Category Archives: In the news

#ConversationWith Kamene Goro: Kicking Ass! (Personal)

The Igbo say if a child washes her hands she can eat with the Kings.

Kamene Goro is an accidental journalist who is lapping up the spotlight while leaving a string of achievements not to mention admirers in her wake.

Two years ago Kamene was a 21 year University of Nairobi Law student. She is now a Senior Anchor at EbruTV who also hosts two hour-long content-intensive talk shows per week.

ebru chics

I met her at Java Junction for a chat over masala tea (me) and vanilla milkshake (her) and it was a laugh-a-minute conversation with her various personalities peeking out and her brains shining through.

She strutted into Java in a low cut pink top complimented with an afro-necklace on her cleavage, fitting knee-length black skirt which hugged her very voluptuous curves, pink high heels with a Masaai-ankle bracelet and spotting cornrows, big shades, many bracelets, a man watch and impeccably done very long nails.

Our chat began with the professional, then went into the personal and goofy…

curves

ModerateKenyan: Describe yourself.

Kamene: Firework. Phoenix. Indelible.

ModerateKenyan: How would your friends describe you.

Kamene: (laughs for long) Crazy.

ModerateKenyan: Your enemies.

Kamene: (pauses..cocks head to one side..) I do not have enemies. I am simple nice chic to all.

ModerateKenyan: Most important person.

Kamene: Simplest question. My mum. My baby sis.

ModerateKenyan: Most important thing.

Kamene: My career. I am in love with my job.

laughs

ModerateKenyan: Happiest moment in your life so far.

Kamene: (thinks..) I have had so many (laughs). Last year I had worked daily for 4 months straight. Took a break, went to the coast by myself. It was magical…view of the sea, the sunrise in bed. I love space and air. Thinking of it is giving me goosebumps. (laughs…)

ModerateKenyan: Most difficult moment in your life so far.

Kamene: Career going up. My relationship with long-time boyfriend going south. Having to pick between the two. It was terrible. It had to be done. No regrets. Just lessons.

frontal

ModerateKenyan: Favourite music, food, colour.

Kamene: I love colour. Yellow, black, I can wear a rainbow (laughs). White rice should be banned! Hate it. Everything else I will eat. I can cook very well. Broad taste in music. It dependents on my mood.

ModerateKenyan: What can you not live the house without.

Kamene: My phone. We are in a relationship (laughs). Crazy about Instagram…need pics.

ModerateKenyan: What is on your bucket list.

Kamene: Hahahahaha. Too crazy to say. Hahahaha. The PG list is sky diving, scuba diving, visit Tomorrow land and also go to Jamaica.

ModerateKenyan: Random things you would like to share.

Kamene: I LOVE books. I am a member of the 4/20 movement (we laugh and fist bump). I have 5 tattoos (I stare and she laughs), in concealable spaces (more laughs).

*her phone rings…it is her boss…asking about her Just the facts talk show..*

Kamene: I have to go. Work calls.

And she struts out like she walked in.

Confident in her brains, personality, skin and curves.

One to watch. Literally and figuratively.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

Photos – Kamene’s.


#ConversationWith Kamene Goro: Kicking Ass! (Professional)

The Igbo say if a child washes her hands she can eat with the Kings.

Kamene Goro is an accidental journalist who is up lapping up the spotlight while leaving a string of achievements not to mention admirers in her wake.

student

Two years ago Kamene was a 21 year old University of Nairobi Law student. She is now a Senior Anchor at EbruTV, a pan-African TV station based in Nairobi. She also hosts two hour-long content-intensive talk shows per week.

in studio

I met her at Java Junction for a chat over masala tea (me) and vanilla milkshake (her) and it was a laugh-a-minute conversation with her different personalities peeking out and her brains shining through.

She strutted into Java in a low cut pink top complimented with an afro-necklace lying on her cleavage, a fitting knee-length black skirt which hugged her very voluptuous figure, pink high heels with a Masaai-ankle bracelet and spotting cornrows, big shades, many bracelets, a man watch and impeccably done very long nails.

ModerateKenyan: Law student to journalist. How, why, when…

Kamene: Always wanted to do Broadcast Journalism. My parents thought I should do a solid degree so Law it was. Parents also thought after years of private school it was time for public school to balance out. So from Rusinga School to UoN Law School. Culture shock at first but then turned out to be best 4 years of my life. Mum always knew of my dream so when she met EbruTV director she told him about it and I was invited for a screen test. Took me two weeks to gather courage go and then I totally sucked. But the Head of News at EbruTV, Mr. Nadir saw something in me and he took me in and mentored me. It was a steep learning curve but I am a quick study. The late Reena Shivisi was my biggest cheerleader and teacher.

ModerateKenyan: What do you do at EbruTV.

Kamene: I am the main anchor. Do the Prime time bulletin Monday – Friday. Occasionally do the Lunchtime as well as Early Evening bulletin. I also host two talk shows: Just the Facts on Thursday 9.20pm and News in focus, thrice a week after Prime time news. In addition I am a general news reporter who regularly goes out on assignment.

ModerateKenyan: Biggest story/interview so far.

Kamene: Interview with Raila on Just the Facts. It was herculean task to get him but it was worth the effort. He is an enigma and he is painted as a villain but he is very very cool. He loves Kenya so much. He is a great man, a great visionary. I learnt so much from him. He is human. Also I love that he got and laughed at my jokes!

raila interview

ModerateKenyan: Worst experience at work.

Kamene: It is hard being a woman in the media industry. It is a harsh world. Quite fucked up. Think Game of Thrones. Men (politicians, corporate big shots etc) can be slimy. Achieving work goals and retaining your respectability is a tough balance. Daily difficult challenges. Different pot of shit daily to gobble up. It looks glam but it is not all glam. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

ModerateKenyan: Day in your life.

Kamene: My baby sister wakes me up at 6am on her way to school. Mum checks in at 7am for a catch-up chat. Listen to music to get into the mood. Pick clothes (hate it, it’s hard, being on TV means everyone has opinion on my outfit). Do not take breakfast. Get to work at 11am and leave earliest at 11pm daily. Basically a 12 hour shift.

editing

ModerateKenyan: Are you a celebrity.

Kamene: (scowls) No! Yuck. Shindwe. Hate that word.

ModerateKenyan: Consider yourself eye-candy/sex siren on screen.

Kamene: (laughs) What is that? (laughs again) I am so oblivious. I am a tomboy. I think like a man. Hahaha. Love my tees and sweatpants.

ModerateKenyan: Come on…

Kamene: Okay. It is hard not to be seen as a sex siren. No clothes can hide my curves (laughs). Cannot change my looks (shrugs). When am dressing I think what would be okay to wear in front of mum-in-law while still having fun and being me. Cannot help what men will see or look at.

studio2

ModerateKenyan: Attention due to job.

Kamene: (laughs) It can be crazy…proposals from Nigerians, 400 friend requests on facebook a day, stalkers…(pauses) other crazy things I cannot talk about…hahahaha…no complaints though…it comes with the job…plus I am friendly person, believe living life with open arms..past a certain limit I will block, ignore..I am a big girl…can handle myself…(laughs)

ModerateKenyan: Parting shot on work.

Kamene: (serious pose, hands clasped) You will most likely get once chance at a lucky break. Own it. Run with it. Be on beast mode. Kick ass.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

(Keep it here for part two which has the Personal (and goofy) side of Kamene)

Photos – Kamene’s


Nairobi Restaurant/Kibanda Week

Setting: In a formerly middleclass estate in Nairobi.

Mum: A lady in her thirties, who was in a hurry with a daughter in tow.

Daughter: A girl of 8 or 9 years old.

Daughter: Mum….mum….mum…

Mum: Nini? Harakisha…

Daughter: Mum, ushawahi kula pizza?

Mum: Hapana. (harshly) Kwa nini?

(The two then walked past my earshot.)

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This exchange which happened awhile back got me thinking. On food, experiences and economics.

It has been cooking in my head ever since and the on-going Nairobi Restaurant Week has triggered this post.

For those clueless, #NRW2015 is an annual event where high-end restaurants reduce prices and enable more people enjoy fine-dining.

NRW-Blog-Post-NC

Our local cuisine as Kenyans is pretty basic and it is mostly dependent on where you come from. Rice – coast, Ugali fish – Nyanza, Githeri (mashakula) – Central. Food in Kenya is not cheap and thus folk mostly eat what they farm or readily access.

githeri

In the urban setting, food one consumes is dependent both on economic capability as well as exposure.

How old were you when you fast tasted pizza? If you are in your late twenties and above chances are that it has happened in the last decade and losing your pizza virginity was a big deal. Back in the day, kuku quarter and chips and soda was the epitome of cool. Pizza come with the South Africans outlets and it did not quite get traction.

pizza

However, in the past decade Nairobi’s middleclass has balloned and with it has lead to an avalanche of trendy food joints.

Through social media into the mix and being with it now involves KFC, Pizza Inn, Cold Stone and other foreign food joints that have opened up in Nairobi. For a few the cost is not prohibitive but for a majority a meal at these cool joints is a cause for major personal budget realignment.

cold stone

So I feel for the daughter who wants to be cool but I also get that the mum has to think of the family budget and thus talk of pizza is unsettling.

To counter the #NRW2015, folk have tweeted and posted on Facebook in jest about Nairobi Kibanda Week.

Underneath the jesting is a bit of harsh reality. There is a Nairobi for Kibandas and one for Restaurants.

Many years ago, Kitu Sewer of Ukoo Fulani Mau Mau rapped, “nikitaka kujua story ya economy ninacheki price ya kaquarter kwa butchery.”

Clearly, food is a great indicator of national, local and personal economy.

Then there is exposure or readiness to embraces new experiences.

Many people who can afford it, have never eaten Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, West African? Why? Comfort zone.

And on the flip side many people have never enjoyed the thrills of Mama Ntilie food in a kibanda. Why? Uptightness.

nyamama

My people say he who has not travelled thinks only his mother cooks well.

Maybe as Kenyans we need to broaden our palate and maybe, just maybe, there is room for both Nairobi Resturant Week and Nairobi Kibanda Week.

Bon appétit.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

(PS: All images courtsey of Google.)


Spinning the ICC, Governing by PR

Let me let you in on a little secret.

I lined up to welcome private citizen Uhuru Kenyatta who returning from his Hague date. Ssssssssh. Keep it between us.

BD+Uhuru+Return+0910l.JPG

As a schoolboy lining up for retired president Moi – who prophesied that KANU would rule for 100 years to much derision (Who is laughing now?) – was normal. He seemed to always be on the go and he (or his handlers) felt that school children should either be lining the road waving or singing for him at different forums. Moi also said “now you are saying Moi must go but one day you will say Moi must come.” And the hullaballoo at Moi’s birthday did somewhat validate his statement.

So Chief Chef Lenku’s circular requesting for peace-loving Kenyans presence along the roads which the private citizen/President was not a shocker. After all the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Curiosity and my continued study of human nature fuelled my ten minutes walk to Makadara along Jogoo Road. And my timing was impeccable. Fifteen minutes upon my arrival the motorcade made its appearance.

It is common knowledge that Uhuruto used ICC case and astute PR to ascend to power. Communities which felt under siege came together to protect their sons using the tyranny of numbers. And spin or PR if you like whitewashed the picture (and eyes).

Just how much this ICC and PR narrative sold is now unfolding.

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The mass of people at Makadara was positively buzzing. These were not rent-a-crowd folk. These were people sharing a common unshakeable belief. Not subject to reason or logic. It is because it is kind of belief. It felt like a stadium or a church.

Young and old. Male and female. Seated and standing. All waiting. Happily. Anxiously.

Snippets of conversation in the alternative national language floated around me. “He is ours.” “God-given.” “He is our blood.”

One side of phone conversations was overhead; “I am here. I could not miss it for anything. Where are you standing?” Also, “Where are you?….you can’t make it…he is almost here.”

Then the outriders’ zoomed past signalling the much awaited moment was near and the buzzing crowd became alive. Screaming, chanting and dancing. The junction into Buruburu from Jogoo Road was blocked as the frenzied crowd demanded an address.

Before I walked away I caught a snippet of Uhuruto and their astonishment was clear. The narrative gelled together around ICC and PR had worked beyond their wildest dreams. More conversation snippets floated around me. “See what we voted for?” “See the fruits of our labour?”

The ICC case and astute PR has managed to turn Uhuru support into a fanatical undertaking. The support is more than political. It is something akin to religion. And religion is now being woven into the narrative. Uhuru is viewed as the Chosen One. A popular chant of Uhuru supporters is “Si nguvu/si uchawi, ni maombi.” (It is not our strength/it is not witchcraft, it is prayer.) Songs have also being composed to that effect. Uhuru’s presidential victory is touted as an answered prayer.

kenya-flag

Another by-product of the ICC case and PR is flag-waving patriotism. Most of the crowd at Makadara had the flag. Matatus and even private cars flew the flag. The flag being used was Kenyan but is the Nation Kikuyu? Put another way, to the crowd at Makadara is the Kikuyu nation synonymous with the Kenya nation? Or another way to ask the question is did the challenge mutate from personal to communal to national? And now international?

Articles 147 and 134 are in the constitution. Ruto is a Deputy not Vice. It follows then when principal is absent the deputy acts. But politics is about perception. And Uhuruto use of PR is phenomenal. So amid much fanfare President Uhuru became a private citizen while Deputy Ruto became Acting President complete with trappings of power.

uhuruto

A fact that one following the ICC case may found hard to believe is that post election violence actually happened. The Kikuyu bore a substantial brunt of the violence. The Uhuruto bromance aside, the hoi polloi still harboured a grudge. A Ruto presidency was unfathomable. Too much blood under the bridge it was said. But after ‘the handing over power’ show a Ruto presidency is now somewhat discussable. Which given numbers tyranny, then a ten plus ten Uhuruto reigns may not be fiction.

Remember the 100 years prophesy? Tingisa kabisa.

So what do all these variables portend for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the ICC case good for mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

Is the management by PR good mkenya wa kawaida or for Kenya?

I have no idea.

You?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

p.s – ALL images courtesy Google.


Fragment of a non-existent diary

Disclaimer:

Posted  this on the 1st of July 2oo9 on a different blog. Five years later who would have thought gossip blogs, socialites would be a phenomenon :-).

Re-blogging here to remove the cobwebs from this blog.

Writing here will resume soon. Hopefully.

Enjoy!

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I am a 2nd year student of French at the university. I plan to be a radio presenter and became a celebrity. I know all these people and if they can hang with me then they can work with me, right? I have an interview with that hot male presenter tomorrow at his house and I need to look hot for that. What to wear, how to look? But that is for tomorrow. Today, do I go to school? Hmmmm, let me call my best friend and classmate and find out if she is in school or has got plot.

Let me tell you about me…Am 22years old,life is bliss, credit, hair, men and of course the rave and drinking on any given day is all I am about. I have no source of income but since I am pretty and hot then that is no issue. My parents provide for the basics and then the rest is up to me. Have a steady (or not?) boyfriend who lives in the right side of town and drives the right kind of car. He thinks I am The One but clearly he is mistaken. Still have places to go, people to meet and things to do. So marriage or any commitment is in the very distant future if ever. And again this body is not ready to push let alone carry a baby for nine months. That’s why after I got my accident three months ago, I got one of my service providers to pay for a procedure and flush out that problem. Oh,by the way I had quite a scare this weekend..i was three days late and thought I had had another accident but they finally came so now I can rest easy.

As for the steady, I rather like him and he is able to support my lifestyle so for now it’s all good. But as for love and all that mushy feeling, no, that’s not me! Apart from the steady boyfriend I have a couple of other fans or should I say service providers because their purpose in my life is to provide what I need when I need it. They are all at my beck and call and when I call they run. After all don’t they all hope to get a piece of this fly ass? If only they knew! But disposable income they got and so clever they think they are, so it’s all fair games, no?

I had a fight with my steady over the weekend and I need some TLC which for me is alcohol and a crazy night out. Let me start texting the various options and see who comes up fastest with a fun plot.

My best friend gets back to me and says she has no plot but she is skiving the rest of her classes and idling in town and I should call her up when I get plot. My pal is not very pretty but she got a fine body and brains. So she is good for dancing and conversation which all these service providers seem to want a girl to provide. She hangs around me a lot as am better socially connected but since she is better academically then we both gain.

The texts are coming fast and furious and I pick one. He has been asking for a drinks date for two months so I reckon he has waited for long enough and his wallet will be easy to open as he will want to impress me.

After calling up my best pal and telling her where we should hook up I flash the lucky (or unlucky?) service provider and once he calls back I tell him where I want to meet him and the time. Me and my best friend meet up and after window shopping-oh my! we just discovered a great place to buy shoes-we finally strut in one hour late. The guy is all smiles even though he must be seething inside. A softie he is. So much potential to fleece him I think.

We give our excuses and order for our drinks. Today we are not taking our usual Smirnoff Ice Reds, we are taking Famous Grouse on the rocks! Small talk is provided by my best pal and I just seat there and look innocent and desirable. I off course pop up occasionally and ask the lifestyle questions…where do you work? As a what? Where do you live? What do you drive? The guy has no idea of my intent and answers all these questions without guile. Poor man!

After a couple of hours and a pity story of me been sad I come up with the idea of going for Karaoke at a trendy out of town pub. Guy tries to wiggle out but I flash him a smile and my bedroom eyes and he is toast. We take a taxi and off we go. I am already on phone texting to find out who is at the pub we are heading to.

Getting there, the pub is kicking and the karaoke is in full swing. My best pal also can sing beautifully and the “offer is sing and get free sambucas ” so of course she will sing but the service provider still has to buy Famous Grouse on the rocks.

As my best pal sings, dances and small talks the service provider I do my lap of honor. You know how it is, a girl has to be seen and see people. How else will I prove tomorrow I was at the kicking pub last night? Lap of honor consists of checking out the potential service providers and also touching base with existing service providers and thus getting dates for all of next week! Every so often I go back to the table and chat up the original service provider, can’t be seeing to be a lousy date because one thing I have learnt is never ever burn bridges.

After one hour of my technical appearances the original service provider decides he has had enough and says is time to leave. This is when the party is really getting to climax so I tell him he can go and leave us. He clears the bill and gives me money for a cab. Of course I am a bright girl so I ask him for money for my best pal’s cab too, the fact that we are next door neighbours notwithstanding! Still trying to impress me, the guy off course coughs up and leaves us to jienjoy.

To be continued…
(Disclaimer – This is just me having fun with words. All characters and occurrences are fictional. Any resemblance to anyone or anyplace is wholly coincidental. The to be continued is fictional too!)


Giniwase-chaos?

Sunday, the third of November was the day which had failed to come for many a season. Eighteen seasons if you are keen on counting. To their credit, Gor Mahia players, officials and fans kept the faith, swallowed the heartache and kept believing.

Finally, in 2013, they could say, actually with a couple of games to spare, Giniwasekao (this thing we have taken it) and Ginimarwa (this thing is ours).

Given that the team styles itself as Sirikal (the government), the trophy presentation ceremony was dubbed a state function with a promise of a spectacle worth remembering. There were rumours of suits being measured, limos being hired and conflicting reports as to who between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru would present the trophy.  It was a moment of history in Kenyan football.

I got to town at 1400HRS and Tom Mboya Street was engulfed in a carnival atmosphere. Green and white was everywhere. Fans actually got suits! White with a trim of green or green with a white shirt was the preferred style. Ladies were also not left out with some donning green figure hugging dresses while others went for green and white kikoys.

Unfortunately, what would have been a delight to marvel in was ruined by the sense of entitlement exhibited by some of the the fans. Both vehicular and human traffic was at their mercy as they wailed, chanted and hogged the street. One fan shouted, “Make way for Sirikal and if you have a problem, go to your house.”

By a stroke of luck I got to the road leading to Kasarani just as the convoy of limousines carrying the players made its grand entrance.  It was impressive with the four stretch limos complimented by Mercedes’ and several four-wheel drive cars.

Sadly, what was a great idea was ruined when someone decided to allow the limos onto the stadium track for a celebratory lap of honour. Never mind that there was an ongoing KPL match.  The fans went berserk and stormed the stadium. This lead to numerous injured fans, a damaged ambulance and it was awhile before sanity was restored.

The arrival of Raila Odinga made the fans go wild as did the stadium walk-around by the K’ogalo players who were dressed in suits.

The choice of music was Ohangla and it blared from the mega speakers positioned around the stadium with fans dancing and singing along. Kenyan and American flags blew in the wind as a whiff and at times a cloud of marijuana smoke wafted around the stadium. Flares were lit and the noise levels were phenomenal.

Words fail to do justice to the atmosphere inside Kasarani. Personally have never seen anything like it and I felt as though this was more than just a trophy celebration.

Several images stood out for me:

There was a feeling of defiance and achievement with one placard capturing this by simply declaring: “This is a victory which you cannot steal from us.”

Gor Mahia fans are no slouches in the dressing department but the fan who took the cake was clad in white underwear, long socks and green sports shoes. All through the match he danced – perhaps to keep warm as a light drizzle and a chill engulfed the stadium – while clutching a portrait of prolific striker Dan Sserunkuma. At the end of the match, the fan, still in his underwear went into the middle of the pitch and presented a very surprised Sserunkuma with the portrait.

Image

 

As the Gor players did their lap on honour in the stadium, impeccably dressed in lime green suits, white shirts, dark green ties and black shoes, I spied among them Rama Salim looking lost and forlorn in jeans, tshirt and sneakers. For context, Rama played for Gor in the first leg of the season and he and Sserunkuma had a brilliant partnership. To everyone’s surprise and the club’s dismay, he ditched Gor for Arab money, signing up to an obscure team in the Gulf. Watching him, I wondered whether he regretted his decision.

After a thunderous rendition of the Gor Mahia anthem, the match kicked off. K’ogalo players were clearly overawed by the occasion. Or maybe for them it was just a formality before the trophy was presented. Either way, KCB played delightful one-touch football and took a two nil lead into the break.

On the stands the party continued albeit in a muted tone. The fans were getting restless since KCB were hell-bent on spoiling their party. The entry into the stadium of roughly thirty anti-riot police led to ugly scenes. Apart from horrid verbal abuse, the fans threw plastic water and soda bottles, broken seats, beer cans and even poured water on the cops who exited and stood at the entrance of several gates. It was a shocking display of anti-authority.

Just a few minutes to seven in the evening, the referee blew the whistle and the K’ogalo fraternity was put out of its misery. Despite the two nil loss to KCB, the Okombe (trophy) was Gor’s.

The trophy presentation which was the point of the point of the afternoon was nothing to write home about. The Kenyan Premier League management did make a gallant attempt to put on a show like normally seen abroad. Confetti, fireworks, a winner’s podium, the works but it all seemed rushed and somehow not authentic.

Unfortunately, no sooner had Jerim Onyango lifted the trophy aloft and even before the rest of the Gor Mahia had a chance to hold the hard fought for trophy; shots of teargass rent the air. This was because thousands of fans were invading the pitch overwhelming the thirty or so anti-riot police. Alas, there was to be no orderly celebration.

That for me was my cue to leave.

As I walked out of the stadium in the dark, with thousands of fans making deafening noise around me, I reflected on the afternoon.

There had been glimpses of excellence and even moments of heart-warming expression. However, these were drowned out by excesses of unprofessionalism and hooliganism. Sadly, a fitting metaphor for what is the state of Kenyan football. I also thought of what could be a booming professional football industry in Kenya as opposed to the infrequent current sparks in the dark.

One day, it will happen, I told myself, one day, and hopefully, it would not take 18 years. However, getting to town at around 2100HRS and seeing the mayhem being caused by a section of Gor fans around the Tom Mboya monument, I was not so sure.

There you have it. K’ogalo, the Kenya Premier League Champions 2013. K’Ogalo, the team which is never far from chaos and mayhem.

Good and Bad.

Wonder what comes to the mind of Kenyans when they think K’Ogalo?

GOD BLESS KENYA!

(Images courtesy of Google)


Gagged

The passage by a handful of MPs of the Kenya Information & Communication Amendment Bill 2013 has caused shock waves in the country.

For Kenyans old enough to remember, this feels like the start of a return to the dark days of dictatorship when KANU was baba na mama. For the younger ‘digital’ generation who have no recollection of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation ruling the airwaves and bulletins riddled with Mtukufu Rais, the hullabaloo may seem to be overkill or even a timely blow to the unfashionable traditional media.

As for the Kenyan media for whom the bill has direct impact, shock is an understatement. Just the other day, tea and a photo-op at Statehouse was the hottest ticket in town. Now the members of the Fourth Estate are learning, if you jump into bed with someone, do not be surprised if they screw you.

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Before jumping in on the debate which was unfolding on my social media space I took time to read up on the laws, bills and amendments in question.

There is the Kenya Information & Communication Act of 1998 which is subject to the 2013 amendment Bill which sailed through parliament and now awaits Presidential assent. Then there is the Media Council Bill 2013 which in MY reading repeals part/all of the Media Act 2007.

Both the KIC Amendment 2013 and Media Council Bill are being pushed by Aden Dualle, Leader of Majority in Parliament and also Hawk-Extraordinaire for Jubilee. I am unsure whether he is fronting the bills in his individual capacity or as the government head in parliament.

As a matter of full disclosure, I am a journalist or is it broadcaster or is it media practitioner? It depends on which of definition of the diverse media laws you read. But more importantly, I am a Kenyan worried about the slippery slope the country has embarked on. Echoes of China or Uganda anyone?

Let us start with the Kenya Information & Communication (KIC) Amendment Bill 2013:

The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) is to be replaced with the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK).

According to Section 6A, the board of the CAK shall comprise of a Chair who will be appointed by the President, Principal Secretaries of Information, Interior, National Budget and 7 persons appointed by the Cabinet Secretary of Information.

According to Section 6E, the CAK Board will establish a Broadcasting Standards Committee. This committee will administer broadcasting content, formulate media standards and regulate and monitor compliance.

Section 34 of KIC Amendment Bill 2013 seeks to amend Section 102 of the 1998 Act. This is the part dealing with the Appeals Tribunal. In 1998 Act, the tribunal was made up of a chair who is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, 2 people chosen by the Minister for Communication and 2 people forwarded by Media Council of Kenya. In the 2013 Amendment, the tribunal is to be made up of a Chair who is a Judge appointed by JSC and 4 people chosen by the Cabinet Secretary of Information.  Quorum is 3 = Chairman + 2 members.

Surprise addition to this part is the punitive fines to media houses and threat of fines and deregistration to individual journalists. (This was not on the amendment put forward so my take is this was an on the floor of parliament addition.)

The Appeals Tribunal part of the KIC Amendment 2013 Bill is what has caused major furore. Mega fines with threat of accounts getting attached is sure to get tongues wagging. But in my (very layman) opinion I think this KIC Amendment 2013 Bill in totality is in bad faith.

The entire board of the CAK which has sweeping powers is made up entirely of government functionaries. How can they be fair?

The Broadcasting Standards Committee will be established by the CAK. Its function of to administer content, formulate standards, regulate and monitor compliance has a terrible ring to it. Does this not sound like some Communist country in the 1980s not Kenya in 2013? This to me is even worse than the Appeals Tribunal.

Then there is the threat of suspension and de-registration of journalists. Is there/was there a registration of journalists conducted? And just to ensure absolute supplication, there is the threat of individual fines up to the tune of one million which may lead to journalist accounts getting attached.

This the bill in front of the President.

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Let us now check out the Media Council Bill 2013:

It is quite a long bill which for large parts addresses itself to the nitty-gritty’s of the running of the Media Council. However, it still finds space to address journalists and journalism.

The first thing I did in this Bill was to re-read the Code of Conduct for Journalists which is in the Second Schedule. By and large have no problem with the code. Methinks, it should be required reading for all with an interest in media.

My reading of Section 8-11 is that for all intents and purpose appointment to the 7 member Media Council is in the hands of the Cabinet Secretary of Information.  Does this then not make the Council a government puppet?

According to Section 45(a) the Cabinet Secretary of Information may from time to time amend the Code of Conduct for Journalists. Imagine that?

Section 28 talks of the council setting up a Complaints Commission whose functions are in Section 32.

Perhaps lawyers can illuminate this. How does Section 34 of Appeals Tribunal in the Kenya Information & Communication Amendment Bill 2013 relate/co-exist with Section 32 of the Media Council Bill 2013?

This Bill is still snaking its way through Parliament.

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In conclusion:

Let me remind everyone that freedom of the media is enshrined in the constitution under Article 34. I also understand that no freedom is absolute. Actually, regulation of the media is a constitutional requirement under Article 34 (5c).

However, I totally dispute that government through the Cabinet Secretary of Information and his lackeys can be trusted to be 100% decider of what the media can or cannot broadcast.  That is wrong on so many levels and I shudder to imagine that the Jubilee government is seeking to return us to the dark old days.

The two bills as presently constituted are wrong both in the letter and spirit of the law. Will President Uhuru Kenyatta stand on the right or wrong side of this debate? Let’s wait and see.

GOD BLESS KENYA.

(all images are courtesy of Google)


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