Hypocrisy is for David Ohito of the Standard Newspaper to ask President Obama what he (America/International community) can do to improve ‘media freedom’ in Kenya and other African countries and stop jailing of journalists.
I call it hypocrisy because more often, in Kenya, whenever ‘the people’ have ganged up to protect journalists from the government, journalists have ganged up to protect the government from the people. This can be said of several countries in Africa.
President Barack Obama cannot come in your newsrooms to tell you what questions to ask political leaders and other democracy players. Obama cannot constantly help you frame the issues affecting your countries.
Obama cannot protect you from NOT asking Isaack Hassan of IEBC a single question in 2013.
Mr Ohito, Kenya is very safe for journalists. That’s because it has no need to take you to Industrial Area.
Look at it this way, you hold Editor’s Guild elections. Money changes hands. Hands exchanges money. In the end, you elect a Linus Kaikai -a government public relations journalist to head the Editor’s Guild.Two days later, you give the political opposition a blackout when culminating a month long people driven initiative on the need for national dialogue. You tell the people it was not ‘newsworthy’.
Many of your proteges make fun of this national dialogue initiative, asking irrelevant questions loaded with second names. One of your top voices, Macharia Gaitho, even go ahead to rile it as a manifest failure – a ‘damp squib’.
It is not giving the opposition a media blackout that deeply infuriates, it is weakening democracy in Kenya. When you tilt political discourses in favour of the regimes you work under, and serve zealously, you help create fiefdoms and tyrannies that eat everyone up.
Then, realizing its your turn to be eaten, you ask Obama to protect you -journalists and your cohorts across Africa. You actively keep in power regimes which can barely protect you, then you ask Obama to protect you.That’s hypocrisy Mr. Ohito, that’s hypocrisy sir.
Now, I am not saying you pander to the opposition. You shouldn’t. What I am saying is that media in Africa must form alliances with people of Africa, in Africa.
I am saying you don’t just bog us down with ‘regime photos’ and ‘regime stories’. Regime stories don’t need protection. Regime photos, when they appear in your front pages, are ‘cool’.
But when you tell us about deals and goodies, for instance, from the US-Africa summit, one of which being the Power Africa deal, and, even before the dust settles, you hear the US is moving their headquarters from Kenya to South Africa, then you should go back and dig more of your ‘diplomatic triumph’ stories. You should tell us more about the photos.
Hypocrisy is to tell us what Michelle and Obama served President Uhuru for dinner, and not tell us what America served Kenya for breakfast and lunch! Mr. Ohito, that’s hypocrisy!
Now we are engaged in another ‘we the people’ initiative. Has it received the kind of media attention that it requires? Yesterday, another referendum push was ‘officially launched’, what page of your newspaper did you chronicle it? How did you ‘frame it’ to your viewers and readers?
Will it ‘affect investors’? Will it scare away tourists? This is how you covered the national dialogue initiative. You made it look so dangerous in the eyes of the public, especially kenya’s famed ethnic public, that a ritual at Uhuru Park left some seventy hens – mostly from central kenya – dead, with their blood sprinkled all over.
President Obama cannot protect Africa’s journalists from their own idiosyncrasies.
This post appeared on blogger Dikembe Disembe’s Facebook account.