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I was born prematurely, Khalwale was the midwife – Zeynab Wandati


She was born prematurely at seven months with the help of former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale as the midwife.

Thirty-two years later, Zeynab Wandati is conquering the world in the media industry, a career that was not her dream until she spent time with her role model Jamila Mohammed.

In an interview with the Nation, Wandati talks about her childhood and her journey to the newsroom.

“I have grown up all over the place. I was born at the Kakamega District Hospital, now Kakamega County Hospital. I was born a premature child and dad says we moved to Nairobi when I was three months old,” she says.

According to Zeynab, she was barely a child and she had to look after her younger brother following their parents’ separation.

“My parents separated when we were young and my brother and I had to look after each other. My dad was a single father for most of his life,” she adds.

The Alliance Girls alumnus wanted to become a doctor but, as she grew older, she realised she could not stand the sight of blood.

“I also got to learn how long they stay in medical school. I don’t think I have that kind of patience,” she said amidst laughter.

Her love for media started when she was 15 years old and her father took her to hang out with media personality Jamila Mohammed.

After spending a day with Jamila in the newsroom, she went home and made up her mind to become a journalist.

Zeynab is among the lucky few Kenyans who never tarmacked to look for work.

After her internship at Royal Media Services, she joined the Nation Media Group journalism training programme, the Media Lab.

Since 2012, she has been at NTV where she started as a business reporter before becoming the business editor.

Currently, she is the science and technology editor. She has a weekly TV feature, Food Fridays.

In 2017, she was awarded FAO’s A.H. Boerma Award, becoming the second Kenyan to receive the award after photojournalist Mohamed “Mo” Amin.

The award consists of an inscribed medal, a scroll describing the winner’s achievements, and a cash prize of USD10,000 (Sh1,080,000).

“Becoming the second Kenyan to win the award was a moment of pride for me. Every award I have won I take it to my father’s house but not this one. This one is in my house and it’s the first thing you see when you get into the house,” she added.

The smiley journalist had a crush on Kenyan reggae king Redsan but the voice of Canadian singer Michael Bublé took her breath away until to date.

“He (Michael Buble) sings so wonderfully and the lyrics and his music,” she said, taking in a deep breath and continuing: “Yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine.”

In five years, she plans to have a bakery of her own.

“During this pandemic period, I started making bread so I hope to expand it to something big that even my parents will be proud of,” she concluded.