NMG Turns to Veteran Journalists to Relaunch Weekly Review After 23 Years

  • The newly relaunched Weekly Review Magazine featuring Mama Ngina Kenyatta (left) and the paper's July 1983 issue
    The newly relaunched Weekly Review Magazine featuring Mama Ngina Kenyatta (left) and the paper's July 1983 issue.
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  • A new day has come. The Nation Media Group (NMG) under Mutuma Mathiu as its Editorial Director, relaunched the once popular Weekly Review (WR) magazine after a 23-year hiatus.

    The first issue of the revamped magazine, which shook the core of the political elite from the '70s until just before the turn of the century, was reborn as a Sunday Nation Magazine pullout which featured Kenya's former First Lady and President Uhuru Kenyatta's mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta.

    With a design reminiscent of the paper's 1990's version founded by the Harvard-educated Hilary Boniface Ngweno, the cover of the magazine maintained its red border and artistically depicted the former first-lady seated on a throne, dressed in traditional attire and sporting a Kenyan flag colours-themed headpiece. The cover was accompanied by a minimalist title 'Queen Mother'.

    In its efforts to relaunch the pre-internet publication for the tech savvy future, the Kimathi street-based media outlet tapped into both the old-school journalists who formed part of the original version's staff as well as a number of modern scribes. 

    The new Magazine with Mama Ngina Kenyatta on the cover.
    The new Magazine with Mama Ngina Kenyatta on the cover.
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    Macharia Gaitho, who worked at the WR Newsroom in the 1990s, is credited with playing an important role in the magazine's relaunch and will be part of its staff going forward.

    Gaitho served as the publication's Assistant Managing Editor until his departure in 1993, when he took up a similar position at the Economist Review. His career later blossomed and earned him a position at Daily Nation as the Managing Editor in charge of Special projects.

    In the first issue of the relaunched version, Gaitho holds four bylines including a critical look at the upcoming verdict from the Supreme Court judges as well as looking at the influential power of Mama Ngina Kenyatta from her transition as the First Lady (1963 to 1978) to the First Mother beginning in 2013.

    "Away from the public appearances, however, Cabinet Ministers and other politicians and government officials knew that at State Houses in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru where President Kenyatta often retreated; as well as the private family home in the small township of Gatundu -  some 50km out of Nairobi - her word was law," Gaitho described the first lady.

    Ranked as one of the best veteran hands in Business writing, Journalist Jaindi Kisero was also tapped as a contributor in the relaunched Magazine. In its heydays, Kisero served as WR's Business Editor before he ascended to the Managing Editor role before joining NMG.

    Another veteran, McOwiti Thomas, has also been signed on as a contributor. He served as a science writer before he moved to the United Nations (UN). He currently lives in the US.

    Kwendo Opanga is also back at the paper after a stint in various media houses in Kenya. He worked as a columnist for Nation and Standard before launching his own publication and moving on to become a media consultant. He wrote a column calling for authorities to punish individuals subverting the will of the people after the August 9 General Election.

    When the first issue was launched in 1975, it targeted well educated middle class and was strongly critical of the ruling elite.

    "The challenge of the moment is to reach back 47 years and re-ignite this spirit, modernise it and serve it to digital market place. The modern version is a bridge. It is a place where the older generation will feel perfectly at home. But attempts have been made to introduce the young generations who are unfamiliar with and possibly not interested in the longform, argumentative and revelatory story-telling of the past," observed Mathiu in his first introductory letter.

    True to his word, the Magazine introduced a new segment titled 'The Arena' that is super-modern and offering quote boxes to the Millennial and Generation X generations.

    Daily Nation columnist Macharia Gaitho
    Daily Nation columnist Macharia Gaitho.
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