Kirigo Ngárua speaks out on the unexpected exit from TV job

Photo: Kirigo Ngárua/Facebook
  • Kirigo says she has learnt to dedicate most of her time to herself

Dressed in a white top and red jeans, she walks into the posh Kilimani joint commanding attention. All eyes are on her but she seems comfortable as she is used to this kind of attraction.

This is Kirigo Ng’arua, the celebrated TV girl whose untimely exit from Royal Media Service Citizen TV exactly a year ago left many shocked.

“Are you the same girl I see on TV,” a prominent politician poses and reaches out for a hug even before she is ushered to the table. And as we settle down, her charming smile attracts more fans to us. Clearly, eight years on TV where she rose through the ranks to become one of Kenya’s celebrated hosts has made her an irresistible personality.

With simplicity, she acknowledges everyone who says hello before the waiter takes our order. She orders sandwich and black tea.

“Good to see you again,” she charms on as she urges me to make a good order.

“I am trying to keep fit so don’t mind my order. It is lunch time, right,” I nod, diging into the menu.

It’s been two weeks of waiting since she promised to grant this exclusive interview, her first since her unexpected exit from Citizen TV alongside other big names such as Terryanne Chebet and Abdi Osman.

“My lay-off came as a bit of a shock to me as I did not see myself leaving Citizen TV any time soon. Well, I knew that some people would be laid off but I did not give it much thought as I was focused on making myself better in my job,” she opens up, nostalgically recollecting the events of that October 30th.

"What I actually dreaded came to be a reality. In that shock, I wasn’t sure how to react.  But there was no going back for me. I had to move forward.

“I have some of my relatives abroad and they invited me over to spend some time with them and I considered it a way for me to take my mind off things,” she said about her immediate departure from Kenya that came with a rumour.

As she was travelling abroad, she happened to be on the same flight with a government official who was headed to the same destination.

“From that, people started spreading rumours that I was dating a 'sponsor' and that he was taking me on holiday. It’s funny how people love to draw conclusions about an issue even before getting their facts right,” she says adding that she decided to ignore the rumour until it died down.

She refutes another rumour that she had gotten a job abroad at the time.

Unknown to many, before her TV job, the ambitious media girl had been a radio host at Hot 96.

Kirigo, the first born in a family of two children, grew up in Jerusalem and South B areas of Nairobi.

She says that she had a normal childhood and she would engage in children games.

After high school, she had made up her mind to become a journalist and that is how she ended up at Tangaza College, a constituent college of Catholic University of Eastern Africa to study Radio Production before joining the University of Nairobi for her Masters degree.

“When I got started, I really didn’t see myself becoming a celebrated anchor as much as I knew I had the passion for TV,” she says.

“Since I was in class six, I knew I would end up in media. During my first TV interview at Citizen, I almost got a slot as a female sports anchor but Farida Karoney thought I was better placed as a TV anchor. It is her who gave me the opportunity and from then, there was no looking back,” she says adding that back then, she would get her inspiration from prominent reporters such as CNN’s Christiana Amanpour.

“I started my journey as a radio host on Hot 96 after clearing campus before moving to Citizen TV.

 “My journey at Royal Media Service was an exciting one. I learnt a lot in my eight years of experience in the media industry,” she says.

One would be curious to know how it felt like to work alongside big names in the media industry. “The experience is good and you get to learn a lot. You always have to be yourself and not try to fit in and everything will flow smoothly. Despite working together, I learnt to accept and consider my workmates as my family who would and still come through in the good times as well as the bad times. That is actually what I miss the most about the Royal Media family.”

“After I went abroad I wasn’t doing much and so I gained a lot of weight. I put on so much weight and by that time I weighed 86 kilograms. I am back to the gym though and doing my everyday work outs as well as eating well to get back my body.”

Terming the last year’s turn of events as an eye opener, Kirigo says she has learnt to dedicate most of her time to herself as well as her friends who have been her support system all through.

 “You need to have a solid crew as your support system and that proved to be true during that difficult time,” she says.

It was these lone moments that gave her an idea of starting her own show, 'The Girlfriend’s Table'. “Yes, my show is currently up and running and I have shot four episodes already. It is basically an online show that mostly targets women and women empowerment.

“I decided to do an online show as everything is moving digital and the reach is bigger and further.”

The social Kirigo says she has a number of projects lined up besides Girlfriend’s Table adding that she will be unveiling the plans one by one.

Girlfriend’s Table is a show where women from different walks of life sit down and share their experiences.

“Many kept asking me why I would do a show where women put things out there in a plain way and my answer is that it is time we embraced womanhood with all that it comes with. It’s time to share stories on successes and challenges of being a woman, time to change the stereotypes about the woman, it’s time to truly enjoy being in this zone hoping that it will be a source of hope and inspiration to the women who will listen as we pick each other up,” she says.

“I honestly hope and pray that we as women will learn to totally embrace the journey of womanhood without making apologies.”

Asked whether this is a comeback for her in the media industry, she is quick to respond that: “If it happens, it will happen but for now let’s enjoy what time has to offer.”

Off screen, Kirigo is a certified professional mediator in family and political mediation. She enjoys reggae music and has attended all reggae concerts staged by international artistes in Kenya as well having fun times with her friends.

“I love cooking and funny enough, I seem to make my best meals when I am in bad mood. Right now, my passion is on baking,” reveals Kirigo, adding that she doesn’t have a particular favourite meal.

Photo: Kirigo Ngárua/Facebook

Asked about her private life, Kirigo says she keeps her personal life just that noting that she hardly expose what should be personal. In fact, she would wouldn’t say if she is dating or not.

“What I can say is that I appreciate men who respect women, men who can be faithful in a relationship. I also appreciate women who love their men, women who are secure and who need not change their men but rather make him the best version of himself,” she concludes.