The Late Philip Ochieng: From US College Dropout to Top Kenyan Journalist

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    The late Standard and Nation columnist Philip Ochieng
  • Philip Ochieng - a veteran editor, columnist and author - passed away on Tuesday, April 27 while undergoing treatment at the Ombo Mission Hospital in Migori County. 

    The 83-year-old's death was announced by his family who divulged that he succumbed to pneumonia. 

    Ochieng, a renowned journalist served as a columnist and editor for the Nation Media Group and was once a columnist for the Standard

    He was renowned for his The Fifth Columnist and Language Clinic columns in Sunday and Saturday Nation editions.

    Former Nation columnist Philip Ochieng

    Ochieng' rose to the top despite dropping out of college in the United States. The prolific wordsmith was one of the privileged students to be airlifted to the US in 1959 but never completed his studies as he opted to return back home. 

    Prior to relocating to the US, he had schooled at the prestigious Alliance High School under British mathematician and Anglican missionary, Edward Carey Francis. The Briton at one time, in the mid-50s, persuaded Ochieng to return to school after he had dropped out of high school too. 

    After returning to Kenya from the US, Ochieng' joined Nation Media Group as an intern and rose to be the Editorial Copy Reviser, Chief Sub-Editor, Associate Editor, Managing Editor and later on Editor-in-Chief. 

    He was also a celebrated author who published several books including I Accuse the Press: An Insider's View of the Media and Politics in Africa in 1992 and The Kenyatta Succession, co-written with Joseph Karimi.

    He also helped edit the classic, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, which was written by his friend - the celebrated Caribbean intellectual, Walter Rodney. 

    Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga, journalists, media stakeholders and other Kenyans eulogised the late who impacted many lives with his skills set. 

    "Philip Ochieng’ was a consummate, no-nonsense and committed journalist whose depth of knowledge and understanding of issues was exceptional. We will miss his illuminating columns. Rest In Peace," Ruto eulogised.

    "Through the power of the pen, Philip spoke to the most powerful and moved the society into action," Raila added.

    Kenya Editors Guild President Churchill Otieno and Kenya Union of Journalists secretary-general Eric Oduor also mourned the deceased, alongside his Standard and Nation colleagues. 

    "You trained me to love journalism. You mentored many of us. You were an avid reader and loved good stories. Rest Mzee,” Nation Special Projects Managing Editor John Kamau eulogised. 

    Among the many awards and recognitions he received, Ochieng' was bestowed with the Order of the Burning Spear(OBS) by Kenya's third President Mwai Kibaki. The former President conferred him with the award owing to his impartiality in writing. 

    The Nation Centre building in Nairobi's Kimathi Street where the Nation Media Group offices are located. Monday, October 21, 2019
    The Nation Centre building in Nairobi's Kimathi Street where the Nation Media Group offices are located. Monday, October 21, 2019
    Simon Kiragu