Fondly known as RT, Rita Tinina had pet names for her colleagues

Former KTN journalist Rita Tinina. [File, Standard]

When news broke that Rita Tinina was no more, journalists thronged her residence in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.  

They say bad news spread fast and indeed a few reporters who were assigned to do the story were joined by more journalists shocked by the sudden demise of Rita.

It was not just about telling the story or filming the hearse ferrying Rita's body.

This was not about any other person. It was RT as we fondly called her. Rita had died, a major blow to the media fraternity.

She was a magnet that attracted colleagues. And for this reason, she had a pet name for her colleagues.

From "mtu mrefu", "in-law", "jirani" "senior" and "young lady" Rita had a special way of interacting with her colleges.

She was a magnet that attracted colleagues. And for this reason, she had a pet name for her colleagues.

Rita joined Standard Group in 2012 where she worked as a TV senior reporter at KTN until October 2023.

For more than two decades, Rita reported many stories. She had the nose for news and reported stories with accuracy and clarity.

Her excellent articulation of stories and a punchy sign-off kept viewers glued to TV.

Rita's humble demeanor, professionalism and kindness endeared her to many and the media industry celebrates a solid, consistent and one of the most reliable journalists in newsroom.

Amos Kareithi, a seasoned journalist and an Editor at Standard Group describes her as the most unpretentious down-to-earth colleague one would wish to work with.

“He ready smile, infectious laughter lit the newsroom. When she sat down to do a story, not even the persistent calls of her dotting daughter would tear her from her computer,” says Kareithi.

He recalls one occasion, Rita's daughter wanted her home urgently and made several calls.

She handed her phone to a colleague, Duncan Khaemba who, assuming the persona of a boss, explained to the young girl that her mom would dash home as soon as she cleared an important story.

The young girl signed off laughing and the mother too was happy and relieved.

“She dedicated her energy to tell the story, the best way she knew how and would not compromise. She loved to research and no story was too small or too inferior to be ignored,” says Kareithi.

When a story changed as often happens in newsrooms she would shrug, smile and get cracking on the new angle without complaining.

“To young reporters she was the big sister they could rely on, offering her shoulder for them to rely on,” Kareithi says.

For Hudson Ngumbihi, a seasoned writer at The Standard, it was Rita’s amiable and humble persona that was disarming. The two years he worked with the fallen journalist was nothing but pure bliss.

“I will remember Rita's sign-off, especially on Sundays. If you need me Hudson; I am a phone call away. This was typical of Rita when requesting to leave office,” Ngumbihi recalls.

Rita was sociable and bubbly and she had a pet name for her colleagues.

For Boniface Magana, she called him Mtu Mrefu (tall person) perhaps because of his height. Their friendship spanned more than 12 years.

“We used to call each other Mtu Mrefu or my person. She was a special friend,” he says.

“I knew Rita as a person who knew her job and loved her job. She executed her work with zeal. She was humble and it was difficult to tell her apart. She related well with everyone including the interns.”

Magana a videographer at KTN News, mourns a friend who led a simple life and avoided unnecessary conflicts.

“She was generous and kind. If I missed work, Rita would call to check why I didn’t report to work,” he says.

“I will miss Rita. My person, my mtu mrefu. May she rest in peace.”

Rita, too, had a nickname, T9, as colleagues corrupted her last name Tinina.

Augustine Oduor, an Editor at Standard Group eulogises Rita as a top-grade journalist.

“RT, my desk mate (often referred to me as Jirani) was a team player who valued her work and delivered to the expectations,” Oduor says.

“She valued depth in her reporting and made story telling simple and enjoyable. Despite her seniority and experience in the newsroom, RT remained humble and respectful to colleagues and avoided controversy,” he adds.

Rita was versatile in all fields and delivered political stories with as much ease as environmental, crime, courts and human interest stories.

Kamau Muthoni, a senior reporter at Standard Group or 'In-law' as Rita used to call him describes her as an exemplary, easy going journalist.

“Every one of us love and is loved back differently. For Rita, it was an effortless kind of love both outside and inside the office. We called each other ‘in law’ and joked of the day that I would walk the isle and she would tie a Shuka singing for my bride,” he says.

“She was a loving soul and so loving that she became a part of our family. Rita would not miss a call and not return it. She was easygoing whenever we had an assignment together in court,” he says.

“I have so far met many colleagues, but in-law was different. A gem left us.”

Ken Mijungu, Deputy Editor Broadcast at Standard Group mourns Rita as a heroine, a trailblazer who made so much impact in a very short time.

“She was sociable, making and retaining friends for her was easy breezy yet she remained so private. I believe even in death though untimely, her impact has been felt. I will never forget how she inspired a generation. Rest in perfect peace T9,” he says.

David Mwenda, a videographer says, “Every cameraman loved to work with Rita because of how she approached her stories whether features or just a simple story. She always knew what she wanted from the assignment.”

“She would tell me, Njûri Ncheke my story is 3-minutes. Don't overshoot and I knew straight away what (images) she needed. Rita was such a bright but simple journalist who was liked by everyone at KTN. Rest in peace Rita Tinina,” Mwenda says.

Standard Group Continuity Editor Lillian Odera says she met Rita when they were students at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication.

"I' have known her literally for more than half of my entire life. As colleagues, Rita had a big heart and a listening ear to all," Odera says.

"When it comes to journalism, she set the bar so high, her scripting for television was unmatched with a powerful voice that commanded attention. Rest easy Rita Tinina. The industry Will greatly miss you. Kenya has lost a gem."

Duncan Khaemba, a senior political reporter at Nation Media Group says Rita was a loyal friend if you earned her trust and was time-conscious.

“She was a loyal friend who ensured we had lunch together regularly whenever schedule allowed. On Wednesday night last week, she called as soon she left the office and requested that we have lunch on Thursday before she takes her two days off,” Khaemba recalls.

“She worked smart ...few hours in the office and leaves having finished her assignments and organised her desk and left. That was Rita for you,” he says.

Rita was one gentle soul, humble and with an infectious smile. She never allowed her many years of experience stand between her and colleagues and was always ready to lend a hand and advice.

As Per Olov Enquist states  “One day we shall die. But all the other days we shall be alive,” and what matters most is what people say about us when we die, and that’s our legacy. Rita left a legacy and that is what we will remember.