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Veteran journalist Philip Ochieng dies aged 82
Veteran editor and long-serving Nation columnist Philip Ochieng has died at the age of 82. He died on Tuesday 27th April 2021 at Ombo Mission Hospital in Migori on Tuesday evening. Ochieng’s daughter Lucie Adhiambo said her father succumbed to pneumonia and other complications associated with old age.
The eventful life of Philip Ochieng’:
1. One of the beneficiaries of Mboya’s airlift program to the USA gaining admission at Roosevelt University.
2. Of the 1,000 students who went to study in USA between 1959 and the early 60s, only two people, Philip Ochieng’ and another came back with nothing. No degree, no certificate, nothing.
3. Philip Ochieng’s biographer says, “Ochieng’ and his friends painted the city red and drank all beers in Chicago.”
4. Later went to study in France. Again came back empty handed.
4. He has left Alliance High School. He is one of the few people Carey Francis literally went to fetch from home in his volkswagen beetle. Good brains never rot home.
5. Like Barack Obama Snr, he also impregnated a mzungu girl in the USA, Nova Diane, a temporary union that resulted in one issue, Juliette Akinyi. Ochieng’ left both of them there never to return.
6. Nation Newspapers was his home. He left and came back several times like it belonged to his family. It is his skills that made him go and come back to people he had previously annoyed.
7. One day he was forced to resign at Nation when he burnt a lady colleague’s nose with cigarette. When asked why he did so, he said, “she was asking too many questions.”
8. After burning nose with cigarette, he went to work for a newspaper in Tanzania. In Tanzania he ran two columns, “the way l see it” and “Ochieng’ on Sunday.” The Tanzanians, foreigners to the language of English, chased him away after only a few years for “abusing us with too much English.”
9. Went to work in Uganda, where his tongue and pen again could not let him stay in peace and he rubbed the Obote government the wrong way and came back to his “Nation.”
10. Never believed in the existence of a Supreme being called God famously saying, “I thank God am an atheist.,” and had no time for Luo customs and traditions.
11. Like most people taught by the legendary Carey Francis, he didn’t any other education. He taught journalism at the University of Nairobi without having any degree in journalism.
12. He had a library in his bedroom that is larger than the library of most schools. Taught me that a library should be in the bedroom.
13. Never learnt how to drive and never wore a watch.
14. A greater believer in whisky, colleagues say it could explain why he liked shouting to colleagues everytime because for him any good story or the celebration of the newspapers as they rolled in the printing works was celebrated with Whiskey.
His story is long.
One lesson we learn from Philip is how passion can make one overcome “paper” qualifications to make a mark in the planet.
Don’t we all know that the highest paid journalist in the world has never stepped inside a journalism class?
As Caroline Mutoko very well said, “build your skills not your CV. Sometimes you have to move horizontally so as to move vertically.
Because the career ladder is dead.”