Celebrating Khamis Themor, a veteran journalist

Mr. Khamis Themor, Veteran Broadcaster. PHOTO/Courtesy of Jackline Lidubwi.

The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation veteran journalist and news presenter, Khamis Themor, has been a renowned top voice in the media industry for quite some time.

Having started his career in the late years of the 1970s and gracing our TV Screens even during the 1990s, his voice has been heard by many ears in the country.

“They tried me in the translation department and found me fit. I then started translating the news,” he remembers.

He then got into directing.

“In one of the occasions, I was set to direct Stephen Kikumu. A quarter to 7 am, his wife called me and informed me that Kikumu is sick and won’t be in for the morning news.

The Chief News Editor at that time, Mr. Magokha, told me that I’ve directed for long enough, urging me to go and present the news. That’s how I started,” he recounts.

In his journey, he recognizes the many helping hands which raised him to the top positions of the journalism corridors.

Dorothy Zawadi from the University of Nairobi, Herman Igambi, a Chief News Editor, Christopher Opiyo who succeeded Igambi, and all others who put a finger in his career.

“I really loved my career. Even though I had done no training apart from the short course we did in the USA, I always worked so hard to be the best version of myself,” Themor says.

Slowly, he rose to become the Head of Translation. 

During his career, he remembers some of the challenging moments which came his way.

“When President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, passed on, all the government authorities denied the fact that they were the ones who had circulated the news and none wanted to be quoted.

We had to get a way of reporting it to the public without quoting anyone.

So, the Director, James Kagwana, brought the idea on how we could better put it,” he recounts.

They put it that “It has been reported from the office of the president that Mzee Jomo Kenyatta has passed on.”

His time in the industry is also flavored by flashbacks of the iconic events he either reported or anchored the news about.

Such include the firing of Minister William Odongo Omamo by President Moi and the 1982 political coup.

“I used to live at Amboseli. I was however unable to go to my job for five consecutive days during the coup because I did not have a National ID and everyone getting inside Nairobi city had to show the ID to the police.

“On the 6th day, the GSU accompanied me into the job place.”

He admits that during those days, KBC had a great deal of censorship from the government

“They used to tell us which story to read to the public and which one should not feature in the news.

But when the market opened up and the media stations increased in number, they had no choice other than to let loose the ropes because even if we didn’t anchor the news on some issues, the other stations would do it,” he explains.

In his journey, he has amassed many awards and trophies and continues to be celebrated as one of the legends of broadcasting in Kenya.

Though now retired and advancing in age, he still loves reading books and he is also a football fan for Manchester United.

His first journey abroad was sponsored by the USAID, in collaboration with KBC.

As a veteran journalist who has scaled many walls of the vast media industry, he has realized that a career in the media can easily raise a person to great heights and if not keen, arrogance may step in.

He exhorts all upcoming journalists and media personalities to exercise enough humility and not allow pride to carry them away.

 Editor’s Note

This feature is based on an interview produced and uploaded by Jackline Lidubwi on her YouTube channel, @J.Lidubwi.

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Mr. Makau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Media & Communication from Moi University, Kenya. He is a Columnist and Editor with Scholar Media Africa, with a keen interest in Education, Health, Climate Change, and Literature. His contact: b.makau@scholarmedia.africa.

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