I notice it all the time; a dozing colleague at work, in the matatu to work, at home... almost everywhere that people fall asleep. Occasionally, I've caught myself at it!
You'd not believe what people think happens when they fall asleep with open mouths.
It can be quite comical - not to mention embarrassing. It begins with shaking your head vigorously in a desperate attempt to keep awake after a heavy lunch. You try the 'MBWA' style (management by walking around) only to get another wily devil singing the lullaby as soon as you return to the desk. Then you agree to be tempted... Let me doze off for just a minute, then I'll be fine. You look around to see if the boss is around, then you begin a thousand winks before closing it off to Alice's wonderland.
Then bang! There is laughter all around as you jolt yourself awake. The sweet aroma of chapati and dengu you were dreaming of had been quite literal and the juices more real than you thought!
Just what makes people sleep with their mouths open?
Journalism is a bit like that. Sometimes, what we dream of happens, as nightmare or a pleasant smiley dream. Sometimes we plan them, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we understand them, sometimes we don't.
One such journalism story is about Dr Manto Tshabalala Msimang, the South African Minister for Health. Reputed to be close to President Thabo Mbeki, she was recently reported as having gone on a drink binge while in hospital for treatment. Reportedly, she had jumped the queue for liver transplants, and had previously been convicted of theft in Botswana. Now Mbeki is protecting her.
It's the kind of story a journalist might dream of, and it goes far beyond the minister and her love of drink. The spinoffs have gone far beyond just the media reportage. See The Star newspaper, which incidentally, is located just a street across from the African National Congress offices in Johannesburg.
Or the Mail & Guardian.
The media in Kenya have rarely done such stories, but they are there.. I still wonder why journalists follow such stories, or why people sleep with their mouths open.