John Sibi-Okumu is an accomplished actor, writer, journalist and television presenter. He was born in Kenya and educated in England, Kenya and France.
For nearly 30 years, he was a teacher of French and is popularly known as a "Mwalimu", the Kiswahili word for teacher.
Since the beginning of Zain Africa Challenge, John has been our own mwalmu. He brings a world of knowledge and experience to his role as presenter of Zain Africa Challenge.
Between 1997 and 2002 he conducted epoch-making TV interviews on “The Summit,” with such personalities as Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki, Robert Mugabe, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, Richard Leakey and Wangari Maathai, among many others. He hosts “The Zain Africa Challenge,” a quiz competition seen in eight Anglophone African countries.
He has narrated and voiced award-winning documentaries and commercials in English and French and acted in a number of films, including “The Constant Gardener” and “Shake Hands with the Devil.”
He has appeared in many major roles on the stage, including Sophocles’ King Oedipus; Shakespeare’s Romeo, Oberon and Shylock; Beckett’s Krapp and Vladimir; Creon in Anouilh’s “Antigone;” Percy in Mtwa/Ngema/Simon’s “Woza, Albert!” and Robert Mugabe in Fraser Grace’s “Breakfast with Mugabe.”
He devised and directed “In Search of the Drum Major” and “Like Ripples on a Pond,” both on the American civil rights movement as well as “Milestones - a Showcase for African Poetry.”
John has written two original plays: “Role Play – A Journey into the Kenyan Psyche,” and “Minister… karibu!” as well as the children’s book “Tom Mboya: Master of Mass Management.” He has also written for a variety of Kenyan newspapers and magazines, at times under the pseudonym Mwenye Sikio. He continues to write a regular column for the quarterly journal “AWAAZ-Voices of the South Asian Diaspora.”
Throughout his adult life, John Sibi-Okumu has helped to raise funds for charitable causes. He is a Chevalier des Palmes Académiques for services to French culture; a member of the governing council of the Kenya Cultural Centre and National Theatre, and a trustee of several foundations.
John is married, with two children.