After much prevarication I have begun blogging for The Frontline Club. I sort of said I’d do it ages ago but gradually got cold feet. It’s fun blogging for its own sake. No need to wonder whether what you’re saying reflects badly on anyone else. Or whether discussing which music to listen to while driving through burning villages is inappropriate. If people don’t like what I say then they can disregard me as an idiot, and that’s that.
The Frontline Club though is for serious journalists. People who discuss reporting restrictions in Bolivia or which brand of body armour is better for stopping an AK-47 round. That made me feel slightly self-conscious. Like most journalists I have a nagging doubt that one day someone is going to find me out. Who appointed you a gatherer of news, they might say. Or what qualifications do you have? Sometimes I forget the name of the president of Tanzania. Or confuse Equatorial Guinea with that other one.
Often the closest I get to a frontline is calling a photographer from my coffeeshop and asking her what she can see.
But then my coffeeshop almost became the frontline a couple of weeks ago as youths streamed out of Dagoretti chasing opposition supporters. I have been to Darfur and Mogadishu more than most of colleagues here in Nairobi. And my writing goes in a newspaper so I guess that makes me a journalist. (I take my definition from Damien Hirst defining art as anything in an art gallery.)
For now, I’m not sure how it’s going to work. South of West will keep going for some of my more irreverent or political stuff. African Safari might focus a bit more on what it’s like to be a journalist in Africa. But they might end up being the same thing. We’ll see.