TRIBUTE

'Fair-minded' Star journalist in Nyandarua Ndichu bows out

Wrote in accessible, seductive style and had a penchant for breaking human-interest stories.

In Summary

• Ndichu – as we simply knew him – became a regular fixture in the Star and the newspaper hot cake in Ol’Kalou, Ndaragwa, Ol’Jororok, Kipipiri and Kinangop.

• Widely read, he wrote with an accessible, seductive style and had a penchant for doggedly pursuing and breaking human-interest stories. 

Star journalist Ndichu Wainaina
Star journalist Ndichu Wainaina

Like his Biblical namesake, Jonah Ndichu Wainaina possessed dogged determination. He was also fair-minded and a stickler for accuracy.

I experienced Ndichu's doggedness when I began serving the people of Nyandarua in 2015. Barely settled in my role, he visited my office and asked if I knew anyone who could accept his work outside the county.

At the time, he was writing for Home News, a community newspaper serving Nyandarua and neighbouring counties.

He was also pursuing undergraduate studies in journalism and mass communication at Chuka University in Tharaka Nithi county.

Attempts to tell him I was still new to the county and couldn't be of much help bore no fruit. I had to do something. 

The Star had no stringer in Nyandarua, so I asked him to share his work samples with the newspaper’s management, which I knew from my previous work as a regular contributor.

In short order, Ndichu – as we simply knew him – became a regular fixture in the Star and the newspaper hot cake in Ol’Kalou, Ndaragwa, Ol’Jororok, Kipipiri and Kinangop subcounties.

Widely read, he wrote with an accessible, seductive style and had a penchant for doggedly pursuing and breaking human-interest stories.

With deep contacts, he helped tell the story of devolution in Nyandarua with unparalleled depth.

On one occasion, he was deeply offended when his bosses dispatched a special correspondent to report on Lake Ol’Bolossat, Central Kenya’s only lake.

Last Saturday, he wrote from the blues on the Nyandarua Media Forum: “I’m down but not out. I will rise, and fight to retain my position. Jesse Masai, I promised you I will dwarf  __  (his colleague at the Star).”

Ndichu was also a stickler for accuracy and fairness in his reporting. Whenever he had doubts about any story, he would either call to confirm the facts or follow up in person.

To the occasional discomfort of his subjects, he never wanted to go to press with one-sided stories.

He kept no grudges, even when falsely accused by some of his subjects.

Amidst the vagaries of manufactured consent in Kenya’s devolved units, Ndichu stood head and shoulder over his peers in diligently serving the profession he loved.

Outside work, Ndichu cared for his friends, particularly those in distress, for whom he selflessly mobilised support.

Conscious of the fluid political situation across Kenya, Ndichu also built solid alliances with several state and non-state actors, whom he rallied to secure the profession in Nyandarua.  

Now, perhaps, he will continue doing so from the other sides of eternity.

Farewell, joyful warrior!

 

The writer is director of communication and public relations, Nyandarua county. (@JesseMasai)