Two years of anguish mark familyâ€™s search for missing blogger Bogonko Bosire
SEE ALSO :The unseen war - Part 2To date, no one really knows circumstances of Bogonko’s disappearance on that Wednesday, September 18, 2013. His brother, Elkana, says he heard from a cousin whom Bogonko had been living with in Nairobi’s South B area that the blogger had not communicated for two days. “It was highly unlike him,” says Elkana. “I lived with him for five years and it was unlike him to leave for a long journey without informing me.” Elkana says he immediately called Bogonko’s friend, Dennis Itumbi, a director at the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit. He says Mr Itumbi informed him that he had not seen Bogonko and that he too was looking for him. “I always checked for his Jackal News updates on Facebook. Whenever there was a fresh one, I knew he was okay. But when I did not see one for a while, I knew there was a problem,” says Elkana. Despite promises, Itumbi did not give a comprehensive interview about the disappearance of his friend and efforts to search for him. Two days after Bogonko disappeared, on September 21, 2013, Al Shabaab terrorists attacked Westgate Mall and killed 67 people. Though he says he was sure in his heart of hearts that his brother was not among the victims, Elkana says he visited the mortuary, just to be sure. The next Monday, he filed a missing person’s report at Industrial Area Police Station. Little has come of this, but the family has not given up hope. Two months after he disappeared, the family was informed that the body of a man who resembled Bogonko was at Naivasha District Hospital. But they say the body was not his. “My brother had broken teeth but the body had complete teeth. He was also better built than Bogonko,” says Elkana. PHONE RECORDS Bogonko had bought a new Samsung Galaxy phone, which would have been easy to track. However, Elkana’s efforts to get records of his brother’s last communications from Safaricom hit a snag. “They told me the phone could not be traced and refused to release his phone records. We would have known whom he talked to last and it might have helped us trace him,” he says. Elkana says he stopped pushing for answers when he suspected that somebody was listening to his phone calls. “I was a new father and my wife had had a difficult delivery. If something bad had befallen my brother I did not want the same to happen to me. When I realised that somebody else was listening to my conversations, I stopped going to police stations or probing too much,” he says. One of Bogonko’s last articles on Jackal News was a tribute to an unnamed woman whom he said had restored his faith in love again after the object of his affections, a TV reporter, turned him down. Well, a week before he disappeared, he traveled to Kibimbi, a small trading centre two kilometers from Mwea Town, to visit a woman. “I was surprised when he showed up here on Friday evening,” she says when we meet her, and requests not to be named in this story. But, she adds, she is not the ‘princess of honesty’ that had taught Bogonko to love again. She says they had met on Facebook as bloggers supporting the Jubilee Coalition during the 2013 General Election campaigns. That visit to Kibimbi was the first time ever they were meeting face-to-face. “Sometimes, when people want to get away from the crowd for some peace and quiet, they go away to little-known places. I took his visit in that context,” she says. Though she describes Bogonko as a little bit tipsy on the day he arrived, she adds that he drank little during his stay, occupying most of his time reading books he had brought along. “He slept on the couch and would wake up in the middle of the night to read those huge books,” she says. They went for a drink once or twice at a local pub, Jubilee Bar, and this is where Bogonko’s last known pictures were taken. Bogonko left Kimbimbi on Tuesday morning for Nairobi and she says they never talked again until she heard from the media that he had disappeared. A month before he disappeared, Mzee Bosire said his son called and asked him to look for stones to build two houses; one for his parents and one for himself. The stones were delivered and the parents are trying to finish a modest three-bedroom house which they began a year ago in his absence. “ I am retiring next year and we told ourselves we need to make an effort to build ourselves a decent home. If he was here, things would have been a lot easier,” the elder Bosire says. Next to the new house is a pile of rough grey building stones, meant for Bogonko’s house. “They will remain there until he returns,” his mother says. Mama Esther says that two weeks before he disappeared, Bogonko called and said he was soon going to work at State House. Family members describe Bogonko as a secretive person who never revealed what he was going to do. “He disclosed very little about himself and we had learned not to question him much,” says another brother, Joshua. Bogonko last visited the family home in April 2011. However, Mama Esther says they communicated often by phone. Some suggest that Bogonko might have stepped on the toes of some unkind and unforgiving soul in one of his acerbic writings. However, his family knew little about the blog. “We only knew that he had his own media company but we did not know he was writing things that made some people angry,” says Mzee Bosire. In the absence of concrete evidence about his disappearance, all types of rumours have been advanced to explain Bogonko’s fate. There are rumours that he was in one way or the other involved in the Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court over the 2007 post-election violence. LEAKED LIST In 2012, Itumbi was caught in the ICC crosshair for allegedly leaking names of witnesses in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case. Bogonko published the list on Jackal News. However, the family say they did not know of any involvement in the ICC cases. “In any case, those cases are coming to an end. Surely, he would have appeared by now,” says Elkana. Elkana said his brother was a die hard Jubilee supporter. “On March 4, he woke me up very early to go and vote. He told me whom to vote for, right from the president to the member of county assembly. And when I went home, he demanded to see my index finger to confirm that I had voted. When he saw the purple ink in my finger, he gave me Sh1,000, saying it was for the ‘good work’ I had done,” he says. Though he got on well with his parents, their point of disagreement was his drinking and smoking. “I told him I didn’t like and he promised to stop,” said Mzee Bosire. His prayer is now this: “Please let us know if he is still around or not. We are in the dark. If he is still alive somewhere kindly say something my son and our hearts will be at peace.”
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