January 3 2009
I think “Yes we Can” as a phrase only makes sense when it is used in reference to Obama and the long road to his historic win. Any attempt to use it in isolation is tantamount to reinventing the wooden wheel when we already have Michelin, Pirelli, and Bridgestone tires. And that is what our political class has done, and what our President has affirmed by signing the retrogressive media bill that seeks to gag us, denying Kenyans the fundamental freedoms that are guaranteed in any modern democracy.
I wrote an article earlier expressing my hopes that President Kibaki would not sign the bill but also a follow-up caveat with fears that he might sign it anyway, despite the hue and cry from the media. I was reluctant to express confidence that President Kibaki would do the right thing and not sign the bill because we have never been sure what he stands for and hence what he might do. I only know what he cannot do, and that is lead. He has proved me right once more and signed a retrogressive bill that has dragged this country several decades behind to the 20th century yet in our vision 2030; we strive to be like the rest of the leading democracies.
I do not think that Kibaki is stupid or anything of that sort, but brightness alone is not leadership. The essence of leadership is the ability to read the mood of the people and doing right by them. Repeatedly, Kibaki has shown an uncanny ability to embrace willful ignorance, and tragedies such as worsening of the post election violence and signing of the media bill into law have occurred. Recently, we saw the President ignore and even dismiss the man who sought to answer the question whose answer was obvious to everyone except the President. At a time when inflation and consequently food prices is at its highest, and food shortage rampant, Kibaki failed to see the suffering to Kenyans that this was doing.
Now he has assented to the controversial media bill, claiming that it addresses fundamental issues which will encourage among others, investment. That is indeed stupid and coming from an economist; it is especially sad and reeks of vested interests. To Kenyans reading this, please do not even to try to find out which tribe I belong to, and hence seek to dismiss this article as rants against the President because of tribe. It is not that simple, and issues rarely are. The fact is that it is we, Kenyans, who are bound to suffer from the fascist attributes of this media bill. In his statement, Kibaki has dismissed section 88 as not part of the amendment bill, saying the section 88 is found in the 1998 amendment. True. But what he has failed to address is section 46, the scariest part of the bill. It is Section 46 which gives the state the power to dictate what is watched, read and listened to by the public. We might as well move to China or Russia, or even some place closer to home, Zimbabwe.
The way forward is hard and may be long, but one which Kenyans must take. Paul Muite, an influential lawyer and sober leader who was at the core of reform and fights for the liberties that we enjoy today just reminded us that it was Kibaki who seconded the Section 2A amendment that made Kenya a one party state. And today, like then, the fight for this cancerous section to be repealed might be long, it might cost careers and lives, including my own, but it is a fight that must be fought and must be won. There is too much at stake to just sit idle and watch things unfold. You may wonder what the fuss is all about. Here is a sneak peek. Media houses that portray the Government in bad light will be raided, just the way Standard Group was raided, only legally. Similarly, their licenses might be revoked; equipment confiscated, journalists heavily fined, all legally now, and all for the flimsiest of reasons, like telling the truth.
The Government mouthpiece, the spin doctor himself: Expect Dr. Alfred Mutua, the Government spokesman to come out spinning lies, misinterpreting the whole bill like only he can. He will say the most outrageous things with a straight face, reminiscent of his claims last year that the extra ministries will be of no additional cost to the tax payer. Basic arithmetic told us otherwise, but this “Dr.” thought that dividing a ministry meant dividing the salaries of the ministers, assistant ministers, permanent secretaries… (I could go on) that will be appointed to both. We all know the extra strain on the budget that the additional ministries had. To that, I have the following to say. If common sense was a disease, Dr. Alfred Mutua would be the carrier for the antidote because he does not have any. If bullshit was a town, Dr. Alfred Mutua would be the mayor because he is full of shit. And he does not relent because the lies he spins, like the chases in his program, Cobra Squad, never end.
I look forward to seeing what the media houses and civil societies come up with going forward. Whatever it is, I will join them because I do not want my kids and great grandkids to fight for the same fundamental rights and freedoms that I should have secured for them.
Obama is the “Yes We Can” generation and Kibaki is the “Get Away With” generation. Kibaki’s henchmen are now saying “Yes He Did” on the latter, the utmost perversion of a good thing.
Silencing the media has been ongoing not just in Kenya China Russia but through out the world. The media is becoming silent on may issues. Many times they even distorted the truth which in other words becomes a lie. The Iraq war and the steps leading up to it, were spun to make people believe Iraq was evil, but in fact much of what was told to the public by the media was pure propaganda. Israel is another example of the truth not being told over the years.
The media was always a way of the truth being told. There are many reporters who try to get the truth out but many times their stories are not printed or aired. Such a shame. In Israel they do everything to keep the media from telling the truth including not letting them in to Gaza.
This has even been done by the US during Katrina the press was told not to print certain things, or take pictures f what was really going on. They were in essence told to lie.
Haiti is another example of media silence. One is hard pressed to find much of anything on Haiti. Journalists attempting to report news from there are also silenced one way or the other. Some even imprisoned.
The US has put journalists in jail or targeted media centers. Their military has also killed many who tried to report from Iraq. Just recently yet another reporter was shot by the US military. They always have some sort of excuse or other, but their excuses are running thin in my mind.
Today will be another example of media silence on many of the Marches and Rally’s around the world against Israels war against the Palestinians. This is not new of course. Mark my words there will be little said on the main stream media. The marches and rally’s will be minimized as par usual. This I have noted over years. I actually expect it. Especially in the US. Watch and see. So who will give the best coverage of these events? It certainly will not be the US media.
When you attempt to silence the media you have something to hide. Whether it be a crime or blatant lies. We need Freedom of the
Press. Journalists need to be able to tell the public the truth.