Persons Of Interest: Rushdie Oudia
In his first year as a professional writer working with the Standard Group he won an award, flooring several experienced writers to clinch the “Tuvuke initiative award for conflict sensitive reporting.”
Rushdie Oudia’s life however has not been all about awards and being named one of the most influential media personalities, he has had his share of up and downs and he spoke to us about it all.
Ominde: Tell me something about you growing up.
Rush: I was born at Mukumu Hospital 27 years ago, I am the last born in a family of four kids. We soon moved to Kisumu and lived at Migosi before my dad died.
I do not remember a lot though from that time because I was only 3 when it happened and soon afterwards we moved to the more affordable Manyatta estate with my mum and siblings. My life and who I am was greatly shaped by life here. I still live in the hood.
Ominde: How was it growing up with a single parent?
Rush: I won’t lie to you, it was not all easy…mum struggled to make ends meet but there was a lot of love within the struggles. I grew to respect women, especially those that work hard to provide for their families by watching my mum break her back to send all of us to school.
My mum had a business selling clothes at Kibuye and I would help her with that during market days.
Very few people know about this but I actually sold porridge and chapatis at the market. Some people still meet me on the streets today and call me jachapat. I guess there is a part of you that still sticks – I do not hate it though because it reminds me of my journey.
Ominde: Does selling mitumba in your earlier days has anything to do with your acute sense of style?
Rush: Definitely…I know good clothes having been a seller of clothes. Even today I only wear mitumba (second hand clothes) but I will always shine in them. I know how to chose the best clad that will beat anything you buy at Woolworths and definitely for a cheaper price.
While in campus my mum sent me clothes and I would sell them to my colleagues.
Ominde: Good you talked about campus, how did you end up in the media?
Rush: after High School at Sawagongo I went to Multimedia University where I studied media &communication. My desire to be a journalist started in High School where my English teacher identified my writing skills.
After graduating I worked with a paper called Nyanza Times where I perfected this skill but it wound up due to financial constraints. I soon found myself at a neighborhood publication catering for Manyatta, Nyalenda and Obunga. It was known as Manyanga.
It was a small time thing but I was very proud of it. I would go to press conferences with journalists from major media houses and introduce myself comfortably as “Rushdie Oudia from Manyanga.”
It was at Manyanga that Standard Group discovered me. The then Bureau Chief for Kisumu Evelyn Kwamboka had read my work and was impressed, she called me when I was on the streets hawking my newsletters – I was a writer, designer, editor and hawker!
I went into the office at Al-Imran Plaza and she bought all the papers I had for the day after a 15 minute interview.
Ominde: Since joining the Standard, how many front page stories have you had?
Rush: Getting a front page story in a newspaper is a huge thing, I used to count during my first days but I lost the count somehow – just too many to count.
Today I count my progress in terms of the lives I touch with my stories and changes that I inspire.
I once met a university graduate who was selling water in Kondele, covered his story and he got job offers after that. I have tackled the security situation in Kisumu head -on at times putting my own life in harm’s way as a result…that is how I count my success today but I will still do front page stories.
Ominde: How do you deal with your somewhat celebrity status?
Rush: I just do my job and I wish people saw it that way but to tell the truth I have been under a lot of pressure especially since you named me on your list of Kisumu’s most influential personalities. One good thing is that people only know my name but not my face so I can still walk freely.
My biggest challenge is my family, especially my sister Celyne. She is so proud of me and always introducing me as some big shot journalist at the Standard. Most of her friends think I am some Bureau Chief or something but I am just a junior writer – a very small person in that office.
Ominde: Anyone special in your life?
Rush: I am currently dating but still no plans of getting married – maybe in two years (okay he told me not to write that – oops). I met my girlfriend on Facebook just like everyone else – that’s where people meet today. I later learnt that she worked at the same company as my brother.
Ominde: Nancy Okutah….
Rush: There is nothing between me and Nancy Okutah, we met at a social event and I posed for a photo with her just for fun and to create a buzz and a buzz I did create. I had to apologize to my girlfriend because of that. That’s all there is to that story.
Ominde: Tell me something I probably don’t know about you that you haven’t told me in this sitting?
Rush: I think I have already told you I sold tea and chapatis at Oile market (no he told me about porridge at Kibuye)….well, I hate politics but for work I write about politics, I actually also study Political science at Maseno University. That is one thing that is very difficult to understand.
I have a high sense of fashion so I like women who know how to dress and accessorize, if you can’t hack that we can’t date or even be friends.
I like smart people or at least informed people, you don’t have to know that Nadhif Jama is the Governor of Garissa but you have to at least know that we have 47 counties in Kenya and the three names of the new Tanzanian president.
If you know someone we should write about as our person of interest feel free to contact us with details. This segment is about celebrating Kisumu people.
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