A walking book


BY Ireene Nyarambi

HE was not just my editor or my boss, he was my father.
He was a good friend of my parents, whose relationship dated back to the days of the liberation struggle.
They fought together, a fact he liked to mention to everyone in our diary sessions.
He addressed me as his daughter.
“This is my daughter, she is my daughter,” I can still hear his voice say.
He made me feel at home while I was at work.
I was his little girl.
Who can boast such working conditions?
He had a totally different approach when it came to work.
We were all his children, but he demanded that we all deliver our best.
He never tolerated laziness and slackening at work.
Having been a novice in the newsroom, fresh out of college, he took me under his wing and patiently watched me grow.
So huge were the wings because all of us were underneath them and no one ever wanted to leave, we still needed the protection of these warm and protective wings.
He demanded that I know everything there was to know in my department.
There was nothing complex and above me, he insisted.
He encouraged me to spread my wings and get out of my comfort zone, he encouraged me to write.
Even though my work involves mostly designing, he always told me to write, for some reason he was convinced I could do it.
I wondered if he somehow knew of my secret passion to be a writer.
Among the many things I admired about Cde Alexander Kanengoni was his outlook on life.
It was amazing, something I had never seen at so close a range.
He was full of optimism.
He had the ability to turn the most depressing moments into something positive, ever seeing light even amidst darkness.
Because of him now I have new perspectives on life.
He even told us not to be afraid of death, there was nothing to fear he insisted.
He did not want to see anyone upset or withdrawn, even the quietest person ended up being talkative around him.
He was fun to be around and spoke as if he were writing a novel; very descriptive, creative and entertaining.
He had the ability to tell the same story over-and-over and make it sound like he was telling it for the first time.
And his laugh, I remember his laugh.
He had such an infectious laugh that I would laugh too even if I didn’t know what the joke was about and you could hear him laughing from his office some doors away.
He was a compassionate man.
I am stuck, like I have never been stuck before.
I am trying to make my story flow, give it the flow ‘DJ’ would have loved, I want to be coherent.
I want you all to hear me clearly as I tell you about this great man.
I cannot believe he is gone and I cannot believe that I had the privilege to be in the presence of such a great and yet humble man.
He was my inspiration.
He helped bring out the artist in me and for that I am eternally grateful.
He made it look easy for one to pursue his/her dreams and make an impact on this earth.
This, he did with such ease and made it look like anyone could do it and we believed we could because he encouraged us to.
Cde Kanengoni was so full of life, a big man with a larger than life character.
He took time to know each and every one of us, character-wise, and accepted us the way we were.
He would chastise us when we did wrong and like a father would immediately check if we were OK and try to cheer us up by telling us how great we were and what big roles we played at The Patriot.
I will miss him so much.
Now I sit here with just memories and ask, who is going to understand us like him? Who is going to be a mentor, a walking book full of all sorts of knowledge and a father at the same time?
How is this place going to go on without him?
Is this even real?
Knowing you Cde Kanengoni and the way you looked at life, if you were to see us crying right now you would probably laugh and say, “Saka murikutochema?
“Why are you crying?
“Do you not know that I lived a great and fulfilled life?
“Have I not left my soul and memories in my literature?
“Why are you crying?
“Have I not left a legacy that will inspire many?
“Concentrate on doing the same and don’t cry for me.
“Celebrate my life and don’t cry for me.”
To the Kanengoni family I say, thank you so much for sharing such a great man with us.
He was surely a treasure, one of a kind.


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