I AM a sucker for smartness and elegance, which is why when I saw that lady in a red skirt suit with matching shoes and handbag, I was distracted.
She looked like a woman who understood herself, who knew what she wanted in life, and it is the reason why I thought that she was one of the organizers of the event that I had gone to attend.
The place was Movenpick Hotel in Dar es Salaam, and as a scribe working for The African Newspaper, I was there for a seminar early in 2009. Pulling a fellow journalist aside, I asked him about the lady in red.
“That lady is called Rose Athumani, and she works with the Daily News,” he told me. And that is how I met Rose for the first time. Years later, I met Rose in town in another event, and this time I pulled myself up and went to say hello. I did not expect to receive the warm greetings she gave me and for several minutes later we chatted away like old friends.
When I joined the ‘Daily News’ in January of 2010, Rose was there to receive me, and she genuinely looked happy to know that we will be working together, and from that day until a few days ago, we never missed something to talk about when we met in the office, and this was made easier by the fact that she was sitting next to me in the newsroom.
On Tuesday morning on the 7th of this month, I entered the office and was met with news that Rose was admitted at the Muhimbili National Hospital. I was shocked, because just a few days earlier she had moved from her position in the newsroom and relocated to the front row.
I remember I went over to her and in a joking manner asked her why she was shifting away from me, and asked her whether she finally decided she cannot withstand my ugly face anymore.
“The air conditioner is not good for me, that is why I am shifting, but don’t worry, I will be coming to say hallo,” she told me while laughing. Later that day after the announcement that she was sick, several workmates decided to go and visit her at the hospital, and I was one of them.
When I saw her lying in the hospital bed, my spirits went down, indeed she looked sick, and the jovial face that was so common in the office was not there, it was replaced by a face of a person who was fighting for her life.
I silently prayed for her to get better, and beseeched God to restore her to her normal health so that she could continue working towards her ambitions and dreams, which included taking good care of her only son.
Apart from writing, I am also very passionate about farming, and I remember when Rose knew that, she made it a habit of always consulting me when she was on the verge of her farming activities.
The few years that I have known Rose, I have encountered a person who never believed in getting things on a silver platter, I met a woman who was ready to embark on any project as long as she knew that it might improve her life.
I remember a few days ago she was telling me of her dreams of making it big out of farming, and how she was looking for money to buy a farm in Bagamoyo. I always encouraged her when she told me about things which were not going according to her plans, and tried to offer substitute ways of getting around her problems.
That is why when news of her death reached me on Thursday morning, I realized that Rose is one person who has left most of her dreams unaccomplished she fought for her life till the very end.
As fellow colleagues still try to come to terms with her untimely death, most of us are sad because we have lost a seasoned journalist who had a nose for a good story, TSN has been robbed of an employee who had a smile for anyone around her, and for her fellow TSN journalists, a workmate who was always there when she was needed has vanished from the face of the earth.
Rest in peace sister.