By Raylenne Kambua
The Kenya Editors’ Guild has announced an annual prize in honour of Hilary Ng’weno for his stellar contribution to Kenyan journalism.
Mr Ng’weno, who died on July 7, started and ran a number of media platforms with ‘’The Weekly Review’’, a political and economic newsmagazine as the flagship.
Speaking during a memorial ceremony at Kempinski hotel on July 21, KEG president Churchill Otieno said the prize will be awarded during the editors’ annual convention held every December.
It will recognize journalists who demonstrate strength and spirit in executing editorial leadership and innovation.
Mr. Otieno said Mr Ng’weno brought honour, dignity, respect and unparalleled incisiveness into the practice of journalism in Kenya.
‘I see no better way to honour Hilary Ng’weno than rededicating ourselves to upholding a dignified and sustainable practice that can serve this country as a patriotic duty,’ he added.
During the ceremony, speakers drawn from different sectors spoke of the positive impact and mentorship they received from the legendary journalist.
Human rights lawyer, journalist and politician Gitobu Imanyara said Ng’weno was vigilant in the quest for freedom. He taught Kenyans that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, he said.
‘As we remember Hilary, let us ask ourselves how we can carry forward that spirit he inculcated in us. The media is the essence of democracy. Without the media, there would be no democracy to talk about,’ Mr Imanyara said.
Macharia Gaitho, an independent editor who started his career at ‘’The Weekly Review’’, eulogized Hilary as a man who gave an ear to his reporters. ‘’He listened to us, he did not dictate how we wrote our stories. He had contacts everywhere but at the end of the day he depended on writers to get the feel on the ground.’’
Paul Ilado, Head of Content at Radio Africa Group, said Hilary’s unique leadership style had a big impact on journalism that is felt up to date.
“Those who worked with Hilary, from the conversations we have had, say that he was a unique person especially in the way he led people. He did not raise his voice and he did not instruct,” he said.
Prof Julia Ojiambo, a childhood friend of the journalist, appreciated the mentorship role that Hilary played in her life. ‘’He appreciated diversity, and worked across gender, race, religion, creed and class.’’
Rose Kimotho, founder of Kameme FM and K24 TV who worked for Hilary at one time, eulogized him as a man of many firsts.
‘He set up the first private TV station, STV. He launched the first business news channel. He was the first to bring to Kenya Hollywood blockbusters and soap operas.’’
HBN, as he was popularly known, was educated at Harvard and became the first African editor of the Daily Nation in 1965. In 1975, he started ‘’The Weekly Review’’, which became one of Kenya’s most influential political newsmagazines until 2000 when it folded.
Ng’weno was a published author and was also known for his television programmes such as ‘’Makers of a Nation’’ and ‘’The Making of a Nation’’ which ran on NTV.