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Remembering Journalists Who Passed Away in 2021

  • The year 2021 was a tough one for the media fraternity following the unprecedented circumstances and uncertainties that were born of the Covid-19 pandemic. The media in Kenya, like any other industry, was hit hard following the demise of some of the high-ranking and outstanding personalities.

    As we end the year, Kenyans.co.ke pays tribute to the fallen heroes of the fourth estate who died in the year 2021.

    1. Gladys Erude

    The late KBC presenter Gladys Adisia Erude.

    The late KBC presenter Gladys Adisia Erude.

    Daily Nation

    In early August, the country woke up to the tragic news of the death of veteran KBC journalist, Gladys Erude. She died aged 70 years while receiving treatment in Nairobi after a long battle with cancer.

    Erude was celebrated for her steadfast career in media since joining the station in 1976. 

    She served as a presenter on both Idhaa ya Taifa and KBC Channel TV. After retiring in 2001, she ventured into the business world until 2008 before moving to the United States where some of her grandchildren are based.

    She is survived by six children, four living in the United States of America.

    1. Badi Muhsin

    Veteran News anchor Badi Muhsin seated in the revamped KBC studio

    Veteran News anchor Badi Muhsin seated in the revamped KBC studio.

    KBC

    Just months after reprising his signature news anchoring role at the country’s oldest TV station, the celebrated journalist passed away on Friday, October 8, 2021. The Swahili maestro passed on at his home in Mombasa. 

    The veteran anchor had just taken lunch when he started complaining that he was feeling well. His family members told the press that he went to take a nap but never woke up. Roughly a year before, he had undergone surgery to remove kidney stones.

    Muhsin worked for the national broadcaster during the late President Daniel Moi’s era from 1980 and retired in 2002. He made a comeback to the station in 2021.

    1. Robin Njogu

    RMS Head of News-Radio Robin Njogu during a past trip to the US

    RMS Head of News-Radio Robin Njogu during a past trip to the US

    File

    In March, Royal Media Services LTD Managing Editor in charge of radio, Robin Njogu, passed away after contracting the Covid-19 virus. He died at the Aga Khan Hospital where he was undergoing treatment, two days after his mother passed on.

    The renowned journalist, who held a degree in Development Communication from the University of Nairobi and a Diploma in Mass Communication from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, had been practicing journalism for over a decade.

    His death was a blow to the profession with various leaders, including President Uhuru Kenyatta mourning the scribe as a progressive journalist whose contribution to radio and online journalism had gone a long way in transforming the country’s media and communication sector.

    1. Kate Mitchell

    Kate Mitchell, a manager who was attached to BBC in Ethiopia, was found dead in a hotel room in Nairobi in November 2021. 

    Preliminary investigations into the mysterious murder by Kenya Police, however, indicated that the suspect in the murder case jumped to his death from the hotel room that Mitchell had booked. The suspect was, at the time, on the verge of solemnising his union through the holy matrimony in December 2021.

    What puzzled the detectives is that the prime suspect had booked a room with his fiancée on the seventh floor of the same building. His fiancée kept waiting as he told her that he was heading to the bar briefly. She kept waiting for her boyfriend the entire night, but he did not show up.

    As she waited for him, the suspect was reportedly engaged in a confrontation with the BBC project manager in a different room on the upper floor of the hotel. The suspect is said to have jumped from the hotel after the confrontation, dying on the spot.

    The BBC Project Manager was later found dead inside her room.

    1. Betty Mutekhele Barasa

    Kenya Broadcasting Corporation journalist and video editor Betty Mutekhele

    Kenya Broadcasting Corporation journalist and video editor Betty Mutekhele

    File

    Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) journalist and video editor, Betty Mutekhele, was shot dead by suspected robbers in her residential home in Ngong, Kajiado County. 

    A police report indicated that she was shot at close range after three armed robbers ambushed her as she entered her home, making their way into the main house before ordering the children to lie down as they demanded money.

    Later, investigations showed that the brutal murder was pre-meditated as the attackers singled her out of six other people present in the house including a friend. She succumbed to a gunshot to the head as per the autopsy report.

    1. Gatonye Gathura

    Veteran journalist Gatonye Gathura was also found dead towards the end of November, days after reportedly receiving crucial documents. His body was found at the Naivasha Sub-County Referral Hospital mortuary a month after he went missing.

    Preliminary investigations by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) indicate that he was in possession of land documents for an expose with the media house.

    The expose, according to reports, would have shed light on a land dispute in the Ewaso Kedong area, at the border of Narok and Nakuru Counties.

    1. Hillary Ngw’eno

    Veteran journalist Hillary Ng’weno passed away in July at the age of 83 years after suffering from a long illness. In his lifetime, Ng’weno had made distinguished achievements including being the first Kenyan to attend Harvard University in 1957. 

    When he returned to the country, he became the country’s youngest Editor-in-Chief at Nation before leaving to start his own publication. In his career, he had risen to become a distinguished journalist, editor, publisher, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker.

    1. Philip Ochieng

    Long-serving Nation columnist and veteran editor Philip Ochieng passed away in April 2021 aged 82 years. He died while receiving treatment for pneumonia at Ombo Mission Hospital in Migori.

    The columnist had worked as an editor at the two leading dailies across the country, Daily Nation and The Standard. He was also a stickler for grammar and managed long-running columns in the Daily Nation.

    Former Daily Nation Editor Philip Ochieng

    Former Daily Nation Editor Philip Ochieng.

    The Standard

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