Jeff Mwaura Koinange MBS (born 7 January 1966) is a Kenyan journalist and host of Jeff Koinange Live, a talk show on Citizen TV since February 2017. He is also a radio host, alongside Nick Odhiambo, of the breakfast show at HOT 96, the English-language station owned by Royal Media Services. He was a judge representing Kenya at the new East Africa’s Got Talent, which premiered on 4 Aug 2019. He served as the Africa correspondent for CNN and CNN International from 2001 to 2007, and later as chief reporter at TV station K24 from 2007 to December 2012. Before joining KTN, he worked with KTN on his branded news program, Jeff Koinange Live. He had earlier served as the chief anchor Africa for Arise Television Ltd based in Johannesburg. He joined East Africa’s Got Talent as a judge alongside Gaetano Kagwa, Makeda Mahadeo and Vanessa Mdee.
Jeff Koinange Early life and career
Koinange was born in Kenya and worked with Kenya’s first independent television channel KTN. Between 1987 and 1989, he attended Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated with an associate degree. He also received a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from New York University.
Prior to joining CNN, Koinange worked for Reuters Television from 1995 to 2001, covering Africa and serving as their chief producer from 1999 to 2001. He also worked as a producer at NBC News in 1994 and earlier worked for ABC News, from 1991 to 1992. He married his second wife, Shaila Koinange, in 1998.
Koinange worked for Atlanta-based media conglomerate Cable News Network (CNN) as its East African correspondent before his sacking in 2008 where he returned to Kenya and joined K24 a few months later.
Jeff Koinange CNN career
Included among the more significant stories Koinange has covered for CNN in Africa were the crisis in Darfur, the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the famine in Niger, for which he won an Emmy award.
In early 2007, Koinange was reprimanded by the government of Nigeria for his coverage of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). In his report, Koinange accompanied masked MEND guerillas to a camp where they were holding a number of Filipino hostages. The Nigerian government said that the report was “staged”, a charge CNN denied.
He has also covered news outside of Africa, including extensive reporting on the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina crisis in the US and the Iraq War. On 29 May 2007, CNN announced that Koinange was no longer employed by the network. Jeff was dismissed in May 2007 on allegations of sexual abuse and bribery.
According to a report by Business Today, Swiss Businesswoman Marianne Briner claimed that the journalist had numerous scandals at CNN, adding that the “Delta Story” sealed his fate at the network.
The Delta Story showed Koinange being surrounded by masked gunmen in speedboats – described as rebels with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. The gunmen would then take him and his crew to a group of Filipinos who they were holding hostage.
After the story aired in February 2007, the Nigerian government accused Koinange of bribing people over the oil kidnappings to pose as assailants and recreate kidnappings in the Niger Delta all for the camera.
Further allegations in Jeff’s ouster were that he was involved in a romantic relationship with Briner. According to reports, he had promised to promote a book she had written about the corruption in Kenya through CNN. The book detailed murders and corruption within Kenya’s political class.
Briner was a star witness in an inquiry into the murder of former Foreign Affairs Cabinet Minister Dr Robert Ouko.
After a publicity story by Koinange flopped, Briner exposed email correspondence between them, which revealed their intimacy and shed more light on the Delta story.
“Of course, we had to pay certain people to get the story [Delta Story]… You do not get such a story without bribing,” Jeff said according to a now-defunct website. Before Koinange and Briner met, the two had exchanged several steamy emails that revealed a budding relationship between them.
Seven months after leaving CNN, Koinange was hired as a news anchor by a new Kenyan TV station, K24, which began test transmissions in Nairobi in December 2007. He was the host of Capital Talk Show. He now hosts ‘Jeff Koinange Live’, a talk show aired on Citizen TV Kenya, part of Royal Media Services and a prime news anchor for the same station.
Book: Through my African eyes
In his autobiography, Through My African Eyes, published in 2014 by the Footprints Press Kenya, Koinange describes his school days and his career climb to be one of Africa’s most recognised journalists. Despite being a public figure, he has kept a lot of his personal life private, and the book serves as a window into his life.
Philanthropy and Community Work
Koinange has been very prominent in giving back to the community in different ways. In 2017, he began an initiative to develop and stock a library in the Kibera slums where students from the neighbourhood can gain access to reading material. He has also done notable speaking engagements, such as at the Journalism In Africa forum, organised by a community organisation called Fatuma’s Voice in 2016.
Koinange is a country music lover and appeared with Kenyan singer Sir Elvis at the Country Roads event at Thika Greens Golf Resort in September 2019. Koinange had previously appeared with Sir Elvis at other events.
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