Mar.12 (GIN) – Announced plans by an Amsterdam-based court to prosecute Uhuru Kenyatta for his role in the mayhem that convulsed Kenya in disputed polls in 2007, may have given him the edge to trounce his nearest rival, Raila Odinga, according to locally-based analysts.
Presidential candidate Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner of Kenya’s election with 50.07 percent of the March 4 vote.
Charges against Kenyatta by the International Criminal Court and warnings against his election by Johnnie Carson, U.S. Asst Secy of State, were widely viewed as interference in national affairs.
“They were the defining narrative” of the election,” opined Aly-Khan Satchu, a local financier.
Also objectionable in the eyes of many Kenyans was the obsessive fixation of western media on outbreaks of violence. A recent piece by Cornell University professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi compared coverage in 2013 to the coverage of the air force-led coup attempt in Kenya in 1982.
At that time, he recalled, “we sat glued to our transistor radio listening to the BBC and Voice of America” The two services were “lifelines through which we learned what was happening in our country.” But in 2013, “I and many other Kenyans saw western media coverage of the elections as a joke, a caricature. Western journalists have been left behind by an Africa moving forward, not in a straight line… but forward nonetheless.”
Wa Ngugi cited descriptives such as “tribal blood-letting,” and “loyalists from rival tribes” (Reuters) and video images of five men playing warriors with homemade guns (CNN). “Very few Kenyans took it seriously,” he wrote. “Rather, it was slap your knee funny.”
A piece in The Daily Nation satirically titled “Foreign reporters armed and ready to attack Kenya” observed tongue in cheek – “The demand for cliches is outstripping supply”.
Wa Ngugi continued: “Africans are saying that (western) journalists are not representing the complex truth of the continent; that western journalists are not only misrepresenting the truth, but are in spirit working against the continent.
“When it comes to writing about Africa, journalists suddenly have to make a choice between extraordinary violence and ordinary life. It should not be a question of either the extreme violence or quiet happy times, but rather a question of telling the whole story… “
Elsewhere in Kenya, voters chose the country’s first female Maasai MP. Peris Pesi Tobiko was elected from the Maasai community, which is largely patriarchal and where women often struggle to be heard.