BY BOGONKO BOSIRE
She sat next to me with her legs off to the side like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tifannyâ€™s. That wasnâ€™t normal or natural. How could she be? She was sitting next to a journalist who had condescendingly written about her. Attacked her; treated her like dog shit; called her a sex Olympian.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t you call me and confirm before you wrote that,â€ she asked me, in some lilting but faded Kashmir patois. I defended myself, of course, careful not to again offend the woman who was mourning.
My colleagues who sat next to me in Mercury Bar and Restaurant scorched me with their penetrating gazes, dripping contempt and perhaps hate-love. I had offended a woman and here I was obdurate like her favourite characters: Â Red Indians in Cowboys and Red Indians.
Her name was Julie Gathoni Sumira Gichuru, the woman who once wrote a letter to God.
Hours earlier, although mourning she looked fit, studious and innately charming, she had stood next to the graves of her son who died nine years ago and her mother-in-law, who joined the land of the silent ones three years ago. It was a sombre, heart-breaking ceremony in Samuel Gichuruâ€™s home, next to Daniel arap Moiâ€™s storied farm in Kabarak.
I arrived at Kabarak in a company of some opinionated men and women who love drinking and successfully plotting politics. We were the guests of Wambui Gichuru, the velvet-hearted lady, who alongside his brother, Tony â€“ Julieâ€™s hubby â€“, had organised the memorial for the fallen souls. I thought of them in Heaven, watching us, blessing us while smiling as we celebrated their lives cut short a little bit early. After all, I concluded, none of us would leave this ugly, shitty and brutal life, alive.
I remembered â€œAll Things Will Dieâ€ Â by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892).
The old earth Had a birth, As all men know, Long ago. And the old earth must die. So let the warm winds range, And the blue wave beat the shore; For even and morn, Ye will never see Throâ€™ eternity. All things were born,Â Ye will come never more,Â For all things must die.
It was mid-day. We arrived late; of course not late for the much-needed lunch. Never-mind some of us have an under-developed habit of being fed no matter the occasion. Sad.
The tent was full of living souls from all spheres of life. So we were forced to sit under a cruel Rift Valley scorcher. We retired on plastic seats and joined other guests in belting out gospel songs both in English and Kikuyu lingua. God is multilingual.
Three bishops were present. Intermittently, they gave their rather drab, mundane and mostly morbid sermon, reassuring guests of life after death, and threatening sinners of eternal fires in hell. I cheekily smiled because some men of God are more sinners than me.
The rest is boring.
I saw Julie when she and her husband, Tony, stood to talk. This was the first time I saw her. She was tiny. She had an oversize smile. She spoke briefly but extremely painfully about losing her son, â€“ may the Lord keep him in eternal peace – but still, thanked God for blessing her with five more. Indeed little angels, who as she would later confess, â€œhave given her all the reasons to live againâ€.
At lunch time, we filed patiently to a white tent where we were served. With my gang, I sat next a bouquet of flowers and a basked of fruits. Balanced diet, I thought of how Julie could advice her audience on Citizen TVâ€™s Sunday Live, a show she founded and pushed to the top of the game, dwarfing other shitty news extravaganza. Truth be said, she single-handedly pioneered a full-board Sunday night news.
As I ate, at first, I stared at her, then admired her, and finally loved her.
Because this famous woman, who although the main cast at the memorial, was criss-crossing the dining tents; guiding the elderly where to sit; rushing to get them food and ensuring the schools girls were fed. This humility is inborn.
Assisted by one of her sons, Wambui Gichuru and her son, and a few other anonymous denizens, they did a damn great job; a humbling dayâ€™s job. Here is a woman who has interviewed presidents, prime ministers, rubbed shoulders with the high and the mighty, but has still never lost touch with the soil-dirty villagers, the scum of the earth. The Hoi Polloi. People like me, Mududu, Sharlot, James, David, Stella and George.
Kaboom. â€œBOSIRE COME AND GREET JULIE,â€ Wambui thundered, her face as stern as an Adventist pastor who has just realised his daughter loves girls more than boys.
Bollox, President Moi was right when he dismissed Margaret Thatcher as Just a woman, I wickedly thought.
I walked, steeled my nerves, making them as hard as the hull of an USS Cole, the stories warship and aircraft carrier that was nearly sunk by Al Qaeada militants at the port of Aden, Yemen.
â€œOh my God, this is Bosire,â€ Julie growled again in a fading lilt, her dark Indian curls shining under the scorcher, giving her aging but sexy face rare beauty that made some of my male colleagues blush and entertain fantastic, dreamy if not unrealistic hopes. The full make-up expanded the dreams to unrealistic proportions.
Looking me, she asked, â€œWhy did you write lies about me?â€ Huh, lies, how? I thought.
I kept mum, suppressing my rather offensive demeanour, not to shoot back at a woman who has just won my heart on the first-impression, but who is mourning a fallen son and mother-in-law who, I was told, were very close to her heart.
Then Wambui menacingly cut in, this time with a smile, but still with a stern voice: â€œThen apologise.â€
I gave her than girlish Caroline Mutoko side-look, smiling sheepishly, but determined not to lose my guard. I feigned obduracy, which later on, I realized was real.
Julie saved my sorry ass. â€œNo need, Bosire, itâ€™s good that I have met you.â€ Then she walked away, her black blazer and flowing skirt making her distinctively sultry.
You see, all the stories Jackal News wrote were not exactly false as she claimed. They were facts, but some had intentional spins tailored to deliver the real truth home. I am not a philosopher and I hate to dwell a minute on the difference between facts and truths.
After all, Jackal News audience is sophisticated bastards. Julie knew, she now knows, and will always know that.
Back to Mercury Bar and Restaurant; the place where we gathered to down a few bottles of expensive Single Malt and some concoctions with strange names.
After swilling a few, I saw Julie relate with the husband, a owner of the bar. They man nick-named Flash. Years ago, rumours were doing rounds that Tony mistreats Julie. Tony is a certified wife-beater. Yes, they were rumours, leave it at that.
I spoke to Tony. Whatever we spoke, only the devil knows. We clicked. I saw a good man. A man who neither entertains small talk nor bullshit; I saw a bloke who knows what he wants in life. I saw a businessman who likes his drink, and who at that moment did not shy from buying us a bottle of Glennfiddish. Damn, I said Glenn-fucking-fiddish.
From the two, I saw a blissful picture of matrimonial harmony between the Julie and Tony, a stark contrast to the tangled situation being spread by haters that theirs is a rocky ride.
As the night wound on and the Single Malt tearing us apart, Julie joined our table of men. It was crowded with the trash of partying: Whiskey bottles, glasses, water bottles, women handbags, an ash tray, a pack of cigarettes and other dubious paraphernalia.
How are you guys, she greeted us. Fine Julie, we responded having shredded tension.
Small talk. Blah Blah Blah.
Then, she started: â€œThere is one thing many people do not know about me. I love my kids to death.â€Â How sweet, I thought.
Then, you see she knows that she has a great figure despite having given birth to five kids. But how?
â€œAnd imagine I gave birth to all of them through a natural delivery; there was no C-section,â€ she said.
Waoh, one lady on the table threw in. â€œYes, I am telling you the truth,â€ Julie affirmed.
And then, she spoke passionately about parenting. Herself an heir to a rich family, she was somewhat unflattering, but from a somewhat unrich background, she spoke incisively, critiquing modern parenting trends and other cautionary fables about teenage amorality and Facebook-era narcissism.
And she said, in very short stern words, words that flew on our drunken faces like Saddam scud missiles. To us, she was turning the knife, maybe hinting that most Kenyan youth were consequences from addition, weak parenting and broken homes, revealing why most of us live in cloud-cuckoo land.
â€œI will never let my kids stray,â€ she said.
On her personal website, she beautifully narrates her nerve-numbing heritage, but I will just give you a brief:
I know Julie is a trained lawyer. She is of a daughter of mixed race with her fatherâ€™s family is originally from the chaotic, war-torn and blood-soaked Kashmir and her motherâ€™s family was from Kiambu, Kenyaâ€™s most populous county that still retains the shady reputation of having the highest number of thugs per square kilometer.
Her grandfather was born in Kabete. She lived along Wanyee Road in Dagoretti, Nairobi in her early childhood. Julie holds an LLB Law and an MBA from Cardiff Law School University of Wales and Cardiff Business School University of Wales respectively.
She started her significant job at Capital FM then owned by the thuggish Linda Holt before moving to television as a reporter and News Anchor at Kenya Television Network,. During her time there, she the investigative series The Inside Story focused on corruption, crime injustices and inequity in Kenya. She later worked at NTV before moving to her current role at Royal Media Services.
Itâ€™s at while at Citizen TV where her talent shone the brightest. She launched the hugely successful Sunday Live. â€œI am proud of Sunday Live because that was my child. I love it,â€ she told us.
On the news reading front, hats down. Unlike other bimbos who masquerade as news readers, Julie brought class, style, brilliance and authority to news reading. The rest â€“ some lesbians and others sex-picture (porn) makers â€“ are just marketing cleavages and pretty faces on national televisions, and we all know them: The sinkers of news.
Itâ€™s while at Citizen TV that, according to many sources, Julie made deals with politicians and perhaps the devil. â€œShe has been an ODM admirer and that brought her enough flak,â€ a source told me, which was the reasons why, I myself had a problem with her. As I argued before, she was a high profile Kenyan who should never have made her political affiliations known.
Because, her employer, S.K Macharia supported CORD and his doomed and fast-fading leader Raila Odinga, I asked her if the station â€“ dubbed CORD TV â€“ was under any instructions to play down President Uhuru Kenyatta before the March 4 polls.
â€œNo,â€ she said. â€œAt no time did Macharia interfere with our content,â€ Well, I doubt this, but take her as per her word.
Then one day, she announced that she was moving on from Sunday Live, blacking out where she was headed. This touched off a swirl of speculation, others expecting her to be named a Cabinet Secretary or ambassador.
The good lady was planning bigger things. Sexier stuff. Â She was headed to African Leadership Dialogue, a platform where she interviews presidents, heads of state, prime ministers and other big tomatoes, with an overall goal of making Africa more habitable; hauling the Dark Continent from the dark habits that have stalled its people in the dark arts.
â€œYou know what, this is a bigger platform â€¦ there is more than just Kenya and as the world is becoming smaller, we must tell out stories to a bigger audience â€¦â€ she said.
Like many of us, Julie is aging because we do not expect her grow younger. She does not want wrinkles without wisdom. In all our talk, she was silently, but resoundingly screaming: I was to become more mature. I want to become more wise. I want to die working in order to save my continent. Now, she is busy inspiring young people, rightly so.
Julie is a star, first as a mother, then as a journalist but still dormant as a lawyer. We will never leave to see her legal brilliance, even though she did her pupilage in the legendary law firm, Harrison, Harris and Mathews (HHM).
I am Camp Julie.
Below is a letter she wrote to God:
I really think I had it right with that concept of changing colour every yearâ€¦ wouldnâ€™t it be a more tolerant world? Lol! You know, while that attack hurt me emotionally and physically, I thank you for the incredible revelation early in life that our hearts are not colour coded. They are simply coded for love, or hate.
Your loving daughter always,
PS â€“ please remember that if I did get to choose a colour it would be Red. You know how much Iâ€™ve always loved playing the Red Indians in Cowboys and Indians )
Julie aka Soaring Eagleâ€¦
Bogonko Bosire is a certified media critic , to read more of his interesting pieces, gossip and media criticism visit his platformÂ http://www.thejackalnews.com/