August 5, 2017[out of Evanston, Illinois, USA]
Nancy Schultz has most generously afforded me a bit of space in her current issue of The DAR Bugle to revive my column, ‘Margaretta on the Move’.
The occasion of her offer was our meeting at the Evanston home of the 19th century feminist reformer and DAR member Frances Willard. Nancy had organized an historic event in early August which the DAR claimed Willard’s identity as being not only a great woman leader who helped pave the way for women’s suffrage among many other progressive initiatives, but also being a committed DAR.
By raising funds to renovate Willard’s Evanston home (which is now a national museum) as well as placing a marker at her grave at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Nancy did something important not only for the Fort Dearborn Chapter but for all women. That’s because Willard had been, like so many great women, almost forgotten by history and the DAR and Nancy’s initiative is serving to reverse that trend.
I was so impressed with Nancy’s program and also with my own discovery of what a brilliant woman activist Frances Willard had been, that I couldn’t turn Nancy down when she suggested I fill my fellow Fort Dearborn DAR women in on my recent globe-trotting.
My current home base is still Nairobi, Kenya where I work for the largest English-language multimedia house known as the Nation Media Group. I write regularly in ‘Business Daily’ (Kenya’s equivalent of Financial Times) but my focus is not economics; it’s on the arts. I have several weekly columns in which I write about mainly the visual and performing arts. It’s my privilege to do so since there is a lot happening, and a great deal of creative energy is outpouring in both of these fields.
I write stories and also take the photos for them, so I am technically a photojournalist although I do not consider myself a professional. I do earn a bit of cash (not much) in the process, but it is sufficient to inspire me to stick there for the time being. Plus I have free passage to all the theatre and dance performances (many of which feature international artists) as well as to all the exhibitions and book launches, etc. Plus I thrive on deadlines, so I am kept busy working seven days a week, both day and night.
The other big bonus to my job is that I often get to go places where the expenses including transport are covered. Thus, I have been to the Kenya coast several times, especially to the picturesque town of Lamu, where motor vehicles are not allowed on the roads. I have attended several so-called ‘Painters Festivals’, organized by a wonderful German retired restaurant owner from Hamburg who fell in love with Lamu island, especially the village of Shela. Most of the artists are European, but increasingly Kenyan artists have also been invited. I confess I did a bit of advocacy work to see that the Kenyans also had the opportunity to spend three weeks with other artists painting picturesque sites all around the island.
But then, in addition to traveling to galleries located all over the city and the outskirts of Nairobi and to theatres situated mostly in the city center, I have spent a fair amount of time visiting my son who stays currently with his wife and two precious little girls in Italy.
Mike, who is a Major in the US Army, is based in Vicenza, not far from Venice. I have been blessed to have a wonderful daughter in law who is a marvelous trip organizer. So with them, I have visited Florence, Rome, Pisa, Venice, and all parts in between. All that is said about the breathtaking beauty of Italy is true, and I am so grateful to have a family happy to listen to my wish above all to visit Florence and the Uffizi Museum.
Never have we had enough time in any of these places, but I am delighted to have had those few days with family and with fellow travelers. What is also a blessing is that my editor in Nairobi insists that I write about all of these places so I have done just that. I have a blog with the stories called Kenyan Arts Review, but I don’t recommend it since I haven’t had time to include all the photographs that appeared in the paper to accompany the stories. Nonetheless, I did start to set up a website, but I advise anyone with such a goal to make sure you get a trustworthy web designer. Mine never completed my website, but if you google my pen name, Margaretta wa Gacheru, you will find a few stories and possibly even the unfinished website.
I am grateful to have come back to Evanston which is where I am while writing this brief M on the Move piece. I try to get back to the place I know is my real home in my heart twice a year. But in the meantime, my base in Kenya is a joy since I do love the sun and I love my work. But I am happy to reconnect with my DAR sisters. It was a privilege to see many of them at Frances Willard’s Rest Cottage, and I look forward to seeing you the next time I am in the area.