TO START NEXT YEAR

Editors launch annual Philip Ochieng' lecture

Kenya Editors' Guild president Churchill Otieno says forum to be held every second Friday of May

In Summary

• Otieno said the Guild will use the lecture platform to promote excellence in the media and journalism that Philip Ochieng stood for.

• The veteran editor and long-serving Nation columnist died in late April at Ombo Mission Hospital in Migori aged 83.

Former Sunday Nation columnist Philip Ochieng
Former Sunday Nation columnist Philip Ochieng

Newspaper editors on Monday launched an annual lecture to honour veteran journalist and editor Philip Ochieng'.

Kenya Editors' Guild president Churchill Otieno said the lectures will be held every second Friday of May starting next year.

Otieno said the Guild will use the lecture to promote excellence in the media and journalism — a cause that Philip Ochieng championed. 

He spoke in Nairobi during a meeting held by the editors to celebrate Ochieng'.

Ochieng's daughter Lucy Ochieng' recounted how the journalist, a stickler for correct spoken and written English, carried his habits home.

“He would not stand his children dismembering the language,” she said.

Ochieng' was known for his weekly column in the Nation, where he wrote in complex vocabulary that got readers complaining of its inaccessibility. 

He said it was for the readers to rise to his level and not him to stoop down to them.

Lucy said that even at home, her dad was particular about how they pronounced English words and constructed sentences in their informal conversations.

For example, she said, whenever they would be talking over a phone and say “I can’t hear you,” Ochieng’ would be irked.

“He always insisted the right thing to say is ‘I don’t hear you'.”

“It took me a long time to get it and to understand whether it mattered anyway. To dad, right word use actually mattered not just at work but also at home in daily conversations,” she said.

The veteran editor and long-serving Nation columnist died in late April at Ombo Mission Hospital in Migori aged 83.

His family said he succumbed to pneumonia and other old age-related complications.

He will be laid to rest on Friday, at his rural home in Awendo, Migori.

A workaholic, Ochieng' would be gone for a long time, consumed by duty and travels that some of his children thought he was dead.

Lucy gave the example of one time when their last born Aluoch would tell people their father was dead because he was away for so long.

Editors hailed Ochieng' as a standard of how a journalist should approach their work: rigorous, thorough and professional.

Radio Africa's Paul Ilado said Ochieng's impact in the practice of journalism in the country was far-reaching and his consistency unmatched.

Other speakers present during the inaugural lecture highlighted Ochieng’s contribution to the media.

Royal Media's Joe Ageyo hailed Ochieng as enigmatic, adding that he was a mystical figure that most of them heard of when they came to newsrooms.

“Philip was many things, intellectual and journalistic.”

Managing director of the national broadcaster KBC Naim Bilal said the scribe's many years of practice influenced journalism and politics in a very significant way.

Standard media groups Ochieng' Rapuro said Ochieng was thoughtful, deep and purposeful in his work and use of language. 

Ochieng's mastery of the use and philosophy of the English language was enviable, he said. 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris