THE ROLE OF POST COLONIAL MEDIA IN THE CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS IN KENYA
This paper is about the role that media in Kenya has played in the development of the country especially with regards to the constitution making process.
The history of Kenya and roots of media in colonialism set the stage for the first constitution which is heavily derived from the British constitution.
Colonial media is discussed especially print and radio in post independence Kenya , their use and their effects on the Kenyan political situation . The role of political songs , art and literature in shaping the socio political landscape of Kenya is discussed.
Most importantly, the specific role that the media plays in the constitution making process and the development of Kenya .
Colonial Era Kenya:
The colonial history of Kenya dates from the Berlin Conference of 1885, when the European powers first partitioned East Africa into spheres of influence. In 1895, the U.K. Government established the East African Protectorate and, soon after, opened the fertile highlands to white settlers. The settlers were allowed a voice in government even before it was officially made a U.K. colony in 1920, but Africans were prohibited from direct political participation until 1944.
Resistance to Colonialism - the Mau Mau:
From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule. During this period, African participation in the political process increased rapidly.
The History of the Kenyan Constitution
The first constitution was made in Lancaster Britain after a series of meetings and negotiations between the settlers , the colonial government and Kenya's founding fathers led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta , Ronald G. Ngala, Mr. L.R.M. Welwood; the Mwambao United Front, led by Mr. O. Basaddiq; and the Kenya Cross Benchers. In addition, the conference created two special Representative Groups to discuss matters relating to the Maasai Agreements of 1904 and 1911 and matters relating to the Northern Frontier District. This constitution heavily borrowed from the Westminster model. Making Kenya's first constitution a reflection of the colonialists principles .
Final constitutional review and consultations were held in Nairobi in February 1963 at which agreement was reached for an Internal Self Government to assume office on June 01, 1963 , and full independence six months later. Since then, June 01, 1963 is remembered and celebrated as Madaraka Day. A general election was held in the period May 18-25, 1963 ; out of which the Kenya African National Union led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta won an overall majority against the Kenya Democratic Union led by Mr. Ronald Gideon Ngala and the African People's Party led by Mr. Paul Joseph Ngei.
The constitutional provisions finalized in February, 1963 remained virtually the same.At midnight on December 11, 1963 , Kenya regained Independence from the United Kingdom.
Kenya remained a dominion within the British Commonwealth , with a Governor-General representing Her Majesty locally and a Government headed by a Prime Minister. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, leader of the majority party in Parliament, became the first Prime Minister, heading a cabinet of fifteen Ministers and thirteen Parliamentary Secretaries. The late Ronald Gideon Ngala, leader of K.A.D.U. and Mr. Paul Joseph Ngei, leader of A. P. P. formed a Coalition Opposition under leadership of the former.
Kenya's constitution at independence guaranteed a wide range of rights as well as a system of checks and balances on central power. However, ‘thirty-four years and nearly as many constitutional amendments later, that constitution has been changed so radically that much of its former character is mere palimpsest' (IEA 2002).
Most of the checks and balances have gone as power has been centralized in the role of the president; derogation from the bill of rights is allowed as long as the Preservation of Public Security Act remains in place, as it has since 1978 (ibid).
Constitution Making Process In Kenya
According to Dr. Ben Sihanya(Stanford 2006) the Kenyan constitution and state have largely embodied the characteristics of the liberal and Marxist state. States which are neo- or post-colonial like Kenya pursue some liberal democratic and market oriented policies associated with Britain the US, and Germany. On the other hand they also emphasize the role of the state in the economy. In that the constitution and government structure of Kenya exhibit aspects of The Marxist , capitalist as well as democratic political philosophies.
Kenya's independence talks were carried out in constitutional conferences held at Lancaster House, London and Nairobi in 1963. In May of the same year elections were held on the principle of one person one vote in leading to victory for the Kenya African National Union (KANU). Internal self-government was attained on 1st June and full independence on 12th December, 1963.
In 1964 Kenya did away with the Queen as the Head of State by becoming a republic with an Executive President. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who had been the Prime Minister became the first President of Kenya. The opposition Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) merged with KANU, thus making Kenya a de facto one party state.
Constitutional rule in Kenya has been rocked over the decades since independence by several unexplained assassinations of prominent political figures. These include those of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom J. Mboya, Josiah Mwangi (JM) Kariuki, and Robert Ouko. These assassinations had serious repercussions on the Kenyan political body .
In 1982 two events of constitutional importance for Kenya took place. First, there was an attempt to remove the government from power by unconstitutional means – i.e. by use of military force by some sections of the Kenyan army and Airforce.
Secondly, Kenya which had only been a de facto one party state was officially declared a de jure one party state. This was done through the adoption of Section 2A of the Constitution by Parliament, followed by protracted struggles by Kenyans demanding for the resumption of multiparty activity in the country. These struggles took various forms including seminars, workshops and at times demonstrations which were sometimes crushed with excessive force by the members of the police force. The most prominent of the demonstrations were those referred to as the "Saba Saba" uprisings of 1990. A year later in 1991 Section 2A was repealed and political pluralism was allowed once again in Kenya. (Constitution Review Process in Kenya ,2003)
The long awaited constitutional review process came in 1997 when the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission Act was passed to provide a framework for constitutional change. Following extensive negotiations between the government and civil society, changes were effected in that law through the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (Amendment) Act, 1998. In response to the people's yearning for a new constitutional dispensation that would embody greater democracy, respect for human rights and accountability on the part of the Government, the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC) embarked on a process of constitutional review in 2003.
The process led to three draft constitutions: The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission Draft submitted to Bomas Constitutional Conference (Ghai Draft), the Constitution Conference Draft (Bomas Draft) and the Proposed New Constitution 2005 (Wako Draft). The Wako Draft was voted on in the 2005 referendum but it did not meet the expectations of majority of Kenyans hence it was rebuffed at the ballot box.
After the disputed Presidential elections of 2007, Kenya witnessed its worst moment in history when there was widespread violence in the country. Negotiations mediated by the African Panel of Eminent Persons helped achieve a consensus that led to the signing of the National Accord. In order to achieve lasting peace and prosperity, the accord under Agenda Four requires a new Constitution for Kenya to be enacted.
This gave a new push to the search for a new constitution. Parliament enacted the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act, 2008 and the Constitution of Kenya Review Act, 2008 to serve as the legal framework for achieving a new constitution. The Review Act requires the Committee of Experts to finalize its work within twelve months. The draft produced in the review process must be passed by the National Assembly and then put to the people of Kenya in a referendum.
In accordance with the provision of the Constitution of Kenya Review Act 2008, the Committee of Experts is expected to finalize its work within twelve months from the date of appointment of the committee. The draft constitution that is finally approved by the National Assembly will be put to a referendum conducted by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).
The Committee of Experts which is the main technical organ in the constitutional review process comprises nine experts and two ex officio members who were nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the President as per the Review Act.
The draft constitution was prepared and civic education began as the IIEC prepared a new voter register and created a more efficient tallying process. On 5th August 2010 Kenyans took to the ballot box and made their choice in a historic referendum that witnessed use of electronic voting and tallying systems. On 27th August 2010 the President of Kenya promulgated the new constitution enacting it as the new law of the land .
Media has played a vital role in the independence and development of this country form. The pre colonial era where Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was an editor at the newsletter called Muigwithania which means reconciler to the music that the women used to pass on messages to the MauMau freedom fighters to the key role that the media played recently in the constitutional referendum
POST COLONIAL MEDIA IN KENYA
Colonialism as a concept is an historical form of imperialism (McLeod 2000:8). However, history always leaves traces of the ruler sets the agenda meaning that what once was still is in many aspects in the former colonies in terms of structural differences created during the colonial period.
Colonialism was not only responsible for creating an uneven economic relationship; it also created and upheld projections of identity. The Europeans saw themselves as central, they were the subjects, and bearers of evolution and process whereas "the Others" where seen as outsiders and in no sense part of the cultural, economical and technological advancement that took part with the beginning of the Enlightenment (Eriksson, Baaz, Thörn 2002:29).
Colonialisim did have its advantages , It introduced the print and electronic media to Africa and specifically Kenya which brought a new form of communication hither to unused by African society (Kivukiru Ullmaija , 1996)
Kenya emerged as a state a little over a century ago having suffered colonialism and all its disadvantages. Kenya's media is noteworthy given the continent's history that has had a devastating effect on the industry. At independence most African states had media that could have been developed into vibrant institutions (de Beer, Kasoma, Megwa & Steyn, 1995).
According to Guy Collender publisher of The media in Kenya , media in post colonial Kenya was used to propagate the agenda of ethnic unification, national development and political consolidation. The media were also used as an instrument for propagating the Pan African agenda in the face of neo colonialism in Africa . The political transition from British colony to independent country was mirrored by changes in the mass media in Kenya. In 1963 when Kenya became independent the vast majority of broadcasts on government-owned radio and television stations were imported British and American programmes, but this was set to change. Kenyan culture was promoted via the mass media under the presidency of Jomo Kenyatta as more programmes were broadcast in Swahili and there was a focus on African music and dance. Likewise, newspapers covered more African traditions and culture.
State Owned media in Kenya
The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Act is also worth mentioning. This law establishes the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) as a public broadcasting institution . Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) has dominated Kenya's electronic media scene. Formerly the Voice of Kenya, the station, founded in 1927, runs a nation-wide television service, two radio channels broadcasting throughout the country, in English and Kiswahili, and 16 regional ethnic language stations (Abuoga & Mutere 100).
KBCTV's news presentation format has always been predictable. The lead story has been on the president's activities including Sunday church attendance. The radio has not been any different.
KBC's key role and function is to provide independent and impartial broadcasting programmes and services of information, education and entertainment through radio and television. As a public institution, KBC has a very crucial in ensuring that accurate, objective and balanced information on democratic, governance, political and electoral issues is disseminated to citizens. Because of its wide outreach level and its public function character, KBC can play a significant role in disseminating information on critical national issues.
The government exercises control in the appointment of management to ensure that the ruling party receives favorable coverage. This was especially evident during the era of Former President Daniel Moi where there was hardly any negative news coverage about the government or the ruling party and hardly any news coverage whether positive or negative about the opposition. This hampers fair and equitable coverage which is a primary function of the national broadcaster.
Amendments were introduced to the KBC Act, which now requires that it gives equitable coverage and airtime to all sides of the political divide, especially at the level of Presidential candidates. This is to ensure that there is a political level-paying field during electoral campaigns.
According to Kupe Tawana (1996. 113-125) ,the state-owned and -controlled media can not, will not and was not allowed to question in what sense all this was really contributing to the realization of nation-building. That kind of questioning was considered to be subversion. The media was used in an instrumental fashion to proclaim the existence of the national phenomena and create a sense of national identity. But as pointed out above, the media was in most cases accessible to a minority and the rather narrow instrumental fashion showed up the artificial nature of the attempt to create a national identity.
Print Media in Kenya
Print media in Kenya has its history in the early 1800s following the arrival of missionaries to the Kenyan Coast more than half a century ago . Currently , Kenya has four daily national newspapers in English and one in Kiswahili.
The oldest being the Standard founded in 1902 by a Parsee migrant, Mr. M. Jeevanjee. The Standard catered for British civil servants and early settlers. He sold his interest in the paper to Mayer and Anderson who renamed it the East African Standard which became the largest and most influential publication in colonial East Africa .It was a typical European people's paper concerned with the happenings in Britain and urging subservience to the settlers, a tune that for a long time remained the tone of other settler controlled media including Mombasa Mail and Nairobi News (Abuoga & Mutere, 1988; Maloba, 1992).Over the years Standard changed hands until Lnrho acquired iiit in 1967. It was later rumored to have been sold to a group of Kenyan political business men but it has never been confirmed .
Prior to the founding of the Nation published by Nation Media Group (NMG) Kenya had a very vibrant nationalist press. Faringer (10) categorizes media in Kenya at independence into a three tier system with the European press at the top, the Indian in the middle, and African at the bottom. Although Rosalynde Ainslie (99) says that the press in Africa was a European creation, which is true, African nationalists adapted the press very much to their struggle.
The Nation, Kenya's most widely circulated newspaper today according to Lukalo and Wanyeki. It was first registered in 1959 by Michael Curtis and Charles Hayes (Ainslie 104) both newspapermen in London and Nairobi, respectively. The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community Aga Khan purchased the Nation a year later. The paper was the first to adopt a policy of Africanization (Hachten; Abuoga & Mutere; Faringer). Besides the English language Nation the NMG also publishes a Kiswahili edition Taifa Leo .
Taifa, with a 35,000 daily circulation, is an abridged version of the Nation . Taifa does not have a separate group of reporters. It uses the same pool of reporters as the Nation . While the Aga Khan is still the majority shareholder in the NMG, the firm is currently traded at the Nairobi Stock Market.
Kenya's press has always been private and foreign owned. The NMG publishes the Daily Nation and Taifa Leo on week days, and Sunday Nation and Taifa Jumapili on Sunday. Both the Saturday and Sunday editions have pullouts including a children's magazine. The Nation , although targeting the Kenyan market, is also distributed throughout the East African region. NMG also publishes the EastAfrican , a conservatively designed weekly newspaper focusing on economic news in East Africa. They also own Nation TV, and Nation FM Radio both which for the moment do not have a license to operate throughout the country. They were licensed in 1998 and went on air a year later, only to broadcast in the capital Nairobi as are other radio and television stations.
The People , owned by Kenneth Matiba, started as a weekly, but turned daily with a Sunday edition in December 1998. In 2002 it had a daily circulation of 60,000. Initially founded to serve as the voice of the opposition politics and to report materials that Nation and Standard feared to touch, the People has since landed on lean times. How long it survives may depend on the outcome of its appeal against multimillion-shilling judgments that courts have returned against the paper in libel cases. But other challenges the paper faces may relate partly to the difficulty in attracting sufficient advertising revenue and partly because it has never really shed its image as a partisan newspaper trumpeting the opposition point of view.
In 1983 KANU bought Hilary Ng'weno's Nairobi Times and named it The Kenya Times (Abuoga & Mutere; Ochieng). Ng'weno, the first African editor of the Nation , founded Nairobi Times intending it to be a quality afternoon paper. He was, at the same time, publishing Weekly Review , a quality news weekly that in the late 1970s used to be known for its incisive commentaries and two children's magazines. With diminishing revenue from advertising Ng'weno sold the Times . As Kenya Times the paper has suffered an identity crisis, and not without a cause, often seen as the mouthpiece of the ruling party and government. While there is no independent verification of its circulation, its internal figures say that it has a 50,000 daily circulation.
The magazine industry has also been vibrant. The Weekly Review, probably the region's premier newsmagazine with a distinguished style of journalism during its lifespan was founded in 1975 (Abuoga & Mutere; Hachten). Published by Hilary Ng'weno's Stellascope, the weekly in the late 1970s and early 1980s had the best analytical and investigative journalism in the region (Faringer
Financial Review and Economic Review , both now defunct, made a major impact in business journalism in the country until the former was proscribed and the latter disappeared from the news-stands in the latter part of 1998.
The church, through the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), at one time had its own publications Target and Lengo publishing in English and Kiswahili respectively. Target , especially in the later part of 1960s and early 1970s was very analytical, an approach that often put it at odds with the Kenyatta government, but more specifically with the then Attorney General who accused the paper of having sympathies for communism. The paper, following an internal reorganization, seemed to lose its objectives and funding and finally in 1997 folded up. NCCK's verbal exchanges with Kenyan government have a long history. Times (Abuoga & Mutere; Ochieng)
When they published Beyond again they ran into trouble with the government, when in its analysis of the 1988 general elections, the paper said that the elections were a "mockery of democracy" (Faringer 66). The government proscribed the magazine and imprisoned its editor. Most of the other publications that the church has been identified with published social issues and not news.
Music making and performance form an important aspect of Kenyan Cultural activities. However, at different times music has had different phases of growth and decline.The introduction of the formal school system by the missionaries in the mid-19th century established a western hymnal singing tradition in schools (Weman, 1960) and discouraged the learning and playing of indigenous musical instruments and music because it conflicted with Christian values.
The colonial government feared the use of traditional music by natives, because it might foster political solidarity against the colonial leadership. Informally, the colonial government encouraged the learning and playing of band instruments, which were used to entertain them, and other instruments, such as accordion and acoustic guitar, particularly in Western Kenya, the home of the Luo and Abaluhya people (Low, 1982).
Music played a key role in the pre independence era to pass information that was coded in the songs to the warriors. In post colonial Kenya music was used as a form of entertainment and was encouraged by Kenya's first and second presidents. During national days and whenever the president attended an event local entertainment was arranged. Songs that praised the president and the government were played regularly in the national broadcaster.
Although during former President Moi's era their was a lot of disgruntled Kenyans and part of the rebellion against the government was through music . Songs that opposed the government became popular in the late 80s and early 90s . The songs could not be played on the national broadcaster as they were banned but many Kenyans listened to this music that reflected tgeir views at the time.
During the Kibaki era their has been open criticism to the government through music especially among the youth who feel cheated and used . Groups such as Gidogidi Majimaji , Ukoo Flani , Sauti Sol and Eric Wainaina.
Literature and Art
Literature as a medium in post colonoial Kenya can not pass without the mention of Prof. Ngugi wa Thingo .One of Africa's most acclaimed writers.
In his early years Ngigi focused on the colconial patronage in Africa writing books and short plays while at Makerere University.
But 1977 forced dramatic turns in Ngugi's life and career. His first novel in ten years, Petals of Blood, was published in July of that year. The novel painted a harsh and unsparing picture of life in neo-colonial Kenya. It was received with even more emphatic critical acclaim in Kenya and abroad. The Kenya Weekly Review described as "this bomb shell" and the Sunday Times of London as capturing every form and shape that power can take. The same year Ngugi's controversial play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), written with Ngugi wa Mirii, was performed at Kamirithu Educational and Cultural Center, Limuru, in an open air theatre, with actors from the workers and peasants of the village. Sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society, publicly identified with unequivocally championing the cause of ordinary Kenyans, and committed to communicating with them in the languages of their daily lives, Ngugi was arrested and imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison at the end of the year, December 31, 1977. An account of those experiences is to be found in his memoir, Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary (1982). It was at Kamiti Maximum Prison that Ngugi made the decision to abandon English as his primary language of creative writing and committed himself to writing in Gikuyu, his mother tongue. In prison, and following that decision, he wrote, on toilet paper, the novel, Caitani Mutharabaini (1981) translated into English as Devil on the Cross, (1982).
He sought political asylum in the UK in 1978 and has resides their as a Senior Professor.
His and others contributions through literary works influenced many of today's leaders like Koigi wa Mwere and Peter Kenneth .
The public is dependent upon mass communication for knowing what is going on in the political environments for entertainment and pleasure e.g. political satire by Redykyulass on Red Corner and XYZ which entertainment and also spoke volumes on our political environment when it was unthinkable to criticize the office of the President.
ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS
According to Okero Otieno , Institute for Economic Demecracy (2007) , the media plays a very important role in the educating the public and as purveyors of information so as to address the following critical issues in Kenyan governance
• There is massive communication gap between the citizens and the government.
• There is a need for strong local media involvement in awareness creation and empowerment of the people.
• Lack of basic knowledge of parliamentary proceedings, debates, standing orders and laws and the constitution making process of Kenya.
• There is need therefore for more independent, fair, and objective studies to bridge the information gaps between the legislative debates and the citizens.
These issues are being addressed through media education in Kenya like in the case of civil education in Kenya where the media especially electronic media like radio which have the widest reach in Kenya. FM Radio stations are both a new phenomenon and ultimate tool of empowering the masses. They are powerful instruments that can bring people back to the participatory democracy. (Okero Otieno, Media and Governance 2007)
Radio stations were used by the IIEC and other civil education bodies to educate Kenyans with regards to the contents of the new constitution .They played a key role in enlightening the general population and about the new constitutions even though the civil education being done was not impartial in that different groups used radio to advocate for the constitution and others against the constitution .
Secondly, radio stations especially community and vernacular radio played a key role in translating the constitution through civil educators into language that people can understand .
Thirdly, radio stations used their wide reach to inform the masses to vote regardless of their choice and drawing Kenyans out on polling day. Radio stations among other media were involved in a nationwide campaign to get voters to register and to vote wisely.
According to an opinion piece in the Washington Times, both civil society and the media have played a part in the constitution-making process in Kenya and will continue to do so."Kenya is blessed with free and vibrant media and a vigilant civil society that relentlessly shines light into all corners of government activity," it read. "This will heighten scrutiny in the use of public finances and resources by the executive and legislature." It is unlikely that the Kenyan media are fully objective or free from political influence the Economist and the BBC have said that Kenya is more liberalized than most African countries. Various analysts have also stated that since independence the Kenyan media has been an important check on government power.
Media Activism using new technology such as mobile phones . The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa is transforming the the political and socio-economical landscape of the developing world . Through empowering people to source and share their own information and their views rather than relay on the views of the governments. A case in point would be during the December 2007 post election violence where the government declared a ban on live coverage in order to prevent hate messages and to control the violence in the country.
The media blackout led to desperation among Kenyans and the international community for information and Kenyan bloggers played a key role in updating the international community of the situation. Mainstream media used mobile phone technology to rebroadcast scenes of violence in various parts of the country , local radio stations began reading blog posts on air , expanding the new media technology reach to at least 95% of Kenyans.(Goldstein,Rotich 2008 online).
Kenya's digital community created Ushahidi a website that collected and reported incidents of violence using SMS. Over 200 incidents were reported and verified by nongovernmental organizations. (Boyd ,2008 online). BBC received over 4000 text messages after requesting for updates from Kenyans.
Media activism influences policy making process in the interest of development issues and also enhances room for debate on good governance. A good example would be the media highlighting the fact that members of parliament do not pay taxes while the rest of the country does. The media played a key role in voicing the opinions and frustrations of Kenyans who felt cheated by their members of parliament. The media also put the MPs on the spotlight which led them to retaliate by threatening the freedom of the media through the media bill which had some draconian clauses that would have allowed state interference in the expression of journalists. This made the journalists shift focus on to saving them selves and the MPs almost got away with
According to the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED), 2007) the media plays a significant role in monitoring the electoral process. By covering the electoral process, in particular the campaign events and activities leading to the elections, the media ensures that there is information in the public domain, necessary for public awareness on the process. Indeed, the media does not merely cover the entire electoral process, but rather in doing so, also employs its investigative role thereby highlighting its findings and observations. The findings and observations are critical in exposing and therefore deterring electoral fraud, malpractices and corruption. Thus, the media remains an important integrity mechanism in relation to the electoral process.
In Kenya the media is considered to be relatively independent but during the election period reporting becomes openly bias and media houses are seen to take sides . Journalists ate bribed to give coverage to certain politicians this brings about unbalanced reporting.
However, for the media to remain effective as an integrity mechanism there must be freedom of speech and press and a safe environment for the media to operate. In this regard, the media must have unrestricted access to the electoral process and its participants, free from violence. In other words, the media must be free to cover and report on the electoral process without undue restrictions or government imposed censorship or self-censorship. Defamation or criminal libel laws should not be used to gag the media (Institute for Education in Democracy (IED), 2007) .As was the case in early to 2008 in the height of the post election violence the government imposed a live broadcast ban as a result of the increased ethnic violence in the country. This ban resulted in desperation among Kenyans and the international community to know what was happening in the country. Hence, the use of social media such as face book and SMS to pass not only useful information but hate messages as well. This is quit evident by the messages that Safaricom , Kenya's largest communication service provider received and shared with the Wako team during investigations into the post election violence.
The media must enjoy freedom of movement. Meaning that the media must be able to move freely and be able to access every part of the country. Freedom of movement is also very crucial for the media to exercise its investigative role in the electoral process. It is important that the media must freely move throughout the country so that it can monitor, observe and report on electoral events and activities, especially electoral campaigns of political parties and candidates and how the electoral managers are functioning.( Institute for Education in Democracy (IED), 2007). After the 2007 December elections when the violence began the media and all Kenyans were restricted from accessing various parts of the country especially areas where there was a lot of fighting between the army, administration police and locals. Their was restricted movement with in the central business district , the media was not allowed access to the KICC building which was the central polling and vote tallying center where the Electoral Commission was based .
Closely related to freedom of movement, is freedom of access to all parts of the country, all participants in the electoral process and to all information. The media must have unrestricted access to electoral managers and administrators, political parties, government officials, candidates and voters. This is the only way through which the media can discharge its role of disseminating public information, including its vital role in voter education. (Institute for Education in Democracy, 2007). During the December 2007 tallying process at the headquarters of the ECK in KICC journalists were denied access to the electoral commissioners. The media was denied access to the ECK Chairman Mr. Samuel Kivuitu who was supposed to announce the overall results. The results were announced from a remote location and the national broadcaster KBC was the only media house with access to the results. There after footage of a private swearing in ceremony being conducted in State House was aired. Other than KBC no other media house was allowed to the swearing in ceremony. This lack of access to information fueled the violence that began not less than an hour after the results were announced.
Media brings the world into our homes. From them, we learn about governance, our rights and responsibilities, voter registration process, voter civic education like the Vijana Tugutuke Ni Time Yetu campaign (which has enjoyed media coverage), elections e.g. recent city
council mayor elections and so on.
In essence the Kenyan media is considered to be the most progressive and liberal in Africa but in order for the media to be effective the freedom of expression and information must be guaranteed
There is no doubt that the media plays an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy. This is more so in transitional democracies like Kenya. The significant role of the media is underpinned principally by the freedom of expression which is guaranteed universally by international Human rights instruments and Constitutions of many countries, including Kenya.
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