Hilary Ng’weno

Retired Kenyan journalist

It is extremely nostalgic to think of Terry Hirst, Kenya’s greatest cartoonist and artist. 1973 was the year that Terry, who had earlier helped us in the promotion of some of our Cinevision films, and I started a humour magazine that we called Joe. Our aim was to look at the humorous side of politics and Kenyan life in general. And I must say the magazine introduced Kenyans to a kind of humour that had not been featured in the country’s media publications before.

And thanks to Terry, the magazine also laid the foundations for newspaper cartooning in Kenya. His work encouraged younger artists to venture into the world of humour and satire. Most of Kenya’s cartoonists today have been influenced if not inspired by Terry’s work.  And it was not only Kenyans who were impressed by Terry’s work. On April 26 1975 the New York Times carried a story about Joe with a headline saying ‘HUMOR MAGAZINE SUCCESS IN KENYA’. The New York Times reporter wrote: ‘Joe first surfaced in 1967 when Mr. Ng’weno and Mr. Hirst started a humor column “With a Light Touch” for readers of the Daily Nation, a mass circulation tabloid that sells throughout eastern Africa. Soon Joe was amusing, exasperating and stimulating the public. His pronouncements on politics, sex, scandal and inflation were soon being related on the cocktail circuit and even in Parliament.’  Without Terry I would not have started The Weekly Review. He gave me a sense of journalistic and publishing professionalism that I did not have before, even though I had been the first editor in chief of the Nation group of newspapers ten years earlier. And most important he was a lovable friend whose company while we worked together on Joe magazine made a big difference to my life. He was a legend and his legacy will live on forever.

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