He walked in, looked around then confidently took his seat after receiving instructions to await his turn before being ushered into the interview room. No one knew what he said during the interview but his colleagues recall meeting a smartly dressed man with a polite mien. It did not come as a surprise when he later clinched the job, becoming the Deputy Director under the Communication and Information Programme at Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM).
But what colleagues assumed would be a normal routine following the common trend where interviewees dress to impress on the first day only to revert to nondescript dress codes thereafter, was quickly dismissed by the newbie. Anthony Ngare was as uncommon as a moon at noon.
Tony, as many called him, wore a smart, tailor made suit every working day except Friday when he would saunter into the office in smart casual with an extra topping of smiles for all he met. He was always jovial, warm and ever ready to help. On the occasions the receptionist would step out for a few minutes to attend to one issue or the other, he quickly and willingly stepped in to assist and responded courteously to all customer queries. Tony beguiled all with his humility and interacted with all non-discriminately. He was transparent in his undertakings and kept his desk and office neat at all times.
For the two years and four months that Anthony Wanjohi Ngare was with us, he was known for his exceptional work ethic and was a stickler for accomplishing assignments before deadlines lapsed. He was an invaluable asset and took on several responsibilities all at once. He was a doting father and his unwavering devotion to his “girls” as he fondly called them (two daughters and his loving wife) was well known. He was also our ISO Lead Internal Auditor; our steward on matters performance contracting; our champion who fought for the rights and safety of journalists; our advocate on matters of heritage under the Memory of the World initiative; a risk champion under the risk based management system; a team player who worked seamlessly with colleagues from the parent ministry and beyond; a source of inspiration with his endless quips on life; a peace maker; a mentor; a friend; and a dear brother to many.
Nothing was ever out of place with Tony until the evening when we received news of his untimely demise. Prior to receiving the devastating news, Tony had traveled to UNESCO, Paris to attend the Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development Global Conference and Mobile Learning Week from 4th – 8th March, 2019. He was on his way back home and boarded the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines on Sunday morning.
As we come to terms with the heart-breaking news, we take this moment to share the words of his favourite prayer, the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master, grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Tony, we never said goodbye, we said see you soon.
Forever in our hearts.