Saturday, June 16, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
I don’t know if this day deserves a celebration or not, but my authentic colleague and perennial roommate, one Nathan Mpangala, captured it pretty pretty well in a cartoon.
PS: Published with the Nathan’s express permission. Thank you very much Nathan. Your magnanimity is profoundly appreciated. See more of Nathan’s work HERE
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Last year, on a day like this, will forever remain unforgettable. It was April 24. It was Easter Sunday, quite early in the morning, when life finally left your ailing body.
I remember watching you the previous day and earlier on in the night as you struggled eating food, as you struggled breathing, and as you had problems even lying on the bed. I know it was tough on you. It was heart-breaking on me.
When I walked to your room to put you back on the bed together with dad, hoping to talk to you in the morning, only for dad to wake up me up from my house at four in the morning, with the sad news that you were no more. Darn Liposarcoma!!!!
As I looked at your lifeless body on the bed, it all sunk in: you were gone. Forever. The mourning that followed, the flood of friends and relatives that swamped our home to pay respects to you, the many people who said all sweet things about you reminded me that I had the sweetest mum on earth.
Twelve months have passed and every time I go home and pass by your graveside and see your smiling picture on the headstone, I just get sort of transfixed. I look at you, smile back, mumble a few of my little issues, just the way I used to, and thank God for your life and the teachings you gave me.
Sometimes, like it happened yesterday, I have to deal with an unreasonable boss, I just remember what you told me: Everything happens for a reason.
Though you may not know it, your death opened my eyes to a whole bunch of new tight pals. They were all so nice to me, helping me glide through the funeral. They did lighten the load quite much. Andre, Ken, Pat, Zue, Lucas, Maina, Dysan, Jacinta, Agosa, Owende, Ogutu, Oliver, Sam, Bill, Nakitare, Pasqah, Dorothy, Joy, Ngirachu, Odini, Flash, Wes, Casper, Namu8, Mugumo, Mutiga, Lucas… Mum, the list is long. I can’t name them all here… they’re so so many, next memorial, I promise, I’d add more names on this, so that you know some of them.
And as I had told you, I was going to the School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico. I did go by the way, and you guessed it, that’s why I am still working where I am. I am now a Fellow there and I like it.
I know you usually had problems with some of the stories you read in the newspaper, especially, where, for background, some writer just takes a whole paragraph of what was published the previous day and pastes it there. That’s why you only read the Sunday paper. I hope when the scribes read this, they’d know that a simple reader like you were, get pissed off, with such illiterate journalism.
There are lessons you taught me as we walked to hospital some day, to always mind my business, but at the same time lend out a hand wherever and whenever I can. I try to do so, even as I guard against my generosity being abused. Sometimes, I get hit with quixotic expectations, and I am forced to disappoint a few people. But that’s life. I guessed you lived the same life.
Your sisters and brother have been amazing as they had always been. Their children, my cousins, plus my nephews (you were a grandmother remember!) ever so nice and helpful. My colleagues too were supportive and the new friends I made from all over the world, have been instrumental with the connections for a gig here and there.
It’s ten years since you sent me to the Journalism School, and nine years since you paid my fees, all of it, at the university. I am quite grateful for that. Every day, I think about you and what you told and taught me. It is ingrained someplace deep, people will never understand.
The lessons in humility, hardwork and discipline, that you and Dad pumped into me and kina Jere, Eunie, Wicky, Richie, and Suzy, are still living in us. We learn every day and we smile everytime one of your crazy jokes hit our minds. Dad, as always, has been wonderful! I have no idea how he copes everyday, but the man has been a pillar in our lives.
By the way, we work at the same place with Eliza, though, to report myself, I am rarely in the office. Will try to get her out for lunch one of these days and before the end of the year visit her place. We finally went to Uncle Kongoti’s and Aunty Mary’s place and you can guess that we left the place quite happy. Jere was given a chicken. And I haven’t been to Herbert’s place. Will try to book a date.
I know today you have so much to do, nearly everyone wants a piece of you, to tell you how they miss you. People such as Lydia, told me that you were in a better place. Based on our history, I am always inclined to believe her. Thanks Lydia for your support.
I have had my ups and downs, just the way I found out when I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, life is always up and down, but what matters is for you to be happy, smiling and always hopeful that “every little thing shall be alright”. Well, that’s Bob Marley. I know you loved Bobby Bear and Harry Belafonte. I have their music somewhere and when I miss you so very much, I just listen to it. Like I will today.
It’s a happy memorial mum!
Your son :)
If there’s one MP whose term in the Tenth Parliament can be described as full of chilling drama, it is Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central), he who just five days ago pushed the government to beef up his security over threats to his life and his family.
A look at some of the incidents which the fearless MP has experienced takes one back to February 2008 when he told journalists about his encounter with the First Lady, Ms Lucy Kibaki, at State House Nairobi.
Mr Imanyara was in a meeting of the small parties group. The meeting was chaired by the President. But midway, State House operatives called him out of the meeting, something which, Mr Imanyara said, was quite odd. When he stepped out, all hell broke loose.
“She jump(ed) at me and start(ed) throwing punches at me. She wasn’t wearing any shoes, she was half dressed, she was in pyjamas,” Mr Imanyara said of an incident that had happened days to the first sitting of Parliament.
He survived the legendary fury of the First Lady.
In 2009, he was in another life-threatening situation. In September, he’d gone to Libya as part of the Pan Africa Parliament delegation. The former Libyan leader Mr Muammar Gaddaffi threw a party for the MPs. When Mr Imanyara returned to his hotel room, the bizarre happened.
He gave a nail-biting account of how he was almost killed in his hotel room in Libya by an assassin “with Somali features” who forced his way into Mr Imanyara’s room on the fourth floor of a hotel.
“I actually screamed!” Mr Imanyara recounted to journalists in Nairobi after his Libyan trip.
The man, Mr Imanyara said, was carrying a black bag, and when he (Imanyara) screamed, the man ran out of the room. Mr Imanyara then followed him to the lifts, and the man, showed him a slip similar to his, and then, ran down the stairs leaving a dazed and scared Mr Imanyara with so many questions about his safety.
In November the same year, Mr Imanyara’s personal assistant also got a call asking him to stop associating with his boss.
“Tell Gitobu Imanyara that he will not go far. We are closely watching him. You are too young to associate with people whose days are numbered. He thinks he can stop Muite; do you want to start counting your days also? Stop or your family will miss you,” the text message read.
The scared aide called his boss. The boss asked him to report to the office from where they went to record a statement with the Criminal Investigation Department.
“As we were going out of the CID Headquarters, and while I was waiting for my driver outside the CID Headquarters, I received no less than seven calls, all anonymous, one of them purporting to originate from the United Arab Emirates Republic, telling me that the CID Headquarters was not going to help me, and that my days, and those of other MPs who were messing the politics of Mount Kenya region, were numbered,” Mr Imanyara told a packed House on November 24, 2009.
Of course, with the police already seized of the matter, all he could do was wait.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim noted the history of political assassinations in the country and asked that Mr Imanyara’s security be beefed up.
“(The chair) believes that there is a serious threat to the life of a honourable member, and goes ahead to direct the Minister responsible to give additional security, it is only fair that he goes ahead and gives that additional security,” Mr Maalim ruled.
One year later, Mr Imanyara was at it again, this time, exposing the drug barons in this country and their ills. He gave a dossier with “specific information” to the Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga, and asked him to get to the root of the menace.
Of course, death threats came up and Mr Imanyara asked for additional security.
There’s a hitherto unknown story of a meeting between Mr Imanyara and a journalist at a city hotel. The two had never met physically, but they had set a date to exchange information with the rendezvous at a city hotel on Koinange Street.
Unknown to them, as they made their plans, someone had tapped their phone lines. The eavesdropper noting that Mr Imanyara did not know the journalist by face, took advantage and got Mr Imanyara as he entered the joint. He got the information and disappeared.
When the journalist arrived, it was all gone.
But the shocking of them all came on Wednesday morning was when Mr Imanyara gave a detailed story of being waylaid at State House Crescent Road, forced to kneel down, “face mount Kenya” and swear a form of loyalty pledge to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
He complied, but was shaken.
But even with that he was slapped three times with “large kitchen knives” and given a frightening warning: “If you do not do what I have told you, we will chop off your head and deliver it to your wife together with those of your two sons.”
“I believe there is a plot either to kill me or intimidate me into supporting a particular presidential candidate. …. a number of us were identified as the people who are not toeing the line and that we were thorns that must be removed meaning that we must be physically eliminated,” said Mr Imanyara.
A former publisher of Nairobi Law Monthly in the Kanu era, Mr Imanyara knows defiance, understands intimidation and is not one to be cowed with mere threats. At that time, he suffered the infamous suffering of the torture chambers that were located at the basement of Nyayo House.
“I have said many times and I repeat that, in the defense of the Constitution that we fought so hard for, I am willing to die, but I will not accept a situation where any Member, no matter how senior, or mighty he or she is to direct how or who I shall associate with and who or who not to support. I shall not be a party to any compartmentalization of regions of this country contrary to the Constitution. We have fought very hard to get this Constitution in place and we are obliged to defend it at all times,” said Mr Imanyara.
“Let those who think that they can intimidate others to pursue a certain political trend know that we shall not be cowed. We shall insist on enjoying all the rights guaranteed under this Constitution. We will not stop from implementing this process and allowing Kenyans to make a free choice on who to vote for and who not to vote for.”
That right there is a bold, fearless, man.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Yesterday I had to attend a meeting of the Information Sciences alumni. The turnout was excellent. We were so so many. I was amazed.
But, back to the meeting. It was one of those moments where you get revealed to yourself. You’re also made to feel a little bad about yourself, and partly, you’re forced to offer that uncomfortable explanation about whatever you do.
You see, Katuu, was in the House. He said he had “a problem with journalists”. His beef is that we don’t give “thought” to what we write. He did not like that some journalist did a story about digitization of Nelson Mandela’s archives (or something like that) in such a manner that “to put it bluntly, it is just a clever way of copying and pasting.”
“It is all on the website. Why would I not just go to the website and read whatever is written there?” he told me.
Well, Katuu knows his stuff, plus, he’s got the advantage of having worked on the project that this journalist was writing about.
“A journalist is an analyst, who presents complex information in a simple manner after having given it some thought and ruminated about it,” he said.
And he had a bone to grind with me. He said, the IMF report that he sent to the forum was not handled very well.
“I think you should have done more,” he said. Aha, I got the memo.
Give me the heads up as soon as you guys in the States upload a report and I will handle it with the seriousness it deserves. Goodness! SK has a very low opinion on the way journalists handle stories. He actually had to remind me that “Chief, you did information sciences, let it show!”
That was harsh! But as usual I smiled and smiled some more. Evelyn was standing right there, I suspect, enjoying the episode. So, you ISers, who are journalists, I carried the cross for you.
Katuu had presented lots of data and information about the job market and information sciences. He took the view that the concentration of information scientists in Nairobi was “unsustainable”. Why, he asked, are we afraid to work abroad?
I don’t have an answer to that.
Then there’s this lady (I actually forgot your name, profound apologies) who sat at the corner and wore a beautiful red trench coat. The lady who said she was sidestepped in a promotion at her workplace, just because, she was Kikuyu. Tribalism is one of Kenya’s troubles.
She who is an Adventist and was born and raised in Nairobi and who loves Luo and Kisii foods more than Kikuyu foods.The one who said the job market in Kenya “ni kujuana” (all about connections, tribalism and a little corruption). Yes, that one, who said, she’s applied for UN jobs and that there was a time, she was a professional job seeker. “Kazi yangu ilikuwa kutafuta kazi!” Oh yes, that one. Unemployment is part of the troubles of this country.
There may be many who did not attend and what to know what answer she got. Well, Katuu said she hadn’t seen anything yet. Because, he’d been applying for UN jobs since 2002, and that he got his “first interview three months ago. Interview, not a job!” Yes, read that again!
Michelle –the lady knows how to dress-- she looked stunning. And that question she asked about a survey question to show, which majors made the most money. There was this individual who makes Sh740,000 per month, and the suspicion is that, the fellow is an IT major.
By the way, it was refreshing to note that someone just changed jobs after seeing that he was doing somewhat badly as per the survey results.
So, Michelle, wants people to know what to ask for when they get to the job market. Because, say, if you’re paid, whatever amount, is it because that is what you asked for, or is it because the employer thinks that’s what you’re worth. And Michelle, we discuss nearly everything in the forum, as Hilda knows, football is sometimes “in season”, but I can bet you, politics is about to be “in season”
That said, there’s always the option to “press delete”. *Runs and hides* He he he!
And so, I got to the meeting, it was good to see Mr Mbengei and Mr Musakali. Quite refreshing. And Musakali is still popular. Okay, just before Bernard stood to tell us about Pretoria and taking further studies, someone asked where the proponent of not acquiring further papers was.
We did not watch the video, but watched some short clip. It’s somewhere on Youtube.
Anyway, Mauya and Mugendi were in the house and so was Dr Gichoya, Prof Odini and our host Prof Kiplangat. Mathew OJ was also there and he said he likes Information Scientists because they are versatile.
“The university will not show you or teach you everything. It makes you trainable,” MOJ told some fellow –he who had shaved Jordan (bald), and proposed that Moi should be like Strathmore and offer short courses-- I didn’t get his name, who also told us he’s had his share of tribulations. More on this guy later. MOJ said ISers ought to pick lessons from BBM guys, who while in university do their CPAs and when they’re done with their degree they have something.
The “Jordan” guy then grew restive and dropped the Strathmore vibe. He’d earlier told us how he went for an interview, and was side-stepped because KU picked their alumni. He wondered, amid cheers from a few, why Moi would advertise jobs when there were able men and women in their jobless pool of alumni.
Why for example would you advertise for a system administrator, when there were plenty of them, around, in the alumni. Worry not pal. That’s life. May be we should look abroad? What do you think?
Alphonce, he who prayed, he who runs Oracom, that was wonderful to learn that the business is doing fine. You’re such an inspiration.
I met Ann and Cate. And yes, we had some dinner at a place I don’t like. But it was a Friday night and it seemed Nairobians had filled up every joint. It was nice seeing you guys.
May the story end here… if you picked a lesson or two from the meeting, please share in the forum. If you didn’t pick any, too bad. Belcha, it was refreshing to finally put a face to the name.
I can’t say everything that happened. Otherwise, what incentive will you have to attend another meeting?