By Jerome Bright Ogenrwot

It all started with the daring move to invade the unknown, traveling all alone on a trip that would be my first visit to a foreign country. The desire was birthed the second I got an invitation to attend the award ceremony, either in person or virtually.

My inner being somehow disregarded the “virtual attendance” bit from the very onset, as if to imply it was mistakenly included in the communication. If I were not an official contest winner, I would at least win the night somehow, I imagined.

After mobilizing resources to travel, I left home overwhelmed by fear, the fear propelled by uncertainty, because whereas I sought as much information as possible; about the journey, accommodation, potential risks and challenges, expenses, and devised strategies for the worst-case scenarios possible, there was not one thing I was completely sure about, except the faith, hope and vision that the journey would ultimately be worth it, and that kept me moving.

Having crossed the border more easily than I imagined, and sat next to an elderly businessman who told me the basics of “surviving” in Nairobi, at least for a night, the fears were quickly turning to reliefs.

I arrived at the Pride Inn Azure hotel just after 10 am, where I saw Perez and Olivia, familiar faces from Replanet Uganda about four hours later, and got introduced to Collins, the “stranger” sitting beside me all along, who would later brighten the night with an exhilarating original rap on nuclear energy, entitled “Per atom”.

The hospitality, meeting the friendly and ever-smiling Ms. Karolina, and the free-spirited Ms. Patricia, learning about the incredible work Replanet has done so far and is yet to do, and most crucially how I could be a part, simply completed my joy.

Pieces had come reconstituted, and the funny questions asked by the Uber driver in an attempt to compare Nairobi to Kampala, whose skyscrapers I can literally list, were the icing on the cake. To me, other than both having thieves and hawkers, the two are incomparable. Somehow Nairobi is simply transcendent, right from the coldness that welcomes you.

My interaction with the essay winners sparked fundamental questions. What had I missed? What could I have done better? The overall epiphany however was that there is always a way, and never should fear of the unknown hold me back.

None of my expectations were cut short, perhaps all of them were exceeded. Other than the single disappointment of missing out on the evening’s gift package, every piece of my prospect puzzle connected to the next, joyfully completing the great vision I had pictured.

I hadn’t died in my own movie after all, rather, I was undoubtedly the hero of my night, and as I looked across my window into the dark and cold moonless sky above the racecourse gardens, I could only be grateful I took the bold and daring all-or-nothing risk, to become one star in that night of stars.

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