Opinion People

Why have photos of Chris Kirubi kept Kenyans so busy talking and guessing?

I am sure by now you have seen or received a recent photo of 77-year-old Christopher John Kirubi popularly known as DJ CK doing the rounds on WhatsApp. What is your reaction?

Because I do not want to interpret the photo/s for you, for now, I will avoid describing Kirubi as “frail frail-looking” or “ailing billionaire”; I explain my reasons further down.

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In the recent photo doing the rounds, Kirubi is seen seated with a former Nairobi County official who is spotting a mild grin. He (Kirubi) looks warmly dressed not surprising as the Kenyan July winter has seen temperatures drop. I will leave my body language interpretation for now…

I first saw the latest photo in a WhatsApp group that I am in. I did not pay much attention to it. Anyway, I did not recognize who the subjects were. Then someone in the group inquired about the photo and booooom!! The subjects in the photo were identified.

Below are past photos of Kirubi. I can be forgiven for not identifying him in the photo that was shared on the WhatsApp group.

Immediately, I zoomed into the photo to get a better glimpse. A few people, myself included expressed disbelief and sadness.

In the hours that followed, the photo was shared in several other groups and forwarded to me by citizens who think I need to know how the billionaire is doing and how he looks.

Not the first time

This is not the first time photos of the ailing billionaire have been shared on the interweb. In March 2018, a photo of Kirubi and Kiprono Kittony, the chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry caused online chatter after they were allegedly leaked. According to online reports, it was the first time the public was seeing Kirubi after it was reported in November 2017, that he had gone to seek specialized cancer treatment in the US.

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Then at the end of May 2018, Raila Odinga shared photos of him visiting Kirubi in his home. Soon after in early June, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho also shared photos of himself visiting Kirubi.

You may argue that all along Kirubi has shared his life with the public through his social media accounts which means we are entitled to poke our noses in his life – through the good and not so good times. Photo: Facebook

I have had a very long discussion with a close friend about the recent photo of Kiribu. I am still mulling over what we discussed…

#1. At least from the photos, Kirubi looks frail and a shadow of his former self. This is because of the effects of chemotherapy NOT because of the disease. I checked the American Cancer Society website and it has listed about 18 chemotherapy side effects. According to the site; chemotherapy may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, neuropathy, or mouth sores. Neuropathy (tingling or numbness in feet or hands) is known to be a side effect of some drugs. Another side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss.

That is what Cancer treatment does to the human body – key among them is significant weight loss. YOU and I would like likely look like that if we had to go through chemotherapy. So it is not unusual that Kirubi looks physically drained. It is the effect of the treatment.

Cancer can affect anyone at any time. I do not think whatever “sin” Kirubi may have done or is believed to have done has any relation to his ailment or how he looks. Life happens to all of us. Photo: Facebook

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#2. DJ CK does not look like that because he is being “punished” for his “sins” as some people have been gloating. Cancer can affect anyone at any time. For some strange reason, we have passed judgment on a fellow human being. I do not think whatever Kirubi may have done or is believed to have done has any relation to his ailment or how he looks. By the way, bad things also happen to good people! “Good” is relative.

#3. Have the photos of Kirubi gone viral because he is a newsmaker? Well, it is us, his fellow Kenyans who have made him a sensation. It is the media who have labeled him a billionaire, mogul, socialite or whatever title we give to people we believe are different from us. For a second, remove his title. You will realize Kirubi is a simple, normal human being, just like you and I. Titles box us and define us into things we are not.

It is the media who have labelled him a billionaire, mogul, socialite or whatever title we give to people we believe are different. Photo: Facebook

#4. I have wondered why Kirubi’s handlers allow visitors to take photos of him as he recuperates. Perhaps it is a way to make the rest of us get used to it. Over time, it will stop being news and we will move on. Since we know his bad health condition, I guess it should not be a surprise anymore to see Kirubi looking skinny and fragile.

Kirubi’s story reminds me of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs and how the media described him in photos during the years he battled a terminal illness. “The 56-year-old Apple founder looked even thinner than he did during his last public appearance two months ago,” wrote the Daily Mail in 2011. Below are photos of Jobs.

In August 2004, Apple CEO Steve Jobs disclosed that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor. Sept 9, 2008: Jobs kicks off an Apple event with a projected slide that says, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

 

Below are some of the Jobs photos that were circulating online days before his death.  Jobs died at 56 on October 5, 2011. In August of 2011 Jobs, while still on leave resigned as Apple CEO. He said he could no longer meet his duties and expectations.

You may argue that all along, Kirubi has shared his life with the public through his social media accounts which means we are entitled to poke our noses in his life – through the good and not so good times. Well, a man his age certainly what he is doing, I am sure his public silence about his ailment is intentional.

If you were in Kirubi’s shoes, what would you do?

A past photo of a healthy looking Kirubi. In the last few months Public figures like Raila Odinga and Hassan Joho have visited Kirubi as he recuperates and shared photos online. Photo: Facebook

A disclaimer: I am not privy to Chris Kirubi’s disease or treatment regime. Just like many of you, I read about DJ CK’s ailment online. I wish him a quick recovery. 

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