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Kenya Editors Guild launches Hilary Ng’weno prize for journalists

By Allan Mungai | July 22nd 2021
Hilary Ng’weno's investment in print and broadcast underscored his belief in relevant journalism. [Courtesy]

The Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) has announced an annual Hilary Boniface Ng’weno prize for journalists to honour the veteran journalist’s contribution to media development.

Ng’weno, who died aged 83, was a journalist, author and publisher. Yesterday, KEG said The Ng’weno Prize for Journalism would start this year to fete outstanding journalists. They said Ng’weno led the growth of independent journalism in Kenya.

KEG President Churchill Otieno, an editor at Nation Media Group, said Ng’weno “brought honour, dignity, respect and unparalleled incisiveness into the practice of journalism in Kenya and in the region, inspiring great minds upon whom media work thrives to this day”.

“Hilary’s departure must trigger, within all editorial gatekeepers, a renewed zeal to stand steadfast and uphold the values that enhance the practice of journalism,” said Otieno.

He, however, added that a more fitting honour for Ng’weno would be journalists rededicating themselves to dignified and sustainable practice.

“Hilary served a good 24 years as the Editor-in-Chief of various publications from 1964-1988, a feat that has not been attained before, and it is unlikely that it will be, given the challenges of the modern-day editor,” he said.

KEG had organised a memorial for Ng’weno at Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi ahead of his burial. The memorial was attended by politicians, senior journalists, members of the civil society as well as his family.

Among those present was Media Council of Kenya Chairman Maina Muiruri, Julia Ojiambo and human rights lawyer and politician Gitobu Imanyara.

Imanyara said Ng’weno had taught that the price of freedom was eternal vigilance. “As we remember Hilary, let us ask ourselves how we can carry forward that spirit he inculcated in us,” he said.

He said one of Ng’weno’s values that made him stand out was his in-depth reporting of issues, something missing in the media today.

“One of the shortcomings of today’s media is lack of in-depth analysis of stories similar to what the Weekly Review did,” Imanyara said.

He added, “I usually say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We are assembled here today to remember Hilary Ng’weno because he taught us this.”

Prof Ojiambo eulogised Ng’weno as an incredibly intelligent man who dedicated his life to empowering others in science and journalism. 

“Hilary encouraged me to excel,” she said. “In his calm, sensitive and unassuming manner, he mentored me and many others. He was a soul born before his time. He appreciated diversity and worked across gender, race, religion, creed and class.”

Steve Oundo, a family representative, said Ng’weno detested being misquoted. “He was interested in learning and hated any form of hypocrisy,” he recalled.

Mr Muiruri urged journalists to emulate Ng’weno and stand by his ideals. “The best way we can remember Hilary Ng’weno is to embrace the ideals of media freedom that he stood for,” he said.

Radio Africa Editor-In-Chief Paul Ilado lauded Ng’weno for making journalism more than a profession.

Ng’weno died on July 7 and is survived by wife Fleur and two daughters.

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