Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who watches the Watchers? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Why Kenya cannot kiss a free Press

Watch this but be prepared... WELTjournal + tvthek.orf

When the Westgate attack happened in Kenya, the media was censored 
Have you watched this ORF link?  You can blame whom you will for the tragic Westgate attack, a huge blot on Kenya's security but what I call the Eastgate is in that clip above. And for this, we have only ourselves to blame. Media silence too. Meanwhile in the mix is the worst thing that could be happening to Kenya now.  A media Bill that is tailored to gag journalists. 

To return Kenya to the terrible days in which people were tortured for imagining the death of a president, for speaking... for being dissident, killed. Media freedom and killings are closely related for who wants to speak or show them when there is fear? 

The timing of a media gagging  Freedom of Expression in Kenya has helped us to see where this country is. In a bad place. It is not the time to argue about media irresponsibility. That has its place. Has had mechanisms. This is not surely where our problem is and we should know it right from the State House to the smallest hamlet as Chief Justice Dr. Mutunga says when he speaks of justice.  I know the Kenyan Judiciary is also in the dragnet. This is not a good time. It is not time for our wedding of Kenya, not even for kissing welcome change. The negotiations are tough.

The content of the Media Bill in question is untenable. It is not a matter of courting controversy, it is betrayal. Kenyans have fought for and need a free press especially now.

It does not matter how much some MPs such as one I saw try to put journalists on the carpet about every line of the Bill. The Committee for the Implementation of the Constitution led by Charles Nyachae has spoken about the unconstitutionality of this Bill.  It is illogical.

But Kenyan MPs are still in 2013, defending an unconstitutional Bill. They are the only ones arguing it is constitutional. Further, it appears that this Bill might be passed by Eastern African countries. 

In Kenya it is now on the President's table. Many are talking about the return of the Mois days in Kenya with one journalist writing that we might as well take the key and re-open the Nyayo torture chambers. But when you see the ORF documentary above, when I see it, I ask if the torture chambers were ever closed and where indeed the media has been at times? But the Bill.

If the President signs it, it becomes law. But this unlawful act in itself would give a chosen group power to oversee the media but that body is bound to sit on media. If the President does not sign it, it still is a poor omen. I can see how authors, bloggers and all will be hounded down. Made to pay fines in the millions. Imprisoned. 

Books? Bookshops already feared in 2008 to stock It is our Turn to Eat, by Michela Wrong. But publishing chances have increased the world over and distribution of books is not dependent on governments any longer. Sometimes I smile in my tears. Not even the news is.. wake up and smell the coffee! Snowden and Wikileaks did not teach you?

Media should be more alive to the end of mainstream control itself too and welcome it. In Kenya, media has censored itself before. It has been silent when it should have queried some things more specifically. Was fear with us all the time or is it political calculations for our own benefit? We need openness. Whispers?

We do not need those in Kenya now. There is an outrage but it could be stilled by a nod in one direction and a signature written or not written. Already, if you ask me, for policemen such as the ones I have seen above, the nod is given. Outspokenness is banned. 

Media must run. Government must learn. It is behind the times for there are Internet outlets and so many other media one cannot silence in the world. Why not kiss democracy? 

The mainstream media cannot stand proud. In a country divided into almost two blocks of power, it was too easy to see which candidate each media endorsed and that was not because of advertisements. Then came a huge Breakfast which almost all media shared with the new president. 

Is this not part of the reason why media should be so under government in Kenya. This sends out all the wrong signals but is it not past the time for signals. The signs of the times came earlier. Why do we doubt we were meant to fear even before? But fear takes us nowhere. You do not need to be afraid of truth.  

And this is why Kenya did not need a baggage ridden top, a presidency that is questionable on the rule of law. But I heard the President say that even those who advised him not to run for the presidency as he is indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) are his enemies. Was all advice about assessing integrity for leadership which is also part of the Kenyan Constitution 2010, Chapter 6 to be termed evil? Now he is the president. Impunity is still not tolerable. We have to follow the rule of law. We are not where we should be in this. We cannot cheapen a Constitution made with so much pain and struggle. 

When I look at this video specifically, I have strong reactions. I wrote about GPO Oulo and Oscar. I saw them at work very soon before they died and that was not so far from where I was. It is not something I can wish away. It was meant to scare and disturb human rights activists completely. Shake them into silence, leave their families trembling and it did. Left everyone casting stones on those who are outspoken. But can we go on like this forever? 

Kenya, the things we try to forget and sweep under the trees or make them part of our manure. Yes you want silence so that you can develop in peace but I think it should be the other way round. You need voices and noise so that you can begin to see. I speak to you now...on my reactions to the video above.

Oh yes, you can keep saying that we do not need activists. Do all against them. You remind me of Chesterton's The Donkey... "when fishes flew and forests walked and figs grew upon thorns... Starve, scourge deride me... in this case there are no secrets kept. 

Why all these words? Are these victims able to speak? Watch the faces of the women closely when their children are killed. And then they speak of fear. Then some say, but it is not possible to keep the pain. Who answers for this? How many reports do you hide? Why have you made those who ask enemies did you not want to know the truth? These people who died.

They will haunt you thousands, do you hear? Is this not the way it happened in Nazi times? It happens like this and slowly you are cooperating, endorsing in silence.

You don't even need words to understand
these shocking things always around us
the very, very, ugly and disturbing face of impunity in Kenya and 
the stories media did not take up before, will they do something now that the guns are trained not only on media but also on NGOs ( Russian style?)  

First they came for so many and we did not speak because we did not believe it? And when we spoke we were inconsistent, shrugged our shoulders and tried to forget. We shall not. Who killed journalist Francis Nyaruri in 2009? Where is his story? Who silenced his family?


Mugo Theuri said...

This article raises very pertinent issues that must interest all Kenyans of goodwill and all people who cherish freedom. We Kenyans have come from the darkest recesses of political demagoguery and should be the first to know where the shoe pinches most. This is it.
However, it is saddening to realise that even with highly commendable political and constitutional advances we have left ourselves open to parliamentary mischief. We must ensure that no institution has the power, even a pretended power, to curtail human rights and freedoms.

Helmuth A. Niederle said...

While I saw the documentary about Kenya, I had the impression that the country as a whole is a huge prison that has for critical minds one room only: the torture cell. This occupancy is for all those available that are bold enough to ask the crucial question of the legitimacy of power and domination. And those who ask system changing, may easily and fast taste the tools of the blood minions. And that is fatal - mostly.

2017, Kenya post- election deadlock is old; who did not see it coming did not want to, and the child is dead

       Mathare Math in voice...for Raila Odinga     His mouth is open with fear. The palms of his hands with fingers open. This is a fla...