Friday, November 02, 2007
President Kibaki And Public Perception
It is said that the late Kwame Nkrumah, the founding father of the Ghanian nation (who went to University in the United States) was a master of “spin”. That is the term used to describe PR practitioner’s re-positioning of news and events to portray a certain desired image.
So good was Nkrumah at the art of spin that even as he enjoyed the trappings of power and behaved more or less like every other despotic African leader, he still managed to get the message across to his people that he was working very hard and making personal sacrifices on their behalf.
Legend has it that during a particularly wild party on the beach, Nkrumah took the time to be captured by cameras on a deserted area of the beach forlorn and deep in thought “carrying the heavy burden of his people.” When that photograph was splashed on the front pages of Ghanaian newspapers, the entire nation was touched and many people persevered in their poverty knowing that somebody was at least trying very hard on their behalf. If only the camera were able to show what was behind the cameraman, Ghanaians would have been shocked at the sheer fraud and manipulation.
American president Richard Nixon was an extreme case when it came to controlling public perception by hook or by crook and was in fact a control freak. For example he illegally crashed a spirited effort by British pop legend ex-Beatles, John Lennon’s peace movement to get many young voter’s across America registered and to basically vote against Nixon’s re-election. One of the “tools’ he used was J Edgar Hoover’s FBI which amongst other things attempted to deport Lennon. It worked and under immense pressure the pop legend abandoned his campaign which would well have changed the course of history.
Now in Kenya for the first time in our history we are faced with a president who is a politician of many years but has no grasp or understanding of how powerful and important public perception is. Or worse still, if he does he doesn’t care.
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Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM