The last time I was in Nairobi – the end of last month – I arrived in the early evening.
After a long day in the field, I was so muddy I had to walk through the hotel lobby in my socks. Jeff had returned from Rio+20 the day before.
Although he was on the other side of town, we’d tentatively agreed a few weeks before to try and get together for a long-overdue catch-up.
By the time I’d showered it was raining heavily. On a previous visit, Jeff himself had warned me against trying to cross Nairobi in heavy rain.
On this occasion, I wish I’d ignored his advice.
Two hours-or-more in a traffic jam would have been worth it. A year in traffic would have been worth it. Or perhaps I should have gone straight to his place from the field: hungry, sweaty and caked in mud. He would have had a cold beer waiting; a spare bed. Meredith might have prepared some crêpes.
It’s neither an exaggeration nor a cliché to describe Jeff as having been destined for great things. Except that, in my opinion, he was probably already there.
So Jeff, I doubt you’ll have internet access wherever you are now, but in case you do, and in case I never made it clear while you were still around, you were the best, buddy, and I already miss you enormously.
Your advice was spot-on the rest of the time.
Jeff Haskins of Burness Communications died last weekend, in Kenya. He was 32-years-old. Jeff worked tirelessly with CIAT and many other CGIAR centers for several years, to raise awareness of agricultural research and to influence policy making. Those who knew Jeff will agree with every word in this post by Andy Burness.