Never has there been a time in Kenya’s history when the press has been needed so badly in the service of our beloved bleeding nation.
Yet when you read our daily newspapers carefully you will quickly notice that something is very wrong somewhere.
A few days ago ECK chair Samuel Kivuitu called a press conference to announce that somebody had forged his signature and issued a paid advert of the presidential elections, which Kivuitu knew nothing about. By the way everybody seems to have missed the point that if what the ECK chairman is saying is true, a criminal offence has been committed. Still the suspects in this case will never ever be arrested or charged in court. That's Kenya's highly selective justice for you.
But I digress. My point is that the Kivuitu story was not published by the Daily Nation. My question is why? Even if Kivuitu is now a mental case, this was still front page news. So why was it not published? Later I was informed that the story was published on page 9. In my edition of Daily Nation, purchased outside Nairobi, there is no such story on page 9. But if I may ask another question, if indeed the story was published in some editions, why page 9? Why not the front or back page or the very least page 2 or 3? Wasn't it important?
And there are plenty of other examples where our press has remained mum even as the country staggers on the edge of an abyss that drops straight into the horrors of hell itself. Of course the excuse everybody is using these days is that they do not want to incite. Phrases like responsible journalism are used a lot, even in this blog by our critics who incidentally insist on keeping on reading this blog full of alleged propaganda instead of moving on and shutting up. Common sense dictates that if a blog is spewing lies and propaganda all the time, then it will die a natural death as readers shun it. However our traffic figures have been climbing steeply because not only do we seem able to predict things accurately but we say it as it is.
Judging from the steep rise in our readership since the press in Kenya went quiet and became an extension of government in-house publications, another blogger would have used this post to thank the press and tell them, na mkae hivyo hivyo.
In many ways let me be the first to admit that this post is rather naive in many ways. Firstly it ignores the high stakes game being played behind the scenes. We know that Americans are doing one thing in public and quite another in private. In fact they are amongst the international powers fully backing Kibaki and giving him that so-much-confidence look. Or as my friends in the estate would put it; that mta-do? look.
It also ignores the fact that the Kibaki administration went out of its’ way to ensure full control of the press right from day one. Apart from the record number of bills touching on the media that were presented in the 9th parliament, it is believed that State House influenced the appointment of a very senior executive in the Nation group who in fact comes from the President’s home district. Little wonder that despite having some of the best staff in the region and beyond, the Daily Nation in the last few weeks has sadly degenerated to a shadow of its’ old self. It is now difficult to tell how much of it is due to “state control” and how much of it is voluntary self censorship.
My message to the dear members of the fourth estate is this; how will history judge you? What will they say the press were doing in Kenya when the nation was facing its’ most serious crisis ever?