The rise of Kellen Beatrice Kanze Dena from a disillusioned Mijikenda village girl, lost in pangs of adolescence, to heading the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) is one of the success stories one would want to hear.
In a previous interview with Kathy Kiuna’s Woman Without Limits, Kanze Dena narrated her tribulations through alcoholism and suicidal ideations all her life, even when she professedly looked contented when working at Citizen TV. She recently fought tears while bidding farewell to her immediate former boss Uhuru Kenyatta, hence the need to look into the journey she had come through to serve the most powerful person in the state.
Dena was born to Duruma parents of the small Duruma community in Kwale County. She started her education at Kianjokoma Boarding Primary School, present-day St. Mathews Boarding, in Embu.
She proceeded to pursue her high school education at Kyeni Girls High School in the same area. Kanze later joined the Foundation College of Professional Studies and pursued a diploma in journalism and mass communication.
Dena worked as a waitress in a hotel in Mombasa after completing her high school studies and awaiting to join college. After completing her journalism course, she interned at KBC, where she read the news on the radio and participated in other activities such as drama. Being a thespian by nature gave her the upper hand in the national broadcaster to be noticed by managers in various departments. Her voice had already been heard by a curious KBC senior person and she was requested to have a voice recording opening her an opportunity for consideration in future positions.
One day during the 4 PM bulletin, a news anchor who was supposed to air news was absent and Dena was called to step in. Since then, Kanze established herself as a force to reckon on the screens and reserved her space as a reputable anchor, earning the opportunity to anchor 7 pm news.
It was at this time that Citizen TV learned about her potential and poached her to join its pool of talented journalists. Later in 2018, Dena was appointed by Uhuru Kenyatta to deputize Manoah Esipisu in the capacity of Deputy State House Spokesperson and Deputy Head of PSCU. She again rose through the rank and occupied the position of Manoah Esipisu after the latter was appointed Kenyan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
According to interviews Kanze Dena has had with various media personalities and other interviewers, her success was highly unlikely due to misfortunes that knocked in her life every now and then. They began in primary school when she suffered from low self-esteem during adolescence, which kicked far much earlier than her colleagues. Proceeding to high school, Dena fought an intensive emotional battle occasioned by her deteriorating esteem and the fact that she grew up under a single mother and an absentee dad who abandoned her at four.
Her quest to forge acceptance among people found her pregnant with a stranger while she worked as a waitress. She survived through pregnancy amid harsh economic times, stigma and self-rejection. After giving birth, she could not accept motherhood and gave her daughter, Natasha, to stay with her mother, with Natasha dying 3 months later.
Her Alcoholism worsened during this period, which she embarked on in a bid to heal from the occurrences, but she found herself attempting suicide not once. Dena later miscarried after 3 months and lost her mother while she worked at KBC as a full-time anchor. She admits this as being the worst period of her life. She was lucky to get her third child Nathaniel, before moving to Citizen TV, saying the emotional disturbance continued even in the new workplace, but none of her colleagues or friends knew about it.
However, she later came to accept herself as a mother and embraced her weaknesses while still working for the giant television and rose to be a prominent journalist to attract the attention of President Kenyatta. Her appointment in the powerful position saw her become the first woman to become a statehouse spokesperson.