Lee Njiru talks about his ‘diary’ that details Moi’s entire life
Lee Njiru, the author of the ‘President’s Pressman’ memoir, that follows the life of Kenya’s second president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, says, “The next tenant at State House should read this book as his guiding manual”.
Njiru says he developed this habit of elaborate record keeping of history after he realised that many people have a poor memory and do not record important events they attend and other historic events of national importance.
“I just developed this habit of keeping records. I used to randomly ask people where they were two years ago and the majority could not remember a single incident or occasion, I didn’t like it.
That is the moment it dawned on me the importance of good record keeping. I have massive reference materials that I write myself,” he said.
The septuagenarian’s exceptionally good memory and good record-keeping diary habits have served him well.
“My interaction with the late Mzee Moi was more than working as his press secretary. You can only challenge me on what I have written in my memoir ‘President’s Pressman’ at your own peril.
When Moi was in office and after his retirement, every day I recorded who we met and where we were. I know everything.
I record it in a hard cover book for ease of storage. If you want to know where I was 20 years ago at a certain date, I will tell you with a lot of ease,” said Njiru.
“On Mzee Moi history, Andrew Morton got it wrong. The book has a lot of discrepancies because he was asking people with no records.
If you ask me anything about Mzee Moi I will tell you. If I don’t remember something well I just check my books and I tell you the exact date.”
According to Njiru, to write such a memoir like the ‘President’s Pressman’ one must be bold and avoid too much consultation.
“Writing such a memoir is not for the faint-hearted. You need to be foxy, sly, and brave. You cannot write such a book if you’re a coward. It is tedious, taxing both physically and mentally.”
To many people, 3am conjures up so many things. It is a time of the night when one can hear a pin drop as they snore on their mattresses in the last third of the night. For some, it is just a time when they are deep in slumber. For others, it is a time of stillness and fear where all things seem to be dark.
Njiru it is that time of beckoning. Unaware to many enjoying the ‘President’s Pressman’ memoir that has generated a lot of debate, Njiru was burning the midnight oil and was compiling the book in the stillness of the night when most people were asleep.
“I was writing from 3am to 7am then I would go back to bed then wake up at about 10am and do the normal daily chores.
I couldn’t write during the day because I keep on receiving calls and visitors and attending to other development issues that distract your thinking when writing,” he said at his Ngata farm on the outskirts of Nakuru City.
He continued: “I was lucky when I was director of the Presidential Press Service I used to wake up at 4am every day because I was required to be in the office at 5.45am. So waking up early was not a big issue and it is still not an issue today. I’m used to it.”
However, he confesses that while writing the memoir it was not a walk-in-the-park affair as sometimes he suffered serious writers’ block.
But he is lucky he has an expansive piece of land and when that happened he took a walk and mingled with nature in his private forest full of indigenous trees and relaxed as his mind is soothed by the singing birds and blowing cool wind.