Media personality Gathoni Wa Muchomba was born and brought up in Komothai, Githunguri in a family of four and a stepfamily of 11
She remembers her humble upbringing in a huge family with an irresponsible father who hardly took care of his family.
“My dad was an irresponsible drunkard who cared very little for the family. Mum worked as a casual labourer to feed all of us. Our school was very far as we used to walk 13 km to and from school. On top of that, we used to draw water on our way from school from a river.”
According to Gathoni, this affected her so negatively that she vowed never to get married. However, she was a bright student and emerged top in her KCPE at the district level after which she proceeded to Precious Blood Riruta for her secondary school. She almost dropped out of school at her high school but a Good Samaritan from Japan, who worked as a volunteer teacher at Komothai Girls School where Gathoni’s mother was a casual labourer offered to pay her fee arrears and all other fees until she completed her secondary school.
Gathoni, 41 narrates how she disliked holidays since her mother earned peanuts from her labour and would hardly afford her fare back to school.
“Mum could only afford Sh2 for my bus fare. This meant I had to hike a lift and if I was not lucky, I would stay home for some days”.
After completing her O- levels with a lot of difficulties, Gathoni luckily secured a job as an untrained teacher in a neighbouring Makuyu Secondary School. She liked teaching profession which saw her join University of Nairobi (UoN) for a bachelor’s degree in education. At campus she thought of ways of generating income for personal upkeep.
“I opened a salon in campus and, later, another in Kikuyu town. I used to imported hair bands from India and sold them in campus to earn some few money,” Gathoni recalls.
While in second year, a lecturer, Mary Ngechu identified Gathoni’s efforts and offered her a job. “She had a project, Radio listeners group, for the University broadcast under an NGO, European Economic Community (EEC). My role was to identify what farmers were doing at the grassroots level. I travelled all over Kenya recording shows on agriculture which were later aired on KBC,” Gathoni continues.
While at fourth year in 1999
, Gathoni heard that media owner Rose Kimotho was about to open a vernacular radio station Kameme Fm where she went to seek a job. She carried the records of all the projects she had done which made her land at the station and started airing the popular Canjamuka show from
9 am to 1 pm. She would be at the radio station by 6 am and work until 5
pm, after which she would return to campus to work on assignments and study. She admits it was tough but was always at the top of the class. I graduated in 1999 with a Second Class, upper division”.
She later went back to UoN, School of Journalism where she pursued a Masters Degree in Communication. However, around that time she got pregnant for her daughter, Melissa Wanjiru who was born in 2003.
After graduating in 2004, Royal Media Services Chairman SK Macharia approached her in a church and persuaded her to ditch Kameme for his radio station, Inooro which was yet to be launched by then. He tripled her salary which motivated her to join Inooro. At Inooro, Gathoni ruled the airwaves for three years with local polls ranking her as the favourite vernacular radio presenter.
In 2005 she started Smart Media College in Nairobi, which later opened branches in various towns including Nakuru.
Last year she opened own digital vernacular television channel, Utugi TV, which she says aim is to help farmers since 99 per cent of the programs are based on agriculture.On Saturday, she fronted herself to vie for Kiambu Woman Representative saying she is confident to trounce the incumbent Anne Nyokabi.