IPI World Congress and 54th General Assembly, May 21-24, 2005, Nairobi, Kenya -

IPI World Congress and 54th General Assembly, May 21-24, 2005, Nairobi, Kenya -
[email protected]
KENYA 2005
Wilfred D. Kiboro
Group Chief Executive Officer,
Nation Media Group, Nairobi
Johann P. Fritz
Congress Coordinator and
Editor, IPI Congress Report
Michael Kudlak
Assistant Congress Coordinator
Christiane Klint
Vice Chairman
Rita Klint
Opening Ceremony:
The Promise and
Potential of Africa
Reporting on Africa
Africa’s Development –
Attracting Investment
Press Freedom Issues / Africa
Pluralism and Democracy –
The African Experience
Congress Snapshots
Reporting on the Islamic World
Terrorism and Civil Liberties
Kenya: Hopes and Challenges,
Vision and Reality
Good Governance
and the Media
IPI Free Media Pioneer 2005
IPI Open Forum:
Latest Press Freedom
Closing Remarks
Committee Members
Abdi Hillal
Anne Kae
Chris Kirubi
Cyrille Nabutola
Cyrus Kamau
David Makali
Congress Transcripts
Wilfred D. Kiboro
Rose Kimotho
Dorothy Nyong’o
Evelyne Mwakina
Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed
Hanningtone Gaya
Ivy Chege
Michael Ngugi
Njoroge Ngige
Njoroge Karanja
Paul Kukubo
Paul Richu
Rose Kwena
Samuel Koskei
Timothy Chege
Tom Mshindi
Wachira Waruru
Wangethi Mwangi
Waruru Kanja
Fiona Kahugu
International Press Institute (IPI)
Spiegelgasse 2/29, A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Tel: +43-1-512 90 11, Fax: +43-1-512 90 14
E-mail: [email protected], http://www.freemedia.at
Layout: Nik Bauer
Cover Photograph: Karl Malik
KENYA 2005
SUNDAY, 22 MAY 2005
MONDAY, 23 MAY 2005
“Africa’s Development
– Attracting Investment”
“Pluralism and Democracy
– The African Experience”
“The Promise and
Potential of Africa”
Opening Remarks
Wilfred D. Kiboro
Chairman of IPI;
and Group Chief Executive Officer,
Nation Media Group Ltd, Nairobi
President of Kenya
Raphael Tuju
Minister for Information and
Communications, Kenya
Keynote Speaker
H.E. Paul Kagame
President of Rwanda
John Chiahemen
Secretary General, National Council
of Churches of Kenya, Nairobi
Keynote Speaker
East Africa Correspondent, BBC News, Nairobi
Wachira Waruru
CEO, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC),
Member of the Board of Trustees, Mwalimu
Nyerere Foundation, Dar es Salaam;
and former Secretary-General of the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU)
Bureau Chief, Voice of America, Nairobi
Mukhisa Kituyi
Shams Vellani
Minister for Trade and Industry, Nairobi
Wiseman Nkuhlu
Uhuru Kenyatta
Chairman, NEPAD Secretariat,
Leader of the Opposition, Nairobi
“Press Freedom Issues / Africa”
Director, Special Projects, Aga Khan
Development Network, London, UK
Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion
and Expression, UN Human Rights Commission,
Tom Mshindi
Chief Executive Officer,
Standard Group, Nairobi
Keynote Speaker
Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature
John Gambanga
Editor, The Daily News,
Harare, Zimbabwe
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Managing Editor,
The Independent, Banjul
“Terrorism and Civil Liberties”
Abdul Waheed Khan
Assistant Director General for Communication
and Information, UNESCO, Paris
Thomas Bauer
Sunanda Deshapriya
Spokesperson, Free Media Movement (FMM),
Simon Li
Assistant Managing Editor, Los Angeles Times,
Los Angeles
Vimal Shah
Chief Executive Officer, Bidco Oil Refineries, Thika
“Good Governance
and the Media”
Alain Modoux
President, ORBICOM, International Network of
UNESCO Chairs in Communication, Montreal
Keynote Speaker
Bernard Kouassi
Executive Director, African Peer Review
Mechanism (APRM), Johannesburg
Kavi Chongkittavorn
Assistant Group Editor, The Nation, Bangkok; and
Chairman, Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
Director, Centre for International Communication
Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing
Anderson Fumulani
Peter Preston
Director, Guardian Foundation, London
Auditor/East and Southern Africa, Media and
Society Foundation, Blantyre, Malawi
Raymond Louw
Alejandro Miró Quesada Cisneros
Editor, Southern Africa Report,
Johannesburg, South Africa
Director, El Comercio, Lima; and President, Inter
American Press Association (IAPA)
Arjun Bista
Media Point, Institute for Professional
Journalism, Kathmandu, Nepal
Li Xiguang
for IPI members only
Editor & Publisher, San Francisco Bay Guardian,
San Francisco, CA
Secretary, Constitution of Kenya Review
Commission, Nairobi
Keynote Speaker
Author; former Spokesman of the UN Envoy to
Iraq; former Director, News and Media Division,
United Nations Department of Public Information,
New York, NY
“Latest Press Freedom
Patrick Lumumba
Salim Lone
Editor-in-Chief, News and Current Affairs,
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC),
Keynote Speaker
Founder and Station Manager,
SW Radio Africa, London
Bruce Brugmann
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kampala
Head, Department of Audiovisual Media and
Media Culture, Institute for Communication and
Media Studies, University of Vienna
Geraldine Jackson
Managing Director, Regional Reach Ltd, Nairobi
Tony Burman
Rose Kimotho
Mugisha Muntu
“Reporting on the Islamic World”
awarded to
Director, FreeVoice, Hilversum, Netherlands
Editor-in-Chief, The Reporter,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Adam Mynott
Alisha Ryu
Bart Dijkstra
Keynote Speaker
Salim Ahmed Salim
President, Latin America, Africa
and the Middle East,
General Motors, Detroit
Joachim Lenz
Group Editorial Director
Nation Media Group, Nairobi
Diplomatic Editor, CNN Türk; and Columnist,
Milliyet, Istanbul, Turkey
Maureen Kempston Darkes
Amare Aregawi
Wangethi Mwangi
Semih Idiz
Chief Correspondent, Reuters Southern
Africa Bureau, Johannesburg
Programme Director, Deutsche Welle, Bonn
Bambang Harymurti
London, UK
Editor, Financial Mail, Johannesburg
Wole Soyinka
Editor, Citizen Communications, Kaduna, Nigeria
“Kenya: Hopes and Challenges,
Vision and Reality”
Industrialist; and Chancellor,
University of Nairobi
“Reporting on Africa”
Hajiya Bilkisu
Mutava Musyimi
Vice President, Public Affairs and
Communications, Coca-Cola Africa
Group, London
Keynote Speaker
Director, Institute for Professional Journalists,
Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon
Chief Editor, Tempo, Jakarta, Indonesia
Robert Ahomka Lindsay
H.E. Hon. Mwai Kibaki
Magda Abu-Fadil
Barney Mthombothi
Director of IPI
H.H. The Aga Khan
Joe Wanjui
Johann P. Fritz
TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2005
Nicholas Kotch
Media Consultant, Reuters Foundation,
Johannesburg, South Africa
Issa Mansaray
Correspondent, For Di People,
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Kifle Mulat
President, Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’
Association (EFJA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Closing Remarks
Moody Awori
Vice President of Kenya
Amos Wako
Attorney General, Kenya
Challenges for Africa
Michael Kudlak
Congress Coordinator and Editor, IPI Congress Report
rom 21 to 24 May 2005, more than 450
editors, media executives, leading journalists and their guests from 53 countries
met in Nairobi, Kenya, for the IPI World
Congress and 54th General Assembly.
It was the third time, after 1968 and
1981, that IPI held its annual general meeting in Kenya, and the fifth occasion, after
Cairo (1985) and Cape Town (1994), that
the IPI membership convened on the African continent.
On 22 May, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki officially opened the Congress at an
Opening Ceremony held at the Kenyatta
International Conference Centre. Kibaki,
who won a landslide victory in the 2002 general elections, ending President Daniel arap
Moi’s 24-year rule, got the conference off to
a promising start by announcing that his
government was drafting a Freedom of Information Act that would enable all Kenyans
to obtain access to official records. However,
his announcement was greeted with caution
by the Kenyan press. “The whiff of such promises often disappears before food is laid on
the table,” wrote the East African Standard.
In particular, journalists expressed concern
over President Kibaki’s reference to “necessary safeguards to ensure that [freedom of
expression and press freedom] are exercised
responsibly for the good of the press and the
general public.”
Kibaki’s speech was followed by an appeal
by His Highness the Aga Khan, founder of
the Nairobi-based Nation Media Group, who
spoke on the potential of African media and
his concerns about the “adequacy of journalistic knowledge” in an increasingly complicated world. “The major issues in Africa today are complex and elusive,” he said. “My
central question is whether we have enough
good journalists who know enough about
these subjects and can help African audiences understand their African implications.”
He also spoke of the “need to increase dialogue and communication among journalists
and those they write about,” namely politicians, civil servants and business leaders. “The
media and those it covers could do much
more to build bridges of mutual understanding,” he said.
Over the next three days, speakers, panelists and delegates discussed the challenges
facing Africa, as well as issues related to press
freedom and the media industry in general.
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, opened the first panel session, “Reporting on Africa”, urging Western media to stop portraying Africa as a “dark continent,” ravaged by
disease, war and famine, and to also include
positive developments in their coverage. But
he stressed that “Africa must take responsibility for the sorry state of affairs on our
continent, most of which inform and generate the kind of reporting that we have witnessed.” He and the other African panelists
agreed that it was up to African journalists
to highlight positive stories, which would in
turn lead to the foreign investment needed
for the continent’s development. “Happily,
in certain markets in Africa we are now seeing a growing and determined effort to refocus journalists on how to report Africa positively, locking on to issues like the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
and the African Union, the isolated successes in rolling back the spread of HIV/Aids …
and the successes in conflict resolution,” said
Wangethi Mwangi, Group Editorial Director of the Nation Media Group.
Panel sessions on “Africa’s Development –
Attracting Investment” and “Press Freedom
Issues/Africa”, which featured a keynote
speech by Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka (read
in abstentia), and reports from Ethiopia,
The Gambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe,
rounded off the day’s events.
The second day featured a panel session on
“Pluralism and Democracy – The African
Experience”, with a keynote speech by Salim
Ahmed Salim, former Secretary-General of
the African Union’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity. This was followed by a
heated discussion on “Reporting on the Islamic World”, in which several panelists accused
Western media of ignorance, stereotyping and
sensationalism in their coverage of Muslims,
Arabs and Islam, while some delegates questioned the makeup of the panel, alleging it was
biased against the West. A final session on
“Terrorism and Civil Liberties” looked at how
anti-terrorism legislation around the world,
often hastily put in place in response to the
terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, was
curtailing basic civil rights, including freedom
of expression and of the press.
On day three, panelists discussed Kenya’s
future in a session titled, “Kenya: Hopes and
Challenges, Vision and Reality”, while a session on “Good Governance and the Media”
examined how a functioning and independent press can, in its central watchdog role,
promote and foster good governance.
This was followed by the presentation of
the 2005 IPI Free Media Pioneer Award,
which this year went to SW Radio Africa, a
London, UK-based radio station run by a
group of exiled Zimbabwean reporters and
DJs. Launched in December 2001, SW Radio Africa’s main aim is to give a “voice to
the voiceless” by fostering a dialogue with its
Zimbabwean audience, who often at great
risk call in to air their opinions and give firsthand accounts of the deteriorating situation
in their country. Geraldine Jackson, SW
Radio Africa’s founder and station manager,
received the award on behalf of the station.
“We sincerely hope that the receipt of an
award such as this will help us in our constant fund raising endeavours so that we can
continue to highlight the oppression that is
happening in our beloved country,” Jackson
said in a moving acceptance speech. “We face
imminent closure and for our listeners we
are the last voice of hope and it would be
tragic if that voice went silent.”
The Nairobi congress proved to be a great
success, thanks in large part to the efforts of
the Kenyan host committee and Wilfred D.
Kiboro, CEO of the Nation Media Group
and current international Chairman of IPI.
As in previous years, the IPI World Congress
also provided a valuable meeting place where
delegates could exchange views, share experiences and establish new business contacts.
Post-Congress tours to the Masai Mara Game
Reserve, Mount Kenya National Park and
Mombassa, among other destinations, provided an opportunity to enjoy the warmth
and hospitality of the Kenyan people and
for further informal networking among
In 2006, from 27 to 30 May, the IPI World
Congress and 55th General Assembly will be
held in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is being organised in close cooperation with the British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), among
others, and promises to be another truly remarkable event.
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
“The Promise
and Potential
of Africa”
Opening Remarks
Wilfred D. Kiboro
Chairman of IPI; and Group Chief Executive
Officer, Nation Media Group Ltd, Nairobi
Johann P. Fritz
Director of IPI
H.H. The Aga Khan
Keynote Speaker
H.E. Hon. Mwai Kibaki
President of Kenya
Africa’s Multifaceted Character
Wilfred D. Kiboro
Chairman of IPI; and Group Chief Executive
Officer, Nation Media Group Ltd, Nairobi
et me start by welcoming you all to this
54th General Congress of the International Press Institute. This is IPI’s fourth
visit to Africa and, even more significant,
third visit to Kenya. The Congress’s return
to Africa is a great honour and a reflection of
the intriguing nature of the continent,
spiced up by its alluring image – a continent
where something new is always happening.
But Africa is much more than just an
intriguing destination for travellers and
adventurers and in the next few days we shall
be exploring the hidden secrets of this vast
Our safari during this Congress will,
hopefully, open our eyes to Africa’s multifaceted character, a continent of great diversity
and distinct faces – one bleak, the other promising. One a threat to press freedom, the
other offering great opportunity.
The story of the HIV/AIDS spread is
illustrative. Nearly 70 per cent of the 36plus million people worldwide infected with
HIV/AIDS live in Africa. But that number is
declining here and rising in Asia. Most
importantly, two of the most successful examples in rolling back the spread of HIV/
AIDS in the developing world are Uganda
and Senegal.
And there are other equally illustrative
examples in other areas.
One, Africa still has very many armed
conflicts, but they have fallen by nearly 50
per cent in the last four years, and all the
major and long-standing ones – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia,
Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia – have been
resolved by negotiated settlements, or are
in mediation. There isn’t a single conflict,
which is not in a negotiation stage – a far cry
from the situation a few years ago.
This tells us that something interesting
is stirring. Freedom House, for example, reported that political freedom has been
increasing in sub-Saharan Africa.
At a wider level, over the last decade, the
number of free democracies in Africa has
almost tripled from four to 11, and more
than half of the countries in the region are in
the transition process toward full and free
Africa shares many common problems
and virtues with the rest of the world, but
these stories tell that it has its own unique
and complex make-up, including in the media sector.
We have situations in countries like
Uganda, which for many years press freedom groups listed as having one of the freest
media in Africa, but it was by and large a
benign one-party state – what they call a
“no-party” democracy.
This complex make-up imposes on the
media in Africa a special responsibility to
continue to be a fearless watchdog to ensure
that freedom and accountable government
continue to expand, while at the same time
ensuring that they don’t squander the gains
of recent years.
We should be able to do this because, fortunately, the problems of media monopoly
that are plaguing the West have not yet come
in a big way to the continent. Also, while
everyone would be better off if our governments were more open in engaging the media, the African media feel lucky that they
don’t yet have to deal with governments that
are very sophisticated at controlling the
news as the U.S. administration does.
Over the last decade,
the number of free democracies
in Africa has almost tripled from
four to 11, and more than half
of the countries in the region are
in the transition process toward
full and free democracy
Indeed, one might be tempted to say that
in Africa, the greater problem is not so much
media-savvy governments, but NGOs. They
are increasingly influencing the news agenda
and distracting journalists from serving the
greater public good.
That wouldn’t have been a big problem,
except for another development. Take Kenya, to start with. The Kenya we are meeting
in today is a very different Kenya from the
country it would have been if this Congress
had taken place here five years ago. Kenya
was in the throes of a struggle for democracy that was sweeping other parts of Africa,
Eastern Europe, and Asia. The fruits of that
struggle came in December 2002 when a
coalition led by President Mwai Kibaki won
the elections. It became one of the few cases
in Africa where a constitutional opposition
defeated a long-ruling party.
Because of that, there are many voices in
society that feel that the new government
formed by former reformists should be treated with “more understanding.” In other
words, that the work of questioning media
has ended, and now the media should be a
No one would disagree with that, except
that “partner” tends to be taken to mean
“cheerleader.” So we must ask: Is that the
role and relevance of the African media in
this post-totalitarian age? Some kind of
“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” conspiracy?
But there is another side, a darker one.
While the media have contributed to Africa’s
democratic transformation, they have also
demonstrated a sadistic and destructive
streak. Here I’m referring to the debilitating
phenomenon of hate media.
In 1994, hate media, which incite violence against targeted religious and ethnic
groups, contributed significantly to the genocide in which nearly one million people
were killed in Rwanda. It was a big problem
at the height of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which directly
and indirectly resulted in the death of more
than 2.5 million people. Today, hate media
have added a lot of fuel to the fires of strife
burning in Cote d’Ivoire.
The first damage hate media do, beyond
destroying lives, is to the credibility of the
media in general. But for mainstream and
respected media, how do we speak in a voice
that people will listen to instead of hate
A related problem is that, as in Eastern
Europe and many parts of Asia, the economic liberalisation of the last 15 years, combined with the growth of democratisation,
has brought new challenges. We now have
many radio and television stations whose
owners are using them for pushing their personal agendas. In many countries, especially
those with weak governments, the balance
of power is shifting away from elected representatives to powerful individuals and
In the midst of this, we have to contend
with changing forms of censorship. Governments, even in Africa, rely less on old style
crude repression of information and perse-
cution of journalists than they did in the
past. They now argue that there is a legitimate need to manage broadcast frequencies,
and police the broadcast media for what
might be extreme and morally questionable
content. The result has been a whole new
regime for regulating content and the imposition of unaffordable licence fees and frequency fees. In many countries these fees are
so prohibitive, and the requirements for
local content quotas are so stringent, that
they have effectively given governments a
new seemingly political free tool to control
As in Eastern Europe
and many parts of Asia,
the economic liberalisation of the
last 15 years, combined with
the growth of democratisation,
has brought new challenges
IPI provides a good platform to sound
out these issues, and to take them forward.
The presence of government leaders, including two heads of state and His Highness the
Aga Khan, who in his own right is a leader
and media pioneer in Africa, is a wonderful
opportunity for us to air these concerns to
people at the highest levels.
In conclusion, let me say that this event
wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless efforts of the IPI host committee, the
generous support of our sponsors and the
tremendous response of IPI delegates from
all over the world. Many thanks to all of you
and let me, once again, welcome you to the
Congress and hope that you’ll find time to
see the rest of our beautiful country. And
wherever you go, remember this: We may be
poor economically, but we more than make
up for it with our warmth and kindly nature.
22 MAY 2005
Core Values
Johann P. Fritz
Director of IPI
ccording to Freedom House, which
publishes an annual Global Survey of
Media Independence, only seven out of the
53 African states enjoy a free press environment. In North Africa, there is no free press
country at all. With 30 states having no
press freedom at all, Africa represents 42 per
cent of the world’s countries without any
right to freedom of expression.
Censorship, closure of media, attacks on
journalists and even killings, harassment,
threats, intimidation, physical violence and
imprisonment are elements of silencing
independent journalism in Africa.
Courageous individuals have withstood
these pressures and independent media have
emerged as a force to be reckoned with,
capable of bringing about political and social
But Africa unfortunately still is a conflict-ridden continent – seven out of the 16
UN peacekeeping missions worldwide are in
Africa (Burundi, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire,
Ethiopia and Eritrea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
and West Sahara); a desperate situation, four
decades after the end of colonialism, when
people expected an era of peace and development.
The long overdue African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is now set to become a reality. The Protocol establishing the
Court was opened for ratification in 1998,
but did not receive the requisite number of
ratifications until 2004. The Court is intended to provide the African people with an
enhanced forum for redressing human rights
The functional link between the Court
and the African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights still needs to be defined. The
Protocol only states that the Court “shall
complement the protective mandate of the
If newspapers are “just another
business,” how and why can
they lay claim to the role of a Fourth
Estate and watchdog, with
greater public responsibility than
other corporate operations?
This Human Rights Commission was
established as a consequence of the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
which came into force in October 1986 after
its adoption in Nairobi in 1981; another sad
example of the lack of political will to bring
about change and progress.
Under such political circumstances in
Africa, it is vital to ensure that NGOs and
other civil society organisations are included
in all of the processes aimed at making the
new Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
A detailed analysis of why most African
political leaders could suppress for so long
democratic developments and critical coverage by the media will be presented in one of
this afternoon’s sessions.
After this brief analysis of the manifold
deficiencies of democracy in Africa, let me
now turn to a press freedom issue that is in
particular a problem of the industrialised
An article by Mark Pearson, a professor
of journalism in Queensland, Australia,
described it well. The story focused on the
editor of an Australian newspaper, who stated that his role as editor was to improve circulation and to deliver to the company’s
shareholders. “I’m a cog in the wheel that
helps maximise shareholder returns, be that
capital growth in the share price or the dividend,” he allegedly said. And the newspaper’s managing director added that he “is in
a manufacturing business making widgets
called newspapers”.
Prof. Pearson saw the explanation for this
development in:
• the shift from family operations to large
international conglomerates leaving newspapers as just another profit stream in larger,
diverse organisations;
• the erosion of the firewall between advertising and editorial departments, which
traditionally gave editors a degree of independence from the commercial side of the
operations; and in
• the tendency of editors being required
to answer to the interests of shareholders rather than readers when those interests do not
The question therefore is: If newspapers
are “just another business,” how and why
can they lay claim to the role of a Fourth
Estate and watchdog, with greater public
responsibility than other corporate operations?
Media organisations nowadays often appear to be driven by self-interest when waving the flag of press freedom. Their press
freedom rhetoric is being undermined by the
operations as a business. A growing number
of journalists and also many opinion leaders
claim that the commitment of the media
organisations to commercial interests has diminished the ability of journalists to defend
the Fourth Estate ideal.
No doubt there are newspaper editors
and publishers who will argue that it is still
possible to pursue Fourth Estate ideals while
maximising profits and returns to shareholders. But, as a press freedom community, we
must remain alert to this problem because
the concept of the Fourth Estate, the public
interest and the public right to know, are far
too valuable to be sold off like “widgets.”
All over, there is unfortunately a trend
that materialistic principles are gaining dominance over basic moral and ethical values.
Media have already acknowledged this phenomenon, and – time and again – dealt with
the problem.
The British author and journalist, Roy
Hattersley, for example, wrote recently that
we all have become richer; but, he asked, are
we really better off today? Materially, we are
better off than few of us even dared hope, he
stated, but it is just as foolish to blind ourselves to the problems which material prosperity has brought. We live in an age of restless cynicism, in which dissatisfied youth
look for kicks rather than lasting enjoyment.
All this is the consequence of a society
that has gained prosperity, but lost many of
its core values. And the greatest loss of all is
the sense of community. Although we know
where we live, we are not sure where we
belong. The instincts for family and friendship have been superseded by admiration for
second-rate celebrities and the belief that
spare cash is all that matters.
Finally, Hattersley stressed that progress
does not only – or always – have its disadvantages. Indeed, in some ways, prosperity
makes society more attainable. A more prosperous society, he stated, can and often does
show greater concern for the sick, the old
and the poor.
In comparison, let me transfer this analysis to the situation of our global press freedom community. It seems a contradiction,
but it is obvious: The richer and more powerful the media get, the less they care for the
core values of developing and sustaining
press freedom in those parts of the world
where it is needed most. And that is, as you
all know, in two thirds of the countries of
our world.
The members of IPI shall therefore never
cease trying to convince the many colleagues from the exclusively business-oriented
media to return to the core values of our
profession and to the principle of international solidarity.
At the business session of the 1981 Nairobi conference, the former IPI Director,
Peter Galliner, stated, “IPI will continue to
play its role in the defence of the freedom of
speech and the free flow of information; it
will help those who are harassed and persecuted, it will uphold the right to communicate without government influence and
restrictions and IPI will not give in to pressures, wherever they may come from.”
Until today, 24 years later, this has been
and will remain the principal commitment
of the IPI community.
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
“The Promise and
Potential of Africa”
H.H. The Aga Khan
wenty-four years ago, I had the honour
of addressing this organisation at its
30th annual conference, also held here in
Nairobi. Twenty-one years before that, in
1960, I established the Nation newspapers
At that time, many African nations had
freshly emerged from colonial rule, and I
believed that good journalism could play a
critical role in their development.
Some may ask why a Muslim spiritual
leader would get involved in the media business. In all interpretations of Islam, Imams
are required to lead not only in interpreting
the faith but also in improving the quality of
life for the people who refer to them.
This ethical premise is the foundation of
the Aga Khan Development Network, which
has long been serving the developing world
without regard to ethnicity, gender or race.
My commitment to African media has been
within this framework.
In the quarter century since I first addressed IPI, both the state of governance and
the state of the media in Africa have shown
encouraging progress.
Not only has Africa moved beyond the
worst legacies of colonialism, but it has also
moved beyond the rigid constraints of the
Cold War. Old dogmatisms, both of East
and West, have given way to a new pragmatism – a new freedom to innovate, to experiment and to find African answers to African
Africa has learned a lot about democracy
in these years – its fragility and its potential.
Increasingly, governments are expected to
change hands peacefully, to cooperate
regionally, to attract the capable and to punish the corrupt. And the progress reaches
beyond governments. As the Economic
Commission for Africa concluded in its
recent report, “Civil society and the media
have increased their voice and power in the
last decade of democratic reforms.”
But there is still a long way to go, in the
media field among others.
Let me begin with a concern that IPI has
raised in its annual report: The erosion of
press freedom in some African countries.
Respect for press freedom, it seems to
me, grows out of a respect for pluralism as a
cornerstone of peace and progress. Pluralism implies a readiness to listen to many
voices – whether we agree with them or not
– and a readiness to embrace a rich diversity of cultures.
When our diversity divides us, the results
can be tragic – as we have seen in Rwanda,
the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, the Sudan. But when we welcome diversity – and the debate and dissent
that goes with it – we sow the seeds of stability and progress.
My concern for diversity and open expression was reflected recently as The Aga
Khan Development Network joined with
the Government of Canada to establish a
Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. Its
mission is to promote pluralist values and
practices in culturally diverse societies
worldwide, including here in Africa.
The Centre will work with governments,
academia and civil society, to enhance pluralism in every sphere – including the media.
But there is a second media-related question that I want to raise with you today, and
that concerns the adequacy of journalistic
knowledge in an increasingly complicated
What I often hear from Africa’s leaders
these days are serious misgivings about the
depth of that knowledge, and genuine
doubts about the breadth of understanding
that many journalists bring to difficult issues. Clearly, a deeper and broader knowledge base will be a key to the future of
African journalism.
This means that journalists must move
beyond a primarily adversarial relationship
with those they write about.
To be sure, the role of independent critic
can be a vital role, but it is not the only role.
If the dominating assumption of media is
that the rest of society is up to no good, that
the best journalism is what many call “gotcha” journalism, then the media will forfeit a
more constructive and nobler role.
I believe that the best journalists are not
those who think they know everything, but
those who are wise enough to know what
they do not know. Excellence in journalism,
it seems to me, stems not from arrogant
judgmentalism, but from intellectual humility. As a wise judge once put it, “The spirit
of liberty is the spirit that is not too sure that
it is right.”
The major issues in Africa today are complex and elusive – and old approaches have
often failed. But every day, leaders in Africa
and elsewhere are thinking in new ways.
The revolution in bioengineering, for example, promises to change rural societies as
the old industrial engineering once reshaped
urban landscapes. Genetic research – like the
stem-cell breakthroughs which dominated
front pages across the world just two days
ago – will transform our approaches to per-
sonal and public health, including scourges
like AIDS and malaria.
Meanwhile, the physical sciences offer
new ways to think about the impact of climate change on Africa, and on its food and
water supply. New information technologies
will transform education throughout Africa,
including the most remote rural areas, even
as they re-energise non-industrial economies.
One of the most exciting aspects of scientific progress in the 21st century is that so
much of it can be applied so directly in the
rural environments of the developing world.
We no longer need to be urban in order
to be modern.
My central question today, however, is
whether we have enough good journalists
who know enough about these subjects and
can help African audiences understand their
African implications.
Good journalism is never easy, especially
in a constantly changing, impossibly fragmented and highly unpredictable world.
To monitor this world hour by hour, day
after day, under deadline pressures and often
with inadequate resources – this is a daunting task.
But there are some ways to help.
For a start, we need to increase dialogue
and communication among journalists and
those they write about – politicians, civil servants, business and religious leaders, the
voices of civil society.
We need to increase dialogue
and communication among journalists and those they write
about – politicians, civil servants,
business and religious leaders,
the voices of civil society
There are models for such exchange elsewhere in the world, including programmes
that permit journalists to spend time working within the institutions they report
I could be a bit mischievous here and suggest some possibilities that might result if all
the media employees ran the government for
a month or two – and all government employees ran the media! But I will resist the
My serious point is that the media and
those it covers could do much more to build
bridges of mutual understanding. On the
media side, this ought to mean more rigorous research – what I call “anticipatory research” – at the start of the reporting and
writing process. Cultivating knowledge is as
important as cultivating sources.
But the sources can also do more to help.
Off-the-record background briefings, for
example, are regular and routine in the West,
but they are relatively rare in Africa. Some
journalists have difficulty getting responses
even to their direct requests. The habit of
sharing information is a habit that Africa
needs to hone.
Another challenge for African journalism
is that we cannot find enough competently
educated people.
Good journalism requires the best we can
muster in terms of disciplined learning,
intelligent analysis, prudent judgment, and
nuanced expression. Most particularly, it requires people who can write clear and compelling prose. These are not qualities easily
found in any society. But the problem is particularly severe in Africa. The continent is
desperately short of the well-educated people it needs, not just in the liberal arts, but
also in virtually every field.
In an ideal world, journalists would be
educated in the nuances of the beats they
cover – and new beats that are emerging.
Scientific sophistication, economic acumen,
political subtlety, legal and medical expertise
– all these skills should be present in our
newsrooms as matter of course.
There are understandable reasons why
this ideal is still not realised. For one thing,
journalism has not been seen as a desirable
profession. Too many young Africans, for
too long, saw the journalist as a mere propagandist. And for many years journalism was
a highly dangerous profession. Between
1985 and 1995, 108 journalists were killed
in Africa and that risk, while diminishing, is
still a reality.
Low compensation levels are another
problem. Most African journalists are paid
substantially less than those who enter other
liberal professions. In addition, the quality
of journalism education in Africa has often
been deteriorating.
But none of these problems is intractable.
I believe that a concerted effort to invest in
the quality of African journalism can launch
an upward spiral of progress.
There is one other front on which the
battle must be waged, however, and it has to
do with media owners and managers. Too
often, those who set the media agenda see it
primarily as a business agenda. Too often the
measure of media success is simply financial
I think this attitude is wrong; it often
makes for manipulative media, distorting
and misleading in a narrow pursuit of readers and ratings.
It means that journalism is subordinated
to entertainment, and that the need to
inform must yield to the need to please.
Responsible and relevant reporting is not
the priority in that business model. Instead,
the power of the press is used to turn traditional value systems on their heads – to take
what is really quite unimportant and to make
it seem very important, to take what is trivial and to make it seem titillating. In that
context, what is most truly significant must
yield to what is most readily saleable.
The damage that can be done by such
distorted journalism is especially heavy in
Africa, offending African value systems, distracting African energies and misserving African development. Manipulative journalism
is not merely a nuisance here; it can have
destructive power. Yet journalism at its best
can be a strong pillar in building Africa’s
One disadvantage of being both a media
proprietor and a media critic is that one is
eventually obliged to follow one’s own advice! I am pleased to tell you, therefore, that
our own Nation Media Group has been taking on these challenges.
Our need for competent journalists has
been expanding as we have grown in the
last decade from a small newspaper company, publishing daily in one country, into
a multi-national, multi-media company,
with publications in three countries, along
with a growing radio, television and internet presence.
To improve our human resource base, we
have been organising school outreach programmes, designed to attract more of the
best and brightest students to the profession.
We have revamped our compensation systems and put new emphasis on life-long
education and training. And this work continues.
One cannot work in international development for nearly 50 years without being
optimistic about the potential for human
progress. That outlook, and my connections
to this region going back to childhood, allow
me to say with confidence that the promise
and potential of Africa is great. Equally, 40some years in the African media business
have convinced me that the media can play a
vital role in the African development story.
Working in partnership with governments, with the private sector and with the
institutions of civil society, African media
can – I am sure – be a burgeoning source of
relevant and responsible information, a reliable locus of competent comment and insight, a constructive and cooperative partner
even as it remains a free and independent
player, commercially successful at the same
time that it is socially responsible.
If that happens, then the African press
will indeed be a leading force in fulfilling the
promise and potential of Africa.
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
Positive Changes
H.E. Hon. Mwai Kibaki
President and Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya
am delighted to join you for this opening
ceremony of the International Press Institute World Congress and 54th General
First of all I would like to welcome His
Excellency President Paul Kagame and His
Highness the Aga Khan who are here with us
today. I also welcome all of you international
news editors, media executives, leading journalists and other eminent media professionals
who have spared time to attend this conference in Nairobi. I hope that you will also take
the opportunity to travel outside Nairobi.
I recommend that you take a few days to
visit the countryside to see for yourselves the
beauty of Kenya and enjoy the warm hospitality of our people.
This media gathering is important because it testifies to the commitment and dedication of the world media to the furtherance
and protection of press freedom. The importance of media and freedom of expression
is anchored in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and constitutions of most
This is because there is a clear recognition that the right to free expression and
exchange of ideas is a fundamental human
right, which should never be considered a
More importantly, the free flow of news
and information is one of the hallmarks of a
functioning democracy. An informed society
is able to better participate in the design and
execution of public policies. It is also more
resourceful and creative in addressing social
challenges. Such a society is, therefore, better placed to increase productivity and prosperity.
Moreover, journalism has been called the
first draft of history. It is journalists who
bring us the first stories of unfolding events,
be it wars, catastrophes or achievements of
the human race. It is this effort that has immensely contributed to making the world a
global village.
However, in playing this crucial role,
journalists constantly work under various
threats. It takes courage to cover dangerous
war zones to enable the world to learn about
the atrocities that continue to shame humanity. It also takes courage to investigate
sensitive stories. In doing so, many journalists have been imprisoned, injured or even
lost their lives in the line of duty.
This forum therefore provides an opportunity to pay tribute to these brave men and
women. Good journalists have also galvanised global opinion in support of important human causes. For example, we all remember the coverage of the Ethiopian
famine and the related human tragedy that
was brought to the world’s attention by the
late Kenyan journalist Mohammed Amin.
Amin undertook to consistently record and
make available powerful images of the disaster. This awoke the human conscience and
united the world to provide assistance to the
victims of the famine.
Apart from the media’s traditional roles
of informing, entertaining and educating,
media can play an active role in development, especially in Third World Nations.
For example, media is playing an important
role in the campaign against HIV/AIDS, the
fight against corruption and the promotion
of human rights. For developing nations,
media have an extra duty of mobilising people against poverty and promoting harmony
among them. The media also plays an important role in the promotion of regional
and international cooperation.
Whereas the importance of the freedom
of the media cannot be questioned, it is clear
that freedom cannot be exercised without
responsibility. Objective, fair and accurate
reporting should not just be tenets to be
studied and talked about in conferences, but
they should be part and parcel of the ethics
and professional guidelines of all journalists.
It is only through observing these standards that journalism will maintain the credibility it deserves. I would like to emphasise
that the press wields a double-edged sword.
Media reports can serve to build or to destroy, to unite or to divide people. In some
cases, hasty publication of information without first verifying its truthfulness has often
led to costly and unnecessary law suits, and
in some instances even riots that have led to
needless loss of lives. I believe you will agree
with me that in such cases, no amount of
apology will completely wipe out the damage done.
It is regrettable, for example, that the media has sometimes been used to turn people
against one another, as happened during the
Rwanda genocide. I wish to commend His
Excellency President Paul Kagame for restoring peace, stability and development to
Rwanda. His commitment to peace and international outlook has enabled the people of
Rwanda to rise above the tragedy and begin a
new chapter in national reconciliation.
My government is, together
with media and other stakeholders,
drafting a Freedom of Information
Act, to bring the legal framework
in line with the current realities
The effectiveness of media has been enhanced by the growth of technology, especially the use of the Internet. Today, what is
reported by newspapers in Kenya is instantly available to millions of readers throughout
the world. Therefore, the difference between
what is normally considered local and international media has narrowed significantly.
In addition, news reports and analyses of
major networks are now shaping the opinions and perceptions of viewers and listeners
across the world. Any statement in the media impacts on society in different ways.
The era of the global citizen is truly with us.
Under these circumstances, questions such
as who controls information, cultural dominance and balanced reporting will still continue to dominate debate. Indeed, I have no
doubt that this forum will address these crucial issues.
Africa is undergoing many positive changes and has many success stories to tell. In
this regard, some of the changes taking place
are in such areas as governance, economic
reforms, regional trade partnerships, political stability and improvement in the quality
of lives of the people of this continent.
These are areas that we should talk about
more often.
You are today in one of the
most democratic countries in Africa
and indeed the world. Since my
government took over two years
ago, we made a commitment to
widen the democratic space and
ensure total freedom of expression
and freedom of the media.
It is encouraging to note that 42 African
countries have held multi-party presidential
and/or parliamentary elections in the last ten
years. Last year, 18 African countries had
growth rates of over five per cent, while 16
others had growth rates of three to five per
cent. There is now a real opportunity for
rapid growth that will translate to better
lives and prosperity for the people.
In addition, the continent has united in
resolving conflicts that have been a major
obstacle to economic development. For example, the implementation of the Burundi
Peace Agreement, the Comprehensive Peace
Accord for Sudan and the formation of the
Transitional Federal Government for Somalia are major milestones that have opened
up a new chapter of peace in Africa. We need
to encourage and support these positive
You are today in one of the most democratic countries in Africa and indeed the
world. Since my government took over two
years ago, we made a commitment to widen
the democratic space and ensure total freedom of expression and freedom of the
The media in this country is vibrant and
has grown tremendously over the last three
years. We now have a multiplicity of radio
and television stations, newspapers and magazines that offer wide-ranging programmes.
These media houses operate freely and without any interference from the government.
As an industry, the media is playing a major
role in the economic development and employment in this country.
In Kenya, we have an ongoing-debate on
building consensus on an appropriate legal
framework that protects freedom of expression and the freedom of the press, while at
the same time establishing necessary safeguards to ensure that these freedoms are
exercised responsibly for the good of the
press and the general public. In this respect,
the government continues to work with media and other stakeholders to come up with
appropriate instruments for providing the
best possible legal environment to enhance
these freedoms.
For example, my government is finalising
an information and communication technology policy to ensure rapid development
of this important sector. My government is,
together with media and other stakeholders,
drafting a Freedom of Information Act, to
bring the legal framework in line with the
current realities.
These and other initiatives are meant to
enhance the ability of the people of Kenya to
exchange ideas, question the government,
contribute to national development and be
part of a truly democratic state.
We hope that at the end of this congress
you will all make a significant contribution
towards the achievement of the noble objectives of the International Press Institute,
whose main aim is to ensure that the people of the world are better informed, enjoy
optimal freedom, live in peace and participate in the shaping the development of
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
on Africa”
Raphael Tuju
Minister for Information
and Communications, Kenya
Keynote Speaker
H.E. Paul Kagame
President of Rwanda
John Chiahemen
Chief Correspondent, Reuters
Southern Africa Bureau, Johannesburg
Joachim Lenz
Programme Director,
Deutsche Welle, Bonn
Wangethi Mwangi
Group Editorial Director,
Nation Media Group, Nairobi
Adam Mynott
East Africa Correspondent,
BBC News, Nairobi
Wachira Waruru
CEO, Kenya Broadcasting
Corporation (KBC), Nairobi
Proving the Prophets
of Doom Wrong
H.E. Paul Kagame
President of Rwanda
ou will be familiar with the generally held
view that the international press gives
Africa only negative coverage and ignores
the positive developments happening on the
African continent. It is not my intention to
dwell on this, partly because I believe that we
in Africa must take responsibility for the sorry
state of affairs on our continent, most of
which inform and generate the kind of reporting that we have witnessed. So, I am not here
to ask for sympathies; I am here to seek deeper understanding of the real issues, and then
request you to join us in our efforts to redress
what has gone wrong on our continent.
Of course, we all agree that there is a fundamental need for change for the better in
the way the Western media, and the media
on the African continent, have been reporting Africa. Needless to say, this change will
not come about if we Africans do not strive
to portray ourselves in a positive light.
That is why a serious and rational introspection on our part is of critical essence.
We have to ask ourselves why our continent continues to lag behind, despite abundant human, natural and mineral resources.
Why is it that the image of Africa that Europeans and Americans have of us is that of
a continent with crippling poverty, famine,
disease, corruption and a continent torn
apart by conflict and civil war? Why is our
continent, known to have the world’s oldest
cultures, the most diverse wildlife, and spectacular landscapes, still referred to by some
in the media as the “dark continent”?
Even admitting that external actors adversely affect our development process, should
we not take primary responsibility for our
slow pace of development because we continue to lose people due to neglect and lack
of foresight on the part of our leaders, as is
the case in cyclical violent conflicts?
Can we give up hope to our future generations if we continue to destroy our infrastructure, acquired through loans to be repaid after a hard and protracted struggle?
I am not in any way condoning the tendency of the Western media to give the impression that all is doom and gloom on the
African continent and to overplay the negative sides in their reporting of Africa in order
to satisfy their domestic audiences, corporate interests and home governments, or for
some other reason. Neither am I oblivious of
the bigoted tendencies that reflect the flawed
perception that Africa is made up of primitive tribes and ethnic groups that need to be
civilised because they have the ancient
hatred that ceaselessly make them kill each
other. How could I?
During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, we
became victim of this mechanistic interpretation of what was happening on the ground.
After the conspicuous conspiracy of silence,
subsequent reference by the media to “tribal
killings”, “civil war” and “anarchy and chaos”
obscured and minimised the genocide that
was taking place and the complicity of some
powers in the West. As a result, the UN member states were not called upon to recognise
the genocide that was underway and did not
feel compelled to take the appropriate action.
At this juncture, allow me to make what
I think are three important points.
First, the leading aspect of our history is
that Africa was never an aggregate of brute
savages, inclined to kill each other when an
opportunity arose. This outlook of a dark
continent, still propagated by anthropologists who do not want to admit that they
have become obsolete, has evident faults and
should never constitute the basis for reporting on Africa.
Second, even in instances where our societies have failed, as in the Rwandan genocide, we can show, and we are showing the
world, that we have the will, the determination and the resolve to prevail from the ashes
and rebuild our country, without the Marshall Plan that was made available to Europe
after the Second World War. We have repatriated and resettled close to four million
refugees. The long established culture of impunity that encouraged past human rights
abuses and was in part responsible for the
1994 genocide has at last been broken. We
have restored security and stability in our
country, and we have created institutions
that promote democracy, ensure transparency and accountability. We have also created a
stable macro-economic environment, and an
environment attractive to foreign and local
investors. Unfortunately, this is material that
often does not capture headlines. When it
does, it is full of qualifications and other distortions that reduce its value.
Third, and as I said earlier, Africa demands an understanding of the historical
context, as well as the facts and forces that
have shaped it.
One needs to understand its set of common beliefs and values, its stage in the devel-
opment process, and that people who live in
Africa are real people, living real lives; that
besides poverty, conflict, famine and disease,
Africa has been characterised by a rich heritage that has contributed immensely to human development and major achievements.
Once we all understand where Africa is
coming from, I believe that we can join forces with the International Press Institute and
other media practitioners to place Africa on
its right development path.
I am sure that you appreciate that in the
face of debilitating poverty, illiteracy, human
rights abuses, war, environmental degradation, and international terrorism, the need
to work together has never been greater. And
so, I urge you to play your role, not merely
as watchdogs and whistleblowers, but as advocates and educators in our joint venture to
make Africa, and the rest of the world, a better place.
In Africa, we are aware that we now live
in an increasingly interdependent world in
which the phenomenon of globalisation presents new challenges and opportunities alike. We can no longer afford to lose opportunities in trade, investment, and economic
growth, and continue to portray an image of
a continent perpetually at war with itself.
Our countries are no longer insular lone states. We cannot shy away from the fact that
you, the eyes of the world, are watching
what we do. The pace of information technologies and telecommunication are making
borders more and more irrelevant.
After the conspicuous conspiracy
of silence, subsequent reference
by the media to “tribal killings”,
“civil war” and “anarchy and chaos”
obscured and minimised the
genocide that was taking place
You will be pleased to know that, on our
part, there is concerted effort to put our
house in order. We realise that African problems must find African solutions. Recent
efforts by Africans to find solutions in the
conflicts in Somalia, Sudan, Burundi and
the Ivory Coast are encouraging examples
that we mean business.
As you know, the New Partnership for
Africa’s Development (NEPAD) seeks, among
other things, to create a framework for preventing conflicts first and foremost, redressing political, economic and corporate governance problems, and investing in people and
infrastructure. Embedded in NEPAD is the
African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM),
which serves as an African self-monitoring
mechanism. The primary purpose of the
APRM is to foster the adoption of policies,
standards and practices that lead to political
stability, high economic growth, sustainable
development and accelerated sub-regional and
continental economic integration through
the sharing of experience and reinforcement
of successful and best practices.
This is an example of good news that you
can report to the world, as governments and
the people of Africa ensure that these efforts
work for us, and we continue to move forward. Clearly, we need to strengthen the regional integration initiatives, so that we work
towards a borderless Africa, where there is a
free movement of people, good, services, and
ideas. One of the reasons why Africa has not
been able to attract enough foreign direct
investment, which we need for our development, is the constant negative reporting.
So here is our opportunity to prove the
prophets of doom wrong. The International
Press Institute and the media as a whole have
the power and the means to help change the
world for the better. But as in any endeavour, there has to be the desire and the will to
achieve this objective.
In the first place, you can influence the
reform of the international system so that
the powerful nations respond early enough
to prevent or stop deadly crises like the ones
we have witnessed.
The current world order needs to change,
and Africa must have a place and a voice to
determine crucial issues that govern this
world. Our priorities and international standards have often been determined on our
behalf by those who do not have the interest
of Africa at heart.
You can also urge the international community, especially the powerful nations, to
shoulder their international responsibilities
and honour their obligations. You can advocate for African countries so that they increase
and accelerate international engagement, and
integrate their economies into the world economy. You can foster active and global partnerships against transnational problems such
as HIV/AIDS, narcotics, environmental degradation, corruption and international terrorism. And you can help bridge the digital
divide and accelerate poverty reduction.
You will agree with me that a world in
which the majority live on less than one dollar per day is not a safe world, as such people have nothing to lose. This should not
solely be the concern of those of us in the
developing world, who, more often than
not, do not have the means to improve the
state of affairs. Whether you are influenced
by this predicament or by the perceptions of
what politicians, media outlets, or the public see as the important stories, is a challenge
you should take away from this Congress. I
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
Wangethi Mwangi, Joachim Lenz and John Chiahemen
A Period of
John Chiahemen
Chief Correspondent, Reuters
Southern Africa Bureau, Johannesburg
y invitation to speak on this subject
included two key questions. These
questions are: “Is Western reporting on
Africa skewed to pander to the interests of
its domestic consumers?” and “Is Africa all
about war, starvation, underdevelopment,
disease and the like?” My answer to both
these questions would be an emphatic “NO”
if we are talking about the Africa of today
and the world of today. The reason I say this
is that given the nature of the world being
interlocked, interlinked and a true global
village, any news organisation that approaches its coverage on these assumptions
would in fact be heading towards its own
extinction. It would be digging its own grave.
In the past, Africa was an emerging continent, so the continent was on trial. The
colonial powers who actually owned the media in those days had reluctantly abdicated
power. They left a vacuum and they wanted
to see how the Africans were running their
shop. It was not surprising, therefore, to see
a patronising attitude in the way the media
looked at Africa in those days.
I think we must also realise that soon
after independence African countries started
getting into problems that probably, with
hindsight, we know were understandable. We
had coups; military regimes came in. The
first black African country to actually gain
independence, Ghana, was one of the first to
fall under the military and this continued.
Soon after that we had civil wars in some of
these countries.
From there we got into the period of the
Cold War. Africa had to fall in between the
two Cold War blocks. And the way the
Western Media, say the American media,
looked at Africa would be the determined
more or less by how those countries fell in
between these two camps. And it was not
always in the interest of Africa, these reports
that were coming out of Africa.
Soon after that we moved into the stage
where economic issues were more paramount.
In the 1970s and going into the 1980s, there
were serious economic problems in a lot of
African countries. Whether you are talking
about Ghana, Uganda or Zambia, these were
all basket cases and the reporting on Africa
at that time was pretty much determined by
these developments.
And then we move into the 1990s, where
countries are now beginning to embrace democracy and good news stories start emerging
from Africa. You have countries like Benin,
which successfully held democratic, pluralistic
elections and moved on, in fact, to have an
incumbent government changed through the
ballot box for the first time.
Never mind that at the same time we still
had the lingering effects of civil disturbances. You had civil wars in Sierra Leone; you
had wars in Congo, all this going on at the
same time. These were all negative developments in Africa, but moving into 2000 we
get into a period of consolidation, where
African countries, on their own, are taking
measures to entrench democracy, to entrench
good governance, improve their economies,
worry about their growing populations, worry about how AIDS affects their economies,
their social structures and so on.
It is in face of this that the attitude towards Africa has inevitably changed. I believe one can say, without fear of contradiction, that no serious media can afford to treat
Africa as an exotic place you report about to
entertain your domestic audiences. This is
more so because, over the last decade, in fact
two decades, we have had 24-hour television, pioneered by CNN and followed by
others, who are doing a good job. They have
audiences – and want to grow their audiences – in these African countries. It is inconceivable that they would want to grow
audiences in these areas and at the same time
try to patronise them. In fact it is interesting
to note that all the major networks now have
programmes that are specifically dedicated
to Africa. Every week you see “Inside Africa”
on CNN. Even new players like NBC Europe have their own programme completely
devoted to Africa. We have African television stations that are going global. If you look
at SABC, they have an Africa channel that is
in fact a global channel in its own right,
because it can be seen worldwide.
These historical factors have been the
cause of some of the ways people view the
reporting of Africa. I think the old era of
foreign correspondents flying into Africa,
doing a brief job and then returning to base
to write exotic stories is almost gone now.
Most major media in the world today have
based permanent correspondents in Africa
and they try to make sure that the people
they send to Africa are those that have a passion for the continent. They want to report
Africa well.
Speaking for Reuters, I would say that not
many people know that our client base comprises mainly financial and economic clients:
banks, investors and so on. The main driving force in our reporting is to try to guide
people who want to do business with Africa,
to show them the positives. President Mwai
Kibaki mentioned 18 countries in Africa last
year showing growth rates of more than five
per cent. These are positive developments that
we are daily trying to bring to our clients, so
that they know where to put their money
safely. There is a lot of good money looking
for safe homes. Africa is emerging as one of
the continents that can be a good destination for money that is looking for a place to
bring profit.
You can see that there is a lot of reporting
on countries like Zambia and Malawi – completely nothing to do with political developments, but rather how their economies are
gradually emerging from that basket case
that I mentioned earlier and becoming destinations that are desired by countries that
are looking for commodities, looking for
places to invest.
Most major media in the world
today have based permanent correspondents in Africa and they try
to make sure that the people they
send to Africa are those that have a
passion for the continent
A recent example is the Barclays deal to
buy the South African bank, Absa. This is a
deal worth more than five billion dollars and
it received wall-to-wall coverage by international media based in Africa. The reason for
that is that there could be no better vote of
confidence in Africa than such a huge investment by a bank – in fact the biggest in-
vestment by Barclays outside of the UK in
its history. So, these are good news developments.
We have reported extensively on privatisation in Africa, the telecom groups as pioneers of transcontinental companies, and the
banks are following. As you can see the
banks know the centre of money and if they
are moving in it can only mean that there is
good news coming out of Africa. You can see
that following them now are the retailers.
Across Africa, in Zambia and Kenya, shopping malls are emerging. International companies are coming here to set up shops, to
retail. They would not be doing so if the
purchasing power in Africa had not been
improving over the years.
Reporting on Africa by
International News Media
Joachim Lenz
Programme Director, Deutsche Welle, Bonn
et me point out at the beginning that, in
general, there is a vast difference in reporting on Africa between the European media designed for domestic consumption, be
it the national papers, radio or television, and
media targeted overseas for foreign consumption, such as my company Deutsche Welle,
Germany’s international radio, on-line and
TV services, or for that matter the BBC foreign services, Radio France International and
Indeed the average German citizen, from
mere consumption of his local media, may
have a limited perception of what goes on in
the 53 countries of Africa, with some 760
million inhabitants, although I can say that
your nation, Kenya, is relatively well and fairly covered, even by our domestic and local
media. For one, Nairobi is headquarters for
many German East Africa correspondents
and, secondly, developments in Kenya, as
one of the emerging democracies, are of particular interest. The hopes for democracy,
for economic recovery and an end to corruption, are enormous. President Kibaki’s campaign promises to tackle corruption were
widely reported. However, such increased
awareness can quickly lead to a greater
chance of being criticised. When anti-corruption reformers in Kenya are put under
massive political pressure, this too receives
great media interest.
Prominent African topics in Germany’s
press in the past weeks were the political crisis in Togo, following the tainted presidential election, the debate in the UN Security
Council over sanctions against Sudanese officials and the attempt to implement a peace
agreement to the country’s south, and the
farce of the elections in Zimbabwe.
In general, editors are guided by simple
rules when selecting their news stories. One
is that the interest in a story is counter-proportional to the distance from where it happens – local stories are usually more important than stories from far away. And two,
foreign correspondents compete for a precious and limited space, be that in a paper or
on television. Disaster or the outrageous
beat normality hands down, which is also
the case for domestic news, incidentally.
The difference is that the domestic news
consumer can balance the relevance of the
outrageous news from his neighbourhood
with his experiences of everyday life there,
which he often cannot in regard to the outrageous news from Africa or Asia.
However, the situation may be changing
a bit after Germany’s new President, Horst
Köhler, travelled extensively to Africa last
year and the German government decided to
send troops to Sudan as part of the UN mission. African topics receive, at least temporarily, a much more extensive coverage.
Now, to come back to the international
media, Deutsche Welle’s reporting on Africa,
being produced largely by editorial teams of
African editors and stringers, are aware of
the needs of their listeners, viewers and users
in the region. Deutsche Welle Radio broadcasts to Africa in a number of languages,
such as Hausa, Kiswahili and Amharic, as
well as French, Portuguese, English and, of
course, German. An estimated 31 million
people listen every week to these program-
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
mes; often because they cannot get reliable
information about what is going on in the
world and in their neighbourhood by local
media. All these customers – and this goes
for the BBC, RFI, etc. – would not tune in,
if they thought these programmes were superficial, inaccurate or biased. Quite the opposite is the case.
To sum up, reporting on Africa by international media successfully passes, in my view,
the test amongst many listeners in Africa.
Let me add one word to what we hear
every now and then – that journalists should
respect African values, Asian values, European values, American values. To me these values do not exist. As a journalist, I can only
accept universal values. There are no values
for a particular continent. There are universal values as stated in the United Nations
Declaration, for instance, and therefore
there cannot be any bonuses or rebates given
to any continent on these values.
The Psychology of Failure
Wangethi Mwangi
Group Editorial Director,
Nation Media Group, Nairobi
edia representation of Africa as a dark,
hopeless, poverty-stricken continent
that is ravaged by diseases and conflicts has
been a discussion point for a long time.
This stereotypical approach to the story
of Africa is blamed on myriad factors:
• Western journalists’ biases and poor
knowledge of Africa;
• The need to satisfy a particular media
• African journalists’ inability to write
competently on complex issues and therefore taking the easy route of locking onto a
sensational story; and
• African journalists wholesale adoption
of Western journalistic values that emphasise
the sensationally negative aspects of an issue
in the hope of grabbing readers’ attention.
In Africa we are now seeing
a growing and determined effort
to refocus journalists on how to
report Africa positively
Happily, in certain markets in Africa we
are now seeing a growing and determined
effort to refocus journalists on how to report
Africa positively, locking on to issues like the
New Partnership for Africa’s Development
(NEPAD) and the African Union, the isolated successes in rolling back the spread of
HIV/Aids in Senegal and Uganda and the
successes in conflict resolution.
Courses on how to tell the good news
about Africa are a growing phenomenon. So
we see that the issue is now moving from
conference rooms to a more practical forum
all in an effort to get African journalists to
look at Africa differently. But this remains a
formidable challenge and the case of Com-
pass News Features is illustrative. The agency was set up in Luxemburg in 1983. The
location was considered neutral ground and
one that would enhance the agency’s resonance with the First World. Its objective was
to present the developing world to the West,
and African and South American content
was at the core of its strategy. Its form of
journalism and area of coverage were its distinguishing characteristics and unlike other
attempts, it aimed at being extremely professional. Its standards of writing and editing
equalled the best in the world. It established
a network of writers and accomplished contributors in the Third World and paid them
international rates. So its consumers could
not complain that they were being served by
mediocre writers. Neither could they fault it
on the quality of its journalism or focus.
Compass News Features tried very hard
to cover the wide spectrum of interest the
best newspapers in the world demand –
business, politics, agriculture and the like. It
tried to be interesting and captivating without being trivial and quickly established a
foothold in the Middle East. It also became
popular in two markets in Africa – Kenya
and South Africa. However, it failed to penetrate the markets it needed most for its survival – America and Europe. And that
proved to be its biggest challenge and greatest frustration.
So what was the problem?
The big boys in the West were uncomfortable with the product and only paid lip
service to it. Their excuse for not using it,
according to the editor, was: “We get so much
information these days we just couldn’t cope
with anymore.” So it wasn’t the quality that
was the issue; neither was it the rates for the
stories it was selling. Rather, it was because
of its point of view.
Compass didn’t pander to the prejudices
of Western media. It presented a non-stereotypical view of Africa and the rest of the
Third World. It challenged Western media
perceptions of Africa. It presented the positive story of Africa. Ultimately, its investors
conceded it wasn’t viable and closed it down.
“The market we wanted was North America
and Europe. The market we got was the
Gulf,” says the editor. In Europe, only the
Scandinavian countries showed an interest
in it. In Africa, only Kenya and South Africa
showed an interest. Others would use it and
never pay.
Can our journalists learn to
capture the significant, as defined
in terms of a society struggling
to lift itself out of poverty and
the usual development challenges,
without being boring?
The experience of the Pan African News
Agency is familiar. It grew out of a pressing
need to dilute the influence of Western news
agencies on information flow about Africa
but suffered the same fate as Compass News
Features. Its slant on development journalism failed to resonate with its target market
within Africa and its financiers quickly lost
interest in it.
On a much smaller scale, here in Kenya a
news features service, IRIS, set up with similar objectives suffered the same fate. Although it boasted major subscribers like the
Nation Media Group, it was unable to establish the critical mass necessary for its survival. The brutally honest verdict of its consumers was that its content was serious but
not interesting.
I offer these examples to illustrate the
challenges that confront us when we try to
change the news agenda to look at Africa differently. The danger with development journalism is that it tends to provide lots of information but not news.
So we turn to the question: Can our journalists learn to capture the significant, as
defined in terms of a society struggling to lift
itself out of poverty and the usual development challenges, without being boring?
I think they can, but with training that focuses on how to tell the story in an entertaining way. The objective ought to be to raise
awareness rather than attempt to indoctrinate
But the bigger challenge in refocusing attention on how to tell the good story about
Africa is what one journalist has aptly referred to as the psychology of failure that
seems to be so deeply entrenched in both
Western and African society. It manifests
itself, for instance, in the way we respond to
the U.S. presidential elections. We want to
know President Bush’s agenda for Africa.
We perpetuate the negative coverage by
embracing the notion of a hopeless and failed
continent. We celebrate being slapped down
by the donor community for our failures.
In other words, Africa creates obstacles for
itself, which ultimately undermine efforts to
look at the continent differently. And these
obstacles sometimes go right down to the
level of news sources. We find researchers in
Africa who have good research news but they
are happier handing it out to Western media. They want to address audiences that will
finance the next research to advance their
These are the mindsets that need changing and the focus should be on users of media as well as on journalists. Ultimately, one
is looking to balancing between the good
and the ugly.
Documentary filmmaker Sorius Samura’s
recent TV series on Dafur demonstrated that
even a famine story can be turned into an
inspiring account of the human struggle for
a Spotlight
went to an important event the other
day and there was an opening speech by
a senior figure. It was not, I hasten to add,
in this country. He said, “Your Royal
Highness, Your Excellencies, Honourable
Members of Parliament, Esteemed Members of the Diplomatic Community, Honourable Mayor, Respected Officials of the
Donor Community, Captains of Industry,
Leading Sportsmen and Women, Ladies and
Gentlemen… oh and journalists as well.”
And this is perhaps a measure of how journalists and journalism are viewed in parts
of Africa. For some in power, journalists
seem to put the only brake on their ambitions.
I have been in Nairobi just a short time,
just over six months. And not only here in
Kenya, but all over East Africa, I have seen
journalists doing exactly what they ought to
be doing – poking their noses and their torches into dark corners, holding elected and
un-elected officials to account. But keeping
a check on the power of the elected and un-
survival. In that series, he manages to substitute pity with understanding and carries the
viewer with him.
He offers this challenge to those who seek
to change Africa’s news agenda:
“Unless we Africans can tell our own
story within context and show an Africa that
has not been seen before, the West will continue to throw their hands up in despair believing that our continent is full of a bunch
of confused savages that is now beyond salvation/redemption. So, it is now up to African journalists and the African media to
establish itself and begin telling the true
African story, from an African perspective.
This in turn will allow the public to stop
relying on CNN, BBC, Reuters and other
external news sources for information about
Africa that is in most cases inaccurate and
That’s what it boils down to.
Adam Mynott
East Africa Correspondent
BBC News, Nairobi
elected is just one role of reporters.
I am often asked, in fact I often ask myself, particularly after some of the more interesting commissions that I have from my
editors in London: “What is news?” It is of
course what is interesting and new, but crucially it is what runs against the norm or
goes against the grain.
So in Africa, where the march towards democracy has been a headlong rush and where,
just a few years ago, representative government was the exception, we ought to be celebrating the achievements in about 40 years
of what it has taken many countries in the
developed world hundreds of years to achieve.
When a political leader stands down after his
allotted term in office – this has happened
recently in Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania
and other places – these are events on which
we should be shining the spotlight and contrasting them with the reluctance of other
presidents who try to cling on to power beyond their allotted time.
The ratification of the Constitution in the
Democratic Republic of Congo in the past
week, a momentous event – it begs intriguing questions of how a referendum to approve it is going to be held, but it fits perfectly into this sort of story that we ought to
be covering.
I put the peace agreement in Southern
Sudan into the same category, as well as the
gacaca courts in Rwanda – righting some of
the wrongs of the genocide – and the developing role of the African Union’s peacekeeping activities in Darfur and preparations for
I would also like to pick up on a point
made by the Aga Khan: the quality of journalistic knowledge. For me the Internet is
both a blessing and a curse. It is an institution where “nonsense in is nonsense out.”
I think that the quality of research is absolutely vital in telling the African story.
There is too much nonsense circulating on
the World Wide Web and we have a responsibility to be accurate.
22 MAY 2005
Telling Our Own Story
Wachira Waruru
CEO, Kenya Broadcasting
Corporation (KBC), Nairobi
would like to recount an experience I had
five years ago, when I was the editor of
the Standard newspaper here in Nairobi. On
the night of 31 January 2000, there was a
news flash on CNN to the effect that a
Kenya Airways plane had crashed shortly
after takeoff from the airport in Abidjan.
CNN kept us updated, giving us fresh information every few minutes. We were told that
the plane had about 180 passengers on board;
that there may have been some survivors and
that a major rescue operation was under way.
Several hours later, late into the night,
CNN announced that the passengers on the
aircraft were mostly West African traders en
route to Dubai via Nairobi. After that, CNN
seemed to lose interest in this story. There
were no more minute-by-minute updates, just
hourly reminders about the accident. This
was not enough for us, we were hungry for
details and we were terribly frustrated by the
lack of any news coming out of Abidjan. To
make matters worse, we were already familiar with the manner in which international
networks had handled similar tragedies in
the past. The big networks usually try to own
a story like this, by digging deeper and introducing a human angle to the tragedy, yet all
we were getting from CNN were the basic
facts and statistics. In the end, 169 people
died and there were eight survivors. We asked ourselves, had that aircraft been full of
American or European passengers, would
CNN have lost interest in the story so fast?
We did not think so.
The next morning, Kenyan Airways dispatched a plane to Abidjan with the relatives
of the passengers, military personnel and
Kenyan journalists. It was only through the
Kenyan journalists in Abidjan that we finally managed to capture and convey the full
impact of this tragedy. Our journalists in
Abidjan did what CNN did not do; they
gave us a story from a Kenyan perspective, a
story with a human touch that united this
country in a deep sense of loss.
If we are accusing the West of
reporting us negatively, how positively do we report ourselves?
What that experience showed and which
is the point I am trying to make here, is that,
at the end of the day, we Africans have to tell
our own story. In that instance CNN was
not being negative, just disinterested in the
details. Yet, the same principle applies when
we complain about negative reporting about
Africa in the Western media. If we are accusing the West of reporting us negatively, how
positively do we report ourselves? The African press has been accused of perpetrating
the same negative image of Africa. Our own
headlines often focus on the same negative
stories that we accuse the Western press of
highlighting. If there are any good and positive stories about Africa, it is up to us to tell
those stories.
Very importantly, we as Africans must take
advantage of the digital age and the evolutionary changes that have taken place in the media
industry. It no longer takes five days to complain to the editor of the London Times or
The New York Times. Today we can e-mail
our responses within five minutes of reading
the offending material; we can discuss these
things on the Internet and share our views
with millions around the world.
I will give the example of what happened
with the Iraq war. Initially, the world was being given information that was coming from
CNN and other agencies and the embedded
journalists with the army there about the precision bombing that was going on in Iraq.
We were shown lights, we were shown sound,
but it was not until Al-Jazeera, the Arab network, that images of death and destruction
were brought to the homes of millions around
the world. The Western networks were outraged and accused Al-Jazeera of being crude
and unethical. Whether the accusations were
justified or not is not the point; the point is
from then on Al-Jazeera has never been ignored. The Arab world, through Al-Jazeera,
put their own agenda on the global news
agenda. The result is that the coverage of the
war from then on was a lot more balanced.
Africa can learn a lot from Al-Jazeera. It
is high time we stop complaining about being misrepresented by Western media and
instead go about actively and creatively putting our own version of the truth on the
agenda of the world media. We must tell our
stories ourselves, we must tell these stories to
each other, before we worry about what others are saying about us.
I will conclude by referring to a quote by
the former Ghanaian minister of communications, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah. He said, “Developing a more positive self-image within
Africa is more important than tackling a
poor image in the Western world.”
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
“Africa’s Development – Attracting
Joe Wanjui
Industrialist; and Chancellor,
University of Nairobi
Robert Ahomka Lindsay
Vice President, Public Affairs
and Communications, Coca-Cola
Africa Group, London
Maureen Kempston
President, Latin America,
Africa and the Middle East,
General Motors, Detroit
Wiseman Nkuhlu
Chairman, NEPAD Secretariat,
Africa’s Growth
Robert Ahomka Lindsay
Vice President, Public Affairs
and Communications, Coca-Cola
Africa Group, London
t will come as no surprise to most of you
gathered here today to learn that Africa
receives less than 2 per cent of global foreign
direct investment. The good news is that the
trend appears to be upwards.
Those who consider the investment opportunities in Africa often divide themselves
into Africa-optimists and Africa-pessimists. I
put myself firmly in the former category.
The recent focus on the Millennium Development Goals has in many respects, although well intended, helped to reinforce
images of Africa linked to poverty in people’s
minds. However, it is my firm belief that
such perceptions, though not to be denied,
should not detract from the inherent at-
tractiveness of many of Africa’s economies.
Africa, with its 56 countries and territories
offers a combination of short and long-term
investment opportunities which The Coca
Cola Company is optimistic can help drive
accelerated and sustainable growth both now
and in the future.
Of course, everyone is aware of the great
strides that South Africa has continued to
make since it returned to democracy some
10 years ago. Others will point to the relative affluence and favourable investment climate of Botswana or the solid growth of
North African countries such as Morocco
and Tunisia. But how many companies in
the developed world, outside the energy and
mining industries, are capitalising on the
meteoric growth of Angola, or the rapidly
improving Uganda – despite its armed conflict in the north? We in The Coca-Cola Company, in conjunction with our bottling part-
ners, are demonstrating this faith by increasing our investments in these countries on an
ongoing basis.
Where do we see other future investment
and growth opportunities? Right here in
Kenya for starters. It is already one of our
top five markets in Africa, the trading hub
for East Africa and with its pool of educated
managers and young talent we feel that it is
well placed to grow our business over the
next decade and beyond. We reinforced this
belief by recently refocusing our bottling
operations in the country around one dedicated, state-of-the-art production facility
that will enable us to achieve an exponential
increase in output and make excellent gains
in productivity. We also decided that now
was the time to increase our investment in
my home country of Ghana, with a new US
$8 million bottling line extension that will
safeguard jobs and increase the supply of
West Africa’s favourite soft drinks.
Of course, the long-term success of our
business will be given a tremendous boost if
Nigeria fulfils its growth potential. It is no
coincidence that this most populous of African states is already our number two market
on the continent, but we have put in new
leadership here to drive accelerated growth
for our Company over the next 5-10 years.
We believe it has the potential to match or
exceed South Africa in terms of volume and
profitability growth for our business – which
would be no mean feat – but well within the
bounds of possibility. Look at the interest
from telecoms companies and airlines if you
want more evidence of the opportunities
that Nigeria offers.
Many observers will agree that the
state-aid development model has
failed Africa and a new realism has
emerged which acknowledges that
private sector involvement is the
missing element, which will drive
our continent’s future success
To maximize the benefits of investing in
Africa, one also has to look to places where
the risk might on the surface be too great.
For example, we have identified Somalia as a
higher risk, but potentially very exciting
place to do business. It is a country with no
laws! But, if our bottling partner there, the
United Bottling Company headed by an expat Somali (Abdirisak Isse), can be successful
then he and his country-folk will reap the
rewards and provide a beacon of hope for all
formerly unsettled and war-torn countries
across Africa.
Let me turn again to the subject of the role
of the private and public sectors in boosting
Africa’s growth. Many observers will agree
that the state-aid development model has
failed Africa and a new realism has emerged
which acknowledges that private sector
involvement is the missing element, which
will drive our continent’s future success.
That is why it is crucial for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
to form partnerships with key multi-nationals, strategic national businesses and business
organisations to promote and lobby for an
even more favourable investment climate. In
a good number of African economies, we
have witnessed fiscal deficits being brought
under control, inflation returning to single
digits, lower interest rates, improved governance and renewed respect for property
In a recent article (Africa Investor magazine, May 2005) Kofi Annan called for “an
inflow of private capital that could kick-start
development.” He adds, “Even when adjusted for risk, investments in Africa yield higher returns” than those that can be found across other continents. Stock-market returns
are often exceptional. For instance, in my
native Ghana, the stock market exchange
offered returns of 143 per cent in 2003 and
91 per cent in 2004!
Of course, this is due, in part, to the relatively small amounts of foreign direct investment received by Africa, but this should
not in itself be a deterrent to others. However, another source of foreign direct investment is remittances from abroad which were
estimated to be an incredible U$ 45 billion
in 2004 – but only 5 per cent of this was
used for development.
If poverty in Africa is to be addressed,
then accelerated and sustainable growth needs
to be achieved, underpinned by increases in
productivity and competitiveness of economies, and of course, private-sector investment operating in a well-regulated framework of corporate governance.
A commitment from the private sector to
tackling poverty can be encouraged through
the use of tax breaks for investment and the
encouragement by governments of an entrepreneurial culture. At The Coca-Cola Company, we have found that more than half of
our 900,000 retailers in Africa operate in the
small business and informal sector. These
small shop-keepers and street-vendors are a
living testament to the strength not only of
our distribution network that extends far
into the micro-economies of Africa, but also
to the spirit and commitment of the individuals who clearly make a living from selling
our products.
The Coca-Cola Company lends a helping
hand by teaching new ways of attracting
consumers and selling its products. It also
places special focus on Africa’s growing small
business sector.
Seeking out new opportunities to market
its products to the continent’s 850 million
consumers, Coca-Cola works continually to
understand the market and consumers’ preferences and desires. In Africa, it has created
strong marketing programmes to widen distribution, and to make products more relevant and affordable to consumers. While continuing to grow our core CSD (carbonated
soft drinks) business, The Coca-Cola Company in Africa has expanded our portfolio to
include non-carbonated beverages. Today’s
consumers want and expect a choice of products and the Company has responded by
introducing a range of juices, waters, teas,
energy and cordial drinks.
The so-called “fortune at the bottom of
the pyramid” is an area where businesses of
any size can engage. Companies such as Unilever are already starting to do so through
single-serve sachets of shampoos and soaps
and, of course, we at The Coca-Cola Company have a mission to make our own products affordable, available and cold to as
many of the continent’s 850 million inhabitants as wishes to buy them.
If poverty in Africa is to be
addressed, then accelerated and
sustainable growth needs to be
achieved, underpinned by increases
in productivity and competitiveness
of economies, and of course,
private-sector investment operating
in a well-regulated framework of
corporate governance
Turning once more to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to recent assessments, Africa is a long
way from where it needs to be and needs
mass domestic and international investment
if it is to meet them.
The UN Millennium Project report –
“Investing in Development: A Practical Plan
to Achieve the MDGs” explicitly states, “To
achieve the MDGs, governments must work
closely with all constituencies, particularly
civil society organisations and the private
sector.” It continues: “Sound economic policies involve a rational balance of responsibilities between the private sector and the public sector to secure sustained, widespread
economic progress. The private sector is the
engine of growth in production.”
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
If business is truly to play its part as the
“engine for growth” then it must be consulted at the planning stages of policy development and its contributions towards the attainment of the MDGs must be harnessed.
The private sector has not been effectively engaged with the MDGs and their financial and creative resources have not been
tapped. Those MDG initiatives that do seek
to incorporate the private sector (public private partnerships) rarely consult widely and
so lose the opportunity to engage business
and mobilise private capital, technology and
expertise. The private sector has a vested
interest in the creation of a sound-operating
environment and the enhancement of its
ability to manage the direct costs and risks of
doing business.
The United Nations wants to halve
poverty in Africa by 2015. Through investment and job creation, businesses play a crucial role in helping African countries to
achieve this and the other Millennium Development Goals. The Coca-Cola Company
supports these initiatives and has a real commitment to Africa. In conjunction with our
bottling partners, we have invested more
than US$ 600 million here in the last five
years alone.
As the leading private consumer-products
employer on the African continent, we and
our 40 bottlers jointly employ around
60,000 people in the production and distribution of our beverages, with, on average,
10 times more gaining indirect employment
linked with our operations. We are a local
business wherever we operate, building capability and developing local talent whenever
possible and providing training to help our
associates grow and upskill. We also support
them and their families and communities
and generate great loyalty to our brands and
our Company across the continent.
The United Nations wants to
halve poverty in Africa by 2015.
Through investment and job
creation, businesses play a crucial
role in helping African countries to
achieve this and the other
Millennium Development Goals
In fact, The Coca-Cola Company and its
bottling partners account for more than one
per cent of Africa’s GDP and our investments continue every year. This multiplier
effect plays a small, but significant part in
alleviating poverty and building wealth in all
56 of the African countries and territories
where we operate. We also pay hundreds of
millions of dollars in taxes and, while we
would always like to pay less, we hope that
these too contribute to easing the debt burdens under which so many African governments suffer.
The question is, after more than 75 years
in Africa, how has The Coca-Cola Company’s business fared?
• Ten years ago we sold 24 brands in Africa. Today we have 81.
• Despite offering some of the cheapest
beverages of the The Coca-Cola Company
business worldwide, we are profitable and
have increased our share of revenues to the
Company over the last four years.
• South Africa is one of the top ten best
performing markets worldwide and is still
growing. The Southern & Eastern Africa Division won our internal Woodruff Cup for
the second year in a row – based on volumes,
revenues and profit growth.
As an African company what are the key
learnings we have made from expanding
through Africa?
• Don’t expect a smooth ride!
• Think long-term, act consistently and
patiently and you will reap the rewards.
• Also, you need to spot good opportunities and be ready to mobilize your resources
to take advantage of the situation, for example in Angola or Somalia.
Across Africa, success is built on going
the extra mile in every way possible. As our
operations create connections with people
throughout Africa, the Company plans to be
there, working with our bottling partners,
supporting local businesses and forging relationships with consumers in all kinds of
The Coca-Cola Company believes in
growing its business, working to refresh the
maximum number of people with its products, building business for its many customers, and from an important ethical
standpoint, serving as a good local citizen
wherever it operates.
Our vision is “To benefit and refresh the
continent of Africa by passionately growing
our business, tapping the potential, power
and pride of the Continent and significantly
impacting the economies and communities
where we operate.” In every respect, we believe in the importance of investing in Africa, both now and in the future.
In summary, let us be positive. Most African countries are at peace. The African Union and the African Peer Review Mechanism
and NEPAD itself are three good steps towards establishing a better way of doing
things in Africa. As a long-term partner in
Africa’s development, The Coca-Cola Company certainly supports them.
Improving the
Climate for Investors
Maureen Kempston Darkes
President, Latin America, Africa and the
Middle East, General Motors, Detroit
he objectives of a company like General
Motors and the international press are
not always identical. I am reminded of this
often as I read stories and analyses that some
days delight us and other days, quite frankly,
just make us cringe. Yes, I believe that our
overarching goals are truly complementary.
As the IPI so rightly points out, freedom of
the press is a right that helps safeguard other
rights in society. A free and independent
press is able to shine a light on corruption
and mismanagement by government and
business alike, helping citizens make wellinformed choices.
For a company like GM that seeks to be
a responsible corporate citizen, transparency
is an important part of the way that we operate. And, we also value true transparency in
the markets where we operate as a means to
ensure free and fair competition. Good governance and respect for human rights are
always assets in attracting development.
Now that brings me to the subject of this
panel, attracting investment.
There is no doubt that Africa is at a crossroads. Africa’s problems will not be resolved
in a single year, but to quote an African
proverb, “It is better to walk than curse the
road.” Although the challenges ahead are
great, now is the time to firmly resolve that
2005 will be the year that sets us on the road
to change and progress. While the international community has an important supporting role to play, Africa’s transformation
truly depends on strong leadership by Africans. The outside world cannot and should
not dictate a change of culture to create the
economic, social, and political environment
to attract investment. The solutions we
believe must be homegrown.
This is what is so encouraging about
NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development. NEPAD shows the emergen-
ce of a strong African leadership that holds
great promise for moving forward to resolve
conflict and improve the climate for investors. NEPAD is right for the strong emphasis on increasing private sector investment as
a critical component in sustaining economic
growth and reducing poverty. Indeed a vibrant private sector creates good paying jobs,
it provides the goods and services needed to
improve living standards, and it contributes
to tax revenue needed to sustain public investment in education, health services, transportation, and other programmes that underpin development.
But, what needs to done to attract this
private sector interest so that the African
model can move forward from one of aid to
one of real investment? In short, how can
Africa become better integrated into the
global economy so that it can begin to harvest its great wealth and resources for the
well being of its people?
Today, I would like to share some observations from the perspective of a company
that has been a long-time investor in this region. In fact, from the perspective of a company that is always receptive to increasing
investment, if the conditions warrant it.
General Motors first established a presence in Kenya in 1975. We were attracted
by the benefits of the old-world culture of
Kenya and East Africa. Benefits like a highly
educated work force, wonderful weather and
its abundant and available natural resources.
Like any company, GM will not put its money into a venture unless there seems a possibility of a reasonable investment return.
Any public company owes that to its shareholders. In the past, the combination of low
population and low purchasing power has
resulted in returns that are relatively modest
for many industries. This especially applies
to a capital intensive business like General
Therefore, we welcome the recent move
towards regional integration and the free
trade formation of the East African Community (EAC) with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. For the automotive business, economies
and skill provide an improved investment
As a trade cooperative that promotes free
trade within the region, the EAC offers the
critical mass needed by many industries who
would otherwise find individual country business to be too small on its own. From our
vantage point, the formation of the EAC is
tailor made for a company like General Motors East Africa. Because we are already established in this market, we have the ability
to engineer products specific to the unique
market requirements right across the region.
The EAC basically doubled our market coverage by allowing us to take the vehicles we
assemble in Kenya and sell them duty free in
Uganda and Tanzania.
Good governance and respect
for human rights are always assets
in attracting development
Since most African countries are small,
they do offer limited return to potential investors. This movement in which African
countries are increasingly pooling their
resources and integrating their economies
holds a potential for the future. Now some
of this potential is based on the hope that
these trade blocks can work together to improve their infrastructure, such as water, sanitation, roads, railways, airports, telecommunications and power availability. All of
these are absolutely fundamental to continued development.
In addition to the size of the market,
another important fact for investors is stability of the political and social system. Few
investors will venture into regions with active conflicts, and businesses already in place
will reinvest more of their profits in a country that they believe is secure. It is important
to keep in mind that even countries at peace
are negatively affected by conflicts in neighbouring areas because investors sometimes
view the entire region through the same lens.
Often they do not look past the headlines of
conflict to see investment opportunities that
do exist. They simply judge the risk will outweigh the benefit.
Both NEPAD and the Government of
Kenya have had some outstanding success in
helping to resolve some of the protracting
conflicts in Africa, such as in Somalia and in
Sudan. We unreservedly commend these
efforts. Every advance in peacekeeping will
profoundly improve the climate for investors
as well as for the people who live in the
affected countries. Along with peace building, any government that is serious about
improving the climate for investment also
must help foster communication and a pragmatic, constructive working relationship
with the private sector. While the private
sector may not agree with every government
policy, it can at least do its best to adapt if
the policies are consistent. Please, no surprises or at least no more than necessary,
because it is hard enough to plan in our very
fast-changing world.
Look at the success of many developing
countries in the Asia-Pacific region where
governments regard the private sector as a
partner in development. This has provided a
major impetus to development in countries
such as South Korea and Taiwan, whose
economies lagged lowest in the world just a
few decades ago. The need to protect local
industries explains why many countries have
trade restrictions against second-hand clothing and used motor vehicles. In fact, a recent
survey of one 132 countries showed that 74
of them have some sort of import restrictions against used vehicles, with 21 of those
countries banning them altogether.
As governments move towards the desired goal of free-trade regions, it is important
that they do not snuff out their industries
that do not yet have the muscle to withstand
significant change in the operating environment. It may be necessary to include a transition period that allows these industries to
be able to stand on their own. That is why
the European Union was initially formed. It
incorporated various forms of import protection and assistance for sensitive sectors
such as textiles and clothing, automobiles,
consumer electronics and agriculture.
With the implementation of the EAC,
manufacturers in Kenya lost some of their
tariff support without corresponding improvement in the factors that cause tariffs to
be initially put in place. It is critical at this
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
stage that these industries form strong partnerships with their respective governments
so that such shocks will be kept to a minimum. As important as policy formulation is,
often policy implementation and communication are equally important to make sure
the intended results are obtained. This
requires not only coordination between government and private sector but also between
member states in a trade bloc like the EAC.
Along with peace building,
any government that is serious
about improving the climate for
investment also must help foster
communication and a pragmatic,
constructive working relationship
with the private sector
From the perspective of a vehicle manufacturer, the implementation of tariffs on used
motor vehicles – mitumba – has many inconsistencies that can defeat their purpose. Under
valuation, in particular, works against the objectives of policies that have been put in place.
We are concerned with the unconstrained
importation of substandard, undervalued used
products that hurt the environment, undermine local industries and, more often than
not, fail to meet the needs and expectations of
consumers. The flood of used vehicles coming
into East Africa today is a threat to our ability
to sustain and further develop a new vehicle
industry. Government policies that favour
mitumba work against the goal of developing
local industries and attracting foreign direct
On this particular issue, I do understand
that the government of Kenya is taking steps
to increase the transparency on the valuation
of imports, especially used vehicles, so that
the government can collect its intended tax
revenues and provide support for free and
fair competition in the motor vehicle industry. This important point is that governments need to involve the private sector, not
only in formulating policies but also in the
practical implementation of these policies.
When it comes to making and implementing policy, GM’s primary interest is ensuring
a level playing field. As a company, we are
confident that we can compete and get our
share, anywhere in the world, as long as all
competitors are treated evenly.
Many of you have reported on apparent
tolerance for corruption and fraud that
varies widely in emerging markets from country to country around Africa, and indeed
around the world. From a transparency
standpoint, General Motors East Africa has
seen an improvement in the environment to
the extent that now we are able to participate
in government tenders and other business
where we were previously restricted. And we
do hope that this situation will continue.
Another element essential for regional
growth and employment is transportation
that is flexible, fast, and dependable and a
reliable, economical vehicle, designed for
local conditions, is inherently part of this
equation. General Motors helps to meet
these needs by building vehicles in its plants
in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and
Tunisia. GM’s operating philosophy is to
build vehicles in the major markets where
they are sold allowing us to participate in
those markets as a responsible and contributing corporate citizen. Last year our business in East Africa grew by 30 per cent. This
allowed us to hire more East Africans and,
together with our dealers, we are investing in
new facilities in Kisumu, Nakuru and
Just recently we announced a substantial
investment in our South African operations,
which will assemble the new Hummer H3
for export to various markets in Europe, the
Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
This six-year contract is valued at 1.4 billion
dollars. We estimate that it will create 450
jobs and will produce many additional positive spin-offs for the local community.
Positive spin-offs are the prime reason many
countries put a special focus on vehicle assembly. If properly nurtured, the automotive
sector can be a powerful engine for development and industrialisation. Vehicle production facilities are a magnet that attracts suppliers as well as the distribution and maintenance network, creating a positive economic
spiral. The resulting multiplier effect helps
boost economic growth, employment and
technical progress.
We can look to other areas of the world for
examples on how to set up a valid automotive
industry. One example of this is the Andean
Community, a trading bloc consisting of
Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. GM engaged local investors to develop
a supply chain and work with the governments of the individual countries to develop a
legislative framework that would help to
attract foreign investment in the CKD, or
completely knocked down, vehicle industry.
This approach has benefited all the parties.
Today, General Motors is number one in the
region with shares above 30 per cent.
The Andean countries benefit from the
increase of good paying jobs, a steady source
of tax revenue and a sound base of local suppliers who are helping to bring state of the
art technology and high-quality manufacturing processes to their countries. The CKD
industry is thriving today in Colombia, Ecu-
ador and Venezuela where the countries have
been able to achieve a carefully developed
balance between private and public sectors
interests. On the other hand, Peru represents
an unfortunate example within the same
region as the Peruvian government’s decision
to allow unconstrained imports of used vehicles killed a blooming automotive industry.
Just as General Motors analyses best practices from around the world to improve its
business, I believe that African countries striving to industrialise should look at strategies
from other countries in the world such as in
South America. While I am most familiar
with the automotive industry, I know that
Kenya and East Africa are also having some
success in attracting other business. The
recent investment by Coca Cola for a factory in Nairobi are a clear indication of how
East Africa is moving ahead. The investment
by the United States government in the
Centre for Disease Control and the growth
of the fresh-cut flower industry are also examples. We are also seeing the establishment
of regional call centres that take advantage of
the highly-educated, multilingual work force
that exists right here in East Africa. And, of
course, the tourism sector is one of the very
best in the world and this is an area that I
believe will continue to thrive.
We are encouraged that Africans
are becoming the architects
of their own development rather
than relying on the benevolence of
the outside world
For a couple of years we have seen significant improvements and the East African
community has been absolutely outstanding
news for General Motors and I think it’s
great news for Africa. We’ve been patient
through some very difficult years because we
still see great potential for growth in Africa.
We are encouraged that Africans are becoming the architects of their own development
rather than relying on the benevolence of the
outside world.
At General Motors, we are anxious to
increase our activities and our employment
here in Africa. This is why we are eager to
have a working partnership with the government to help make sure that the policies are
formulated and implemented and that they
impact all parties beneficially. We look forward in the years ahead to participating in a
broadly shared growth that will help build
long-term peace and prosperity for Africa.
That’s the dream that we at General Motors
share and I know that all of you in this room
share it as well.
The New Partnership
for Africa’s Development
Wiseman Nkuhlu
Chairman, NEPAD Secretariat, Johannesburg
he primar y objective of the Ne w
Partnership for Africa’s Development
(NEPAD) is to create conducive conditions
for high economic growth and sustainable
development throughout the African continent. This is considered to be a prerequisite
for eradicating poverty and increasing
Africa’s participation in the global economy.
NEPAD focuses on priorities that require
coordination at continental level like peace
and security, political and economic governance, regional economic integration, transboundary infrastructure, promotion of intraAfrica trade, transforming the trade relations
with the developed countries, human development, agriculture, science and technology,
promotion and development of a vibrant
private sector.
The NEPAD foundation document outlines the vision for the socio-economic renewal of the African continent as well as priorities and commitments by the African leaders and the African people. It also extends an
invitation to the international community,
more specifically the highly industrialised
countries, to partner Africa in the implementation of the programme.
The key principles and messages of NEPAD are African ownership and responsibility, protection and promotion of democracy
and human rights, political, economic and
corporate governance, self reliance, reduced
dependency on aid through strengthening
the private sector, people-centred development, gender equality, partnerships with
stakeholders in each country and with other
African countries and the international community, strengthening Africa’s voice in international organisations and promoting accountable leadership.
These are the messages that the initiators
of NEPAD are propagating across the continent and internationally. They have introduced them in the agenda and policies of the
African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). They permeate all NEPAD sectoral plans and inform
communication and dialogue with the international community.
The African Peer Review Mechanism
(APRM) is an instrument for ensuring the
integration of these principles and values in
national constitutions, policies and development programmes. The reviews monitor progress with implementation of NEPAD principles and programmes in each participating
country and propose a national programme
of action to address identified weaknesses.
Therefore NEPAD maps out a path for
Africa in the 21st century. The principles,
policies and priorities are the map and the
destination is self-sustainable development
and economic prosperity. By clarifying the
principles, policies and priorities which are
going to guide Africa’s development and participation in the world economy, championing them in the AU and globally, African
leaders have created space for consolidation
of peace, democracy, good governance and
sound development management in the continent as well as started a process of fundamentally changing perceptions about Africa.
This is NEPAD’s overall approach to creating attractive conditions for increased investment in Africa. Although the vision and
objectives are simple, because of the complex nature of the challenges, the strategies
are long-term and multi-dimensional. They
encompass actions at the global, African
continent, REC and national levels.
Having described NEPAD’s overall thrust,
the obvious question is what progress has
been achieved up to now. In the rest of the
paper we address this very important question.
First and foremost, the apex structure of
the continent, the AU has been fundamentally transformed. The principles and priorities referred to above have been enshrined in
its constitution, the Constitutive Act of the
AU. Its key organs are being strengthened in
terms of mandates, organisational structure,
budgets and leadership. The AU Commission has a stronger mandate and much better
capacity than its predecessor, the Secretariat
of the Organisation of African Unity. The
Peace and Security Council has a better leadership structure and more appropriate work-
ing procedures than its predecessor.
Poverty eradication and socio-economic
renewal have been recognised as high priorities that require leadership at the highest
level, hence the launch of NEPAD.
Therefore the architecture for making the
vision a reality is in place at the continental
level and is complimented by the RECs.
The determination of the African leaders
to renew Africa is not evidenced only by the
vision and continental institutional architecture that have been developed in a short space
of five years, but also by the progress in leading the resolution of conflicts that have been
raging for years and by accelerated reforms
at a national level. By promoting the adoption of progressive principles and policies at
the AU level, NEPAD has created the conditions for accelerated reform at the national
level. Although not all reforms can be attributed to NEPAD, the anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria is definitely NEPAD inspired. South Africa’s increased involvement
in the resolution of conflicts on the continent is also NEPAD inspired.
On the international front we are witnessing positive responses across the board.
The first was the acceptance by the leaders of
the G8 countries of the invitation by African
leaders to partner Africa in the socio-economic renewal initiated through NEPAD.
This was followed by resolutions of endorsement and support by the Assembly of the
United Nations, Financing for Development
Conference in Monterrey and World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
The nature and content of the dialogue
between Africa and the highly industrialised
countries has been radically transformed.
Engagement with the developed countries
on international trade through the WTO,
architecture and quantum of development
assistance and failure to meet international
commitments, has become more strategic
and focused.
The development priorities have also been
changed. The African leaders have brought
to the top of the agenda agriculture and rural development, centres of excellence to rebuild Africa’s capacity for knowledge generation and production of highly skilled per-
22 MAY 2005
sonnel, infrastructure and regional economic integration as central in promoting wealth
creation in Africa and also making the African countries attractive to investors. This is
a fundamental change to the narrowly defined poverty reduction strategies that have
been the core of the development agenda in
the past five to ten years.
The private sector has responded through
the formation of NEPAD Business Groups
in a number of countries including South
Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The African Business Roundtable launched a continent-wide
NEPAD Business Group.
At the global level the U.S. Corporate
Council for Africa, the Canadian Council
on Africa in Canada, the Commonwealth
Business Council and the World Economic
Forum all joined to promote NEPAD.
The countries of the South, including
Brazil, India, China and Malaysia have also
become partners in the implementation of
NEPAD. Africans in the Diaspora have
shown interest and are being mobilised
through a number of initiatives including
Africa Recruit, a joint venture between the
NEPAD Secretariat, the Commonwealth
Business Council and the NEPAD Council
formed by leading African scholars residing
in the United States and Europe.
In short, a lot is being done to promote
private sector investment in Africa. Negative
perceptions about the continent are being
countered through the holistic approach described above. However, there is a lot happening at the national level as well. More
and more African countries are achieving
higher levels of economic growth and macroeconomic stability. The average economic
growth for Africa in 2004 was 5,1 per cent
and average budgetary deficit close to zero.
What about the levels of private sector
investment? Is there improvement?
Yes. We believe there is. The continent
could not have achieved the average economic growth of over 5 per cent without an
increase in investment. Increased demand
for African commodity exports by China is
having a positive impact. As India stabilises
its economic growth, we can expect a further
boost to African exports.
With regard to progress in implementing
NEPAD sectoral projects, Africa is well poised
to launch an agricultural revolution and to
accelerate the implementation of trans-boundary infrastructure projects. Preparations for
the launch of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)
have been completed. Every REC has identified priorities and early actions and the development partners and multilateral institutions
are fully on board for the launch.
Progress on trans-boundary infrastructure
projects is going to be accelerated. Major
constraints including the lack of capacity in
national governments and RECs to facilitate
and lead the preparation of projects and engage the private sector are being addressed.
The process has been given a big boost by
the Commission for Africa report, agreement by the G8 and OECD countries to
increase support to infrastructure development and by the resolution of African leaders to investigate the possibility of investing
a percentage of government-managed pension funds as seed capital. This will enable
African countries to contribute in the financing of their own development. These developments will address constraints that have
tended to make investing in major transboundary infrastructure projects less attractive to the private sector. The cancellation of
debt owed by poor African countries would
further assist the effort of mobilising domestic capital for socio-economic development.
In addition, a successful conclusion of the
Doha Round and commitment by the highly industrialised countries to a timetable to
reduce trade-distorting subsidies would give
Africa a further boost.
In conclusion, Africa is taking seriously
the question of creating conducive conditions
for achieving high economic growth and
sustainable development. Major steps have
been taken to transform the continent and
to create space for accelerated reforms at a
national level. We believe that the holistic
approach that has been adopted is correct. It
is now up to the private sector to determine
how to respond to the developments that are
unfolding. Conditions have never been this
good for Africa to take off.
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
AP Photo / Luca Bruno
“Press Freedom
Issues / Africa”
Tom Mshindi
Chief Executive Officer,
Standard Group, Nairobi
Keynote Speaker
Wole Soyinka
Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature
Amare Aregawi
Editor-in-Chief, The Reporter,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
John Gambanga
Editor, The Daily News,
Harare, Zimbabwe
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Managing Editor, The Independent,
Banjul, The Gambia
Raymond Louw
Editor, Southern Africa Report,
Johannesburg, South Africa
Wole Soyinka
Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature
or the average Nigerian, it would be
most natural to propose that at no time
is the potential of the African media more
powerfully manifested than in its capacity
to mobilise under tyrannical power, and
that the entity that stands out as exemplar
is none other than the Nigerian nation.
Even for non-Nigerians, it is near uniformly acknowledged that the nation boasts one
of the most vibrant media on the continent, rivalling even today’s South African
press. Certainly at no time in Nigerian history was this power more courageously manifested as it was under the recent dictatorship of the late General Sanni Abacha, the
man who sent a writer and ecological activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his comrades, to the gallows.
Abacha’s reign of terror was a challenge to
the hardiest media practitioner. He added
refinements to the repressive tactics of his
predecessor in office, General Babangida,
whose favourite ploy was to wait until the
printing was over in a targeted media house,
then raid its warehouse and cart off tens of
thousands of copies. More thorough and
cost effective of course was the straightforward order given to close down the entire
establishment for days, even weeks or
months. In one such instance, the closure
went beyond the normal purpose of muzzling the press, for other economic ventures
were housed within the physical establishment and these became collateral casualties.
Its printing presses could no longer fulfil
other commissions even for innocuous journals, books, etc. The complex also housed a
bakery, so this meant that a chain of employees – from the actual bakers to street hawk-
The Media in Africa:
A Plea for Solidarity
ers lost their livelihood. It marked a comprehensive variant on the normal dictatorial
assaults on independent expression, and it
succeeded. The proprietor was brought to
his knees and issued a public apology. His
editorial staff were, needless to say, demoralised, and some resigned in protest.
The collapse of that establishment appeared fated however. Its proprietor, Chief
Moshood Abiola, would again clash with the
succeeding dictatorship, the already mentioned Sanni Abacha, and meet an untimely
and tragic end in prison. The story of that
chain of newspapers – The Concord Group
– and its demise, is very much the story of
the media on the African continent. Adventurous, innovative yet subjected to permanent political stress, it offers a picture of survival and, occasionally, collapse. The Nigerian media certainly underwent its worst battering from the regime of Sanni Abacha, and
yet the very intensity of the assault only
honed its mettle and made it an example for
the rest of the continent. Of course, a few
journals and media houses did follow the
misadventure of the Concord, collapsing under the sheer weight of state power, but, any
stroll through the streets of Lagos, constantly awash with dailies, weeklies and specialised magazines for every taste continued to
attest to its exceptional resilience, even in
the worst days of the Abacha repression, and
Press survival under this particular regime was a rite of passage that many Nigerian
journalists would indeed prefer to forget.
Journalists were routinely harassed, beaten,
tortured, framed on spurious charges and
sentenced to incongruous spells of imprisonment. Among the numerous victims, perhaps the most bizarre case and an index of
the total insanity of power in the closing
years of the last century was that of a young
journalist, Bagauda Kaltho. His body was
ostensibly found in a Kaduna hotel toilet
with the remnants of a parcel bomb after an
explosion that no one appeared to have heard.
Yet there he lay, and with a copy of Wole
Soyinka’s “The Man Died” beside him. The
implication, which was widely bruited by
the regime, was that he was a recruit of the
author of that book in the campaign of terror that had then begun to gain momentum
against Abacha’s regime, and was blown up
while preparing his next bomb. No member
of his family was allowed to see his body
until it was secretly buried, nor would the
police reveal his burial ground. This unconscionable fabrication would not be fully
exploded until after the death of Sanni Abacha and the spate of confessions by the police agents who had actually committed the
From Liberia to the Congo,
the predicament of the African
continent today demands
that the press act not only as a
watchdog, but as a goad
The press fought back tenaciously, despite
casualties. The tactics of underground publication in the best tradition of the samizdat
was adopted, so that the formal addresses
served as mere frontages – publications took
place elsewhere, indeed, in several places at
once. When the police raided one place, the
copies still emerged from other secure depots, to be sold in the streets by those familiar kamikaze youths who darted in and out
traffic, offering subversive contraband that
remained hidden under regular journals
until the last moment, like pornographic
material flashed at the motorist, who might
even prove to a government agent. It did not
matter that these youthful hawkers, some no
more than seven or eight were often arrested,
beaten and locked up for weeks, occasionally months. When they emerged, they were at
their dangerous work again.
If one were to seek evidence of a moment
of light relief on looking back on those years,
it would be one that also, in a contradictory
way, signalled the victory of the media, for
the regime became so desperate that it moved to imitate what it so thoroughly detested
– the opposition press! Its propaganda arm
began to print and distribute fake publications with the same masthead and layout as
the more popular journals. The unwary customer eagerly grabbed a new edition, opened its pages only to find a villainous attack
on one opposition figure or the other, or an
article that suggested a sell-out, since it was
an unexpected song of praise to the regime,
published over the signature of a die-hard
opponent. Any success scored by such tactics
was paltry however, and short-lived, but it is
difficult not to picture the counterfeit journalist behind his editorial desk, pencil in
hand, chuckling away as he proceeded to
“turn the tables” on his adversaries.
It was the strong-arm tactics however that
predominated, and it went beyond the actual practitioners. Proprietors, vendors and
their families were just as persistently targeted, for this was a regime that believed in taking hostages – parents, spouses, close associates and even children – in lieu of a wanted
journalist who had gone underground. One
infamous photograph captured this period
for all time – the image of a terrified child,
five or six years at the most, eyes wide with
terror as a gun was pressed to his head by a
secret service agent who, the mother reported, repeatedly screamed at him, “Where is
your father?” It was beyond argument – the
Abacha years constituted the direst passage
of arms for the Nigerian media, but also its
most glorious years.
It may surprise you therefore to hear me
state that, despite the media feats to which I
have just paid tribute, I do not consider that
the Nigerian press offers us the prime instance of the awesome power of the press.
That valuation belongs somewhere else – to
a different history and a different region of
the continent. If yardsticks such as focus,
mobilisation, commitment, organisation
and the sheer magnitude of result are any
guide, then we are obliged to accord that
prize to the baleful use to which the media
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
was put in the preparations towards the
Rwandan massacre and, once the events
were set in motion, to directing, overseeing,
and stoking up the fervour of extermination.
It remains a sobering lesson, one that, for a
change, presented the media in the unusual
role of aggressor and violator in contrast to
its normal position as a victim.
The events in themselves are too familiar
to require re-hashing. What concerns us, in
the present context, is what should have
been the role of the rest of the African media, and the question this raises about its
capacity to function as the watchdog of a
people, alerting its immediate constituency
and the world, as primary source, to the
threatened eruption of atrocities on such an
unthinkable scale.
Not many Africans, even among the
knowledgeable in world affairs, had ever
heard of the name, Radio Milles Collines,
the most blatant instrument of that genocidal conspiracy and execution. It is always
chastening that it is mostly due to the intervention of the foreign press that events that
concern us primarily enter the public domain. For instance, it was yet again owing to
the external media that we owe the exposure
of the complicity of some of the foreign
powers in an on-going crime against humanity, details of the parallel failure of the
United Nations itself, whose agents were on
the ground and whose inability to call an
event – genocide – by its proper name led to
the comatose response from that world body.
We are speaking here of a failure from insularity of the African media, the constraints –
economic and otherwise – that are placed
upon its ability to reach beyond its immediate borders and serve as a voice for the continent in its encounter with the world.
A half century after the independence of most African
nations, it remains a statement of
self-indictment when a leader’s
response to an unpalatable
foreign reportage is, “They are
trying to re-colonise us.”
The internal media response to the Darfur human violations, massacres and rapes
has been equally muted. Once again, African
readership constituency was short-changed,
making it dependent on foreign reportage in
order to grasp the enormity of what was transpiring under its very nose. Let me quickly
admit here that my major reference point
here has to be the Nigerian press, with which
I am indeed most familiar. I do include how-
ever a sampling of those African nations that
I periodically visit, both on the West and
East African regions, and my observations
remain pertinent. This is what leads me to
cite the Rwandan media as a negative exhortation: if even a hundredth of the media
energy and dedication that was unleashed
for the propagation of a crime was applied to
the prevention of such crimes by a committed press, then of course we may indeed
hope to sound a warning to those nations
that are inclined towards a complicity in
such crimes, and equally to the international agencies whose very reason for existence is
to exert a collective authority in the prevention of the crime itself. After the gruesome
lesson of Rwanda, it was difficult to imagine, and so soon, that yet another human
violation that approaches the scale of the
former would ever be contemplated, much
less actually placed in motion, and with the
indisputable, cynical complicity of an African government – the government of Sudan.
Even as we place well deserved blame on
the leadership of the continent for its own
failures in this respect, African civil society,
whose mouthpiece is the press, cannot escape some measure of reproach for its failure
to urge on that leadership, and in sufficiently urgent accents, the need to exert itself expeditiously and concretely for the rescue of
its humanity. From Liberia to the Congo,
the predicament of the African continent
today demands that the press act not only as
a watchdog, but as a goad. It is to the media
that the continent looks now for an example
in solidarity.
Such solidarity should not be understood
as something to be exercised in a time of
major convulsions, threatened or active. We
are speaking here of the adoption of the
principle of professional self-interest, the
need to use its own collective authority
counter, in advance, the reaction of power to
truth when offered by external voices. The
cheap recourse to the dismissive expletives
such as “outside interference,” “jaundiced
reporting,” “imperialist mouthpiece,” etc.,
so beloved by corrupt and/or repressive
regimes, constitutes one overriding reason
why the African media must intensify its
narratives of its own society. That most of
the dismissive cant is merely self-serving is
apparent to the discerning, including even
those who mouth them routinely. A half
century after the independence of most
African nations, it remains a statement of
self-indictment when a leader’s response to
an unpalatable foreign reportage is, “They
are trying to re-colonise us.”
Let it stand however. Let us assume that a
stringer for some foreign journal or the other
is indeed – like the missionary of the pre-
colonial era – the advance guard for a resumption of a suspended colonisation project. While the foreign articulated truth does
not change when offered by a local journalist, it is far more difficult to accuse the latter
of setting the scene for a project of re-colonisation. The accusation may still come –
there are rulers who are not deterred by the
local credentials of their critics – but such
responses mostly earn, at best, scepticism, at
worst, ridicule. Reinforced from within the
continent across borders by others in the
same trade, the people, placed under siege
by their own leaders, can only benefit from a
surge in their morale. It is this solidarity that
we like to stress, a solidarity from within, to
which the external voice is encountered only
as a transmitting bonus, not as a prime
mover towards remedial action.
The lack of pro-active solidarity
in the media of other African nations
remains extremely depressing
The prime dealers in corruption, deception and self-perpetuation cannot be expected to love the media, any media, or cultivate
anything less than a distinct loathing for the
foreign media. Why should it be otherwise?
By now, any foreign journalist working in a
dubious political environment knows that
he or she must sleep with a travel bag for a
pillow. After that first line of expulsion,
however, a guaranteed local media cleansing
is bound to follow. Alas, yet again, it is the
foreign press that either takes the lead or
emerges prominent in the denunciation of
these assaults on free expression. The lack of
pro-active solidarity in the media of other
African nations remains extremely depressing. There are exceptions of course – one
cheering instance was the scandal-filled case
of the murdered journalist in Burkina Faso –
but a routine sampling by any communications expert soon proves one right.
There is one explanation: much of the
response of the African media – which is often silence – is ideologically pre-determined.
If any contemporary example is needed,
Zimbabwe offers herself. The lines of divisiveness that were once demarcated along
East and West during the Cold War have
been transposed, in recent times, onto lines
of race and restitution by a demagogue whose
only interest is power and self-perpetuation.
Unfortunately, much of the African media
fall for this ploy. They refuse to be instructed, for instance, by the Ugandan experience
where the race rhetoric of a demented leader
– Asians versus Africans – catapulted that
nation into a morass of bloodletting and
economic impoverishment from which it is
yet struggling to emerge.
Let me therefore conclude by reinforcing
this warning with an excerpt from a previous
address on this very failing, one whose ongoing ramifications accuse us all – not merely
the media, but the media at the forefront.
That address was titled “King Baabu and the
Renaissance Vision”:
“To begin with, let us be careful that
leadership opportunism does not let us lose
sight of some fundamental issues that must
be held pertinent to a once settler-colony
like Zimbabwe, where a grossly disproportionate few own and exploit the largest and
richest swathes of farmland in the nation.
Abdul Nasser in his time was compelled to
tackle such a situation head on, dispossessing the feudal oligarchy and reinvesting the
land among the fellahin. The struggle of the
Sandinista in Nicaragua against a landowning monopoly composed of a few select families is equally pertinent. Some of the greatest uprisings and consequent civil wars in
Mexico took their roots in the ownership of
land, even right down to recent times, with
the revolt of the neo-Zapatistas, a revolt that
was rooted in a history that goes back all the
way to the Mexican experience of the ruthless appropriation of indigenous land by foreigners. There is therefore nothing extraordinary or blameworthy in any moves to execute a policy that aims for a more egalitarian
apportionment of land and its resources.
Indeed, any true leader must remain permanently aware of the need to redress any glaring imbalance in the ownership of such a
resource as land, since human population,
despite even the most radical national policies in birth control, remains infinite while
land is finite.
The question that must be put to our revered revolutionary however is this: just
what have you been doing as head of a virtual one-party government in nearly a quarter
of a century? Is there no orderly, structured
alternative to the unleashing of so-called war
veterans on farm owners, their families and
– a majority of the affected who are however mostly neglected in western, and so-called
radical reporting on this continent – African
managers, farmhands and other employees?
Those last especially, the farm workers and
ancillary population that earns a livelihood
from the industry of the land. In the history
of takeover of factories, I have yet to learn of
armies of peasants or university lecturers
being instigated to take over the ownership
and operations of such factories – no, it is
logically the workers themselves. They may
be expected to lock out the owners and turn
the factory into a cooperative, sometimes
retaining the former operatives in management or technical positions in order to
ensure continuity in efficiency and productivity. Even Stalin in his mad race to collectivise land and eliminate all those conveniently designated kulaks did not send veterans of Russia’s revolutionary wars to take
over the land. Not that his results were much
better, but he appeared at least to have given
some thought to structural transfers, which
is something totally absent from Mugabe’s
The aging lion has resorted to the most
blatant, time-dishonoured methods of African dictators who fail to understand that a
people must be led in dignity, not dragged
on their knees and bellies on the pathway to
social transformation. Resignations and dismissals of judges have been manipulated at a
speed unprecedented in the history of Zimbabwe’s judiciary, so that that institution is
now packed with Mugabe’s creatures, guaranteed to do his bidding and overturn constitutional modes of redress. Free expression
has become hazardous, as writers and journalists skeeter around increasingly ill-defined parameters of toleration that recall the
darkest days of Idi Amin’s Uganda. In vain,
his own peers, his brother heads of states in
neighbouring countries, and with similar
revolutionary credentials – including South
Africa’s at the early stages – attempt to call
Fuehrer Mugabe to order. He is far too gone
on the route to self-apotheosis, indifferent to
the price that African nations and peoples
continue to pay when forced into one culde-sac after another. A messy end-game is in
store for that unlucky nation, the enthronement of brute force as the force of law, and
even the possibility of a civil war.”
est days of the Algerian fundamentalist campaign of terminal censorship. In any case,
there is hardly any press left functioning in
Zimbabwe, and the rest of the African media
appear to take this in its stride, leaving the
foreign press to scream its pages hoarse, and
be silenced by the routine cant of “vested
interest.” Looking outwards from the Nigerian experience, it is hard to believe that any
civilian regime on our continent, parading
itself as a democracy, could so blatantly
strive to match the most brutal days of a
Sanni Abacha, yet such a reality stares one in
the face, and – shouldn’t we have realised
this by now? – power constantly calls to power, and despots try to outdo one another.
Most sobering however is that absence of
solidarity that earths itself, not even on professional sentiment, but on the simple urge
of self-preservation. Imitation, a lack of originality, appears to be the hallmark of tyrants
in their exercise of power. Today, it is Zimbabwe – tomorrow? We should bear in mind
that territorial ambition goes hand in hand
with the creed of the terminal censor.
Editor’s Note: Wole Soyinka had to cancel his participation in Nairobi at the last
moment due to “a family health crisis”. His
speech was read by Joseph Odindo, Managing Editor of the Nation Media Group. I
In situations such as Zimbabwe, Third Word media, in the
main, tend to take their cue
from the conduct of most African
national leaders and “close ranks”
around their rogue elephants –
this is what I refer to as being
“ideologically pre-determined.”
In situations such as Zimbabwe, Third
Word media, in the main, tend to take their
cue from the conduct of most African national leaders and “close ranks” around their
rogue elephants – this is what I refer to as
being “ideologically pre-determined.” This
condition does however mandate constant
and strict arbitration by historic experience.
Civil war may not result in this instance –
once sincerely hopes not – and journalists
have not begun to write their obituaries before leaving home, as happened in the dark-
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
them, “Yes, the law says that we have to allow radio and television, but we are not going to allow television. In fact, we are also
not going to allow shortwave radio stations
that cover the whole of the country. We are
going to allow only local FM radios here in
Addis Ababa.”
Everybody was angry. It was a stab
in the back of the Ethiopian people
A Stab in the Back
Amare Aregawi
Editor-in-Chief, The Reporter,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ne year after the 1991 change in government in Ethiopia, the 1992 press
law was declared. Prior-censorship was abolished and government consent was no longer
necessary in order to express oneself. Everybody was happy. But after just one year,
Ethiopia became one of the world’s leading
jailers of journalists. Almost daily, a journalist was put in prison. The flourishing private
press was described as “gutter press”, as a
public enemy. Later on, the government
charted a new direction for Ethiopian democracy. The government said that if the private press didn’t behave itself, it would put
in place administrative measures to straighten out the press. And, in 2003, a draconian
press law was established to straighten out
the private press.
At that time, the Ethiopian Free Press
Journalists Association (EFJA) was crushed;
its leadership was replaced by puppets of the
government. (The case later went to court
and finally the former leaders were re-installed.) There has never been a law in Ethiopia
that was more criticized, nationally or internationally. I would like to thank all IPI
members and especially Mr. Johann Fritz,
who criticized the press law, article by article. It was revised three times, but it was
condemned three times again.
Three weeks ago, on 15 May, there was a
general election in Ethiopia. When everyone
was focusing on the election, four articles of
the press law were passed into the penal code
as amendments. While everyone was watching somewhere else, they put forward the
draft press law, passed it into the criminal
code and it was approved by the Parliament.
Everybody was angry. It was a stab in the
back of the Ethiopian people.
I would like to thank all
IPI members and especially
Mr. Johann Fritz, who criticized the
press law, article by article
What about the broadcasting situation?
In 1999, a broadcasting law was passed that
says all Ethiopians are allowed to own private radio or television stations. However,
the broadcasting law has still not been implemented. In fact, when the Minister of Information reported to the Parliament on the
situation of the freedom of the press, he told
Can you imagine a Minister telling the
legislative members of Parliament that the
government is not going to implement the
decision of the Parliament? In some other
countries, it might be odd, but not in Ethiopia. So now the broadcasting law is not being implemented. You do not see private radio or private television in Ethiopia, whereas in our neighbouring countries, like Kenya,
Uganda, Tanzania, you see 50 to 60 radio
stations and seven or eight television stations
in the capital cities. In Ethiopia, there are
The paradox is that while they are preventing the private sector from having radio
and television outlets, they are setting up
additional government radio stations. Nobody is accountable. We don’t have a constitutional court where we can go and shout, so
we are in a sad situation.
Another amazing thing is that our anticorruption law was amended very recently,
in February. In that law, there is an article
that was added that says that any case that is
in the hands of the anti-corruption commission cannot be discussed and reported by the
media. So there is no chance for journalists
to do any investigative reporting. They tried
to put this article in the press law, but they
couldn’t because of the world’s opposition,
so they put it in the anti-corruption law. So
you now see some bits and pieces of the press
law going into the penal code, the anti-corruption laws. That is what they are doing
As I mentioned before, we had an election on 15 May. A positive aspect of that
election was that there was a party debate.
But because there is a government monopoly
on radio and television, you would see the
debate for an hour, and after an hour, the
ruling party would come and destroy the
arguments of the opposition party with several additional hours of coverage. So the
only thing you hear on the radio is the ruling party. You don’t hear the opposition,
even if they are winning.
into Hell
Alagi Yorro Jallow
Managing Editor, The Independent,
Banjul, The Gambia
he brutal murder of Deyda Hydara on
16 December 2004 marked yet another
step on the Gambian government’s descent
into inhumanity and misrule. Under the
tyrannical leadership of the current president, Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia has witnessed the shooting down of innocent
youths in April 2000, the imprisonment of
opponents without benefit of charge or trial,
the increasing persecution of the independent media and the brutalisation of our tiny
country’s judiciary, culture and traditions.
The Gambia was known in the past as the
“smiling coast,” a place of sunshine, welcome and real generosity of spirit in its population. It became the home of the African
Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
and it was a bastion of democracy in a continent beset by military take-overs and
despotic regimes.
All this changed in July 1994, when a
group of junior army officers overthrew the
29-year old government of Sir Dawda K.
Jawara. They installed themselves first as
military overlords, and in 1996, they rigged
the constitution and went on to fix the presidential elections in favour of their contender. Yahya Jammeh supposedly transformed himself into a civilian candidate and
based his electioneering on a platform of ridding the country of corruption, on transparency and decency, and on probity in all
matters of governance.
After almost 11 years of quasi-democracy
under the leadership of Jammeh and the
Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and
Construction (APRC), The Gambia has
descended into hell. The population live in
fear of reprisals and harassment by government lackeys, the economy is in tatters, and
the social fabric of this once peaceful land is
in danger of disintegration.
Attacks on members of the media started
back in July 1994; there were regular raids
on the independent press and journalists
were subjected to harassment and deportation. The scale of the attacks has not diminished over the years. There is regularly recurring violence against the privately-owned
media, ranging from persecution, detention
by officers of the National Intelligence
Agency (NIA), arson, destruction of property, arbitrary arrest and physical brutality.
Despite national and international
concern about the climate of fear
and repression prevalent in The
Gambia, not one police investigation
has culminated in the successful
prosecution of the perpetrators of
crimes against the private media
Despite national and international concern about the climate of fear and repression
prevalent in The Gambia, not one police
investigation has culminated in the successful prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes
against the private media or opponents to
the regime. George Christensen’s Radio 1
FM was burned in an arson attack in October 2001; Baboucarr Gaye’s Citizen FM
radio station was closed down on a technicality and has never been allowed to reopen;
the lawyer Ousman Sillah was shot and seriously wounded in a brutal attack in December 2003; the offices of the Independent
newspaper have been attacked on several
occasions and its new printing press was
burned down in 2004; several journalists
from the Independent have been detained
without charge by the NIA; the President of
the Gambia Press Union, Demba Jawo, received a threatening fax in July 2004; Ebrima Sillah, a BBC World Service Correspondent, narrowly escaped death when his private home was subjected to an arson attack;
the Gambian representative of Amnesty International, Muhammed Lamin Sillah, was
arrested and detained in October 2001 by
the NIA; and finally, in December last year,
Deyda Hydara was murdered in cold blood.
Recently, on 14 December 2004, the Yahya Jammeh regime adopted the Newspaper
Amendment Act 2004 and the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill 2004. The Newspaper
Amendment Act 2004 invalidates the existing framework for the registration of media
institutions in The Gambia by requiring
newspapers to re-register with the Registrar
General’s office within two weeks of the
coming into force of the law. In addition, all
private media institutions are required to
post a 500,000 dalasis (approx. US$ 16,665)
bond. This represents an increase of 400 per
cent from the previous 100,000 dalasis. The
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
new registration requirement and the bond
imposed on media institutions are excessive
and tantamount to censorship.
The African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights has made it clear that excessive bonds imposed as a prerequisite for the
registration of media institutions do not
serve any legitimate aim and therefore constitute an undue restriction on the right to
freedom of expression guaranteed by Article
9 of the African Charter on Human and
Peoples’ Rights. It is also clear that the bond
prerequisite is incompatible with other
international freedom of expression standards to which The Gambia has subscribed.
The Criminal Code (Amendment) 2004
Act, which was also passed on 14 December
2004, by the Gambia’s National Assembly,
will also encourage further violations of the
right to freedom of expression in The Gambia of the sort we have witnessed in recent
past. Among other things, the Act (or new
law) widens the definition of libel, thereby
dramatically expanding the class of actions
or expressions that would attract criminal
liability. It also provides for imprisonment of
not less than six months, without the option
of a fine, for first time offenders for “seditious and libellous”" publications. In addition, subsequent offenders may be sentenced
to not less than three years in jail, without
the option of a fine, and any media used in
the alleged seditious publication would be
“forfeited to the State.”
Deyda’s murder evidences the
extent to which the Gambian government is prepared to go in order
to silence its opponents
Deyda Hydara, the editor of The Point
newspaper, had long been an ardent supporter of truthful and impartial reportage.
He spoke the truth, and wrote the truth. He
was not afraid to confront injustice, misgovernment or criminality. He paid the ultimate
price for his professionalism and integrity.
He was shot down in cold blood, and the
half-hearted police investigation which has
followed his murder has brought not one
person to justice.
Deyda’s murder has had a profound effect
on me. He and I had a very good working
relationship, and the two of us were acting as
plaintiffs when the Gambia Press Union
sued the Government over the Media Commission Bill. I knew Deyda on a professional and on a personal level. We were like brothers. We advised each other, congratulated
each other, sympathised with each other, and
supported each other in so many ways. You
can imagine how I felt when I was informed
that Deyda had been assassinated. My own
grief has been as keen as that of his family.
Not one Gambian could have predicted
that a man like Deyda Hydara would be
gunned down because he was a journalist.
His death at the hands of murderers acting
with impunity is a scourge in our land, and
marks a new phase in terror tactics and
repression. It was the culmination of a series
of gagging measures apparently instituted
with the complicity of, or by representatives
of, President Jammeh’s regime.
When it became clear that Deyda had
been murdered, I did a lot of soul-searching
and the question surfaced and resurfaced on
whether I should continue in my own journalistic profession. Matters were made worse
when reliable sources in the Gambia National Army and in the Gambian government
told me that I am myself a target for assassination. One source even told me that I
would have been killed as well had I been in
The Gambia at the time of Deyda’s death.
(I was actually attending a media conference
in the United States). I came under a lot of
pressure from my family, and especially from
my wife, to quit journalism.
I have made the decision to remain a
practising journalist, and to continue in my
role as Managing Editor and Publisher of the
Independent newspaper. If I had resigned
my role, then Jammeh’s regime would have
won their battle against truth and openness.
However, I am not going to be silenced.
Deyda’s murder evidences the extent to
which the Gambian government is prepared
to go in order to silence its opponents. It
demonstrates the intractable view of President Jammeh that all journalists are criminal
illiterates who would be best “buried six feet
deep.” It reveals the impunity of murderers
of those who dare to oppose the government
voice. It exposes the rotten heart of government in my beautiful country.
The assassination of a senior Journalist
like Deyda Hydara has brought home the
message that the Gambian government is
desperate to curtail the independent media,
and that it will go to any lengths to gag oppositional voices. If a man like Deyda can be
murdered for his proper execution of his
profession, then no one can sleep peacefully
in his or her bed; nobody will be spared.
Self-censorship is a real possibility in The
Gambia today; people are being even more
guarded than usual in what they say and
write for the public’s ears and eyes. The climate of fear which Deyda’s death has sparked is palpable, and is in danger of leading
to a toning down of voices critical of the
Families of journalists and independent
media workers, even the families of those
who operate the printing presses, are now
pressurising their loved ones to refrain from
overt criticism of the regime and to look for
other employment. Even a slight association
with the independent media is a dangerous
President Jammeh and his APRC regime
have introduced a new trend since 16 December 2004. In the past, they have introduced a wealth of decrees and laws, which
harass the independent media and curtail its
freedom to operate, and they continue to do
this. Now murder is also in their game plan
– murder of anyone who is brave enough to
oppose their agenda. No journalist will be
immune from death or threats of death.
Arson attacks, arbitrary arrests and physical violence will not however silence the
brave voices of Gambians searching for justice and good governance. For every one
journalist who is murdered, there will come
four more prepared to stand up to the thugs
who would silence us. We shall leave not one
stone unturned in our quest to bring justice
for Deyda Hydara and his family. We shall
continue to raise our voices on the national
and international stage to publicise the disgraceful state of affairs in The Gambia, and
to press for a better future for our people. I
Telling It
Like It Is
John Gambanga
Editor, The Daily News,
Harare, Zimbabwe
would be a liar if I said there is press freedom in my country today.
Most of the ingredients of lack of press
freedom exist in Zimbabwe. Intimidation,
arrests, censorship, repressive media laws and
jail sentences have been rampant for the last
four years. It is not an understatement to say
that my country has been in the throes of
press repression. The privately controlled media, in particular The Daily News and its sister paper, The Daily News on Sunday, have
been the major casualties of the government’s wrath.
The Daily News and its sister
paper, The Daily News on Sunday,
have been the major casualties of
the government’s wrath
The Daily News, launched in March 1999,
was published by the Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe (ANZ). The government did
not take kindly to the fact that some of the
ANZ shareholders are British and foreign
based. The government accused the paper of
being sponsored by enemies of the state.
This is not true at all, but, with a well-oiled
propaganda machinery, which was led by
former information Minister Jonathan Moyo, that is the story the world was told – that
The Daily News was part of a global agenda
to bring about regime change in Zimbabwe.
We were accused of being the mouthpiece
of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).
The paper’s founding editor-in-chief,
Geoff Nyarota, decided to leave the country
after he had been detained, jailed and variously charged before being unceremoniously
dismissed in December 2002. That is when
I took over as editor of the paper. He now
lives with his family in the United States.
He is no longer doing what he loves best –
mainstream journalism.
After its launch, The Daily News became
a constant thorn in the flesh of enemies of
press freedom as it unearthed scum and left
no stone unturned in its quest for the truth.
It really knew no sacred cow, both in and
outside government. Consequently, it made
many friends among readers who had for
long been denied the right to alternative
views. Its circulation rose from 50,000 copies a day to 129,000 copies a day within
two years, surpassing its nearest rival by a
wide margin.
The paper wrote about corruption and
the government’s excesses that have reduced
millions to destitution. The irony of Zimbabwe is that on one end, we have millions
scrounging to sustain themselves, yet on the
other end of the scale, a few who wallow in
untold luxury through corruption. It was no
surprise that the paper’s printing press was
destroyed in a mysterious bomb attack in
January 2001. Up to now, the police have
not said who destroyed the press. But the
paper continued, defying all odds after
Swedish friends donated a new printing
press to keep the fire burning, until it was
cruelly extinguished on 12 September 2003.
The paper was closed down because it
had refused to register under the draconian
piece of legislation called the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) of 2002. This act was the brainchild of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo. This heinous piece of legislation requires
that all media organisations apply for regis-
tration by a government commission, and
management at The Daily News felt that
this was unconstitutional and challenged it
in the courts of law. The High Court ruled
that the paper must register, but the Administrative Court ruled that the government commission, the Media and Information Commission (MIC), should register the
paper. The MIC refused, challenging the
court ruling. Subsequently, the matter ended
up in the Supreme Court.
Over the last three years, as many
as 25 journalists from The Daily
News have either been arrested,
charged, detained, tortured, humiliated or harassed by the state
My personal view is that we should have
registered in protest, like the other privately
owned newspapers in the country. But we
did not and we obviously played into the
enemy’s hands. We are now paying dearly for
that monumental error of judgement.
Over the last three years, as many as 25
journalists from The Daily News have either
been arrested, charged, detained, tortured,
humiliated or harassed by the state. One foreign correspondent, Andrew Meldrum of
The Guardian in London, was deported for
reproducing a story which we carried, but
which the paper later retracted and apologised for. Today, there are no foreign correspondents in Zimbabwe. Our vendors were
beaten up for selling the paper in some areas
and many workers resigned because of harassment by state agents.
KENYA 2005
22 MAY 2005
The Supreme Court in March this year
ruled that AIPPA is constitutional in all its
aspects and ordered the ANZ to resubmit its
application for registration to the MIC. The
ANZ did as requested on 14 March but the
omnipotent MIC refused the application. It
is now demanding details of foreign shareholders, a market analysis and an up-to-date
finance report.
It has been a vicious circle and we are not
sure when The Daily News and The Daily
News on Sunday will be allowed to publish
again. It has been a tough time for most of
its workers. Some have left the country while
others are desperately trying to earn a living
through freelance journalism. For most, life
has been an uphill struggle.
The Zimbabwean government controls the
only broadcasting station in the country.
Daily, the radio and television station broadcasts what it pleases. This has forced a few
Zimbabweans to set up a radio station in the
United Kingdom, SW Radio Africa, which is
very popular at home although it has a limited airtime of a few days a week. The U.S.
government runs a propaganda broadcast
station through the Voice of America called
Studio 7. It has attracted many Zimbabwean
listeners and contributors at home.
In Zimbabwe, the state run daily and five
other newspapers churn out pro-government
propaganda and fabricated journalism. I don’t
believe that most of the young scribes working for the state media enjoy their work.
They know fully well that they are constantly being watched and they must do their
master’s bidding or lose their jobs.
What is frightening is an amendment
made to AIPPA in November last year. The
amendment says that a journalist can be jailed for up 20 years or sentenced to death if he
or she publishes a false statement to a third
party with the intention of inciting public
disorder or undermining the authority of the
security forces. Indeed, AIPPA has been the
bane of press freedom in my country. Last
year alone, seven journalists were convicted
in court for various offences, 16 others were
arrested, four were threatened, and three
were expelled. Two other newspapers were
shut down during the last 15 months.
I know I have painted an ugly picture of
the media in my country, but “Telling It
Like It Is” is the motto of my paper.
I must point out that there is a glimmer
of hope since the appointment recently of a
new Minister of Information, who has promised to look again at media legislation so
that relations between the media and the
government improve. It is my fervent hope
that he will honour his promise.
Insult Laws
Raymond Louw
Editor, Southern Africa Report,
Johannesburg, South Africa
t is appropriate that the International
Press Institute is holding its annual general assembly in Kenya in the heart of Africa
because the shutters are coming down on
media freedom in several countries on a continent where already less freedom exists than
in any other continent in the world.
The recent annual survey by Freedom
House of media freedom throughout the
world has noted that freedom is diminishing
in Africa and, almost as if to underline the
importance of IPI being in this beautiful
country of Kenya, it has reclassified Kenya as
“not free” after it has enjoyed a rating under
the “partly free” category for some years.
The message emerging from that survey
is gloomy, indeed. There are 53 countries
described as being part of Africa and of those
24 are rated “not free,” the same number as
last year and the year before, and 16 are
“partly free” with eight given a “free” rating.
It is my contention that even that figure –
eight “free” – is suspect because Botswana is
included and recent occurrences there raise
serious questions about that country’s tolerance of freedom of expression and media
The African Union has for example
left out what I regard as a key
requirement in a country aspiring to
be rated as conducting good governance – and that is the requirement
for a free and independent media
to carry out a watchdog role
In regard to freedom of expression, Botswana has followed Zambia in using a new
trick to prevent freedom of expression. In
Zambia, British newspaper columnist Roy
Clarke, who used an animal farm analogy to
describe the foolish antics of the president
and his government in that country in The
Post newspaper, was promptly served with a
deportation order as an undesirable citizen
despite the fact that he has lived there for
nearly a quarter of a century with permanent
residence. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court and he won, but the tactic is sig-
nificant because under a deportation order
no reason need be given by the president for
serving it on someone, so avoiding accusations that the government is clamping down
on the media or interfering with media freedom. Of course, it is a weapon that can only
be used against foreign nationals who are
staying in the country, but nevertheless, it is
a potent weapon.
Botswana took the same course of action
against another British man, a Professor Kenneth Good. This is not strictly a media freedom issue, but one of freedom of expression.
Good was to deliver an address at the University of Botswana on what he termed the
illegality of the manner in which presidential
succession is handled in Botswana.
Though he, too, had lived there for many
years and had permanent residence, Professor Good was served with a deportation order on the grounds that he was an undesirable person. The government tried to bundle
him out of the country immediately, but he
went to court and gained a stay of execution.
This, of course, enabled him to give the lecture, but he is still under the deportation
order, which is being challenged in court
with some resolution likely later this month.
The government has refused to give reasons.
Botswana is one of four countries in
southern Africa that have recently threatened greater controls on the media under the
guise of seeking more professionalism and/
or responsibility by journalists in their work.
In Botswana, Communications, Science and
Technology Deputy Permanent Secretary
Lucky Moahi has announced a new Mass
Media Bill to achieve “more balanced reporting” by ensuring that journalists do their
work professionally and maintain standards
to curb biased reporting. At the same time,
another minister said the government would
not scrap the apartheid era National Security
Act, which forbids publication of official
information without authorisation – despite
complaints by local journalists about its stifling effects on news gathering – “for use
when expedient.”
In Namibia, Information and Broadcasting Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah
told journalists that they needed to become
more professional and accountable for their
work. She indicated that she wanted to tighten controls over journalists, saying she had
“observed with concern” that accountability
was not high on the media agenda and “this
is an area where I want to see change. I am
convinced that accountable media would
never give wrong or destructive information
to the public.”
In Swaziland, Prime Minister Absalom
Themba Dlamini, at a meeting of editors
and media owners, called for “positive” reporting on the activities of King Mswati III.
This was followed by a private meeting between the King and the media at which he is
alleged to have told them that he would not
allow the media to continue its denigration
of royalty. One of the points made at these
meetings was that there was a belief that the
media had an agenda to “dethrone the king.”
In South Africa, Minerals and Energy
Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka announced that the government was considering clamping down on civil society institutions for creating “unnecessary alarm”
among the public, a threat that has obvious
implications for the media. She was reacting
to accusations by environmental organisation Earthlife Africa that people living near
Pretoria were threatened with nuclear radiation from a disused nuclear research facility
at Pelindaba. The media gave prominence to
the allegations. She said there was no radiation threat and that the media had failed to
check the facts with the government. “We
are considering strengthening the law so that
if people make such allegations there is a
sanction,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. She said
means would be sought to “make individuals
and organisations speak responsibly on sensitive matters.”
I have mentioned the largely “non-free”
state of Africa. This is against a background
where 48 of Africa’s 53 countries still maintain “insult laws” – the laws which ostensibly
protect the dignity and stature of presidents
and other high officials in government by
punishing derogatory or critical references to
such dignitaries, but which in reality seek to
stifle legitimate criticism of their conduct of
their office and the conduct of government.
In the past 10 years, more than 125 journalists and media organisations have been punished in only 35 of Africa’s 53 countries under these laws. Some journalists were imprisoned and/or fined and some media were
shut down. I mention only 35 countries because information of what happened in the
others is not freely available.
A few days ago, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA), which has chapters
in 11 of the 14 countries of the Southern African Development Community, with other organisations including the World Press Freedom Committee and the Media Foundation
of West Africa, launched a campaign to have
insult laws scrapped in African countries.
It has started by drafting a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Commission
on Africa, pointing out how insult laws created a manifest deficiency in the African Peer
Review Mechanism (APRM) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
programme introduced by the African Union. The question is posed: How can the aims
of the APRM to assess good governance of
countries volunteering for such an appraisal
be carried out if countries maintain those
insult laws? It is a stark contradiction. The
letter is about to go off in a few days and will
be followed by an appeal to the International
Bar Association to lend it support.
It is my impression that Africa
is not only ignoring the requirements
of good governance, but actually
going backwards
I may say the incongruity is further heightened by the fact that the headquarters of the
African Union is situated in Ethiopia, a
country with repressive press laws and which
is poised to introduce another media law to
which several international organisations
have objected. Even more incongruous, or
should I say outrageous, is the situation of
the African Union’s Commission for Peoples’
and Human Rights in Banjul in The Gambia, which has just passed a criminal defamation law under which the proprietor of a
publication where a staff journalist has been
convicted of criminal defamation has all his
property confiscated.
The other question that arises is: What is
the impact of the APRM on Africa? Our
view as journalists is that governments appear to have a quaint idea of what “good
governance” is and how it is achieved. The
African Union has for example left out what
I regard as a key requirement in a country
aspiring to be rated as conducting good governance – and that is the requirement for a
free and independent media to carry out a
watchdog role. The African Union, despite
being invited to do so by the United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan when he
addressed the heads of state in July last year,
has left that out as one of the criteria for
good governance. He gives four others: a
parliamentary process, an efficient civil service, an independent judiciary and the adoption of codes and standards of good governance, but no reference to the media.
It is my impression that Africa is not only
ignoring the requirements of good governance, but actually going backwards and my
justification for that is the four cases I have
quoted where tighter controls on the media
are threatened. These ideas seem to stem
from notorious Zimbabwe, which has introduced some of the worst media laws in recent years and where the underlying reason
is given as the need for professional standards, responsibility and accuracy – all words
designed to bring about censorship and political correctness.
However, let me end on a more positive
note. Kenya has got rid of its insult laws and,
the other day, its Attorney General, Amos
Wako, threw out of court an attempt by a
cabinet minister to charge a journalist with
criminal defamation. Ghana is in the process
of getting rid of its insult laws, too. That, of
course, should be encouragement for the rest
of Africa to scan its legislation and get rid of
laws, including insult laws that restrict the
media in the interests of opening up governance and societies in Africa.
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
the minority had always to yield and defer to
the will of the majority. Earlier on, it was
this ideology of “majoritarianism” that legitimised and underlay the struggle for independence and nationalism. Subsequently, the
democratic models transposed from the respective colonial antecedents largely informed
the process of institution building in the first
decades of independence. Election, representation, separation of power and dominance
of the public sphere were considered as the
main fundamentals of democratic existence.
The State was taken as an embodiment of the
collective existence of a society and its popular will.
At that time, the new African leadership
was conscious of the spectre of African diversity and its complexity, particularly relating to the primordial identities of ethnicity,
regionalism, religion and even race in some
cases. In the absence of a fully developed national identity, the greatest fear at that early
period of independence was the threat of
national disintegration along the fault lines
of prevailing social and political diversities.
The solution for the new leadership was to
develop a binding sense of national unity
that submerged all differences. This was the
time of the rise of the single party and military dictatorships that were all justified on
the grounds of protecting and sustaining
national unity.
and Democracy
– The African
Barney Mthombothi
Editor, Financial Mail, Johannesburg
A Pan-African Agenda
Keynote Speaker
Salim Ahmed Salim
Salim Ahmed Salim
Member of the Board of Trustees,
Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation,
Dar es Salaam; and former
Secretary-General of the Organisation
of African Unity (OAU)
Member of the Board of Trustees,
Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation,
Dar es Salaam; and former
Secretary-General of the Organisation
of African Unity (OAU)
Bart Dijkstra
Director, FreeVoice,
Hilversum, Netherlands
Uhuru Kenyatta
worked with the then Organisation of
African Unity (OAU) for 12 years as the
Secretary-General before its transformation
into the African Union. From that experience, I would like to submit four major propositions for your reflection.
Leader of the Opposition, Nairobi
Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
Opinion and Expression, UN Human
Rights Commission, Geneva
Mugisha Muntu
Forum for Democratic Change
(FDC), Kampala
Two Processes
First, whereas the genesis of democracy,
both as a process and as an end in it itself, is
associated with a historical endeavour to accommodate the dynamics of pluralism, in
the case of Africa, there has been a disjuncture between the two. The logic of democratic development has not necessarily synchronised with the logic of pluralistic development. The two processes, as they appear
today, did not start in tandem.
The implication of this proposition is
that in the African experience the linkage
between democracy and pluralism cannot be
assumed as a given. There are situations, even
under the present conjuncture, where nonpluralistic democratic development has been
promoted in all earnest. Therefore, in order
to gain progress, deliberate efforts have to be
made in promoting and consolidating democracy concurrently with pluralistic development. The experience of post-independence Africa does indicate that a failure to acknowledge and rectify the disjuncture between the agenda for democracy and pluralism might have contributed significantly to
the prolongation of conflict and instability
in the last decades. It might also have played
a role in rendering the democratic institutions to remain fragile in some parts of the
Africa gained independence in the 1960s
at a time when the prevailing democratic doctrine that informed political thinking and
practice was democracy being a dominant
power of the majority of the people in a society. While not denied of their basic rights,
In order to gain progress,
deliberate efforts have to be made
in promoting and consolidating
democracy concurrently with
pluralistic development
The point I am trying to make here is that
the initial response to Africa’s confronting its
rich diversity in the post-independence period was not a pluralistic socio-political culture. Rather, it was the type of a binding
integrative unity. In this context, a minimum of latitude was provided for articulating the specificities of needs and choices;
divergences were discouraged; a singular identity was promoted; and in a few cases, only
what was referred to as “inner-party democracy” was restrictively permitted. The State
was the prime mover of development.
The bequeathed doctrine of democracy
focused on controls by the State, and politics
was mediated through selective representation. Democracy, in this case referred to the
dominance of the majority. And despite subscribing to the principle of separation of
powers, the dominance of the majority and
its repercussions in constituting the organs
of government often tended to weaken the
checks and balances that this principle
entails. Invariably, the executive arm of governance tended to remain dominant, not
only in relation with the other organs, but
also with the spheres of civil society as well
as the private sector where it existed.
This brings me to my second proposition.
Remarkable progress has been achieved in
Africa’s quest to build democracy and pluralism, particularly in the last two decades. From
around 1990 until today, in a short span of
15 years, one sees a complete transformation
in the African political landscape. From a
pattern that was dominated by the monopolised politics of single-party governments and
military regimes, the scene has completely
changed to multi-party electoral systems with
some of the attendant structures for democratic governance. Almost all African countries have adopted constitutional provisions
allowing for the functioning of divergent
articulation of interests. Systems have been
put in place for regular and competitive elections. The previous fusion of party with state
has been rectified in many places, through
clearly separating the key organs of government. Political parties have been reassigned
to their traditional role of serving as vehicles
for a higher-level aggregation of interests
and preferences of the citizens.
One cannot fail to notice the emergence
of a new political culture in Africa over these
last 15 years. Proportional representation and
the formation of governments of national unity are increasingly becoming a political option
of choice in a number of countries. Large
amounts of resources are expended for extensive consultations on a constitutional order that can effectively represent the will of
the people. In countries such as mine, Tanzania, public resources are allocated to qualified opposition parties for sustaining their
day-to-day activities and for contesting elections. There is a considerable increase in the
space and role of the media, and subjects that
were previously considered as a taboo can now
be discussed with relative openness. One can
list many more achievements along these
It is true that it was during these same 15
years that I am associating with progress when
the continent witnessed the most ignominious and horrendous occurrence associated
with our recent history, the genocide of
Rwanda. One of the most extensive and damaging wars, that of the Congo, was fought
during this period. However, it was also during this time when the most recalcitrant
conflicts began to abate and the guns of war
began to go silent.
I would like to suggest that the ending of
the civil wars in Angola, in Southern Sudan,
Mozambique, Liberia and Sierra Leone underlined the importance of the democratic
and pluralistic dispensation as the most effective means of maintaining peace, security
and stability in the continent. The harmony
and tranquillity sustained in post-apartheid
South Africa is a powerful testimony of Africa coming of age in sustaining the democratic and pluralistic dispensation even when it
is against the greatest of odds. Decades of institutionalised conflict and alienation of the
majority could be reconstituted in a sustainable manner by democracy and pluralism.
We enter the 21st Century not only with
countries like Botswana, Mauritius and
Senegal being the celebrated cases of sustainable democratic systems, but the process of
institutionalised competitive systems has
thrived to a point of having new parties and
party coalitions taking over the leadership
of government in a number of countries.
Indeed, one can boldly observe that remarkable progress has been achieved in establishing the instruments of democratic and pluralistic development in Africa. We have done
remarkably well in establishing the architecture for the functioning of democratic processes and pluralistic relations in our countries. The extent to which these instruments
and this architecture guarantee an enjoyment of the fundamental goals of democracy and pluralism to the African peoples constitute one of the most important development challenges for Africa today.
Remarkable progress has been
achieved in Africa’s quest to build
democracy and pluralism, particularly in the last two decades
The full engagement of the people as a
whole in the determination of national destiny beyond the five-yearly casting of the vote,
ensuring a continuous and effective accountability of leaders and representatives to their
respective constituencies, and also the guaranteeing of a sufficient degree of transparency in all aspects of the public policy process
are parameters which need working on in a
number of our systems.
Furthermore, the denial of a level playing
field, which provides equal opportunity for
the political party in power as well as for the
opposition, has been a major area of concern. In the same regard, the use of electoral
offices for personal or parochial interest has
tended to undermine the very integrity of
these offices and the whole prevalent architecture established in the name of democracy. In the name of freedom of association and
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
interest articulation, desperate self-interest
has driven some politicians to exploit ethnic,
regional and religious identities as a basis for
Compounding these discrepancies are the
values and norms that underpin political relations and governance practices. For democracy and pluralism to succeed, a conscious
attempt has to be made in developing a
national ethos that encompasses the whole
society. This serves as the bond of the
nation, being larger than both individual citizens as well as their constituent groups.
Whatever the diversities that may exist in a
country, the national ethos should serve as
an integrative mechanism that unifies within diversity. Indeed, it embodies the nation
as a whole as well as its people.
Political relations for a democratic and
pluralistic dispensation need to be guided by
a culture of dialogue, a culture of tolerance,
and indeed on the rule of law. Tolerance
applies not only to respecting and appreciating our social and cultural differences, but
equally the differences in our affiliation to
political parties. We need to learn to disagree
without being disagreeable and becoming
permanent enemies. There should be no
claims of some to be more patriotic than
others simply on the basis of the divergent
views they may hold on the destiny of our
societies. We need to maintain mutual respect among all citizens. Politics of confrontation, superiority-inferiority complexes that
are coupled with discriminative attitudes,
and absence of equitable justice are all an
anathema to the prevalence of democracy,
even if the architecture is all-present. We have
witnessed to our utter dismay African countries with a promising future losing all that
they achieved for decades, due to the failure
in sustaining the cardinal values of a democratic culture.
The Linkage Between
Democracy and Development
A related challenge for the thriving of democracy and pluralism in Africa – and this
constitutes my third proposition – relates to
the linkage with development and improvement of human welfare. For as long as the
people do not notice an improvement in
their daily lives, then democratic development loses its meaning and remains suspended as a porous superstructure.
As I see it, two aspects of the linkage between democracy and development have proved to be critical in the African experience.
One is how the policy process is driven by
democratic norms, thus ensuring a satisfactory response to the needs and demands of
the people, and to the scope of choices and
options available to them, as well the manner in which public resources are allocated
are expended. A plural and democratic system of governance not only puts in the forefront the concerns of the people in terms of
their needs, demands and choices, but it also
allows for the unleashing and deployment of
their energy and creativity through engaging
them fully in overcoming challenges. In the
specific African context, the degree to which
systems of governance address the poverty
challenge has a greater bearing to legitimacy
of democracy for the people.
I do believe that the media,
both global and African, has an
important role to play in promoting democratic and pluralistic
development in Africa
The second linkage aspect for democracy
and development involves the manner in
which rights and responsibilities are included among the development outputs for the
benefit of the people and how such rights are
enforced. Denial of basic and affordable
rights, or their selective application oftentimes tends to jeopardise the sustainability
of democracy. In this connection, a terrifying demon of corruption has to be fought
vigorously because it is one of the debasing
devices of denying and violating the people’s
rights. It denies and violates rights not only
when demanded in exchange of legitimate
rights; it is even more destructive when used
in distorting democratic processes.
Once again, a broad overview of the African landscape tends to suggest that the deepening of democracy and its operationalisation through the policy process constitute
urgent challenges that Africa is faced with in
this new century. There is evidence to indicate that the institutional reform processes
that are taking place all over the continent
are pointing towards the direction of enhancing this linkage.
A Pan-African Agenda
My fourth and final proposition, which I
will highlight very briefly, is that democracy
and pluralism as concurrent pursuits are also
a pan-African agenda. Indeed, in 1990, the
then OAU Assembly of Heads of State and
Government adopted a stance that proclaimed the challenge of ensuring peace, security
and stability as a collective responsibility of
all African people and their leadership. Bold
collective measures have been taken since
that time, which have had a positive impact
in changing the continental political culture.
Recent developments in Togo are a good
illustration of Africa’s internalising this new
culture. Hardly 12 hours elapsed, when Africa, in one voice, strongly reproached an imposed leader, compelling him to fall into
order in abiding by constitutional procedures.
This rejection of unconstitutional change
had happened before in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’lvoire and the Comoros. Right
now, the Constitutive Act of the African
Union has enshrined democratic principles
for the continental body politic.
All I am trying to suggest in these four
propositions, and this constitutes my conclusion, is that Africa subscribes to the universality of democratic goals. Over the last
two decades, due to the incomplete nature
of the project of nation building in the early
period of independence, many countries have
had also to grapple with confronting the
challenge of transforming the rich diversity
into a bedrock of strength rather than allowing it to degenerate into a source of weakness. We are beginning to triumph over these
dual challenges, though there are still hurdles to be overcome. At the stage we have
reached, stronger attention is being given
into translating the democratic achievements so far gained into improvements of
the peoples’ welfare. In this overall project,
the whole of Africa has reaffirmed its commitment to pursue a collective approach.
Without pre-empting your deliberations,
I do believe that the media, both global and
African, has an important role to play in
promoting democratic and pluralistic development in Africa. After all, it is both a beneficiary and an enabler for the thriving of
democracy in any society. Not only does it
contribute to fostering unity within diversity, but it also is an instrument for engendering and expressing the richness of diversity.
In this role, the media can constructively
create bridges, promote harmony and understanding, as well as contribute to the levelling of the playing field. Unfortunately, there
have been tragic cases where sections of the
media abdicated from this noble role and in
the process have contributed into sowing
seeds of discord, generating hatred and hostility, and, in certain instances, even undermining democratic processes. I leave it to
you in reflecting on ways of enhancing the
positive contribution the media can continue to make in fostering democracy and pluralism in Africa.
would like to briefly address three important issues, which, in my opinion, directly concern the subject of pluralism and democracy in the African experience.
My first one regards the processes in the
democratic system. Democracy is a system
that consists of two important processes:
1. A top-down process, which is about formulating the constitution, making fair laws, segregation of powers, independent judges, etc.
2. A bottom-up process, which is about people who are involved and actively participate
in all levels of government: local, regional
and national. They ask their representatives
questions; they care about what these representatives are doing and about the results of
their efforts; but above all they vote, vote
and vote again.
In this bottom-up process, something else
is of major importance, namely to be aware
that in politics there are boundaries or, as
one famous statesman once said, “Politics is
all about respecting the freedom of others.”
In Africa this is known by the concept of
Ubuntu. This means, as far as I know, that if
you inflict hardship on others or deprive
others of what is rightfully theirs, you inflict
this hardship on yourself; you deprive yourself of what you deny others.
I see this concept of Ubuntu very much
alive in the countries in Africa I know. I lived
for some years in Zimbabwe and travelled
extensively in South Africa, before and after
apartheid, in Mozambique, Botswana, Angola
and Kenya. I have noticed that this concept
is an important cornerstone of the bottomup democratic process, which, even when the
top-down process fails, will still guarantee that
democracy has a very good chance to emerge.
My first statement, therefore, is that I am
very optimistic about the bottom-up process. Two years ago, I was in Zimbabwe. I
travelled from Harare to the rural areas. Just
a few kilometres outside of Harare I saw policemen stopping trucks, getting people out
of the buses, interviewing them for hours.
But in the rural areas, you saw people actively discussing what is going on in their country and trying to look for changes. That made
me feel confident that Zimbabwe will be a
democracy again.
At FreeVoice we therefore believe in supporting media and media organisations that
originate from bottom-up processes. We think
that they help a democracy to start and keep
At FreeVoice we therefore believe
in supporting media and media
organisations that originate from
bottom-up processes
My second point is the following:
For a working democracy, permanent education of the young in democratic principles
is of paramount importance. You do not turn
into a believer of democracy when you become 18 or 21. It is my strong belief that
explaining to our children democratic principles and the ways in which a democracy
works is essential. Therefore, one of our projects at FreeVoice is the support we give to
the development of news and current affairs
programmes for children on TV and other
media. If you watch TV, you will notice that
news and current affairs programmes in
Africa are rarely aimed at children in the 8-9
and 14-15 age groups. News and current affairs are reported by and for adults. These
news programmes are not in tune with the
world of the young and their daily realities
as perceived and experienced by them. The
networks often have very few possibilities for
developing news programmes that are purely focused on children. Not only are the resources lacking, there is often no specific
know-how and experience in house as to
how to present news and current affairs in a
good way for children.
Bart Dijkstra
Director, FreeVoice, Hilversum, Netherlands
One of our projects is to develop, together with the major TV channels in Afghanistan, South Africa and Suriname, news programmes for children that reach hundreds of
thousands of children with information that
is relevant to them. Last year, news programmes for children in these countries were started with success. All involved believed that
this is a step toward increasing awareness
among children about the world they live in
and getting them actively interested in what
matters in a democracy.
I must say that I was very happy when I
read last night in the Young Nation section
of the Sunday Nation newspaper an interview with children between nine and 12 years
old about what the Constitution of Kenya
means to them. This is an illustration of my
point and I hope this interview will be used
in classrooms all over the country. If this
happens, I will not be surprised that over
time children will ask their parents what
they think about the new Constitution.
And, finally my third point:
Democracy in the West is the result of
long and slow progress, but many in the
West nowadays take it for granted. If you
look at the polls in European countries and
in the U.S., a 50 per cent turnout is seen as
very good. People, I fear, are less and less
aware of what democracy is all about.
Therefore, I would like to invite journalists
from Africa, who from their own experience can tell us how important democracy
is to their countries, to visit our Website,
www.freevoice.nl. Please inform us so that
we can keep the readers of our Website informed about how important democracy is
to you.
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
Protecting the Gains
Uhuru Kenyatta
Leader of the Opposition, Nairobi
will try to focus in a very brief manner on
the Kenyan experience. Towards that end,
I would like to say that Kenya has indeed
made very major advances towards accepting
the principle of democracy as a system of
governance in our country.
From the introduction of multi-party politics in 1992, great strides have been made,
ultimately culminating in the elections of
2002, which indeed could be characterised
as free and fair and an expression of the
wishes of the Kenyan people. That said and
done, the issue that confronts us as a nation
today is how to protect and to safeguard the
gains made over the years.
The issue for us here in Kenya
is how to sustain gains made,
not necessarily through the people
who are elected to office,
but rather by strengthening the
very institutions that underpin a
democratic society
I would like first and foremost to agree
with the previous speaker that people can
indeed change and that they do change. The
Kenyan experience has made it very clear
that the people have indeed changed since
the last general election. As the speaker from
Uganda did correctly state, the issue for us
here in Kenya is how to sustain gains made,
not necessarily through the people who are
elected to office, but rather by strengthening
the very institutions that underpin a democratic society.
Dialogue and tolerance are fundamental
aspects. What have we seen here in Kenya?
What basically has happened? As much as I
have said that we have gone a long way, we
still have a very long way towards protecting
the very fundamental pillars of a pluralistic
society in Kenya. The very same tools that
were used by the previous regime to muzzle
the opposition are indeed the very same
tools that today’s government uses to muzzle
criticism against it. We need, as a nation, to
move to the next step, and the next step is
actually institutionalising the fundamentals
of a pluralistic society.
This is one of the main reasons why
Kenyans have been calling largely for a new
Constitution to protect the gains that they
have made; to protect against the abuse of
trust given to leaders at elections during the
term of that government; to develop a culture in leadership of tolerance and dialogue.
It is very clear in the Kenyan situation that
that culture of tolerance and dialogue still
does not exist in this nation. And a government that was brought into power with overwhelming support of the majority, as a coalition government, has basically broken apart
purely on the basis of lack of understanding,
lack of tolerance, and most importantly, the
use of ethnicity to strengthen the positions
of individual leaders.
This has gone a stage further because the
government continues to struggle to survive.
It has also infringed on the rights of the
opposition by basically weakening it unconstitutionally. But because of the executive
powers of the presidency, which really are
far-reaching in this nation, that situation
continues unabated.
One of the biggest problems that we indeed face as a nation, and I believe as a continent, is the ethnicising of politics. We do
not build our politics on the basis of political agenda or programmes, but rather on the
basis of ethnic communities. Towards this
end, one of the issues that we really need to
strengthen and establish is a society where
pluralism is not based on ethnicity, but on
political parties that are developed on specific programmes and agenda.
As our keynote speaker clearly indicated,
to accept as a continent, but more so as a
nation, the principle of unity and diversity,
it is ideas, it is programmes that put together people on one platform as opposed to the
idea of sheer or absolute power of one community against the other. This is actually
something that risks highly undermining the
very progress that Kenyans have made over
the last ten years or so.
I would like to briefly comment on the
role of the media towards this end. The media in Kenya was very proactive in the leadup to Kenya becoming a pluralistic society.
The media and civil society in Kenya played
a big role in democratisation and in sensitising the Kenyan electorate on their rights in
highlighting human rights abuses by the previous government, and indeed by this government as well, in highlighting the issues of
corruption that have also been a major issue
in our own society and in Africa as a whole.
Equally, I believe, that they have not done
enough to ensure that the principles that
underlie that democracy, that underlie that
choice, are also protected.
The media in Kenya was
very proactive in the lead-up
to Kenya becoming a
pluralistic society
One of the biggest problems that we have
found ourselves in as the opposition, especially over the last two years, is that a lot of
these gains were made when those in government today were in the opposition. I believe,
both from civil society and the media in general, there was a softening of their stance as
a result of a lot of their friends now being in
government. And, I believe, that that in itself
has played a role in ensuring that this government continues with the abuses. If we do
not continue the fight to ensure that democracy is entrenched, that pluralism is entrenched, all that happens really is a continued
entrenchment of the very ideal that I believe
the people of this country rejected way back
in 1992.
We have made progress. We have a long
way to go. The media has a role in that. We
as politicians have a role. But most importantly, I believe that to sustain the gains made,
we must move from the personalisation,
from the ethnicising, towards building institutions that will protect those gains and that
will enhance the democratic space that Kenyans enjoy and that will ensure that those
gains are preserved for future generations.
This is ultimately the underlying call for
a new Constitution that Kenyans now have
picked up. We risk dividing our country once
again because the issues have been overridden by the politics of individuals, by the politics of ethnicity. Ultimately, Kenyans must
get out from being controlled, from being
dictated to by ethnic politics. I believe that
to that end the media has a great role in ensuring that an issue-based agenda becomes
the order of the day and that the politics of
this republic are de-personalised and deethnicised.
Creating an
Environment in Which
Media Can Flourish
n pluralism and democracy, I wish to
outline some ideas on diversity under
international law. My take on this is to start
with the guarantee of freedom of expression
and note that this is the primary means for
promoting pluralism. Liberate the media and
it will flourish, creating pluralism.
An issue for Africa, and everywhere, really, is resources, or more broadly, creating an
environment in which the media can flourish. In some countries, there are general subsidies for the media. These are subsidy schemes, which African countries may wish to
An important issue here is broadcasting
and how to ensure pluralism in broadcasting. The U.S. market, for instance, while
incredibly well resourced, has arguably failed
to provide pluralism. In Europe, many broadcast regulators have a specific mandate to
promote pluralism and this they do through
licensing. But licensing, as you know, has its
own inherent risks. There are risks when the
regulator is not independent or has a bias, as
is the case in most African countries. So there
needs to be a careful choice between using
this means of promoting pluralism and risking interference.
Another key issue for pluralism is community media; these provide a direct voice
to rural communities and can significantly
enhance the overall offering of content. South
Africa has a good system, which other African countries may need to emulate.
There is the issue of public broadcasting,
also central to pluralism. How to transform
old state broadcasters and where to find the
resources required for quality programming.
The right to freedom of opinion and expression is a fundamental and inalienable
right that contributes to the development
and consolidation of democracy through mutual respect, dialogue and tolerance. Parallel
to this, freedom of expression is an essential
element of economic, social and cultural development, because it creates bridges and
links among peoples.
Liberate the media and it will
flourish, creating pluralism
The African continent is still marred by
long and painful armed conflicts, ethnic divisions and a deficit in democracy. Decades
of international and domestic mismanagement of resources have impoverished large
parts of African societies. In this context, repression of political opponents, persecution
of human rights defenders, and harassment
of media professionals, trade unionists and
associations of various natures are still quite
Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
Opinion and Expression, UN Human
Rights Commission, Geneva
The prevalence of impunity of human
rights violations is dictated by the lack of a
comprehensive rule of law system and large
deficiencies in the administration of justice.
Yet the quest for increasing freedom of
opinion and expression among all African
peoples is higher than ever. The access to
modern communication technologies may
open new paths for human and economic
development and may represent a leap forward for the disadvantaged classes. Beyond
the technological gap, there are a number of
obstacles that can also be found in other
parts of the world.
Media security remains a great concern.
Although the killing of journalists is not a
common phenomenon in Africa, many journalists are mistreated or detained for long
periods. The other problem is the issue of
defamation. Many journalists have been tried
on criminal defamation charges. Defamation
cases should be dealt with in the field of civil
law and fines should follow the criterion of
We also need to promote broader popular
participation by all citizens in public affairs.
23 MAY 2005
We need to strengthen legal and institutional frameworks, through the adaptation of
relevant legal instruments and the establishment of ad hoc bodies to monitor the implementation and enforcement of such laws.
Bearing in mind the vital role played by
the media in creating broad alertness on political, economic and social issues, we need
to develop training capacities, which should
include professional ethics and a human rights
based approach for media workers in order
to enable them to promote freedom of expression in an effective manner.
Generally speaking, we need to address
democratic change, public accountability and
globalisation issues, core matters in Africa,
which should be the subject of a broad and
meaningful debate.
Article 2 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights places an obligation
on States to “adopt such legislative or other
measures as may be necessary to give effect to
the rights recognised in the present Covenant.” In effect, governments are under an obligation to create an environment in which a
diverse, independent media can flourish,
thereby satisfying the public’s right to know.
An important aspect of states’ obligations
to promote freedom of expression and of the
media is the need to promote pluralism within the media. As the European Court of Human Rights stated: “[Imparting] information
and ideas of general interest … cannot be successfully accomplished unless it is grounded
in pluralism.”
The UN Human Rights Committee has
stressed the importance of a pluralistic media
in nation building.
Furthermore, the public service remit of
broadcasters must be clearly set out in law.
Although the killing of journalists
is not a common phenomenon in
Africa, many journalists are mistreated or detained for long periods
Finally, the funding of public service
broadcasting must be “based on the principles that member states undertake to maintain and, where necessary, establish an appropriate, secure and transparent funding framework which guarantees public service broadcasting organisations the means necessary to
accomplish their missions.”
Importantly, the “decision-making power
of authorities external to the public service
broadcasting organisation in question regarding its funding should not be used to exert,
directly or indirectly, influence over the editorial independence and institutional autonomy of the organisation.”
Walking the
Democratic Path
Mugisha Muntu
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Kampala
ith the benefit of hindsight and lessons from our history in Uganda, we
can now make conclusions that no society
should base its fortunes or its destiny on the
goodwill of any individual and, for that matter, on any leader’s goodwill. We can also
make conclusions that the sustainability of
peace, stability, economic growth and development must therefore be based on the
strength of institutions rather than on the
goodwill of leaders.
As human beings, we are innately weak
and vulnerable. We could look at examples
in Europe or America, where a number of
leaders in the developed democracies perform well. Left to their own devices, without
adequate institutional checks and balances,
some would, without doubt, be no different
from the tin-pot dictators who, to some
extent, still dot the African continent.
I am saying this to indicate that, at the
end of the day, it is not the strength of individuals or the goodwill of individuals that
make democracies function, but rather it is
the strength of institutions that check the
excesses in the process of governance. The
biggest challenge, therefore, is to strengthen
the institutions that are still weak and to
establish them where they do not exist. We
also need to cultivate and promote the political courage of tolerance and accommodation, transparency, accountability, and observance of equalities before the law.
In the Uganda experience, after close to
30 years of turmoil, we started having a turnaround in the situation in 1986. There was
an internal liberation war fought from 1981
to 1986. The government, under what has
been referred to as a “no party” system, was
established in 1986. There was steady and
encouraging progress until the mid 1990s.
Because of the weakness of institutions and
the vulnerability of individuals in the process
of exercising power, the leaders to a large
extent started faltering in the process of continuing with establishing democracy.
As of now, there are two issues that are
critical in the Ugandan context:
1. There is a debate as to whether there should
be an opening up of space to allow parties to
2. There is also a debate on whether there
should be lifting of the limitation of terms
on the presidency. In our Constitution, we
have a two-term limit for the President, just
like in a number of other African countries.
The two debates are raging in the country. With regard to whether we should go
multi-party or not, there is going to be a referendum, possibly in the next two months
and we believe, most likely, that space will
be opened. The second issue is on the lifting
of the term limit. We do not know in which
direction the country is going to move on
that. The biggest problem is the process and
how it is being conducted. There seems to be
a lot of manipulation, a lot of blackmail and
a lot of bribery – all of it focused on enabling
those who want the term limit to be lifted to
There would not be any problem if the
term limit were successfully lifted in a democratic manner. The danger is that if it is lifted through manipulation, it will set back the
whole process of democratisation in our
country. We will just have to keep watching
to see how the situation unfolds.
In Uganda, if we progress to a level where
the political elite has the stamina and the
courage to stand for right against wrong, we
believe that we will be able to walk the democratic path. If we do not gain that courage
and if we do not have the foresight to know
that the stability of the country depends on
democracy, listening to all voices, and the
majority taking the day but the minority
also being respected, then the political elite
will again have betrayed the society in our
country, just like we have seen in quite a
number of other countries.
It is not the strength of individuals
or the goodwill of individuals that
make democracies function, but
rather it is the strength of institutions that check the excesses in the
process of governance
At the same time, we are encouraged by
what has happened in other countries where
there have been attempts to lift the term
limits, for example in Malawi and Zambia.
We are also encouraged by African countries where there has not been any attempt
to lift the term limits, like in Kenya or
Tanzania, but we see those countries progressing. We will learn lessons from all
those countries.
KENYA 2005
At the Press Centre (from left to right):
Jens Barland, former Editor & Managing Director,
Stavanger Aftenblad, Norway; Hajiya Bilkisu, Editor,
Citizen Communications, Nigeria; Janne Virkkunen,
Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland;
Einar Hanseid, Schibsted ASA, Norway
IPI staff members Michael Kudlak (left) and Christiane Klint
Sunanda Deshapriya,
Spokesperson, Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka
At the Carnivore Restaurant:
Thomas Bauer, Professor, School of Journalism, University of Vienna
Welcome Cocktail at the
Hotel InterContinental:
IPI Chairman Wilfred Kiboro
(left) and Felix Adenaike,
Chief Executive, Syndicated
Communications Ltd, Nigeria
Magda Abu-Fadil, Director, Institute for Professional Journalists,
Lebanese American University (left), prepares for a safari
Salim Ahmed Salim, former Secretary-General, Organisation
of African Unity, talks to reporters after the session on
"Pluralism and Democracy - The African Experience"
At the Opening Ceremony: IPI Director Johann Fritz (left)
and Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori
Barney Mthombothi, Editor,
Financial Mail, South Africa
(left), chats with Wangethi
Mwangi, Group Editorial
Director, Nation Media
Group Ltd, Kenya
Ugandan dancers
at the Carnivore
Waiting for
the President
at the Kenyatta
At the Carnivore Restaurant:
Susan McMeel (left) and John P. McMeel,
President, Universal Press Syndicate, USA
After the Opening Ceremony (from left to right): Wilfred Kiboro, Chairman of IPI;
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Fatuma Kiboro; Mwai Kibaki; President of Kenya; Brigitte Fritz;
Johann Fritz, Director of IPI; HH The Aga Khan; Moody Awori, Vice President of Kenya
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
“Reporting on the
Islamic World”
Thomas Bauer
Head, Department of Audiovisual
Media and Media Culture, Institute for
Communication and Media Studies,
University of Vienna
Keynote Speaker
Salim Lone
Author; former Spokesman of the
UN Envoy to Iraq; former Director,
News and Media Division,
United Nations Department of Public
Information, New York, NY
Magda Abu-Fadil
Director, Institute for Professional
Journalists, Lebanese American
University, Beirut, Lebanon
Hajiya Bilkisu
Editor, Citizen Communications,
Kaduna, Nigeria
Bambang Harymurti
Chief Editor, Tempo, Jakarta, Indonesia
Semih Idiz
Diplomatic Editor, CNN Türk; and
Columnist, Milliyet, Istanbul, Turkey
Alisha Ryu
Bureau Chief, Voice of America, Nairobi
Shams Vellani
Director, Special Projects, Aga Khan
Development Network, London, UK
The Scourges
of our Time
Salim Lone
Author; former Spokesman of the UN Envoy to
Iraq; former Director, News and Media Division,
United Nations Department of Public Information,
New York, NY
t is a real pleasure for me to be here today
because of IPI’s distinguished history of
service to press freedom. I am pleased that in
a small way my connection to IPI began when
I was not even 30 and went visiting the then
IPI Director in their tiny offices in Zurich
in 1973. Then, in the year 2000, as Director
of the News and Media Division at UN
Headquarters in New York, I sat across from
Mr. Johann Fritz, as we tried, unsuccessfully I
am afraid, to find a way for the UN to host
IPI’s 50th World Congress. So I thank you,
Mr. Fritz, and also you, Chairman Wilfred
Kiboro, for giving me this latest opportunity to get to know IPI better and to present
my views on the subject of Western media
coverage of Islam.
I do believe that this is one of the key issues that the world faces. Unless we deal with
how the media covers the Islamic World, we
will not be able to tackle the two great scourges of our time: terrorism and wars of aggression. Our world today is infinitely more dangerous than it was during the Cold War, when
nuclear-laden superpowers were at a standoff. All the weapons then were in the hands
of essentially sane and objective leaders.
Now we are very much in the midst of a
clash, which luckily so far is limited to the
extremities of two civilisations. However, with
the occupation and war in Iraq, in particular, and also the occupation of Afghanistan
and the Palestinian Territories, I believe ever
larger sections of the main-stream population on both sides of this divide are being
impassioned by the situation in the world;
each one believing the other to be out to
pressure it.
So this is the core of my thesis: there is a
profound crisis in the U.S. and some other
Western media coverage of the Islamic world,
the scope of which the media is generally
unaware. While it is clearly the actions of the
United States and a small number of extrem-
ist Muslims which are inflaming passions
among previously moderate Muslim and
Western populations, significant sections of
the Western media are contributing to exacerbating such tensions through careless or
one-sided coverage, or more dangerously
through portraying Muslim states and groups,
or even Islam itself, as the sole fount of terror. While I do not know what specifics he
had in mind, I was very pleased that Pope
Benedict XVI, in one of his first extended
comments, talked of the media and said very
specifically that the media can spread peace
but also foment violence.
Let me list the combination of factors that
I believe contribute to this media crisis.
1. A lack of substantial interest in global
reporting, which means most Western media
hardly cover Muslim countries except when
they are in serious crisis of interest to the
West. So there is a deep unfamiliarity with the
workings of the world’s very diverse Muslim
societies, and bewilderment when passions
are unleashed by American actions, or even by
media coverage, which satellite TV and Internet now make widely available.
2. A lack of recognition or acknowledgement by most media of the profound transformation since 9/11 of the United States
from the world’s most powerful advocate of
human rights, democratisation and the rule
of law to a country that is pursuing categorically outlawed practices such as torture and
working closely with a number of oppressive
regimes known to practice it. So the selfsearching required by this new transformation in the United States, and by the dramatic erosion of the support the U.S. enjoyed
from even the European publics, has not
3. There was also in the post 9/11 period,
severe governmental and public pressure to
ensure media support for foreign policy. Space
in Western media, particularly U.S. media,
for representing deeply and commonly held
Muslim points of view is extremely rare. You
will see some odd moderate criticism, but
you will not get a sense of what the vast majority of the Muslim population feels.
Unless we deal with how
the media covers the Islamic World,
we will not be able to tackle
the two great scourges of our time:
terrorism and wars of aggression
4. More technically, another problem is the
media regularly repeating statements, let’s
say by President Bush, which at best contain
unsubstantiated claims but sometimes are
actually quite false. The repetition of these
claims on TV and the front pages, without a
clear indication that these might not be true,
has an enormous influence on Western audiences in support of harsh action against Muslims and, at the same time, has a response
from the Muslims as well.
All this is a mouthful, so allow me to give
you a few specific examples.
I begin first with the American TV network NBC. Just before the Gulf War, it placed a large ad in The New York Times that
said, “Saddam: America’s Most Dangerous
Enemy”. It goes on to say, “Saddam Hussein
may have enough chemical and biological
weapons to kill every man, woman and child
on earth. What will he do next? How far will
he go? Can he be stopped? Tonight hard new
information about Saddam Hussein”.
Item 2 is from the CNN evening news
with Paula Zahn on 5 February 2003. Ms.
Zahn aired highlights of Colin Powell’s testimony at the famous UN Security Council
meeting explaining why war was essential
because WMDs were in Iraq. After that, on
television, you saw an Iraqi general, in charge
of weapons, rebut, or try to rebut the various
points that Powell made. Ms. Zahn brought
on Jamie Rubin, the former State Department
spokesman, and said to him, “You have got
to understand that most Americans were
probably either laughing out loud or got sick
to their stomach. Which was it for you?”
“Well, really both,” said Mr. Rubin. To his
credit, Mr. Rubin subsequently became a
critic of the war in Iraq.
Then there was another segment on CNN,
on 23 April 2003, when the UN SecretaryGeneral said on television, in his characteristically low-key manner, said that the “U.S.
should accept responsibility of the occupying power for public order and safety and
the wellbeing of the civilian population.”
This was perfectly reasonable and reflected a
lot actually about what happened after the
war, but it infuriated many Americans, including CNN anchor Lou Dobbs and his veteran correspondent Kitty Pilgrim. “It was a
blatant, verbal attack,” Pilgrim said. “The UN
Secretary-General lecturing the U.S. on its
obligations to Iraq. Kofi Annan’s words ‘occupying power’ hold a particularly nasty and
inaccurate connotation, a direct contradiction to what U.S. military planners say.”
Item 4 is about Darfur. In a 31 July 2004
article in the Economist, titled “Must Intervention Be Legal?”, the magazine provided
an answer in a subhead immediately after:
“Armed intervention in Darfur may – or may
not – flout the law. So what?” It goes on to
“propose another possible tack … to persuade Chad, across whose borders tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees are streaming, to
initiate an intervention in Darfur under its
right to self-defence. This would obviate the
need for a Security Council vote.”
Not to be outdone, a week later Newsweek
had on its cover a photograph of Tony Blair
with the bold headline “Can Blair Come
Back?” The answer was provided in the cover’s
subhead: “How Darfur Could Help the PM
Regain his Standing.”
Finally, an op-ed by Thomas Friedman
from the 7 January 2005 International Herald
Tribune, titled “Let Iraq Have the Right
Kind of Civil War,” states in its opening paragraph: “We have to have an election in Iraq
so we can have a proper civil war”. He goes
on to say, “The civil war we want is a democratically Iraqi government against the
Ba’athist and Islamist militants.”
How easy it is for the media of the powerful to encourage war against weak nations!
Or even better, a civil war. And how easy it
is for some journalists and commentators, all
renowned, to not spare a thought about the
tens of thousands who die in such wars. Can
we imagine what would happen if Muslim
journalists, writing in their mainstream media, began advocating that terrorist attacks
be launched on the United States for its
actions in the Muslim world?
I am afraid that, on the whole,
Western coverage suffers
from a lack of objectivity and distance from their governments’
strategic concerns
All of the countries that the media, at one
time or another, feel are legitimate targets
for war are Muslim: Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan,
Iran and Syria – and at times even Saudi Arabia. At the moment, the only three occupations in the world are of Muslim countries:
Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and Afghanistan. Is it a wonder that even the most moderate Muslims feel that the portrayal of Islam
as an enemy of the West is a prelude to aggression or invasion?
I mentioned the example involving criticism of Kofi Annan on CNN to show that if
even the Secretary-General of the United
Nations cannot be allowed to say something
very simple, can you imagine how much
more difficult it is for ordinary people to get
their views across to the media. I would like
to add that many non-Muslims are equally
concerned about Western media coverage of
the Islamic world.
I also want to say that I am actually a great
fan of the Western media. I think the free
press is one of the great accomplishments of
humanity and while I have given some terri-
KENYA 2005
Western Media
under Scrutiny
ble examples to you of the kind of things the
media should not be saying or carrying, I
could find equally powerful stuff from the
other side on its critical reporting about
what the West is doing. Nevertheless I am
afraid that, on the whole, Western coverage
suffers from a lack of objectivity and distance from their governments’ strategic concerns.
Complaints about the media will never
stop and it will never be possible to satisfy
even a small proportion of the media audience, making them feel that this is objective,
very accurate reporting in the media. That
you cannot expect, but I do think that significant changes are needed because the situation at the moment in Western coverage is
pretty awful.
Recently the Pew Research Center in the
United States, a respected opinion research
group that studies attitudes toward the press,
found that over 45 per cent of the public in
the United States does not trust the media at
all. Only 21 per cent of the U.S. population
believed anything that The New York Times
So the situation is bad, and while it was
not foreign news that was the subject of this
particular poll, I know that The New York
Times and others are taking action to improve the way they report. The New York
Times, you may remember, was one of those
who had many exclusives on the run-up to
the war, showing that Iraq was developing
weapons of mass destruction. All of these
turned out to be wrong. To its credit, The
New York Times apologised.
I am worried about double standards,
which infuriate Muslims. We have seen in
recent months heavy media coverage about
Iran developing nuclear weapons. I do not
believe many of you have ever seen any discussion that even though Iran is under such
pressure, its main adversary, Israel, already
does possess such weapons. But in a recent
interview with an American official, I was surprised when he was asked about why Israel is
not held to the same standards as Iran. The
answer was because Israel had not signed the
Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore had
not broken any commitments. There was no
follow-up from the journalist.
Similarly, President Bush said in March
that all Syrian troops must leave Lebanon before its elections so these could be free and
fair. I agree perfectly, but did any of you see
anywhere in the Western media some comment that before the Iraqi elections President
Bush insisted that they needed 150,000 coalition troops so that those elections could be
free and fair?
I would like to make one final comment.
I do not mean to say that Muslims expect the
Western media to set aside regular space for
Muslim concerns, Muslim goals and Muslim
ideals. Not at all. Nor am I implying, when
I criticise Western media, that media in the
Muslim countries, or indeed Muslim society
itself, do not have even greater challenges they
need to tackle.
But I do believe, given the enormous
wealth, power and influence of the Western
media, that thy must immediately begin to
not only establish greater independence from
the strategic international goals of the United
States and its allies, but also to make a much
greater effort to understand Muslim views and
audiences, if we are to prevent our world from
descending into an armed Western camp on
the one hand and chaotic Muslim states run
by dictators supported by the U.S. on the
ince September 11, 2001, the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq and terror-related
events worldwide, Western media have generally failed to provide fair and balanced reporting of Islam, the Arabs and have often
mixed up the two.
The output has often been negative portrayals, sensationalism, jingoism and misperceptions about the fastest growing religion in
the world.
There have been countless assumptions
that Arabs are Muslims, and vice versa, not
taking into account that the largest Muslim
country in the world is Indonesia, which is
not Arab. Or that Christianity did not begin
in the Midwest or Deep South of the United
States, but in the Middle East.
How can journalists be so ignorant, callous and irresponsible about such geographic and historical facts? Well, it could be laziness, deadlines, budgets and ill intent, sometimes all rolled into one.
If you were an Arab or a Muslim in America on and after 9/11, you would have felt
outrage, shock and fear. You would also have
become a suspect, especially if your first name
were Osama or Jihad (a much misunderstood
term). Mosques were attacked, people wearing veils or turbans were assaulted and even
an Indian Sikh, mistaken for a Muslim, was
killed. That closely followed President Bush’s
remarks about the “crusade” against terror,
something that leaves a bad aftertaste in Arab
and Muslim mouths.
Thanks to stereotypes, already long established by Hollywood movies and TV entertainment programmes, we have had our share
of belly dancers, greedy oil billionaires and
bombers. Ali Booboo, the desert rat, rag
heads, Ay-rabs. camel jockeys, etc. The Walt
Disney movie Aladdin’s opening lyrics were:
“I come from a land, from a faraway place,
where the caravan camels roam. Where they
cut off your ear if they don’t like your face.
It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.”
Thank you very much, but where I live,
SUVs, BMWs and Mercedes roam, not ca-
mels: We don’t cut off ears and my residence
is a modem apartment building with all the
latest amenities.
I can just imagine the distorted image
planted in many people’s minds after seeing
and listening to such a “cute” cartoon film.
What also worries me is the editorialising
and pseudo-expert pontificating by TV “talking heads” and so-called reporting by journalists covering a region about which they
may know very little and do not have the time
or desire to learn about.
Foreign correspondents are often parachuted into an area like the Arab or Muslim
world and we have all sorts of distorted
images that come out as a result. Equally at
fault are Arabs and Muslims who have failed
to provide adequate, correct and reliable information to promote their cause.
Since September 11, 2001,
the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
and terror-related events worldwide,
Western media have generally
failed to provide fair and balanced
reporting of Islam
What is the media agenda? Why do some
stones get covered and others covered up?
On 1 May 2005 the Times of London
published confidential minutes of a 23 July
2002 meeting between British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and his cabinet members showing that Blair and President Bush secretly
agreed to wage war on Iraq for “regime
change” nearly a year before their invasion of
the country. British and U.S. officials insisted for months after that they had no plans to
invade. Why weren’t U.S. media more probing all along?
The Washington Post reported in April
2003 that the Pentagon had no plans to count
civilian casualties in Iraq. Did U.S. media react negatively? No. Why not? Had dismembered Iraqi civilians been printed on playing
Magda Abu-Fadil
Director, Institute for Professional Journalists,
Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon
cards like the Iraqi leadership’s “Most Wanted List” that was all the rage at the start of
the war, would they have received more attention? We all know how many people died
in the tragic events of September 11, but are
the lives of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine worth less?
While media in the Muslim and Arab
worlds have opposed the war in Iraq and in
other Muslim countries, their reports and
editorial lines can hardly be viewed as monolithic. It is important to understand the nuanced handling of news coming from these
Because of their reticence, or outright criticism of the Iraq war, channels like Al Jazeera
and Al Arabiya came under attack by U.S.
officials and their neoconservative supporters. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and the subsequent Iraqi Governing
Council had temporarily shut down Al Jazeera’s bureau as punishment. Al Jazeera has
accused U.S. forces of deliberately targeting
its bureaus in Kabul and Baghdad, and killing its Baghdad-based correspondent, for
bringing the plight of the Iraqi people to the
attention of the Arab and Muslim worlds,
which Washington said was instigation to
violence and terrorism.
Journalists have faced untold dangers in
covering wars and disasters, but the numbers
have jumped dramatically in the last few
years, particularly since Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reuters Gulf bureau chief Samia Nakhoul,
an alumna of our university, was lucky to
have survived with serious head and body
wounds the U.S. army tank attack on the
Palestine Hotel in Baghdad that targeted alleged snipers on the rooftop. Her cameraman
died. Was her reporting an irritant?
23 MAY 2005
We have seen information dominance
come of age in the war in Iraq, and the U.S.
government’s strategy has been to integrate
propaganda and news media into the military command structure more fundamentally than ever before.
Embedding journalists with U.S. and British troops may have provided striking images,
but they were short on context. “Unilateral”
correspondents often got meatier stories.
In November 2003, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke attacked U.S. TV coverage of
the war in Iraq, saying, “News organisations
should be in the business of balancing their
coverage, not banging the drum for one side
or the other.”
“Shock and Awe” was the one of the war’s
catch phrases. Media headlines and video
graphics referred to “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, “Line in the Sand”, and other such
marketing gimmicks. If, God forbid, Kenya
were to meet the wrath of Pentagon planners, would the media trumpet the “Line in
the Savannah?”
Do you remember seeing American TV
anchors wearing flags in their lapels? Were
they advocates or journalists?
New York Times media critic Frank Rich
wrote in March 2004 that real journalism
may be reeling, but faux journalism rocks,
given the use of celebrities to interpret hardhitting news. Remember the “heroic rescue”
of Private First Class Jessica Lynch from an
Iraqi hospital, or President Bush’s made-forTV landing on an aircraft carrier, with a
“Mission Accomplished” banner as a dramatic backdrop?
The last time anyone checked, there were
still troops in Iraq. Rich’s article was headlined “Operation Iraqi Infoganda”.
It was not until much later, when reports
of prisoner abuses, misappropriation of defence funds and yet-to-be-found weapons of
mass destruction, or mass deception, that U.S.
media began a chorus of mea culpas for having rolled over and played dead.
The fact that countless Websites and blogs
revealed reports of misinformation, stereotyping, and anti-Muslim or anti-Arab venom,
indicates new media are a double-edged sword
that have also made traditional news outlets
increasingly irrelevant.
On the flip side, the battle for Muslim
minds is not being fought by radicals in Falluja or in the mosques, wrote BBC Community Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani, but on the Net. He quoted a European
expert on Islam as saying governments must
rethink how they are going to win that war.
Adding fuel to the fire, faith-based news
from U.S. evangelical Christians have further
damaged the Arab/Muslim psyche. Already
bruised by attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pales-
tine and America itself thanks to the USA
Patriot Act. According to the Columbia Journalism Review’s May/June 2005 issue, prowar U.S. conservative evangelicals control at
least six national television networks, each
reaching tens of millions of homes, and virtually all of the nation’s over 2,000 religious
radio stations. Their worldview, lobbying
power in Washington and adherents, including senior Pentagon officials who believe
Islam is an evil religion, sets off international alarms.
We need to rethink our coverage
of Islam and the Arab world. It’s not
just good PR; it’s good business
The U.S.’s faltering public diplomacy and
attempts at democratisation in the Arab/Muslim worlds is further being hobbled by these
holier-than-thou false prophets.
A poll sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found 25 per cent of
Americans believed negative stereotypes
about Muslims to be true and that Muslims
“teach their children to hate.” Orientalism
seems alive and well in the 21st Century. It
just fits into glib 10-second sound bites and
clickable links with downloadable PDFs or
We need to rethink our coverage of Islam
and the Arab world. It’s not just good PR; it’s
good business. Responsible journalism can go
a long way towards minimising the artificially juiced-up “clash of civilizations”.
Some efforts have already been made in
that respect. For example, the Detroit Free
Press came up after 9/11 with something
called “100 Questions & Answers About
Arab-Americans” and it is available on the
Internet. USA Today ran an article titled,
“Q&A on Islam and Arab Americans”. The
Poynter Institute in Florida came up with a
series of on-line articles about “Understanding Ramadan”, “Covering Muslims in America”, and improving cross-cultural reporting, and has provided guidelines for cultural
competence. The Seattle Times also came up
with useful articles titled, “Understanding
Turbans” and “Interpreting Veils” to help
readers and browsers of their site decipher
the significance of head coverings in the
Muslim world and beyond.
A U.S. census report on Arab ancestry is
helpful in educating the American public
(and anyone else for that matter) on the integration and contributions of Arab-Americans. It highlights all their accomplishments
– and there are quite a few. Maybe more
Western countries should issue such reports
about their Muslim and Arab communities.
Increasingly, American universities and
colleges are hiring Muslim clerics to minister
to Muslims and to organise activities that
explain Islam to the non-Muslim community at large. Some institutions have also been
offering courses in Arabic and Islamic studies. Why not have joint religious activities
that extol the virtues of the different faiths?
But newsrooms should also do something
about that. Media ethics should be kept in
mind during war coverage. Are pictures of
POWs in costumes propaganda? Do journalists need to know the Geneva Convention?
Should reporters cover up official misdeeds?
A perfect example is Abu Ghraib and we
have seen what happened there.
The use of terms like “smart bomb” (many are dumb and miss their targets), “decapitation” of enemy leadership, “dismantling
of terror networks” (often a euphemism for
crushing anyone who disagrees with the
speaker) and other conveniently parroted
clichés are examples of sloppy writing, bad
editing and misinformation.
That is why it is important to have a multitude of sources for news reports, with war
coverage being a prime example of what can
go wrong if one is limited.
The Arab and Muslim worlds are undergoing various degrees of reform but still have
a way to go. Since gaining independence from
their former colonial masters, it has been a
rough ride. There is much soul searching
about religion, fundamentalism, terrorism,
education, the media, and more. But if leadership is by example, they will need better
examples of press freedom, fair and balanced
reporting and professionalism.
Anti-Semitism, long considered anathema in Western society, notably following
World War II, should be fully understood to
include anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments, since millions of Arabs and Muslims
are Semites, too.
There are many articulate Muslim and
Arab women who can bridge this false divide, but they need to be given a chance. It
is your responsibility in Western media to
give them that chance.
The late Pope John Paul II, in his message marking the 39th World Communications Day in 2005 quoted the General Epistle of St. James, which said: “Out of the
same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. MY brethren, these things ought not so
to be.” He added that these words have extraordinary power to bring people together
or to divide them, to forge bonds of friendship or to provoke hostility.
Journalists should remember these words
when reporting on the Islamic world.
Promoting Respect
for Diversity
Hajiya Bilkisu
Editor, Citizen Communications,
Kaduna, Nigeria
ost Muslim intellectuals believe that
the theory of the “clash of civilizations” propounded by Washington’s policy
analysts and “experts” like Samuel Huntington was a catalyst, because it set the tone for
future invasion of Muslim countries.
With the collapse of communism and the
end of the Cold War, Huntington identified
Islam as the next enemy the West would
have to confront. How true are his predications. The Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf War
were simulated by the only superpower that
emerged reinvigorated from the ashes of the
Cold War. Then came the biggest onslaught,
the “war an terrorism.”
However, long before 9/11, the global
media, because of their ownership pattern
and Judeo-Christian tradition, were not
known to be charitable in their reporting of
Islam and Muslims. Among these are BBC,
VOA, CNN, Reuters and AP. Often what
they find exciting to report are isolated acts
of terrorists and inciting comments from
militants and extremist clerics. These acts
and comments are then portrayed as representing Islam. Documentaries like “Sword of
Islam” are used to prove that violence is part
of the Islamic creed. The only exception is
the Qatar-based Al Jezeera satellite TV channel, which gives balanced coverage to issues
concerning Islam and Muslims and others.
According to Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa, author
of “Sharia and the Press in Nigeria” (2000),
the West, in spite of its pretensions to objectivity, abhors Islamists who view Islam from
a perspective contrary to Orientalism or the
dominant view of secularists. The BBC’s
strategy of “objectivity” is to pair up an intellectually inferior Islamist with an articulate secularist in a media programme. Many
scholars in the Muslim world believe that
the denial of a fair hearing to Muslims and
the negative portrayal of Islam and the promotion of their adversaries is a continuation
of the “crusade” against Islam. It is a method
of fighting a war by other means rather than
resorting to arms.
After 9/11 it needs no restating that at no
time in history have Muslims consistently
attracted such a hostile press; their religion is
demonised and their liberty to travel and
conduct business worldwide is curtailed. Four
years after 9/11 and the accompanying U.S.
policy war on terrorism, the seeming confrontation between Islam and the West is at
its zenith. From Iraq to Afghanistan, from
the oppression of Palestinians to the abuse of
prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the violation of
human rights at Guantanamo, Muslims are
being humiliated. From Algeria to Egypt
and Pakistan, where the search for al-Qaeda
members is still on, the U.S. and its proxies
are in charge.
What is the role of the media in all this?
If the global media, which is dominated by
the West, finds it expedient to misrepresent
Islam because of their belief that Muslims
are an “insignificant and unwelcome minority” in their countries, to what should one
attribute the biased and acidic coverage Muslims get in Nigeria? What we see at the global level is also reflected in the local media in
my country. But why should this be so?
What can be done to improve media
credibility and promote respect for
diversity and positive coverage of
Islam and Muslims? One, encourage
wealthy Muslims to establish media
organisations and show the world
respect for balanced coverage. Two,
improve the training of journalists
It is appropriate to begin the search at
home. In the year 2000, the predominantly
Muslim northern states in Nigeria decided
to expand the scope of the Sharia beyond
Muslim personal law to which it was reduced by the British. That decision generated crises in Nigeria, divided the people and
led to the eruption of violence in which over
5,000 lives were lost. Analysis of media coverage of the crisis showed that unrestrained
and irresponsible coverage of the crisis in
Kaduna aggravated it. The following flaws in
media coverage of the crisis were identified:
• Sensational headlines
• Fraudulently manipulated facts
• Promoting rumours to reality
• Incitive reporting
• Disseminating hate speech
• Selective amnesia in citing historical facts
Sharia law, which operated for over 1,000
years before Nigeria came into being, was
described as an “obnoxious law.” It was cartooned as a rampaging viper. The Muslims
who supported Sharia, believing that they
have a right to live according to the law of
their religion, were called “fanatics”, “fundamentalists”, “Jihadists”, etc.
Screaming headlines in some national
newspapers capture the hysteria:
“Islamic Fanatics Plan Secession”
(Sunday Champion, 2/4/2000)
“Sharia: North Burns Its Fingers”
(Sunday Tribune, 2/14/2000)
“When Allah Caught a Cow Thief ”
(Sunday Tribune, 2/14/2000)
“80 Billion Naira Arab Gift to Sharia States”
(Nigeria Tribune, 28/6/2000)
“Nigeria Cannot Work”
(The News, 18/9/2000)
Rumours that a woman and her children
were killed by “fanatics” finally ignited reprisal killing of Muslims in predominantly
Christian eastern Nigeria. Miffed by the slant
in news coverage and the violence it incited,
the Southern Council for Islamic Affairs in
Nigeria called a meeting and later issued a
communiqué which states, “Muslims of the
south note with dismay the very partisan
position of a section of the Nigerian media
in support of Christianity and Christians
against Islam and Muslims, particularly on
the issue of Sharia. We would like to remind
the anti-Muslim press that this nation
belongs to us all and that it will benefit no
one to incite a religious war.”
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
In February 2000, a coalition of Lagos
based NGOs under the Human Rights Law
Group undertook a fact-finding mission to
Zamfara State, where expansion of Sharia
law was first implemented. The verdict was
that the media had grossly misrepresented
the Sharia. The report also described media
reporting on Sharia as misleading.
The reasons for this biased reporting as
identified by media stakeholders lies in the
ownership pattern of the media, poorly trained journalists employed by media organisations who lack the skills required for coverage of
identity and “diversity issues”, and the unprofessional penchant for sensationalising all issues for the commercial motive of boosting sales.
This has also led to erosion of media credibility and led to disenchantment among
readers. A reader’s comments aptly reflects
this: “Next to God, the printed word was always called upon to bear witness to the truth
of any situation. Now things have come full
circle. You tell people you read something in
the newspapers and they will tell you that is
precisely the reason why they would remain
What can be done to improve media credibility and promote respect for diversity and
positive coverage of Islam and Muslims? One,
encourage wealthy Muslims to establish media organisations and show the world respect
for balanced coverage. Two, improve the training of journalists, giving them skills in conflict reporting, diversity issues and media
ethics. Three, encourage genuine dialogue at
both international and local levels between
religions, cultures and civilisations.
Shams Vellani
Director, Special Projects, Aga Khan Development Network, London, UK
y and large, the Western media tend to
reflect and reinforce ancient prejudices
about the Muslim world. It thus continues
to be deeply misunderstood by most people
in the West, who know little about its pluralist reality, the peacefulness of its faith or its
contributions to much of human thought
and knowledge on which global civilisations
are founded. This cultural absence of the
Muslim world from the general knowledge
of Western societies has serious repercussions.
The problem goes beyond newspapers and
broadcast media. It pervades popular art and
culture, music, literature, not forgetting Hollywood. Most seriously, these prejudices influence school textbooks, and shape the attitudes of future generations, including civil
society leaders and journalists.
By and large, the Western media
tend to reflect and reinforce ancient
prejudices about the Muslim world
A study in 2003 of 200 schools in 10
European countries concluded that most
children could not discern the difference between Muslims and Islam, and imagined Muslims to be a monolithic, threatening group.
The arts, architectures and literatures of Muslim peoples, and the transfer of knowledge
and culture between Islam and Christianity
or between other cultures and Islam receive
scant or no attention in the school curricula.
Nor is there an awareness of the history of
Muslim peoples in Spain, the Balkans and
Eastern Europe. The authors therefore complained that children grow up without the
opportunity of discovering Europe as an entity of multiple roots.
Of course, prejudice is not a Western monopoly though it is not institutionalised to
the same extent in Muslim societies.
This gap in the West’s general knowledge
matters seriously. Democracies function on
the assumption that their electorates are capable of making informed comment on issues
of national and international importance.
The media have a critical role in facilitating
this, and a dialogue among intelligent people, civil society groups and governments to
help bridge the gulf between the two worlds.
Intellectual humility requires that the media try to know about those whom they report. It is sheer intellectual naivety for the
media to paint, and their readers to accept, a
portrayal of almost a quarter of the globe’s
population as a monolithic mass of identical
people with identical goals and identical
interpretations of the faith.
Should not journalists consult Muslims
and Muslim institutions, bearing in mind the
immense pluralism of a billion strong Um-
mah, when they write about them or to get
a sense of the issues of real concern to them?
On such crisis situations as the Middle East,
Kashmir or Central Asia, should they not inform themselves of their root causes which
have nothing to do with the faith of Islam,
but with colonial and Cold War history?
Should not schools of journalism address such
issues in their curriculum, and periodically
invite Muslims to speak to their students?
After all, there is a substantial Muslim presence in the West.
A longer-term solution
for an intelligent coverage of
the Islamic world is improved
secondary school curricula
But a longer-term solution for an intelligent coverage of the Islamic world is improved secondary school curricula. Fortunately,
responsible authorities in many Western
countries with whom we work recognise the
need for a broad education about Muslim
civilisations and cultures, not just narrow interfaith dialectics. This will educate a pool of
future journalists, as well as other liberal professionals, from whose general knowledge
the world of Islam will not be so glaringly
Out in
the Field
Alisha Ryu
s one of the Western media representatives on this panel, I discovered that for
the past four years of covering Afghanistan
and Iraq I have done a really terrible job.
And I should probably think again about my
future in journalism. But, it is very difficult
to generalise these things and I am not going
to sit here and try to defend Western media
or anything of that sort. All I can talk about
is my experience as a reporter out in the field
and that is all I have done.
I have actually been out in the field since
2001. I was out early in October 2001 right
after the 9/11 attacks and I was with the
mass of journalists who had gathered on the
border of northern Afghanistan, trying to
hook up with the Northern Alliance and trying to get into a little town called Khuja
Boudin to make the push down into Kabul.
I can tell you from my experience
that Western media tend to be very
Eurocentric in its coverage
I can tell you from my experience that
Western media tend to be very Eurocentric
in its coverage and has always been Eurocentric. Why? Because it is Western and it
tends to go with what it knows best. The
Eurocentric attitude prevailed until 9/11.
9/11 thrust the Muslim world into the media
world as we know it. And all of a sudden we
all had to become completely knowledgeable
and knowing about a religion, culture, people that we had not even thought about knowing until 9/11.
If you think about, no diplomat in the
world would be sent out on a mission with-
out some background on the language, the
culture, some sort of training lessons. If you
think of journalists in the same way, as being
representative of what the West thinks, journalists are not given that kind of training.
We are just basically thrust into a situation.
We are “parachuted in,” as Magda [Abu-Fadil]
said, and we have to learn very, very quickly
on the ground what is going on, the culture
and the language and so forth and do the
best job that we can.
I must say that, in defence of my colleagues who work for Western media, I am very
proud of them, especially in a place like Baghdad. Right now, it is the most dangerous
place on the planet for journalists and everybody knows that. I have personally lost seven
friends in Baghdad in the past two years. I
have to applaud them in a lot of ways, because it takes a lot of guts to go in there and
to do what they do. I think the vast majority of my colleagues, and myself included, have
befriended Iraqis, have befriended Muslims
from different areas, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia,
Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, all these places where
we are constantly in and out of, because of
what is happening in Iraq. We have learned
a great deal in the past few years. We are trying to make a difference in our coverage.
There are a lot of us who are learning, and
this is a learning process for us. I mean this
is not easy, but it has been very heart warming, very enlightening and an extremely welcoming type of lesson for all of us. I think
even our Arab friends understand a little bit
about us as well, that they are not just lumping all Americans with the Bush administration and with what the Bush Administration
is doing. Not all of us agree with that and I
Bureau Chief, Voice of America, Nairobi
think they understand that. That has been
very heartening for us. I salute my Arab colleagues, who have also been killed. I have had
an interpreter killed in Baghdad as well.
In defence of my colleagues
who work for Western media, I am
very proud of them, especially
in a place like Baghdad. Right now,
it is the most dangerous place on
the planet for journalists
You cannot condemn all of us for doing a
bad job. I think our job is to always try to
tell the truth and I very much disagree that
we are lazy on the ground or we are not doing our best, or we are being dismissive. If
anything, security is a huge problem for us
in Iraq to try to get at the truth. Whenever
there is the truth, we get at it. We do not do
“hotel journalism” as Paul Wolfowitz said.
That was the same day that I was involved in
a car bombing. None of us appreciated his
comments about us sitting around doing
nothing but re-writing gossip. It cannot be
more far from the truth in that respect.
So please be more open minded about the
coverage. It is not easy for all of us to do that,
we have both sides, the Pentagon, the Bush
Administration, cultural sensibilities, language barriers, all kinds of things that we have
to work on a daily basis just to try to get it
over. We do the best we can and I promise
you that we try to be fair and honest.
23 MAY 2005
The Indonesian
Bambang Harymurti
Chief Editor, Tempo, Jakarta, Indonesia
am not an expert on the whole Muslim
area; I am just a reporter from Indonesia,
so I am just going to speak about the Indonesian experience. My feeling is that democratisation and press freedom are part of the
human journey to modern society, regardless
of whether you are a Muslim, non-Muslim,
or whatever.
As Magda [Abu-Fadil] said earlier, Indonesia is the largest Muslim community in the
world. We have a population of 220 million,
and almost 90 per cent are Muslim. In fact,
we have more Muslims in Indonesia than the
whole Arab world put together.
Many people also do not know that Indonesia is the third largest democracy in the
world, after India and the United States. So
that alone, I think, pokes a very big problem
into Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”, because, clearly, in Indonesia we do
not have any problem between democracy
and Islam.
I want to talk about why my argument is
actually that to become a modern nation, you
have to have a state, a market and a civil society. In the war of ideology, the capitalist
believes that if you have the perfect market
you will have a civil society, who pay taxes to
pay good government officials. The socialist,
on the other hand, believes that if you have
a perfect state, then the state can create a perfect market and a perfect civil society. But,
I think that we all now, after the end of the
Cold War, believe that the supreme thing is
to have the best civil society and that the market and the state is only a tool to achieve that
This year, in Indonesia, we will celebrate
60 years of independence. Currently, our president is the sixth president. On average, this
is actually perfect, every ten years we have
one president. Unfortunately, that is not the
case. We had two presidents for 53 years and
four presidents in six years.
Our first president, Sukarno – our Founding Father – concentrated in creating the
so-called state of Indonesia, basically a government of Indonesia by Indonesians. During his time, our conflict, our debate, was
about what kind of state of Indonesia we
want to have. Because before Sukarno proclaimed our independence, we had no such
thing. That is why, during his presidencies,
we had this conflict, including war and rebellion, between those who wanted Indonesia
to have an Islamic government and those who
wanted to have a secularist government called “Pancasila”. Then we had an ideological
battle between those who wanted to have a
liberal ideology and those who want to have
a communist ideology, or other ideologies. I
think we have ended up now with some sort
of liberal, third way.
We also had a conflict of whether we
should have a federal state or a unitary state.
We also had an armed rebellion for people
who wanted to have an autonomous region
and those who wanted to have a centralistic
government, and basically we ended up in the
Sukarno, although he was our founding
father, left his office because he was concentrating so much on the state of Indonesia that
he forgot to spend his time on building the
economy and civil society, and found out that
because of that he had a very bad economy.
He basically resigned or was usurped because
of the bad economic situation. Whatever, his
legacy was that when he left Indonesia we
had what we called the state of Indonesia.
Therefore, under Sukarno, press policies were
geared toward building the state of Indonesia; it was considered a tool for revolution.
Licenses were given only to political parties.
Counter-revolutionary parties were banned.
The monopoly of television, radio and news
wires – his policy was that the media were
part of state building.
Of course, because the economy was so
bad, he was replaced by Suharto under some
sort of a quasi-military coup. Because Sukarno concentrated so much on state building,
the only available pool of leaders after him
came from either the military bureaucrats or
the civilian bureaucrats. I think that it is no
coincidence that Suharto, a military bureaucrat, replaced him. His mantra was that he
knew that state alone was not enough, he
wanted to have development. What he called
development was actually building the market of Indonesia. Because when he took power
there was no such thing as the economy of
Indonesia or the market of Indonesia. Therefore under his government, we had a huge
debate as to what kind of market of Indonesia we were going to build. We had the socalled Indonesian Incorporated vs. the liberal economy. We had the so-called socialist economy or the free-for-all economy. We ended
up with some sort of free market, but with
some form of the right of the government to
So no matter what my own criticism of
Suharto may be, I have to admit that when
he left Indonesia in 1998, we had what we
called the market of Indonesia, which did
not exist before he came in to power.
If you look at Suharto’s press policies, they
reflected his concentration on building the
market of Indonesia. He had an anti-communist ideology. Licenses were given to cronies. There was strict control by the Ministry of Regulations; less than 300 newspaper
and magazine licenses; one state TV channel, plus five crony-owned TV and radio stations. Because of this protection, domestic
media was very profitable, because there was
no other competitor.
Therefore, when Suharto fell from power,
I think it was not a coincidence that Indonesia was led by Habibi. Habibi was a transitional government figure, who started in the
private sector. He was the number two person in a very big German company and then
he was co-opted by Suharto to join the bureaucracy, so he became a bureaucratic actor, a
state actor. But he was brought up in Germany, where civil society is quite well developed, so he understood the role of civil society. Therefore, he had enough knowledge to
ensure a relatively peaceful transition from a
restrictive government toward more democracy – although quite messy, because civil
society is always messy.
Indonesia is the largest
Muslim community in the world.
We have a population of 220 million,
and almost 90 per cent are
Muslim. In fact, we have more
Muslims in Indonesia than the whole
Arab world put together
Under Habibi, the Ministry of Information was weakened; more than one thousand
new licenses for newspapers, magazines, etc.,
were given, four new private TV licences were
issued; we have a new press law.
Megawati seemed like a set back for our
hard-won democracy. She created again the
Ministry for Information and Communication and made various public statements
about the need to improve the press law to
make media more responsible and to re-start
criminal proceedings against journalists.
She lost to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a
former security chief. He is working toward
changes in the telecommunications infrastructure, more empowerment of the press
council, and a better environment for press
Unfortunately, Indonesia’s press freedom
index has been declining. Freedom needs to
be maintained, because once press freedom
dies, governments can control the society.
We have to defend our press freedom if we
do not want to lose our democracy.
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
“Terrorism and
Civil Liberties”
Tony Burman
Editor-in-Chief, News and Current Affairs,
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC),
Keynote Speaker
Abdul Waheed Khan
Assistant Director General for
Communication and Information,
Sunanda Deshapriya
Spokesperson, Free Media Movement
(FMM), Colombo
Simon Li
Assistant Managing Editor,
Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles
Li Xiguang
Director, Centre for International
Communication Studies,
Tsinghua University, Beijing
Peter Preston
Director, Guardian Foundation, London
An Atmosphere
of Fear
Abdul Waheed Khan
Assistant Director General for Communication
and Information, UNESCO, Paris
errorism is a serious global phenomenon,
which must be addressed to safeguard
human security. Although terrorism is not a
new phenomenon, recent events have triggered the international community to not only
focus attention on the challenges of human
security, but also on the very principles surrounding the fight against terrorism and its
impact on civil liberties. International human
rights standards such as freedom of movement
and freedom of expression are of particular
importance. The challenge of applying international standards or measures at the regional and national level, as well as to integrate
personal liberty with basic human rights is
essential in the fight against terrorism.
We all know that the topic at hand is complex and that violence and threats of terrorism affect all societies. I wish to note that the
root causes of terrorism can be attributed to
such underlying factors as inequality, extreme
poverty, discrimination, social exclusion, intolerance and lack of dialogue among different cultures. Thus, the most effective and sustainable ways of dealing with terrorism is for
societies to adopt strategies and policies that
address these underlying factors.
Terrorism has a direct impact on civil liberties, particularly in the working environment of the media and presents a very direct
and physical threat for journalists, including
harassment, kidnapping and even murder.
Therefore, the safety of journalists is also a
vital issue that deserves to be highlighted
when discussing terrorism and civil liberties.
Journalists take great risk to report news and
provide information about terrorism. Far too
many attacks on journalists go unpunished
or un-investigated. Last year was one of the
worst years in terms of number of journalists
killed, and already this year 28 journalists
have lost their lives.
Without professional journalists and a free
press, access to information and platforms for
debate diminishes and intolerance and violence are more likely to be entrenched. Terrorism thrives in repressive environments and
feeds on rumours, distortion and bias, especially in places where reliable and accurate
information is not freely available. There is a
clear association between breeding grounds
of terrorism and lack of respect of human
rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression. In light of this, the indirect impact
of terrorism on civil liberties needs to be addressed. The sheer threat of terrorism instils
fear and suspicion, which have resulted in a
climate detrimental to the exercise of basic
civil rights and liberties.
The 11 September 2001 attacks on the
United States sent a shockwave throughout
the world as it exposed, like never before,
the vulnerability of an open society. And the
response has been to find methods to curtail
this vulnerability. However, some of these
methods have had adverse effects on certain
fundamental principles of a democratic society. The war against terror has been marked,
in a number of countries, by urgent reinforcement of anti-terrorist laws, regulations and
measures. In efforts to protect their citizens
from terrorism, protective governmental responses have led to laws, regulations and forms
of surveillance that undermine the very rights
and freedoms that an anti-terrorism campaign
should defend.
In efforts to protect their citizens
from terrorism, protective governmental responses have led to laws,
regulations and forms of surveillance that undermine the very rights
and freedoms that an anti-terrorism
campaign should defend
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), together with Statewatch, has produced a report on the impact of the war on
terrorism on civil liberties. According to the
report, even the minimum standards set out
in the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights are being undermined by the war on
terrorism. As Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, said at the launch of the report on
World Press Freedom Day this year, “An
atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is being
created and civil liberties are being torn to
shreds, even in states with a reputation for
tolerance and pluralism.”
Terrorism, its violence and threat of death
and destruction should always be condemned
– unconditionally. However, if the measures
adopted to safeguard citizens overtly tilt the
balance towards security, the risk is that civil
liberties will be undermined. Moreover, the
actions taken by democracies in the name of
national security also send signals to authoritarian governments. Such governments have
far too often seized the opportunity to reinforce their instruments of repression, justifying harassment and killings of political opposition and minorities in the name of security and the fight against terrorism. Also, the
examples set by democratic countries have in
many respects provided non-democracies
with the perfect argument for curbing freedom of speech and coming down on civil society and the media.
Terrorism does not only pose a threat to
civil liberties and freedom of expression. It
also diverts focus from pertinent issues that
deserve the solid and continuous attention
of the international community. In October
2001, right after the attack on the World
Trade Centre, UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan stated that “the fight against terrorism cannot be used as an excuse for slackening efforts to put an end to conflicts and
defeat poverty and disease. Nor can it be an
excuse for undermining the bases of the rule
of law: good governance, respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms.”
I would like to stress that freedom of expression is essential if violations of human
rights are to be exposed and challenged.
Efforts to promote greater respect for freedom
of expression are crucial to any long-term strategy to address the problems of terrorism.
Freedom of expression is the key to the promotion and furthering of other human
rights and civil liberties. In 2002, UNESCO
dedicated the World Press Freedom Day conference in Manila to a discussion on media
and terrorism. In his message, the DirectorGeneral of UNESCO said:
“Basic freedoms, human rights and democratic practices are the best guarantors of
freedom. This protection must extend to press
freedom and free speech as positive goods in
themselves and as means through which the
fight against terrorism may be waged. The
greatest service that the media can perform
in the fight against terrorism is to act freely,
independently and responsibly. This means
that they must neither be cowed by threats
nor become a mere mouthpiece of patriotic
sentiment or inflammatory opinion. Rather,
the media must search for and publicise the
truth; present information and views impartially; consider their words and images carefully; and uphold high standards of professional conduct – a press, which is self-regulated. The temptation to impose drastic state
regulation upon the media must be resisted.”
Threats of terrorism should
never be used as an excuse for
curtailing civil liberties
Let me end by expressing UNESCO’s
strong support for the principle that threats
of terrorism should never be used as an excuse for curtailing civil liberties. In fact, the
remedy in the long-term perspective is to
safeguard basic human rights, especially freedom of expression.
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
Li Xiguang
Director, Centre for International
Communication Studies,
Tsinghua University, Beijing
The Impact of 9/11 Journalism
he topic I will address briefly here is 9/11
journalism and the universal values of
making news more newsworthy. Free press
means pluralism, diversified views, diversified cultures. Free press also means that people are to be informed of important and relevant news.
The Economist describes the terror attacks
on the World Trade Center as “the day the
world changed.” But the real world we are
living with has not changed as a result of the
tragedy. The biggest problems and challenges mankind are facing, such as poverty, pollution and diseases, are only getting worse.
The only change has been that the mediated
world presented by the media industry has
changed dramatically. The public interests,
public safety and public health of the entire
global community are no longer the entry
point of interest and attention of the highly
commercialised and globalised media. On
the day the World Trade Center was attacked
and about 2,500 innocent people were killed, 40,000 children were killed by diseases,
hunger and poverty, 8,000 around the world
were killed by HIV/AIDS. But the death toll
of the latter has lost its news worthiness comparing with the dramatic events of 9/11.
Following the agenda, “fighting the first
war of the 21st century,” the global media
industry has since launched an intense coverage of 9/11, the following Afghan War, the
media campaign against Iraqi’s Weapons of
Mass Destruction and the Iraqi War. With
daily media bombings and millions of repetitions of the same topic, the same agenda,
the same language, the same key words, the
same pictures and the same footage, the terrorism and anti-terrorism message and ideology contained in the information has been
accepted by the audience as the mainstream,
legal and only politically correct journalistic
“Our news” are being ignored while
“their news” are being amplified
The mediated world presented by the global media has been accepted by the international community as the truthful world. The
global audience does not care or even forgets
the problems of their own world and only
care for the world presented by the powerful
global media. The negative impact of 9/11
on journalistic values and ethics can be summarised as following:
The anti-terrorism agenda has overwhelmed all other global issues. It has become a
criterion for political correctness, only one
opinion being legal and the other opinion
being illegal or marginalised;
Sources being more centralised to one government. Sources contributed to NGOs and
other governments and peoples are being
marginalised or even regarded as illegitimate
An honest journalism is being damaged by
such false coverage as Weapons of Mass Destruction. As a result, there is a decline in public confidence in the press.
“Our news” are being ignored while “their
news” are being amplified. News relevant to
the local people being ignored. News from
Africa, news from the developing countries,
news of development are being ignored. The
local readers, viewers and listeners are being
turned into spectators of other people’s wars
and violence. They are being amused by other
people’s sufferings while their own sufferings
are being buried by the same media. In the
media throughout the world, everyone is telling terrorism or anti-terrorism stories even
though most of their families are being killed by HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, flu, tuberculosis, being killed by poverty, famine and local conflicts.
News about the root causes of terrorism,
such as inequality, injustice, poverty, diseases, racial and cultural discrimination and
universal abuses of human rights, are being
A 9/11 journalistic glossary has been created by the powerful government propaganda sources, which have now been used like a
Bible by many journalists throughout the
world. As a result of this glossary, the news
values are being redefined and a new universal value for making newsworthy stories has
been created. For example, in order to get
into lead stories and the front pages, the journalists have to use post-9/11 language. As a
result, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, Jihad, Islamic fundamentalists, Moslem
extremists, Taliban, Iraqi militants, coalition
army, hostages and their beheadings, Bin
Laden, Saddam Hussein, George Bush, the
White House, the Pentagon, the embedded
journalist have become the catch phrases in
the lead news in every part of the world.
The impact of 9/11 journalism was so intense that certain phrases and terminology
became global, while others were rendered
almost extinct and only used at the risk of
the story being alienated from the mainstream
media. The 9/11 glossary is replacing the
journalistic glossary which includes poverty,
water shortages, deaths of children and women, SARS, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Hepatitis B.
In view of this changing media landscape,
what do the readers, listeners and viewers
want from the media? They want to see more
violence, more wars, more “infotainment” and
more “militainment”.
Due to the nature of entertainment and
infotainment, the problem with the general
public is that the more mass media they consume today, the less they know about the
world around them. For example, infotainment and militainment tend to simplify
news events into white and black, angel and
demon, evil and good. The reporting pattern
of 9/11 journalism is:
• Good guys vs. bad guys
• George Bush vs. Saddam Hussein
• Either with us or against us
The coverage of SARS is an illustrative
case to show how much Chinese media have
changed in the context of 9/11 journalism.
News of SARS reached the Chinese public in Guangdong through a short-text message, sent to mobile phones in Guangzhou
around noon on 8 February 2003. “There is
a fatal flu in Guangzhou,” it read. This same
message was resent 40 million times that day,
41 million times the next day and 45 million
times on 10 February. The Chinese news
agency Xinhua reported SARS on 11 February and the next day all the nation’s press
carried the news. But the global media did
not clamour for the serious epidemic until
the end of the Iraqi war, which was exactly
two months later, when the global media hit
a fever pitch starting from 11 April, the day
after the fall of Baghdad.
The global communications system and
the Chinese government propaganda system
worked together to outpace efforts to expose
the public health crisis. Between 5 March and
15 March, the central government’s China
Central Television (CCTV) evening news programme, “Xinwen lianbo”, which is the official news programme in China intended to
set the national political focus and agenda,
focused almost exclusively on the National
People’s Congress.
The impact of 9/11 journalism
was so intense that certain phrases
and terminology became global,
while others were rendered almost
extinct and only used at the risk
of the story being alienated from
the mainstream media
After the closing of the National People’s
Congress in mid March, the Chinese media
immediately shifted their attention to the
coming Iraqi War. From March 20 to 10
April, the Chinese media concentrated on
news from Iraq. China’s strictly-controlled
electronic media blazed new trails on 20
March with live reporting on the start of the
war. Within minutes of U.S. missiles hitting
Baghdad, state television channels and radio
began simultaneous coverage of the events
by relaying CNN, including a live broadcast
of President Bush’s speech.
The three main channels of CCTV broadcast live feeds from CNN in Iraq while translating the accompanying reports into Chinese. Xinhua and the People’s Daily also got into the act by posting up-to-date news on the
war, including a fully-translated text of Bush’s
speech on their Web sites. Radio and TV stations across the country also interrupted their
normal broadcasts to provide live coverage.
The government’s decision to allow live
war coverage was more driven by the increasing demands of the country’s highly commercialised media industry than by a political will to liberalise its press. As a result of
the commercialisation and industrialisation
of the country’s media, China’s media organisations are increasingly dependent on advertising dollars for their survival. In the life
and death battle for survival and development, the Chinese media have to cover these
events live or they lose ratings.
What the Chinese media did in the Iraqi
war coverage was a successful effort to please
the masses and advertisers in order to expand their market. And they did have good
interaction with their viewers and readers.
Studies show that viewer rating at CCTV
jumped 28 times since it began live broadcasts of the war. During the Iraqi War, income from commercials at the national TV
increased by US$ 12 million, a 30 per cent
jump over the same period a year ago.
Many Chinese and Western media critics
laud the media coverage of the Iraq war as “a
breakthrough” and progress for the country’s
press system. Ironically, the national fixation
on this brand new media phenomenon has
delayed government and media attention on
the SARS virus, a matter much more relevant to Chinese people. It was only after the
fall of Baghdad that the SARS story began
to dominate newspaper headlines and TV
Epidemics in China were normally not a
headline event for the global media, like
Hepatitis B, flu, tuberculosis, unless you find
elements to dramatise the situation to the
point where the international community
could pay attention. Everyone remembers
SARS, which killed 345 people in 2003. But
that year 100,000 Chinese were killed by flu
and 300, 000 were killed by Hepatits B.
Media did not report that. It did not fit with
9/11 journalism.
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
Peter Preston
Director, Guardian Foundation, London
Simon Li
Assistant Managing Editor,
Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles
9/11 and Its Aftermath
he impact of 9/11 on the people of the
United States should not be underestimated. The attacks were profoundly shocking, shattering a sense of relative invulnerability, inducing a deep fear and insecurity.
That was probably not unexpected in a nation whose territory has been violated only
twice in its 228 years of history; by the British in the War of 1812 and by the Japanese
at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
You might think that the nation would
draw together at such a time, and indeed it
did, but only briefly. All too soon, 9/11 and
its aftermath led to a political division as deep
as the Great Rift Valley. They have led to two
arguably unnecessary wars, in Afghanistan
and Iraq, with the death toll of the latter in
American servicemen and women that already
exceeds half the toll of 9/11 itself, and that is
without counting the death toll among Iraqi
civilians and other foreign nationals.
They have also given rise to billions of
dollars spent on war, reconstruction in Iraq,
homeland security, a new cabinet department,
etc., rapidly increasing the nation’s already
gaping budget deficit; to countless inconveniences to travellers, both American and foreign. But worst of all, they have led to a corruption of American values – values long
boasted of in the United States, sometimes
with more hubris and condescension than the
behaviour and policies of Americans, their
government and its agents could possibly
Those values have been sacrificed by the
tortures at Abu Ghraib; in the detention camp
at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 500
men have spent more than three years, in
most cases without hearing or trial; the effective suspension of habeas corpus; an effective
ban on many areas of journalistic scrutiny;
people being swept off the streets, detained,
sometimes deported without any public hearing; racial profiling, with a terrible impact
on Muslims, Arab-Americans and immigrant
communities in general; the semi-farce of
no-fly lists and people who happen to have
the same name as somebody on the list being
prevented from flying; scholars barred from
coming to United States because they come
from countries that are alleged to breed terrorism.
It is a horrible, long, lamentable laundry
list and I will not go into detail here except
to say that for journalists this has meant a
number of things, including a real curtailment
on the ability to do what we are supposed to
do, which is the watchdog function.
There is, for instance, a section in the Patriot Act, which by the way is called somewhat
Kafkaesquely “Uniting and Strengthening
America by Providing Appropriate Tools Re-
quired to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism
Act of 2001”. Section 215 hugely expands the
government’s ability to conduct surveillance
on its citizens, telephone taps, get on to Internet providers to obtain records of the way
people use the Internet, library books, and
so forth.
9/11 and its aftermath led
to a political division as deep
as the Great Rift Valley
One subsection of Section 215 says, “No
person shall disclose to any other person
(other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things under this section)
that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has
sought or obtained tangible things under
this section.” In short, even if you have been
searched and had your lives pried into, you
are not allowed to know about it. Indeed,
there is a “sneak and peak” provision that
allows the government to come into your
house without letting you know, search it
and depart in secret. These are not American
The biggest threat to journalists at the moment is the case of two journalists threatened
with prison for contempt of court because
they refused to name sources that they had
given confidentiality to. It is a case that aris-
es out of the whole issue of whether Iraq was
trying to obtain or had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, in one case it involves a journalist who did not even write about the topic that the federal government is trying to
track down. This is happening on several levels in other cases, too, but this case, which
is before the Supreme Court, is the most egregious. There have also been attempts to stop
foreign journalists or make stricter the rules
for foreign journalists visiting the United
All of this leads me to reflect
that perhaps Al-Qaeda is actually
winning the war on terrorism
Anyway, without going into great detail,
all of this leads me to reflect that perhaps AlQaeda is actually winning the war on terrorism every day. It is a well-known tactic of terrorism that besides getting shock and publicity for your cause, you are hoping to provoke such over-reaction to your acts of terrorism that more people will become sympathetic to your cause. This is like somebody
who is allergic to a bee sting getting the bee
sting and his body reacting so overwhelmingly that, in fact, what was in itself was not
life-threatening, becomes life-threatening.
Let me state very clear that I am not comparing 9/11 to a bee sting. Not at all. But I am
comparing the reaction and suggesting that
there may have been such an overreaction
that we are in danger of damaging our society more than 9/11 and the terrorists did.
I will end with a quotation from Ben
Franklin: “He who sacrifices freedom for security is neither free or secure.” Right now,
despite all these changes, I do not think anybody in the United States government could
assert to us that the United States is safe from
terrorism at this time.
want to start with just one long-standing
IPI definition about press freedom and
press rights. We believe, and have always
believed, that the press has no special rights,
no special civil liberties. We have the same
civil liberties and the same human rights as
the ordinary democratic, peace-loving citizens
of ordinary peace loving, democratic countries. We are the same, that is our status, that
is our stance. Therefore, when interpreting
what has happened in the last four years, I
always think of what happens to ordinary
people in terms of being bugged, locked up,
held without trial, and all of those things.
Those are “us” too. Those are our liberties.
I noticed this morning that almost four
years after 9/11, something very signal and
remarkable happened. British Airways announced today that, on first-class flights and
business-class flights, henceforth the plastic
cutlery that they brought in after 9/11 is now
out. It is being reserved for economy terrorists only. Though a tiny, stupid thing in a
way, on the other hand it was a tiny, stupid
thing for four years to pretend that first-class
passengers were planning to hold British
Airways flights to ransom with very small
blunt knives and very small blunt forks. It
was ridiculous. It was out of proportion.
I think that what we have been talking
about today and that we ought to be talking
about as journalists is that sense of proportion. It is a difficult conversation to have,
because you can’t say to people from Indonesia who remember the Bali bombing, to
people here in Nairobi who were at the bombing of the American embassy, to people
from Madrid who lost loved ones in the train
bombing, or to people who saw or were involved with 9/11, that these were events of
no account, that they were Western-based
events or that the people who died were
Westerners and therefore part of some ideological divide. These were people from around
the world, many of them ordinary citizens,
ordinary African citizens, who suffered as a
result of this. So one can’t put it to one side.
But the question that we are looking at
today is what now is the proportional response to all of this? How do things fit one
with another? I think that there are two or
three things that flow from that. I was talking a little while ago to the editor of a London paper, who remarked that whenever they
led their paper on stories which said, “New
Terror Warning Issued” or “London on Terror Alert as Chiefs Meet”, or whatever, they
actually sold more copies. There was a public appetite, quite reasonably, for something
that seemed to be coming close to them, to
be a threat to their ordinary lives. So, over
time you fall into the habit of saying, “Oh,
here’s a good terror warning. Let’s stick it on
the front page.” The Metropolitan Police
Commissioner of Scotland Yard became well
known for issuing terror warnings every 15
seconds and it is quite wrong to say that he
did that to get on the front page – that is
much too simple – but nevertheless, there was
a slightly greased slipway in that direction. It
was a good story.
In the same sense, the least desirable newspaper story, as far as I am concerned, are the
bright sparks who put a cardboard bomb in
a suitcase and take it on the Channel Tunnel
or to Heathrow and then announce that they
have breached defences and this needs to be
tightened up or that needs to be tightened
up. That is journalism that we do almost
without thinking but it is very, very out-ofkilter with proportionality after 9/11.
Another thing that operates on this is
sources. Who are the sources who communicate terror threats? Who do we rely on? The
answer, all too often, is that we rely on our
own secret services. We rely on MI6 or the
CIA or the FBI or the Pentagon or all of those
people – none of whom can be tracked down,
23 MAY 2005
none of whom have a face or a name, though
in Britain the MI6 now has a press spokesman, who is never mentioned, but is there to
be rung up. The world has changed totally.
This is an organised secret service world, but
we don’t tell our readers that. We have no
means of telling that. Secret service stories,
stories where there is no known source, are
the most dangerous stories of all, I think,
and yet it has taken us an awfully long time
to even begin to learn that lesson. When you
go to London or Washington and open the
newspaper everyday you still find secret service chiefs or special sources being counted.
I am suggesting that we, too,
are part of the problem and that any
way back from this is not simply
to stand around waving our fingers
at governments or ministers, but to
say that we have to have a degree
of self-awareness and self-reflection
about what has happened
This leads me to the last point in this particular trace of proportionality, because if the
secret service sources, the security services
who have vamped all this up and are putting
it around, don’t know, why on earth should
we suppose that this is part of some concert-
ed plot? From some of the platforms today
you seem to have stark lines saying one thing
or the other as though the governments were
manipulating us. For the most part, I don’t
believe that. I believe that governments are
often as in the dark as we are as journalists.
I don’t believe, for example, that Tony Blair
lied, though he may have made a political
mistake in going to war based on what he was
told by security services. Nor do I believe that
the security services lied. I think you just have
to say they got it wrong. There were, for example, no weapons of mass destruction. All
of this is a question of sorting out, of understanding, of trying to fit things into a pattern and not according to some ideological
Coming back to where we stand on civil
liberties, what we are in fact talking about is
a world where, if you look back over the last
four years, some of our own stories, some of
the things we have done out of our own professionalism, out of our own instincts, have
created a situation which has impinged at
second remove on all our own civil liberties.
I am suggesting that we, too, are part of the
problem and that any way back from this is
not simply to stand around waving our fingers at governments or ministers, but to say
that we have to have a degree of self-awareness and self-reflection about what has happened, and that’s where we start on the next
four years.
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
“Kenya: Hopes
and Challenges,
Vision and
Mutava Musyimi
Secretary General, National Council
of Churches of Kenya, Nairobi
IPI Chairman Wilfred D. Kiboro (left) and Mukhisa Kituyi, Kenyan Minister for Trade and Industry
Keynote Speaker
Mukhisa Kituyi
Rose Kimotho
A Shared Vision
Managing Director, Regional
Reach Ltd, Nairobi
Mukhisa Kituyi
Minister for Trade and Industry, Nairobi
Minister for Trade and Industry, Nairobi
Patrick Lumumba
Secretary, Constitution of Kenya
Review Commission, Nairobi
Vimal Shah
Chief Executive Officer,
Bidco Oil Refineries, Thika
ost Kenyans have a shared vision of
what they do not want, of where they
are coming from, and where they do not
want to go back. But we have a shared challenge to create a shared vision of where we
want to go. In the main debates about the
opportunities that we have today, we are
much more lucid in discussing what we do
not want than what we want.
This is partly a benefit and also partly a
challenge that we face as a country. In the
past three or so years, this country has made
a fairly radical transition, most importantly
in opening up the democratic space, in the
blossoming of media freedom, and in an increase in the decibels of political debate.
Much of this space has been utilised in
terms of reflecting where we have come out
of. We have come out of an era, particularly
a lost decade, during which inter-ethnic strife,
anxiety and unpredictable public policy characterised the management of public affairs.
The public gloom made this perhaps one of
the most pessimistic societies in the world.
On the basis of that shared frustration, which
was across the board, there was a whole ex-
plosion of public expectation and anxiety for
But somehow by crossing out what we
wanted to get out of, we have not been quite
able to define what it is that we want. Characteristically, we have a number of things.
We live in a time of very critical transition,
not just as a country but as a region and indeed as a continent; a time when, with the
collapse of the Cold War and the triumph of
the force of globalisation, increasingly the
ability of the state to dictate terms of what
happens domestically is eroded. The ability
of government to plan and project economic activity is substantially eroded by the growing power of the private sector, by the growing power of trans-national corporations.
For us, two challenges immediately arise.
One is the transition of government from an
instrument of control into an instrument of
facilitation. The drivers of the new Africa are
going to be the entrepreneurs of Africa. The
business of government will be the expansion of market success and opportunities for
investment, and the creation of a competitive environment for the private sector. The
translation of such a policy of commitment
into actual government operations remains a
very major challenge.
We have two clear problems with this.
The first one is that when you have gone
through a democratic transition like we have,
one of the most eminent consequences of democratic transition is the expectation of the
working class that democracy means better
wages. As government sets about the business of arranging its priorities and translating its activities into the process of democratic transition, as the population expects
that the democratic dividend is going to be a
better life, one can expect that a better government means increased wages. This immediately presents a dilemma.
The forces of globalisation mean that the
rationale of wages and other costs of production in an economy are vis-à-vis competing
economies. How much must we pay for our
labour? How much must we cost our transport and infrastructure in a way that will remain competitive, competing with China and
the international markets? As a country, we
have not resolved this. We have not sufficiently debated this, partly because we have
been too busy with the politics of democratic transition.
One of the main areas that have been requiring of intellectual engagement in this
country is the definition of what historical
opportunity there exists today for Africa,
and Kenya in particular, to use democracy in
a positive and meaningful way to deepen
value to the African populations. I am one of
those in the politics of this region who hold
it very dearly that while we pay a lot of attention to complaining about the negative
image that Africa has abroad, those with the
opportunity of leadership have a premier
responsibility to create marketable positive
news about Africa.
In the main debates about the
opportunities that we have today,
we are much more lucid
in discussing what we do not
want than what we want
With a decade of crisis and pains of the
democratic transition mostly behind us in
much of Africa, the opportunity arises for a
new leadership in Africa to play by the rules,
utilise opportunities that exist, find regional
and international solidarities, negotiate
international rules and behaviour in such a
way that more increasingly we can identify
how to share our challenges, how to strengthen our solidarity, in peer review, but also
in negotiating fair and market access relations internationally.
I say this because however much any of
our countries today define good macro-eco-
nomic policy at home, however well we invest in good governance in our countries, at
the end of the day the dominant force of how
our economies are going to grow is determined in multilateral negotiations that are beyond the boundaries of the individual countries. The increasing dominance of the World
Trade Organisation and other multilateral
institutions with negotiations on world-market access and globalisation force issues means
that national policies and national visions of
economic growth and prosperity are increasingly subordinate to how much those nations
participate in creating fairer trading relations
As a country, we pride ourselves in a number of ways. We have been able to form one
of the most inclusive negotiating mechanisms
in the whole world. This is the only country
I know where ActionAid, OXFAM, etc., sit
on the government negotiating committee
to shift government negotiating positions
for the WTO, the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific negotiating platforms. But also, this is a country which has
sought and continues to seek regional solidarities, one in defining and two in prosecuting Africa- wide and developing countrywide agenda in multilateral negotiations.
Two major transitions are underway in this
country. I have argued before that in most
African countries the first years after independence were characterised by an ambiguity of the relationship between wisdom and
knowledge. While the traditional African
celebration of the male elders as the custodians of common knowledge helped to have
continuity from colonial rule into new African leadership, the longer they stayed in power, the more things happened. First of all,
biological degeneration. While wisdom may
be the accumulation of knowledge over time,
it also represents biological degeneration and
the boundary between a wise man and a man
becoming senile is very controversial.
A second thing was happening at the same
time. A younger generation of Africans, who
may not have fought for independence but
who had more modern knowledge than their
elders, was emerging. If you look at the transition of the men who ruled until they died,
or who ruled until they were forced out of office, and the new groups of persons coming
on board, you have a subtle debate which I
think has not been sufficiently articulated –
the transition of legitimate leadership from
the wise to the knowledgeable.
There is a second transition that has been
going on. In the process of opening up, the
traditional values of generosity fly in the face
of the need for transparent and restrained
government. In this country, we had a generous president who would host parties at
State House, and the people who went home
after State House were very happy that they
had been given something small to carry
home. This is the traditional African chief
model of ruling. When the current government came into power the first thing that I
noticed among colleagues or members of
parliament who visited State House was that
they would come back and say, “We weren’t
even given a cup of tea.” What happened is
that the chief has not entertained. It is part
of a process of transition that we are contending with, that we are trying to embrace
as a country.
We, as a country, feel a sense of
having reached a unique historical
moment because of the benefit of a
very smooth and peaceful transition
But it is part of a larger thing; a larger
thing that is now the critical debate that has
to be reflected upon: If Africa has passed
muster on democratic transition, while we
appreciate and celebrate the amount of political space and exercise of free speech that
has overwhelmingly emerged because of that
democratic transition, how can we inform
democratic dialogue in such a way that the
essence of economic competitiveness, the
essence of creating instruments for a modern
economy that is competitive in world markets, attractive to foreign direct investment,
becomes a core concern. In this country, for
example, many of us believe very strongly
that we have a unique historical and geographical possibility to be the hub of East
and Central Africa. We are happy and appreciate how much this country has been able
to emerge as a key player within COMESA,
the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. We account for more than 14 per
cent of all the total trade within COMESA;
43 per cent of our trade internationally is
with COMESA, and growing.
We, as a country, feel a sense of having
reached a unique historical moment because
of the benefit of a very smooth and peaceful
transition. Now we face the challenges of
globalisation, the needs and challenges of
regional integration and the need to inform
political debate in such a way that addresses
some of the key issues that can position us as
a competitive, economic hub, apart from
just being a haven of peace in the region. I
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
The Rediscovery
of Dignity
Rose Kimotho
Managing Director, Regional Reach Ltd, Nairobi
ne of the books that have had a lasting
impact on me is “Grapes of Wrath”, by
John Steinbeck. The book bears some similarities to our situation in Kenya today.
The book describes the tragedy that befell farmers in Oklahoma in the 1930s. In
the story, the land on which the farmers had
farmed cotton for years became unproductive. Banks repossessed the land. The people
were driven off the land. Unemployment resulted, causing declines in income and prices. This cycle repeated itself continually, the
outcome being massive unemployment and
a terrible inflationary spiral.
The Stock Market crash in the U.S. which
precipitated the Great Depression was more
a consequence than a cause of economic instability brought about basically from failure
to ensure adequate consumer buying power
by equitable distribution of income.
What similarities or relevance has this
story to Kenya today you might ask? In
“Grapes of Wrath”, poor farming practices
brought about poor soil and eventually the
dust bowl. In Kenya today, poor environmental management has brought about erosion and a drought-prone situation.
In the book, the tenants owed money to
the banks which were driving them off the
land. Kenya owes donors, IMF and the World
Bank, a lot of money – hence the huge debt
burden. Some estimates put it that Kenya pays
seven times the equivalent of the budget allocated to health per year on debt repayments.
There was anger by tenants who threatened to use violence for being driven off their
land. Here, we have experienced violence
over competition in land use. In “Grapes of
Wrath”, people driven off the land wandered
on the roads. They were angry and wished
for revenge. In Kenya, urban migration is
alarmingly high, at 8 per cent. There is ongoing debate about levels of crime, corruption and injustice. High walls are going up
as people fortify their homes. To quote from
the book, “And in the little towns, pity for
the sodden men changed to anger, and anger
at the hungry people changed to fear of
Yes, we have similar challenges facing Kenya and Africa today and it is tempting to
think these challenges are uniquely African.
While we acknowledge the myriad of
problems that face our continent today, let
us not forget that Africa is a very young continent that has undergone a crisis of change
in the last 100 years, which is a very short
time in history. Our economies are barely
passing through the adolescent stage compared to many mature economies of the
developed countries. Indeed, in the 1830s,
when the Conservative Party lost by a big
margin in the elections in Britain, in Africa
it was the time of King Shaka Zulu. And
during the Great Depression in the U.S.,
many of our nations did not exist.
While we acknowledge the
myriad of problems that face our
continent today, let us not forget
that Africa is a very young continent
that has undergone a crisis of
change in the last 100 years, which
is a very short time in history
History has taught us that even mature
economies go through cycles of economic
depression. The history of many countries in
Europe, America and even the Far East,
demonstrates this. Britain went through an
economic upheaval in the late 1970s; Japan
and Germany after the war; China has faced
a series of natural disasters over the years; the
United States during the Great Depression;
Ireland in the 1950s aid ‘60s when large sections of the population emigrated to greener
pastures; and more recently the Tiger
economies like South Korea. While building
economies, many nations actually go through
cycles of economic depression. And many,
like Ireland for example after the potato famine, come out stronger, more efficient, better managed and therefore more prosperous.
I agree with many visionaries who have
stated that the African renaissance will be
driven by Africa and by Africans themselves.
I believe the revitalisation of our country
and Africa in general lies first and foremost
in the rediscovery of dignity for Africa and
for our culture. By culture I mean the rediscovery of our fundamental societal values.
Not only must we restore confidence in our
culture, but we must also give it a competitive edge. I believe culture determines everything we do. It determines our productivity,
product quality, pricing, even our creativity.
Ultimately, restoration of pride in our culture will determine our prosperity.
I believe the emergence of Far Eastern
economies has a lot to do with a restored pride in their culture, which places great value
on discipline, hard work and honour. Although the West is technologically superior,
countries in the Far East today are more innovative and produce better quality, better
priced products. But we must bear in mind
that culture is a dynamic living thing. It
adapts through the natural law of survival.
Culture is not stationary and must not therefore remain a prisoner of time. Those cultures that refuse to adapt die. As in every field
of life, the stronger culture survives, economically and socially.
Media in Africa has a role, in addition to
that of society’s watchdog, to educate our
communities on a new way of thinking and
to champion the rediscovery of our core values. Communities must be educated to discard unproductive habits and to learn new
ways, e.g. better farming methods. For example, the media should question why our
productivity is so low, compared to that of
the worker in the Far East or America. Media should help build on the African cultural strength, like respect for hard work, the
work ethic, discipline, a sense of community
and concern and care for the environment.
As the Aga Khan said in his keynote address, media in Africa must play more than
the traditional adversarial, critical role, as is
the case in the Western world. In this cycle
of our development, media should play a dual role; as a watchdog as well as a constructive development partner. It must educate
our population on new developments, for
example in the scientific field, and how these
developments can or will impact on the lives
of people on our continent.
Kenya is going through massive changes
at this time. We are writing a new Constitution and attempting to implement wide-ranging reforms to kick-start the economy. The
task is enormous and requires the changing
of the mind-set of a people from a destructive culture that has taken root over the last
few decades. Our country will not break out
of the cycle of poverty, mismanagement and
corruption, unless we get and nurture courageous leaders and managers who have new
ideas; people who are risk takers and leaders
who dare to experiment on new and different ways of doing things.
I agree with many visionaries
who have stated that the African
renaissance will be driven by Africa
and by Africans themselves
I believe we have several such leaders. I
fear, however, that our media in some instances have not been able to distinguish reformers from those who wish to maintain the
status quo and have been quick to be overly
critical and to display what was referred to
by the Aga Khan as arrogant judgementalism. In many instances, the media here have,
in the quest for higher circulation, paid more
attention to the sensational, the insignificant
and the trivial. This overly adversarial stance
has in some instances served to slow down
reforms rather than accelerate them.
In the adolescent stage of our economies,
I believe the media must play a dual and contradictory role. It should preserve crucial elements of our culture that will restore our
dignity and eventually bring prosperity, for
example the work ethic and discipline. At
the same time it must help our governments
and communities evolve and adjust to the
new challenges of this age.
The Power of Babel
Patrick Lumumba
Secretary, Constitution of Kenya
Review Commission, Nairobi
n his presentation, Dr. Kituyi mentioned a
number of things, which need to be interrogated. Like a government minister, the picture he has painted may be too rosy and I
think it deserves scrutiny without being condemned.
Kenya is Africa in microcosm and the
challenges that it faces are typically African.
They are the challenges of unemployment,
the challenges of transition, the challenges of
ethnicity, the challenges of myopic politics.
All these factors conjoined are issues that
stand in the way of African development. It
therefore is incumbent upon us when we want
to interrogate the vision, the hope, and the
challenges of Africa and indeed Kenya, to
ask ourselves how to deal with those issues.
I believe that unity and diversity
create a Power of Babel,
rather than a Tower of Babel
It is true, as Rose Kimotho said, that we
are a young country, but Singapore is equally young. It is true that we are a young country, but South Korea is equally young. In
other words, we must not use our youth as
an excuse for underdevelopment. It is incumbent upon us to interrogate and ask ourselves where we have gone wrong, and I know
where we have gone wrong. We have in the
last few years had leaders who believe that
primitive accumulation of wealth was the way
to govern their nations. We have had leaders
who for a long time suffered from what I call
“the prima donna syndrome”, the refusal to
leave the stage and to die in office and therefore to stifle young leadership. We have had
leadership that has used ethnicity as an instrument to perpetuate themselves in power.
These are the factors that have impeded
growth in this part of the world. In the last
few years, we have also, in the name of negotiation, succumbed to every dictate of the
West. Many are the time that Kenya, like
most African countries, have been used as
guinea pigs for untested economic prescriptions from the West without resistance from
the political leadership. Time has come that
Kenya, like all countries, must begin to question some of these things. I agree with Mukhisa Kituyi that time has come for knowledgeable young men and women to occupy
the stage in engagement with other men and
women of the world.
Ethnicity is another factor that has bedevilled Kenyan and African politics. For Afropessimists, ethnicity is seen as creating a veritable Tower of Babel, but I am not an Afropessimist; I am an Afro-optimist. I believe
that unity and diversity create a Power of
Babel, rather than a Tower of Babel. Kenya
must, therefore, utilise unity in diversity, and
the movement into the East African community is such a positive step. The other thing
that we must do is to introduce hygiene in
our politics. I am submitting to you that part
of the Kenyan problem is a lack of political
hygiene and until the day that we have hygiene in our politics, we will not move in the
right direction.
I exhort journalists to use the pen
responsibly; not to the extent of
kowtowing to the dictates of the
powers that be. They must expose
activities that are inimical to the
growth of this country, but they
must also be responsible
Mukhisa Kituyi has said optimistically
that we occupy a unique geographical position in this continent. Indeed, Kenya like
most countries is great in prospect, but the
difference between greatness in prospect and
greatness in fact is when you have politicians
whose statements are different from their
actions. Until the day, therefore, that we
bridge the gap between rhetoric and action,
we will not move in the right direction. But
do I think that we are capable of moving in
that direction? Allow me to submit to you
that we can move in the right direction. We
can solve the issues of unemployment, because what concerns the Kenyans in different parts of this country is that there ought
to be food on the table, that there ought to
24 MAY 2005
be employment for the young men and
women who graduate. When we can achieve
this, then Kenya will be moving in the right
But do we have a vision? Sometimes when
you listen to our political class, you are made
to think, or believe, that we have no vision.
Many are the careless statements that are
made, totally insensitive to the occasion. Time
has come that we must liberate ourselves
from rhetoric that is incapable of addressing
the economic agenda, the social agenda, and
the political agenda. Sometimes, when we say
we are moving into the East African community, I ask myself, “Are we ready?” If we do
not get our act together as a country, can we
go into a larger group and contribute positively? Those are the issues that we must begin to question.
What is the role of the press in this regard? As Joseph Momoh of Sierra Leone once
said, “A journalist with a pen in his hand is
like a soldier with a Kalashnikov. He can use
it to kill or he can use it to defend.” The
African journalist must now choose how he
or she wants to use the pen. I believe and I
exhort journalists to use the pen responsibly;
not to the extent of kowtowing to the dictates of the powers that be. They must expose activities that are inimical to the growth
of this country, but they must also be responsible.
We have a culture of impunity. We have a
culture where people condemn corruption,
but they live corruptly. It behoves the media
in this country, as in any civilised country, to
report it. It behoves the media in this country to talk about a culture of impunity. We
have a situation in this country where it is
becoming quite clear that those who hold
political office can do whatever they like. We
have government ministers who have engaged in activities that are contemptuous of
the court and nothing happens to them. The
press, in my view, has been doing a good job
in talking about these issues consistently.
In a nutshell, the challenges that we have
in this country are the issues of unemploy-
ment, the issues of the environment, the issues of quality education, the issues of ethnicity, and the issues of building a national culture where people have hope and vision. All
these things, in my view, can be effectively
addressed if our political class are sensitive to
the needs and aspirations of the people. In
other words, I must agree that our politicians must serve the people.
It used to be said that good politicians
must be morally armed. Good politicians
must be those who place themselves at the
service of their countries, not the countries
at their service. We will only realise our vision if our leaders will address those issues,
which they may consider mundane, but
those are the issues that the common Kenyan is concerned with and those are the issues that deserve attention. Kenyans must
be morally armed and political hygiene must
find its final place in our national scheme
of things.
Perception and Reality
Vimal Shah
Chief Executive Officer, Bidco Oil Refineries, Thika
alking about “hopes and challenges, vision and reality,” which is the subject
matter of today’s debate, I think that it is
more like “strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.” I would like to limit
myself to Kenya, because, as Patrick Lumumba said, “Kenya is probably a microcosm
of what Africa is”, and we can extrapolate it.
I think that we have heard all the negatives and I think a lot of us blame it on the
politicians. What is the business of politicians? It is politicking and it is the politics
of power, and whatever. But economics –
and I am talking about Kenya – economics
today is not in the hands of the politicians.
We in the business field today are free to do
what we want to do.
That is what I would like to talk about
today – the environment in the economic
front. We have hopes here, because, talking
about freedom of expression, that is a big
issue in Kenya today. There is a lot of freedom of expression and people can air their
views. If you talk about ten years ago, we
probably could not have talked about politicians and people high in power, and today you can. A larger, liberalised economy
– that is what Kenya is today. It is more
open, it has democratic institutions that are
taking root, although very slowly, but we
are getting there and I think we are on the
right track.
I think that we are getting hostile
treatment on the global front
because what is read in the press
is what forms perceptions
A big issue is that we have a strong public opinion. I think, thanks to the freedom
of expression, we have a stronger public opinion where things coming out in the press
and looked at by politicians, by the economists, by people in the private sector who
say, “Hang on, if that is coming out, that
means that it is not ‘in’ to do certain things.”
So we have a determined society out there
looking for a better way of doing things. I
think that is where we are moving in the
right direction. Although if we talk about
the politics of the day, it is getting the headlines and that is what is marring our image
as Kenya, because all this is politics of violence, in terms of thoughts and words, and I
think that is what catches the headlines,
whereas all the good stories about competitiveness, the opportunities in the market, do
not take precedence over this.
The challenges are many. I think the challenges are keeping the politicians at bay in
terms of insulating politics from economics
and that is what I think is required in this
country. A lot of radical statements are being
made by politicians. Of course, the world
press picks them up and that is what becomes
the image or the perception about Kenya,
whereas internally, the same politicians are
sitting around in the evening and sorting the
issues out. That does not get reported. What
gets reported are the harsh statements.
I think that we are getting hostile treatment on the global front because what is
read in the press is what forms perceptions.
Two weeks ago we had a delegation from
China and they said, “We read all the reports
and we don’t think Kenya is investable, therefore we are looking at Tanzania and Uganda
because they are getting good press.” We
brought them over and showed them quite a
few things here and they said, “If this is the
reality, then what is being perceived outside
is different.” I think this is where the gap is.
There is a big gap in perception and reality.
Why would people invest in Kenya? Is it
because Kenya has 30 million people and
has a huge purchasing power parity? No. I
think that it is because Kenya is a competitive economic hub. We have market access
to the East African community. We have the
COMESA free trade area. We can transact
with 11 countries in the East and Central
African region without any tax and without
any duties today. This means our market,
from a 30-million people market, has gone
to become a 300-million people market. Now
all of you in economics know that whenever
the market size goes up, the opportunities also increase.
There is a big gap
in perception and reality
We also have the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is another
red herring we have been given by the U.S.
to say that we can now export goods to the
U.S. for a certain period. I do not think that
AGOA should be the basis for our development. It should more be the competitiveness
of our own industries here.
Another thing is the overall policy towards free enterprise. Do we have free enterprise policies or is it all controlled by the
state? I say no, it is not controlled by the
state, it is in the hands of the individuals.
We see companies now branching out towards
East Africa, towards COMESA in a big way.
The political environment is an issue
with ourselves right now, because the political environment is not stable. It is leading to
a perception of negativeness and I think that
is what the press reports. There is nothing
wrong in reporting that, but there are also
success stories which need to be talked about.
Nobody really talks about the open trade
regime we have. We have a serious open trade
regime. You can transact foreign currency
without any restrictions in Kenya today. You
can trade with anybody in the world. No
restrictions. No licensing. No duties. Kenya
also, having said this, is a tax haven. There is
no capital gains tax in Kenya. There is no tax
on death duty in Kenya. So there are a lot of
benefits, but a lot of these things do not really come out in the press.
Do we have a common vision? Everybody has a vision to be prosperous, but do
we have a shared, common vision? Not yet.
I think this is where we need to head, because without a clear destination, without
knowing where we are going, we cannot be
In terms of reality, I think the biggest
resource we have in Kenya, and I say this
proudly, is Kenya’s human resource, which
is second to none.
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
and the
The African
Peer Review
Alain Modoux
President, ORBICOM, International
Network of UNESCO Chairs in
Communication, Montreal
Bernard Kouassi
Executive Director, African Peer Review
Mechanism (APRM), Johannesburg
Keynote Speaker
Bernard Kouassi
Executive Director, African Peer Review
Mechanism (APRM), Johannesburg
Kavi Chongkittavorn
Assistant Group Editor, The Nation,
Bangkok; and Chairman, Southeast
Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
Anderson Fumulani
Auditor/East and Southern Africa,
Media and Society Foundation,
Blantyre, Malawi
Alejandro Miró
Quesada Cisneros, Director, El Comercio,
Lima; and President, Inter American
Press Association (IAPA)
Amos Wako
Attorney General, Kenya
The Media
as Watchdog
Alain Modoux
President, ORBICOM, International Network of
UNESCO Chairs in Communication, Montreal
his session is a follow-up to the IPI Resolution on the African Union’s NEPAD
Initiative, adopted in 2004 in Warsaw. I
quote: “The IPI members … expressed their
deep disappointment that NEPAD (New
Partnership for Africa’s Development) has
signally failed to include the vital role of free
and independent media as one of the criteria
for assessing whether its member nations
comply with the principles of good governance.”
What do we mean by good governance?
In fact, it is a way of conducting public affairs
through participative communication, that is
by involving institutional and social stakeholders in the decision-making process, with
a view to enabling people to make responsible and informed choices and to have effec-
tive input into public affairs and influence
decisions affecting their daily lives.
What can we expect from good governance? We can say that good governance is
expected to bring about, inter alia, more
transparency, more accountability, and greater
people’s participation in public affairs, consensus-oriented decisions, and equitable and
inclusive decisions.
Now, according to what we have heard
during the past days, I have to say that many
speakers during this conference stressed the
need for good governance. In fact, there is a
crucial need for good governance in most, if
not all, countries, especially those engaged in
a democratic process, to force political, social
and economic reforms. In this regard, media
is playing a key role to promote and boost
good governance.
I would like to quote Frannie Lautier,
who is the Vice President of the World Bank
Institute in Paris. She says: “A functioning
and independent media, long seen as central
to democracy, is increasingly understood to
be equally vital to improved economic outcomes. The press plays a central watchdog
role in any strategy to curb corruption.”
The media as watchdog – how does it contribute to good governance? By providing
information, news, analyses, commentary to
enable citizens to make up their own opinion; by exposing to the public mismanagement, malfunctioning and bad practices; by
denouncing abuses, collusion, cronyism; and
by covering criminal activities, such as corruption and trafficking.
The press plays a central
watchdog role in any strategy
to curb corruption
Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning we
have a panel that is very international. We
have a representative from Kenya, Attorney
General Amos Wako; a representative from
the Asian continent, Kavi Chongkittavorn; a
representative from Latin America, Alejandro Miró Quesada Cisneros; a representative
from Malawi, speaking on behalf of the
Media and Society Foundation in Geneva,
Anderson Fumulani; and, last but not least,
our keynote speaker, Bernard Kouassi from
the Ivory Coast, who is the Executive Director of the African Peer Review Mechanism
(APRM) in Johannesburg.
s you know, the New Partnership for
Africa’s Development (NEPAD) seeks,
among other things, to create a framework
for preventing conflicts, redressing political,
economic and corporate governance problems, and investing in people and infrastructure.
Embedded in NEPAD is the African Peer
Review Mechanism (APRM), which is an instrument voluntarily acceded to by Member
States of the African Union (AU) as an African
self-monitoring mechanism.
The primary purpose of the APRM is to
foster the adoption of policies, standards
and practices that lead to political stability,
high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practice, including identifying deficiencies and assessing the need for
capacity building.
In the case of the APRM,
the media is specifically involved
The African Peer Review processes entail
periodic reviews of the policies and practices
of participating countries to ascertain progress being made towards achieving the mutually agreed goals and compliance in four
areas: Democracy and Political Governance;
Economic Governance and Management;
Corporate Governance; and Socio-Economic
As I said before, the APRM is voluntary.
Member States of the AU voluntarily accede
to the APRM. At this moment, we have 23
fully acceded Member States. Zambia was
supposed to be the twenty-fourth, but for
some unfortunate circumstances the Memorandum of Understanding was not signed.
Therefore, Zambia is not yet a fully participating country.
Whenever we start a country
review, we make sure that various
media are represented
The overall responsibility for the APRM
is vested in the Committee of Participating
Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the APRM (APR Forum). A
Panel of Eminent Persons (APR Panel), appointed by the Heads of State, oversees the
conduct of the APRM processes. The APRM
Secretariat provides the secretarial, technical,
coordinating and administrative support
At the national level we have Governing
Councils, which comprise all the national
stakeholders, including the media. Here I
would like to respond to one of your concerns, the fact that NEPAD did not take
into consideration the media. In the case of
the APRM, the media is specifically involved.
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
The media is included as a member of the
civil society and in all our documents you
will find reference to the media. Furthermore,
whenever we start a country review, we make
sure that various media are represented. The
APRM needs the media, first to disseminate
the information on the work to be done, secondly, to get an idea of the flaws and strengths
of each country under review. We need the
media to disseminate the result after the approval of the APR Forum and, finally, the AU.
What are the basic principles of the
APRM? First, national ownership and leadership by the participating country are es-
sential factors. We want the APRM process
to be open and participatory. We are guided
by the principles of transparency, accountability, technical competence, and credibility
– and it should be free from manipulation.
Now we move to the process by which
the APRM works. First, we have the support
mission. After the support mission, the country conducts its own self-assessment. The
APRM Secretariat gathers background information from sources all over the world. Afterward, we compare the background information collected by the Secretariat and the information provided by the country.
The Secretariat then develops an Issues
Paper and then the Country Review Team
conducts the country visit to carry out a wide
range of consultation with the key stakeholders of the country. After the visit, the Country
Review Team drafts a Country Review Report, which is submitted to the APR Panel
and then to the APR Forum. After the Heads
of State consider the review, it is presented
to the AU and finally to the public domain.
I will conclude by insisting that the
media is not neglected. The media is a big
part of our review process.
Media and
Amos Wako
Attorney General, Kenya
he lack of good governance has been
identified as a major cause of many
problems that bedevil Africa, such as undemocratic societies, which grossly and consistently violate the human rights of their citizenry; economic underdevelopment, which
continues to get worse; and the relegation
of Africa to the periphery of international
Democracy and good governance are essential for the sustainable political, economic and social development of any country.
The battle to eradicate poverty in Africa can
only be won with the accountability of both
the government and the private corporate
sector and by allowing the citizens to make
better-informed choices. The establishment
of the character of good governance has,
therefore, become the centre stage for those
who have the interests of Africa and Africans
at heart.
At the Africa level, we have just had a presentation by the Executive Director of the
African Peer Review Mechanism, which is
geared to ensuring progressive compliance
with the principles of good governance. At
the regional levels, in most treaties establishing African regional economic communities,
the member states are under a treaty obligation to observe the principles of good governance. For example, Article 6 (d) of the Treaty
Establishing the East African Community
states that amongst the fundamental principles to be observed by the partner states are
“Good governance including adherence to the
principles of democracy and the rule of law.”
The effective role that the media
can play in ensuring compliance
with the principles of good governance cannot be overestimated
You will also find that in the new Constitutions of African countries there is reference
to good governance. In our own anticipated
new Constitution for Kenya there are many
clauses in the draft Constitution of Kenya
2004 which make reference to good governance, such as Clause 12 (2) which provides
that the state shall promote the participation
of the people in public affairs, ensure open
and transparent government and accountability of state officers, public officers, state
organs and public authorities and, more important for you, recognise the role of the civil
society in governance and facilitate the role
of the civil society in ensuring the accountability of government.
The effective role that the media can play
in ensuring compliance with the principles
of good governance cannot be overestimated. If we are to have a democratic, open and
tolerant society in which persons are involved in the decision-making process on issues
that affect them, then only the media has the
resources to gather and disseminate the information necessary for the people to make
informed decisions. The media can play an
extremely useful role not only in exposing
corruption but also in establishing a zero tolerance towards corruption in society. The
media can also play a positive role in the
promotion and protection of human rights
by not only exposing human rights violations, but also making the people aware of
their rights.
A free and responsible press is therefore
key to the making of institutions of governance transparent and accountable. The access of freedom of expression and with it freedom of the press is therefore fundamental in
establishing the principles of good governance in any society. It is therefore vital that
all the collective channels of gathering, processing and disseminating knowledge and
information be kept open and independent
if we are to create a society that respects and
observes the standards of good governance.
The media in Africa today enjoys far more
freedom than it enjoyed a decade or so ago.
The media in Africa can boast of its positive
contribution to achievements in Africa, particularly in the area of increasing the democratic space in Africa, holding the political
elite to the promises espoused in their manifestos during general elections and exposing
corruption in society and sensitising the citizens on the key issues confronting the nation.
If the media are to play its
key role in creating a culture of
good governance in society,
then it must itself rise above the
negative aspects in society that are
inimical to good governance
However, the press in Africa have not been
as effective as it should be in contributing
towards the culture of democracy and good
governance. The style of reporting has been
geared towards generating heat through the
orchestration, sensationalisation and popularisation of issues rather than throwing a
light on the issues. Instead of promoting a
dialogue on national issues, the press has been
partly responsible for confrontational and
antagonistic debates on such issues.
I need not add that much criticism has
been levelled at the press. It has been accused
of publishing inaccurate, misleading, and distorted material. It has been accused of passing off biased opinions and conjectures as
facts, of publishing extremely slanderous material, of being generally biased and intolerant of differing opinions, and indeed of having the same negative attitudes and styles that
they criticise as prevalent in the society in
which they operate.
If the media are to play its key role in creating a culture of good governance in society, then it must itself rise above the negative
aspects in society that are inimical to good
governance such as ethnicity, corruption, and
personalisation of issues. For the media to be
able to achieve this it must first observe and
respect the principles of good governance.
The executive, legislative and judiciary arms
of government and the private corporate sec-
tor have all embraced the principles of good
governance. The time has now come for the
media to embrace, and to be seen to be embracing, the principles of good governance.
In Africa, this process of the media embracing the principles of good governance is
still to be realised. Indeed, even here in Kenya,
the process continues. I recall that in 1992 I
told the journalists to come up with their
own code of ethics that they could enforce.
They did come up with it and in November
of that year we launched it, but those efforts
came to naught. The next effort was in the
late 1990s when a media council was established. Again, those efforts came to naught.
To summarise, although in the developed
world press councils and press complaints
commissions are relatively effective, even
though they are based on a voluntary system, I very much doubt that such a system,
particularly at this stage in Africa, can be
effective. That is why, in my view, provided
that we observe the cardinal principle that
the media industry must have an internal
self-regulating machinery which enforces a
code of conduct with international standards
and which handles complaints of members
of the public, that internal self-regulation
machinery should have the backing of the
government. Here in Kenya we have a very
good example in the Law Society of Kenya,
which has its own internal regulations, its
independence, but we have an act of parliament for it. If the media agrees and if they
draft something similar, I would be prepared
to give it the force of law. Obviously, we have
to take into account that the government
also did something to create an amicable environment and I am glad that the President
did mention the legislation that is coming in
that regard.
I believe that, in the developing world
particularly, both the government and the
media are important actors in governance
and must see each other as partners, recognise each other and their capacities and responsibilities and take on board some of the
criticisms that they may obtain from each
other. I believe it is only in this way, if we all
focus, that both the government and the
media can be at the service of the people in
Kenya and in Africa, and that we can achieve
a healthy and dynamic print and electronic
media which enjoys the freedom of the press
and is aware of its responsibilities.
KENYA 2005
New Standards
Anderson Fumulani
Auditor/East and Southern Africa, Media and
Society Foundation, Blantyre, Malawi
Promoting Good Governance
Alejandro Miró
Quesada Cisneros, Director, El Comercio,
Lima; and President, Inter American
Press Association (IAPA)
he idea of good governance, from an
editorial point of view, begins with one
question that editors and media owners
should ask themselves: Do I want my newspaper, my media, to promote good governance in my country, regardless of who is in
charge of the government? Of course, if the
answer is “yes”, there are five main points that
I would like to mention, which could help
the media to promote good governance in
their country.
First of all, supporting democracy. I really believe in democracy as a solution for a
country’s growth.
Second, supporting governability. When I
say governability, I mean supporting the idea
of the nation supporting the government’s
ability to govern properly. This doesn’t mean
that we must support the government, but,
as journalists, we should try to ensure that
the country gives the best possibilities to the
people that are involved in government in
order that they can work toward progress in
their country.
For example, my newspaper, El Comercio,
has been conducting a major campaign to see
that Alejandro Toledo may finish his fiveyear term as president. In Peru, and in South
America in general, there is a trend in popular unarmed movements forcing unpopular
presidents to resign, and President Toledo’s
public approval rating has now slumped to
eight per cent. We believe that as we are in a
democracy he must finish his term. What has
happened now is that the country, after two
or three years of fighting for him to stay in
government, is much more stable now and
the economy is doing well.
The third component is applying proactive journalism. We as journalists are always
criticising government and criticising people. I think that there are two ways of doing
that – in a destructive way and in an constructive way. Of course, I am talking now of the
constructive way of criticising government
and criticising people.
The fourth component is exercising thorough journalism. I am sure all of us here have
embraced this idea, for instance by applauding the good and criticising the bad things in
the country; being accurate; being independent; being diverse; showing all the political
positions in the country. This of course is the
ethical point of view.
The fifth component is defending the audience, defending the citizens from aggressive actions of the government or any other
want to present the new Quality Management Standards that have been developed by media professionals. These are ISAS
BC 9001, which is for broadcasters, and another one, ISAS 9001 P, for the print media.
ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS P 9001 are inspired
from ISO 9001:2000. Those who know ISO
9000 know that it was established in 1987,
some 18 years ago. Today, more than half a
million companies in 159 countries are now
Other economic sectors have followed the
same path, including the automotive industry (QS 9000), the aerospace industry (AS
9000), public management (PM 9000), and
the telecommunications industry (TS 9000).
These new Quality Management Standards, ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS P 9001, were
designed by the Media & Society Foundation, based in Geneva. I want to emphasise
that if you want your media organisation to
be certified it has to be entirely on a voluntary basis.
ISAS BC 9001 focuses on broadcasting
companies, measuring the degree to which
they meet the following criteria: satisfaction
of viewers/listeners; quality and accuracy of
information; quality and diversity of other
types of programming; innovation and creativity; independence and transparency of
management; promotion and respect of ethical rules; representation of national minorities; universal access; and social and developmental relevance.
I want to emphasise that if you
want your media organisation
to be certified it has to be entirely
on a voluntary basis
ISAS P 9001 is specific to the printed press
and intended to be applied by all press organisations, regardless of size and editorial approach, any press organisation that aspires to
conform to this standard must be editorially
independent of their governments; transparent with regard to ownership and other connections that could impact on content; and
governed by editorial guidelines understood
internally as well as externally.
The ISAS P 9001 internal culture and processes should include a clear mission and editorial viewpoint for each publication within
the organisation. An emphasis is placed on
reporting facts accurately; effectiveness of mechanisms for identifying and correcting errors;
a distinction between opinion and fact; a responsiveness to feedback from readers and
other stakeholders; widely disseminated guidelines on ethics; a high-quality training and evaluation of staff; and a clear separation of advertising vs. editorial content.
ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS P 9001 are based
on requirements that cover all the facets of
company management. The product (programme or content) is not directly evaluated, on purpose. They are based on the ISO
9001:2000 requirements that concern human resources. Electronic and print media
companies shall bring the guarantee of professionalism, independence and non-discrimination to its practitioners, whether presenters, producers or editors, through transparent recruitment/lay-off procedures; legal clauses in labour contracts; appropriate appeal
procedures; a strict respect of national labour
laws; non-discrimination of any kind (whether age, religion, gender); and adherence to
codes of ethics and editorial charters.
ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS
P 9001 are based on requirements
that cover all the facets of
company management
The Media & Society Foundation oversees
the media certification process, which involves four bodies totally independent of each
1) The standardisation committees (one
for electronic media and one for print) composed of media professionals and certification specialists that draw up the requirements
that must be met by any media company
seeking to be certified.
2) A non-governmental certification body,
such as Det Norske Veritas (DNV) of Oslo,
whose accredited auditors are qualified to
certify media companies.
3) Optimedia, a worldwide network of
consulting firms led by Challenge Optimum
S.A. of Geneva, specially trained to help media companies prepare for certification and/
or correct weaknesses identified during the
4) Finally, an independent, non-governmental accreditation body, International
Standardization & Accreditation Services
(ISAS), which guarantees that certification
bodies and their auditors fully comply with
the guidelines of the International Standards
Organization (ISO).
The ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS P 9001 standards encourage companies to improve their
internal organisation and processes. This so
called management system approach, although
not directly linked to contents’ quality, has a
strong influence on them. By streamlining
processes, clarifying responsibilities, and detecting and correcting any kind of “non-conformities”, the ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS P
9001 certification schemes create the right
conditions for improved performance, ethics
and better contents.
What are the benefits of certification?
• A common and shared vision of the organisation
• Clear responsibilities and job description
• Written procedures for all critical activities
• Systematic responses to problems and
• Systematic follow-up and evaluation of corrective actions
• Better motivation of staff
• The ability to attract and motivate high
quality journalists
• Cost savings in production processes and
less waste of resources
• Better monitoring of performance through
appropriate indicators that are understood
and accepted by the staff
• Transparent relationship with all stakeholders, including governments and owners
• Increased audience and readership satisfaction
• A culture that promotes continuous improvement
• Benchmarking among broadcasters, publishers and editors
• Identification and exchange of best practices
• Greater credibility with the general public,
notably viewers, listeners and readers, as
well as with other stakeholders such as
• Higher efficiency of investments in content
• Better access to sources of information. I
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
Presentation of the
awarded to
London, UK
Geraldine Jackson
Founder and Station Manager,
SW Radio Africa, London
Johann P. Fritz
Director of IPI
his year our award winner is the London, UK-based Zimbabwean shortwave
radio station, SW Radio Africa.
In Zimbabwe, where President Robert
Mugabe’s repressive regime controls both
radio and television, and the only independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, has
been shut down, SW Radio Africa remains a
rare independent voice.
Launched in December 2001, SW Radio
Africa is run by a group of exiled reporters
and DJs, who broadcast from a studio in
northwest London.
The station’s founder, Geraldine Jackson,
was fired from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation’s music station, Radio 3, for
“insubordination” after airing live telephone
calls from people on the scene during food
riots in Harare in 1997. In 2000, Gerry Jackson fought and won a legal battle in the Zimbabwean Supreme Court to set up the country’s first independent radio station, Capital
FM. However, after only six days, Capital FM
was raided by armed police, who confiscated
its broadcasting equipment, and used a presidential decree to shut down the station.
Featuring a successful mix
of music, news and interviews,
SW Radio Africa’s main aim
is to give a “voice to the voiceless”
by fostering a dialogue with its
Zimbabwean audience
Gerry Jackson went into hiding and –
with presidential elections set for March
2002 – decided to broadcast from outside
Zimbabwe, setting up a new radio station in
London, where half a million Zimbabwean
exiles live. In the run-up to the March 2005
parliamentary elections, the government of
Zimbabwe mounted a concerted campaign
to prevent SW Radio Africa from being
heard in the country, jamming its signals on
several frequencies.
The campaign against SW Radio Africa
continued unabated after the elections –
which were widely condemned as fraudulent
– with continued deliberate jamming of its
broadcasts. Mugabe’s government has also
announced plans to launch a new 24-hour
shortwave radio station to counter SW Radio Africa’s allegedly “negative propaganda.”
Featuring a successful mix of music, news
and interviews, SW Radio Africa’s main aim
is to give a “voice to the voiceless” by fostering a dialogue with its Zimbabwean audience, who call in – often at great risk – to air
their opinions and give first-hand accounts
of the deteriorating situation in the country.
For these reasons, I am proud to name
SW Radio Africa IPI’s Free Media Pioneer
for the year 2005 and I would like to call on
its founder and station manager, Gerry Jackson, to come up and receive the award.
Geraldine Jackson
Founder and Station Manager, SW Radio Africa
n behalf of all the staff at SW Radio
Africa I would like to thank the IPI for
this award and to say how thrilled and honoured we were to receive it. It was completely unexpected.
I think it is important that I name the
people who make up SW Radio Africa as it
is their commitment and dedication that has
made the station a reality, against all odds:
John Matinde, Violet Gonda, Tererai Karimakwenda, Mandisa Mundawara, Richard
Allfrey, Tichaona Sibanda, Keith Farquharson and Lance Guma.
Earlier this year, the ruling regime in Zimbabwe began blocking our shortwave signals
into the country using Chinese supplied
equipment. Although we got around this by
broadcasting on multiple frequencies, it was
financially unsustainable and we are now
only broadcasting on medium wave for two
hours in the early morning and over the
Internet. We sincerely hope that the receipt
of an award such as this will help us in our
constant fund raising endeavours so that we
can continue to highlight the oppression
that is happening in our beloved country.
We face imminent closure and for our listeners we are the last voice of hope and it would
be tragic if that voice went silent.
We face imminent closure
and for our listeners we are the
last voice of hope and it would be
tragic if that voice went silent
It is a remarkable fact that whenever something happens in Zimbabwe that would encourage international news agencies to carry
the story, a more important international story emerges. It has become such a common
occurrence that we have a “joke” in the studio that Robert Mugabe sups with the devil.
Recently one of our staff was in a BBC radio
newsroom, about to talk about Operation
Murambatsvina – the so-called “clean-up”
campaign that has made nearly a million
people homeless. As he was about to open
his mouth a producer came in and cancelled
the discussion because the Pope had died. So
I would urge anyone here in the media who
has any control over these things, please rethink editorial decisions; please do not let
these stories die because they are not dramatic enough.
Zimbabweans are dying quietly. It is not
a dramatic death, it is death from starvation;
it is being stopped from having access to
food for being perceived to be an opposition
supporter; it is quiet misery. These people
have no voice and the reason that we set out
was in the hope of giving them that voice.
Certainly this award to SW Radio Africa
is slightly ironic, because we face closure in
less than a week. Donor support has been
fantastic and we really thank the donors for
that, but as the Zimbabwe crisis continues,
donors clearly do not know what to do
about it. If we do not get thrown a lifeline at
this eleventh hour, it will be the end of SW
Radio Africa.
So, it is with the gods and we can only
hope that they smile favourably upon us, but
at least with this award, if we do close, we go
out with a bit of a bang and not a whimper. I
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
Press Freedom
Bruce Brugmann
Editor & Publisher, San Francisco
Bay Guardian, San Francisco, CA
Timely Issues
Bruce Brugmann
Editor & Publisher, San Francisco Bay Guardian,
San Francisco, CA
am moderating a new panel idea for IPI
– an IPI Open Forum – aimed at covering the latest press freedom developments
and issues. Timely, deadline kind of issues
that did not make the panels or the speakers that were laid out in advance; hence,
these are the timely things that we want to
get in. Even though we were not able to do
bios and even though we were not able to
do the proper announcement on the programme, it is a wonderful idea and I hope
that IPI continues to make this work, and
you will see that we have a very qualified
panel with absolutely fascinating stories to
tell you about their problems.
I am moderating a new panel idea
for IPI – an IPI Open Forum – aimed
at covering the latest press freedom
developments and issues
Africa, is a time to re-examine the vital job
that news agencies do and to help new ones
to grow.
The truth is that an African country without at least one strong agency – supplying
unbiased, factual and timely information to
an unrestricted array of clients – is a country
with a bleakly incomplete media landscape.
There is a risk that donors and others
who want to help develop media on this continent do not understand how our business
works; that TV stations, newspapers, and
community radios are hugely disadvantaged
without the solid and reliable news platform
which a news agency provides: reporting
about society, business, government and
sport, from the provinces as well as the capital city.
Anyone who travels around Africa today
can easily observe that in the majority of
countries, this vital news foundation, this
solid platform, is utterly lacking. What did
the president actually say at his news conference? What was the important detail in the
annual budget? How many people turned up
for the opposition’s demonstration?
Most of the agencies set up
at independence – and almost every
country created one – are moribund
or in an advanced state of decay
Deprived of a fast and reliable news service, journalists are reduced to embarking on
haphazard trawls of the Internet, cobbling
together bulletins that reflect no judgment
and no quality.
Confronted by the absence of an accurate, affordable and Internet-delivered national news agency, many local journalists understandably and correctly refer to the best for-
eign news sources they can muster, increasingly provided in Africa by the United Nations or donor agencies.
These news suppliers, such as the UN
Integrated Regional Information Networks
(IRIN), or Radio Okapi in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, are doing a valuable job,
effectively substituting for absentee national
But quite rightly, national media want to
establish their own national news agendas.
Building or rebuilding honest and professional agencies is a key part of that process –
the first step in my view.
Inevitably, they will need financial support from donors at the outset, but if they
are set up within an appropriate legal framework, as partnerships or cooperatives, for
example, I believe they can quite rapidly
move towards financial independence.
Arjun Bista
Media Point, Institute for Professional
Journalism, Kathmandu, Nepal
Nicholas Kotch
Media Consultant, Reuters Foundation,
Johannesburg, South Africa
Issa Mansaray
Correspondent, For Di People,
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Kifle Mulat
President, Ethiopian Free Press
Journalists’ Association (EFJA),
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Africa’s Media:
Breathing Life into
National News Agencies
Issa Mansaray
Nicholas Kotch
Media Consultant, Reuters Foundation,
Johannesburg, South Africa
his is a year of intense brainstorming
about governance in Africa and, within
that context, about how to help the growth
of plural, professional and vigorous media
on the continent.
The International Press Institute could
easily host a conference devoted to that subject alone; perhaps it will.
We would hear many proposals, such as
the demand for more local and community
radios, for converting state broadcasters into
public ones, the case for subsidising print
media and the crying need for more and better journalism training.
The way ahead for African media is not
the core purpose of this gathering. But with
the chance to speak to so many senior journalists from around the world, I want to make
the case for what I believe should be the central pillar of new African media, namely, national news agencies.
Message from Paul Kamara,
Editor of For Di People
Their significance is in danger of being
overlooked and, given their parlous state of
health, that is hardly surprising. Most of the
agencies set up at independence – and almost
every country created one – are moribund or
in an advanced state of decay. Some are virtually shell organisations, existing on paper
alone, with no credibility, no customers, and
no resources.
I want to make the case for what
I believe should be the central pillar
of new African media, namely,
national news agencies
Happily, there are a few exceptions, which
have already made or are making the transition to a new business model, befitting this
century, and are based on independence and
I think this year, when the Blair Commission and the review of the UN Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) are helping to
focus so much international attention on
Correspondent, For Di People,
Freetown, Sierra Leone
ay 3 marked World Press Freedom
Day and from my isolated Old Female Prison cell block at Pademba Road
Maximum Prisons, I send my sincere felicitations and greetings to all participants to
this year’s IPI conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Indeed, apart from our sacred responsibility as journalists to always strive for the
truth and journalistic excellence, World Press
Freedom Day is an opportunity that should
act as a stark reminder of the growing hazards and mounting causalities so frequent in
today’s world as journalists work under extremely difficult conditions and at great personal risk to their lives in their quest to bring
the news to their readers.
For Di People newspaper was established
in 1983 and its conviction emanated from a
determination to resist evil and to serve
humanity. It answers to no party, but to the
It strives for “a good heart” in journalism
based on truth, justice and human dignity as
well as upholding the tenets of human rights
and democracy. Its credo, therefore, is to
love all and hate none.
Looking back, I now appreciate better
the words of a Senegalese journalist, Abdoul
Rahman Ceesay, who, while conducting a
UNESCO workshop in Freetown in the
1980s and noting the numerous difficulties
encountered by our newspaper, said at the
time that had Christ been alive today, he
would have loved to be a journalist.
From my isolated Old Female
Prison cell block at Pademba Road
Maximum Prisons, I send my
sincere felicitations
At the time, I had already tasted the bitter pill of how dehumanising and a death
trap our prisons could be and I remember
writing an article titled, “The Walls of Silence”, in which I compared Pademba Prisons to a silencer that whispers a soft, painful and agonising death.
And this was under the one-party rule
of the late President Siaka Stevens, back in
1984, almost a year after I started my journalism career.
In fact, all the various regimes from
Stevens’ APC to the AFRC-RUF junta in
1997 have found it convenient to lodge me
at Pademba Prisons, but the struggle continues.
Let me now take this opportunity to pay
tribute to a hero of African journalism, who
was recently shot dead in The Gambia by
unknown assailants for his relentless pursuit
in fighting for the truth and speaking for our
humanity, especially the downtrodden.
I first met Deyda Hydara while attending
an International Organisation of Journalists
(IOJ) congress in 1986 in Sofia, Bulgaria,
when news came in that the Nigerian journalist, Dele Giwa, had been killed in a letter
bomb explosion. Our shattered minds did
observe a minute’s silence for him and I pray
we now do the same for Hydara. May his
soul rest in perfect peace.
In 1988, I had the opportunity of spending a few days in Nairobi on my way home
from attending a UNESCO conference in
Namibia that gave birth to the Windhoek
Declaration for the existence of a free, inde-
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
pendent and pluralistic African press.
At the time, we learnt that the Kenyan
lawyer and human rights activist, Gitobu
Inmanyara, could no attend because he was
handcuffed to his bed by the Kenyan authorities.
But we later met in Brussels at a similar
conference held by the European Union to
endorse support for the free African press.
In Windhoek, however, I was fortunate
to have met a host of prominent African
journalists from all over the continent,
including the award-winning journalist Mohamed Amin, to whose memory a special
prize was created in the CNN African Journalist of the Year Competition, following his
abrupt death in a plane crash in the cause of
his work.
I believe that many Sierra Leoneans and
the international community, including human rights activists, know by now that I was
jailed for two years and that a recommendation to ban the newspaper for six months
was made for simply reproducing the 1967
Justice Beoku-Betts Commission Report
involving the SLPMB Cocoa Deal that had
found Sierra Leone’s President, Ahmad Tejan
Kabbah, guilty of fraud and corruption.
At the time, Kabbah’s house and properties were confiscated. He was fined heavily
and subsequently banned from holding any
public office in the future where “integrity
and character” are pre-requisites.
Even though his house was later returned
to him by President Joseph Saidu Momoh,
his crime was never struck off the rolls. Furthermore, by altering his name and working
“incognito” for 27 years in the UN, the
president also failed to make his past known
to a misguided public when he had declared
to contest the presidential elections in February 1996.
By then, these facts were quite blurred to
the general public, which necessitated the
reproduction of the Report.
During the trial, the presiding judge, A.B.
Raschid, was quite hostile and made damning statements against me.
He did not allow President Kabbah to appear as a star witness, nor have his Civil Service Records tendered in court even though
he (President Kabbah) instituted the seditious libel action.
It was in a similar manner that I was jailed several months before this present ordeal,
when the newspaper had published that the
president’s senior adviser and also President
of the Sierra Leone Appeal Court, Justice
Emeric Tolla Thompson, had violated certain provisions of the National Constitution
by being a sitting judge and at the same time
holding the position of President of the Sierra Leone Football Association.
Impeccable evidence was published to
prove that he also pilfered FIFA funds meant
for the development of football in Sierra
The kangaroo trial itself for defamation
libel was a mere miscarriage of justice while
the courts were on vacation.
Well, I was subsequently jailed for six
months and fined millions of leones at the
same time by a judge whose sister was married to the prosecutor in the matter and who
had served under Justice Thompson. While
in prison, the powerful judge brought another action for damages even though I was
already serving his sentence for defamatory
As soon as I came out of prison, court
bailiffs stormed my office premises and took
away everything, including computers, office equipment and a Mercedes Benz car in
order to offset a Le61 million damages levied
by another judge, Samuel Ademusu. Today,
we have lost everything we worked for to
establish the most prominent newspaper
house in Sierra Leone.
I was shot but survived an
assassination attempt the same
day multi-party elections took
place,with President Kabbah
emerging as winner
Nowadays, we work with only a thin staff
of about five workers, including my wife and
daughter. They have started publication, albeit under an extremely difficult situation.
The family has been given quit notices both
at our rented premises and offices; the latter
operated by an MP of the ruling SLPP government; our leased land has also been confiscated by the Ministry of Lands, Housing
and the Environment.
Interestingly, For Di People newspaper
and its sister organisation, the National
League For Human Rights, played a prominent role in the reintroduction of multi-party politics under President Momoh shortly
before his overthrow by the NPRC junta in
It also waged a bitter campaign for the
end of rule by decree. When the democratic
transition timetable was in jeopardy following the palace coup by Brigadier Julius
Maada Bio that toppled Captain Valentine
Strasser, I represented the democracy and
human rights movement in that transition
government from January to February1996.
I was shot but survived an assassination
attempt the same day multi-party elections
took place, with President Kabbah emerging
as winner.
I was nursing a bad leg and back from my
first medical treatment when Kabbah was
overthrown by the AFRC-RUF junta.
It was For Di People that raised the civil
disobedience action against the junta and I
later paid the price when I was hurled from
the first floor of my office building and only
survived the wrath of that murderous regime
by a whisker and was left to languish at Pademba Prisons.
In fact, President Kabbah at one time
telephoned me from neighbouring Guinea
to plead with me not to write anymore for
fear that the junta would kill me because at
that time the government’s secret FM Radio
Democracy 98.1 station had started transmitting from their safe location at the Lungi
Do not let me bore you with my lamentations, because for me, this is the road of
life. I must however thank those around the
world who have shared solidarity with our
plight as we continue to operate under a refined one-party dictatorship under the guise
of democracy.
The free press is only free in Sierra Leone
if you leave the government or the “untouchables” alone.
However, the divided press in Sierra
Leone has also led to many pro-government
journalists and some so-called human rights
activists to mislead the outside world as to
the true facts of my incarceration on two
successive times within the past two years
under the Kabbah regime.
However, there is a tiny, dedicated corps
of journalists and human rights activists who
have been supportive and are determined to
see that the truth prevails no matter the
insurmountable difficulties.
I now leave you with a quote by Robert
Kennedy featured over the past years in For
Di People: “Each time a man stands up for
an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others,
or strikes out against injustice, he sends out
a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each
other from a million different centres of
energy and daring, these ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest
walls of repression and resistance.”
Trials and Tribulations
Kifle Mulat
President, Ethiopian Free Press
Journalists’ Association (EFJA),
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
he free press emerged in Ethiopia following the collapse of the military regime in May 1991. The free press has been
and continues to be a reflection of the great
wishes and aspirations of the Ethiopian people for self-expression that has been suppressed for centuries on end. The free press in
Ethiopia emerged suddenly and unexpectedly like a flood that overflows its banks. It was
pioneered by young, socially conscious, financially unequipped, urbane and democratic
elements of society. Most of those who jumped into the private press had neither professional training nor experience. However,
they were zealous, courageous, strongly
patriotic and upheld democratic ideals.
The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists
Association (EFJA) was formed in 1993.
EFJA was legally recognised by the government after seven years of bitter struggle.
Soon after it embarked on its activities to
realise its objectives, EFJA became the target
of continued state repression. Many of its
members became victims of constant harassment, intimidation, detention, arbitrary arrests and fines. In the process, several EFJA
members lost their lives.
It would take a long time to give a detailed analysis of the present situation of the
Ethiopian free press journalists, the trials
and tribulations which we have undergone
over the past 13 years and the victories we
have scored through the support of the Ethiopian people, the international community
and your unreserved assistance.
I believe that your colleagues are actually
aware of our situation since you, as colleagues and supporters of our cause, have been
closely following the situation of the private
press in my country.
It is however necessary to brief this conference on the measures taken by the government against EFJA over the past two years
and the legitimate struggle waged by EFJA
to overturn the illegal decision taken by the
government authorities.
EFJA was established in 1992. However,
EFJA was only given a permit to operate by
the Association Registration Office in March
2000. After EFJA obtained the permit, it did
not have its own office until 2001.
EFJA opened its own office and started to
officially operate in September 2001. Before
that time, EFJA did not have any budget.
EFJA submitted to the Ministry of Justice a
report on the activities which it had carried
out. This report was presented to and approved by the EFJA Third Congress.
Although the extraordinary meeting that
was called on April 2003 had decided that
the Fourth regular meeting of EFJA be called in the month of July, we had called the
extraordinary meeting on June 2003.
We sent to the Association Registration
• A 17-page two-year performance report approved by the meeting.
• A one page financial report.
• The minutes on the election of the three
auditors and the meeting.
While we were expecting that our license
would be renewed on grounds that we have
fulfilled the requirements indicated above,
the Association Registration Office gave us a
directive to the effect that we should get our
accounts audited by a Chartered Accountant.
EFJA became the target
of continued state repression
The rules and regulations of the Association Registration Office requires that only
those associations with an annual budget
exceeding Eth. 50,000 birr should get their
account audited by chartered accountants.
EFJA does not have a permanent budget
exceeding 50,000 bir.
EFJA’s office was set up through temporary financial support extended to us by IPI.
We have clearly stated to those concerned
that we do not, other than this, have a permanent annual income that we operate as a
Since this reality has not been accepted
and because we were worried by the hostile
and aggressive propaganda campaign that
has been directed against EFJA and the Executive Committee by party and governmental media, within the next 24 hours a legal
contract was signed between the Chartered
Auditors Office and EFJA on 5 November
2003. On the same date, the auditors came
to our office and started work.
While the above-mentioned activities
were in the process of being carried out, the
Association Registration Office (in a letter
Ref.no.11/333/w-493, dated 9/11/2003)
prohibited our association from operating as
it did before. And in December 2003 (letter
to EFJA Ref. no.11/2155/w-493) the Ministry of Justice banned the Executive Committee of EFJA.
On 18 January 2004, the Ethiopian
Ministry of Justice brought together individuals who were not members of our association and appointed them illegally.
It is to be recalled that the Fourth General Assembly was called on 15 November
2003. In an announcement we made to members through the various newspapers, we
clearly stated our agenda items, which were
as follows:
1. To present Executive Committees’ reports
2. To present reports of the Chartered Auditor
3. To amend internal regulations
4. To carry out the election of Executive Committee members.
The Association Registration Office (in a
letter Ref.no.11/333/w-493, dated 9/11/
2003) ordered that no agenda be presented
at the 15 November 2003 meeting of the
general council.
The Association Registration office does
not have the right to cancel the agenda items
officially announced by EFJA and to order
us to discuss agenda items of its choice. We
could not therefore hold our meeting as
scheduled because we were prohibited from
discussing our own agenda items.
The Association Registration Office does
not have the legitimate power to remove the
leadership and call a General Assembly. It
does not have the legitimate power to conduct so-called elections through the leadership that it gives by interference. It is worth
noting here that the problems facing EFJA
are not controversies between and among
members, or between the executive committee and the members; or within the executive
It is only when such a situation develops
that a General Assembly is called on the basis of a court decision and a leadership is
designated. There is one very important
question here: the Association Registration
Office has alleged that EFJA has not presented a report and an audit report. And this
question must be answered. The association
(EFJA) has, within the limits of its capacity,
presented a performance report and financial report. In line with the order issued to
it, the association signed a contract with a
KENYA 2005
24 MAY 2005
chartered auditor to get its account audited.
It was under conditions where the auditing had already started and the registration
Association Registration Office had been
informed about it that the office suspended
the association and its leadership. A General
Assembly was called with a view to conduct
executive committee members. The agenda
was announced to the members. A meeting
hall for the Assembly was arranged. After all
this was done the Association Registration
office has by order prohibited the Assembly
from carrying out is activities in accordance
with its agenda.
EFJA has bitterly and strongly condemned the illegal measures taken by the Ministry of Justice against their association and its
leadership. They signed a petition to confirm
that they do not accept the so-called leadership designated by the Ministry of Justice
and that it does not represent them. This is
the reality.
We have therefore found it necessary and
timely to take our case to court before it
throws the executive committee members in
prison, establishes an association that satisfies its needs and dismantles our association
through its bureaucratic means.
A suit has been instituted in a court because the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice suspended the legally established association,
EFJA, and the leadership that was designated by the General Assembly.
Accordingly, we have fought our case for
well over 18 months with the support of our
two lawyers.
The 4th Civil Bench of the Federal High
Court gave the following decision on 24 December 2004 on the dispute between EFJA
and the Ministry of Justice as regards the
ban imposed by the Ministry on EFJA and
its leadership. The Federal High Court ruled
• The illegal ban imposed on the association and its leadership should be lifted.
• The leadership designated that the illegal election facilitated by the Ministry of
Justice should be declared null and void.
• The Ministry of Justice should cover the
litigation cost paid for by EFJA.
• The General Congress should be conducted only by standing members of the
association to elect the leadership.
In accordance with the decision made by
the Federal First Instance Court, we tried to
open our office and resume our operations.
We were however forced to remain inactive
and suffered in the process because the Ministry of Justice lodged an appeal against the
decision of the Lower Court.
In spite of it all this, EFJA, whose legitimate existence was confirmed through the
decision of the High Court, opened its office
on 12 March 2005 and celebrated its twelfth
year. EFJA has decided to hold its Fourth
Congress in the month of July this year.
EFJA has, at long last, been able to be present at the 54th World Congress of IPI, which
has been its great supporter and partner, and
once again mix with media colleagues and
professionals. We in EFJA are indeed greatly
pleased to join our colleagues once again.
The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’
Association, winner of the IPI Free Media
Pioneer Award, PEN USA’s Freedom to
Write Award and the Amnesty International
Media Award, will, together with its entire
membership, continue to challenge and fight
against Ethiopia’s repressive press law. I firmly believe that all of you will stand shoulder
to shoulder with EFJA, its entire membership and Ethiopian journalists and media
professionals in their protest against the
repressive and draconian press law.
The Media in Nepal During
and After the Emergency
Arjun Bista
Media Point, Institute for Professional
Journalism, Kathmandu, Nepal
ince King Gyanendra declared a state of
emergency on 1 February 2005, the Nepalese media have been facing great difficulties. All constitutional and legal safeguards
were paralysed following the emergency.
Security forces were indirectly censoring the
news media that affected independent media
professionals. The media continues to be indirectly censored and many journalists have
been arrested and interrogated for publishing news reports.
After the royal move and imposition of a
state of emergency, a journalist, Khagendra
Shrestha, was shot dead by suspected Maoists in Dharan, a busy town in eastern Nepal.
Twenty-eight journalists reported that they
were interrogated by security forces and gov-
ernment authorities when they protested
against government oppression of press freedom and freedom of expression. Four were
threatened with their lives. Fifty-one other
journalists were arrested and subjected to
harassment while in detention. Most of the
journalists who were given three months’
detention warrants under public security act
were released after a strong and active protest movement by the Federation of Nepalese
Journalists (FNJ) and human rights groups.
As of 18 May 2005, there are at least five
journalists in detention in army barracks
and police custody. The number of journalists displaced from their work area is innumerable. Similarly, there have been incidents of manhandling of two-dozen media
Nepalese journalists were the first to oppose the media censorship that was a result
of the royal declaration of a state of emer-
gency. As a consequence, the General Secretary of FNJ, Bishnu Nisthuri, was arrested,
while its president, Taranath Dahal, had to
go underground. Nisthuri was released after
two months and is now the elected president
of FNJ.
There have been over a dozen incidences
of confiscation of publications and at least
six reported cases of seizure of journalists’
equipment by Maoists and security forces.
Three journalists were severely beaten while
covering the anti-king protests, while the
abduction of J.B. Pun Magar of Himal Khabar Patrika newspaper was also reported. Due
to threats from security forces, two journalists are now forced to live underground, while
two others returned to the country from India
after security forces agreed that they would
not harass them.
During the emergency, the local administration forcibly closed over three dozen news-
papers permanently, and 37 publications resumed publication after some time on condition that they would exercise self-censorship.
FM radio stations operating in the private sectors have been hit hard. The government
banned the broadcast of news and news-related programmes on FM radio stations for six
months. As a result, about 500 journalists
working in some 40 FM stations around the
country were laid off. With the closure of
news-related programmes, business for FM
stations has decreased drastically.
The government banned
the broadcast of news and newsrelated programmes on FM radio
stations for six months
It is significant that the brief announcement notifying the end of emergency rule
before the expiry of the three-month period
as per the provision of Article 115 of the
Constitution of Nepal coincided with World
Press Freedom Day. Subsequently, one of the
positive developments of the lifting of emergency is seen in the fact that in less than a
fortnight much of the resentments expressed
by the international community, including
the suspension of foreign aid, has been resolved, signalling the return of the situation
of pre-emergency days. If these developments
are taken as positive signals, one has reason
to hope for a process of political reconciliation among pro-democratic forces so that a
framework can be worked out to find a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict ravaging
the country over the last ten years.
There is no doubt that these developments
are a result of intensive lobbying and the campaign launched by national media and journalists, who united in favour of media freedom and free access to information, and the
support received by the movement from the
international media fraternity during the
period of emergency.
However, the end of emergency rule has
been greeted by the media with mixed reaction. While direct censorship is a matter of
the past, restrictions on the movement of
media practitioners and on airing news and
views over FM radio stations still persist. In
the absence of necessary remedial measures,
the adverse effects faced by the media industry resulting in the loss of business and displacement of many young journalists from
jobs remain to be properly addressed. In
fact, the media industry is no better than
other industrial and business sectors that are
labelled as “sick industries” for various reasons. The worst hit are the small district and
community newspaper businesses outside of
the capital city that were developed over the
last several years.
Media practitioners and professional organisations are both confronted with certain
disturbing trends. While the end of emergency has opened the possibility of rapprochement between the palace and parliamentary opposition parties, the media have to
withstand pressures from the parties in conflict to extol their sides, putting at risk their
commitment to truth, impartiality and fairness. Many journalists are now at risk of losing their lives and jobs.
Another disquieting development is seen
in the fact that the insurgency and counterinsurgency operations are leading to increased casualties on both sides. The situation has
further deteriorated as civilian figures, including media persons not directly involved
in the conflict, are being kicked in a brutal
manner. Media persons are the victims of
suspicion and intolerance at the hands of security forces and the rebels who would hardly relish criticism of their viewpoints even if
the motive were constructive.
The number of journalist affected by conflict in Nepal is on the rise day by day. With
a view to rehabilitate them, the IPI Nepal
National Committee is taking extra initiatives. In this connection, IPI Nepal held a
major conference for conflict victim journalists in a bid to integrate them and develop a
network for them. A conference on “Building a Solidarity Network for Conflict Victim
Journalists” was held on 13 May 2005 in
Kathmandu. Considering the increased importance of conflict victim journalists in the
nation building process, IPI Nepal is trying
hard to integrate all conflict-hit journalists
into a single network. Last year, IPI Nepal
also organised a conference on “Rehabilitation of Conflict Journalists” that helped us
a lot to unite journalists scattered across the
country. During this recent conference, conflict victim journalists agreed to build a network and boost their spirit of solidarity.
Recently, the government has been planning to amend the Press Law, which will reportedly curb press freedom in the country
and come into effect once it receives royal
assent. Meanwhile journalists in the capital
and across the country unfurled black flags
in all media houses as a protest against the
government’s proposed press law. The IPI
Nepal National Committee and FNJ, an
umbrella organisation of Nepalese journalists, has announced a series of protests to press
the government to restore the democratic
process and lift repressive media policies.
We urge the international media to continue reporting on the situation in Nepal
and to better inform the international community at large.
24 MAY 2005
Closing Remarks
Moody Awori
Vice President of Kenya
Closing Remarks
Moody Awori
Vice President of Kenya
t gives me great pleasure to join you again
as we come to the end of the 2005 IPI Annual Congress and 54th General Assembly.
This is the third time that IPI brought its
annual meeting to Kenya and, indeed, the
fifth time to the African soil. Your decision
to honour Kenya again is a clear indication
of the confidence that you have in the Kenyan people and their commitment to bring
about democratic changes in a fast-changing
Kenya is indeed a beacon of hope in the
heart of the African continent. At a time when
more than a dozen countries on the continent
are experiencing one form of conflict or
another, we thank God for the stability that
we have and it is our prayer that we sustain
this tranquillity and remain an island of peace.
As a country we have played a key role in
reconciling the warring parties in both Sudan and Somalia. We are confident that the
gains so far made will be sustained.
However, like every other nation the world
over, we have our challenges and we are doing our best to address them for the benefit
of our people and those of our neighbours.
As a country we have come a long way. There
was a time when it was treasonable in this
country to imagine the president as ill or
that the president can die, let alone challenge
him. We were in a one-party situation where
freedom of association, assembly and expression was severely curtailed. Citizens had to
toe a party policy or face detention without
The last 15 years have been remarkable.
We became a full-fledged, multi-party state
and individuals now have the freedom to
belong to any political party or any association, for that matter, within the legal framework. We have also witnessed a proliferation
of independent, privately run media houses
that are free to air divergent views without
any interference from the state organs. The
government is committed to supporting the
growth of media as we have learned the hard
way that there can be no democracy without
an aggressive, free, challenging and – believe
it or not – untrusting media.
There is an ongoing debate, however, as
to whether the media should regulate itself
or be brought under state authority. But I
strongly believe that the vast majority stands
for a self-regulating media. The challenge we
have is whether the freedom to operate without interference can be exercised responsibly.
I therefore challenge you to ensure that the
responsibility goes hand-in-hand. I must urge you in particular to strengthen your media
councils or associations so that they can act
as a media watchdog with the authority to
reprimand and discipline errant members.
I am sure that during the last three days
of this conference you have found it very
illuminating. His Excellency President Mwai
Kibaki impressed upon us the need to exercise freedom responsibly, while His Highness the Aga Khan did challenge the media
to look beyond the bottom line. We have
heard how the media can be a powerful tool
for both good and evil. A case in point is the
Rwanda genocide of 1994, which was so
clearly and powerfully elucidated by the
Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The government is committed
to supporting the growth of media
as we have learned the hard way
that there can be no democracy
without an aggressive, free,
challenging and – believe it or not
– untrusting media
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to
think about that. But before you leave Kenya, please do take the next few days off to
sample what Kenya has to offer. If you go
back without venturing into the countryside,
you will have only a half story to tell.
Finally, before I conclude, I would just
like to reiterate what one of the contributors
on Sunday, the Managing Director of the
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, stated. He
said that we cannot wait for the Western
media to tell the African story. He said that
it is incumbent upon us in Africa to tell the
story the way it is.
Therefore, I want to challenge the African
media, both the owners and the practition-
ers. First of all, I believe that you have to try
and be patriotic. You have to love Africa and
you have to love your individual nations.
That does not mean that you have to be a
sycophant to the leaders. But, I think that if
you are patriotic, then you will choose which
are the news that you need to emphasise.
In this country, for instance, we are passing through a turbulent time to give our
people a new Constitution. A new Constitution requires a lot of dialogue and sometimes
this dialogue becomes grumbling. But sideby-side, there is a lot of development that
the government is giving to its people. There
is a lot of service that is being given to our
people. There is a difference between now
and 28 months ago when poverty was prevalent in our country; when there was no medicine in health centres and dispensaries;
when our infrastructure was in tatters; when
there was very little money jangling in the
pockets of the people.
We have changed the situation where all
planning was centrally carried out and all
the disbursements of funding was done at
the national level. As a result, only about
half of that reached its intended purpose.
Today, because there are now various channels, money is going directly to the constituencies at the grassroots level. Our people today are the ones who are deciding
what the priorities are.
This is a story that we would like our journalists to tell. Because of the Internet, these
stories could then be read in Rome, in Arizona, in Brussels. Then people in those countries will realise that it is not just the floods
and HIV/Aids that are endemic in this
country. This can be done if the journalists
are patriotic. I do not mean to generalise
because, from time to time when I am in
New York and I am looking at the Internet
to see what is happening, after going through
23 pages I see a small note that makes me
happy. That small note is probably that one
of the Kenyan athletes has once again won a
medal somewhere.
Finally, let me wish you a safe journey
home, hoping that in due course we shall
meet again in another forum, here or elsewhere. You are always welcome to Kenya. I
KENYA 2005
23 MAY 2005
Resolutions adopted by the 54th General Assembly on Monday, 23 May 2005
Meeting at its Annual General Assembly
on 23 May 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, the IPI
membership unanimously adopted a resolution stating that the funding for a Public
Service Broadcaster (PSB) is pivotal to its
economic and editorial independence and
overall success.
Funding can have a profound influence
on programme content. The IPI membership
believes that whatever the type of funding
chosen should be stable and secure and free
of all political, social, commercial and economic pressures.
The choice of funding should also allow
the PSB to meet the needs of all sections of
society, without bias to minorities, and should
be flexible enough to meet new demands
and fresh challenges.
Furthermore, regardless of the type of
funding chosen, the IPI membership calls on
the framers of public service broadcasting
legislation to draft provisions that provide
adequate safeguards and protection against
undue pressure and conflicts of interest.
Such safeguards and protections should
also uphold editorial independence and the
autonomy of the PSB, and should be made
within the framework of legislation that
recognises that the best way to maintain the
broadcaster’s credibility is to keep it at arm’s
length from the government and commercial
Oversight bodies for public service broadcasting should be independent of governments and be effectively insulated from political and other pressures.
Meeting at its Annual General Assembly
on 23 May 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, the IPI
membership unanimously called on governments to respect the need for journalists to
protect confidential sources of information.
Recently, there have been indications in
the United States that the federal and some
local governments were trying to stifle the
enterprise of journalists by attacking their use
of informed but confidential sources. In what
amounts to a miscarriage of justice, some
reporters in the United States and elsewhere
have been jailed; others face prison sentences.
As journalists, we seek no special privileges nor do we seek to usurp the right of the
authorities to carry out criminal investigations or to interfere with the administration
of justice. Journalists always seek to attribute
information to their sources; however, in the
interests of society as a whole, we must be
able to give assurances of protection to the
sources of information given in confidence.
In doing so, we recognise the important
principle that journalists must also guard
against manipulation by those who would
exploit such secrecy for their own ends and
we call on journalists to crosscheck their
Journalism has parallel functions to justice, among others, to inform the citizenry –
including government officials of the condition and concerns of societies, to uncover
abuses or betrayals of public trust, and to
provide opinion, comment, and analysis, as
well as platforms for debate.
Independent journalism enhances justice
by bringing to light information that is important for the citizenry to know and that
might otherwise remain hidden. If news media are to serve as the watchdogs of society,
they must be able to gather information without fear of punishment for themselves or
their sources.
Meeting at its Annual General Assembly
on 23 May 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, the IPI
membership unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the news media to consider,
where appropriate, the use of strictly voluntary self-regulatory mechanisms to enhance
their news reporting and the ethical standards of their journalists.
Throughout the world, the introduction
of self-regulatory mechanisms, including
standards of practice, internal ombudsmen
and voluntary press councils, has followed a
growing awareness that a strong link exists
between the credibility and reputation of a
news media organisation and the trust and
confidence it inspires in audiences.
The IPI membership insists that governments should play no role in creating or
maintaining such mechanisms. It believes
that such approaches offer the best possible
protection against governments intent on
passing repressive laws, such as legislated press
councils, designed to curtail the work of the
media. Furthermore, self-regulatory mechanisms are a shield against government-inspired attacks on their work and forestall criticism that the media fail to hold themselves
Without expressing a particular preference, and while also acknowledging that no
single self-regulatory mechanism is suitable
to every situation, the IPI membership encourages the news media to consider the different approaches to self-regulation and to
choose freely a method that suits their
organisation and the media environment in
which they work.
Meeting at its Annual General Assembly
on 23 May 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, the IPI
membership unanimously called on Nepal's
government to restore the right to press freedom and freedom of expression, suspended
under the state of emergency.
Bowing to international pressure, on 30
April, Nepal's King Gyanendra Bir Bikram
Shah Dev lifted the State of Emergency imposed on the country on 1 February 2005.
Despite this, press freedom has not been
restored and a ban on political activities continues.
The articles of the Nepalese Constitution
protecting people's fundamental rights have
been suspended. FM radio stations are banned from broadcasting any news – including
opinions and commentaries – unless the
government authorises it. Moreover, security
personnel were indirectly censoring the news
On 2 February, the Nepalese government
issued an order banning the media from reporting anything that is against “the spirit
and letter of the 1 February royal proclamation and supports and encourages the activities of the terrorists directly or indirectly.”
The Nepalese government has not withdrawn this order.
On May 18 at least five journalists were
still in detention and more than 500 had lost
their jobs as a consequence of the censorship
imposed on the media and, in particular, on
FM radio stations.
The IPI membership calls for the media
to be allowed to report freely and without
The International Press Institute at its
annual assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, on May
23, expresses deep concern that media freedom on the continent is on the retreat at a
time when the opposite should be happening through the African Union’s propagation
of a new economic advancement strategy
under Nepad (New Partnership for Africa’s
A key component of Nepad is the African
Peer Review Mechanism, which is to assess
“good political governance” among African
states that volunteer for such appraisal. Countries with favourable reviews can expect beneficial trade terms with Western nations and
increased donor aid.
The African public seeks more freedom
of the media to enable journalists more effectively to exercise their watchdog function
for good governance. Instead, some governments show they intend to introduce greater
restrictions on the media. International surveys regard Africa as one of the least free
continents with the press in half the nations
in sub-Saharan Africa classified as not free, a
third as partly free and only eight countries
Four states in the Southern Africa Development Community (Namibia, Botswana,
Swaziland and South Africa), saying they seek
greater “professionalism” and/or “responsibility” from the media, are threatening more
restrictions. Two other nations, Ethiopia and
The Gambia, have introduced restrictive
media laws while 48 of the 53 African states
maintain restrictions through notorious
“insult laws”.
IPI members condemn these restrictions.
Such measures can only reinforce the recent
extreme anti-media conduct of the Zimbabwe government. IPI views them not only as
contrary to the spirit of Nepad and the African Union’s charter on free and independent
media but also as serious breaches of Article
19 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and Africa’s own free media charter,
the Windhoek Declaration. IPI calls on the
four nations cited above to desist from threatening journalists and on all African governments urgently to abrogate laws that restrict
news media.
*Freedom House survey of the world’s media, 2004.
The membership of the IPI holding its
general assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, on May
23, has been horrified by the murder of Deyda
Hydara, editor of The Point, The Gambia,
on 16 December 2004, by persons unknown,
presumably to silence his criticisms of government. Allegations are made that he was
killed by a government hit squad. His colleagues mourn him as a journalist who paid
the ultimate price for confronting injustice
and misgovernment.
In the decade before his death, The Gambia, once a peaceful democracy, gained a reputation for persecution of independent media, imprisonment without trial of opponents
of the government and the subversion of the
judiciary under the dictatorship of former
army officer Yahya Jammeh.
No one has been arrested for the killing of
Hydara and the police have been accused of
being perfunctory in carrying out the investigation. Media persecution has included regular raids, often violent, on the independent
press, destruction of property, arson and journalists being harassed, physically attacked,
arbitrarily detained by the National Intelligence Agency and sometimes deported.
The IPI has noted that despite international concern about the climate of fear this
has created in The Gambia, police investigations have not resulted in one successful prosecution of these crimes against the private
media or the opposition.
The government in December introduced the draconian Newspaper Amendment
Act and the Criminal Code Amendment,
which forces private media institutions to reregister under highly onerous conditions – a
bond of US$ 16,665 has to be posted – and
widens the definition of criminal libel. It
also provides for six months’ imprisonment
without the option of a fine for first-time
offenders for “seditious and libellous” publications, three years’ jail for a subsequent
offence and forfeiture to the state of the
media in which the alleged seditious libel is
IPI calls on the government of The Gambia to institute a thorough investigation into
Hydara’s death and bring the perpetrators of
this and other crimes against the media to
justice, repeal restrictive press measures, revert to genuine democratic practice and guarantee the security of journalists.
IPI, noting that the African Union’s Commission of Peoples and Human Rights was
sited in Banjul when The Gambia was a democracy, calls on the African Union to close
the commission’s headquarters and transfer
it elsewhere to protest The Gambia’s descent
into authoritarianism.
The IPI annual assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, unanimously passed a resolution censuring the government of Sierra Leone for failing to comply with the United Nations
Security Council resolution 1562, which has
called on that government to “decriminalise
press offences”.
The UN issued the directive to the Sierra
Leone government because it criminalises
libel and as recently as 5 October 2004, jailed an editor for four years on a charge of
seditious libel (Public Order Act of 1965).
The editor, Paul Kamara, published an article about the outcome of a 1967 Commission of Inquiry into fraud allegations relating to the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing
Board. The commission found that the current president of Sierra Leone, Ahmad Tejan
Kabbah, then permanent secretary to the
Trade Ministry, had allegedly been involved
in the fraud.
Kamara was immediately arrested and jailed after a trial before a judge alleged to have
been highly critical of Kamara in public before the trial and known to be a friend of the
Since then Kamara has been moved from
his cell to one normally used for dangerous
criminals and where, it is alleged, he is being
kept in solitary confinement.
IPI condemns the use of “insult laws”
such as the one used against Kamara as being
instruments of censorship to prevent heads
of state and their governments from being
held accountable. It calls on Sierra Leone to
release Kamara immediately and to comply
with the UN directive by abrogating its laws
which criminalise media activity. Meanwhile,
IPI also seeks assurances from the government that Kamara is in good health and is
not being ill-treated in jail.
23 MAY 2005
Meeting at its Annual General Assembly
on 23 May 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, the IPI
membership unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon the Spanish government to
retract an “insult” law under which journalists Jose Luis Gutierrez and Rosa Maria Lopez were convicted of “insulting” the late
King of Morocco, Hassan II.
The Spanish Supreme Court found that
the contested article was truthful but that it
“disturbed” King Hassan’s “honour” by reporting in December 1995 that a truck loaded with five tons of hashish had been seized
at the Spanish port of Algeciras. According
to the article, the truck belonged to Dominios Reales, a company owned by the Moroccan Royal Crown. The newspaper Diario
16 front-paged an article by Lopez with the
headline, “Hassan II Family Enterprise
Linked to Drug Trafficking”. Gutierrez, who
was then the paper’s editor-in-chief, was
convicted under a 1966 Franco-era press law
making the editor responsible for everything
published by his paper.
Two lower courts ruled that Gutierrez and
Lopez had disturbed Hassan’s right “to keep
his honour” and awarded him financial damages, the amount to be set at the end of the
legal process. The Supreme Court dismissed
an appeal, and a decision is pending by the
Constitutional Court on whether to accept a
further appeal on the principle underpinning
the finding by the lower courts.
The courts have found that foreigners,
including heads of state, have a right to defend their “honour” under the Spanish “insult” law. Along with leading world judicial
bodies like the European Court of Human
Rights, the Human Rights Commission of
the Organisation of American States and the
U.S. Supreme Court, the IPI membership
believes that heads of state and other public
officials must accept a greater degree of criticism than a private citizen and also accept
that the news media may investigate and
criticise their activities.
By allowing foreign heads of state to bring
suit in Spain to restrict news media, the Spanish judiciary has created an anomalous situation whereby the laws of a member of the
European Union – contrary to its international and domestic commitments to press
freedom – may be used to restrict the press
on behalf of a foreign country with a record
of suppressing freedom of expression.
This not only tarnishes Spanish democracy, but also undermines the European Union
when it seeks to persuade countries around
the world to uphold press freedom and freedom of expression. Pending formal repeal of
such obsolete provisions that are unacceptable in a modern democracy, the IPI holds
that Spanish courts should rule in the spirit
of the need to remove such undemocratic
legal anomalies.
The International Press Institute wishes to acknowledge the following
organisations, institutions and companies for their generous support
of the IPI World Congress and 54th General Assembly:
Other Sponsors:
Bidco Oil, HP, KenGen, Kensta, Kenya Airports Authority, Le Stud, Sopa Lodges, Ultra Kenya
Vienna – A City in Top Shape
2006: International
Spotlight on Vienna
Key facts
Facts and Figures on the EU
• Austria first held the Council
Presidency in 1998.
• Every six months, another EU
member state is in charge of
setting the agenda and presiding over all Council meetings.
• Austria will take over from
the UK on 1 January 2006 and
will be followed by Finland on
1 July.
• 66 heads of state and 1,500
journalists are expected to
come to Vienna for the EU
Latin America Summit at
Messezentrum WienNeu in
spring 2006.
Metropolitan atmosphere and excellent quality of life: Vienna waits for you.
The city is well prepared for the political and cultural highlights of 2006.
Combining traditional hospitality
with an exemplary international reputation, Vienna is in perfect shape to take on the responsible task of being an
international meeting place.
Excellent Quality of Life
Vienna holds second place in an
international ranking of congress cities. As a leading business location it
attracts many international corporations, and bears great responsibility
as the seat of international organisations like OPEC and UNIDO.
Owing to its location at the centre of
the European Union, Vienna increasingly serves as a key hub for the
Central and Eastern European countries. For instance, Vienna International Airport has the second highest
frequency of flights to Eastern Euro-
pe – even more than Frankfurt, and
second only to London. International
studies like the Mercer survey confirm the excellent quality of life Vienna offers.
The Austrian capital is also praised
for its benefits as a business location,
including high-quality infrastructure
and good access to Eastern European
markets. It is no coincidence that
over 300 international businesses –
including IBM, Henkel and Generali –
have set up their headquarters for
Eastern Europe in Vienna.
Welcome to Vienna
Where tradition and modern times
form a harmonious whole, quality of
life goes hand in hand with hospitality. Guests from all parts of the world
will confirm: in Vienna, you are always given a warm welcome.
Bezahlte Anzeige
undreds of delegations from
across the world will meet in
Vienna during the Austrian EU
Council Presidency in the first half of
2006. At the same time, the city will be
a main stage in two important anniversaries: 150 years since Sigmund
Freud was born, and the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
From his early days as a child prodigy,
Mozart spent most of his life in Vienna
and wrote many of his major works
here. He will be honoured with a variety of events for all tastes in 2006
Photo: Vienna Tourism/Wilfried Gredler-Oxenbauer
With the EU Presidency, Mozart
Year and Sigmund Freud Anniversary, international attention
will focus on Vienna in 2006.
And the city at the heart of
Europe is in top shape.
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