How the claimed sexual harassment ruined the life and career of the journalist - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 11 August 2019

How the claimed sexual harassment ruined the life and career of the journalist

Tony Mochama and Phoenix CEO John Mwazemba. Mochama told students that he was tired of having African languages romanticised and if the students wanted to reach as many people as possible, they should write in English. PHOTO | FILE
If you think the tweets are harmless, the writer and journalist Tony Mochama will prove the opposite.

His wife, three years old, left him because of a storm on Twitter triggered by two women.

Messrs. Wambui Mwangi and Shailja Patel tweeted fiercely in the week of September 21, 2014. According to their messages, Mr. Mochama, better known as Smitta, sexually assaulted Ms. Patel at an event that was held at Ms. Mwangi that Saturday.


While the tweets swirled with their auxiliary retweets, while strong opinions flew under the hashtag #StopTonyMochama, the writer's life suddenly turned.

His employers wanted answers. His phone rang every minute when friends called to hear what he had to say and he lost count of the number of times he had protested his innocence. His wife could not bear the humiliation.

"My wife left me three weeks in the turmoil of the scandal, partially out of pressure ... and out of trouble for the community," Mr Mochama told Sunday Nation.

He has since remarried. The journalist traced the events of 2014 during an email conversation in Venice, Italy, where he is staying a month to write a short story.

Typing with his typical wit and wit, Mr. Mochama said that these accusations made him lose scholarships, lectures, business opportunities, friends and more.

He was too happy to tell the story because the defamation case around which he had prosecuted Ms. Mwangi and Ms. Patel was finalized on Monday.

Chief Magistrate Addah Obura ordered the two women to pay Mr. Mochama $ 8 million in general damages and $ 1 million shillings in exemplary damages and to make a written apology in 14 days.

She also issued a mandatory injunction against both persons, preventing them from publishing defamatory statements about the author.

"These are the excuses that await me the most," said Mochama Friday.


So what other impact have the allegations had on his life?

"Kwani? Trust stopped distributing my books, despite strong protests from Binyavanga (Wainaina), "said Mr. Mochama, author of Princess Adhis and The Naija Coca Broda, and if I were a literary gangster? among others.

"Storymoja broke away from me, and yet we had a great seven-year relationship."

He was also excluded from the role of moderator of AMKA creative workshops for the rest of the year due to his work with young women.

The worst, according to Mr Mochama, is the chances he has lost by organizing literary workshops around the world.

He previously chaired workshops on urban African literature in Montreal (2010), London (2011), Portugal (2012), Italy (2013), and Germany in early 2014. They soon dried up.

"As a result of the charges, I was dropped like a hot potato," he said.

But things started to improve as the deal ended this year.


He attended a workshop in Windhoek, Namibia in June and was invited to another workshop in Cape Town in October.

This was not the case when he went to court 15 months ago to clarify his name.

"Local literary and literary groups have made me flee, even at social gatherings," he said.

He took legal action through his lawyer, Felix Mutua, as the police saw no reason to lay charges.

Mr. Mochama's employer - the Standard Group - has no reason to fire him. Two human resources managers, two women, handled the case and, despite pressure from Twitter, decided that there was no reason to take such action.

In court, Mr. Mochama reproduced some of the tweets posted during the campaign. One of them was directed against his employer.

"What happens when one of your journalists sexually assault a woman? Women need to know

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