The reason we must not let Kenya’s mainstream media become the ‘lead antagonist’ in pushing President Uhuru’s regime to rescind its terrible sugar deal is because mainstream media in Kenya is a coffee-tea media. Doesn’t understand a thing about sugar.
The owners of media, and the editors who call shots across Kenya’s mainstream media grew up in coffee-tea zones. Their school fees came from coffee or tea or wheat or pyrethrum etc. In essence, they came from ‘high value’ areas.
They will lead us to ”accept and move on” as they did during the last elections.
In Kenya, the media operates in the classical global north-south media divide. Media production is by the north for the south. Media consumption is by the south.
Kikuyus and Kalenjins operate in the media’s ”north”.
They are the owners and editors. They call the shots. They determine what the country discusses at any time. They determine the time-frame for a newsworthy event. They give stories the ‘frames’ they want people to understand and believe such stories in. They determine the ‘urgency’ and ‘agency’ in any particular story.
And when I talk about kikuyus and kalenjins, I don’t mean the hoi poloi selling rat and rat along Moi Avenue wearing a TNA-branded T-shit. I don’t mean the one on Waiguru’s payroll, collecting garbage in Kibera.
I mean the owners of the means of production (in Das Kapita) and the elites around them. What does the ‘elites’ in the media do? The Gaithos?
Often, they naturally, even without being prodded, defend the government because the government, like themselves, is head-quartered in the ”north”, that is, the government belong to the kikuyu-kalenjin power axis -to them.
So we are faced with a situation where there exists a ”political north” and ”media north”. The political north controls the government. The media north controls the media. What I mean is that the government and the media are headquarted -ideologically- in the same place. They are fraternal, even Siamese, screwed together by same commercial interests, eternally lubricated by ethnicity
The ”south” denotes media consuming communities. The communities whose stories can be written without a byline. The communities who have no control [at all] about what is said about them, when it is said and for how long it is said.
Nothing has exposed this than the sugar conundrum.
Sugar is a ‘southern’ cash crop. It is the lifeline of the southern economy. It is among the critical sectors that if well-managed, and made beneficial, can stop the brain-flight from the ‘south’ to the ‘north’.
It is what should stop dependency -economically – on the north.
It is what should make the south an equal stakeholder in the affairs of this nation to the north.
It is what should close the ‘deadly gap’ President Obama alluded to a few weeks ago.
It is what should educate the south, employ the south, road the south, rail the south, house the south, cure the south of HIV/AIDs, cure the south of Malaria, cure the south of diarrhoea.
It is the coffee of the south, the tea of the south, the wheat of the south, the maize of the south, and the milk of the south.
Sugar is what should give the south its national ‘Mollis Power’.
Sugar is the south and the south is sugar.
Because it is a southern crop -cash crop -it has been difficult for the north-led government and north-controlled media to build sufficient consensus that importing it from Uganda will destroy the very lifeline of a part of this country.
Unlike the northern cash crops; like tea, coffee, maize, wheat, pyrethrum, etc, which is easy to build a consensus on as kenya’s ‘cash crops’, and which the northern government and northern media protects like they do to ethnicity or commercial banks, Sugar has no godfather.
Remember, whenever the media goes to the government (at state house) it is served ‘tea’ – a northern cash crop -not given sugarcane to ‘chew’, or sugar to ‘lick’.
Dikembe is a pro-CORD blogger.