Highland Post bade farewell to its owner and publisher, Readington M Marweiñ, who passed away yesterday after battling Covid-19 for many days at Dr HG Roberts Hospital.
Described as a soft-spoken gentleman by people who knew him, Marweiñ was born in Mawlangwir village, which is now part of South West Khasi Hills district on May 22, 1949. His desire to uplift the Khasi language and his literary instincts prompted him to resign as a peon there and seized the challenge to launch, with his friends, a Khasi newspaper 1989, which was named Mawphor.
His best friend, OL Marbaniang, the former Editor of Mawphor, describes him as a man with grit and determination. “He was determined and not afraid to take risks,” he said. Thus, he began Meda Printing Press in Mawkhar, Marbaniang said, and this was followed by the creation of Mawphor.
In those days Mawphor sold only 50 copies but Marweiñ was unfazed by the loans he had to take to ensure his dream paper benefited the readers of the state. This went on for two years, Marbaniang said, until the first advertisements came in and these allowed Marweiñ to repay all the loans.
Marbaniang recalled how hours-long discussions over cups of tea led to the decision on starting a newspaper in English.
“It was Bah Reading who left me in my office room asking me to work out how to start an English newspaper.
“It is time to begin a newspaper in English by a Khasi, from the heart of a Khasi, and desires of a Khasi, so that the rest of the world understands and knows the thoughts of a Khasi,” were the words of Marweiñ, the former Editor recalled.
When this English newspaper was born, first dubbed Mawphor Today but now Highland Post, in 2008 there was no looking back. He had a dream to also give the Garo community a newspaper in their own language as well. Although this desire was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he was able to see Kosi Songbad to fruition in the weeks before his passing.
Marweiñ was a stalwart who invested and made Khasi journalism something to be reckoned with. From being merely dismissed as a mere “nia Motphran” to the powerful voice it is today, Marweiñ was a home-grown man with no political backing and he built up Mawphor and Highland Post, senior journalist Linda Chhakchhuak said.
Journalists remember him as a man who never interfered with the news. He was a man of integrity and always remained humble.
The Meghalaya Editors’ and Publishers’ Association (MEPA), who Marweiñ was a member of, recalled him as a pioneer in newspaper publication in Meghalaya and a philanthropist who did much for the welfare of society.
Shillong Press Club President, David O Laitphang, said his passing has left a void that will be impossible to fill.
“Your legacy as a pioneer in establishing the vernacular press in the region will never be forgotten and your uncountable acts of philanthropy towards society, cutting across faith, caste or creed, will forever be hard to emulate,” he said.
Meanwhile, condolences to the family poured in from various organisations, like the Khasi Students Union, Federation of Khasi, Jaiñtia and Garo People, Hynñiewtrep Youth Council, Yutip newspaper in Jowai, Media Plus news channel and others.
“We lost a stalwart who contributed immensely to journalism in the State,” – Metbah Lyngdoh, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Speaker
“He was a pioneer that shaped professional journalism in Khasi Hills,” – Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya
“He was a humble entrepreneur who set up a venture that helped to shape Khasi journalism in the State,” – James Sangma, IPR Minister
“Work will never be the same. You are irreplaceable, Maduh Reading. RIP legend,” – Rikynti Marwein, Editor of Highland Post
“A good risk-taker as an entrepreneur who took many bold decisions for the benefit of newspapers and vendors,” – Newspaper Hawkers & Vendors Association