Kenyans have so far raised Ksh200,000 for financially-distressed former NTV reporter Lolani Kalu, K24 Digital has learnt.
Speaking to K24 Digital on phone from his Kaloleni home in Kilifi County on Wednesday, September 30, Lolani said he was “grateful for receiving immense support from Kenyans, who have so far contributed Ksh200,000 towards my financial revival”.
“Honestly, I am overwhelmed by Kenyans’ support. I lack words to express my gratitude to the well-wishers from far and wide, who have sent whatever they had to my cell phone line via mobile money. Many contributed between Ksh50 and Ksh100. Collectively, they’ve so far sent me slightly over Ksh200,000, which I will use to buy a camera and sound equipment,” Lolani Kalu said at 1:25pm Wednesday.
In an interview with K24 Digital Tuesday, Lolani Kalu said a general contractor he had hired to oversee the construction of his house in Njiru, Kasarani Constituency in Nairobi County stole his Ksh2 million, consequently, condemning him to financial stress.
Kalu stated that that misfortune, among other reasons, including family demands, ate into his life savings.
The 55-year-old journalist also revealed that he used a significant part of his finances on his father’s treatment. Kalu’s dad, however, passed away in October 2019.
He said his mother, who is 90 years old, is also ailing, and that his hands are tied — financially — given he exhausted most of his savings on his father’s treatment, looking after his family and the construction of his residential structure in Nairobi.
Lolani urged Kenyans to help him raise Ksh250,000 so that he could buy equipment to engage in freelance journalism.
“I would appreciate if I can get Ksh200,000 for a camera and sound equipment and Ksh50,000 for a computer that would enable me to edit the footage I would have shot,” said Lolani.
The former NTV and KBC journalist said he will be producing content that ranges from art and culture to daily news updates that he can sell to legacy media outlets at a fee.
“I believe I would be able to comfortably look after my family and foot my bills from the proceeds of content sales,” he said.
Lolani’s wife and four children (three sons and a daughter) live in Eastleigh, Nairobi, he said. His eldest child completed Islamic Studies in college recently, whereas the youngest is in lower primary.
“It has been such a struggle raising their [house] rent. I understand they are now in rent arrears, but I hope things will look up soon,” said Lolani Kalu.
Explaining how he ended up suffering financial stress, the father-of-four said: “A general contractor, who was building my house in Nairobi in 2017 made away with my Ksh2 million. That was a huge chunk of my personal savings. My attempts to trace him bore no fruit, and his cell phone line was not going through. After unsuccessfully trying to recover my money from him for years, I gave up.
“In late 2018, I left Nairobi for Kaloleni, Kilifi County to look after my sick father. Armed with little money, I settled his hospital bills. Unfortunately, he died in October 2019.
“With a wife, school-going children, mother and extended family to look after, I couldn’t survive the financial hemorrhage. Now, my mother is also ailing, and I am still the one to foot her medical bills. By now you know that I was sacked from NTV in 2017, and without a regular income being credited to my [bank] account, even paying for her medication is a struggle.”
The journalist, who was in formal employment for 32 years before being laid off in 2017, said it is a “miracle” that his family has not “snapped” yet.
“My financial problems have been major. Nonetheless, I thank God that my family understands the situation I am in. For me to overcome this financial burden, I am urging Kenyans to help me raise Ksh250,000, which I would use to buy a camera and computer for production work. They can send whichever contribution to my cell phone line 0720 554 930.”
Lolani said he would sell media content and use the proceeds to give back to the community, where possible.
“I started building a cultural centre called Zamila in Kaloleni. I would inject money into the project once I get back on my feet financially,” he said.
Lolani further stated that he has been relying on irregular teaching contracts to eke a living.
“I coach students and pupils in Kilifi County in drama, acting and script-writing. From such short contracts, I am able to feed my family,” he said.
Lolani Kalu revealed he was first employed in 1985, when he joined KBC, which was known as the Voice of Kenya (VOK) at the time.
He has produced content for television and radio, including Malimwengu, Kaya Kayaya, among others.
“I believe in myself, I believe that the kind of stories that I do or did were unique to me and had a large audience. If I get the chance to do the stories again, I would be happy.
“And, before I forget, I have heard people alleging that I wasted my money on alcohol; no, I am not a drunkard. My money got exhausted the same way it can for any other Kenyan who has a lot of responsibilities loaded on his or her shoulders,” said Lolani Kalu.