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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Philip Ochieng, veteran editor dies aged 83

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A celebrated veteran editor, columnist and author, Philip Ochieng, has passed on in Awendo at the age of 83.

His death was confirmed by his family members who said the celebrated wordsmith succumbed to pneumonia.

ODM leader Raila Odinga eulogised Mr Ochieng as a veteran journalist and legendary columnist.

“Through the power of the pen, Philip spoke to the most powerful and moved the society into action,” Mr Odinga said.

Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan described the late writer as “one of the greatest Kenyan journalists of our times,” saying that Mr Ochieng’s columns and writings “set an unsurpassed standard for Kenyan journalism.”

Tom Bwana, a Stadium announcer and one of the youthful avid readers of Mr Ochieng’s works, said that the passing of the former editor “felt like burning down a library with its books,” adding “This is pain. This is sorrow.”

The book, The Fifth Columnist, A Legendary Journalist, written by his former colleague at the Nation Liz Gitonga-Wanjohi, helped capture the life and times of Mr Ochieng.

After schooling in his home village in present-day Awendo, Migori, he got admitted to the prestigious Alliance High School, then under the unforgettable Carey Francis, who at one time had to go to Mr Ochieng’s rural home to persuade him to go back and complete school.

In 1957, Mr Ochieng’ wrote a letter asking to be re-admitted to school, promising to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. But years later, he declared that God did not exist and confessed to being an atheist.

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