Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fifth Estate watch

It’s at that time again of the blog calendar that we turn to politics.

I sympathize and still do when the Standard Group (SG) was invaded early this year by the hooded mercenaries for I ABHOR violence and the acts can only be termed as pure barbarism and as archaic.

However recent readings of the same newspaper and its sidekicks could send my sympathies out of the window as we settle down to an ODM-sympathetic newspaper.

Unfortunately the media cannot criticize itself so we have to create a “FIFTH ESTATE” called Blogland.

Its kinda the NARC splinter group is being fed to us by force. It doesn’t matter who is in it. It doesn’t matter their ideologies or where they are coming from or where they are going if anywhere.

In the KTN news, we have 2 news items about ODM and then another one on Raila and ODM on a day when there is a graduation at the University of Nairobi. I remember a while ago when there was a graduation; about 3-4 news item was allocated to the graduands and the ceremony. Or is it that the station is experiencing shortage of reporters to go to other events and that’s how they end up with one news item split into 3. I pity the news anchors who have to read the news for they have no say. I mean it’s disturbing.

In the Standard the following day, we have 3 pages of coverage of the ODM and the so called de facto leader and you pause and think. Someone is being paid here. Not that I am saying there is anything wrong to cover any political party as you may wish but that only doing so compromises the said paper’s objectiveness. In any case the election is a year and some months away.

Their ability to bring news is highly suspect now. I mean long time ago KTN used to have very interesting features but now?! ODM-ritocracy has caught up with them and they are so for vendetta until they won’t realize we have all switched to Channel 5 East Africa TV or better still for those who can afford DSTV is selling like hot cake. I mean you would rather watch National Geographic than listen to some of that.

But one thing I know for sure, ODM is not Moses or whoever it is that led the poor Israelites to Canaan from Misri (Misery).

We have a party with same script, different casts. Only this time they even carried William Ruto to the casting site. How obnoxious!!!!!

The only man I kinda got respect for there is Kalonzo and even after the Kalembe Ndile incident I lost quite some amount of respect. Did I say I abhor violence? For those who may not know Kalembe was almost caused to grievous bodily harm on the former foreign minister’s ground for being a government sympathizer in an opposition zone. WTF???

I am even getting sick of writing this. The dirty work has to be done anyway.

The idea behind a newspaper is to report news as and when they happen. And a free and fair media is one that is without interference from either political party, individuals or group of persons or even tribal affiliations.

I recently read in the Drum Issue of September that a Liberian Minister lives well below 2 dollars per day and his salary is Ksh. 4,000 as they try to rebuild the country. That is when for the first time in many years I appreciated the Former President Moi. I mean Charles Taylor could as well have been running a country full of minerals and without the scars of colonialization but still he didn’t spare the damn country.

So it’s at that point I stood to wonder, for what reason did we hate Moi so much? Then I looked down to see though Moi had run down the country for many years (that’s a point we can’t argue on), he had not behaved like Charles Taylor or Mobutu Sese Seko. Those are men who deserved death by the electric chair.

Yet for all fair purposes we are ahead; we don’t need to import people to come and be minister or key educational chiefs. Moi did actually do something only he didn’t do it too well. And some of the evils we have to deal with were started by Kenyatta and entrenched by the man. But still there are some good things about him which were down played. I mean the Nation Media Group(NMG) who at that time its Editorial Policy (whatever that is) faulted all the things Moi did. I couldn’t even remember a good thing about him. Because the newspapers didn’t find anything good in the man and so didn’t I.

I wonder what will happen when come 2008, we have the ODM ruling and they continue to practice the same corruption and tribalism. Will they now keep quiet? Will their editorial policy change? Will they become the now Voice of Government (VOG) by name Citizen TV and Radio?

For heavenly sake, I would challenge the newspaper to take a hard look at the leaders they are fronting. Give us their credentials or Lack thereof. Show us why they think they should occupy Bunge and State House. List their achievements at constituency and national level. Why what? That’s what the average educated and not so educated Kenyan is looking for. Put them on the spot for their deeds and misdeeds. Why the fox will have turned the cat? Why they have to change goal posts and political parties at the same rate I change my underwear.

Do they even know why they are the leaders in the first place? Do they know what Wanjiku, Atieno or Ndambuki wants? Do they understand we are tired of looking for greener pastures elsewhere? We need them here!!!!!!! Kenyans outside would want to come back where they are free to do anything. To be free of racial discriminations, to get jobs near their homes and without ridicule.

And politics has everything to do with it!!!! They need to know we are tired of feeding their big stomachs on our taxes; we cannot afford to fuel their guzzlers and build them palatial homes.

Don’t flaunt to us persons and make them look like angels. I imagine such persons being one Mutula Kilonzo (the President’s Lawyer) who is stinking rich and has a reputation worse than Kiunjuri he of the famous K-street scandal. (You can read between the lines).

Let them give us Leader speeches. Like that Obama presented to Kenyans at Taifa Hall in the UON. Not some things like “Kalonzo na mpira na Kibaki anafunga”. It is time Kenyans refuse to be treated like idiots. We have moved from “Mulu Mutisya kind of public addresses”. We no longer laugh at “hanging bottles” meaning lights jokes.

We can only sympathise with Njenga Karume’s Wananichi or is it wenye inchi for his apparent lack of education.

I can imagine attending a rally that a man by the name Danson Mungatana warns people that he is such a man that when it comes to women he talks of “Tutawazalisha Mapacha”. That is total B/S. or Kiraitu Murungi’s careless statement “it is like raping a woman who is only too willing” triple BS.

Don’t create them leaders for us; let’s see how they were made. You talk of the rainbow dream,. You know very well there is no such dream. Sometimes I wonder for whom does the media speak for? For whom?

The media is so corrupt, so tribal and so compromised and it is so evident .Clean your house first. But it is obvious; a monkey cannot adjudge matters of the forest.

It is not hard to find out that the management in NMG read from the Mount Kenya region and for the Standard it’s well the lake side and its environs. So who shall speak for the people of Ukambani, the people of the Coast Province and NEP? And that alignment defines their editorial policies.

And I will challenge the media to rise above the political wrangles, party affiliations, and tribal sickness and stop being used.

It is high time they tell it like it is. No one is going to kill them. Coalitions as we have come to realize are just like marriages, that one party become worse after the coalition cake has finished and that person either puts up or shuts up for the coalition to work.

Don’t give us coalition politics again and make it look like it’s a match made in heaven.

I know without doubt that the euphoria in 2007 will be created and hyped. It makes good business sense. I mean we have to know the party whores. Those whose political careers are broken because they cannot affiliate themselves with hooliganism (the politically correct word here is “going to the grassroots”) and rowdy youths (remember William Ruto and YK92).

And then those are the same people you want to govern us again? With their criminal records? Have you forgotten that William Ruto was a teacher who rose to be quite a rich man when he played the formers president’s side kick? Has your memory faded to the point you cannot remember the deaths caused in that 91-92 scandal.

Do you need any memory techniques because there is some where I can get them for free? I have the same problem too only mine does not affect the nation.

Do you need to be reminded that just 3 years ago, Kanu and LDP were strange bedfellows? That very few marriages work for the second time. Their marriage didn’t work out and it will not work and we will be back to the basics in 2008/9.

While the youth well young people meet to front their political agenda, as they do sometimes; believe me they don’t make headline News. But something as small as some fools looking for a registration certificate or Ngilu announcing she is ditching Kibaki who cares. Inakaa masaa ya Ngilu imeisha ya kuwa president. I got mad respect for that woman though. I like what she has done in her ministry of Health.

We know the media is a business outfit but its not like they have any competition anyway.

I like what the NMG and SG do when they bring us those pull out on careers, finances and hell there is a lot more in their newspapers. I mean if you totally can ignore the first 4 pages you will find abundance of opportunities and entertainment (read horoscopes, crossword and what is showing in the movies).

But on politics, leadership and governance; They have totally failed us.


  1. I've said it before and I'll say it again here. As far as the raid on the standard went, the only thing to be concerned about is the method used. But they deserved that raid.

    If I was a president of a tribally charged and vulnerable nation like Kenya, I would SHUT DOWN Standard. I know everyone would think it archaic and an invasion of free press. But the standard does not exercise free press. They abuse it!Media, journalism and communication graduants worldwide should be incensed by this abuse of their profession.

    Completely with your sentiments here.

  2. you have some very interesting observations here. you are right about he excessive coverage of ODM and certain personalities in the media. because i read newspapers online it seems like very little is being done to actually give people anything apart from half baked theories and commentaries and who said what concerning personalities and certain political parties. none of which, of course, tells us whether they are party whores (those who jump from party to party depending on the political climate) stole money from kenyans while they were in office or whether they have done anything of substance for the betterment of kenyans. furthermore, the pull outs are no longer free (not relevant but i am still bitter!) i'll be back when i am not in a hurry to read this again

  3. You are so so right. One of the best political commentaries I have read. I get tired of reading Kenyan newspapers online since they became party manifestos. Its shocking that soon, Kenya Times might end up becoming the most balanced newspaper out there.

  4. A well written piece.
    I do agree that the media has really failed the people of Kenya.I have friends who work in media houses and the cases of corruption are rife.There was once a story that was aired on news about Chandarias workers going on strike, let's jus say some calls were made and it didnt make the 9 o'clock news.
    Kenya papers do have too much politics without substance but on the other hand part of this is because too many Kenyans are obsessed by the pizzaz of Kenyan politics without knowing what lies beneath the shiny exterior.
    That is why half of the people at political rallies know very little about what their leaders are about and with the issues with voter registration in Kenya at the moment I dont think too many of them can vote.
    The time for proper civic education is here and not shams conducted by briefcase ngo's for money.
    It is time our leaders were asked the right questions by a third or fourth media house.We cant expect to have only 2 papers in the whole country and expect them to provide a completely accurate picture of what is going on.
    As for Moi, I do agree that he did indeed run the country into the ground but the one thing that I can give him marks for is the fact that he kept most of his ministers on a short leash (his control freak tendancies aside).
    Anyway I think I have started ranting and raving on your blog...

  5. Great post Shiroh. My head almost exploded when I got to the part of the Blogosphere being the Fifth Estate. Yaani, its amazing how on the money that is. Blogging has given the common mwananchi a vehicle to express themselves and its time we realised the power that blogging potentially yields. Such as checking the mainstream media as you so rightly pointed out.

    I for one, don't read newspapers. I've perfected the art of scheming through them. Ha ha doesn't sound very good but really, what am I missing?

    I completely agree that the two papers lack any substance. And while that is a concern to me, of greater concern is that Kenyan politics and politicians have NO SUBSTANCE AT ALL.

    But I won't even go there because eh I will start foaming at the mouth.

    Your post says it all, and so will the many people commenting. My two cents worth is, what are you doing about it. M and Kenyan Pundit make a very powerful statement through Mzalendo. We must all find a way to make a mark. Go to shags and speak to guys. I'm not saying all of them will listen, but even one person enlightened is a reason to hold your head up.

    Aii lakini vile nimechoka na hawa jangili, yaani........ I still think Osama might be up for a job.

  6. True the mainstream Kenyan press, especially the newspapers, do have serious shortcomings. The more annoying thing is that they are such basic errors they make. so easily fixable that it beggers belief that they are not fixed at all. The press ought to understand that they are the face of our nation to the world, and when I log on to or and find a story on the homepage with basic typos, that's not amusing. I think the culprit here is a general disconnect with the rest of the world.
    Yes, ODM is utter rubbish, but overcoming the populism they will create next year might be a bit difficult. Let's hope that this recent dearth in ideology is only an interruption in the country's march towards a mature democracy, as Paul Muite points out here.
    The country needs a sense of freshness, dynamism and youth. A leadership that feels the heartbeat of the nation, listens to the electorate and acts. True we cannot continue in a business-as-usual way where money sorely needed to fund social programs actually goes to running a lavish government. Then go ahead and ask for money from "donors" to run our social programs. Ridiculous!
    I wrote my opinion on what a new KANU can do for the country, in the face of ODM and NARC KENYA being business-as-usual outfits.

  7. itto all the comments about but Mwenye Nchi, we dont need KANU , they all failed us. What we need is people with a vision not parties!

  8. shameful as it may seem, the press has been "bought"!!
    one sunday morning, i woke to a huge sunday standardf headline
    --things get thick-
    i at first thought ni kama the govt has raided them once again ama the country was at war...
    kumbe it was a cock and bull headline about the so called minimum reforms and ati how raila has jetted back to the country and demanded the same...
    anyway, its no coincidence that ODM is is using the media and specifically SN to heighten political temps in the country!
    kenyans will be taken for a ride
    but unfortunately, we will achieve nothing.
    As some pointed out, the standard is indeed abusing media freedom, period!

  9. @Shiroh; We do NEED parties AND visionary leaders. Well established political parties provide an ideological platform for governance, and to what end you may ask. Consistence for one. In policy. What would be the point of doing things only for them to be undone by the next administration. It will be time and money wasted. A well established party will identify and nurtue leadership in today's youth. The only way right now for a young person to get to parliament is probably to inherit their dead parents constituency. Unfortunate, I think.
    As it is were, ODM are behaving like a far-left outfight, NARC-Kenya are a right wing outfit so there is room for a new KANU as a centre left party. Why the centre left? Such a party would advocate, not for a poorly thought out liberalisation that is supposedly free for all but that really benefits only those with means, but more social inclusion. Social justice has been thrown out of the window by those "free-for-all" policies that, truth be told, only benefit the rich. The result? A class system that keeps the poor poor and makes the rich richer. Think about it, challenge any middle-upper class person in Kenya today to tell you when is the last time they talked to a person they would consider beneath them other than to ask them to do something for them. Being poor in Kenya today is like being doomed!
    A poor family will not be able to provide good education for their children, so their children will not get jobs since they will lack the skills employers ask and a vicious cycle is then established.
    That's why I think a centre left government would be ideal. It would be interventionist and invest more in social programs in education, healthcare etc while champion such right wing values as order, national interest and liberty.

  10. Kritik,SG has been using that mode of making something small look so big now then nothing is inside. They think that because the Govt raided them which was wrong now they can teach them a lesson which is a bad approach considering who they are using. And anyway SG was always a KANU newspaper even back then, and they did so badly in the market.

    @Mwenye Nchi, we have so many parties. i think for every sub district we have a party. So why keep hoping from party to party and forming new ones?

  11. Apart from the fact that Standard and KTN are all about politics, which is somehow right because politics is the stuff that sells papers and keeps people glued to the news.
    Have a walk around the estates where they have public tv and you will be amazed at the way the crowds follow the political news. Or better still, observe the political-mania when a party is being launched, or relaunced, or renamed or whatever and you will notice that politics is a force to reckon with and one we cannot just wish away.
    I think what we need is a new generation of thinkers. People who will get into politics with an idea to make lasting and needed change since we all know that the majority of politicians are in this game to make themselves rich and loot.
    Problem is that the good people who can lead us with intelligence and integrity always shy from politics. This is what we need to address!

  12. Shiro, I do love the tangent your blog has taken; really heavy stuff in here lately.... guess people are finally waking up to smell the blog coffe....

  13. Well in Shiro.

    I gave up on politics - Kenyan in particular and International in general - along time ago. Its all nonsense. As for the media, I do not read the Standard and even when I read the Nation, I try not read the headline and first five pages since they always cover politics. Infact the only thing I look at is the cartoon, business news and sports. When I watch news on TV I skip the first 20 minutes or so that are dedicated to politics and only catch the business and sports pieces.

    LoL at Udi's observation that Kenya Time's may soon be proviving the most balanced coverage. How ironical.

    I live happier this way.

    As for your question on why we hated Moi so much. I had and still have a strong disliking for Moi for the following reasons:
    - Tribal clashes
    - Goldenberg
    - Eldoret International Airport
    - 8-4-4
    - transferring ministers and PS's who have been implicated in corruption to new positions instead of sacking them
    - Nyayo house torture chambers

    I am not Kibaki's biggest fan, but in my books he is miles ahead of Moi.

  14. shiro, that was a master piece.i dont watch news for newspapers i only visit the jobs corner,the classified segments and sports news period.i hated news when they aired the artur circus for two good weeks as a headline item and they still called it news after those two weeks.i have never been so disappointed in the our local tv stations,read ntv/ktn.

    as for ODM i dont know why as kenyans have such short memories.
    why do we forget what william ruto and his YFK92 did,Raila has perfected the art of being antigoverment,for all those who expect him to ever side with the govt i have got news for you,he'll never even when he's six feet under.All those ODM luminaries are not new faces they have been in the government for as long as we can remember and what have they done for this country apart from behaving like jilted lovers,nothing.

    So Kenyans please let us not be taken for a ride by this people whose only goal is to leave this country divided.We are all Kenyans,it doesnt matter if you are a Luo Digo Teso or Kikuyu
    ,enuff said