Just yesterday a friend whom I have always known as a voracious reader so much so that I have always aspired to be like her when I grow up made a confession that hit me pretty hard.
She said that Twitter has effectively killed her reading habit.
It immediately hit me that she is not alone. Short attention spans, impatience when reading or viewing anything is old news to the media because it is something that they are grappling with every day to remain successful and reach the numbers they need to reach to make their business models work. The media will get even more boring with the passing of the new media bill.
And so it is hardly surprising that hardly anybody (apart from those affected which is a tiny fraction of Kenyans) is paying attention to the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013. The title alone is really, really boring. But trust me, this new proposed law (which has been carefully camouflaged by the new media bill) is a killer. Forget the media bill as draconian as it is, this one is the mother of all maliza kabisa bills.
Kindly brace yourself and ignore the pain in your brain as you shift to thinking mode for just 2 minutes.
The Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013, published on October 30, seeks to cap the amount of foreign funds NGOs can get to a mere 15 per cent of their entire budget. A vast majority of these important organizations are 100% donor funded. In the new Bill NGOs will only get more than the 15 per cent of their budget from foreign countries if they demonstrate extraordinary circumstance why they require the funds. And that is not all. Even then, the extra funds will have to be channeled through a federation.
Kenya as a country today would NOT be where it is without our vibrant civil society. In case you did not know it, those are the guys who wrote most of the constitution and pushed for crucial changes to the way we are governed.
A significant amount of donor funds in the country comes in through NGOs and so you can be sure that if this becomes law it will affect the economy and make life even more difficult for Kenyans who are already struggling.
So somebody wants to shut down both the media and civil society in quick succession?
What evil would they have planned for the long suffering Kenyan people many of whom are now busy on twitter and Facebook in an effort to make life just a little more bearable?
Thank you if you if you read this far and do your country a favour and raise the alarm on your twitter or Facebook account. And do tell them to remind the last people who will be leaving Kenya to remember to switch off the lights.