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HomecareerHilary Ng'weno: The Nuclear Physicist Became The Father Of Journalism in Kenya 

Hilary Ng’weno: The Nuclear Physicist Became The Father Of Journalism in Kenya 

From print to broadcast media, Hilary Ng’weno (June 28, 1938 -July 7, 2021) left an indelible imprint in the world of media. He joined print media at a time when it was foreign-owned and managed to hold his own in the midst of stiff competition. The journalist’s daring career moves serve as a source of inspiration to many people today.

Here is his story as told by WoK,

Background and Education 

Born in Nairobi to Morris Onyango, he attended Mangu High School and proceeded to Harvard University to pursue Mathematics and Physics. 

Journalism Career 

Upon returning to Kenya, Hilary Boniface Ng’weno became a reporter for the Daily Nation for nine months. He was then appointed the editor-in-chief and resigned in 1965

Teaming up with Terry Hirst, he started a political satire comic magazine called Joe, which became popular in the continent. 

In 1975 he founded Weekly Review magazine, which offered political reports and commentary and ran until 1999. 

It was followed by the Nairobi Times in 1977. This was a Sunday newspaper that later became a daily. The journalist tried to stay afloat but faced stiff competition from foreign-owned newspapers like The Standard and Daily Nation (which were then owned by foreign companies). 

Since the advertising field was also dominated by foreigners, he struggled to get advertisements. 

This was further exacerbated by the fact that most foreign companies did not want to face government wrath, opting to stay away from publications that would upset the state.

The Nairobi Times was sold to the KANU government in 1983 and renamed the Kenya Times. 

Citizens did not view it the same way as it seemed to be the government’s mouthpiece used to further advance its agenda. 

It folded in 2010. Stellascope, his publication company, was also purchased by KANU. At the time he had several publications including a monthly children’s magazine named Rainbow, The Industrial Review and the Financial Review.

Television Production 

Following the sale and the folding of the Weekly Review, he ventured into Television. He founded Kenya’s first independent TV news station. 

He sold it and branched into film and documentary production. Partnering with the Nation Media Group, he produced what was once one of the most popular television documentaries, the Making of a Nation. 

This featured the lives of people who greatly contributed to the history of Kenya and they were dubbed Makers of a Nation. He also produced the documentary: Kenya’s Darkest Hour. 

In 2020, Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) feted him with a lifetime achievement award following his contribution to the development of Kenyan journalism.

Family and Death 

For more than fifty years he was married to Fleur, a France native. The couple have two daughters, Amolo and Bettina Ng’weno. He passed away on 7th July 2021 at the age of 83.