The Unwritten With: YVONNE OKWARA – A CANDID CONVERSATION

It took almost two months, since first reaching out to her, before I finally had a sit-down with Yvonne Okwara. And it wasn’t for the lack of trying. 

We tried to get together so much so, that it got to a point I began to worry about my text messages coming across as spam. This was a sentiment Yvonne instantly dismissed; because in person, she’s graceful, and warm.  

Yvonne and I finally meet at Eka Hotel’s Spur Restaurant, along Mombasa Road. When Yvonne arrives for our lunch, two things about her strike me the most: her frame, and her perfume. 

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The Unwritten With: MUSALIA MWENESI – ON HITTING ROCK BOTTOM & BOUNCING BACK UP

Musalia Mwenesi and I schedule to meet on a Wednesday, 3pm, at the Villa Rosa Kempinski’s Balcony Bar.

On the day, Mwenesi, as he is more fondly referred,  sends me a text saying he’ll be arriving slightly late.

When he finally arrives, Mwenesi, in his tall, striking, frame, gives me a firm handshake, a warm smile and a heart-felt apology: “I’m so sorry for being late. It’s a weird time. We are moving, and I’ve been receiving calls non-stop. They’ve been calling even now about some lights. Those must be some very serious lights!”

We both laugh, he takes a seat, and asks for sparkling water. The ice is broken.

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The Unwritten With: GRACE MAUREEN WAIRIMU – ON HOPE AMIDST DEPRESSION & SUICIDE

Grace Maureen Wairimu, is a lawyer by profession, trainer by practice and singer by hobby. She struggles with clinical depression and suicidal thoughts.

We meet on a warm weekday afternoon at a café situated along Argwings Kodhek Road, Hurlingham, just next door from where she works.

Grace shows up right on time and immediately asks that we change sitting positions. Being surrounded with people makes her uncomfortable. It intimidates her. She wants an isolated table, no food, just a milkshake.

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The Unwritten With: JAMES GIKONYO – SURVIVING TO TELL THE SUICIDE TALE

James Gikonyo and I meet at the PAWA 254 offices, located along State House Crescent. He shakes my hand then quickly withdraws. His eyes also dart away so fast from the brief eye contact we’ve made that I can barely process what is happening.

After stepping out briefly from the boardroom, James returns with a notebook and pen.

Slowly, as he lets loose the more we  talk, I see his confidence emerge, he becomes more vocal, expressive and comfortable. The nervousness earlier finally makes sense. I’m about to ask the 23 year old some very personal questions, and for him, I imagine, he is not too sure what to expect.

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The Unwritten With: DEREK BBANGA – COMFORTABLY RUNNING HIS OWN RACE

Derek Bbanga and I speak on an unforgiving, chilly, Saturday morning. His voice is a bit groggy, we laugh at this. He tells me it has been a long week of long trainings. His body is suffering. 

For this feature, we, at his suggestion, plan to meet at the Le Grenier à Pain on Riverside Drive. It is “an exquisite French bakery,” Derek tells me. Three days later, we actually meet at The Royal Tulip Hotel on Tigoni Road, Kilimani. Plans changed. 

Although quite careful with information, Derek slowly opens up to me as he takes his coffee, black, no sugar.

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