Bitange Ndemo: Endless calls are back after my new job

Bitange Ndemo

Prof Bitange Ndemo during a past function in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Barely less than a week after his appointment as Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium, Prof Bitange Ndemo appears to have regained his former high-demand status.

His phone now cannot stop buzzing from friends looking to congratulate him on his new job and acquaintances hoping to revive a relationship.

Prof Ndemo told Nation.Africa that he has been getting incessant calls since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the list of the appointees.

“I have received a lot of phone calls in the last few days of people congratulating me, some are individuals who have been in touch with me throughout the years while others are people I have not talked to in a while,” Prof Ndemo said.

“I understand that this is human nature, when you lose a job or position many would distance themselves and only come back when something good happens,” he said.

Prof Ndemo made headlines back in 2015 when he narrated how he felt lonely and abandoned after losing his job as the permanent secretary of Information and Communication.

“The Kenyan culture is such that people attach value to friendship, but their friends value them for their money or influence. The day I left office, my phone literally ceased to ring. My “friends” had moved on. I found myself checking my phone to establish if I had inadvertently put it off. The phone was fine,” he said.

Before leaving his job in 2015, he said he would receive an average of 30 calls an hour.

The calls would come from people he believed would keep in touch even after his misfortunes.

Then the misfortune happened in 2015 and the calls stopped.

The number of emails also dropped from 200 in a day to five.

“I came to discover that our culture dictates that unless you are useful, you are irrelevant to society. Although it is normal to feel indignant, vulnerable, and angry after losing a job, people around you can make a difference. However, as vulnerability pushes you towards people you know, most within our culture find it convenient to avoid you,” he said back then.

So what has he been up to before his current appointment?

“I see this appointment being very helpful because I never left the sector. I have been working with the European Union and the Kenyan government. I have been head of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) taskforce here in Kenya,” Prof Ndemo said.

He is among 24 other Kenyans who were appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as various ambassadors to different Kenyan High Commissions abroad.

Some of them include Tomas Kwaka Omolo, popularly known as Big Ted, who has been deployed to Los Angeles in the USA as Kenya’s Consul-General.

Former Dagoretti South Member of Parliament Dennis Waweru will serve as Consul General in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while outgoing National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai will be the Kenyan Ambassador to Namibia.

Ms Margaret Wambui Ngugi Shava, who is the President’s niece, will represent Kenya in the Netherlands.

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