Dennis Itumbi Biography
Dennis Itumbi (Dennis Ole Itumbi) is the Director Digital, New Media and Diaspora in the Executive Office of The President of the Republic of Kenya. He is an international award-winning journalist, playwright, blogger, novelist and owns a group of County newspapers, Media and Social Media Consultancy and Solutions.
Itumbi led the Digital Campaigns of the presidential campaigns of President Uhuru Kenyatta and later was a petitioner in the Kenya Presidential Election Petition 2013.
Prior to that, he was a tech blogger at dennisitumbi.com. He went to the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, located in Nairobi South, where he earned a diploma in Journalism before pursuing a degree in Mass Communication at Moi University.
Dennis Itumbi Education Background
- Graduate student at University of Leicester, United Kingdom, MA in New Media, Governance and Democracy
- Undergraduate student at Moi university Nairobi campus, Degree in Mass Communication.
- Student at Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Diploma in Journalism
- Secondary School student at Meru school
Dennis Itumbi Job History
- Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya.
- Co-founder of 25 Studios
- Founder of Supreme Media
- Worked at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation
- Worked at Royal Media
- Worked at Voice of America – VOA
- Worked at Standard newspaper
Dennis Itumbi Awards
- 2006/2007 GJLOS journalist of the year award
Dennis Itumbi Profile – In His Own Words
As I celebrate my Birthday today 10 years down since I first came to Nairobi on my own, I confirm its possible to dream and live a dream.
The word here is living the dream. Experiencing it. Let me share abit of the journey.
I remember my last speech as a Form Four leaving Meru School where our Motto was “In Understanding be Men” those who were in school with me will recall how we all sang to “We shall Overcome” the World that was ahead of us which we had no idea about.
Many years later I came to Nairobi, I keep saying on a Valentine Day, dressed in a shady Maroon Kaunda Suit that was a mix and match of Maroon and White, and it felt seriously smart and Hot.
I remember getting lost from Tea Room and finding myself in Ngong Avenue Two. You see, i grew up herding cattle, an experience i value to date and thank my parents and my late grandparents for exposing me to.
There is something in knowing the basics like how to deal with artificial insemination, how to help a cow that is giving birth and has difficulties, how to harvest and sort our coffee into the different grades, how to take care of a Coffee Tree from planting, weeding through to production and the most fascinating for me how to Milk.
Like many of us here who grew up in the village, school sounded real because it taught us what we did practically, I first swam in a river, that was our natural bathroom as boys, wading away from the occasional green snakes that fell off the sugarcane plantations on both sides of the river and we had a natural scare for them, i have never known whether its scientific, but tying the arrow root tubes on your waits as you swam scared the snakes.
There were many other things that worked, when you saw a squirrel and walked back five times and made a wish it came true. A scratch on the Nail always faded bringing with it a gift either a shirt or a shoe.
Blocking the water with mud and wood to create deep ends was particularly lots of fun. Cows straying to a neighbours farm and eating up the plants and the beating you got from the neighbour and then from grandpa and parents later on was such a basic that prepared us on communal values.
It was great knowing that the only day that you could dress in immaculate shine was Sunday. The clothes worn on Sunday were special, Grandma used to lock them in her room and you would only get them on Sunday.
Sunday was a special day the only day you did not wake up at six to go the farm if it was a holiday. Sunday specials included being allowed to sleep till 8am and on that day the children were not allowed to milk, we grew being taught that literally Sunday is a no work day.
The best bit of Sunday however was that after Sunday School, we got to have soda, you see thats the only day we got to the shopping centre, 8km away from home (16km) to and from.
I have said it before it was a great experiencing the taste of Babito – especially what i thought was stone – only to learn later it was an effect of the Fridge.
Many times i have overturned while riding in a bull pulled cart – that was early life.
Later in Nairobi, together 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 University of Nairobi as we hustled for the cash.
Our First jobs paid a partly 9k and less for a months work but we took it on our slide and kept our eyes on the ultimate prize.
Ethnicity was not a factor, we held different ideologies but were united by our collective dreams, 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, but I leave it to your imagination how we handled our dating and romantic lives in a single room.
Later, let me go back abit, one day we went out with Onsarigo and the house we used to live in was on kind of a basement, we had temporarily moved to Nairobi West, it was raining. We did not know that when it rains the water gets into the room, so my good friend had gone out with his girlfriend and being the perfect gentleman he said, “ladies first”, the poor lovely girl fell into a pool of water…I rest that story there.
Dennis Itumbi Website, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
Dennis Itumbi Video
Dennis Itumbi: The Government Blogger
Source: Daily Nation
In 2005, Dennis Itumbi had the strong smell of unfulfilled expectations. He, together with his longtime friend Denis Onsarigo, were kicked out by their landlord due to a Sh3,500 rent at the Mukuru slums.
They were on what seemed like a long journey through the boulevard of broken dreams but they knew their then status was just but a passing cloud.
Dennis Itumbi now looks back with a smile. He is twice the man he was back then and that life not long ago helps him enjoy his current life where he walks freely at State House and is on first-name terms with Kenya’s Chief Executive.
The house on the hill is now his office; he can have a chat with President Uhuru Kenyatta on the corridors, he can help guide guests through the safest house in the country. Heck, he even has security now. Mukuru slums seems like a lifetime ago. How did he get here?
“My eyes were fixed on the price,” he says. “I ignored cheering and jeerings, I didn’t want to be swayed out of track just like a flowing river that overcomes every obstacle to reach a wider mass, I am now in a position to reach many Kenyans and help them.”
The former blogger, who has probably made more enemies than friends, is the Director Digital, New Media and Diaspora in the Executive Office of The President. Quite a title for a man who many believe should be in jail rather than State House.
Dennis Itumbi is a prominent man in Kenyatta’s government and while many have different opinions about whether he is qualified for the office or not, he has bigger fish to fry.
Facebook and Twitter comments are the least of his worries, not when he has to listen to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga criticise him saying he is a neophyte in Diaspora issues.
“My office falls under Manoah Esipisu who has been appointed and brought back from the Diaspora, so if the issue is living in the Diaspora then that matter is sorted, the rest is strategy,” he responded to Raila Odinga on his Facebook page.
For a man who many believe was an online assassin for Uhuru Kenyatta during the campaigns and was once arrested after he was accused of hacking into the ICC system, Itumbi now has to guard what he posts online, a complete U-turn from just a few months ago.
Dennis Itumbi left his lucrative job at the Voice of America where he was the East Africa correspondent and ventured into a totally new field, not only for him but for Kenya. He started to blog.
He also joined a few who were privy to social media. That was in 2011. His journey has seen him overcome tides to become an important artery in the Jubilee government.
Prior to the March 4 General Election, he was an avid social media user and would occasionally update his many blogs, many praising then candidate Uhuru whom he supported.
Dennis Itumbi following was surging and he at times became a news channel for many. He could get first hand scoops before everybody else.
He would use his social media platforms to sell his manifestos and to popularise a man who would later assume occupancy at State House. He would vigorously support him even when the public was roaring and hot on his heels. Eventually, his sweat and loyalty paid off.
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He briefs the President on a daily basis and his schedule is tighter than ever before. This past week, for instance, he has attended more meetings than he has cumulatively attended in his entire life.
He says his sleeping hours have been slashed to only three due to the nature of his work. “Communicating with the diaspora means I have to remain awake at night when it is daytime there,” he says.
Dennis Itumbi says he approached the Uhuru campaign and offered to campaign for him online and they said yes. Together with 15 other individuals, he started an online campaign for Uhuru and helped set up their online strategy.
“Contrary to the propaganda we were told, Uhuru’s campaign was purely run by a dedicated team of Kenyans. The only non-Kenyan in the Uhuru camp is those representing him in the ICC cases for obvious reasons,” he says.
When Deputy President William Ruto joined hands with Uhuru, the term “digital” was tossed as a campaign slogan and it stuck. Now it was Dennis Itumbi and his team who were tasked with making that slogan read true.
The President and his Deputy have a heavy online presence and Uhuru Kenyatta’s Facebook page is one of the most popular, boasting 576,802 Likes. A clearly “digital President”.
“Working in government is a difficult job, you have to regulate your social life but I am up to the task,” he says.
Recently, government websites, including that of the NIS, were hacked — a rather tough welcome for Itumbi. He had to recover everything and ensure nothing was leaked.
So, what is he up to in his new office? Itumbi says he has laid down big plans. He wants to spearhead a complete overhaul of the Government websites into one.
“From the main website, one can access ministries and departments, it will be far much easier for someone to trace a certain ministry,” he says. “An internal performance tracking system dubbed “cabinex” is already accessible by the President and he is able to know what is happening in every Ministry from State House or whenever he is,” he adds.
Dennis Itumbi says he has also set up a diaspora virtual office; “The office will be a front office for diaspora issues and investment.”
For the first time, Kenyans will be interacting with the President directly. According to Itumbi, plans to create a portal of chatting with the President using video, audio and text have been completed and the site president.go.ke is currently undergoing testing before being launched. “Once that is done, Kenyans will be chatting with their President occasionally. We want to ensure everything is digital.”
“When the national digital conference is held, Kenyans will be expected to give innovative ideas that will help transform the nation,” he says.
The first-born in a family of five boys, Itumbi promises to deliver and ensure the country is digitised. Itumbi, from Embu County, says he’ll create platforms for job creation for the youth.
He describes President Uhuru as someone who doesn’t like calling the shots. “He lets everybody do hisher part, he only gets the briefs, that is how great he is. Can you fail to deliver in such an environment? I bet not,” he concludes.
Dennis Itumbi – Tough Road To Success
Dennis Itumbi is not a new name especially on social media whose command across the social circles cannot be ignored. Many call him a hacker, others a propagandist while others see him as a social media guru. Well he is a jack of many trades; a journalist, blogger, consultant and a businessman.
The award winning journalist whose nose for news is an envy of many, gets news before the mainstream media has it. He prides in his blog where you see Facts First and Fast and its known to tell what the mainstream media will not tell you. Using his journalism intelligent sources, he gets
even the classified information, assumed to be a secret of a few and let it known to the whole world.
However, his life has not been without controversy and he has faced the court of law not once.
Here is his story as per an interview done by Dorcas Karuana that sought to demystify his life.
Interviewer: Who is Dennis Itumbi?
Dennis Itumbi: Dennis is villager who came to Nairobi to sell ideas. I was born in Gichugu, Kirinyaga County, and am the first born in a family of 5 boys. I am multi-linguist who can speak Maa, Luhya, Kikuyu and Embu languages. I am a Journalist, Social media consultant, Play write, PR/ Branding consultant and a businessman.
Interviewer: What drove you to choose a career in the media industry?
Dennis Itumbi: As I grew up, I wanted to be a lawyer and after class 8, I would go to the court religiously at 8am like a Lawyer and would take notes of the court proceedings. In fact, the judge summoned me once over taking notes but I explained that I wanted to learn what lawyers do. However, after form 4, I missed the cut off to pursue Law. I would see journalists being very close with the lawyers in courts and this became my option.
Interviewer: At one time while in college you staged an act at Kencom Stage about the coming of Anti-Christ and for their troubles which saw you raise a quite sum thereby sorting your fare to South B from Town. Have you been an actor?
Dennis Itumbi: 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 Kshs 2,600. It took us for the week.
Interviewer: As a journalist, you won the 2006/07 GJLOS journalist of the year award. What was your inspiration?
Dennis Itumbi: I was then a correspondent for Baraka FM and did a story on Mungiki. My inspiration was to unveil the life of a Mungiki member socially. I realized 60% were strong people; they had wives and who were very religious and lived a normal life like any other person.
Interviewer: Why did you quit full time journalism to be a blogger?
Dennis Itumbi: I felt I had achieved it all having worked in both print media and electronic media. The online platform was unexplored and I saw great opportunity in it. Blogging gives me social command where I let people tell their story unlike the media that owns peoples story. I realized the mainstream media aims at the mind which only digests it, while I aim at the heart which owns it.
Interviewer: You are known to be a hard-hitting blogger known for whistle blowing on corruption scandals in Kenya without fear or favour. Why did you choose politics as the content of your blog?
Dennis Itumbi: If the highest money invested in a country is on politics, them it is easier to run a political blog. Also, during my course of work as a journalist, I had a lot of political sources and this made it much easier for me.
Interviewer: You are well known for leaking scoops well ahead of mainstream media. How do you get to know information before the mainstream media in Kenya?
Dennis Itumbi: I have a Journalism Intelligence System that feeds me every Saturday on what is happening. My sources are usually the unconventional sources i.e. the small person in an office (tea girl, watchman, taxi driver) who never hides information rather than the big person who will block information.
Interviewer: How do you make money as a freelance journalist and a blogger?
Dennis Itumbi: As a freelance journalist I look for the small media stations with no presence in Kenya and work for them. I also write for three international magazines in Canada, Namibia and South Africa which pays very well and this can sustain me for a month with no struggle.
As a blogger I use creative marketing to make money. Other ways can be Google ad sense, or even being paid to post a story on your blog.
Interviewer: Would you advice young jobless graduates to start blogging? Why?
Dennis Itumbi: Yes I would. Blogging is should be a passion where you express yourself freely to many people on social networks. It is a way to showcase your talent or command in a given field you never know who could be reading your blog. Be real and talk of issues that affect people. For instance, I admire the blogger of ‘Nairobi Nights’ she was a prostitute who addressed it and wrote of how her night was every day. She is now an ambassador in the U.S and New York giving talks to the prostitutes.
Interviewer: You have faced several cases of hacking into websites; that of the Jetlink Express Company and the ICC website key witnesses for the Ocampo six. Was it true you did it?
Dennis Itumbi: It’s unfortunate some people now call me a hacker. I sued the ICC in the Hague and it was ruled that it had ordered the arrest. I am now planning to sue the Kenyan Government for illegally arresting me one year ago.
For Jet link, I never hacked their website. I got the story from an insider and for 3 good weeks before posting the story, I called the management and even boarded the flight to confirm some of the allegations. There is no evidence that I hacked their website.
Interviewer: Does the security still follow you?
Dennis Itumbi: Yes, am still followed and my phone is tapped. I once had a curious accident which sustained a leg injury. However, I choose to take it positively that may be am being protected.
Interviewer: If you were to go back to school, what field would you choose?
Dennis Itumbi: I would not change anything, but still be a journalist. I have no regrets for my career path since I love what I do.
Interviewer: What inspires you in life?
Dennis Itumbi: I am inspired by transforming people’s lives. I also have a desire to reach for the next goal without losing focus just like a river which has to flow no matter the course.
Interviewer: Who is your Role Model?
Dennis Itumbi: Locally, Lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo, started from a lawyer, owned a law firm and now a business man.
Internationally, am inspired by the ‘Obama Story’ and Jacob Zuma because of his simplicity.
Interviewer: What is your future plan in the next 5 years?
Dennis Itumbi: I plan to run an African Blog covering African Business, Politics and Entertainment, having already formed a merger of blogs in 21 countries and hope to be 30 before the end of the year. Also, in 5 years time I should own a media station and start dating.