case. Actually, I’d say I registered at KSL and left.
Ken: Because I was looking for money! My dad was sick in 2006 and my mum was just a high school principal. Also my siblings were still in school. So in 2007, I graduated and in 2008 I came straight to Nairobi.
Quickfire: Is law something that you would want to pursue later on in life?
Ken: I do legal consultancy right now because I am allowed to do that, but if I have anything that involves litigation I refer the client to one of my three lawyer friends, but I still get my cut.
Quickfire: You recently interviewed Deputy President William Ruto, what was going through your mind at that moment?
Ken: He had about 100 GSU officers in his compound and at some point, before the interview, I felt that he might have a formed opinion, he didn’t have it but because I am human I thought he did. What if my name betrays me? What if I go there and he thinks that because I am Luo (I am not Luo by the way, I am Suba, but everyone thinks I am Luo). I might be there on assignment. But I thought to myself and said, if that was his concern, he wouldn’t have allowed me to do the interview.
In the 12 years of my career, I have never had such an easy interview. Not any form of nervousness, my mind was present throughout. I think it’s also one of the interviews that I really prepared for. That was a well-done interview, I know when I do bad.
Ruto is a very easy guy. At one point when he came in, we thought because there was a 10-minute break, probably he would want to walk out and come back, but he stayed there and watched the news with us. Occasionally, I would crack jokes and call people to say hello to him. He is the easiest guy ever, he walks into the room and he knows 70% of everyone and he can even remind you, if you had met, where you first saw each other. You could like him just like that.
Quickfire: Waititu didn’t show for his interview. Did you see that coming?
Ken: No, I didn’t see it coming but I spoke to his lawyers later and they told me that he was advised that because he had a matter in court, they felt he might jeopardize his future chances by saying something that could be used against him. Unfortunately, they didn’t inform us and he was a no show.
Quickfire: What does friendship mean to you? Because we have seen you recently come out to defend one of your friends.
Ken: I’ll take you to the Bible to explain what friendship means; the friendship between David, Solomon, and Jonathan. When your Dad wants you to be King and your friend who is your dad’s son knows you better than him and will go every length to protect you. That is friendship. That is friendship. Friendship is not based on what I have, what I know, where I go or who I hang out with. It’s about what someone else would not imagine sacrificing for you.
I also learned about friendship from my dad. He taught me three things:
Your friends should never be more than your fingers, so it means 10 maximum, but you can do with five.
When someone is your true friend, you introduce him to your family and he/she will do the same.
Love your mother. If you love your mum, you will love your wife and you will love your daughter.
So I have 10 friends and trust me, I know where they come from, up to their village.
Quickfire: Do you think that people have a formed opinion about you?
Ken: Yes. Just like they do about everyone else… Some think that I am arrogant, that’s the biggest opinion people have but it’s not true. I am a straight forward person, if I feel like telling you something I will.
The second formed opinion people have about me is that; I am rich. I am a regular, normal citizen.
I am neither arrogant nor rich.
Quickfire: If you had the chance to go back, what would you do differently?
Ken: I would not bring out the people I love in public. That is the only different thing I’d do. The rest I’d do the same.
Quickfire: If your life was a movie, what title would it be?
Ken: The Equilizer by Denzel Washington. Because that’s how I live with people, I like to see justice. I like to see people accorded what they deserve.
Quickfire: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Ken: To raise my father from the dead.
Quickfire: If you were to choose a country to be born in, which one would it be?
Ken: Kenya. The next country I love is Rwanda, but I would choose to be born in Kenya every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Quickfire: Who are your top three favorite local or international artistes?
Ken: You know, I don’t have a favorite artiste because I basically enjoy everything. Pretty much everyone who is out there is a favorite to me because I know they are doing unique things in their own style, so I wouldn’t choose one.
Quickfire: Name three things you will never fail to carry along with you?
Ken: I would never leave the house without my watch, my phone and I would definitely not leave without dressing nicely.
Quickfire: What is your greatest achievement yet?
Ken: Being healthy so far. I have been healthy for 37 years, that’s my greatest achievement.
Quickfire: What would you tell your 15-year-old self?
Ken: Let me tell you what I said in 2011. I said I am a working progress. I actually wrote on Facebook and said ‘watch this space’. I would tell my 15-year-old self; do the right thing at that age, don’t ever grow too fast or too slowly, just do what 15-year-olds do. You know, I look at people and sympathize, you are 22 and you want to drive a Range Rover, live in Lavington and have 10 million shillings in your bank.
Do the right thing at your current age, do 15, 20, 30 or 40-year-olds do… and by the way, everything falls in place at the right time. Some people get lucky but most of us don’t.
Quickfire Friday is a show produced by the NTVKenya Digital team to let the audience get to know more about our TV personalities.