I have had occasion to meet Jeff Koinange on two occasions, first time at the Millennium Hotel in New York back in 2000 during the UN Millennium Summit where the Kenya delegation was staying.
The meeting was brief and not memorable except for one thing. Having recognized him as the CNN International correspondent of Kenyan origin, my colleague and I engaged him at the lobby where most of us had gathered awaiting trooping into the city for whatever people do in the city after long sessions at the UN.
Mr. Koinange basically blew us off, saying he had some big shot he was about to interview I now forget who but it was not Moi who headed the Kenya delegation.
There was no crew anywhere around Koinange and neither did he appear to be getting ready for an interview other than in his mind, which was possible but some minister came by and we could see him clearly engaged in an animated chat with the fellow for some time until the person we were waiting to came and we left.
I never saw Jeff again until late last year at the Norfolk where, interestingly, I had stepped out to take a call at the bench, not then realizing it was “The Bench” utilized by Koinange in his program and surely enough, he came with his crew and, as it were, the person I was meeting with at the patio across knows him and came by to introduce him to yours truly but I told him I know him.
My temptation was to ask him if he remembered blowing us off back in New York but I opted not to simply because that’s not necessary.
However, he also seemed preoccupied much the same way he was back in New York albeit less so this time around.
Anyway, we again had a brief chat and I say all of this to say, even with these brief encounters, one could get the sense Koinange is really not the kind of person who would stab and jab on cue.
He may have the proclivity to kiss up to the powerful and the mighty as most journalists do, but I doubt it is with malice or deliberately reckless.
I have therefore read with interest the following article by Sarah Elderkin, a freelance journalist in Kenya regarding what she and others believe is Koinange and K24’s mission to derail the presidential candidacy of PM Raila Amolo Odinga.
Ms. Elderkin has made a strong analytical and factually correct case why she believes Koinange is doing the bidding for at least Uhuru Kenyatta, if not the rest of the anti-Raila crew, which I agree with completely and no one can plausibly disagree with in any way, anyway.
Ms. Elderkin says something also I think is even more poignant and that is, and I quote her,
“Over the coming year, the conduct of the media is going to play a huge role in influencing how peacefully the next general election will be conducted. There is no room for persistent behaviour by any journalist that is inimical to peace, truth, justice and national unity. Is the Media Council looking? Cohesion and Integration? National Dialogue and Reconciliation? Or do we just let it all hang out like this, with no brakes, and no standards?.”
Whether one agrees with Ms. Elderkin in her analysis and conclusions or not, we must all agree with what she has said as quoted above and be prepared to do our part in soundly rejecting and/or resisting any efforts contrary to this noble call.
The freedom of speech and press we have fought for decades and lives lost over it must be for the good of the general public, not for the benefit of the privileged few with the resources to hog either.
With the advent of the new social media, there is much less of a concern there but the fact is, traditional media still has a choke-hold in information dissemination and therefore sway in public opinion and posturing on any of the issues we must grapple with before the elections and more so the reason they must be called upon to be ethically and professionally responsible, if they are to continue utilizing public airwaves in the manner intended for such transmissions.
It, of course, goes without saying that one cannot eliminate bias or propaganda in the news but a line must be drawn where such threatens peace in the country.
The ongoing but escalating flagrant lying about the ICC in efforts to rev up tribal animosity and hate or incitement is one such example where the media cannot and must not be allowed to be used as a willing or even unwilling participant.
Their very existence as a viable business owes that to the public.
Peace, Unity and Media Responsibility To Ensure Peace