If someone had told me that I would still be here a year later, I would have smacked the words back into their throat, literally.
Flashback 20 years…
Anne Ofula was on the KBC TV screen. Her braids were held up in an elegant bun, her eyes happy. Then there was that dazzling white smile, the red lipstick carefully painted on the perfect curve that were her lips. She was the second most beautiful woman I had ever seen, my mom came first of course 🙂 I watched with great fascination and interest as she ‘introduced’ the next programme. They always ended up narrating the whole programme anyway, remember? So just like that, I knew what I wanted to be when i grew up. I wanted to be her. Whatever she was doing, I wanted it, and that lipstick too! Mama tells me I would stand in front of the mirror after school, practising. She sometimes narrates of instances when she would be secretly listening and hear me sign out as Anne Ofula instead of Trezer Oguda. That mirror act was my thing and by default, albeit unknowingly to Anne, it became our thing. By the time the future was here, I would be ready.
A degree in media and communications, several training opportunities and CVs in quite a number of Kenyan media houses later, I am here. No, not on KBC. I am behind my desk, in this small, beautiful cottage of an office at the Marula Manor grounds in Karen, Nairobi. Its not a newsroom. It is the media and communications desk at Save the Elephants.
Conservation communication is quite a shift from what the grown up me had envisioned as I threw my graduation cap up in the air, that hot June afternoon. However, when I was called in for the internship position in February last year, I took it, “just for the time being.” It was something, and it had been six months on the freelance vibe. I needed it, and the money. The first time I stepped into the office I told myself, “Oh, this is going to be boring!” There was a silence in the room and they all looked so sciency 😀 My loud self could not survive in these harsh conditions.
A year on, am glad I stayed. Well, it has not been all rosy; in between floating during the meetings where it’s all policy and science paraphernalia (…it gets easier and quite interesting with time though) and having to sit still for hours hunched on a computer and know that the boss is god here. I have cried out my frustrations, more times than I remember privately and publicly. But now, now I can confidently say I am sharper, YES, sharper (…the sciency parts are still there and I do sometimes wander away to the sandy beaches and all, but not all the time). I am involved. I know a lot more, not just about elephants and their conservation but also about policies and what it really means to Save Elephants. And there is more to learn. My deskmate at work has made sure of this. I have grown-career wise and wholesomely, made friends in colleagues and most importantly, I have gatecrashed high profile weddings at these beautiful expensive grounds.
Needless to say, my loud self survived and still does. I even have recruits! I have grown to love elephants and attributes that bear an immense similarity to us humans. Elephants are plus size models. They are the most elegant species you’ll ever encounter. I have had a chance to be amazingly close to a herd of 150 elephants taking beautiful shots and making films. It leaves you speechless (sometimes because you dont want to scream out of fear and have them turn aggressive; you don’t want to YODO- You only die once-under their mighty trample) but also because they are a sight to behold..
They make seemingly gentle steps, but the impact on the ground for miles is amazing. Their ability to not just feel but show emotion….aaaaaah! Lets save elephants! They are our heritage and pride. Stop poaching now! Hands off our elephants! Ban the ivory trade now! Enough, of the campaign-but seriously, Save their souls 🙂
So what is the moral of the story? I don’t know…maybe I needed us to celebrate my one year anniversary. No? Ok. Then verily verily I say unto you, God does not make mistakes. He knew I was going to stay here a year, and who knows how much longer. See the Bible says in Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” And that is why my ‘to be here temporarily’ plans failed. The most amazing thing is that I am my own star here. God made sure that everything I touch turns to Gold. I am good at this! God wouldn’t let you fail where He’s placed you. You will thrive! When its time to move, you’ll move. I believe I am still in His purpose and if the journey to the fulfilment of that purpose requires me to save elephants, then that’s exactly what I am going to do. I am going to take full advantage of it. I only have one request…to my boss. Thou shalt read this post and know that I want to be here, so thou shalt award me a salary increase according to the company’s riches here on earth. We are blessed. 🙂
NB: Dear Anne Ofula (RIP)…I still occasionally sneak into the bathroom where the interior designer conveniently hung a three quarter length wood edged mirror and do ‘our’ thing. Who knows where all this practice will lead me. lol!