Tribute to Maureen Musyimi: Till later, Mo!
Never in a million years have I ever thought I would have to write a tribute to one of the most vital, energetic and full of life people I have ever met, my late friend and colleague Maureen Wambui Musyimi.
I first met Maureen in 2013 when she joined the Ogilvy PR team from the reception desk. Maureen joined Ogilvy as a receptionist and when I asked our former boss Nick Wachira why he recruited her to be part of the team, he said her sense of wonder and appetite for learning is what made him first notice her.
You could not fail to notice Maureen wherever she went. She was loud, feisty, opinionated, very close to God and nothing ever fazed her. Everyone wanted her on their team because she was always raring to go and was never overwhelmed (and when she was she never panicked).
That is not why I loved her, however; I loved her because she completely shared herself with us. We met and hang out with her children and we got to know her husband Musyimi. No other colleague has opened her heart and home to us like Mo did.
She shared her love of colour, her love of a good laugh – her sense of humour was wicked and was always delivered with panache and exasperatingly her dislike of food. I was her self-appointed food finisher.
You always knew where you stood with her; she let you know if you offended her. If she thought you were slacking, she would say it to your face – never rudely but she made it known when something was bothering her.
Over many lunches, she regaled us with stories of her troop – her four beloved children Taji, Tia, Tami and Thando who were all born when she was working at Ogilvy. She stressed us to no end by the way she never let pregnancy stop her. She shared hilarious stories of her late grandmother who brought her and her brother up.
I remember one day we were having a team-building exercise of some kind and we were all dancing behind her in case she fell because of the dancing style she was attempting with her huge belly not being an impediment whatsoever. She gave us several heart attacks that and many other days.
That was how Maureen approached life; nothing was ever too large for her. When she took a break ahead of the arrival of her last born, I still called her without shame with prayer requests. I admired her absolute faith in God.
Whenever I felt like my load was too heavy to carry, I called her with my requests and felt very peaceful after she promised I would be in her roster of prayers (she prayed for many people). The only other person I have ever sent such prayer requests to is my mother – so Maureen was definitely special and chosen.
We discussed religion and spirituality a lot. I am a very confused person when it comes to religion – and she was very clear in her path. The thing that struck me the most is that there was never disrespect in our disagreements – which were many and loud and emotive. We would finish and go to lunch and laugh about silly stuff while I admonished her for her dismal eating habits.
I don’t know if this will give a clearer picture of her zest for life but Maureen did not know how to walk. Her walk was more of a jog, if you ever had to go somewhere with her on foot you had to tell her to slow down every five minutes.
I will miss discussing TCM movies and the Classics with her. I will miss saying outrageous things and watching her shaking her head at my audacity, I will miss hearing her voice ordering me to take photos of her because in social media speak, “she was feeling herself.”
Below are a few words from some of our other colleagues – current and former:
Maureen was always eager to learn and that is what first made me interested in her as a part of the team. When she joined, I knew I had made the right decision because her diligence and incredible ability to operate under pressure were an important part of the job.
Maureen was the first person to say “hi” to me when I joined Ogilvy PR in 2014 and told me I was joining the best company in the world. She invited me to lunch and our friendship started from there. We laughed together and made a lot of noise in the office; we enjoyed being silly together. Our feisty and loud personalities were a match made in heaven and I am going to miss her.
I met Maureen when I joined Ogilvy in 2015. I was immediately drawn to her attention to detail and my favourite memory of her is when we made a pact to stop over-apologising – we noticed in a bid to be polite our sentences always started with the words, “I am sorry for disturbing you…” when in actual sense, we were not bothering a person for asking necessary questions. She adored her family and I thought she was a superhuman because even after four babies, she was never swallowed by motherhood, or being a wife or an employee. Her personality was too big to be swallowed by anything. Her respect for everyone’s opinion is a lesson I will take forward with me.
I met Maureen when she joined Ogilvy as a receptionist. She had a lot of questions about PR and was never shy to ask them. Besides dealing incredibly under pressure, I also admired how she was never afraid to try anything out. She was a mother of four little ones and she made it look like a breeze. Her capacity for love was unbelievable and she got along with everyone.
Her warmth is what struck me when I met Maureen in 2013. She had a great relationship with everyone including clients. She took a young boy she met while in the line of duty under her wings and treated him like one of her children. She sent him pocket money for school and shopping, sent him fare when schools closed and mentored him above and beyond the call of duty.
Maureen was a great teacher and mentor to me and she did it with so much patience. I will always remember the time we went to Ethiopia for a project and we went dancing after working non-stop for three days. If I had known what I know now, I would have danced that much harder.
Maureen was never daunted by any task. She did a whole production of a documentary without knowing what it entailed when she first took it up and still she excelled at it. She also took it upon herself to teach me more about humility… and I, in turn, taught her not to be too apologetic.
I first met Mo in May 2019 and two weeks later, we were both assigned roles to prepare a pitch deck for new business alongside other colleagues. Like a lioness teaching her cubs how to hunt, Mo held my hand throughout the day and late-night brainstorm meetings. Hers was a happy demeanour to push us to the limits to win. She was sweet and possessed an enduring wit.
I first met Mo when I joined Ogilvy in 2016 during our famous lunch hour sessions. Being a newbie, I went to warm my food in the kitchen area after everyone else. As I waited in line for a chance to use the microwave, I was bombarded by very loud engaging conversation from the balcony at CVS between her and my other colleagues at the lunch table. To someone new, it looked like an argument but to everyone else, it was just the PR guys having lunch. Over time I got to participate in many such lunches and moments. We worked together on several accounts over the years, where my love and respect for her grew as she applied her energy and zeal in everything she did be it on work assignments, her family, love for friends and workmates
Mo, we will miss you dearly. May you rest in Eternal Peace.