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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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7 comments:

Taabu said...

Yes successful politics is all about perception. You attempt one noble task and magnify it with the right words and actions and done you are home and dry. Just ask Alistair who helped package Blair making him SO BIG that US needed Tony very badly.

Spin doctors are a must for any politician. Madam President Johnson of Liberia made history in being Africa's first head of state partly due to her perfect spin. When she faced run off with the POPULAR Weah, she brough in a Professor from the US who had studied Liberia from the 60s. She only stuck to saying what was necesaary and told so by her spin doctor. End result? Weah never was shocked to see a valanche of own goals scored by his hitherto dribbling supporters.

Back home Emilio is a slave of his successful past. The guy always had people do the dirty work for him only to come and give it an elitist sheen. Only now is he reckoning first hand with his campaigns.

Kibaki rever climbed down (spin) from boardroom (lecture) to grassroots. He may be forgiven for imagining that the hollipoloi are not worth attention. He is learning yes but it may be a case of too little too late.

Not that he has no spin doctors. He has them in plenty but he is strong headed and immersed in misplaced pride of brilliance of the 60s.

The Mutua's of this world can only damage control but can't be proactive hence their frequent reactions. Poor Msafiri (that is the Friday feature column Alfi used to pen for the Nation newspapers).

Proud Kikuyu Woman said...

Wow, three lengthy posts to make one point. Wapi huyo Steadman? Lets wait and see what huyo Steadman atasema next, maybe it'll add credibility to your research.Or better still, lets wait till Dec 27 and do it ourselves.

Proud Kikuyu Woman said...

Taabu,
I've waited and waited for your defection watch column to publish Cyrus Jirongo's defection to the horseless camp. Are you taking your time or is it a case of amnesia? Selective memory or choosy eyesight?

Taabu said...

PKW almost there. I am on the highway and wil do the needful lest you kick ma ....No amnesia dear.

kalamari said...

I could be wrong but I have a feeling that PNU+ODM-K supporters are sheepishly eyeing the election date with guilty glee. To them, the end justifies means. As all Kenyans (KTN watchers or not), they can see the vote rigging machinations already in place, however, they remain silent and hesitant to voice concern lest they jeopardize the status quo. To these sinning bradas and sistas, "May he who has not sinned cast the first stone". Such has been their way of defending and justifying Kibakis corruption scandals e.t.c. and it will continue to be their defense throughout this elections. To them, if Kibaki was CEO of Anglo-Leasing, Raila was mastermind of the Molasses scandal that never was. If Kibaki was the bringer of mercenaries, Raila was the general of the 1982 coup attempt (which we all now know should really have been successful). It is with these same sentiments that they approach the atrocities being committed against the Kenyan voter prior to election day. To them anything that gives Kibaki an edge is fair game and must be protected when imposssible to deny. After all, what is Raila crying about right now when he will in fact, if he makes President, scuttle opposition efforts in 2012.

Can any of these jamaas please tell me what in their honest opinion has Kibaki done to ensure a free and fair election? Why should some of us insist on complacency when what we've fought for since the days of Matiba goes up in flames.

Vikii said...

No Kalamari, it is you who needs to tell us what Kibaki has done to frustrate free and fair elections. Mwai Kibaki is a candidate and when you talk of him ensuring free and fair elections I laugh. He has done it by ensuring above-average economic management so that the Electoral Commission is well facilated resource-wise. He has also appointed new Electoral Commissioners as mandated by the constitution. These commissioners are the ones who will oversee the elections. He has publicly expressed his wish for a fair elections and promised that in the unlikely event that he loses, he will graciously accept the verdict of Kenyans. What else did you expect him to do?

Kalamari, it is you and fellow ODMers who are SHEEPISHLY echoing the sentiments of those who have nothing to say, People who so passionately cherish being in front of cameras saying absolutely nothing. Samuel Kivuitu, an epitome of integrity, has just fallen short of calling these shouters lunatics. He euphemised that with "people making wild allegations".

Will those talking about rigging tell me what informs their fears? Please tell me. We have all along known when the contracts of each commissioner will expire. We have also been perfectly aware that there are two options available to the contracting parties at the expiry of those contracts: Renew them (Mutually) or an expression of willingness by one of the parties to opt out. Why did we not question this when the contracts were signed? I think Kenyans, Kalamari included, need to back their argument with some reason. Some of the arguments advanced by you fellows are just out of the sea, the kind that is so laughably retarded.

Chris, are you expecting the president to reverse his constitutional decisions because some 19 KTN watchers in Kibera believe he is out to do mischief? You people want the president to take instructions from some imposters but that will not happen. I am actually happy that he doesnt consider some of these little games worth playing.

luke said...

what PNU/ODM/ODM K parties are failing to realise is that through these and many other mighty goofs in the past they are reminding voters how UNworthy they(parties and candidates) are of winning these upcoming general elections. Given the fact that all 3 political parties represent no REAL change whatsoever for Kenyans, it is with disappointment that we the voters have to listen to them spin pretence in order to try and convince us that they have come up with something new because the same old questions of corruption and lack of integrity haunts all of the so-called big 3.
Anyway, when all is said and done, every goof and political blunder they have committed must be swallowed whole by the electorate, turning a blind eye to consequences and feelings of guilt and remorse to vote for them because there is no one else (no brand new leaders and politicians from the next generation) to fill their shoes

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