By Gabriel Oguda
IM currently reading an article saying that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, has given the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations 14 days to provide “clarification and additional information” on the Eurobond investigation files. The EACC had earlier recommended that the file be closed after interviewing more than 30 government officials, concluding that no money was lost or laws broken in the Eurobond transactions.
This is the news we’ve all been waiting for.
Allow me to say something.
There is a small yellow book I bought from Amazon last week. It is titled ‘Power & Betrayal In The Canadian Media’, by David Taras. I honestly do not know why I bought this book, but when it landed on my lap, I have never put it down. This book attempts to explore the reasons why mainstream media behaves the way they do.
I will put my hands up and say I am one of the many Kenyans who are overwhelmed with this Eurobond issue. I am a career researcher, and I am trained to dig for information even where there is none. But when that information comes with computing figures, I am always at a loss. I took up Accounting as a subject when I was in Form 3, and when I realised I was fooling myself, I dropped it for History. I am not one to chase lost causes. It is therefore, understandable, when this Eurobond stuff suffocates me. The amounts of money being bandied around is mind-boggling.
For the son of a peasant farmer who paid school fees with dry maize, $1Billion looks like I could buy the whole planet earth and still got enough to haggle with the aliens in Mars for a few plots, just in case North Korea decides to test those nuclear warheads on Mother Earth.
There is this young boy called Larry Madowo, who, last week, turned into a financial Professor and dismissed Raila Odinga’s Eurobond evidence as a ‘fart’. I am told Larry Madowo runs a show every Friday evening that is meant to bring all socialites together under one roof. One highly-rated evening, I am told, he brought one of the top socialites on set and they took one and half hours discussing bleaching cream and domestic cats. I am also told young Kenyans love the show, and that elevates Larry Madowo to a demigod status.
Which brings me to my beef with the Kenyan media on this Eurobond issue.
I was brought up to believe that the media exists to do three things; to; (i) educate, (ii) inform, and (iii) entertain. If you ask any random Kenyan today whether they feel sufficiently educated by the talk-shows and programmes running on our media today they’ll deliver a resounding NO. All our media do nowadays is to stick to the ordinary; which is recycling Mexican and Naija movies as they feed us off trending topics that went stale on twitter three weeks ago.
If the Kenyan media were to face a panel of University Professors on the content they, these days, air, all of them – bar one – will be locked in for plagiarism. It is a pity there are people in this country who get paid top-dollar just for reading for us what was trending on twitter and recycling cat videos posted on YouTube a million years ago. These people, in the foregoing, would be expected not to open their foul mouths on serious matters like the Eurobond theft. But if you are Larry Madowo, more more famous for his shaolin head than his academic clout, and you are God’s gift to Kenyan viewers, you wouldn’t shut up even when you know your brain matter is slowing decomposing.
And you wonder why I haven’t tuned into local television channels since this year began. And I am not alone.
What this country has become right now, as the renowned American media scholar, Robert Entman, has consistently argued, is a “Democracy Without Citizens”. People are so turned-off, tuned-out, uninformed, and uninterested that they are no longer an important element in the political system. When young boys like Larry Madowo are the people Kenyans rely on for expert advise on weighty matters like the Eurobond scam, it becomes an insult to financial experts who have dedicated their time and resources to unearth the paper trail.
So, where is the ordinary citizen?
Roderick Hart, of the University of Texas, explains, and I quote, that “one of the subtlest effects of watching television shows is that it gives viewers the feeling that someone else is minding the store and that they, consequently, can turn to other pursuits.”
The ‘ordinary Kenyan’ has put too much trust on the Kenyan media that they, by and large, will tend to believe what they are told. The media knows this power they wield over the masses, and they strive to use it to their advantage. The citizens have no resources at their disposal to dig deep into this Eurobond stuff and separate the real chaff from the Larry Madowo’s ‘fart’.
Which is why the ‘ordinary Kenyan’ must now step up to the plate, and refuse to smell Nation Media Group’s ‘fart’, passed on as expert opinion.
This week, in 1883, President Theodore Roosevelt delivered the most profound speeches any American President has ever done. The Speech, titled “The Duties of American Citizenship”, delivered at Buffalo Springs, New York, went into the core issue of why intelligent men – who got an upright upbringing – are being prevailed upon by ‘farting’ villagers with a microphone – like that young boy Larry Madowo.
Teddy Roosevelt says, and I quote; “The first duty of an American citizen, then, is that he shall work in politics. It ought to be axiomatic in this country that every man must devote a reasonable share of his time to doing his duty in the political life of the community. The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community.”
Which is why all Kenyans of goodwill must now rise up and demote media pin-heads, like that young boy Larry Madowo, to the public opinion trashcan. If we leave matters of national importance to young village boys excited with hosting third-grade political shows, then we, as a country, will be leaving our country free for all.
If Dedan Kimathi knew that he’d die for young boys like Larry Madowo to ‘fart’ on the intelligence of Kenyans, he would have, I hypothesise, called off the fight for independence and let everyone shoulder the colonial ‘fart’ and the attendant ‘shit’ that came with it.
Too many mics, too many ‘farting’ emcees.
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