Bogonko Bosire's disappearance

Blogger Bogonko Bosire.

| File

Bogonko Bosire: The controversial blogger who vanished without trace

What you need to know:

  • On the other, he told sleazy stories about who was sleeping with who, through his Jackal News blog.
  • Kiago says a day before Bogonko vanished, the blogger “was a bit confused”, and drank more than usual.

When the dark clouds of the Westgate Mall terrorist attack lifted in September 2013, at least 68 people were dead, and their families began the painful journey of grief.

One household, however, has been left with many questions. It lost a son that September, but is not sure if he is still alive after the speculation that he was at the mall was discounted.

Years later, friends and relatives of controversial blogger and journalist Bogonko Bosire have nothing more than memories of the mad genius. When the world forgot, Ms Vivian Nchogu did not. She flew from New York to Nairobi to look for Bogonko, picking conversations for any clue.

The Nation joined Ms Nchogu at her fourth year of investigations and can draw a timeline about his movements and seek answers from those close to the man who was entangled in the crimes against humanity cases that faced President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Many interviews later, it is clear the blogger was no ordinary man if the influential names, addresses and offices that he upset are anything to go by.

Bogonko was a man Kenyans loved to hate. On the one hand, he had nerves of steel to pursue stories his peers in the mainstream media shied away from, such as the coercion of ICC witnesses.

Jackal News blog

On the other, he told sleazy stories about who was sleeping with who, through his Jackal News blog.

His style of delivery was a blend of confrontation, and libel intermingled with dark, sarcastic humour in the popular news website he ran.

The last digital footprints of the website show Bogonko’s audacity at wading into the private lives of people in some of the most powerful offices in Kenya.

A few days before his disappearance, Bogonko expressed fears for his life, due to a story that he was pursuing.

The details are murky, Nation. Audio’s first podcast #CaseNumber Zero hosted by Mr James Smart and Ms Nchogu aims at laying bare the tale of a man whose case has gone cold.

The story traces the day Bogonko disappeared and who saw and talked to him last. It retraces his steps and walks listeners back in attempts at piecing together this mystery.

He did not change his clothes. Then he borrowed Sh50 from me as fare. That was strange because he never asked for money from me, Kiago says.

The last person to see Bogonko was his cousin Fidelis Kiago. His account of the day of the disappearance is telling. The blogger was an unsettled man.

More confused

Kiago says a day before Bogonko vanished, the blogger “was a bit confused”, and drank more than usual.

The two lived together in South B, Nairobi. He told his cousin that a High Court judge had called to tell him to keep off the ICC cases. Bogonko did not reveal the name of the judge.

 Kiago tells Nation Audio that the blogger’s activities were unusual.

“He did not change his clothes. Then he borrowed Sh50 from me as fare. That was strange because he never asked for money from me,” Kiago says.

As though he was expecting a huge amount of money, Bogonko promised Kiago that he would send to him cash for upkeep as soon as he (the blogger) got to town. Known as a man who kept his word, Kiago remained by the phone waiting the call. It never came.

The blogger’s little brother Elkanah Bosire also talked to him on the same September 17. He was to call the following week but never did. That call too has never come.

It is the people who lived with him who would tell me that he has disappeared,  Mrs Bosire said.

No one – not even his parents – took the disappearance seriously because Bogonko was a walking contradiction.

Bogonko was a loud man who nonetheless thrived on and guarded his solitude at times. He was a reckless, rough individual described by some as generous whenever he had money. Family members say he cared much about what they thought of him.

“There was a time he flew to Europe for work. We only found out months later when Elkanah stumbled on his plane ticket,” Bogonko’s parents – David and Esther Bosire – said.

Pensive and wearing their heartbreaks on their sleeve, the elderly couple told Nation Audio that they had made peace with their son’s lifestyle.

The two say it is this habit that would have made it easy for those who did not wish Bogonko well to harm him.

“It is the people who lived with him who would tell me that he has disappeared. But he would show up later saying he went to Nyeri or sometimes Mombasa,” Mrs Bosire said.

 “Elkanah would tell me ‘I don’t know where he is’ and then Bogonko would show up and say he was following a story. He used to disappear in pursuit of stories,” Mr Bosire added.

It was this devotion to “looking for stories” that drove the fear into the hearts of the family when there was no post or article on Jackal News about the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall.

To be continued next week. Case Number Zero is an Eight- part weekly podcast series. Press play at www.nation.africa/audio to listen to the whole story in Chapter 1

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