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Friday, 31 August 2012


It was a brilliant and well-told piece of investigative journalism. But the Sisters of Death went overboard in one aspect. After the shocking expose of how illicit brew was now being laced with ARV's, there was a strong element of leading others, especially the criminally inclined, into temptation.

There is almost always an underlying danger, when the media over enlightens the masses about a vice, to the extent of appearing to glorify the same vice, by elaborately empowering others to execute the very same vice.

So yes. The NTV Investigate piece unearthed the very chilling business of concocting illegal alcoholic drinks, using ARVs and other dangerous ingredients. But a step-by-step depiction of the process involved, I feel, is veering off into dangerous territory.

This is a commercial venture and somebody is making some money, albeit illicitly. There's no telling if any other desperate soul, and those who are out to profit by whichever means, could have been nefariously inspired to carry out a similarly diabolic scheme.

All they needed to do was note down, the ingredients and processes, before applying the same, or making their own equally devastating variations. And in case they missed out on some 'gory' details, there was a repeat of the Sisters of Death, ironically due to popular demand.

An attempt was made to ward off potential legal suits by blurring out the labels of the alcoholic drinks. But sadly, it appears no thought was given to the domino effect of thrusting all the minute details of the harmful trade into the public domain.

Then there is the small 'non journalistic' matter, of wanting to know just how did the reporter manage to convince the Sisters of Death to open up, under the glaring eye of the camera. There was no indication that the expose was filmed undercover.

Who would willingly allow the media to highlight an illegal activity that could well put them on the not so rosy side of the law? Thankful, the press is professionally compelled to protect sources.

Thursday, 23 August 2012


KASS TV recently celebrated one year of broadcasting. I once in a while tune in, intrigued by the audacity of a media house to venture into TV transmission using a vernacular language. But Kenya has largely been unable to harness its ethnic diversity, allowing the differences to fuel divisions. And it's this curse, which KASS FM has been associated with, that KASS TV needs to guard against.

It was interesting to follow a KASS TV discussion recently, (which unusually was in English), about the role of the media in ensuring the Kenyan nation remains a cohesive unit, especially in times of elections.

Perhaps I was expecting too much, but I hoped the discussants would touch on the pending case involving a KASS FM journalist, at the International Criminal Court, in relation to Kenya's 2007/8 post election violence.

That was clearly a long shot and a wild expectation, as the host and the guest steered well-clear of this hot topic, understandably due to contractual pressures and its attendant spirit of self-preservation.

However, this to me was a missed golden opportunity to re-assert the media house's commitment to proper journalism practise, in the full realisation that any credible media outlet should not allow itself to be (mis)used to attain narrow, selfish interests at the expense of the greater public interest.

So, can KASS TV discharge its envisioned mandate, in an environment that is still poisoned by tribal-based politics and other elements of negative ethnicity?

I think it's possible, but with a strong rider that its editorial policies need to be sober and alive to the potential dangers of being used to antagonise Kenyans, especially those that fall outside its target audience.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Visual assault. Highly distasteful and insensitive. That does not even begin to describe the disgusting clip aired by a popular Kenyan television station, in an early morning broadcast. What the producers of the show or the editors were probably thinking would be hilarious, turned out to be very nauseating!

I can stomach, (with difficulties and regular bouts of indigestion), the numerous grammatical mistakes and elementary spelling errors, common on local TV stations. But not when the channels disregard their audiences' sensitivities

There I was trying hard to multi-task by taking my breakfast, while at the same time concentrating on the morning show of this particular TV station.

And just as I'm about to swallow a thoroughly chewed piece of peanut buttered bread, the person on the screen, pours out the contents of his guts on this poor lady he was conversing with, and follows it up with a truly despicable encore.

Now, it is all well and dandy to try and liven viewers' mornings, using hilarious and at times bizarre YouTube clips.

But before you decide to broadcast a video clip involving vomiting, please hold that thought, pause and reflect.

Are tolerance levels that universal, when it comes to watching somebody launching an inter-intestinal, stomach to mouth puke nuke?

As for me and members of my household, that will be a polite, 'Hell No!!'

Friday, 10 August 2012


Kenya's 800m Olympic champion and world record holder over the same distance, will be remembered for a very long time to come, following his heroic exploits at the 2012 London Olympics games. He single-handedly made Kenyans' hearts to beat together, as the rest of the world watched in awe.

And even if Kenya's performance is not as impressive as in the previous Olympics, Rudisha has done some serious redemption of the country's proud record in athletics, that had seemingly taken a nose dive, after a largely below par return, initially.

Below is a sample of what Rudisha's fantastic run means to both Kenya and the world at large.

Friday, 3 August 2012


Jamaican reggae star Tarrus Riley is scheduled to perform in Kenya, this August, alongside songstress Etana. Fact: They're highly accomplished artistes. Fact: I attended a Tarrus concert in London. Fact: I interviewed his father Jimmy Riley in Kingston, Jamaica. Fact, I interviewed Etana in Kingston too. Fact: I met saxophonist and Taruss's producer Dean Frazer, in Trelawny, Jamaica. Fact: I have an unshakable link to reggae music, which has pretty much defined my world view and philosophy of life.

I have carried along my decades old passion for reggae music into my nearly decades old career as a professional journalist. Has this prominently featured in my working life? Yes. I wiggled my way into covering concerts by the likes of Morgan Heritage and Burning Spear, during their tours of Kenya, (not that it was debatable in the NTV newsroom then!).

I'm sure I would have been assigned (or self-assign myself) to cover the concert by my all-time favourite reggae band, Black Uhuru, when they had a concert in Kenya in 2008.

To my utter dismay, I did not even attend the show, it having cruelly coincided with an assignment I had in Germany. I had earlier interviewed the lead vocalist Mykal Roze, when I visited Jamaica in 2007.

That self-sourced journey to the Caribbean island, as part of my TV reporting duties, I readily admit, was very much like a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Bob Marley.

And just like hip-hop, turned reggae artiste, Snoop Dogg, (now Snoop Lion?), professes, there's something almost hypnotic about the Caribbean island of Jamaica, and not necessarily ganja inspired.

But life can be kind and does at times favourable smile on someone. Having missed Black Uhuru's concert in Nairobi, in 2010, I did manage to attend a memorable show by Mykal Roze in London, which also featured the outstanding performances by Andrew Tosh and the Rasites.

So, back to the Tarrus Riley concert, Kenyans have been promised it will be a night to remember and there has been a tremendous buzz already created, in both mainstream and social media, with many bloggers hyping the Jamaican's visit, days ahead of his actual performance.

Sure, the concert has all the ingredients of a fantastic outing. But it just doesn't cut it for me, largely because, well I unfortunately ascribe to what can be accurately described as 'old school reggae.' 

And to be honest, what made me attend Tarrus's concert at Brixton's O2 Academy in East London, in 2010, was purely because he, alongside Capleton, were the opening acts for Bunny Wailer.

Now this is a true reggae legend. His performance was mystical, and as much spiritually uplifting, as it was aesthetically appealing and intellectually engaging.

And as for the Tarrus set then, the only outstanding act I can remember is his cover version of Michael Jackson's 'Human Nature.'

Etana 'the strong one' struck me as a very intelligent and an alluring conscious woman, with an almost overpowering feel of freshness, when I had a one-on-one interview with her, back in 2007 in Kingston.

But of course, I would be lying, if I don't mention her stunning smile and general physical beauty, which perfectly complemented her pure, level-headed reflections about reggae music and life.

Looking back, it's been and will continue to be a fulfilling reggae inspired journalism journey for me.