MY FREEDOM TO COMMENT


Someone told me that Kenya has among the most liberal press in Africa.  I question it, knowing they are in the middle of the pack when it comes to press freedom statistic. Self censure is prevalent due to heavy-handed quick libel suit from politicians, some articles are self-serving and propaganda put up by influential Public Relations Company.

 I read that the Kenyan penal code on defamation  “offers special protection to foreign princes, the President, Cabinet Ministers and Parliament.” It is strange to me that people making news can heavily be protected in adverse situation.

In 2006 the Standard newspaper in Kenya was raided by armed men, in 2007 the media self censured itself and provided scant reporting on the elections chaos, Media workers are imposed heavy fine in defamation cases and the list is long and even mention beheading of a reporter looking into police corruption.

Some editorial and opinion pieces, in the main Kenyan newspapers the Nation and the Standards, are excellent but at time titillate and stop at the crucial moment when you need to know more. They won’t tell you more because the laws do not give enough protection to be direct so metaphors takes over.  The consequences, maybe, are a visit by higher authorities or threatening phone calls.  It is understandable, since media people have families too and they must make a living.

I especially love the Daily Nation newspaper cartoons by Gado and I wish he would get more world recognition for his work in that field.  The man is engaged and his drawings are sarcastic and caustic, my type of pleasure, to the point.

I love well executed cartoons as they express the sentiments of a mass.  Some are outrageous, extreme and irreverent as in the French satirical newspapers Charlie Hebdo and Le Canard Enchaîné but still a delight to explore.

In Africa, Gado is at par with Zafiro, my favorite, of South Africa and Ali Dilem the extreme caustic cartoonist from Algeria. Both Zafiro and Dilem got in trouble with their respective government.

So I read, via the net, The Daily Nation and the Standard newspapers from Kenya and many others from the African continents. I do comment on articles of interest in a nice way or, I cannot help it, in a belligerent way. Then I noticed one thing, for a while, my comments seemed to have been banned from The Daily Nation Newspaper. I checked and rechecked and all my comments have disappeared. Pouf! Gone in the no-ruffle-feathers zone.

They have the right to censure, to whatever policy they have, but censuring all, I repeat all, my comments irrespective of their niceness or badness is hurtful to my ego. It reinforces the idea that Kenyan press provides a simulation of freedom.  The show is well orchestrated to represent only one view, their views and the views that people must hear. I think there is a word for it … yes! It is railroading.

 I mean whom am I to be feared?  I only use my freedom of expression to comment in many newspapers, magazines and other publication. But that’s scary.

While at it, I wrote an opinion “Armand Tungulu Mudiandambu is dead”. Looked in the web and noticed that ideas in some articles seemed to have been lifted from my post.

No problem, however, two comments about my opinion did worry me and they are from “Resistance Congolaise in RDC” and “SIRCO”. Two double-edged puzzling comments with: we like your thinking but …

I don’t know if it is a real threat or my imagination.  Anyway, I rather leave it to my imagination but control of press freedom in Africa is a reality.

Patrick-Bernard

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One response to “MY FREEDOM TO COMMENT

  1. Pingback: Covering Nairobi’s Police Executions, Media Freedom and Internet Access « AfriCommons Blog

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