Jeff Koinange is a well-known Kenyan journalist. He currently hosts Jeff Koinange Live on KTN. Koinange has served as a journalist in the United States, and has also worked for a few U.S. broadcasters. He was born in Kenya but attended college in the United States, which may explain his accent. There are several interesting things to know about the media personality.
Jeff Koinage Father, Family
Jeff Mwaura Koinage was born on January 7, 1966, to Federick Mbiyu Koinage and Hilda Wambui Ngoima. His father, Fedrick was among the sons of the Gikuyu tribe’s most famous chief, Senior Chief Koinage wa Mbiyu. Fedrick’s mother was the third wife of the chief who married six wives. On the other hand, Jeff’s mother, Hilda was the first-child of a rich and progressive farmer, Mwaura wa-Ngoima from Githiga village in Githunguri.
Jeff Koinage’s father fell in love with his mother’s sister before the declaration of the state of emergency in Kenya. Considering their great love for each other, Jeff’s father went on to pay the customary dowry to the Ngoima family but was arrested before he could finish the entire marriage rites. While in prison, Hilda’s sister who was to be his wife could no longer wait so she ran away with another man.
Hilda who knew everything that was happening started writing to Frederick while he was still in police detention. At first, Fedrick felt awkward about the letters from Hilda but he wrote back to her anyway. In one of his letters, he narrated what life in the Manyani had been like. Their casual letter exchange later grew into love and she began visiting Federick at the prison. She later got pregnant and gave birth to Jeff Koinage. Unfortunately, Federick died exactly two months after Jeff’s birth from a brain haemorrhage. The 28-year-old woman then raised Jeff and his three siblings Hilda Wanjiru, Phyllis Wangui, and Freddie Koinage single-handedly. Hilda served as a headmistress and strict disciplinarian in Kiambaa village close to Banana Hill in Kiambu County. She was training as a teacher when she and Frederick started out their affair.
In addition to being the grandson of the famous Senior Gikuyu Chief Koinage, Jeff is also a nephew to Peter Mbiyu Koinange who was exiled in Britain after the State of Emergency was declared. Remember that Peter Mbiyu Koinange was the first Kenyan to obtain a Master’s degree. He acquired the Master’s degree at Columbia University in New York.
Jeff Koinage Wife
Jeff Koinange is married to Shaila Koinange, a Kenyan of Asian origin. Jeff prefers to keep his private life away from the public and so very little is known about his wife. They have a young son, Jamal Mbiyu Koinange, who was born late in their marriage. Before Shaila, Jeff was married to Sonya, a Panamanian lady. He married the lady who used to be their flight instructor in 1988. However, they separated in 1994 after he caught her in bed with another man. The journalist however still holds Sonya dear since he says she will forever remain special to him for the rest of his life. One time he described their affair as non-stop sun, sea and sex.
Jeff Koinage Bio, Lesser Known Facts
Jeff Koinange obtained an Associate’s degree from Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York. He was at the college between 1987 and 1989. He also attended New York University after winning a scholarship and he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism.
In 1984 prior to his graduation from Kingsborough, Jeff and more than 30 other Kenyans were chosen to work as flight attendants. They were trained for eight weeks by PanAm Airlines, which is no longer in operation. He became a steward after the training. His baritone voice made him popular among passengers and on most occasions, they applauded after his announcements.
Jeff Koinange had no idea he could join the media industry until he came across a media personality on one of the flights he was working on. The passenger challenged him to exploit his voice and make a career out of it.
After graduating from New York University, Jeff Koinange worked for both ABC and NBC. He worked at NBC in 1994 and at ABC between 1991 and 2001. He also worked at Reuters between 1995 and 2001.
In 1992, Kenya Television Network was launched. This was the country’s first independent TV channel and Jeff Koinange was one of its first anchors. He joined KTN in 1995 as a part-time news anchor. He was already working as a Reuters correspondent based in Nairobi at this time. The reception was mixed when he began to work at KTN as some people were put off by his accent while others accepted him.
Jeff Koinange was appointed Reuters West Africa Bureau Chief in 1998. He was initially located in Ivory Coast but later relocated to Johannesburg.
Jeff Koinange gained global recognition after he joined CNN as an African correspondent and West Africa Bureau chief. Koinange brought West Africa to the world’s attention through his stories. He highlighted civil wars and corruption in the region. During his stint at CNN, Jeff covered the Darfur crisis, Sierra Leone and Liberia civil wars as well as Niger’s famine.
At CNN, Jeff partnered with Anderson Cooper to cover the famine in Niger which was one of the most devastating famines in West Africa. Their series titled, ‘Starving in Plain Sight’ highlighted the people’s suffering which drew immediate response from across the globe. The Niger people were thus, saved from the devastating situation through the series. The series won a TV Emmy and it is considered one of the highlights of Jeff’s career.
Jeff Koinange’s story about a doctor in Bukavu, Eastern Congo who was helping hundreds of women who had been sexually assaulted is also considered one of the best moments of his career. A Congolese doctor was running a clinic which catered for over 600 women both young and old after they were assaulted by uniformed men. His story evoked a strong response from the audience and the victims got the help they required.
In 2007, while he was working at CNN, Jeff Koinange reported on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). During the report, he was in the presence of MEND guerrillas who had captured some Filipinos. This report raised a lot of controversies and there was outcry especially from the Nigerian government, which claimed that it was staged. CNN and Jeff however, denied the claim that they staged the report.
2007 was a controversial year for Jeff Koinange. Shortly after the Niger Delta report, Marianne Briner, a Swiss national claimed that she had an affair with him. This is believed to be one of the main reasons behind his move from CNN.