Carol Kinuthia: Rita Tinina, the best friend of my youth

Rita Tinina and Carol Kinuthia

The late journalist Rita Tinina (left) with her friend Carol Kinuthia.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • You were the Queen of giving people nicknames and coded language.
  • I named you Sanaipei, it was the only Maasai name I knew at the time.

You were away attending a crash course in the Netherlands. I moved to Nation Centre from the Nyeri bureau as a correspondent. I took up your workstation and settled in. You came back after three months and found this noisemaker.

We didn’t interact much at the beginning. I still believe you were trying to figure out how a newcomer could be so loud.

Then our paths crossed, and we started interacting as colleagues and eventually became friends.

I nicknamed you "Sanaipei". My friends thought that was your real name. You were the Queen of giving people nicknames and coded language. I named you Sanaipei "kukurudishia mkono", and it was also the only Maasai name I knew at the time because of the then Miss Tourism, Debra Sanaipei.

Sanaipei, the best friend of my youth. We shared our youth with many fond memories of things we did, the places we visited and the lessons we learnt.

You were the neat one, you were the organised one, the timekeeper. I was the noisemaker. We were so different, yet we shared so much in common.

I remember our monthly Saturday ritual of going to the spa, as we both enjoyed steam and sauna.

You liked your nails neat and well-manicured and made sure you booked for me an appointment each time you visited Monica, our long-time shared nail lady. Whenever you discovered a new shop for office wear, you would even book my clothes. At some point, we had the same clothes save for the colour.

Sanaipei, you moved to the apartment block I lived in at Valley Arcade, and it became difficult for our visitors to know who lived in house No. 8 and who lived in No. 12 because we both operated from both houses, sharing even clothes. The only thing you didn’t quite enjoy doing was cooking.

I left the NMG and had a regular hours job in Public Relations. We had a deal. I cook, you clean dishes...and since you were the neater one, washing dishes was an easy role for you. I used to get home early, prepare dinner and wait for Sanaipei to leave the newsroom so we could eat together.

Whenever Mama Hellen (as we fondly used to refer to Rita's late mum) was around, she always reminded me that "Mathee anakuja, ujue ni wewe unapika.." A role I diligently enjoyed.

I met your family, and they became my family. You guys had a strong bond as siblings, although there was a bias towards Jedida. You guys were like twins.

"You were the neat one, you were the organised one, the timekeeper. I was the noisemaker. We were so different, yet we shared so much in common." Carol Kinuthia.

Photo credit: Pool

The nickname for Jedida was "Moment" because she disliked junk food and unhealthy eating. She always warned us that "a moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips," and Sanaipei named her "Moment."

A colleague at the Nation, David Mugonyi, had an extension number 8434, and Sanaipei named him 8434, a name we call him to date.

She had a name and a code for everything and everyone based on how she met or whatever criteria she chose to use. The cameramen were "Kirafa", Ephy (Ephantus Mwangi) was Fanta, etc.  

Interestingly, she didn’t have a nickname for me. Instead, she called me by my two names, and it always had a "Wee Carol Kinuthia."

Then came social life. Sanaipei wasn’t a fan of nightlife. She liked her soft life and quiet.

Occasionally, I convinced her to have a girls' night out, and she ended up enjoying it more than most of us. I remember when Jedida was around, and we went out with her other two sisters, Hellen and Irene. A joyful evening, we had and the kind of memories I will hold dearly.

I could write about our road trips, our holiday trips to the coast, our birthday dinner plans with the girls, and much more, but I have to wipe my tears and say a special prayer for your family.

It still sounds like I'm writing a script for the movies.

Thank you, Sanapei, for being part of my life, especially our days in Valley Arcade. Thank you for the countless sacrifices you made for me and the many down and low moments when you filled the gap. Thank you for sharing your clothes (there’s one top that still fits, I will keep it safe).

Thank you for being there, helping me attempt to be half as neat as you were, from how you arranged your clothes to how spotlessly clean your house was always.

Thank you for the fun we had, the memories we made, the adventures we discovered together, and all the photos you kept, each in its folder.

Go well, Sanaipei, go well, the best friend of my youth. I will never forget you. You were one of a kind.


Carol Kinuthia is former TV reporter and currently works as a Media Consultant.