He was easy to spot on campus because of his height and full afro that was spotted with lots of grey roots. It was easy to imagine him in the early ’70s dressed in bellbottoms spotting a big black afro and matching platform shoes. His grey hair came with loose pants and suspenders in bright colours. Can you see it? If you can then you know Dr. Stephen Gachie - Design Lecturer Extraordinaire.
Steve, as he was commonly known, was a product of Changez and then ADD, and I shall not expound on what those mean…If you know; you know. He came to ADD armed to the teeth for painting and photography and his classmates including me will tell you that his talent in these areas was immeasurable. For many years, his portrait of Lionel Richie graced the walls of the Director's office.
His easy smile and laughter belied his intensity as a design lecturer. He focused on the foundation years, knew each student by name and had a portrait of each one on his wall. His classes went far beyond the allotted hours because he spent time with each student which meant he had long working days in the studio. Steve had a passion for whatever he did, whether teaching, writing or photography. He was well known for his active participation in designing and printing business cards, programmes, posters etc. for staff and providing video services for events too.
He was physically fit; well, the right word is probably sporty. Of course, he was a Mean Machine product and he continued engaging in many sporting activities. This complimented his love for outdoors and the wildlife and he was always available to take students and staff to various destinations, actively participating in organization and logistics for travel.
Steve was free-spirited and as he said two days before his demise, “I am happy." His happiness on Friday 7th June 2019, continued into Saturday 8th June 2019 that started as a bright day, full of warmth. Like most of his days after ADD, it was spent in the pursuit of good work done with his construction team at his construction site in Kikuyu. Everyone gave their all, doing everything in their power to keep the project on task, track and time. Corrections, discussions and laughter set the tempo of the day to its very end that would be his final bow.
We didn’t see it coming and nothing could have prepared us for it; we could only bow our heads and take a deep breath when we heard he had left us. We celebrate him as we bid him farewell; beloved colleague, teacher, friend, mentor and long-serving designer.
Though the Legend has rested, his legend continues and rises in the fruits of his dedicated service through his students and colleagues. He declared he was happy and we are happy knowing we shall meet again in Glory.
Indeed, Tuko Pamoja (we are together).
Dr. Lilac Osanjo is well known in the design fraternity as a career designer, educator and leading design visionary. She sets the bar high and continually raises it by using design to communicate possibilities through papers, articles, and exhibitions on design for health, agriculture, renewable energy systems and sustainable livelihoods in Africa. She is the Director of School of The Arts and Design, University of Nairobi and founding member of the Design Kenya Society, the Network of Afrika Designers (NAD) and Afrika Design Forum.