SOLILOQUY. . .
This afternoon, I sat for this exam unit: International Communication. The first question was this: Use examples from the African continent to discuss ways through which international communication has perpetuated media imperialism and dependency.
Well, I had my day in the exam room. Then as I walked out of the exam to catch a bus back to my abode, along the avenues and roads of this city, I stumbled upon newspaper after newspaper – our “national dailies”. As usual, it was either ODM this or Raila that. I still had my exam paper in the hand; so I looked at the question again and tried to contextualise it to the Kenyan experience.
You see, we can divided this country into two: North and South. In international communication, the North represents the developed world; the south the underdeveloped or the developing. Media imperialism as a phenomenon captures media hegemonistic tendencies of the north and how these tendencies affect the south.
In simple terms, it argues that because the developed North ‘owns’ most, IF NOT ALL, international media channels, it follows that that hemisphere dominates the international communication spectrum. This domination is extended to the effects of the Northern media on the southern audiences. In Kenya, this can be argued.
Major media houses are owned by the ‘Northern entrepreneurs’. The kikuyus, the kalenjins, the government and the internationals. What this means is that the North is in charge of the national conversation in the country. What this means is that the south, if it has a story, must first undergo northern editorial fillers (Chomsky) so that the story fits in the particular discourse that the north wants.
It also means that the south cannot set its agenda. The South’s agenda is set by the North. Again, the south cannot “reframe” the agenda set by the North. The South can be called in the after 9.00pm news or the 7.00am show but it can only expound on an agenda set by the North. It can’t reframe that agenda. It can’t change the storyline.
Now, look at all the major newspapers that were read in Kenya today. The North had a field day ‘framing’ ODM. When you read the newspapers nowadays, they leave you with the feeling that ODM is indeed a dead party. That it is one man party. That it is a one region party. That it is one tribe party. You know why? Because ODM is a southern party!
Because opposition is a southern thing! The North can say all these fallacies without feeling ashamed because it controls the media. It owns it….and so it shapes the national discourse. That is how ODM is a dying party. That’s how Raila fixed Uhuru and Ruto at the Hague. That’s how only two communities suffered the post-election violence as the other 40 smiled. That’s how only the two communities can set how the country deals with post-election violence.
If they say its reconciliation, even GOD can’t meddle with justice. That’s why the current discourse is that the South fixed the North in the ICC! The sum of it is that the agenda of this country is being set by the ‘developed’ North.
Do you recall that time they used to say Raila can’t be President because he will be “bad” for our businesses? We cannot trust him with our businesses? That’s the typical North. Now, you will wonder, but DD, some of those bad news from the south are actually prepared by the south. Oh yeah, very true; like in international communication, we also have VERY UGLY famine/hunger/war/ethnic violence or HIV/AIDS news/features that win southern journalists very prestigious Northern Awards, like the CNN Awards.
How do you then get your story told? How does the south gets its story told? Well, I will leave that for the policymakers in the south. I leave it for the social entrepreneurs in the south.
For the activists in the South and the North. For the political leaders in the south. In America, when the “South” realized it could not compete the “North”, it created BET. Earlier, it got Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr killed along the way. Very early, there was Brown Vs Board of Education and Fredrick Douglass. LATER, it got Oprah and BO.
History also show the South pushed for MacBride Commission at the UNESCO in the 1970s. Africa too had “Non-Aligned Movement” and OAU/AU…so lets….[aside] the tout interrupted my thought process asking for transport, Good Night.