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.
Alberto 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.
Ben10. Yes, it’s a comic strip for kids in the Saturday Nation. Not that I like it that much, but the person handling it, is, one of my major blessings in 2011. So, yes, B for Blessing.
Boss! Yes, I can’t forget my boss. She’s been an inspiration. In 2011, she sat back, mentored, guided and yes watched as the team delivered the results. She took the heat when things went bad; and lived on when all the accolades came my way. Talk about having plenty of freedom to follow up on things that you consider newsworthy and getting that nod from the boss. She’s been there, done that, knows how stuff should be done. But the fact that she doesn’t micromanage makes it super. Plus, she knows, I am stubborn whenever I see a good story…and for the record boss, I am not an undertaker. If I get it bleeding, I just follow the lead. God bless your heart boss! Be nicer in 2012
Corruption. I hated to see PLO Lumumba get out of Integrity House. I know he blundered big time –being an MC in a wedding of a suspect; receiving donations from a suspect; setting a trap and yapping about it when it fails et al. My heart bleeds when I see people flaunting their dirty wealth in public, and gloating about it. It’s annoying. Especially when Forbes legitimizes it in those ‘top whatever richest men in wherever’ lists. Corruption isn’t going away in this country anytime. That much I know. Its labyrinthine nature is mind-boggling. That’s a lesson I learnt in 2011.
David Ochami. He’s a journalist at The Standard. He’s got a witty mind, almost like a computer. He’s the only journalist I know in this country, who would seek to UNDERSTAND a story before sitting down to write it. He is also amazingly honest and has formidable intellectual muscle to engage experts at their level. Getting to spend more time with him made me glean kilos of wisdom, for free. His humility too is admirable.
Every day in 2011 I got to learn something new, meet new people, do something new, just lived every single day to the fullest. That made me ecstatic; sometimes I got exhausted. But the bottomline is that I lived to see the next day.Did I hear an ‘Amen!’? So, yes, I take every single day that comes my way seriously. So, E is for EVERY DAY!
Follow your dreams! I think I am following mine. The only thing I find weird is that it takes you spending more time awake to clearly follow those dreams.
God is God! Life, favours, miracles, the whole package. He never disappointed all through the year. George Ogutu watched my back with timely advice. He has no idea how invaluable he was. And thanks for that Fredrick Forsyth book. The Cobra.
Hillary got married. Hiram Munuhe, a superb guide when it comes to mountaineering –he is based in Mount Kenya-- gave me a thumbs up, saying that I can actually ‘guide’ people up mountains. ‘Halleluja’ is how I greet one of the big shots at the company. He knows why! It goes back to the Lamu days. I have also been told that I was helpful all through the year.
Internet!! I know, I know. It is not the late sixties and we are not talking about ARPANET or such stuff. I just love the speeds of connecting to the web in Kenya. Bitange Ndemo and his team at the ministry of information have done something super. That my connection plays videos without ‘buffering’, that I can connect on the internet wherever I am in Kenya quite cheaply is something I marvel about. It took a trip down to Tanzania for me to find out how bad things are across the border. And yes, if Fibreoptics can bring this, then the Technocity should do something bigger. If only those speculators on land at Konza did not make it expensive for investors… Let’s see what comes up in 2011.
Ivan Marovic, well, you can read all volumes of books you want about social movements and civil resistance, but it took an hour and a half with this man, just one quiet evening by the poolside in Mexico, for me to put a finger to it. Amazing lessons from this man. Thanks Al for getting Ivan down there.
Joy got married. Joy won awards. Janet came back to the city. Janet became my neighbour. Joan too got married to my chairman Dysan. Now that was something! John Kennedy aka Spinwizard left Lagos and came back to Nairobi; he’s poised to become my in-law. Jack and Jere all got serious with their women. It’s been a jolly year for my boys and girls. Be blessed folks.
Kilimanjaro. That’s the highest mountain in Africa. Yes, thanks Maggie Lemere, you made me take the hike up the mountain, yes, and I did it to raise money for the hungry Kenyans (you see, even with all rivers, rain, land and labour, we still have hunger). Where’s that minister of Agriculture who made Kenyans harvest bigtime two years ago? Sorry, I forgot. He’s out because of corruption (refer to C).
Linus, the big boss, bought me a book as a present for making it to the peak of the mountain. Muchas gracias papasito! Lucas aka ekatoroto got active on Twitter and yes, he taught me one more survival tactic—work harder! Leah too made it up the mountains. A very strong woman this one. I was very very impressed. Life in 2011 had its ups and downs but I lived through it. A year full of lessons. Didn’t I say I learned every day?
Mum died on Easter. She was born on Christmas day 55 years ago. So it was a rather difficult Christmas this year. Yes, I spent it repairing a friend’s laptop. Slept a bit also, and was so groggy on Boxing Day. It’s been a merry year nonetheless, save for that one major blow. I also got to know that I have very nice friends at NMG.
Nigeria’s elections was super for me. The way it turned out with Goodluck on top, Buhari number two, and there was a little violence in the north. And then there’s that megaproject, where the fellows are reclaiming land from the Atlantic through sand-filling. Eko Atlantic City they call it. That’s clearly a big big project! So, clearly, Kenya is not full. By the time we’re able to fill the vast lands in the Northern Frontier District, we’d still be doing very well. We won’t have to raid the beaches just to create more land to erect another concrete jungle.
Order! Order! Yes, after listening to the Speaker and his deputy yelling order! Order! In the House, I also find myself yelling Order! Order! Whenever someone does anything inane. I find it ridiculous everytime that word leaves my mouth, but, those who know me and even those who know me not, do understand.
Osama was killed! Darn! I know, I know, he caused so much suffering, but that slaughter...what! It would be good for movies, once the pictures of the raid are released.
People will always be people! Let them be!
Quality questions, what Al calls “soup questions”, are crucial for every journalist. Always ask questions that add value.
Rasta philosophy: A man must know himself. A man must be honest. A man must love and fear God. A man must be loyal. Your body is the temple of God, so you better take care of it pretty well.
The Sunrise on Mt Kilimanjaro on the morning of Mashujaa Day. I was almost at the peak and saw the sun as it woke up, peered through the clouds and slid through the sky to come rest right on top of the mountain. That sunrise is one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.
I learnt a little Spanish. I am going to spruce it up before I return to DF. Add a little French in there and lots of Arabic, and you can guess that Casablanca, Rabat or Algiers will be my next stop.
Tequila. That cousin of mine. I’ve missed her! She was super nice this year. I owe her some dinner. Once she drops into the country and has sometime left on her hands, we’ll talk.
Uganda drew with Kenya in Kampala and the two countries lost out when it came to playing soccer on the big stage. Kenya saved face, Ugandans were tamed. They were so noisy, arrogant, you’d think they owned East Africa.
I learnt about Vimeo. Thanks Henry Taksier! Viral videos became my forte. Plus, I actually made some videos go viral.
Wikileaks for me was defined and re-defined. I got to meet someone who worked on the leaks and no, it is not Manning (though I'd love to talk to Bradley Manning and Julian Assange one of these days). It is Natalia. She’ll sure be a chapter in my book. What a year!
I don’t think the X-series is as beautiful as a say a Touareg or a Q7. Just thinking.
Youtube became a favourite. Thanks Gringoyo.
So, my cousin went to Zambia and met my friend. That was awesome! I wasn’t match-making or something. Just helping a brother to get comfy in a foreign land. By the way, he had a good time in Zambia and even posed with lions the way you’d pose with a dog or a cat. And, he went to Victoria Falls, he told me, I am yet to see a beautiful view. I believe him.