Thursday morning 4.45am, the alarm is set for 5am but my body clock gets me up, pre-empting the alarm. So tired. The sleep is so sweet. I close my eyes for another 10 minutes and with great effort I pull my body up. Tony is waking too and I whisper ‘Good morning love…’ then rush into the bathroom, first. I have an early start and can’t afford any delays.
Half an hour later and I am on the road, heading to Safari Park Hotel for an one day conference that I am moderating. Arrival at Safari Park, 7am, I meet the team, introductions, pleasantries, a cup of coffee. Mmmm, smells so good! Kenyan coffee makes me so proud. Smiling to myself, I try to focus on the conversation, the brief on the conference. Next panelists are being introduced to me. I engage with them trying to get a sense of who they are and what their experience has been, ahead of the sessions. A short while later we are congregating in the main hall and I am still meeting panelists – already familiar and comfortable with 8 so far, just 3 more to go. Shortly before we begin the conference another panelist sits beside me and we exchange introductions. He works for a European supermarket chain as a buyer of agricultural produce in the East African region, but I detect a slight accent. “South African?” I ask, “Yes!” He replies and we have a laugh.
The organizer joins us, “It’s time to start Julie.” Great, but I still haven’t met two panelists! No worries, I will work it out as we go along. I head to the stage and take to the podium. Hundreds of faces are staring back at me, expectant. I breathe and smile… here we go… “Good morning and welcome ladies and gentlemen!”
The opening session rushes by, panel one starts and rolls along at good pace, we are discussing agriculture in Kenya and there are so many stakeholders present, I love the discussions and engagement. No break and we move straight into session 2, it’s is even faster paced than the first session, and before we know it it’s 1.45pm, time for the lunch break. I am hungry but I don’t like moderating on a full stomach, I realize I actually haven’t eaten since last night but I also haven’t looked at my email all day. “Aren’t you coming for lunch Julie?” a lady asks as I get seated at my table close to the stage, “No, thank you, I have too much to do, but I will have a coffee while I’m here.”
Just thinking of a hot, sweet black coffee makes me salivate. I smile at the thought as I open my mail box and start going through my emails, responding as swiftly and efficiently as I can. Then I see a colleagues email titled, In Case You Haven’t Seen This. What follows after I open it is shock, horror, disbelief and then, complete disgust.
I call Tony… “Honey, how are you? Have you seen this disgusting blog?” He hadn’t. He was mortified. We discussed it; legal recourse is the only way forward. The level of malice, mischief and irresponsibility is unbelievable. I only have half an hour for this break before we go into the third session, these discussions are critical towards empowering farmers. I think to myself, ‘Julie, you can’t be distracted.’
I go back to my notes for the afternoon session, but on second thought I open up my iPad again and tweet my feelings…
Just raised my head from a productive & busy day to find utter nonsense on a certain blog! This time we shall meet in court! #Disgusted
(Responding to tweets)
@JulieGichuru: utter lies! Shocked and disgusted!
(Responding to tweets)
@JulieGichuru: lol! Now I’m also on leave… Jeez… This is why we need serious laws on libel. Lord give me strength.
Praying for strength to forgive the clueless. Pls pray for me.
Back to work now, no time to be deviated… Have a blessed day
I look at my last tweet, no it is wrong, I must correct myself. These people are not simply clueless they have the clear intent to damage and destroy, to assassinate and terrorize. They are effectively online terrorists. I correct myself in the next tweet…
Praying for strength to forgive the malicious & clueless.
Pls pray for me.
Back to work now, no time to be deviated… Have a blessed day
People are trickling back into the room, “Hi Julie, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Two ladies are at my table and I stand to greet them… “ummm, do you mind if we take a selfie?” “Of course I don’t mind!” I laugh. Soon others follow. Selfies galore, it’s fun, though I need to get back to my notes. Someone is on the podium, “Please take your seats, it’s time to start the afternoon session. Julie, over to you!” Here we go again. No time to think of online terrorists and assassins! Time to work! I get my head back into the game and it’s farming, technology, financing, innovation, education, training, new curriculums, science and research. An incredibly productive day at the conference, but sadly a great fail for humanity on social media. Yet, I believe every challenge presents an opportunity.
So I have taken you through my day this past Thursday. Let me bring you into my intimate perspectives… For a short while on Thursday evening I tried to understand what on earth could motivate such minds. It takes serious depravity to stoop so low. To create and propagate lies about people you don’t know!
The optimist in me has a bit of a laugh, ‘Julie, someone needs to tell these guys they would make a much better living out of writing telenovelas’. The pragmatist in me recognizes the seriousness of the issue, they accuse my husband of owning a company that was registered when he was in high school and I was in primary school, a company we had never heard of till this Langata land saga came to the fore, owned by people we have never met. Even more heinous and despicable, are claims on the teargassing of children, which is utterly unacceptable and disgusting. As a champion for children’s empowerment through various platforms, which we personally fund, I have no words to express my disgust. Through the Natembea Campaign we have distributed thousands of pairs of shoes to children in Kyaume, Ahero, Kayole, Kasarani and Kitengela. In addition we personally have supported the growth of the Great Debaters Contest, to nurture a new generation of informed and civilized leaders and citizenry. We would never seek to hurt children. NEVER. Only to grow and empower them. Period. We pay for children to have a meal daily through the Hope Alive Feeding Campaign in Nyatwere School, Oyugis. On top of all this we sponsor school fees for a number of children across the country. But they accuse us of attacking children then post pictures of our own… Mens rea?
There are so many other shocking claims and allegations but possibly the most deranged is the one that refers to our mother, Salome. I am not even sure where to begin… Let me say this, my mother-in-law was a woman of incredible principle, loved and adored by her son, my husband, all her children and so many others. She was a sponsor of so many children, for whom she had such a great love. She herself had the spirit of a child, happy, playful, energetic! She died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and we pray for God to send her our kisses every night. May God forgive these online terrorists for even casting her name into this sea of of filth that they call a blog. A woman of grace, purpose, principle and integrity. We took a lot from Mum, yes, we did. Her work ethic, her energy, her entrepreneurial zeal and her philanthropic spirit of grace, her love. Worldly things, no… Nothing worldly at all, actually. But what we got was invaluable. Precious. Priceless.
Not a single Kenyan should have to endure this kind of affront. We are exploring every legal opportunity towards recourse. Whether it takes days, weeks, months or years we shall work patiently with our lawyers to ensure that those responsible for this online terrorism are held accountable for their actions and will not do this to anyone ever again. Precedent in this area has already been set. We shall seek to entrench it.
Enough time spent on their negativity. Let us move from the darkness into the light…
Lol! Just thinking, my line was blocked because I hadn’t paid my Safaricom Bill. Only cleared it last week after 3 months… Now if I knew we apparently had Safaricom shares… Loool! No! No! No! Stop it Julie! It’s not funny!
Yes… Truth be told, it isn’t funny at all.
Yet, as they have said throughout the ages, every cloud has a silver lining; We did not realize how much love and support exists out there and we want to take time to recognize, appreciate and thank you all. We can’t express in words the feeling of warmth and goodness that so many of you have shared with us. The calls, sms messages, the tweets and posts on various platforms. The concern, sympathy, support, love and appreciation is overwhelming and we cannot express our gratitude enough. Perhaps the best way to put this would be to say this prayer for you;
~May the good and great Lord cradle you in His arms through your good times and challenges.
May you always feel His warmth and love through the congregation of support from His followers.
May He keep His angels at your side protecting you, may He carry you on His wings.
This is what you have given us, through Him.
This is what we pray for you.~
We are grateful, thankful and humbled.
In ever challenge there is a blessing.
Never let the darkness pull you in.
As the wise and great Martin Luther King Jr said,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Love, light & blessings