Edmond Nyabola: I have a crush on Sanaipei Tande
Edmond Martin Nyabola is arguably one of the best investigative journalists in Kenya.
Growing up, however, he had no idea he would become a journalist.
In a recent interview with the Nation, Nyabola spoke about being raised by a single parent, growing up in the village, his journalism journey and his secret crush on musician Sanaipei Tande.
“I was born and raised in Bondo constituency about 32 years ago. I am the first born in a family of three. I pretty much spent my early childhood in the village with my two younger sisters,” he said.
Nyabola and his siblings were raised by a single mother after his father passed on when he was just eight years old.
“Being raised by a single parent in a village setup, where you don’t really get everything you want, largely shaped me to become the person I am today,” he says.
His strict mother spared no effort to keep him on the straight and narrow.
“As a kid, I used to get into a lot of trouble. I was very cheeky. I got enough beatings from my mum for my mischief. There was this cane she kept in the house, just in case I did something wrong. That cane was used on me so many times,” he recounted.
He recalls with regret one occasion during his teens when he got into an ugly exchange with his mother.
“As a teenage boy, I think I pushed my mum to her limits. On that occasion, things boiled over, and we had a nasty exchange. We later made peace. Now I know better and I regret that incident to this day,” Nyabola said.
Growing up on the shores of Lake Victoria, young Nyabola only figured out his career path after completing his secondary school education.
“Growing up in the village you are never that exposed. So I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to become until I finished my high school education and got my university acceptance letter,” he says.
But his dream of directly joining a public university was jolted after he scored a mean grade of C+ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination.
He opted to repeat Form Four to give himself a second chance. This time, he attained the required grade and joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
Although he had previously been to Nairobi, campus life was a big culture shock to him.
During his first week in campus, the adventurous Nyabola ventured out into the city centre and lost his way.
PARTY AFTER PARTY
He only found his way back to campus after wandering round the city for almost four hours.
“To this day, I don’t even remember where I went or how I got back to campus,” he says.
Away from his strict mother, Nyabola found himself with much freedom. His first two years in campus were all about partying and women.
“Life was one big endless party. We would walk to town, buy a few things, go into clubs and hang out with women. Back in campus, there was no short supply of women,” he calls.
But, even with all the partying, Nyabola still managed to focus on academics. During one holiday break, he decided to work as a shoeshiner to raise money for school fees.
“I got this job around the Kenya National Archives. I would report very early in the morning and leave in the evening. I did that job for close to four months and made enough money to pay for the following semester’s fees,” he said.
His journalism journey started when a team from the Nation Media Group’s Media Lab visited campus.
At the time, he had not thought of becoming a journalist. He was more into corporate communication and PR. However, he still attended the training.
“I had never imagined I would become a journalist. It was not even on my top 10 list of preferred careers. At the end of the training, we were asked to write an essay and I passed. I later did an aptitude test,” he said.
But he emerged ninth in the final list, with only eight slots available. His main undoing, he later learnt, was his past lack of interest in journalism. All those who were selected presented media-related work.
However, he took it positively and started writing Letters to the Editor. It wasn’t long before he was offered internship at the Nation Centre.
Nyabola was deployed at NTV’s sports desk, where he worked for five years as a senior reporter and sports news presenter, before he left briefly for CGTN Africa.
He returned to NTV a year later and is currently in charge of Planning and Research.
In the years he has been in the media, Nyabola is proud to have worked on several stories that have positively impacted many lives.
“The one story I’m really proud of is one that I did about some children’s home in Bomet where foreigners were reported to have been molesting and mistreating the minors. The story caught international attention, and the perpetrators were arrested and are now facing charges,” he said.
His other big story was an investigative piece titled ”Sins of Saviors” in which he exposed the Child Welfare Society of Kenya.
The story caused a major storm and Nyabola says he even received threats and was taken to court in an effort to stop the airing of the exposé.
The ever-smiling journalist says he’s not the kind of person who makes long-term plans. He prefers taking each day at a time and flowing along with what comes his way.
He looks up to awarding-winning investigative journalist John-Allan Namu, CEO of Africa Uncensored. He is also greatly inspired by Rose Wangui, a colleague at NTV, who was the 2019 ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award winner.
“I admire these two people because of the kind of stories they tell. They go out and tell stories about the society, they seek solutions to problems affecting people and tell stories of every day’s life. That is the core journalism,” Nyabola says.
Being on the screen almost every day has brought its fair share of drama into the life of a man who prefers spending his free time indoors.
Nyabola recalls one particular incident when a female stalker came looking for him at Nation Centre. He was forced to stay late in the office to evade the woman.
“I was called and told there was a woman who wanted to see me. I instantly knew who she was because of the messages she had been sending me on social media,” Nyabola recounts.
But for Nyabola, a woman does not need to do crazy stuff to get his attention. Human connection, he says, is what will capture his attention.
“It is in knowing each other that you get to see certain things that catch your attention about that person. You get to talk to someone and see through them. If you connect, you will definitely feel it.”
Nyabola also revealed that he has a crush on former radio queen and musician Sanaipei Tande.
“Sanaipei, no one has ever heard this, but much love,” he said.