On a holiday that marks the unofficial end of cold nights and the start of something warmer here in Canada, I was more than a little happy to hear news that my colleague - and friend - Andrew Mwangura was seeing an end to his own very long and very dark period of persecution from Kenyan authorities. As I've mentioned in the past, Mwangura has been at the receiving end of charges intended to silence one of East Africa's most energetic opponents to the scourge of piracy in the seas off that part of the world.
For embarrassing the Kenyan government months ago, Mwangura and his family faced great hardships as a result of the charges brought against him. For speaking the truth, he became the focus of intense pressure to quieten his resolve to address the plight of those mariners dealing with pirates off East Africa.
There is much I have wanted to write about Mwangura in recent months but haven't - for fear it would impact on his legal imbroglios. Now I can say that he is one of those individuals who are characterized by an extreme degree of compassion that makes most of the rest of us pale in comparison. Without his assistance, I would never have learned more than a fraction of what I did while in Kenya.
The ability for him to operate with the meager resources he has is amazing. Piracy is not some passing media fad to Mwangura; he is there for the forsaken and the forgotten, those mariners who are not American or Western. He cares little about the nationalities involved, only the seafarers themselves.
Word has it that Hollywood is now intrigued by Andrew's experiences, which is great. After all he's been through, he deserves that. But he also reminds those of us interested in piracy that it takes a great degree of fortitude to be on the real front lines of this issue. Fortitude, strength of character and bravery...hat's off to a true friend of seafarers in that troubled part of the world.