Friday, November 23, 2007

What Kenyans Want: NTV vs. Citizen TV Forums

I was struck by the difference of opinions expressed by Kenyans during NTV’s People’s Voice, which was aired from Nyeri (Central Province), and Citizen TV’s Louis Otieno Live in Narok (Rift Valley). Presenters Judy Gichuru for NTV and Louis Otieno for Citizen TV did great. They let Kenyans set the agenda.

Concerns fielded by both audiences could convince someone that NTV and Citizen TV were reporting from two distant countries, Nyeri being a developed nation and Narok a developing one. Nyeri audiences were concerned with issues like strengthening shilling that was making their exports expensive, Economic Partnership Agreements with EU, farmer exploitation by middlemen, slow pace of road reconstruction, and lack of title deeds in squatter areas among others.

The Maa community in Narok was on the other hand complaining about lack of visionary leadership in the area since independence (an attack on Ole Ntimama), lack of road infrastructure, poor education facilities, male domination in local politics, negligence of the girl-child, inequality in sharing national resources, and corruption in the Narok County Council, probably the richest local government in East and Central Africa.

Calls for a new constitution (read federalism, majimbo, devolution or ugatuzi) rent the air among panelists in Narok. The same calls were high during Louis Otieno Live in Kisumu and Mombasa, where the presenter got tired of Majimbo issue; he silenced anyone who brought it up. Interestingly, the ugatuzi question was virtually non-existent in Nyeri.

Bottom Line: We are one nation of 35 million people with 35 million interests. USIDANGANYWE. No constitution or leader can serve all those interests without hurting the nation. Politicians should leave Kenyans alone. Kenyan are capable of running their economic lives if politicians keep off. But will they? Let your vote decide.