I stopped posting in Kenya, but I didn’t stop writing. This was intentional — calling out for Olima Anditi on national radio suddenly turned up attention across the country. Reports about Anditi started pouring in, and some of them were disturbing.
The leopard-skin-rocking O’hangla star Tony Nyadundo called in to say he knew of Olima’s whereabouts, but that no one could see him ‘til Tony returned to Kisumu. We started to worry for Anditi’s safety, despite constant reassurance from our Kenyan friends and colleagues. Was he alright? Was he being held ransom? It’s not every day the white (err, brown?) man comes from abroad and starts calling for you on the radio. Had we made an already vulnerable person more of a target?
Fred from Nam Lolwe radio became a close friend and collaborator. He wasn’t worried. “No one will harm Anditi!” he said with his good natured grin. We drove up and down the lake together searching.
Finally, after a particularly long and fruitless day a full week after our arrival in Kisumu, Fred called us from the radio station. It was about 9pm. “Come! Anditi has arrived!”
And there he was — a little smaller, missing a couple teeth since I last saw him in 2016, but with a new suit and smiling, looking fresh. Even more startling since he’d just taken an 8 hour bus journey from Migori county, near the border with Tanzania. He’d been listening to Fred’s calls on Nam Lolwe for days, had even memorized what Fred had said. But he was broke and without phone and couldn’t find a way to come to Kisumu or notify us. “I had a dream Jairus was coming,” he told Fred (Jairus is and has always been Cyrus when I speak with Olima).
That morning he had gone to Migori town to play at the market and make some dough. The people of Migori felt embarrassed that they “had” Olima while he was being called in Kisumu. So they put together a collection and bought him a bus ticket to town. Somewhere along the way he picked up a young minor league grifter named Dave, sharp eyed and besuited, who appointed himself as Olima’s official chaperone and wouldn’t leave ‘til I paid him. Fred brought Olima directly into the studio for an interview and live music, a big win for him after all his help.
Olima spent the night with a pastor with ties to Migori. The next morning we joined them and began filming our movie. And that’s when the story really kicked off. Now to think on it, see what fragments and shards we managed to record, and start editing it all together…