by Peter Mutai
Kenyatta also accused the foreign media for applying double standards and misrepresentation of the continent as ravaged by conflicts, poverty and diseases.
“Why exaggerate African failure? Why ignore African success? Stereotypes have an amazing ability to destroy our ability to see the facts; we who love Africa must stand up for her truths,” Kenyatta said on Saturday evening when he presided over the 2015 CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards in Nairobi.
He appealed to journalists to be factual and balanced in their presentation of news instead of only exaggerating the failures of the continent.
Kenyatta who cited recent global headlines on Africa noted that they focused on the coup in Burkina Faso, a bombing in Nigeria, crimes in Mali and the latest about Ebola, but downplayed the continent’s achievements in child mortality reduction and women’s access to political leadership which is growing faster than other regions in the world.
He said it was unfortunate that while foreigners got the story wrong and misrepresented Africa, some African journalists also got the African story wrong.
President Kenyatta called on African journalists to lead in projecting the positive picture of the continent instead of dwelling on the negative and stereotypes.
“I recall an African newspaper that led with the photo of a Westgate victim and another in which the bodies of the Mandera victims took centre stage. If we cannot respect the dignity of Africans, who will?” the president said.
He pointed out that Africa is not a doomed continent but a dignified one. He said while there were challenges like Ebola, the continent –backed by the African Union — gave its skills, time and money to save lives.
“There’s an Africa at war, but African peacemakers in AMISOM are ending some of our most intractable conflicts,” Kenyatta said.
He said the fact that in the last two years, Kenya has connected 14,000 primary schools to electricity and 97 percent of Kenyan primary schools are now lit means Africa is a continent working to address the needs of its people.
“I have heard of an Africa that is hopelessly dependent on aid and charity; but the Africa I know has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies powered by radical transformation in technology and billions of dollars of investments in infrastructure,” the president said.
He said the innovation, resilience and sacrifice of Africans is lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Congratulating journalists who won awards including Kenya’s Paul Kalemba, Enock Sikolia and Charles Kariuki, President Kenyatta expressed optimism that the journalists will serve as leading lights in presenting the continent in positive light.
“So, today, we celebrate these men and women, and all of you who uphold the highest standards of your profession. When those high standards are the norm, we will reclaim the African narrative,” Kenyatta said. Enditem