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Showing posts from January, 2010

Of accuracy and rumours....a week of ignorant journalism

When the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review pitched tent in Naivasha, I was asked to commute everyday ..all the 120 kilometres to Naivasha, and then back the same distance to Nairobi... to cover the news.
Apart from the proximity to MPs and the ethereal ambience of the Great Rift Valley Lodge, there were a little inaccuracies in the way I reported the story. It is one of those weeks where you officially wear the rumour -mongering cap and keep doing it at your best, and hope that all you are getting from the so-called 'sources' is true..
I spoke to five MPs every day, and parliament's staff too, just to get my story done. Whatever they told me, would then make its way into the paper after verification and based on what was logical. Sometimes it helps to follow your gut feeling because after the PSC released its draft, I could get to know who was lying and who was telling the truth.
Of course, when the MPs spoke, they insisted it was off-the-record, but with …

Sh40 million from the Exchequer...just like that!

Kenya is a rich country. In fact it is a very rich country. Otherwise, how do you explain that within a week, the government got Sh40 million to transport an ostracised Muslim cleric, Al Faisal, to Jamaica...because the "Big Brother" said so?
Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang' had said it would be expensive, but the riots that rocked the city made the Sh40 million look like pocket change. That the government mishandled the whole saga is not in contention. The publicity that accompanied it is also amazing.
One thing I can't rule out, is a remark by John Allan Namu, the award-winning CNN journalist from Kenya, when he said that perhaps the Kenyan media had swallowed anti-Muslim rhetoric propagated by the Western media.
I have listened to Al Faisal's preachings and I find him blatantly liberal and even militantly forthright in what he believes in. He might have said what has been attributed to him, but then again, doesn't everyone have a right to free speech? Som…

The 90:10 formula in delimiting constituency boundaries explained...

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One good thing when you are a journalist, is that you get to access things that the rest of the people will never reach.So, on Saturday afternoon, I had my date with a professor from the University of Nairobi. Prof Francis WO Aduol. He is a good man, a very enthusiastic fellow. He was helpful beyond measure in the way he explained the 90:10 formula. If you have your calculator ready or care to follow the maths, then join me and let's see how this works.
This is how it works.
Kenya has an area of 582,102 square kilometers. The population is estimated at 40 million (though Prof Aduol's study uses 28.7 million as obtained from the 1999 census).
In dividing the total population with the number of constituencies, one gets the average population at 95,626 people. That's the average population per constituency.
If the total area is also divided by the 300 constituencies, it yields 1,940 square kilometres as the average size of a constituency.
So how do we achieve the 'one man, one …

The writing obsession

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Haha...I have been writing for just six years now. I feel proud to have done so. I started doing so so early in life and I don't think I will ever live without writing. If this guy did it for 50 years, why can't I?
Soon, when the clouds open up, I think I will move from writing "fillers and briefs" to writing long and long stories and perhaps land a column....in the next month I hope... that can shape the future of Kenya. Wish me luck please.

CONSTITUTION - PSC exposes Raila and Kibaki as "Kenya's Trouble"

Great people. I like Mutahi Ngunyi. so he admits that last week he was a little out of touch with the reality when he called for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution Review to force those who don't want to agree to either walk out or stay put and agree.He had also argued that the MPs would walk out and derail the talks. Well, he has apologised, but I don't know why I feel that he'll take back that apology. Here is what he said.
"This week I feel optimistic. Iread more...

So Raila went to the Mau to plant trees...so what?

Okay. That was one conservation Friday with Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga carrying his buddies and diplomats to the Kiptunga forest of the Mau Forest Complex to plant trees.They loved the publicity I am sure. What with the media so sold to the idea that the forest had to be conserved at all costs. They ended up painting those who did not attend the rally as bigots, politicians not keen on conservation of the environment and all those other names that people get for going against the grain. Now, what's wrong with President Kibaki skipping the treeplanting in favour of swearing in of judges to the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court? What's the big deal? Well, I know one thing, Kibaki the President, saved Kenya hundreds of shillings by keeping his chopper and hundreds of security men in Nairobi. He saved the citizens who attended the treeplanting from the hustle and bustle of dealing with the security, often abrasive and uncompromising, where the …

Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists. ~Norman Mailer

Yes, back in campus, I enrolled to study Information Sciences. I love this course. Later I majored in Publishing and Media Studies. If like me you have a passion for journalism and mass media, then names like Henry Chakava, Noam Chomsky, Roy Peter Clark, Doug Fisher and many of those legends who say things as they are, do not come as a surprise.
If you are Kenyan, then Philip Ochieng, Chaacha Mwita, Oduor Ouma and Barnabas Githiora, shouldn't be so out of your mind. The reason I am mentioning these big names in news business is because their wisdom seem to skip some of the people who consider themselves journalists.
Well, after I wrote the story on MPs new pay hike and the extensive exclusive follow-ups, for the DAILY NATION, there is this journalist who works for the only Kenyan daily tabloid who thought that was his material by right. So, he attempted to get the exclusive from me. I told him "no."
He actually went through my friend who had seen the copy of a confidential…

Kenya MPs salaries and perks...I think they need the money!

Well, one thing I am sure of if you are reading this blog, is that you are interested in Kenya politics or would like to know more about the hullabaloo surrounding the increase in the salaries of MPs.
I think they deserve the Sh150,000 raise in their salaries, if only to make their tax liability zero...it is illegal anyway to review someone's salary downwards.I wouldn't like mine reviewed downwards.
Plus, they are the CEO's of their constituencies, so really, they should be paid well. I know it makes many Kenyans who live below a dollar a day mad, but let's just face it, these so called leaders need the money.
Why, for example would a CEO of a private hospital make Sh3.7 million every month and no one raises a finger, yet the money is obtained by charging sick people millions for drugs? Why, again I ask, would a managing director of an insurance company rob motorists to earn his Sh2.5 million salary every thirty days?
I know you'd tell me that the difference is in the …

These "Youth Leaders" were so disappointing on TV!

Yesterday morning I woke up to find a nice message in my inbox. Geroge Gachara of Picha Mtaani, that reconciliation lobby, was going to be on K-24 TV in an interview with Louis Otieno. Yes, I thought him and other so called representatives of the youth will speak for me, but then I was not prepared for the disappointment that the show turned out to be. I didn't finish watching the show. I switched off the TV and went to sleep. Angry. Disappointed.The reason is when I listened to the panel answering questions, they so sounded like our fake politicians that I could not just believe it was "fresh blood" that was on TV. From where I sit, I was taken aback. Louis posed a question and then George looks at him in the eye and says, "we are working on it....not to elect or demote someone" blah blah blah. See, here he was thinking positions. That's where I got disillusioned. Stella Agara and that Osumbo guy were a little in touch with the issues, but then they were, l…

And now, I wake up to the politics of Kenya...

I walked halfway to work this morning. No problem. I made it anyway, but I feel so tired right now, nine hours later. I don't know how I am gonna make it back home.
Well, over lunch today, I chatted with two journalists, one a columnist for a daily national paper with a countrywide circulation of 20,000 copies; the other wears two caps. He is a seasoned sports reporter and a sports columnist too of a regional paper.
The two spoke about the lies that our politicians frequently say to get elected, and I kept on wondering, which politician doesn't tell lies. Really, which one? Even George Orwell conquered back in the fifties that the language of politicians is "designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
So we chatted from the perceived industry of Peter Kenneth (that famed Gatanga MP with managerial tendencies) to the apparent hardwork of George Thuo, the Juja MP and also the government chief whip.
I sm…

Matatu idiots should not be tolerated!

Happy New Year. I set this blog perhaps too early in the day, but then again, I was very optimistic about the new year. So as I worked a little harder over the normally "dry" newsroom season in December, I think the only thing I thought about was to go slow on the writing.Now, I am happy the season is over, but sad, very sad, that some idiots have decided to mess my new year. Day One at work, January 4, and I am not able to make it to work. It's because the public transport has been paralyzed after the operators of kenya's public minivans (matatus) decided to flex their muscles. They say the police are extorting money from them. Yes, in Kiswahili we say, mtenda akitendewa, huona kaonewa. That loosely translates to when you do it it is right, but when it is done unto you, ouch ouch ouch you scream....yeah this brings to mind the cliche' that the pot calling the kettle black. The matatus operate in a liberalised economy. The fares, although having a certain minimum a…