He was everything that a 20th Century parent wanted in their child. The late Hillary Boniface Ng’weno became the first Kenyan to join Harvard University and the first Kenyan to hold a degree in nuclear physics. Contrary to the norms of his times, the Harvard graduate returned to Kenya and found passion in storytelling as a newspaper scribe. He rose in ranks at Daily Nation to become an editor and later founded his own publishing company, Stellescope. Mr. Ng’weno diversified his media empire through publication of the famous Weekly Review and other periodicals including Financial Review, Industrial Review and Rainbow. After 24 years of publishing, he wound up Stellescope in 1999 to launch Kenya’s first independent television news station, STV. He sold STV in 2,000 and reinvested himself as a historian through his award winning documentaries such as The Making of a Nation.
Mr. Hillary Ng’weno had myriad opportunities to live and work abroad but chose to invest his intellectual capital into Kenya and its people. He dared entrepreneurship in an industry he knew nothing about except a passion for writing and shaping opinions. When every media company that had set footprint in Kenya was a “too-big to compete multinational”, the young Mang’u High School alumnus made his moves brilliantly to become a coveted “made in Kenya” media owner. As an editor, he understood the value of coffee in conversations with writers and how a formal outfit world limit the depth of connection between a leader and his teammates.
The industrial journey of Hillary Boniface Ng’weno is one that took paths not travelled before. He made new mistakes and like a caterpillar, he evolved from his enterprise failures as many times as he could. Anytime he sold his business, he never asked how much a seller was willing to pay, but why they wanted to buy. He understood that he was the most important asset in his businesses except for being a mortal being. Hillary wielded power through his work and used it to pioneer journalism that constructs government and governance. Mr. Ng’weno lived to his aspirations. When he died in July 2021, his legacy challenged many journalists to think beyond the newsroom and scientists to reimagine art. His portrait remains an icon on Kenya’s wall of fame and his name a household brand in Africa’s journalism.