|My comments in RED... blog entry courtesy of a friend who asked the rhetorical question... From the editorial of the East African Standard... Online edition... |
‘The Economist’ fell into old trap on Africa
Foreign correspondents based in Africa should endeavour to report accurately on political and economic developments on the continent.
What about our journalists? Jeff Koinange certainly seems to have set a "bad" example... if the allegation against him are true...
Many African leaders have complained about their reports for decades. True, some dictators do not tell the truth, and the world has learnt to ignore their lamentations over negative media reports.
These 'leaders' were mostly crooks & buffoons... moi, idi amin, kenyatta,mobutu, mugabe, bongo, etc... Only president who was a leader in the true sense of the word... Nelson Mandela... I understand the Botswana presidents are also pretty good... Have I missed any others? So who are these leaders who speak the truth?
Still, many foreign reporters and commentators go overboard. They are obsessed with negative stories and ignore positive developments. Kenya feels wounded, and rightly so, by a negative report in The Economist of London. Anger over criticism in the international magazine led to the cancellation of the inaugural Business Roundtable meeting last week.
Billed as a first in East Africa, the conference was to give business leaders an opportunity to engage with a high-powered Government team led by President Kibaki. The meeting, organised by Economist Conferences — a division of Economist Group — was to run from July 17 to 18 at Nairobi’s Intercontinental Hotel.
Things were going on well until someone who claims to "have returned to Kenya after 40 years" decided to write a three-page article claiming that no development had taken place.
The Economist Group announced the postponement in a statement a few days to the conference, but did not give details. However, Finance minister Mr Amos Kimunya confirmed that the conference was cancelled because of the offending article
Several companies had pledged to sponsor the conference, with Barclays Bank offering Sh5 million. The article, which appeared in the June 9 issue, is titled Kenya: Going up or Down? It stated that the general state of disrepair in the country is striking.
The article alleges that Kibaki is "ailing", adding that it is time for the elderly ruling class of "hippos" to give way to "cheetahs" (young reformers). Would The Economist use such language to describe European leaders?
Apart from the "Hippos" who were offended, calling someone a Cheetah (young reformer) is complimentary! BTW, apologies to the hardworking real (animal) Hippos who bring us valuable foreign exchange! And it is TRUE. We need the old geezers who are senile (mugabe comes to mind...) to give way to the young, brainy generation!
BTW, the reference to Hippos & Cheetahs was not the Economist's original thinking but it was from a speech by George Ayittey, a blogger, journalist, entrepreneur and much more.... Here is more on that...
The story says Nairobi does not operate at night because of insecurity. It adds that tens of billions of dollars of aid have been spent yet the country’s infrastructure is worse than it was 40 years ago.
Hmmm... so last time I checked... many folks get their heads chopped off... Now what would you call this if not insecurity? Of course, Nairobi is relatively unsafe... esp some of the seedier areas... so its is true... erm, Nairobbery is not called Nairobbery without a reason!
The writer says in the early 1970s, it was possible to drive from Nairobi to Mombasa in four hours. But now, because of potholes, diversions and hold-ups, it could "take eight hours".
So we have a lousy Nbi-Msa highway... It is true... It takes over 8 hours (I think the Economist was being generous) for one to travel from Nairobi's CBD to Mombasa's CBD... So you are offended by the truth?
I can attest to the poor condition of the road, the potholes (Mariakani/Miritini), the diversions, the hold-ups because of accidents & lousy drivers... So what was the counter-point to the truth the Economist said?
The article says the mess is a result of misguided economic policies, mismanagement, poor maintenance, sloppiness, tribalism and corruption.
Oh, yes where should we start?
Granted, Kenya, like many other African countries, has had its fair share of mediocrity, decay and backwardness. But any analyst who fails to recognise efforts of recent years is unfair.
Recent UN and World Bank reports have not failed to notice a silver lining in the cloud. Is it that foreign media are still stuck to the old template of Africa? In this report, like many others, one does not fail to see and feel the tinge of the ‘heart of darkness’, the failed continent.
The Economist is a respected magazine and should not publish articles which do not reflect Kenya’s situation. The meeting would have brought foreign and local investors to exchange ideas. We hope that opportunity has not been lost for good.
BUT its does reflect Kenya's situation... we might have blackouts due to power shortages, Railways has/had almost collapsed, the KPC's capacity is woefully inadequate, we have no undersea fibre optic cable connection thus relying on expensive & less reliable satellites... So what is not true?
Or kimunya thinks mungiki is an urban myth?
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