By Kenfrey Kiberenge
I have spent the last three months as a volunteer for the Tourism ministry. With time I have come to learn that all great men remained incognito despite their good deeds. Case in point is Neil Armstrong, the first human being to set foot on the moon.
Few people, including editors at the America’s NBC who headlined the news of his death as Neil Young (Canadian rock legend), knew him compared to, say, reality TV star Kim Kardashian. Following in the footsteps of the great men, I decided not to inform officials at the Tourism ministry of my charitable work.
And for three months I have offered to take innumerable Britons for a proper barbecue (nyama choma) after being treated to their version, which is mainly grilled burgers and sausages. I have also been assuring them they would not get stuck in traffic using the breathtaking pictures of sections of our super highway doing the rounds on social media.
Since Britain is largely a multicultural society, I have also pitched the safari idea to the French, Brazilians, Malawians, Americans, Aussies, and New Zealanders – any nationality that came my way. The good news is quite a number bought it – until early this week. Between Monday and Tuesday, radio and TV channels replayed clips of the skirmishes in Mombasa. The next day, newspapers published pictures of burning tyres just next to stories of massacre in Syria. One of the friends I had convinced how safe Kenya was sent me an email asking if the images had been edited by a biased western media. This is because I kept downplaying the insecurity concerns, telling them how some western media houses alter stories from Africa to fit the debasing tag of the Dark Continent.
I then recommended that they should obtain “accurate” news from the websites of Kenyan media houses where they could stream live TV news and read newspapers, all free of charge. This time though, I was corned and I gladly admitted their preferred tourist destination, Mombasa, was burning!
In fact, I added this is turning out to be a quintessential Kenyan hobby: Slight provocation and we take to the streets to burn vehicles and loot private businesses fighting for our rights.
So that we are clear, the callous murder of Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo is a sickening act that has no place for the Kenya we want! But again, two wrongs don’t make a right.
After much reflection and the experience of news emanating from Kenya, I am convinced the foreign news correspondents are not to blame for our woes. Even in the local press, the top four stories are bad news and the ensuing items are either about miniskirts, pastors having ‘shots’ or ‘come baby come’ among other theatricals.
The only way out of the quagmire is for Kenya to stop finding excuses in negative publicity. We have to lose the primitive energy and claim our rightful position on the continent. We should not expect media houses to modernise our ancient behaviours.
In fact, from the look of things, Kenya is treading on a dangerous path. Previously, stories of protesters using grenades and machine guns exclusively emanated from the troubled East Mediterranean region. Nowadays, such stories are rare to find but a new source is emerging.