I reflected on my journalistic career recently and found out that I have been going backwards. My first assignment in Kenya in 1981 was to Kesho Publications in Kijabe. Kesho means tomorrow and was founded by my father and John Ndeti Somba and others in 1960 to produce a new magazine called Afrika ya Kesho. The Africa of tomorrow. It was meant to give a Christian perspective on the future as East Africa moved from British rule to independent nations. Afrika ya Kesho appeared monthly with Swahili articles and covered news stories, church events and more. By 1967 after President Jomo Kenyatta made English the language for schools, Kesho Publications saw a need for a second magazine aimed at the educated youth who wanted to read English. A sister magazine called Today in Africa was born.
I edited Today in Africa throughout the 1980s, training Kenyan writers and editors. I worked under John Ndeti Somba, the editor ofAfrika ya Kesho and a wonderful mentor. Swahili readership was steadily eroding for the flagship magazine and Afrika ya Kesho died soon after Somba retired about 1990. By 1994 Today in Africa had grown and was a vibrant youth magazine with the tagline “Meeting today’s problems head-on.” The magazine recorded many first person stories about Christians living out their faith in changing times.
I left Today in Africa in 1994 to focus on a project with the Okiek (often called the Dorobo) people of Kenya. But I missed publishing, so in 2005 I partnered with Mike Adkins to start up Old Africa, a history magazine that would capture some of East Africa’s best stories and photos before they were lost. We set our time frame as 40 years in the past and earlier. I did the editing and Mike did the graphic design. We were prepared to close the magazine down after one or two issues if it didn’t sell well. To our surprise, an avid readership quickly rallied around the magazine and we’ve been publishing now for seven years.
And I really have been going backwards. I started with Afrika ya Kesho, tomorrow’s Africa. I reverted to Today in Africa. And now I’m happily stuck in the past with Old Africa.