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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's a heartbreak, but I hope to get over it....

Folks,
My apologies for not blogging over the last week. I was busy and nursed a three day bed rest for burnout. I went to hospital, hundreds of tests were carried out, but only a "slight viral infection" was found according to one nice Dr Nyakiamo of Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi.
But then, I am sorry to disappoint now that I'm no longer thinking straight after my good friend George Odiko passed on. He died on Valentines Day eve. I mourn George for the next three days. I hope to recover!
He was not my agemate, but kind of a father figure. I had just known him for exactly four months and four days. But the pain is only comparable to the one I felt when I lost my sister-cousin Cecilia back in the day or when my boss refused to grant me permission, really, my accrued leave days for me to go and take care of my mum who'd just undergone surgery and was under the care of a fine oncologist.
Some things in this world are never forgotten, even if they are forgiven.
George Odiko EARNED my respect in this sense: He had a slot for a Kenyan journalist to attend a training course at two top universities in Cairo, Egypt--The Cairo University and the American University in Cairo. I had no idea about that, but here he was as the secretary general of Union of Africa Journalists, a union which in my relatively ignorant mind, did not exist, chose to pick a deserving journalist to go and attend the training. He ended up with me. God knows why.
This is a guy I never knew. So when I got a call from Joy, a colleague, last October, asking me to call George back because he had called the newsroom and I was nowhere, I was like: "Can you tell him that I'm on leave. So if it is a story, someone else should just take over."
I took his number anyway. But I did not call.
The following day, I got three calls from the switchboard lady, Sophie, asking me if she could give out my number to one George Odiko. I said, "ok". But then, I got interested. Deep in Mumias, in Western Kenya, I hooked up my Orange modem and googled "George Odiko". I got the name and a few details.
So this guy was assistant secretary general to the Central Organisation of Trade Unions of Kenya. He wanted to speak to me urgently. About what, I kept wondering.
He finally called.
He explained that he called the Editorial Director at my office and sent a letter too asking them to nominate a "young African journalist". The ED, asked the managing editor to do the onus and guess who got lucky: me! So, my name was given to him, he called me up for a phone interview and that was why he was persistent.
I passed the interview within the first 20 minutes into the 40-minute call. He then told me to "come to Nairobi within 10 days" so that he could talk to me and "discuss" a few things... the month-long leave had aborted. In this business, all that happens to your leave days depends on a phone-call or an email from work.
Within the agreed time, I was in Nairobi. George called me, fixed a ten-o'clock appointment, which he kept. Then we met.
If it were the 'Kenya I know', someone would have called up a manager he/she knows, asks him to pick a particular journalist and second the journalist to the training. But here, this thing was done professionally, and George did respect the company policy not to pick a name, but to let the company pick.
Now tell me, is this not one more soul that has been shown the door from this world full of treachery? Is this a classical example of the biblical saying that "bad things happen to good people"? I don't know, but I have a hunch that I'd answer all those questions in the affirmative.
Here is a guy who keeps ten o'clock to mean exactly ten o'clock on the dot. Who works like that? How many people keep appointments? They say, respect a man's time and he'll respect you, so with George's respect for my time, he EARNED mine. I will tell you about the meeting, I am having a nasty nasty day since I saw that orbituary.





4 comments:

  1. Pole Msanii, Chema hakidumu, Hakina Maisha!

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  2. Shiundu,
    This is very moving..... a heartbreak indeed....but it shall be well in the fullness of time.

    Rest in peace Dad - Bobi Odiko

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  3. moving indeed. Well that was dad to us. Rest in peace Dad and we will greatly miss you!

    Sheila O.

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  4. Today I learned of the passing of my good friend, George Odiko. I was looking forward to spending time with him in Cairo as has been the case for nearly 7 years now. Sadly, this time, George was not among the contingent of journalists from the Union of African Journalists.There is an emptiness right now in the hearts of his friends in Egypt. It is a void that can never be replaced. George was a very special and delightful human being. Rest in peace, Rafiki George. Condolence to his loving family. From Professor Robert Jones, The American University in Cairo.

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