Monday, September 25, 2006


Today was the first hearing day of the murder case aganist Thomas Cholmondeley, the grandson of colonial settler Lord Delamere.

He is accussed of murdering Robert Njoya, a stonemason who was poaching animals in the expansive farm.

At the court room, one could not help notice the sharp differences between local and international journalists.

When the court adjourned, the local journalists could be ssen in one side, where the director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko was, while the international journalists were interested in the defense case.

The stories written reflect the same, the international press reflecting Njoya as a thug who attacked a poor settler. the local press also labours to present the rancher as a heartless and emotionless murderer.

while the local press quotes from another murder of Ole Sisina by the same rancher, the international press goes to great depths to explain the "he was attacked with a panga, like the ones used to kill during civil wars"

So much fo the so called objectivity in journalism.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Third Global Mobile Service (GSM) is now ready for roll out after Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and Econet wireless won the latest legal battle seeking to delay the process until monetary issues are sorted out.
High court judge Mary Kasango struck out a suit filed by Kenya National Federation of Cooperatives Limited on a technicality. KNFC was seeking the court’s indulgence in its effort to avoid the month’s notice required before the suit can be filed. The procedure is prescribed under the Communications Act (1998).
Justice Kasango ruled that the law does not allow her to waive notice adding that the constitution allows her to be guided by written laws. She also declined to exrcise the inherent jurisdiction because such powers only exist where the law is not written or is unclear.
“KNFC finds itself without a leg to stand on. It can not obtain a waiver since the Act does not provide for such waiver. The court’s inherent powers can not salvage the situation,” justice Kasango found.
The Federation moved to court under a certificate of urgency seeking to block CCK from issuing frequencies and other technical fulfilments that were agreed under the licence.
The licence was awarded to KNFC together with its partners, Econet Wireless Kenya, Econet Wireless International Limited and Corporate Africa Limited in 2003 but the consortium has faced a rocky union because KNFC could not raise its required financial quota.
Justice Kasango was ruling on a preliminary objection raised by CCK contending that the court had no powers to issue any orders based on the papers filed by the Federation.
Lawyer Walter Amoko representing CCK told justice Kasango that the Communications Act provides for a period of six months within which an aggrieved party is expected to lodge the dispute. He argued that the Federation had slept on its rights for two years before filing the suit.
Lawyer Njoroge Regeru representing Econet told justice Kasango that the Federation had failed to disclose that there were other proceedings that had been argued before high court judge Mohammed Ibrahim. The consortium was invoved in a protracted legal tussle over shareholding but the case was decided against KNFC. The Federation has filed its appeal.
When the Federation was supposed to present its case on why the suit should be sustained, the lawyer, C.N Kihara did not appear at the appointed time. He only turned up after the judge had waited for half an hour and closed the proceedings of that day. The case was therefore based on the arguments presented by CCK and Econet.


It all started at a salon in Dar Es Salaam TZ, a Kenyan gal entered together with her “lover” who wanted her to have her hair done. The gal spoke with a strong Kenyan accent and the gals directed her to her “sister”. I had a chat with her and wanted to know where in Kenya she comes from, and she said; “coast”. Of course I could tell her kikuyu accent.

Being a kikuyu and with lots of prejudice as you can read, I enquired how I can hook up with an old white man who can take me places and pamper me as she had. She had gone on and on about the places she had been on holiday, courtesy of the white guy. We were all in laughter as we sought to know how they hooked up; it was all brewed over the internet!

The Internet!! We all said in unison maybe marvelling at the exploits of technology. We also bitched about how Kenyan girls are good at taking advantage of opportunities coming their way. I must say that is true. But the Internet has only provided us with a new realm.

So much for the Dar incident but my day of reckoning was to come.

At a shopping mall in Luxembourg, I had accompanied HANA editor Steve Lang for the ICANN meeting. We wanted to have lunch but we could not agree. He wanted Japanese salad and I wanted a taste of Thai.

You see, am used to Nairobi shopping malls where you buy food anywhere and sit anywhere in the food court. Not in Luxembourg! If you buy Japanese, sit at their space and Thai has its space. But we wanted to sit together.

So when I went to buy my food, the gal at the sushi bar told Steve, “tell your wife she can sit with you”. So Steve called me and we sat. When leaving, he told me what the gal had said.

And I wondered, how could she think of that, but then I thought that is what we are known for. But I have no intention of hooking up with a pensioner.

So much for the trophy wives.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006



African journalism is contributing to development and the situation will improve if journalists overcome myths and obstacles, said Highway Africa Director, Chris Kabwato.

In his welcome address, Kabwato drew an analogy with the Greek mythological figure Icarus who is famous for flying closer to the sun and his artificial wings melted.

Welcoming more than 500 journalists from 42 countries Kabwato said it was possible for African journalists to break the myths that dictate how issues should be covered and represented through media.

“Let us all defy the Greek mythology and fly closer to the sun than Icarus. Let us dare to challenge the economic policies and issues of democracy in our countries. Let us shake the fundamental myths and transform the way we do journalism,” said Highway Africa Director, Chris Kabwato.

Kabwato underscored Highway Africa’s commitment to training of African journalists on ICTs, research, information provision and the conference which offers networking opportunities for media practitioners.

Prof. Guy Berger, Head of the school of journalism and Media studies at Rhodes University said that in the last ten years, African journalism has overcome a lot and the progress is encouraging.

“Ten years ago the internet was barely known. Right now we can talk of the digital divide and the differences in access between rural and urban areas. We are a movement, a community, and an incubator for ideas waiting development,” said Berger.

While emphasizing the need to learn and embrace new technology, Berger said that Highway Africa is not an engineering school but seeks to empower journalists to communicate using ICTs.

The ICT tools, Berger added, should be used in the context of other pressing issues such as economic policies, culture and peculiar circumstances that a country maybe facing.

“There is passion in what we are trying to do. HA is ten years old and in the upcoming teenage years, there will be excitement and lots of experiments,” Berger concluded.



By Kezio-Musoke David and Rebecca Wanjiku

African governments who gag investigative journalists have been put on notice, courtesy of modern computer applications available on the World Wide Web, said Tom Johnson managing director, Institute for Analytic Journalism.

Johnson said technology will make it hard for governments or other agents affected by investigative work to destroy journalistic work.

While training journalists on the available Web operations that can guarantee security, sharing and storage of their work, Johnson said that the Internet is promoting freedom of _expression and making it harder to destroy vital information.

“Web 2.0 applications can be used as weapons to fight corruption. Web 2.0 Applications will not directly fright corruption but will equip journalist with resources to do better investigations, research and analysis,” Johnson said.

In countries known for investigative journalism, media houses have been burnt and computers stolen by agents opposed to publication. For instance, in Kenya the government stormed The Standard Group, carried computers and burnt newspapers. The move was calculated to force the Standard Group to abandon serialisation of corrupt deals by the government.

“It is now easy to scan documents and store them digitally; they will be available everywhere in a computer. Digital storage acts as backup incase the hard disk is stolen or destroyed,” Johnson said.

Johnson acknowledged that the technology may not be fully available to all journalists in Africa but noted that the continent is growing at a fast rate and introduction of the internet tools will improve investigative journalism.

“I am surprised that in Africa the use of SMS applications is massive as compared to North and South America . This is exactly what I am talking about. The integration of digital technology with the use of Web 2.0 can be very useful in and environment where the infrastructure is limited,” he added.

Web 2.0 is an open source software available free or low-cost. According to the journalism trainer, these applications are continually collaboratively updated making it easier for users to suit it to their needs.

In this respect, Johnson said the applications can allow journalists to research, write, analyse and store information on the internet. The applications make it easier for journalists to share the information and continually update, erasing the need for physical presence. For instance, journalists in Cape Town and Durban can follow similar stories and update via the web without meeting.

Regarding on-line storage, Johnson singled out Google’s Gmail which offers users 2.7 GB, Yahoo, 1 GB and all files can be shared. Others are, Freedrive, and Fortune City.

On sharing information and editing, he suggested several websites that allow various options for book marking and follow-up of web links. Examples:,,, and



By Rebecca Wanjiku
When Maphule Mbhalati was growing up, radio was a classified tool signifying status and wealth. Her grandmother was a proud radio owner and everyone marvelled at the sound waves and wondered how news was produced.

Today, the head of radio news and current affairs at SABC has a message for remote and poor communities that have no access to radio: we are coming to you!

Speaking at the plenary session, Mbhalati told journalists from 42 countries that digital and Satellite radio is poised to revolutionalise how news is disseminated in remote and poor communities in Africa .

“At SABC, we have several radio stations and each of them has an outside broadcast vehicle to visit remote areas. In the absence of a vehicle we have satellite radio that can be received beyond boundaries,” Mbhalati said.

Through digital and satellite radio, Mbhalati said communities can tell their stories and can interact with radio presenters or comment on issues covered by the station. Mbhalati was chairing a session titled Radio in Africa : yesterday today and tomorrow.

“In the past, radio was communal, today it is a fusion between communal and individual tastes, in the future, people are going to decide when the can listen and what they listen to. They will make their voices heard through satellite, digital and internet radio,” Mbhalati added.

Rayborn Bulley, a journalist from Ghana detailed how military dictators took advantage of the single national radio stations to announce the coup and suppress any uprising.

According to his experience, the 139 radio stations in Ghana had promoted freedom of _expression and political accountability but had raised questions regarding journalism ethics and professionalism.

“The FM stations are not employing professionals; many of the presenters are disk jockeys or celebrities. Radio is forcing us to rethink about who is a journalist and who is not,” said Bulley.

Responding to the concerns of non professionalism, Macharia Gaitho, a senior editor with the Nation Newspaper in Kenya said that with the liberalisation of the airwaves has come with its own anarchy.

“I would rather have the anarchy that is there than situations where military dictators take over a radio station and announce their power take over,” Gaitho said.

Regarding professionalism, Bulley acknowledged that the politicians complain anytime listeners call the stations and air negative comments.

Acknowledging opportunities that presents, Portia Kobue from Kaya FM in Johannesburg associated herself with sentiments expressed by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka who says radio has grown from a propaganda tool to an empowering tool.

“Days are gone when radio news would be characterised by two simple sentences. We need journalists who can tell stories, impact lives,” said Kobue.