Laillah Mohammed: Rita Tinina, thank you for your courage, grace and humility

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The late Rita Tinina.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Dear Rita,

It’s unfortunate that we get to give you flowers as you transition into your resting place, but one thing that will remain alive is your legacy, and how silently you nurtured many of us to grow our craft in television journalism.

Your work ethic favoured simplicity, which gathered the maximum results. Also, humility was a virtue you carried with grace everywhere you went.

I first interacted with you at the twin towers (Nation Centre), in 2012. As a graduate trainee and you as a senior current affairs reporter then, I could only marvel at your articulation of matters with ease and precision. One day we spoke about how easy doing a Piece-To-Camera (PTC) was. We came to you with my Ugandan colleague, Ingrid Nantege, who transitioned to NTV Uganda.

She told the class how she spent her day with you covering a political story in Kenya and how patient you were with her questions and how you would softly provide guidance on how she could perfect her PTC. Your attention to detail on the story was one she spoke on and on about and how the facts practically jumped off your fingertips.

After a long day in the field, she learnt so many lessons that she says no classroom scenario could give a young journalist, and to date she takes those snippets from almost a decade ago, with her even in her life’s work.

From that conversation I became interested in your journalistic work and skill and silently followed your lead without having close contact. Many a time, we would meet on assignments, then as a young journalist at NTV and you a senior at KTN News. There was the cordial, hello! How are you doing? And once or twice, you chided, ‘How’s the twin towers? And I would smile and say, all was well.

One thing you never knew is that I silently took notes, of how you worked, mastered your ability to deliver live reports and always told myself that as a female journalist, one needed such mentors who would sharpen our skill and you were it, for me.

I have gone through the hands of many other female journalists, and they each provided a different perspective to the woman I am today. And for that, I thank you and them too, for leading the way for many of us to walk in your footsteps.

Covering President Mwai Kibaki’s funeral was a breeze because of the skills I learnt seeing you over time, and looking at the bigger picture when analysing a story was another key thing you silently taught me from your work.

You returned to a newsroom we had both called home at different times of our lives, after I had just transitioned elsewhere, but I could see your handwriting in each bulletin, I watched whenever I had time to and blushed at my attempts to snatch any little morsel of your wisdom to use in my new path.

You shall be missed but not forgotten Rita. Thank you for your courage, grace and humility.

May God grant your rest till we meet again.



- Laillah Mohammed is a former journalist at NTV, now with the BBC