As the media industry develops through the ages, a few journalists have seen it all. They have faced tough times, exposed criminal gangs, had their lives threatened, but above all, told stories that immensely impacted the country.
One of them, award-winning and renowned investigative journalist, John-Allan Namu, famed for his exploits alongside Nyali legislator Mohammed Ali on Jicho Pevu and Inside Story, where they unravelled criminal conspiracies in Kenya.
Traversing the many turbulent tides in the world of investigative journalism is not easy, as there are moments that make a man and those that take away pieces of you, and for the Africa Uncensored founder, the road to world recognition has not been any different.
Namu has had his fair share of ups and downs and in two separate interviews, one with The Standard on June 14 and another with K24 TV on December 12, 2017, the renowned journalist intimated an instance he believed broke him and made him at the same time.
"In the Footsteps of Kabuga', that was it. An exposé tracking the whereabouts of one of Rwanda's richest men, Felicien Kabuga, who was accused of financing the 1994 genocide and was believed to have hidden in Kenya.
In the story, some of the photographs they had declared to be those of Kabuga were apparently of an Isiolo businessman, Daniel Muthee Ngeera, who came forward to claim them after the story aired.
At the time, Namu intimated that not only did he bear the guilt of mischaracterising an innocent person, but the incident could also have jeopardized his credibility.
"That was a tough time, and it has been a tough time since. I built up a lot of credibility over the years at the time and when the Kabuga story came around, I thought this is another one where I get to prove something that was really important not only to us who had harboured the fugitive, because I still believe he was harboured here, but to the millions of people who lost relatives in Rwanda at the time," Namu revealed in the interview with K24 TV.
The Africa Uncensored founder expressed his sincere apologies to Mr. Ngeera noting that it was not his intent to ruin his reputation.
Namu conceded to wanting to nab Kabuga so bad that he might have failed to consider the fact that a section of his informants had fed him misleading information.
"When that came out, it was soul-crushing, there is no way that I can express how deeply sorry I was for Mr Ngeera to have watched that. Because there is nothing I would hate more than to have someone mischaracterised because of me," Namu revealed.
He added that the story underwent several stages of scrutiny before it was aired.
"That story was previewed seven times before it went on air, and even before it went on air, my sources had gone under, they had received threats when it ran. I was in another country with my family," Namu stated.
"Maybe because I was so focused on the goal of nabbing Kabuga that I did not realise that there were people who were feeding me intelligence that might not have been credible and every time I go back every year, I revisit the work that I did. I reopen the files and try and see which area might have had a problem," he added.
Namu revealed that it took time for him to heal from the incident and support from his family played a major role in helping him bounce back.
"So it took me a long time to get beyond that and pick up from where I left off," he conceded to K24 TV.
"My support system, especially my wife. Despite the fact that we had to go into hiding for three months, instead of castigating me for following this dangerous story and apparently getting it wrong, she stood by me. She talked me out of one of the darkest periods in my life," he told The Standard.
However, he highlighted that it was an important part of his career as a journalist and served as a wake-up call. Namu admitted to obtaining more positives from the story.
"It also was a key lesson for me in terms of paying attention and trusting my gut more, also trusting some of my close confidants who were telling me a few things more," Namu stated.
"Its one of those moments that gives me pose for thought, for you to reflect and I think I came out better," he added.
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