Raphael Tuju is the most successful Kenyan journalist, a billionaire and a top political figure in his country. Many do not know that the man who is a top political figure in his country was a successful journalist with international news organisation like the CNN.
According to The Kenyans, Tuju had been one of Kenya's pioneer TV anchors in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the time, KTN was the only privately owned television station and his colleagues included Catherine Kasavuli, Joseph Warugu, Zain Verjee (who later rose to become a top anchor at CNN), Kathleen Openda and Njoroge Mwaura.
Like most journalists, the newscaster did not earn much in spite of the celebrity status he had acquired from appearing on the silver screen.
“I know what it’s like to be reading TV news wearing a nice jacket and tie and not so nice trousers, and then to go home in a matatu people think you shouldn’t be in. They can’t reconcile the glamorous public persona with the very humble life you are living. As a career, journalism is transient. People do it to move on to something else because it does not pay so well,” the father of three revealed in a past interview.
Tuju started his transition journey by painfully saving his income and invested his money in land. He would later make another wise decision when he opened a TV production studio.
“When I was buying my two-and-a-half acres of land in Karen, I lived in Buru Buru. But when some of my colleagues got money they went to the best pubs in town and the most significant discotheques of the time. Me? Whatever little I got, I put into real estate,” he narrates.
As the newscaster continued to present news, he was actively working on his studio which later became a company, Ace Communications, where he moved full-time as the CEO.
Unlike most of his colleagues in politics who made their money in government deals, Tuju’s company gained an international reputation for its quality documentaries and attracted high-ranking clients such as the UN, World Bank and the DFID.
Those who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s will recall the scary HIV documentaries shown as part of sex education - all done by Ace Communications. At one time, the journalist's company became the biggest consultant in Africa and made Tuju the first African to win an Emmy award.
As his international business thrived, he shifted his base to Maryland in the United States where he lived for six years. Tuju sold his studios and shifted his attention to real estate and politics in 2002.
His real-estate interests are reported to be worth billions with numerous tracts of commercial land in Karen and in Upperhill. He remains a silent shareholder at Ace Communications.
Tuju is also the owner of the high-end Dari Restaurant in Karen.
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