Assassins & Online Terror

image

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…

@JulieGichuru:
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.

@JulieGichuru:
Praying for strength to forgive the clueless. Pls pray for me.
Back to work now, no time to be deviated… Have a blessed day :D

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…

@JulieGichuru:
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 :D

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 :D

Julieimage

The Actual Nation Lifestyle Interview

QUESTIONS FOR JULIE GICHURU

1. If given a chance to ask God only one question, what will it be?
That’s a tough one. I am very spiritual. As a follower of Christ I connect very closely with my Lord and Saviour. Honestly, I ask him numerous questions every day and seek his guidance through prayer and the living word. I don’t think I could single out one question that would be more important than all the others… Perhaps it would simple be a request for His grace for our family, all the days of our lives.

2. Share your journey and struggles as a news anchor.
It’s been close to 15 years now in media and its been an exciting journey. There have been challenges but I am not one to focus on the negative. In this industry hard work, passion and knowledge reap rewards in career. However rewards in career come with their own challenges and most importantly with increased responsibility. For me the journey in media has just started. There is much more to come God-willing.

3. What keeps you awake at night?
I’m a bit of an insomniac so many things keep me awake at night. Most of my creative thinking happens late at night so I often spend time writing my thoughts and ideas and working on short and long term plans.

4. What is it like, sitting there and interviewing prominent people on your shows Sunday Live and Africa Leadership Dialogues?
Prominent people are just people. I love having conversations with all kinds of people so I do enjoy my work. Having said that i also enjoy conversing with many people whom i meet on a daily basis. I love to seek new perspectives and to understand what drives our thinking. My greatest interest is to understand what makes people tick, their motivations and value systems… I am blessed to be able to take these conversations to wider audiences through my shows. As such I try to focus on positive and transformational thinking for Africa, an area that is sadly overlooked by most media platforms.

5. How do you prepare for your interviews?
I research the thematic area and the guest. I will usually have a brief chat with the guest just to relax them. You get a lot more out of an interview when your guest is comfortable and relaxed. I don’t like to create a confrontational environment as guests simply close up or revert to scripted answers. Finally, its important to keep your team in the loop so I will usually brief the Editors and Directors on the interview and get their feedback.

6. What goes on in your mind when driving to work?
Most recently I have been struck by the incredible transformation of our roads networks. I get quite nostalgic about the simple days of yore but I am also excited and inspired about the massive improvements In our infrastructure. These improvements offer new opportunities to so many, lower costs of transportation for traders, hopefully they will herald less hassle in getting around… Very exciting!

7. What is your comment on arguments that we have more glamour than brain on TV?
How does one evaluate this?
Is one in competition with the other?
We have an incredibly dynamic media, and looking at the quality of stakeholders across the board I would not agree with that statement.

10. What drives you?
My love for God, my passion for life, my devotion to family and responsibility to society.

11. What do you consider as the biggest career decision you ever have made?
I have made several big career decisions and each of them proved to be a huge factor in my growth both in career and also on knowledge.
The first was to move from my initial career path… I studied Law and then did an MBA with a focus on World Trade Law and International Business, but I ended up in media.
I have moved from television to radio, back to television. Across television platforms I made some key decisions, the first was to move from KTN to Nation TV where I played a key role in the launch of the NTV brand under the leadership of Ian Fernandes, working with a great team including Emmanuel Juma and Joe Ageyo. In 2008 I left NTV for Citizen TV in a very strategic move seeking growth, creative space and an increased understanding of local production. My tutelage with Wachira Waruru at Royal Media Services and the support of Chairman and Vice Chair Mr SK Macharia and Mrs Gathoni Macharia has been invaluable. Sometimes you have to take risks to succeed. However, risk must be calculated.

12. Figure this, you woke up left with only 10 minutes to interview prominent persons in the studio and you can’t trace your make up kit, what would you do?
That’s funny! I would wash my face, pull my hair back and tie it in a ponytail or pigtail and roll with the flow, au naturel.

Can you survive in a world without make ups?
Yes. When I am not working I don’t usually bother with it. It feels great to have my face ‘free’.

13. What is your average work day?
I don’t have an average workday. As a television host and entrepreneur my schedule is different from day to day. I host both Sunday Live and Africa Leadership Dialogues, on top of this I am working on growing 2 businesses, the fashion retail company MIMI.co.ke and production company Arimus Media Limited. On top of all this I engage in numerous development efforts. Each day is therefore very diverse. This works well for me as I would struggle with the tedium of a 9-5 work schedule.

14. Do you carry a book in your bag? Which book would you recommend to every woman?
I don’t carry a book in my bag as I read more on my ipad. I store lots of classic books on in my bookshelf. The works of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain are like old friends. The Bible is also a must have close by. Again, I access is easily on my iPad.

15. What one woman leader/professional do you look up to and why?
There are many women I look up to. The grace and intelligence of Graca Machel inspires me. The passion and dedication of Wangari Maathai set a great example for me. In terms of faith and family I look to Mary the mother of Jesus, an incredible woman with such strength and grace of spirit.

16. How did you meet your spouse Anthony Gichuru?
By the grace of God Tony and I met through our circle of friends. He is close friends with the elder brother of my best friend of many years. We met in Nairobi shortly after I completed my studies in the UK.

17. Tell us something about your marriage proposal and subsequently wedding?
Haha! It’s interesting that we focus on events rather than the journey of life itself. We ask about proposals and weddings rather than love and marriage. We have been married close to eleven years now and together for fifteen. I thank God for his friendship and love and am utterly devoted to my family. I wish society could invest more time and focus on family, this is the key to growing a good society.

18. What is this thing that you love most about your partner?
There are so many things I love about my husband, it is hard to settle on just one. I love his intelligence and wit, his strength and resilience, his hard work and determination and most of all his faith in God and focus on family.

19. What expensive gift have you ever received/given to someone?
I think the greatest gifts are free. The greatest gift I ever received is the gift of children. The greatest gift I ever gave is the gift of children.

20. Would you adapt to a man’s world for you to succeed in life?
We live in a patriarchal society, adaptation is important for survival. I think it is important to adapt but to live true to your value systems. So while recognizing most of our cultures are patriarchal we must still ensure that we maintain and uphold all the values that are dear to us.

21. Do you drink? Which is your favourite drink?
Black coffee. Kenyan coffee.

22. What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to be a journalist?
Know your stuff, work hard, think deep, be unrelenting in your passion for growth and knowledge.

23. What makes you frown? What makes you smile?
Anything that hurts children affects me deeply.
Family, friends and children make me smile and happy.
God delights me.

24. Tell us about the one thing you would give up in your life?
We are told not to be attached to worldly things. I could give up material things, they mean very little.

25. From the records, at a tender age of 10, you wanted to be a criminal lawyer, what happened?
I studied law and found that in principle I disagreed with most of the laws on Evidence. I felt they were skewed and inequitable. I had a greater love and passion for commercial law. It was unexpected but I adapted.

26. Why do you love watching cartoons?
Haha, I don’t know why I love watching cartoons. I just do. Perhaps I am still very connected with my inner child. I would hate to ever lose touch with that inner spirit that embraces the simple things in life.

27. What’s the saddest moment in your life?
The loss of our son. It was devastating. The grace of The Lord has carried us through.

28. You are one of the top women in media, what has been the secret behind your success?
I think it is the grace of God and simple authenticity. I have a passion for what I do and I think it is evident. That passion reflects in the mood and spirit of our audiences and so we are able to connect. It is a blessing and a responsibility and I am thankful for it.

29. Most of the women in the industry have fallen by the way side, what has kept you going all this while?
I don’t think that is a correct assertion. There are many women in the industry who are doing incredible things, perhaps in different spaces. I have many role models to look up to from Muthoni Likimani to the kate Anne Wafula of KBC; from Catherine Kasavuli and Zain Verjee to Farida Karoney, Mercy Oburu and Caroline Mutoko. Kenyan women in media are doing great things!

30. What are the challenges of being a mother and at the same time a career woman of your level?
Every working woman faces challenges in achieving balance between work and career, irrespective of industry, title and job description. I always say its impossible to achieve balance, we must therefore set our our priorities and ensure that all around us understand these priorities. We must make ourselves invaluable by doing the best job possible in the workplace. Then use the good relationship with your employer to ensure you are ale to vest time and effort in family even as you do your job and grow your career.

31. Why did you leave Nation TV, now NTV, where you seemed to be thriving?
The season had come for increased knowledge and growth. It was time to do something different. The market needed it and I did to. I will always remember NTV with great fondness.

32. What is this one thing that you will never forget about?
Like an elephant (and I love elephants) there are many things that I don’t forget. But throughout my life I will always remember that an awesome God created me and chooses to love me. What an empowering thought! I hope you can remember that all the days of your life too!

Greater Understanding.

jg

It was escalating and there was no way I was going to back down – it was a matter of principle! I stood my ground with a crowd of students jeering around me and wondered if anyone would have my back. On that sunny and pleasant afternoon, under the clear blue Thika sky, the mood at the Imani School dorms was explosive. A terrible emotional storm was brewing and I was right in the centre of it. It needed to happen though. It had been a long time coming, and this was my chance to handle the issue once and for all, God-willing. Continue reading →

Madiba is Gone…

image

Does the grass whisper…
“He is gone, He is gone…”
Do the clouds mourn his passing?
#RIPTataMandela Continue reading →

If— By Rudyard Kipling

julieblog2

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: Continue reading →

Ugali Beans & Bullets & the Fail Fast Doctrine

blog julie

“Ugali, Beans and Bullets!” he said.

Wow! It was profound!

“Ugali, Beans and Bullets!” I thought… Hmmmm. Continue reading →

Meeting Mandela

photo (28)

“He is in the conference hall right now and the plenary session is just about to end!”

As the words of the smart middle aged lady echoed in the hushed hotel lobby my heart started to beat rapidly and I broke into a sweat. Suddenly I felt quite weak, just the thought of seeing him in person was too much for me to bear! Continue reading →

Talk is Cheap

nginda

First they said,

“She is married to a very old man,

A veritable sugar daddy,
What a terrible plan!” Continue reading →

Consider Peace: The Story of General Chop Am

invischild

I had tossed and turned for over an hour, sleep had completely evaded me. I didn’t like being away from Tony and the children but this was only a few days of travel and I felt it was so important to accept the request to speak at the Sierra Leone Peace and Reconciliation conference.  But now just one day into the conference I couldn’t sleep, haunted by the stories, perhaps even by this place, I kept tossing and turning unable to settle my mind and spirit. Continue reading →

The Wisdom of the Magi

photo (17)

Every Christmas we have the chance to watch the re-enactment of the Nativity ongoing in schools and churches, and we often hear a special Christmas carol about three kings of the Orient. Indeed, many of us sing along joyously… but have we ever asked ourselves about the real implications of this story? Have we ever delved into the true meaning behind the words? Continue reading →