Fred OBERA, Ethics and Unethical in African Media Industries: Too much unethical in African Journalism Industries, On-line Letter, 31/08/2008

  • For journalists to organize their profession around Africa ethical values would entail a number of things. First, they must make the basis of morality in their practice “the fulfillment of their obligations to society and to the journalistic corps,” by seeking to solve communal problems rather than creating them. Second, they must “develop a deep sense of right and wrong so that they are able to feel guilty for behaving unethically and try and correct colleagues who falter in their journalistic performance”. Third, “there is need for dialogue among media people so that the practice of mass communication becomes a democratic and participatory one drawing on its strength from the African cultural heritage.” Fourth, journalism must be seen as “a communal profession in which the wrongs of an individual journalist have a capacity to tarnish the image of every one who practices it”. Fifth, “the ethicality of the individual acts of the journalist should be first and foremost measured against whether or not they serve the wider community and the journalism profession. If they do not, there is every likelihood that they are unethical.” Sixth, “erring journalists or media houses should, in the true African spirit, be counseled by the other journalists to behave well not be immediately condemned as misfits in the ‘family’ of African journalism.” Seventh, the journalists must cultivate a deep sense of solidarity and oneness of voice. Only in this way can African journalism ‘put its house in order’
  • In that respect; the bungled 2007 presidential election in Kenya created many facets in the Kenya media industry which to some extents were much unethical with scenarios worth documenting. The media being the most honored and trusted public watchdog did not took the right center stage to give the Kenyan people the right direction but took sides in the election presentations and coverage’s. This junky direction divided Kenyans along the tribal lines with violence as reporters were giving sentiments/speeches which were not breaching peace but causing violence.
  • Nevertheless, properties worth millions of shillings were destroyed, over 300,000 people were displaced and 1000 people were killed. Kenya was left a divided nation and media industries have been so far put into account over the hate speeches.


  • As part of the overall commitment to finding solutions in Kenya ’s ethicized politics I have come up with a comprehensive study, an initiative to research the aftermath of the bungled presidential elections. Where the community radios was one of the tool which was predominantly seriously used to propagate war or ethnic cleansing, over the disputed election and the post election violence which has claimed many lives, displaced many and goods worth millions of shillings have been destroyed; looted, burnt and stolen. You’ll be surprised if you fly to Kisumu, Nairobi (slum areas) Eldoret, Mombasa, Nakuru etc.
  • Therefore I have tried to analyze such questions during the study which there answers can only be achieved through a comprehensive research: What are the impact of community Radios in Kenya, have they natured wealthy of the flow of information correctly to the public.
  • As we are aware that, the free flow of information and ideas lies at the heart of the very notion of democracy and is crucial to effective respect for human rights. In the absence of respect for the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Does the community medium practice these free flows of information and ideas- which are principle that public bodies get the right information but not for them only but on behalf of the public?
  • Nevertheless, coming from Kenya where throughout the period of its political independence, Kenya has had a fairly limited experience with competitive multi-party politics. The first was the short-lived experiment with political pluralism from independence in 1963 to the “Little General Election” in 1986. The second began in the early 1990s and included the multi-party elections of 1992 and 1997. In both periods, ethnicity has emerged as the single most important factor in political competition. Political activity since the renewal of competitive politics in 1992 has seen the recognition of ethnicity, ethnic mobilization and ethnic conflict as the main instruments of political contestation. Political parties have been organized along ethnic identities and state-power aggressively contested on the basis of mobilized ethnicity.
  • However, the Kenyan ethnicity has thus become the medium through which class politics is mediated. It is argued that ethnic clashes, which have characterized much of the period of multi-party politics, are not tribal conflict in the periodical sense; rather, these constitute politically organized conflicts orchestrated to achieve short and long-term political, and ultimately economic, disadvantages. Some of this ethnic cleansing has been also geared as a form of revenge over the killings and assassinations of certain radical oliticians to tame the aggressive communities and others were identified as un-settled land reform. In 2007, the spiral of post election violence, the killings, displacement and wanton destruction of property have reached catastrophic levels, all this has een blamed on our African leaders, whom have struggled to make the African continent to be depicted as the home of corrupt governments, helpless people ravaged by poverty, hunger, diseases, and war. So far we have to reckon that African problem has got nothing to do with, r little to do with imperialism or racism. They have more to do with bad leadership and the concept of clinging on power.
  • My country is now apart due to the post election violence over the disputed 2007 election result which has created true pictures of the indigenous Kenyans. Today we catalogue stories from the regions affected by iolence in the country. They sear the heart. They speak volumes about the shrinking capacity of the government to deal with the monstrosity of violence and lawlessness. It paints a sad picture of a government fading in to resolve the current situation of politicized ethnicity having rigged an election, and leaving the people to fight for their own survival. At the moment, the tables of economic ruins our cities, the flight by teachers and civil servants from areas where they can easily be killed because of their tribe, nd the disruption of production and destruction road networks, is symptomatic of a collapsing regime, which Kenya is not.
  • Something must be done to stop this generous slide anarchy. Brute police or teargas might not resolve the situation which has been engulf with the powers of wind of political will. I would like to bring this into my study together with documentary of the post election violence, and how the local people feel the ethnic violence or rather tribalism can be diluted in the development structure and leadership, in Kenya. In my research where I’m going tackle this also through a campaign to lobby for independent regulatory of both print and broadcast media, as especially the community radios which were overwhelmingly used to quell and propagate war against fellow community. In this research I’m going to focus my attention on community radios, where there is lack of broadcasting policies and independent regulatory agencies.
  • My aim is to advocate for a media reform process which is to be credible and acceptable by society and must be driven by society itself, but not self seekers, this does not happen in Kenya .
  • In sum, In political system, the impact of community radio is felt where ethnic loyalties is exploited as a means to achieve political power, indigenous language radio are inevitably torn between serving the ethnic agenda or serving the nation interests, especially when it is a pro-government radio station (Kenya Broadcasting Co-operation) for instances. This impact has created ethnic hatred or ethnicity- in broader and are some of the causes of the Kenya general election political crises where neighbours turned against each other over the disputed election which its content might have been aired by presenters or journalistic with negativity to the citizens.
  • If you chose to help, I will soon attach the research proposal which will guide you as you peruse this letter. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask I would appreciate if you could comment and give me feedback or how to go about. I beg you to share it with any organization of your interests, and be free to seek any document which may help you assists.

Thanks you in advance.

Lead Consultants

Fred Obera (

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