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Ex-Nation cameraman Bwana recalls moment with Obama

A former journalist who interacted with Barrack Obama before he became America’s President has described the leader as a social and cheerful person who listens attentively and is keen to learn.

George Bwana was part of an elite crew attached to the Nation Media Group that was dispatched to interview the then Illinois Senator at the Serena Hotel during his last visit to Kenya in 2006.

“I went alongside Macharia Gaitho (now a special projects editor at the Daily Nation), Julie Gichuru (formerly of NTV and currently a news anchor at Citizen TV) and then Daily Nation photographer Fredrick Omondi (who has since joined Pic Centre),” Bwana who at the time worked as a cameraman for NTV told Nairobi News.

Former NTV cameraman George Bwana (left) with the late Fidel Odinga (son to to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga)
Former NTV cameraman George Bwana (left) with the late Fidel Odinga (son to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga)

“I was handed this assignment because my bosses knew I was the best cameraman in town,” Bwana, who has since quit active journalism to venture into sports administration, media production and politics, says.

“We first set up for the interview and I went over to mic him. He immediately said thanks. The interview lasted about 45 minutes. After taking off the mic, he again said thanks. Thereafter we had a chit chat for about ten minutes. He joked that my hairstyle was good but he couldn’t adopt it because the farmers in Illinois might not warm up to it.”

“We talked about several issues including the situation in Kenya at the time, weather, the upcoming elections both in Kenya and America and so forth. Never did either of us interviewing him – and possibly himself –  at the time imagine he would one day be the world’s most powerful leader.”

Former NTV cameraman George Bwana displays the trophies that the Gor Mahia won during the 2012 season (when he was the club secretary general) at the KPL Footballer of the Year Awards.
Former NTV cameraman George Bwana displays the trophies that Gor Mahia won during the 2012 season (when he was the club secretary general) at the KPL Footballer of the Year Awards.

Bwana says he is eager to meet Obama again during the American President’s upcoming visit to Kenya in July.

“Meeting him (Obama) was a blessing to me in a way I cannot explain. Since then, I have grown in several career aspects, got to several places and met many people I never envisaged. I want to meet Obama again and if I do hope he will recall me,” Bwana, who once served as secretary general of Gor Mahia FC, concludes.

Obama was born in America but to a Kenyan father Barrack Obama senior 53 years ago. He is America’s first black President.