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Showing posts from 2011

My A-Z for 2011

At the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day in 2011, I was on the roof-top of Sunsail Hotel in Lamu. I’d gone to look for grenades, bazookas and anything that gunrunners could get out of Somalia and smuggle into Kenya.It wasn’t until January 9 that I returned to Nairobi. It took another full month for me to get the goods, and another one month to get the story published. You’d never ever see me in the footsteps of al Shabaab. Ever! That assignment drained me bigtime. I’ve never recovered.I don’t know where I’ll be when 2012 knocks. I hope I get to see it.Anyway, now onto my alphabet.AAlberto Giordano. This man through Narconews, School of Authentic Journalism, and UNAM gave me the impetus to work as a journalist. That experience changed my life, my career, and yes, my world-view. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For the first time in 2011, I got to know the meaning of that phrase.BBen10. Yes, it’s a comic strip for kids in the Saturday Nation. Not that I like it that much, bu…

Announcing 40 Scholarships in the School of Authentic Journalism

Are you a journalist? Are you serious? Are you disciplined? Do you have a social conscience? Are you willing to learn? Do you know what you do very well and do you love it? Do you want to sharpen your skills in multimedia journalism? Are you a little 'crazy' in the way you look at things? Do you have an open mind?
If your answer to all these questions are a yes, then read on!
Cheers,
Shiundu



December 3, 2011
Please Distribute Widely

Dear Colleague,

Today's the day you've been waiting for! Today we announce the availability of 40 scholarships to the School of Authentic Journalism, March 21 to 31, 2012 in Mexico.

Among the professors who have confirmed their attendance for the 2012 session are the Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, who in 2011 inspired the world's first mass movement against the "war on drugs." Also confirmed are America's foremost critic, the Vanity Fair senior writer James Wolcott, Los Angeles community organizer Paulina G…

The Cockroach Dance

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I went home over the weekend. I came back just in time to pick a pal who is in the country from Sierra Leone. But it is a busy week ahead and I know if I don’t get this posted, it may as well never make it.I have been reading the Cockroach Dance, a book by Meja Mwangi. I picked the book off the shelves at Nairobi’s BookPoint Bookshop on Moi Avenue. I occasionally go in there to browse books so that come payday, I know what I am going to buy.So, one fine morning, I went to the bookshop and in my browsing, I saw this book. It was funny and after reading the blurb, and looking at the price –Sh450—I decided to buy it. It’s my first Meja Mwangi book, and I found it quite fascinating.The guy has talent for telling stories in the most simple way. He has a funny way of expressing his ideas and an acutely interesting gift when it comes to describing scenes. In this book, he traces the life of one Dusman Gonzaga and his neighbours in Dacca House.Yes, this may not familiar, because the book is s…

The Expedition: The Kilimanjaro Diary

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“Did you just come back from South Sudan?”That’s how Protus, the guard at the company cafeteria, greeted me when I stepped in for a bite last Tuesday. I looked at the serious stare on his face and knew that he simply didn’t mean that he hadn’t seen me for a while. There was clearly something wrong with my ‘tan’.“Why?” I asked. He said that I had turned too black, eve navy blue! That I had taken on the shiny black colour of the Sudanese. The black Sudanese, not the arab ones. I told him that I had gone to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and that it was too cold up there and that was why my complexion had changed to that of charcoal from Narok.“If it was cold, you ought to be light. Not this dark! " he said. I gave up the fight.I had suffered a frost nip and I had just gotten better. My nose, cheeks, face and lips had all decided to shed their outer layer…yet I am not a reptile.Yes, that explains why I didn’t blog much in October. I was busy running, jogging, walking, stretching just to keep …

Loud whispers from the Corridors of Power!

There are things you know, but which because you don’t have what can be considered ‘irrefutable proof’ by the big-shots, you just have to resort to the blog. I listen to lots of little birds in my line of duty. And boy, the birds have been singing!Does anyone remember back in July when we were so busy trying to trace the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act?Okay, here is what the whispers in the corridors of power say.The motive of the whole plot –to hide the IEBC Act-- was to make it impractical for the election to be held in August 2012, because that will ‘shorten’ the President’s term. The furtive plan saw to it that President Kibaki had to be kept in office until December 2012.But so as not to have the debate on the election date every five years, they sought to change the Constitution and take the polls to December.The scheme, orchestrated by insiders in government and the Cabinet, saw the holdup in the publication of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commis…

Remembering Dr Margaret Ogola (June 12,1958 - September 21, 2011)

One day, less than a decade ago, a close pal asked me who between Dr Margaret Ogola and Grace Ogot had written the award-winning book ‘The River and the Source’. Read a powerful review here“Dr Ogola,” I said, but then he had some doubts. I finally got a copy of the book and showed it to him. I had read ‘The River and the Source’ as a setbook back in Kakamega High School and I enjoyed it immensely. Apart from the gripping narrative about the life, influence, aspirations and the successes of a matriarch, Akoko, I really did enjoy learning a few Luo words like juok, nyadhi and wuod lando.That episode came to my mind as I sat at the back of Nairobi’s Holy Family Basillica this afternoon (Thursday, September 29, 2011) in a requiem mass for the famous Kenyan author. It is difficult to talk about her without mentioning her many works. That’s for the simple reason that Margaret was a super author, and I heard also that she was an astute doctor, a very nice mother, sister and spouse. You think…

The Old Man & the Sea

Well, that’s the name of the Malindi restaurant which, for the first time in my life, had dinner and felt what life ought to be. They serve the sweetest meal you can ever have. Honey-coated chicken wings, a glass of cold, really sweet, passion juice with all the Mexican-Italian blings and, yes, something called ‘Tiramisu’, that italian dessert, which my escort enjoyed immensely.After the dinner, I looked at the sparkling glass, at the waiter and then, I smiled. That’s how I ought to live every single day of my remaining life.Malindi is a nice place...the white beach so looks like the one in Diani. Gede is cutely quiet and so is Watamu. You may miss the night-life –the noisy discotheques that engulf Malindi when the ‘citiots’ drop in for the weekend, but if you’re not the noisy-type, that’s the place to be. Malindi is tranquil. Warmly nice. Well-mannered. Welcoming. And for the record, I didn’t spend money on anything I hadn’t planned to.After four days, I had a fleeting sense that I h…

Life is short...live it

“Over 100 Kenyans died in the Sinai fire tragedy and their deaths have literally been dismissed like that of flies! Apart from the comical unison shedding of crocodile tears by politicians, no one really bothers to address the fundamental issues that underline the tragedy.Do these politicians think the tragedy was an act of God? Isn’t it obvious there is a clear case of criminal negligence on the part of a number of government officials?”-Ahmednassir Abdullahi, Sunday Nation, Sept 18, 2011I am angry. I won’t lie to you. It’s not about anything else, but about the Sinai Fire. Maybe it is because I saw all those faceless, charred, dehumanized bodies. Maybe it is because I saw the indignity with which dead people were being treated to. Maybe it is because politicians were talking compensation (for dead people?). Maybe, it is because the counsellors walked to work and told me that this day will come and that I will need to face it.Maybe it is because someone was incredibly juvenile that I…