Dear friends, colleagues, government officials and Robin’s family,
I stand here today to celebrate the life of a great man.
I stand here on behalf of all Robin’s friends to say that just like his surname “Njogu” he was an elephant of friendship to the many who walked the same path as him.
The man we are mourning here today weaved friendship within and outside the journalism profession and just like the “The best Mix of Music”—a radio jingle and slogan made famous by Robin Njogu’s first employer Capital FM, this man was a “Mix” bag of all the nice things that made him to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his many friends.
Robin was a fountain of knowledge, love, care and commitment and this tapestry endeared him to his professional colleagues, his bosses and even his juniors. He easily extended his friendship beyond the office and to social and family spaces.
This is the man who bragged of being a top dancer but as far as we are concerned, he could only pull one style of a jig no matter the music. Even though he only had one dance move, he regaled us with his deep knowledge of local and international music.
Dear colleagues, friends and family, a lot has been said about Robin and how professional he was. I agree with all those sentiments…but what has not been said is the humility he showed towards people. I am here today as a good example of Robin’s good heart. This man lying here, fed me, clothed me and housed me together with another friend Solonom Kirimi at a time when we did not have a job while he was already working at Capital FM…And, I will not shy to mention that he pulled the right strings to ensure I was also employed at the same radio station.
Robin was a radioman in the traditional sense of the word- it was unheard of to find Robin without an audio recorder and a microphone on him because he believed he could bump into a good story in every corner he took.
We watched with growing pride as Robin scaled the heights of the profession, tackling all manner of beats from politics to parliament and business and anything in between. All his assignments were delivered with his signature baritone and the seriousness with which he treated all his news stories.
In the many eulogies that have been written by those who knew Robin, what sticks out sharply is the professionalism with which he took his work, going the extra mile to get the story and also having no problem helping others in getting the story of the day, the fact that they worked for rival media houses notwithstanding.
As veteran journalist and UN staffer Tom Osanjo noted in his obituary and I quote:
“Those of us in Public Relations and Corporate Communications know the nightmare of getting news coverage. I had no such issues with Robin even when he later became head of radio at Royal Media Services. “Obasanjo I am not sending you a reporter. Just write the good copy you always write, send over and I will air it.” My bosses were always left mesmerized by the kind of clout I have in the media, not knowing that Robin was watching my back in radio. Fare thee well the humble giant with a big voice.”
Robin created space for others. Osanjo says; As head of radio news at the Nation Media Group, Robin would invite external panel of pundits analyzing the 2014 World Cup alongside Herbert Mwachiro, Angela Angwenyi, Auka Gecheo and the late Lorna Irungu.
Jim Onyango, the Information Specialist at the U.S Embassy and a friend of Robin also wrote how Robin took up an assignment with the U.S Embassy and travelled across the breadth of the country to train vernacular radio journalists just before the 2017 General Election. Jim says most of the grassroot journalists left the training sessions with deep knowledge on fact checking news stories and this greatly improved news sourcing and reduced instances of hate speech in our radio channels in the last election…as Jim noted, Robin did a lot of good things for the broadcast industry.
Victor Bwire of the Media Council of Kenya noted that Robin was a consummate professional who cared deeply for his work and that he was a perfectionist who was on top of things in news; he was highly competitive and would never want to be behind news- he was fast with news, and his editing and contextualization of issues was high level- he loved his job and enjoyed being a journalist. His colleague at Royal Media Services Isaac Swila said even while in hospital, Robin continuously engaged his news team on WhatsApp, helping give story suggestions and angles.
Dear friends and colleagues, I we admired Robin and Carol as a couple way before they got married. They were inseparable and they genuinely loved each other…But I remember Robin’s wedding to Caro in December 2005 with great fun. The wedding committee was chaired by Jim Onyango and I was one of Robin’s groom’s men…you know those guys who wear nice suits and stand behind the main man…everything ran smoothly and when time came for the speeches, the committee chairman was nowhere to be seen to give a vote of thanks for the sterling work of his committee…One Tom Osanjo had whisked the chairman away to an unknown location to go eat but nothing was lost as I stepped in to save the situation…In his traditional smile, Robin laughed off the episode. Robin dearly loved his three children, and he would go to extra length to make sure they were comfortable. They were a constant feature at this great chapel every Sunday.
Many friends who walked the corridors of the Kenya Institute of Mass Communications with Robin seeking journalism training have said how Robin was quick off the blocks to learn the trade and join the working class.
As Mr. Bwire rightly says, we are no longer mourning. We are celebrating the passing on of a professional colleague, a friend, a journalism mentor, a sociable and a cool soul…Rest In Peace Robin Jorum Njogu…You will be greatly missed!