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Life Reflections

Africans need to objectively shape their narrative

By February 12, 2022June 6th, 2023No Comments

February 11, 2022

The sabre-rattling between the West and Russia sends shivers down the spine of every peace-loving person. We, innocents of the sunny centre of the earth, Africa, are perplexed as to why both parties cannot respect the sovereignty of Ukraine and all live, and let live.

Russia says it has genuine reasons to be concerned, seeing its arch-enemy, the West, trying to pitch camp in, or be puppeteer of, its next-door neighbour, Ukraine. Western countries say they are scared of letting a belligerent Russia grow its influence when they are literally within seconds of nuclear-bomb striking distance.

Unfortunately, if the two parties were to go beyond locking horns to nuclear-tussling it out, the dust of their nuclear exchange would cover us all into a blanket of poisoned extinction.

However, long in the tooth as we are, we know nothing will come of the sabre-rattling. They were at it before we saw the light and they’ll be at it long after our sun has set.

Neither party would be left unscathed, anyway.

But we cannot know the true details of what’s happening because we see the situation through the prisms of our colonial heritage. We are likely to be biased because we follow the situation through Western media. Our views are shaped by our pro- or anti-West stance.

Africans, what curses have been cast us that we cannot shape our own thought? If there are any continental news outlets, they are in the form of two or three journals.

There are media personalities of integrity, true, but how many will you find who are not influenced by media houses like AP, AFP, Reuters, BBC, VOA, DW, the catalogue?

Half a century after self-rule, it’s a shame that Africa is still shackled to mind-benders of yesteryears who continue to shape our worldview. It’s as if we are still chained together and being led, sheep-like, to go where Master chooses. To chorus “Ndiyo, Bwana!”, when Master says “You are all, without exception, robbers, killers, villains…”

Nonetheless, in our East African Community (EAC) home, we must thank The East African weekly for its effort in feeding us with reasonably objective news.

Only that, seeing as the Nation Media Group (NMG), parent to The East African, is privately owned, we must be wary of an editorial line that might bend towards the owners before us, EAC citizens. A reason the region’s constituent governments should have picked up the gauntlet and put their voice together to enjoin it with that of the NMG.

That, of course, would mean the governments literally – not figuratively – putting their money where their mouth is, which is probably why some of them will develop cold feet. Being mikono gamu (miserly), to some of them the word ‘spend’ is anathema because they only yearn for freebees. Investment practice is alien to them.  

It’s a sad affair. Because the NMG effort should have been seized upon as a springboard to build a truly robust media house to strengthen The East African even if it meant swallowing up the newspapers in different countries. From that springboard involving EAC countries, the region can set up its own Al Jazeera, again to swallow up NMG’s TV stations in different EAC countries.

Other integrated regions can follow suit and thus we’ll be unchained from dependence on western media feeds. Imagine the ignominy of relying on them for news on our own countries or our neighbours that are eager to join the EAC; Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, etcetera.

With such a private-public owned conglomerate, given a free hand in editorial line and all forms of material means, we can have true investigative and photojournalists (remember the late Kenyan Mohamed Amin?) who can immerse themselves into a situation like the Ethiopian internecine war.

When the true extent of the nature of any situation is unravelled to us, we can form an informed opinion and know where to lay blame. Then it’ll be bye to biases fashioned by far-flung opinion hawkers for our consumption.

Our own empowered journalists can easily expose an EAC member playing tricks za ujinga to a fellow member, without us waiting for BBC’s ‘exposés’. They can even go as far as Ukraine.

Still, let’s give it to The East African, even as it is, for having some of the best columnists.

Problem is, even among them you’ll always see that Western biased blanket of denigrating all African countries as if they are one “sh……hole” country. My favourite one even challenged us to give him one country – one, surely? – among all the 55 that’s not governed by a thief!

With all due respect, I’d point out a number. There are star-performer African leaders begging to be understood after clear-headed inquiry, devoid of Western noises that cloud our minds.  

True and objective investigative journalism can help exhibit these countries’ rise thanks to their honest-to-goodness leaderships. Mauritius, Botswana, Seychelles, Rwanda, Namibia, Cape Verde and, on the way, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, in all fairness, cannot be said to be products of thieving leaderships.

Study these countries’ speed of rise and you might not only revise the order of this list but also see that they are way far from being fiefdoms of robber-rulers.

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