The Department of Media & Communications holds second commemoration of Joe Kadhi

By Walter Ngano

Media and Communication students, faculty, and alumni from USIU-Africa came together to hold the second Joe Kadhi commemoration event at the SHSS rooftop on November 30. The annual event was organized by students of the JRN3911 Principles of Public Relations class lectured by Prof Robi Koki Ochieng. Present were veteran Kenyan journalists who worked and interacted with the late Joe Kadhi as well as members of Joe Kadhi’s family.

Attendees had the chance to reminisce about their experiences with the media great and impart the lessons they learned from him onto the students who are the next generation of journalists in Kenya. Joe Kadhi, a veteran journalist whose career spanned over 60 years was known for his hard-hitting stance on journalism whose foundation was built on sound ethics and principles. His famous quote, “publish and be damned” echoed around the room as every speaker reiterated this as the map that guided them in their journey in the world of journalism.

The event began with opening remarks by the Acting Dean in the School of Communication, Cinematic and Creative Arts (SCCCA) Professor Serede who welcomed everyone present. This was swiftly followed by remarks by Professor Kihara who represented the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Lola Odubekun. He marveled at the work being done by the Media and Communications Department in organizing such an event and encouraged students and faculty to keep up the good work. A brief period of entertainment soon followed with Spontaneous the Poet showcasing her strong oratory skills to the audience.

Sylvia Pereruan, the MC for the day guided attendees to the next session which was tributes to the late Joe Kadhi. Professor Isaiah Cherutich, a faculty member in the Department read out a speech that detailed the life and times of Joe Kadhi; from his upbringing in Majengo, his work in the media industry that saw him work for various publications such as Sauti ya Mwafrika, Sauti ya Kanu, Mfanya Kazi and The East African that culminated in him working for Nation Media Group until his retirement in the early 1990s, and his work in media training and mentorship that led to him being a journalism lecturer in USIU-Africa. He highlighted Joe Kadhi’s role in the development of the journalism program in the university that has birthed prominent journalists such as John-Allan Namu, Asha Mwilu and Abdi Latif Dahir who have all made their mark in the profession.

A panel discussion that comprised of veteran journalists such as Patrick Ngugi, Paul Kilemba, Owino Opondo, administrative leaders in journalism such as William Oloo-Janak who is the chairman of the Kenya Correspondents Association and Professor Daniel Omondi who is a faculty member in the Media and Communications Department and an alumnus soon followed. Panelists described their experiences and memories of the late Joe Kadhi and held a discussion about the state of journalism today and what can be done to improve it. The panelists emphasized the monstrous impact that the godfather of print media had on journalism. Joe Kadhi was hailed as a pioneer in the advocacy for press freedom and was seen as the blue print for professionalism and upholding of ethical standards in media. His famous column in the Nation, ‘Joe asks why?’ a commentary on socio-economic and political issues was mentioned severally as what drew the panelists to journalism. To the journalism students present, the panelists stressed upon the need to adopt a reading culture and have a thirst for information that would enable them to have a grasp on global affairs and build their knowledge hub. They maintained that the dynamic nature of profession is something that the aspiring journalists would need to embrace and adapt to.

Members of Joe Kadhi’s family - his daughter Maria and two grandsons, Joe and Frank lauded the event and described it as a very proud moment for their family. Joe read out a speech by Mohammed Kadhi, the son of Joe Kadhi which was an encouragement and call to action to the journalism students to ensure that they remain steadfast in their work in the industry and maintain the necessary ethics and principles his late dad strived so hard to build.

The event concluded with an awards ceremony where the most outstanding male and female students were recognized. These two students were nominated by their fellow students in a poll. Walter Ngano, a journalism student heading into his senior year walked away with the Male Journalist of the year award while Donna Morara, a senior student was awarded the Female Journalist of the year.

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