Dennis Itumbi and Dennis Onsarigo are renowned names in Kenya’s journalism industry, however, what remains unknown to many is that the two were close friends and lived together as they tried to find a footing in Nairobi.
Itumbi, an award-winning journalist has made a name for himself in the digital world and political strategy and is famed for spearheading the digital campaigns leading up to the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
On the other hand, Onsarigo is a veteran award-winning investigative journalist, renowned for some of the most telling expose’ in the country.
However, just like any ordinary Kenyan, they too have a past and a tale to crack a rib.
The two have long been friends and at the beginning of their careers, they lived together, sharing some of the fondest memories of their lives.
In a past interview with a local daily, Itumbi revealed that at one point, the two lived in Mukuru Slums, where they had rented a house for Ksh3,500. On several occasions, they were unable to raise the amount and would spend nights at the University of Nairobi as they sought out means of survival.
“With my good friend Dennis Onsarigo, we could not afford the rent of a room in Mukuru slums valued at 3,500 as we struggled our way into survival. Not once the room was locked and we had to seek creative ways to survive including sleeping in rooms at the University of Nairobi as we hustled for the cash,” Itumbi was quoted as saying.
In their first jobs, they earned Ksh9,000 each per month, but they remained focused on their goals are refused to give up.
“Later as we moved on I met Martin Gitau, a man I have literally grown up with from my days as a teenager and we together took a single room in Mbotela Slums – definitely an improvement from the former place we lived, but here we had Richard Bosire, Imende Benjamin and Kiura – at least here rent was not an issue,” he recounted.
At one point he recalls, they lived at a house that had a leaking roof in Nairobi West. One evening while it was raining, they had returned home with company, and when Onsarigo opened the door, not knowing the house was flooding with water, he let the ladies go in first, only to step into water.
Living together, the two had learned to have each other’s back, as they had been through a lot together.
At one point, they were broke and did not have the cash to pay for their bus fare home. At the time, they lived in South B. So while at the Kencom Stage in Nairobi, they staged an act about the coming of the anti-Christ to raise money.
“Life was very hard then. Dennis Onsarigo and I did it to raise fare to South B. We staged the act and managed to raise Ksh2,600. It took us for the week,” Itumbi narrated.
File Image of Dennis Itumbi and Dennis Onsarigo
Their struggles in the city, however, paid off as they grew within the media industry to build names for themselves.
Itumbi in the course of his career worked with The Standard newspaper, Voice of America, Royal Media Services, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), and Baraka FM. In 2007, he was awarded the 2006/07 GJLOS journalist of the year award.
He later moved on to his own blog and later on, his wit in the digital space landed him a role as the Director of Digital Communication at the Office of the President where he served until his unceremonious ouster in 2018.
Onsarigo on the other hand was famed for “Jicho Pevu” alongside Nyali Member of Parliament Mohammed Ali as well as Case Files, one of the most popular investigative shows on KTN. Together they brought to light some of the most shocking hidden stories in the country and exposed major fraud and corruption scandals in Kenya.