What you need to know:
- On the 13th of last month, Gerry wrote me an email telling me that he was having difficulties with gallstones and he was planning to see his doctor.
- With Gerry gone, will my favourite Sunday newspaper remain the same? Or should I fit into his big shoes and write a “Letter from the North”?
The news of the passing on of my favourite Sunday Nation columnist and close friend Gerry Loughran has shattered me. Until this news, I had never thought a real man could shed tears from sorrow.
I have known Gerry since 1997 through his column – Letter from London. However, I had personal interactions with him through email since 2020.
I first interacted with Gerry in June 2020 after I wrote him an email about the availability of his book – Birth of a Nation - which I failed to source from our local bookshops.
In a kind gesture, Gerry offered to get a copy and send it to me. And true to his promise, a month later, I received a call from a G4S courier about my parcel from the UK (which turned out to be the book from Gerry).
Since then, we have occasionally exchanged emails, “ya kujuliana hali”.
Difficulties with gallstones
On the 13th of last month, Gerry wrote me an email telling me that he was having difficulties with gallstones and he was planning to see his doctor over the same soon.
Having undergone operations twice for a similar problem, I encouraged Gerry to remain strong and hopeful since the problem was manageable (by the grace of God).
I was planning to send him a book to keep him busy as he recuperates in the hospital after the operation.
Growing up in a remote village south of Garissa, the only access I had to a newspaper was through my father’s butchery business. In those old days, newspaper pages were the only meat wrappers available to butchery and shop owners in most areas.
Whenever we would break from school in the evenings, weekends or holidays, my father left my siblings and I at the butcher as he attended to his other business.
Interest in journalism
While my siblings frowned at being left at the butchery (instead of playing outside with other village children), it was excited since this gave me the rare opportunity of devouring the dog-eared newspapers.
The Sunday Nation was my favourite courtesy of the columns by Philip Ochieng, Gerry Loughran and Chris Hart. I used to go through the bundles of old newspapers and pull out the pages of these three columns.
Reading Ochieng and Loughran’s columns birthed my interest in journalism. I became a journalist and worked for different newspapers locally and internationally for over 15 years, before dropping the pen to pursue other interests.
Mr Hart’s column on relationships has made me develop an interest in human behaviour and interaction, which led me to pursue counselling psychology in old age.
With Gerry gone, will my favourite Sunday newspaper remain the same? Or should I fit into his big shoes and write a “Letter from the North”?
Jubat is a freelance journalist/PR consultant and a holds a masters in counselling.