NAIROBI, Kenya, August 27- The Kenyan sporting fraternity was thrown into grief on Tuesday when the eyes of the doyen of sports writing, Hezekiah Wephukulu, shut for the last time at a Nairobi hospital as August upheld its cruel reputation as the darkest month for the country’s most recognised.
The passing of the veteran scribe who at his heyday, was the final word on all matters football in the country ended a distinguished career that spurned over four decades, his mighty pen churning thousands of articles for the Daily Nation and publications affiliated to the paper.
Hez as he was referred among his peers traversed the ages of the typewriter to the iPad, black and white print to full colour and backwater treatment of local sport to the rise of publications wholly devoted to his passion.
Following his death at Kenyatta National Hospital, tributes began pouring in from all corners of the nation; with the social media network he was averse to its use providing a fitting condolence book.
“Mzee Hez as he was popularly known was a polished football writer and in a class of his own. He is regarded as the best sports writer a feat that saw him win several awards.
“His many years as a football writer he has covered football matches from yester years and he saw the birth of football in Kenya as it transited from the colonial era,” Football Kenya Federation boss, Sam Nyamweya, said in his message of condolences.
“We all read his contribution for the Daily Nation ‘down memory lane ‘as he gave us a glimpse of football’s past.
“It is indeed a great loss not only to his family and many friends from the fourth estate but to all Kenyans,” he added in reference to the fiery AFC Leopards supporter who no doubt must have been outraged by his team tossing away a 2-0 lead against their archenemies, Gor Mahia to draw 2-2 on Sunday.
Fellow scribes, many who grew up reading his witty, articulate and sharp pieces were quick to pay homage to the icon that sadly, spent the last years of his life battling poverty as a nation abandoned one of her most prolific sons.
“Another great Sports journalist fallen! RIP Hezekiah Wepukhulu, the mobile Kenyan football recorder,” former colleague at Nation Media Group and now a reporter for Sports News Arena, Evelyn Watta wrote on Face Book.
“RIP Hez, your works inspired me to take up Sports Journalism as a career and I don’t regret it,” Jeff Kinyanjui posted.
“Sad to hear veteran Sports writer Hezekiah Wepukhulu has passed on…Hez had 40+ years experience as a writer. May your soul rest in peace Hez,” was Michelle Katami, a television reporter and producer offering.
“RIP Mzee Hezekiah Wepukhulu……u inspired many. To colleague Ken Nato…take heart,” his colleague at Nation, Odindo Ayieko, stated as he consoled his scion who followed his father’s giant footsteps to the Aga Khan owned outfit before switching to the People Daily where he continues to write on football and athletics.
While sports journalist today enjoy favourable terms, Wephukulu and his contemporaries worked in an era where passion overrode the take home package, a factor that left most of that gifted generation with little to count on in later life.
However, they did give rise to an age where sports writing was unparalleled, respected and above all, incisive where issues superseded colour during the time where Kenyan sport enjoyed a period of unmatched success.