Those of the modern generation know him for his positive and educative campaigns such as the famous mpango wa kando campaign which saw him question the wisdom of having clandestine affairs, considering the complications they come with.
Critically, he analysed his target – the broke man who hardly took any money to the family – and calculated his budget to show how much more he would save if he left his philandering ways.
The advert sparked national debate with many arguing whether or not it was an appropriate advert. In the meantime Gathu’s message had been passed and his brand had gotten another boost.
However, the older generation will advise you that this is not the first campaign Jimmi Gathu has been involved in.
As a singer in 1991, he was involved in the Look, Think, Stay Alive project, a campaign about road safety.
In the single, whose pop feel would get anyone dancing to date, Gathu’s command of the English language was quite flawless; one would easily assume it was an international production.
Real vixens from back in the day, the ladies in the video added a touch of flair thanks to their little shimmery dresses and funky scarves which effectively delivered the crucial message.
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It was during this era that hip-hop had just caught a local feel with other pioneers were jumping in to localise the emerging hip-hop scene. The likes of Five Alive, Zanaziki and Musically Speaking were popular among the youth.
During this time, Jimmy doubled up as a music composer and was involved in putting together song arrangements, sourcing for gigs and marketing the band he was a part of.
As the Kenyan music and art scenes evolved, and more youths fell in love with the arts, Jimmy and his friends formed the Mbalamwezi Players in which they hoped to revolutionise and improve local theatre productions. Eventually, financial constraints led to the group’s break up but even as they went their own ways, they had acquired vital skills and knowledge for the trade.
It was perhaps thanks to his vast experience in the showbiz industry that Jimmy Gathu scored a job at the only private TV station in town at the time – KTN – as a music show host, famously known as Jimmi Jam.
His shows Rap’Em, Kass Kass, Rastrut, Jam-a-Delic and Rythmix, which ran from Monday to Friday respectively, were quite a hit back then in the days when Internet was a faraway dream, let alone YouTube. Rap’em was all about local and international hip-hop music, Kass Kass focused on African music, Rastrut was for the reggae fans, Jam-a-Delic had them jamming to pop and RnB while Rhythmix was all about the calm blues and soul music.
With the music traversing different genres, fans finally had something new and fresh to look forward to. At the same time, he pioneered several kid’s shows including Club Kiboko, the kid’s club show which is still on to date.
A pioneer, he landed another role at yet another premier private station – this time on radio- at Capital FM. His diversity saw him double up as programmes controller and a mentor to many upcoming presenters as he took part in their hiring and training back then. He also pioneered a talk show that focusses on current affairs, politics and socio-economic issues.
With versatility and tenacity that knew no bounds, Gathu made his way back to the silver screen and went ahead to start the first Kenyan breakfast show on Citizen. Here, he took part in production and also hosted. His co- host Kobi once mentioned how he mentored her for the hosting role as she had never done it before. She has done very well in her own capacity as a morning breakfast show host.
After his time on Citizen television, Jimmy went on to K-24 as a television anchor. Ever fresh, he once interviewed President Uhuru Kenyatta in sheng. Unlike many other formal interviews, this one had a twist to it and a sense of casualness that hardly comes across on screen.
However, after serving a while at K-24 he recently resigned to focus on his own production company and future media projects under JimmiGathu.Inc.
Aside from his industrious roles, Gathu is quite the family man with his marriage to Cathy Gathu spanning many years. Mid last year, his daughter Chantal became a mother, therefore making him a proud granddad.