OMBATI: My Special Tribute to Elvis Simiyu Wakajuaness

Well, I have never been a big fan of eulogies. As a matter of fact, the so-called “befitting send-offs” or “last respects” when we lose important people in our lives to me are just a series of hypocritical lives we like living with, disguised as “our culture”.

My normal news stories would have started the first paragraph with who this Elvis Simiyu is, but that excerpt of befitting send-offs had to lead because it forms a primal part in my story today, where I pay a tribute to one of the greatest people in my life.

Elvis Simiyu is very alive and kicking somewhere in the streets of Bungoma, and I have chosen not to wait for his burial to come up with a great eulogy of him. I choose to celebrate people when they are alive because then they can feel and know they are appreciated somewhere.

This man Elvis Simiyu is the CEO of Wakajuaness.Com, the leading digital media outlet in Bungoma County and Western Kenya at large. That’s why many people call him Wakajuaness. I usually call him “Chief”, and on those days my stories hit more than 50,000 views in traffic, hawezi niambia kitu (He can’t tell me anything) and names will shift to ‘emboko’.

I know you are asking mufaulanga muriena?

I came to meet Simiyu in 2017 in the popular WhatsApp group County Flash administered by fellow scribe Oti Oteba. Simiyu asked anybody who wanted to write and his stories published on the then newly launched Wakajuaness.Com to inbox him.

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I was then just freelancing and did not have a main website, therefore decided to take my shot in his inbox. I started with observing his profile picture, admiring his neatly shaven beards (men understand the power of beards) which fortunately I later learned were fake! (stickers).

It was fortunate because that later came to be my leveraging tool in our ‘wars’ until he changed the Display Photos (DPs) all over social media accounts. After a brief introduction and popping up my interest to write, I received a warning of how I should focus on original content and avoid plagiarism.

The journey began. At that time my greatest asset was my Techno W5 phone which I remember I bought after saving two weeks’ salary at ‘mjengo’. So I would alternate between doing research on the browser and drafting the stories on my only WhatsApp group then send for publication.

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It was never easy, sometimes even struggling with bundles. So when I would submit a story and Simiyu fails to publish on the basis of poor taste or standards, it would never end well because I saw this guy was ‘killing’ me. (Of course, I now appreciate the process).

From Left: Elvis Simiyu, Paul Ombati and Mike Kaguongo during a sports show on West TV. Photo/File

So when you read my story now and comprehend it easily, get informed and entertained, just know it is because of Simiyu and Wakajuaness.Com

My passion grew very much with writing and I kept publishing more and more stories. Many people even think Wakajuaness.Com is my website. I later joined college to pursue a course in Journalism and Media, and that bettered what Simiyu had trained me on.

In August 2019, I got an opportunity for an interview at Royal Media Services (RMS) as an intern under Citizen Digital. The first question was whether I had written any news story before and my shot was yes, I have hundreds of stories at Wakajuaness.Com

The rest, as they say, is history. I remember calling Simiyu and breaking the news to him that I had faulad. Great mileage! After my internship, I came back as a staff writer at Wakajuaness.Com, and we have kept on moving through thick and thin.

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So when you read this story here, it has never been an easy journey to be where we have reached, and we are going far. When on-call Simiyu usually jokes around that I am threatening to have a coup on the website ownership because I have grown at a speedy rate, but then it’s the work of his hands.

Everything is never about money, and one thing the majority of the youths in Kenya suffer from is a lack of opportunity and mentorship to grow their skills. In Simiyu and Wakajuaness.Com, I found a place to be who I am today.

So to Elvis Simiyu, my Chief Editor, wherever you are, just know you helped improve the life of a person out here, and however life takes us, whatever fate the future shapes for us, just know that I will forever, ever, be grateful.

Mbuyamomo Omogambi!


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Paul Ombati is a journalist, news editor, creative, and passionate content writer. He is also a digital marketing strategist with special interest in influencing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). To reach out to him, Email: Follow him on Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter using the icons below.

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