Amira is Africa’s own answer to Oprah. The Kenyan-born media queen started out at KTN hosting Who’s Smatter Now before leaving to host one of the continent’s most popular talk-shows “The Patricia Show”. which is broadcast in over 45 African countries and watched by over 10 million people. The show focuses on indigenous achievements and human interest stories across Africa. Being on MNET has made her a quite familiar face in the continent. She has also interviewed prominent African icons making her a well known personalities in Africa’s media circles.
Ngugi Wa Thiongo,, Author
Ngugi is Kenya’s most cerebrated author and playwright, he published his first novel, Weep Not, Child in 1964. He later left Kenya on exile in the 70s as a result of his outspokenness and harsh criticisms of the government of the day using plays and novels as his outlets. In 2006 he published his first novel in two decades, Wizard of the Crow which tells the story of an imaginary African state governed by its despotic ruler. Ngugi is currently based in the UK where he serves as a Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Irvine. He has become popular in Africa as a result of his literary works that are read all over the world more so in African Universities.
Eric is definitely Kenya’s most famous music export in the world. The singer-songwriter studied at Berklee College of Music. He released “Kenya Only” in the aftermath of the 1998 bombing in Nairobi. The song went on to become a favourite of many as it captured the mood of a nation in mourning at the time. He released his debut album, Sawa Sawa in 2001 and sold well over two million copies making it one of Kenya’s bestselling albums of all time. He was also the producer of Kenya’s most successful musical, Mo Faya which was shown at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and received rave reviews worldwide. The multi-award winner released his third studio album, Love and Protest earlier this year. He has performed alongside Africa’s greatest and collabod with the continents most notable musicians including, Baba Mal and Oliver Mtukudzi.
Victor Wanyama, Footballer
This Celtic mid fielder, Victor Mugubi Wanyama was placed among the top 100 youngsters in the world of football according to oddfootballl.com. Since his big move to Celtic in England his name has been on the lips of many football enthusiasts in the continent. He has attracted big teams in the English Premier League such as Arsenal , Manchester City and Manchester United. Consequently he has received a lot of attention from English media both electronic and print. This has put his name on the African map alongside other major footballers.
“I’m proud that I’m the first Kenyan player to play in the UK and I’d be very happy also to be the first Kenyan to play in the Premier League,” Wanyama told The National newspaper.
Jeff Koinange, Journalist
He started out at KTN before venturing out into international journalism that saw him land a role as CNN’s senior correspondent. The role made him a prominent figure in Africa as he reported from various countries in the continent including Nigeria, the continents most populous country. His “controversy” with a British author that saw him exit CNN got him more known in Africa as the story was widely covered in the continent in both regional and international media. He then came back home to work at K24 but has since left to become Africa’s correspondent of the world’s first African international news channel based in London. Jeff will however execute his duties from South Africa.
Suzzanna Owiyo, Musician
She is Kenya’s undisputed afro fusion queen. Her first album, received great success on the radio and even won her a nomination in the Kora Awards 2002 in the “Most Promising Female Artist category”. Since then she has been on a roll doing major gigs and working with other big African stars. In June 2003, she she represented East Africa at the Pan-African music Festival in Brazzaville where she sang alongside Youssou N’dour, Koffi Olomide and Rebecca Malope among other African greats .
In December 2004, Suzanna Owiyo beat a host of African artistes to clinch the single berth reserved for a female African artiste to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, where she performed with her band, and also performed the song “Imagine” with artistes such as Cyndi Lauper, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, Patti Labelle and Baba Maal. She has featured Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe, Mbilia Bel from DR Congo in the album. In 2008 she performed at the Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert in London and performed again at the WOMEX festival. Suzzana is respected allover the continent for her musical expoilts and has made a name for herself while at it.
David Rudisha, Athlete
The Olympics are among the most watched sports events in the world and also Africa. Kenya has for long been known to represent the continent in the medal haul. The country’s athletes are therefore always on the spotlight of Africa’s media and David Rudisha has been the most conspicuous due to his consistency on the track. The world 800m record holder was widely featured in African media a feat that has made his name quite familiar in the continent.
Camp Mulla, Artists
This is Kenya’s biggest rap export to the world. Camp Mulla went against the grain and met stiff resisitance in Kenya’s mainstream music industry, they then used online media to spread their music which went viral, they could no longer be ignored. Ever since their music became mainstream their name has spread around the continent like wild fire.
They were recently nominated in the 2012 BET Awards for the “Best International Act – Africa” category, becoming the first Kenyans to ever be nominated for a BET award alongside big shots from South Africa and West African states of Nigeria and Ghana.
With a new “Funky Town” album out, Camp Mulla had four nominations in the continents premier music channel, Channel O, the Most Gifted East African video, Most Gifted Newcomer video, Most Gifted Video of the Year and Most Gifted Group/Duo categories.
Their videos have been on heavy rotation in major TV channels broadcasting across Africa such as Trace, Channel O, MTV Base, Sound City, Box Africa, BET, among others.
“They have worked hard to be where they are now,” says Suzanne Gachukia, a veteran musician and Sub Sahara record label owner, where Camp Mulla are signed. “What people don’t know is the fact that they spent about four years in the studio recording, before they got famous.
MC Donald Mariga, Footballer
He was the second Kenyan after Dennis Oliech to break into the major football leagues. The central midfielder went to Sweden in 2005 where he played for third Division side Enköpings SK. After only one season there, he signed for Helsingborgs in the senior league. His success at Helsingborgs was immediate and attracted interest from Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, Mariga looked set to sign for the Premier League team, but work permit issues held up the deal which was supposed to have cost around €2.7million.
Mariga later broke into the Serie A joining Inter Milan in a co-ownership deal however he initially attempted a big-money move to Manchester City until a work permit was turned down by the Home Office. He also became the first East African to play in the Champions League and scored East Africa’s first goal in the League. His achievements on the pitch have made him a household name in African household considering the Champion League and Serie A games are broadcast al lover the continent.
Jackson Makini, Prezzo, Artist
This rapper recently became the most successful Kenyan contestant at the Big Brother contest after reaching the finals of the show. Prezzo’s antics in the house saw him win the hearts of many in Africa as the show was viewed all over Africa and streamed online. Popularly known as Prezzo, the rapper got into controversy with different housemates, outbursts with male occupants and affairs with the females. This endeared him to viewers allover Africa who generously gave him votes that saw him reach the finals. His relations with Nigerian contestant Goldie have also kept his name in the radar across the continents entertainment news outlets.
Binyavanga Wainaina, Author
This Kenyan writer recently shot to fame when authored the essay “How To Write About Africa”- one of the most satirical pieces ever written about the continent. The essay went viral online allover the world and became a gateway to his previous works. Wainaina who is a Caine Prize winner published his debut novel, “One Day I Will Write About This Place” in June 2002 which was selected by the Oprah Magazine for its 2011 summer reading list. This writer is one of Africa’s most popular new generation of storytellers and is the brains behind Kwani, the first literary magazine in East Africa.