Glowing tribute to journalist Tinina in her final journey

Former KTN News Reporter Rita Tinina Yiapan was laid to rest at Noosupeni Farm Olokirikirai, Narok County. [John Tiapukel, Standard]

A kind, humble and talented journalist. Those were the running descriptions in tributes at the burial of celebrated journalist Rita Tinina Yiapan at Noosupeni farm Olokirikirai, Narok County, yesterday.

Tinina, who died of severe pneumonia on March 17, was celebrated by her family as a woman of substance and integrity, who was always ready to give a helping hand. 

Fellow journalists, government officials, and politicians joined friends and family in paying tribute to the media giant, the last born of seven children, who would be turning 46 today.

They shared the most profound and mundane memories of her, which filled those present with tears and laughter in equal measure.

And a grieving family would find some semblance of comfort in learning, unsurprisingly, how their departed loved one had touched the lives of many.

During the burial ceremony at Tinina’s home, her best friends, who she fondly called her “strong pillars”, sang Bwana u Sehemu Yangu.

With a voice heavy with emotion, her close friend Duncan Khaemba summed the feeling among most mourners, still coming to terms with Tinina’s shocking death.

“It is not well,” said the veteran journalist, who cut his tribute short when the pain became too much to bear.

Khaemba, who had chaired the burial committee, eulogised Rita as someone who invested in meaningful friendship, something he noted during the contribution and planning of the burial arrangements.

Joseph Kuria, chair of St Teresa Olokirikirai parish, thanked the community and friends of Rita for joining hands in celebrating the last days of Rita on earth. 

President of Kenya Editors Guild Zubeidah Kananu said “Rita was one of us and we have been robbed. We have been with her for the longest but never have we seen Rita get in trouble with anyone. She was peaceful.”

Deputy Editor Broadcasting Standard Group Ken Mijungu, who represented the Group’s fraternity, remembered Rita for the good person she was and a colleague for the 10 years she worked at the Group.

Editorial Director at Royal Media Services Linus Kaikai said in his tribute: “This is a big loss not just to the family but to the community and the country. She was a very good person. I did not have a chance to see Rita angry because she was a structured person.”

Editorial Director of Nation Media Group Joe Ageyo, who met Rita fresh from college 23 years ago and was fortunate to work with her for 15 years said: “Rita was humble despite all she had and a very supportive person to the young journalists... Rita was very reliable at work, she completed her tasks and even spared time to help out in the newsroom.”

Ageyo said Rita was not a dramatic person and led a humble and respectful life despite being in the limelight.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina praised the fallen journalist for her great attributes in the industry that made the little area of Olokirikirai known.

“Rita placed our map of Olokirikirai to the map of the world. I would like to encourage the community to have strength during these hard times,” he said.

The senator also pledged to support Mia Malaika, daughter of the late TV journalist Rita through her high school education.

According to Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, the media fraternity has suffered a blow. Wambua condoled with all the three media houses Rita had worked for.

President William Ruto’s Press Secretary Emmanuel Talam read the president’s message of condolence.

Ruto said Rita cultivated good friendships both in the newsroom and outside. The president also eulogised Rita for her great journalistic prowess at in-depth storytelling. 

Tinina’s send-off commenced early on Wednesday. Family and friends gathered at Umash Funeral Home in Nakuru to collect the body and proceeded to her resting place in Olokirikirai, Narok. 

[Additional reporting by Brian Otieno]