Nairobi News


Olive Burrows: My mum died as I prepared to take her to hospital – VIDEO

By Amina Wako August 26th, 2020 3 min read

Until 2015, Olive Burrows was virtually an unknown name, dutifully showing up at her 19th floor Lonrho House work station at Capital FM.

But then US President Barack Obama came visiting and Burrows had the rare opportunity to interview him.

She would later get a call up to join the NTV news anchoring team and has since become a household name.

But beyond the limelight, who is Olive Burrows?


“I was born in Mombasa County, but we moved to Nairobi when I was just a child. At the time my mum was working with Nigerian Airways, and we moved to Nairobi after she got a job with Air Kenya. So I grew up in Nairobi West,” says Burrows.

She schooled at Malezi Preparatory in Lang’ata and later went to Kenya High before she joined Daystar University.

Being an only child raised by her mother, the two developed a strong bond.

“I travelled a lot with my mum. She worked in the airline industry, so I had an opportunity to see a good portion of Kenya,” she adds.

Burrows has fond memories of her childhood as she would spend her holidays in Mombasa with her cousin with whom she is still close.

“Growing up in Mombasa was quite fun, we would have dancing competitions and our older cousins would rank us,” she says.

Burrows, who describes herself as a stickler for rules, says there are very few instances where she got into trouble.


“One time, I was home alone and my family came home later and asked if I went to church that day (it was on a Sunday) and I lied, said I went to church and I didn’t go. I (had) slept in. I was asked who was preaching and I lied, turns out it was not that person. I broke the trust my family had in me,” she offers.

That was not all.

“When I was in college, there was a night my friends and I wanted to go out, so I told my mum we had a campfire, which we did not. I just wanted to go out with my friends. My friend’s sister was at Catholic University, so we went to her room. You know when you are leaving the house, you leave with a nice, long, skirt. It was a wrap-around skirt, and I was to come back home on Sunday morning,” she says.

Underneath the “church” skirt, she wore a mini-skirt.

“So, what we would do is hide our bags behind the DJ’s booth. I had put my wrap-around skirt in my friend’s bag. I don’t know how it happened, but she left before me, without my knowledge. So, here I was on Sunday morning…luckily, I had a shawl, so I used it as a skirt. When I got home my mum was awake, (and) she wondered ‘you left looking one way and you are back home looking a totally different way’ she just knew I had gone out,” Burrows says amid laughter.


Her lowest moment was when her mother died in 2016 as she prepared to take her to the hospital.

“My mum had been unwell, and she came to my place on a Monday. I told her we would go to the hospital on Tuesday. On Tuesday, she told me she wanted to rest. The whole day I just felt off. I got home and found my mum hadn’t eaten. She had slept the whole day, so I forced her to eat. On Wednesday, when I woke up, I found her moving up and down the house. She was saying she was having trouble breathing. So I panicked nikakuwa mkali (I was stern with her) and I told her ‘no, no you can’t talk like that, you need to be strong’,” Burrows recalls.

With her mum unable to breathe, she informed her aunt and cousin, who was on the way to pick them up to go to the hospital.

“We were getting ready for the hospital. I was in the kitchen making tea and I noticed she was quiet. I came out and found her on the sofa, but one look at her face, and I could tell she was having a stroke. So, I screamed, I rushed to the fridge where I had Red Cross numbers, and they told me I was too far away because I was living in Ruaka then,” she says.

Burrows managed to get a St Johns Ambulance, but when the crew arrived and checked her mother’s pulse, “I could see and I could tell she was gone”.