Veteran Journalist Who Was First Kenyan to Join Harvard

Hillary Ng'weno founded his first newspaper, The Weekly Review in 1975.
  • Veteran journalist Hilary Boniface Ng’weno, the producer behind the documentaries on Kenyan history played a major role in journalism.

    He also served during the late President Moi’s regime as the chairman of Kenya Wildlife Service in 1993 and a board member of the Kenya Revenue Authority in 1999.

    Ng’weno who has over 40 years of experience in journalism was the first Kenyan to study at Harvard University.

    He was born on June 28, 1938, in Nairobi county. He grew up in Muthurwa, attended St Peter Cleavers, and later joined Mang’u High school for his O’levels.

    The 83-year-old proceeded to Harvard University, the Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA in 1957 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics.

    Hillary Ng’weno founded his first newspaper, The Weekly Review in 1975.

    Despite being science-oriented, his career as a journalist took shape during his years at the university, starting off by writing newsletters.

    Ng’weno returned to Kenya in 1962 and joined the Nation Media Group as a reporter and columnist for the Daily Nation.

    On June 1, 1964, he was promoted to the position of Editor-in-Chief becoming the first Kenyan to hold that position.. He got the opportunity to join British leaders as a chief speaker at the 14th Annual General Assembly of the International Press Institute of 1965 held in London, where he advocated for press freedom, and identified three threats to press freedom as state, courts, and ownership or control by expatriates

    He quit the Nation in the same year and started working independently as a freelancer. In 1968, Ng’weno enrolled back at Harvard and studied Film Production and Television.

    On his second return to Kenya in 1975, he started his own newspaper dubbed The Weekly Review to fill a niche he felt the foreign-owned newspapers that is Daily Nation and The Standard failed at as part of his company, Stellascope Ltd.

    He also worked with state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Co-operation and Esso Standard Ltd (East Africa) in 1975.

    In 1977, he received the Rockefeller Award in recognition of his contribution to journalism. In the same year, he founded The Nairobi Times that started off as a Sunday paper but morphed into a daily newspaper. 

    Ng’weno sold the newspaper as well as his publishing company to KANU in 1983 with the ruling party renaming it Kenyan Times.

    He has produced documentary films including; Makers of a Nation, a series with over 160 individual half-hour profiles of important figures in Kenya’s history and Kenya’s Darkest Hours.

    A building at Harvard University
    A building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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