Africa: CNN Can Be More Responsible


#SomeoneTellCNN has been trending in Kenya for more than 12 hours now. Well this was a demand by Kenya's ‘twittosphere’ who agree that CNN was inept and out-rightly unfair to the Kenyan nation on its reporting of the grenade explosions that occurred at Country Bus Station in downtown Nairobi in the evening of Saturday 10th March 2012 for a formal apology from CNN.




Frankly, I live in Nairobi and was less than 5 miles away from the site of the grenade explosion that CNN referred to in this erroneous ‘news scoop’ and there are two things; a fact and the other a falsehood that I’d like anyone who reads this post to appreciate.


Fact: – Three hand grenades were thrown out of a moving car that exploded and killed three instantly, another three succumbed to injuries at the Kenyatta National Hospital and 68 others sustained injuries from the explosion.

Fiction: – David McKenzie’s allusion that a wave of VIOLENCE had revisited Kenya


This is the typical case of unfair bad reporting of events that happen in Africa by international media: An obviously exaggerated and blown out of proportion account of a grenade attack that the government of Kenya is investigating and already linked to the infamous rogue Somali militia – Al Shabab. Listen folks at CNN, get it from me, KENYA IS PEACEFUL, there is no VIOLENCE as portrayed by David McKenzie yesterday. What happened was an isolated case that obviously didn’t warrant the amount of publicity that was granted by CNN. If I worked for CNN, I would have reported to you how a desperate cornered militia group attempted to disturb peace in Nairobi and how Kenya is dealing with it; how the rest of the country is largely serene despite the attacks. Or better still I would report to you the milestones that Kenyan athletes were accomplishing  in Istanbul, Turkey at the IAAF indoor games at the moment of the explosion.  



As he went ahead to deny having used the word VIOLENCE on air during the live broadcast, the banner screaming ‘VIOLENCE IN KENYA’ that accompanied it betrayed his alibi and irked the millions of Kenyans on twitter. It spoke volumes to the huge audience he was targeting. With all due respect David McKenzie and CNN succeed in unearthing the dark moments in the history of Kenya that we’ve struggled to deal with, a portrait that has cost us fortunes in economic terms and a priceless image of peace that we will forever owe our future generations. Whoever is aware of the violence that rocked Kenya in 2007/2008 after disputed elections definitely had a memory refresher that is hard to undo!


Though Kenyans on twitter have boldly posited their dissatisfaction and demanded an apology from CNN (follow this link for a transcript I think an apology cannot be the ultimate. Am trying to soberly argue with whoever is responsible for editing news at CNN: could you please develop the habit of doing a lot more serious background work before you hurry to grab a 'news scoop' and make fools of yourselves.  I am not a trained journalist but I keep wondering: Why is it so difficult to be objective and truthful about what is reported about happenings in Africa? Yes, Africa has her share of challenges: poverty, bad governance, violence etc but what kills Africa most today is the bad IMAGE and bad publicity every African state has got to deal with. This out-rightly irresponsible and contemptuous trend in reporting African affairs must stop.


Come on folks, we are struggling to market Africa here. We are trying to attract investment and people for tourism. This pessimistic countenance sure makes things much harder. Stop portraying Africa as the home of EVIL, SQUALOR and all manner of negatives. Image is very integral for the African Renaissance and so as much as David MacKenzie might have offered a half hearted 136 character apology to Kenyans on twitter, the bad image he conveyed to billions of CNN audience can obviously not be reversed. The damage is done.  It will cost loads more to change the perception of the Swiss couple that was making travel arrangements to come to Kenya for holiday; to regain the confidence of the Chinese businessman who was finalising portfolio preparations and correspondence ahead of an investment meet in Kenya and of course much more to win the will of the Canadian student that was winding up preparations to travel to Kenya for a months long research.



No amount of apology on CNN can possibly cure that.

Okwaroh Ja’ Paprombe writes at

Kenya wants CNN to at least report what they see

Many Africans believe International News organisations focus on the negatives here