one programmes and 19 locations later, season two of Kenya’s TV and radio
debate show Sema Kenya has finally wrapped. As we prepared to
record the last show of the season, our web editor Audrey Wabire asked me what
my highlights were and it got me thinking.

the storm

I would say it was the clash of the titans in Kenya’s biggest rural
constituency Kakamega. 

With our
eyes permanently glued to the gathering clouds, the whole team went on a charm
offensive to persuade the punctual governor to wait for the delayed senator to
arrive. I think it’s safe to say there is not much love lost between these two
men, but on a cold, damp, murky morning they both sat down and faced the people
who had elected them. 

outdoors we are always at the mercy of the elements and some may say planning
an outside broadcast in Western Kenya in September is asking for trouble. It
rained, we ran for cover. It stopped, we started again. The debate was
heated. The weather was not.

Far and

From a
logistical point of view, the show which sticks in my mind was from Lodwar in
Turkana county in the far north west of Kenya. 

This is the
county where locals ask “How is Kenya?” - an indication of how removed and
remote they feel from life in the rest of the country.

Our seven-tonne
equipment trucks - one carrying our precious generator - took four days to
travel almost 700km from Nairobi to Lodwar, on a route which bore little
resemblance to anything I would consider a road. 

On arrival
the location was a beautiful green oasis on the banks of the River
Turkwel. Local people thanked the BBC for remembering them and we were
made to feel so welcome. 

to Westgate

Of course what
will always stick in my memory is the programme we produced in the
aftermath of the Westgate siege in Nairobi in September.  

In the days
following the shooting of 67 people in the Westgate shopping mall, we were still
reeling from the events. Some of us had lost friends and loved ones and others
had been involved in the coverage. The need to talk became powerfully

presenter Joseph Warangu hosted a special programme which, instead of inviting
our usual panel of guests, simply brought together people who had been affected
– from those who had been wounded or escaped the mall, to those who had helped
the injured.

And for
those of us there that day, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that
bringing people together in this way felt like a small contribution to the
ongoing healing process.

Gift of

In our final
show we run through some of the commitments, promises and key themes of the
season – insecurity, political in-fighting and how the devolution story is
playing out across the country. 

I write
this on the day the show is being recorded, the day our presenter spent in the
labour ward with his wife as she delivered their new baby Zawadi – the Swahili
word for ‘gift’. 

Bleary eyed
and giddy he dashed to the studio and presented the programme with his
characteristic style and professionalism. 

It is
somehow fitting to end the season with new beginnings and hope, sentiments I
know all the dedicated staff on the Sema Kenya team wish for this
amazing and beautiful country.

will return
in April 2014.


Related links

Sema Kenya
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BBC Sema
Kenya on BBC Swahili site

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