NAIROBI, Kenya, September 9- Tributes continue to pour for one of Kenya’s most revered sports writers, Oscar Pilipili, who penned his final byline in the early hours of Tuesday morning at a Nairobi hospital.
If Oscars were awarded for sports writing in Kenya, he would undoubtedly be among the multiple Academy Award winners.
Pilipili, a veteran of over a decade and a half in the trade, made his name in The Standard newspaper where he distinguished himself as a prolific writer especially in reportage of so called fringe sports, volleyball, hockey and school games.
His last assignment was the Brookside sponsored East Africa School Games in Tanzania that concluded recently where once again, he kept his audience abreast with the action on and off the pitch.
“Upon his return, he was admitted to hospital last week and he looked to be on the path to recovery and this news is not only shocking but unbelievable,” his contemporary at The Standard, Gilbert Wandera, told Capital Sport as the news of his untimely demise added the chill on a cold Tuesday morning in the Kenyan capital where he was based.
Throughout the day, media colleagues and others paid homage to the fallen writer who went about his duties quietly; a trait that perhaps saw him celebrated less in a profession that he leaves a large void to fill.
“My first ever contact with The Standard Newspaper when I was tarmacking, Oscar Pilipili, is no more. He was such a graceful and humble character. Sadly, he passed away this Tuesday morning at Jamaa Mission Hospital at 8:15am.
“Together with his lovely family and relatives, we have removed his body to Chiromo Parlour. The Standard Group is in touch with the family while Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) is also in touch. May God rest his soul in eternal peace. More info to follow,” the Associate Editor of Game Yetu, a Standard Group sports’ weekly Robin Toskin, wrote on his Facebook wall.
His colleague, Jonathan Komen, added: “It sad day for me to lose a colleague and a friend Oscar Pilipili. He taught me how to cover volley when we covered the Kenya Volleyball Federation League in Eldoret in 2009.
“He then guided me into covering the national secondary schools games that year. By then, he was in Standard and I worked for Daily Nation. In 2012, he welcomed me to the Standard Group in Nairobi. It’s sad that Oscar passed on when I still needed him most -to help me in a number of sports disciplines including cricket and golf. Rest in peace Oscar.”
The official SJAK Facebook page was turned into a tribute wall with hundreds of messages for Oscar or as he was better known in his circles, ‘Kaos’ or ‘Lipilipi’.
“R.I.P Oscar Pilipili. On many occasions we covered volleyball together, and you were so helpful. Fare thee well my brother,” Steve Mudiari wrote.
“Like the ripples in a pond, the work of one man can spread out and touch the lives of many others. RIP Oscar Pilipili,” added Edith Ochoa while Isaac Swila posted; “May Oscar Pilipili’s soul rest in Eternal Peace. Fare Thee Well.”
“He was humble, quiet, never shouted and always listened…then his infectious smile. He must be with angels,” Evelyne Ogutu offered as former Standard photographer now with the Nation, Martin Mukangu eulogized, “A dedicated sports journalist. I have covered numerous assignments with him a humble gentleman. Rip brother.”
Former Gor Mahia secretary general, George Bwana wrote, “Rest In Peace Oscar Pilipili…May God console your family,” while Football Kenya Federation sent a statement from their president, Sam Nyamweya.
“I learnt of his demise with profound shock. I knew Pilipili was a very dedicated sports Journalist who adhered to professional ethics in the career.
“Pilipili’s death has robbed the sports fraternity a dedicated servant and called on the Almighty God to give his family strength in this trying time. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Nyamweya said.
Others shared moving anecdotes they shared with the veteran journalist including the Sports Editor of Nation, Allan Buluku, another former colleague at The Standard.
“When I started editing eight years ago, the first volleyball story Murithi Mutiga (former Standard Editor) gave me to sub at The Standard was by Oscar Pilipili. He was a polished writer and a quiet, hardworking man. He never raised his voice. Till we meet again, RIP,” Buluku wrote.
Pilipili was also a long-serving Public Relations Officer of the Kenyan Volleyball Federation.
RIP soldier, life can be so mean but we’re all heading towards that journey. An era in sport journalism has written its final byline. Though not universally acclaimed as he should, the quiet gentle man was a titan in sports writing.