Philip Ochieng, a veteran journalist, and long-serving columnist has passed on at the age of 82. According to his family, Ochieng breathed his last on Tuesday evening at Ombo Mission Hospital in Migori.
Ochieng’s daughter Lucie Adhiambo said her father succumbed to pneumonia and other complications associated with old age.
“It’s true he passed on an hour ago. He has been ailing from a series of illnesses including pneumonia,” a devastated Lucie confirmed the news of her father’s demise.
Ochieng was well known for his column in the Nation newspaper and had also served as a columnist for the Standard Newspaper.
Prior to taking up the role of a columnist, Ochieng, popularly known as PO, served as an editor for Nation Media Group.
His works extended to the writing of books and he is fondly remembered with his first published book “I Accuse the Press: An Insider’s View of the Media and Politics in Africa” which he authored in 1992.
News of his demise was greeted with consternation even as many eulogized him as a true son of Kenya.
“Kenya has lost in the passing of Philip Ochieng, a veteran journalist and legendary columnist with an unmatched prowess of the English language. Through the power of the pen, Philip spoke to the most powerful and moved the society into action.” Former PM Raila Odinga said
The Fifth Columnist described Ochieng as a media giant and a journalist of great repute.
“Having served in various capacities in the media industry, Ochieng has earned both praise and condemnation from not just his readers but also his employers, colleagues and the powers that be,” Liz Gitonga-Wanjohi wrote in her description of the ‘legendary journalist’ in his biography – The Fifth Columnist.
Journalists and fellow columnists paid tribute, acknowledged, and spoke highly of the role of Ochieng in shaping the media industry.
“PO (Philip Ochieng) was quite astute and lively in real life, sharp and expansive with the pen. What a life, what a career.” Kenya Editors Guild President Churchill Otieno said in his tribute
“Rest in peace Philip Ochieng. You trained me to love journalism when I was still at the university. You mentored many of us. You gave me two books; ‘Kenyatta Succession’ and ‘I Accuse the Press: An insider’s view of the media and politics in Africa’. You were an avid reader and loved good stories. Rest Mzee.” Nation Media Group’s John Kamau said
Veteran Journalist Charles Mulila described Phillip Ochieng as the “Father of modern day media practice in Kenya. Journalism is bereaved. The newsroom… specifically the print chapter, is weeping. RIP Phillip Ochieng, the legend”.
Former Journalist and current Member of Parliament for Kamukunji Yusuf Hassan mourned Ochieng saying he would be truly missed. Hassan described Ochieng as a trailblazer whose razor-sharp columns spoke truth to power.
“A giant of African journalism has rested. The legendary Philip Ochieng was a truly great & gifted journalist & writer. He was well-read, well-rounded, and inspiration & mentor to many.” The lawmaker wrote on his Twitter handle