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I thought Rita Tinina would be my wife – Emmanuel Talaam

The late Rita Tinina, a prolific journalist with a media career spanning decades across various media houses, was buried on March 27, 2024, at her family home in Noosupeni Farm Olokirikirai, Narok County.

She left behind a daughter, Mia Malaika, and her partner, Robert Nagila who is also part of the media fraternity.

Family, friends, colleagues and politicians paid glowing tribute to the late Tinina Yiapan, and among them were messages of condolence from the State House.

Mr Emmanuel Talaam, the Press Secretary at State House gave a condolence message to the Yiapan family in his private capacity and on behalf of President William Ruto and State House staff.

Prior to giving the message, he told off State House aide Dennis Itumbi and Kitui Senator Enock Wambua for speaking about the contentious fertilizer issue of government distributing fake fertilizers made up of sand and donkey dung at the funeral

“For my respect and the love I have for Rita, I will not talk about the issues of fertilizer. I have lost a father myself. Probably, all of us here have lost a parent, friend or sibling. Let me tell you, from my own experience, at a moment like this, nothing else is important. Let us have a little bit of respect. Malkia here does not know anything about fertilizers, Ruto, Wambua or Ole Kina. She wants to be comforted,” began Mr Talaam.

He went on to offer his condolences and paid tribute to the late Rita Tinina Yiapan.

“I am here as Rita’s friend and on behalf State House staff and President William Ruto who sent me with his and his family’s condolences. We pray that the family of Rita to allow us to celebrate this gracious lady. It is painful but allow us to celebrate her. When I received the news of Rita’s death, I asked myself the obvious questions that all of us asked. Why Rita? But then as her friend said, in everything, you give thanks to the Lord.

And because we cannot get the answers, we thank God for the 44 years we had with her. Rita is simply a special person. I have been watching to see if anyone would say anything negative about Rita. I went through all tributes.

For Rita’s friends and family, let me confirm that what they said about her is true. If you were not Rita’s friend, then you are not a good person. There is a problem with you. That is simply Rita. It is difficult not to be Rita’s friend. I worked with her at KTN. She was an amazing person, the most humble reporter I worked with,” said Mr Talaam.

He went on to hail Rita’s humility and work ethics. He further described her as a true professional journalist who was able to conceal her personal opinions from her journalism work. Without intending to offend Robert Nagila (Rita Tinina’s partner), Mr Talaam went on to confess he thought Rita Tinina would end up being his wife, leaving the congregation in a short burst of laughter.

“I wish Eric Latif was here. I have to make a confession before we bury Rita. Robert, you are my brother, take no offense. When Rita came to Kenya Institute of Mass Communication because we joined the same time and same day and same class, I thought she was going to be my wife. She was so beautiful, brown and she was Maasai. I thought I had found a wife. One day she saw I was coming on to her heavily and she warned me saying, ‘Young man, stop your speed. You will get another wife. Let us focus on our education first. We had a programme back then on radio called Love Zone done by Eric Lattif and I’ve come to confess that I was the anonymous guy that sent Rita a special song. A song that I’ve just found that makes sense today. From A Distance. From a distance, Rita has gone to rest, she has gone to be with the Lord, we thank God for her,” added Mr Talaam.

He went on to pass President Ruto’s condolence message to the family and friends of Rita. In the message, Ruto hailed her as an excellent journalist, a rarity in professionalism.

“She will be remembered for telling stories that mattered, that lived beyond the individual. Real stories about the impact of policies on people, stories of triumph and loss. She was a master narrator. A story teller per excellence. My condolences to the family who shared her greatness and may God grant you the strength to share the loss. Be encouraged by the Psalmist who writes, ‘The Lord is close to the heartbroken, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Poleni sana,” said President Ruto in part.

Mr Talaam then went ahead to lead the congregants in a short Swahili hymn, Pamoja Na Wewe.

State House aide Dennis Itumbi also offered his condolences.

“I stand on behalf of the Presidential Communication Service to say poleni sana. We wish to remember Rita as the queen and master of storytelling and stories of truth. There is a verse in Genesis 5:27 that talks about a man called Methuselah. And that is all we know about him.

He was born and lived for 696 years. We know nothing else. We are fortunate to come and say goodbye to Rita who lived 46 years and we come here to say she has done a lot as has been described by various news rooms. And on that,my friends Joe (Nation Media Group), Linus (Royal Media Services) and Ken (Standard Group), the two young men who stood here, their voices and demeanor shows they can join journalism- at the very least, if nothing else, we can give them an internship so that they can start a journey in memory of Rita so that at least in those newsrooms that you have said have now been left empty, we can ensure that the voice of Rita is back,” said Dennis Itumbi, a State House aide.