For a greater part of Kenyans, the say of Raphael Tuju rings a political chime yet relatively few know that the man remains Kenya’s best columnist – in any event on the premise of monetary achievement.
Much sooner than he turned into a legislator or served in government, Tuju had been one of Kenya’s pioneer TV stays in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.
At the time, KTN was the main exclusive TV channel and his associates included Catherine Kasavuli, Joseph Warugu, Zain Verjee (who later rose to wind up a top grapple 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.
After becoming a minister in 2003, he surprised many of his colleagues after he banned his company from receiving any deals with the government in order to avoid a conflict of interest.