Journalist John Allan Namu’s soon-to-be-launched memoir “The Joy in the struggle” chronicles never heard before events that shaped one of Africa’s foremost investigative reporters.
In a chilling account, Namu opens up for the first time about how he was abused, a part of the story that has haunted him for almost three decades.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa media festivals in Nairobi, Namu captured snippets of his book set to premiere in July 2023.
“I was sexually abused. It happened a few years before I got into my double-digit. It happened more than once to someone years older than me. He took advantage of me,” Namu narrated to an emotional crowd.
He continued: “I have written and rewritten this portion of my story because I don’t know what I should include or leave out. The details of the abuse are for me to tell who I need to tell.”
“How I have seen myself as a man to this point has been defined by what happened, and I thank God that I was spared the degree of depravity that I have to report about as a journalist.”
“To me, the abuse didn’t scar me as much as the guilt that I was forced to carry, and it is true what is said about abuse; it is as if you’re kidnapped and forced to bind yourself to your captor by staying silent because if you talk, you’ll be seen just as guilty as the person who abused you.”
In the book, Namu explores personal and historical events that thrust him into journalism and the struggle for self-realization.
“It is time as journalists that we get down to writing about our stories. It is part of recording history and shaping societies, and you don’t have to hit 80 to start thinking about it,” he told a gathering of media practitioners during the event.
The memoir takes one on a journey of his upbringing in a happy household and his early inspirations and aspirations, whose circumstances were irreparably changed by what he calls the corrupt administration of the former Kenyan President, Daniel Arap Moi.
“As a journalist, when you witness some of the things that I have gone through, it is very difficult to look away. Our training is that as a journalist, you shouldn’t invest yourself in the trauma of the moment, but who are we if we are not cognizant of our emotions? Sometimes our role might just be to help,” he quipped.
Baraza media lab’s executive director Maurice Otieno has reviewed Namu’s memoirs; he writes: “It takes me back to all the experiences that shaped my worldview. It was interesting to hear the why and what motivated him to do the stories. His life story and work affect how I view the world. I was in the terror attack at Riverside Drive, and his video gave us hope, as we were hiding in the ladies’ washroom, that the calvary was coming.”
A section of the book looks into his involvement in unmasking corruption in Kenya in the pandora papers expose that shook Kenya a few years back.
Stephen King, the chief executive officer of Luminate, lauded Namu for the courage to tell his story:
“This is really brave. I commend and admire you; we celebrate your courage,” he said.
The book has been curated by Barrack Bukusi and can be pre-ordered on www. johnallannamu.com.