COVERING WSIS: MY EXPERIENCE
I was overjoyed when I got a chance to attend the WSIS preparatory committee meeting in Geneva, (September 2003). To me, being on the Highway Africa team was a break that I was waiting for and I am not disappointed.
It was my first time to a PrepCom, first time I was out as a team of pan African journalists and was the first time I was in Geneva, the fabled city that everyone dreams to visit, if you have enough money.
My mother tells me that I have always been assertive and that I do not easily yield to challenges. I must admit she was right, as she always is.
My excitement was still there but I struggled to get a story. I could not understand the issues well. Though there was a mountain of documentation, it was not easily digestible and was making news per se.
But I was in good hands, Steve Lang, a veteran journalist had accompanied Emrakeb Assefa and I. Granted the conferences he has covered and his wealth of experience, we were able to pick his brains.
Soon I learnt that the best way to get a story is mill around the Civil Society, and government delegations, who are the main participants. Usually the role of CS is to propose changes and the governments to oppose alter or ignore the CS contributions.
The easiest way to get to governments is through your country delegations and in the Kenyan team, I had Wangusi and Mercy. I had people who I could converse in Swahili and my mother tongue- Kikuyu.
Thanks to Wangusi who chaired the internet governance group, I found my bearing and began to understand the dynamics. He explained to me the whole politics of the internet and the selfish interests that underlie the intergovernmental negotiations. At this time, issues of internet governance and financing were shaping up, and I am glad HANA was there to chronicle these important moment.
I could tell that Mercy and Wangusi were happy to take me through the rigors of PrepCom. Though I was asking obvious questions, they happily answered, and for that, I am grateful. Of course they recited the usual poem about the myopia that Kenyan journalism is and decried the lack of sufficient analytical rigor on issues of ICT policy and implementation.
At that time, I was the emblem of ignorance among journalists and was given a chance to prove whether their poem had some basis. At the time, I was guilty of the charges of ignorance and myopia as far as ICT is concerned, but not anymore.
So, the birth of my ICT understanding and writing had several mid wives…..
Watch out for the next piece