Hos Maina was one of the greatest Kenyan photojournalists. He chronicled the 1982 attempted coup, having been the only photographer in the streets of Nairobi on that tragic morning. He walked around hiding his camera in a kiondo (basket) brimming with vegetables to camouflage his activities from excitable soldiers.
He started off as a sports photographer on the Daily Nation before ending it at the international news agency, Reuters. And such a tragic ending it was. Hos and three colleagues were murdered by an enraged mob in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Monday July 12, 1993.
This is regarded as one of world journalism’s darkest days, memorialised in the Mogadishu Fellowship tenable at the University of Wales, Cardiff. The four were separated from a convoy of media cars as they tried to photograph a United Nations helicopter assault and were attacked by angry locals.
Those killed alongside Hos were fellow Kenyan photographer Dan Eldon and sound technician Anthony Macharia, all of Reuters, and German photographer Hans Krauss of the Associated Press.
Sixty-eight year old Paul Waweru, a veteran photojournalist, said of Hos: “I admired him tremendously. To me he was the best. He was my inspiration. He gave me many tips about photography – he was such a generous man, no considerations of competition whatsoever. He was one man completely free of peer jealousy. He was everybody’s friend. Hos Maina was in a class of his own.”
An obituary in the Independent of London extolled Hos’s virtues: “He was brave. He covered the worst times in Uganda, the civil war in Sudan, the overthrow of President Mengistu in Ethiopia and the civil war in Somalia and the American invasion, and of course the upheavals in his own country, Kenya.”