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Tribute to my fallen friend, Ahmed Darwesh

By JOSEPH BONYO

For anyone who worked at the Standard Group Limited in his time, Ahmed Darwesh impacted wisdom on them. Daru, as he was popularly known in his close circle, was forever jolly and welcoming.

He had a pet name for everyone and so was he named back. Kakake, Babake, Kigogo, Bingwa, Mwanakwetu, Daru, Odhisi, Uswazi are among the many names he went by.

Darwesh would light up the newsroom with his charm and wit even when the circumstances forced everyone else to be dull.

Many at times, at his desk he would suck at his ‘matende’ as he went about his duties. He never ran out of stock. I learnt from him the art of running a news desk. He would effortlessly do it when the KTN Leo team was lean on “shift days”.  He produced and anchored the bulletin without whining.

An entrepreneur per excellence he was. He would carry half the ‘office’ in his car for lunch at his eatery in South B and carry food back for the remaining half on his way back. He was the to-go-guy for ‘ukwaju’ (tamarind) juice.

Babake had a special way of inducting all newbies to the larger KTN family. He made my transition into the world of TV journalism (from newspaper) smooth.

From interns to seasoned journalists he weaned us. Many of us who had an opportunity to drink from his well of wisdom will agree that he impacted on us.

FARE THEE WELL GWIJI

In his car were forever a spare suit and several neck ties, a manifestation that he was always ready to go on air when called upon. He lived the trade of news which happens anytime, anywhere. So many were the neck ties that in an interview with a local daily he estimated them to be in excess of 500.

He avoided controversy like plague. Darwesh chose the path of professionalism at a time the newsrooms are divided by ethnic and political interests. Even if he harboured them, he never let them get into the way of trade.

He was among the first people to be at the editorial meetings when all of us dragged their feet. The same editorial room that he religiously held his prayers from time to time.

His death reinforces the adage that ‘Wan mana welo e piny ma mualo kae’ (We are all, but guests in this world). I knew he was diabetic but he managed it very well.

Death is indeed painful and final. As I walked into the room he lay last night, surrounded by colleagues and family, he carried his poise with him. Calm and collected even in death. Painful as it was seeing him there assured me that here lay a man who lived once and lived well.

My prayer goes out to his wife Mwanahawa, who he fondly called ‘Mamake’, and his children.

Fare thee well my friend, sleep well D.O One Garbatula. Until we meet again Babake! You touched many lives as was evident at the Mater Hospital last night and early this morning. May Allah grant you peace in the transition Odhisi.

We shall meet again Gwiji. Rest in Peace Kigogo. It is well Kakake.

Joseph Bonyo is currently the Editorial Manager-East Africa at CNBC Africa; he worked with the late Ahmed Darwesh between 2011 and 2014 as business editor at KTN