Rest, Captain

Sunday 10 June, 16h00

Flight SA185



Baby girl, or Captain. Captain, for that is what you were always going to be…




I think back to our last WhatsApp conversation on the night of Sunday 3rd June 2018. I was texting you from Johannesburg to tell you not to forget to get your shoes from my house. Shoes that were half a size too small for me, so they would obviously fit you great (just last December you gifted me a pair of shoes that was half a size too big for you and I’ve worn them out!). You replied saying there was no rush, and you would wait for me to be back in Kenya to get them. I replied saying that was an excellent excuse for us to meet up the next time I was in town. Little did I know the next time I would be in Kenya would be 4 days later, with you gone. I really can’t believe it.


And when I told you I was burnt out and didn’t understand how you worked weekends, you told me about how “flying isn’t as intense”. Flying was your life. I thank God that you lived to see your dream, and lived your very last moments doing what you loved.


I keep thinking to so many moments.


I think to all the things we did, and to those we won’t get to do. The Christmas gifts I bought you girls for 2017 but they never got delivered in time. And so I was going to give them to everyone the next time we were around together. I think to all our conversations about men, and family, and careers. I don’t think I met a more driven, focused person. That you knew what you wanted to do from so young. So so young. I’m so glad your family supported you. I mean, you had to do a whole Finance degree before flying school, but they supported you still. And even though there was no way you were ever going to work in Finance or corporate, you low key are happy you did that Finance degree. LOL. We know this because you would shade some pilots for not having the depth/ worldview that came from a college/ university experience.


Dec 2017
Picazzo, Nairobi, Dec 2017

I think to my birthday in 2016. You called me after flying in Wilson saying you wanted to take me for kahawa. And we sat at Java Wilson for hours talking about life, about your dream. You told me about how important safety is in aviation. You told me about the different approaches- over Ngong hills towards Wilson, and in a totally different direction through Utawala towards JKIA if you were rerouted (feels like a sick joke). You taught me the ATC alphabet- Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo… We spoke about crosswinds. We spoke about single and twin engines. We spoke about simulators. We spoke about radio comms. Lord we spoke about so much.


Then I think to you visiting me in Addis in Dec 2016. How I forced you to have your first Buna. How we took pictures in front of that huge Orthodox Church even though people were staring at us (pretty sure we offended some people). How we had nyama choma at the Kenyan embassy in Addis (I was on my 1 year vegetarian break then). How we partied in Bole, and you met Axel and Toby and Martin. Did you meet Martin? I don’t remember. I actually don’t think you met Martin. But you did meet Axel and Toby. And then in Jan 2017 when we all go the chance to be in Nairobi with the Addis crew. It was the most interesting mix of people! People from all over- you, me, Julie, Daisy, Don, Toby, Axel, Akash and Rahul. And Akash enjoyed you guys’ company so much, he gave you all a shout out in a hand written note he wrote me, and I consequently sent you a pic of the note. We’re all devastated. Even the people who you met only briefly, remember you so fondly. Your energy, your humour, your wisdom, your easy going attitude.

Addis, Dec 2016


Then Cape Town 2015. I’d been begging the girls to visit me before I left uni and you’re the only one that came through (Julie did too but much earlier). Cape Town was such a good time. We did all of the things!! Boomslang, Chappies, Franschoek, VnA, Rhodes Mem, Simon’s town, Rapunzel/ Daudi. Remember we met Larry Madowo? That was hella random, haha. Ah man, such great memories. I will carry them with me forever. FOREVER.

Walking up to Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town, Dec 2015


We had many great times babe. So many memories from various parts of our lives. From high school to adulthood. You always have been your own person. Not even Bi Ndambuki could make you do something you didn’t want to do! From “sprinting”, to our cartoon book, to you sleeping in Chemistry class, and staring out the window in Biology class. What a girl, and you still got straight As! We got in trouble often, but we turned out great. As an adult, you were the one that always checked in on us. Always asked us what we were up to. Always pushed us to spend time with one another. Always changamshad Girls just wanna have fun/ Chama Mama Drama e.g. David Beckham being a snack. What a great friend! Always present! Visiting my mum even when I was away. Dropping Julie and I home after our days/ nights out. Always at my birthdays, going away parties (twice), and my graduation party. I can’t believe I don’t have you to do whatever’s left of this life with. That I don’t get to be the cool auntie to your kids. That we didn’t get to do our girls trip to celebrate over 10 years of friendship.


You are a great daughter, sister and friend. I regret that I spent so much time post-2010 away from home. That I wasn’t present for many of the moments you had with the rest of the girls. But I know you loved me, and we did our best with the time we had together. And despite the pain, I will cherish what we had forever. I love you Jean. I love you with all my heart and I will forever.


Rest, baby girl. Rest.

15 June 2016 edit: I recently remembered the wedding that we went to in Dec 2015 of a colleague of yours from KSOF. I didn’t know the person but you dragged me as your plus one and we laughed so had at the guys from shags who were packing nyama choma in plastic bags under the table and finished the nyama for other guests. LOL. And then I remembered seeing Diplo with you, Darlene and Bowen, that was fun! Thanks for being such a great friend and a good time. ❤





4 thoughts on “Rest, Captain

  1. Grace M says:

    Such a heart warming tribute for your sister. I’m really sorry for your loss. Take heart and celebrate her life and the fact that you had an opportunity to get to know and be friends with such a lovely soul.

  2. Edith says:

    Beautiful tribute Nelly! I’m terribly sorry for your loss.Take heart.
    Rest, Captain Jean, Rest in heavenly peace.

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