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Friday, May 28, 2010

Naivasha memoirs....Part III

“In the honour of journalism, I believe, you’ll not go and use this against me.” –Kipkoech Tanui, ME, The Standard

Wow! I had to address Kipkoech Tanui, The Standard’s ME separately. When this man rose to speak that Tuesday, he started with: “I know it is difficult to keep people interested when you are speaking just before lunch hour. But I’ll try.”

He didn’t try. He was mesmerizing. He gave us stories. First, five anecdotes of his experience in the newsroom, then nine others about the way forward, about maneuvering your way through it.

And to make it very personal, he threw in that quote about not using it against him. If you read this man’s column, he has one of the snippets. I’d love to link you to it, but, I am tempted not to, but to cut it out and paste it right here:

“In the famine of 1965-66 while Rift Valley PC he rode a police plane with Moi, who was then Home Affairs minister, and due to a mechanical problem, almost crashed. Moi later told him, "Simeon, if we did not die today, we shall live for a long time, until we get grey hair, that is God’s will, let us be friends." Despite their political differences, the last I heard is they joke about it often when they meet.”

That was just one. But in writing and with space constraints, you’d never get to express it as vividly as he did. I am even amazed that he has it in 78 words. There’s something about speech that words can never capture. Anyway, he is an editor.

He’s worked at Nation and he spoke of a serious experience of the once powerful duo calling you to defend your story (I have been there and I know how hot it can be), so as he spoke, I recalled the memo I was given last July. If you happen to visit me, you’ll see it somewhere.

Then about politicians “planting” a story and going under after that. It happens a lot. And now that it also happened to him, I guess the philosopher in Ecclesiastes was right when he said “there’s nothing new under the sun.” But when a veteran gives an example of a ‘back-in-the-day’, you just have to give it to him.

“I look around and admire the journalists of today. They can report on anything without fear,” KT mused. Aha! I feel you.

I was wowed when this man finished his presentation, with examples galore, that all I could say is, it was superb. I told him that I was amazed he had pulled off such a loaded presentation without ‘flossing’ , but he told me he’d never use that word. I wonder why. The humble delivery and the empathy were really amazing. Alex Ndegwa and David Ochami, you do have a boss and a half. Just like my boss who is MIA, hope he comes back real soon.

Then over lunch, this man kept on telling the stories. He has plenty of them. At the risk of failing to live up to the promise I made about telling you a lot about my experience with him, I’d live Tanui to tell his story in his book. That’s if he takes up a sweet advice by Clement Nyandiere (Parliament’s Director of Information and Research Services) that he pens ‘Kipkoech’s Memoirs.’ We’d buy it. But if you are reading this, go to The Standard’s website, run a search using his name and sample his thinking in the columns. I’m sure you’ll like him. No?

As Kwendo Opanga urged the fellas at Naivasha, journalists need to write books. I am game!

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