If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.




Sunday, 31 October 2010


Lolani Kalu is a veteran of the Kenyan media scene. But the way he practices his unique brand of journalism is at times so outrageous. Outrageously refreshing. Refreshingly engaging. Engagingly captivating. I call it the Lolani Kalu effect.

His mastery of the Kiswahili language is second to none and it's a delight to hear him narrate a news story. A delight because his conversational style of delivery simply draws you in.

Lolani is also a performer per excellence and the way he infuses his artistic skills into news stories makes them quite memorable.

But it is his creativity that perhaps stands out. You never know what to expect in a Lolani story, especially one that he is filing from location. 

This fact is best exemplified by a story he has just done on why area residents of Homa Bay County allow their livestock to spend the night in the open, away from homesteads.

What does Lolani Kalu do with this story? He narrates it from the point of view of the animals. The master story-teller cleverly brings out the night-time activities by actually voicing the make-belief thoughts of the various animals.

Now that is what I would like to see more often. Not just thinking out of the box but thinking as if there was no box to begin with.

Monday, 25 October 2010


Seven Kenyan lives have just been carelessly lost. It is highly scandalous that officials allowed a football match to continue, despite the unfolding tragedy in the stadium. Event management needs to be left to professionals, and here, the country can get valuable crowd safety lessons from the UK.

First of all, no major event should be allowed to continue without a set number of safety stewards. Their work is primarily to constantly keep a close watch of the crowd an immediately report to their supervisors any sign of trouble, however minute.

Such is the seriousness within which crowd safety is taken in the UK that this service is regularly outsourced to experienced and professional event management companies.
                                                                          Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, Copyright, Agachiri 2010
For example, at the Emirates Stadium in North London, home to Arsenal Football Club, the venue managers have their own team of stewards, who are deployed at all strategic places.

And because nothing is left to chance, the stadium management sub-contracts additional services to another event management firm, to ensure maximum crowd control.

So, as tens of thousands of football fans enjoy the match, hundreds of other personnel are monitoring safety-related aspects from inside the stadium, to the immediate external environs, including the car park, as spelt out by legal guidelines.

And every premiership match is categorized according to its inherent safety risks, based on previous crowd behaviours, which also determines the number of police officers deployed to the venue.

Routine Emergency Procedures

Anfield, Copyright Agachiri 2010   
A most admirable trait in the UK is the high level preparedness or alertness that safety stewards and their supervisors have to be put in. As a matter of fact, before any event, stewards are taken through emergency procedures. 
If anything goes wrong, the safety team knows exactly what to do because emergency procedures have  been rehearsed
                                                                                              White Hart Lane Before A Match, Copyright Agachiri 2010

And one key element of these crowd safety preparations is the evacuation procedure. Using coded messages, event management officials armed with talk-back radio gadgets, are able communicate fast with each other on the nature and location of any trouble spot.

In Kenya, it is obvious the safety of spectators is not given such importance, because not even the death of fans is enough to prompt a complete evacuation of a stadium.

That more than 30,000 people can be almost abandoned, left under the care of a poorly prepared team of security agents, is in the very least careless and irresponsible.

Match organizers at the ill-fated Gor Mahia versus AFC Leopards clash at the Nyayo National Stadium should be held accountable for endangering the lives of Kenyans in the first place, by not putting in place adequate crowd safety measures.

Putting profits before lives

And to allow the match to continue as people are being rushed to hospitals or the mortuary, whether somebody has paid for it to be broadcast live across the African continent or not, amounts to greed and criminal negligence.

White Hart Lane, Copyright Agachiri 2010

You obviously can't expect the sophisticated crowd control measures and the cost implications that are achievable in a developed country to be replicated in a 'poor' country like Kenya.

The bottom line however, in my view, is that all human lives are precious and should be protected to the best of available capacities.

The UK has had its share of stadium disasters with considerable fatalities but  lessons were learnt and remedial measures taken.

Will Kenya witness another stadium tragedy or will the government take concrete actions to prevent such disasters in the future, including formulation and enforcement of legally binding crowd control regulations?

Saturday, 16 October 2010


It represents a significant shift in the way news is delivered in Kenya. The philosophy behind it being that with the passage of the new Constitution that is hinged on a devolved system of governance, news too should be devolved. That is why you can count on the County Edition to bring you news coverage from the very grassroot level. 

It's rather unfair and preposterous to assume that the major news stories in Kenya can only come from the capital Nairobi, and yet that for a long time has been the case.

So one gets to be regularly treated with a heavy dosage of news about what the politicians have been up to, either from the comfort of posh offices, homes or even hotels, even if the matter they purport to be addressing affects people in remote constituencies.

So what better way to shift the media focus away from the centre than to dedicate three days every week for a systematic and intensive coverage of other parts of Kenya, as categorized by counties.

There being 47 counties in all, it really leaves no room to have any one region overlooked and subsequently in the long run, untold stories and faces are almost guaranteed of a piece of the media spotlight.

Granted, it may appear as if the NTV County Edition  is giving undue time to what appears to be mundane stories that don't necessarily exude national importance type of issues. But that is precisely the point.

The news agenda should not always be prescribed to the audience from media organizations. They too can and ought to be given a chance to articulate what they feel is important to them.

It is high time the media entrenched a culture of listening to what its audience has to say and not just disseminating packaged information, with inherent slants and calculated agendas.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


The number of his wives is estimated at between 100 and 135. His children could number between 210 and 350, the eldest aged over 50, the youngest a mere three months. And soon after crossing the 90-years bracket, the polygamist extra-ordinaire passes away. Why is it that the factoid bit is the one that fascinates the Kenyan media?

The exploits of Acentus Akuku 'Danger' without doubt are not you usual representation of the polygamous nature of many a traditional African man. But truth be told, they are not entirely verifiable.

An astute media establishment would, in my considered opinion, have ventured to break down the facts being thrown 'carelessly' into credible pieces of information.

My curiosity would have greatly been drawn towards attempts to bring out the human face of the reported many wives, however long it could have taken.

It is would have been easy to report about the accounts from this amazing homestead from the point of view of the late Akuku, as many media outlets have been doing over the years.

But the less trodden path, which could very well be adopted for a blockbuster Hollywood-type film, is the day to day experiences of the said many wives, in their own words. Just what drew them to this man Akuku?

Respect for privacy tenets and decency factors notwithstanding, just how did the wives get to have enough attention from the patriarch, in the marital sense?

That is the big miss by Kenyan media, or so I think.