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Macharia Gaitho: Why I am leaving Daily Nation early

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Macharia Gaitho who is retiring at the end of August from Daily Nation, has written an emotional letter to staff of the Nation Media Group, paying tribute to his colleagues and the entire Nation family. The letter, in Gaitho’s offline rendition, is full of humour and interesting anecdotes.

In the letter, titled There Come a Time, a phrase  popularised by the late Prof George Saitoti after he used it while quitting KANU to join NARC in the lead-up to the 2002 general elections.(Gaitho requests someone to explain the origin of the phrase and Business Today is happy to do so).

The managing editor for special projects and chief leader writer reveals that he will continue supplying content to Nation as an independent correspondent alongside his weekly column and adds cheekly that he will soon be “seeking enrollment with the Kenya Correspondents Association.”

And he reveals why he is leaving: “You may be wondering why I am leaving prematurely. For me it is not premature, but actually late because my intention from early on had always been to retire from formal employment at 50, and free myself to enjoy life and family while working at my own pace and taking on projects close to my heart.”

Here is his letter in full.



August 14, 2015
Dear all,
There come a time.

You have now been officially informed that I have elected to leave Nation Media Group
It’s not easy leaving a family, but I opted take voluntary early retirement because after more than 15 years of this service, there was need for change.

Fortunately management responded favourably to my request, and August 31 will be my last day of work in this great outfit.

I cannot say I walk out of the exit door and will not look back.

15 years represents the half my working life. It has been a period of shared triumphs and trials with so many of you, lasting friendships that must be maintained, and the daily routine and adrenalin of producing a newspaper that will not be easy to let go.

Yes, I will look back. I will look back with longing, and memories, and sadness.
Sometimes I will be wistful and consumed by doubts.

But there come a time. (someone please explain to the younger ones the origin of this phrase)
The good thing is that I am not entirely severing ties with NMG. I will continue to write my weekly column, and in addition to that will be a regular on our pages as an independent editorial content producer.

Yes, I aim to show that being a freelancer or correspondent can actually pay, and keep me to the lifestyle that I am accustomed.
I will remain a member of the Kenya Editors’ Guild, but will also be seeking enrollment with the Kenya Correspondents Association.  
You may be wondering why I am leaving prematurely. For me it is not premature, but actually late because my intention from early on had always been to retire from formal employment at 50, and free myself to enjoy life and family while working at my own pace and taking on projects close to my heart.

A confluence of factors made me miss my self-imposed deadline, but over the December holidays last year, I determined that the time had come.

I approached CEO Linus Gitahi in January and informed him of my decision.

We had a long talk and he did not want to release me at the time and urged me to think a little bit more. It happened that he was also preparing his own exit, and this kind of complicated matters because he preferred that the decision on my request be made by his successor.

However I continued discussions with Tom Mshindi and we reached accord on my departure. After giving the new CEO Joe Muganda time to settle down, I formally put in the request for early retirement. Joe was understanding and supportive, but was also insistent that my exit wound not mean the end of a continuing professional association with NMG.

So here we are. I am leaving, but not quite leaving.

I may not be bumping into you in the newsroom, corridors and elevators, but I will retain a virtual presence from wherever I may be.

The nature of this business generates and endless supply of rumours and conspiracy theories. There are fellows who make a living out of blogs, websites and social media posts devoted to gossip and propaganda on the media.

Please, dear friends, take it from me, hand on heart, that my exit is entirely voluntary, my own personal decision, and has been a long time coming.

I was not pushed or nudged out.

It has nothing to do with change of guard in the CEO’s office.

There is absolutely no Cord-Jubilee ethno-political nonsense in the equation.

It’s about I and I.

This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in a long time.

A generation of great acquaintanceships cannot be severed just like that. You are more than workmates and colleagues. You are dear friends and family.

The hard-nosed, cynical hack doesn’t tear up easily, but this is one of those times. 
Of course Joe will happily pay for a magnificent farewell bash. We shall party till chee.
It’s been one helluva ride guys, but I had to move on.

That’s the only way I would find time to hit the gym more often and work towards exposing the magnificent six-pack presently concealed under the barrel of a one-pack.

Adios amigos.

postscript: Hey, don’t forget I’m around till mwisho so I‘ll still have time share that occasional baada ya kazi tonic. And of course we’ll continue to keep in touch.

post-super-scriptum: My impending departure was known to only a very few people. Tom, Joe, Mutuma, David in HR, Gitagama in accounts, and others in their respective lines of command who needed to know. I sit opposite Jaindi, a fellow with whom we go back a long way, to WR days, so outside family he was the first person outside that group I chose to personally inform once we’d determined with Tom when the announcement would be made.

So yesterday as we walked back to the office after the morning editorial conference, I pulled Jaindi aside to share this big secret, and it turned out that he was equally eager to share some dossier. He said it first, he was leaving too! We were keeping secrets from each other  ! ! ! !


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