I was born in Nyeri, the Provincial Headquarters of Central Province, Kenya on January 20, 1980. My family then moved to the industrial town of Thika, on the northern outskirts of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, when I was 8 years old. I schooled at St. David's Primary School in Thika and attended the prestigious Njiiri School for my high school education. It was here that my craft and love for writing was further nurtured and developed under the tutelage of Mr. Peter Kaguala who was my English Grammar and Literature teacher from Form One through to Form Four.
Thanks to Mr. Kaguala, whom we called the English Professor, I was able to advance my writing skills at a crucial point in my life. His encouragement and genuine desire to see myself and the rest of the class succeed was undoubtedly pivotal to the writer that I am today. I believe, without a shadow of doubt, that any student at Njiiri School, who has walked into Mr. Kaguala' class, has walked out a stronger, more confident English speaker and writer.
Above all, I must pay tribute to my parents who instilled upright morals in me and made heavy investments towards my education. To my late father Samuel Muhia Gathanju (Boss), I will forever remain grateful to you for straightening me up and for the encouragement you gave me through the short 19 years that I shared with you. You passed on while I was barely an adult, but the work ethos and the discipline you instilled in me are still intact. What I have achieved today, I dedicate to you and I am happy that I have made you proud. I hope to be a great father to my children like you were a great father to me and my sisters. I love and miss you dad. You are the best dad there ever was, the best dad there ever is and the best dad there ever will be.
After completing high school, I moved to Europe in 1999 where I gained some valuable work experience. I then moved to the Middle East and briefly came back to Kenya after the start of the second Palestinian Intifada against Israel in 2000. I moved back to Europe and came back to Kenya to start my own business which was very successful. In spite of the success, the unquenchable thirst for writing could not be suppressed no more and I quit my job to explore my first love, writing. Though I possessed no formal training in journalism, at the time, I enrolled at the school of hard knocks where I developed my writing and interviewing skills the hard way. The school system, I soon found out, was equally unforgiving and you have to be close to insanity to score the grades in this school. The experience I acquired from the system was in no doubt immense and is what that has kept me going through the treacherous waters of freelance journalism.
In spite of the challenges, I was able to get published in the Daily Nation, East and Central Africa's largest daily newspaper. I made regular contributions in the travel sections of the newspaper before I ventured further into writing exposes and investigative features for the newspaper. I later joined the formal journalism training system at a school in England, where I got further grounding into the art of journalism. This effectively launched my career onto the international stage where the pace is relentless and the demand for quality work is sky high and the level of competition is extremely stiff. I got my first break in the international scene after VenuesToday accepted and published a feature and from here, it was all systems go. Over the years, my work has been published in leading consumer magazines, trade journals and publications in a number of fields that include aviation, animals, environment, telecommunications, business, manufacturing, general interest et al.
As my journalism experience levels continued to increase, I decided to go back to school and gain more skills in writing, editing and design. Hence I joined the London School of Journalism where I took a diploma course in Sub-Editing and Design. Under the watchful eye of Krystina Wareing, I acquired new writing, editing and editorial page layout skills that effectively opened up a new set of eyes for me. I was awarded a diploma with a distinction as I embarked on the next phase of my career which has seen me work under some of the most demanding editors in the business, including my mentor Ed Finegold, a former Editor-in-Chief of the US-based B/OSS Billing World Magazine and President of Stylus Communications. Under Ed's tutelage, I went through a steep learning curve that saw me transition from a writer to an editor. Ed gave me some tough love that has spear-headed me into the telecommunications business.
I quickly learned the ropes and was assigned to cover the emerging telecommunications markets of Africa and the Middle East, this was in addition to providing web exclusives for the magazines' web content by highlighting telecommunications developments and trends in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region as well as the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.
In spite of the challenge, Ed has walked me through the landmines and I am proud of what I have achieved under his mentorship. This saw me handed more responsibilities under Stylus Communications that saw me not only conduct research, do interviews with telecommunications experts in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, but also edit copy written by senior executives and vendors in the telecommunications business as well as help with white paper writing.
Added responsibilities also meant that I help write and edit Ziara Magazine, a publication of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC). At the KAHC, I have not only written and edited their quarterly magazine, but also helped produce a newsletter and launched the first digital magazine in Kenya for the association.
On the sidelines
Aside from writing and editing, I am a die-hard Manchester United fan. Nothing is as exciting and deeply satisfying as watching Manchester United, the world's biggest and best soccer team, wipe the floor with Arsenal or Chelsea at home or away. I also love listening to music - food for the soul - and making my own signature dishes in the kitchen - when I am in the mood.
I am Denis Gathanju and I look forward to working with you.