“Hujambo mtazamaji, karibu katika Nipashe Wikendi, jina langu ni Lulu Hassan”
That is the warm welcome viewers get every weekend on Citizen TV’s 7 pm Swahili bulletin from the soft-spoken Lulu Khadija Hassan.
Lulu, who hosts Nipashe Wikendi with Kanze Dena, has had a long journey to get to where she is today. Earlier this week she sat down with Citizen Digital and shared her life story. Here are eight things you probably did not know about her:
She’s got Seychellois roots
Lulu, who is the first born in a family of three girls, grew up in Mombasa.
“Being the first born, I did not face any hardships while growing up; I was taken to one of the best schools in Mombasa – Aga Khan Academy,” she said.
Her mother, Mariam Abu, passed away in 2007 after being unwell, and Lulu had to take care of her two younger sisters.
“It wasn’t difficult taking my sisters to school since mum left us with some wealth. She had a real estate business which I began managing upon her demise. I’d been helping earlier, so it was not difficult to take over,” revealed Lulu.
Contrary to common belief, she’s not Somali. Her late mother had both Seychellois and Kikuyu roots, and father too was of Seychellois descent.
She trained as cabin crew hostess
Before pursuing journalism, Lulu trained as a cabin crew hostess, human resource manager and ticketing officer at Salrene Travel Operations College.
“When I landed a radio job in Mombasa, I thought it would be good to have journalism skills. So I went back to school and studied the course,” said Lulu.
She used to read English news
Back in 2008, Lulu was a household name in Mombasa thanks to her news presenter job at Radio Salaam. Interestingly, she used to read news in English and not Swahili.
So, how did she transition to TV?
“When I was a presenter at Radio Salaam in 2008, a KTN cameraman informed me there was crisis at their station. Two of their Swahili anchors were going for maternity leave, and they needed someone to step in. He asked me to try my luck. Being a risk taker, I went for a screen test and I made the cut.”
She was involved in a road crash in 2010.
Back in 2010, while working at KTN, Lulu was involved in a terrible road accident. Her left leg was injured, and it is still affected now. The injury keeps her from joining her studio guests in dance, Lulu reveals.
She wishes her mother could see her on TV.
There’s nothing like a parent’s approval, and Lulu wishes her late mother could see her read news. Her lowest moment was when she had just landed her first TV job and she thought about her mother while she was on air.
“It was my first day as an anchor, and I got flustered on air when I thought about my mother. I felt so sad. There I was as an anchor, but mum wasn’t alive to celebrate me – all along she had wished to see me reading news on national television,” Lulu recalls.
She doesn’t care for fame.
Many people would get caught up in the fame that comes with being on prime time TV, but not Lulu.
“I don’t see being a news anchor as a big deal. Fame does not get into my head. Anybody at home can send me to the shop, and I would go without feeling I am too much of a celebrity for that.”
She met her husband, Rashid Abdalla, at work.
Lulu is married to QTV presenter Rashid Abdalla, and she met him back at Radio Salaam. He’d heard her voice on Radio, and he was eager to meet her in person. This was just after Lulu lost her mother, and he was there for her through her grief.
“When I remembered my mother I would cry a lot and Rashid was always there to offer me a shoulder to lean on. With time I grew so close to him. The rest is history,” she recalls smiling.
Lulu revealed that since then she has always found a friend in Rashid. Together they are blessed with two sons: Jibran, 4, and Irfan, 1.
She had a big wedding.
When Lulu tied the knot with Rashid, her neighbours and friends came in large numbers to celebrate their union.
“When Rashid and I wedded, most guests were people whom I did not know. Out of love they came in large numbers to celebrate my big day,” tells Lulu.
Since her late mother was not there to ‘give her away’ as is customary, her neighbours and friends stepped in. For this reason, the soft spoken newsreader describes Kenyans as loving and caring people.
Today we celebrate Lulu Hassan as our #WCW!