Journalists recount treasured memories of 'humble' Tinina

Former KTN journalist Rita Tinina. [Courtesy, Standard]

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

The death of RT, as we fondly called her, was 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”, Tinina had a special way of interacting with her colleges.

She was a uniting force and those who interacted with her say she has left an indelible mark in the newsroom and the lives of the people who interacted with her.

Tinina, whose requiem will be held on Monday at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, joined Standard Group in 2012 where she worked as a TV senior reporter at KTN until October 2023.

For more than two decades, Tinina 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 the TV.

Tinina’s humble demeanour, professionalism and kindness endeared her to many.

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.

“Her ready smile and 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, Tinina’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.

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 were 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.

Tinina 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.

Magana, a videographer at KTN News, mourns a friend who led a simple life and avoided unnecessary conflicts. “She was kind. If I missed work, Rita would call to check why I didn’t report to work,” he says.

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

Augustine Oduor, an Editor at Standard Group eulogises Tinina 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.

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

Kamau Muthoni, a senior reporter at Standard Group, describes her as an exemplary, easygoing journalist. “I have so far met many colleagues, but in-law was different. A gem left us,” he says.

Ken Mijungu, Deputy Editor Broadcast at Standard Group, mourns Tinina 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.”

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 for more than half of my entire life. As colleagues, Rita had a big heart and a listening ear to all,” Odera says.

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

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