Sincere condolences to all that lost a loved one, this is a difficult time for you, but know that you are in our thoughts. Apologies if that sounds clumsy, I’m always at a loss when it comes to handling grief, my own or others’, there is nothing to say and everything to do. May you find the strength you need to get through this tragedy. Same goes for the survivors, those who were in the mall and managed to get out unscathed, physically at least, and those who were injured but have managed to pull through. And for the rest of us, seemingly unharmed in the comfort of our homes, we’re left to pick up the pieces. We donate what we can, where we can, to whomever we can, and we help others get back on their feet.
That was the public service announcement segment of this post. It shall all go steadily downhill from here on.
It should probably go without saying that I am a very angry woman right now, such as I tend to be most days. I’m round about ready to make like the gavana and slap someone. Still too soon for the slapping jokes? Sorry. I am not amused…
What is it with the media, our media in particular? Exactly what is their mission, to sell as many papers as possible, as much advertising space as they can squeeze into an hour of prime time? What happened to the seemingly noble goal of informing the public? These bastards, that’s right, I called them bastards, are not in the business of dispensing information, they’re selling news to the highest bidder. How they can spend the better part of the day repeating obviously erroneous information given to them by the government is beyond me. For crying out loud, you can’t keep telling us the terrorists are burning mattresses when we can see thick plumes of (decidedly not mattress-like) black smoke rising from the building, for hours. Ask the fucking questions already! We spent four days watching news broadcasts that consisted of little more than dubious tweets from the interior ministry, endless (and inane) speculation from reporters ‘on the ground’ (read, way down the street from the mall, and yet they were carefully clad in flak jackets, and in one particular instance, a helmet). We spent four days reading updates and live blogs that featured…guess what?…tweets from the interior ministry, staring at the same three pictures of policemen carrying children, and the mattress smoke. We spent four days getting news, real news, from outside the country, because our press decided, apparently unanimously, to report nothing but the official line being spun, all while engaging in most useful, yet somehow very condescending, #weareone patriotism and kumbaya bullshit. Seems these days our media’s first order of business is government propaganda.
Now I understand that reporting on an ongoing crisis is difficult. The scene of the tragedy/crime is inaccessible, the government is running an operation that allegedly requires discretion and/or secrecy, its entirely possible that the media was gagged, by force, this as the army sought to deny the terrorist idiots information and airtime. Slight detour, even as the gova/army was claiming propaganda, they did realise the wagaidi inside the mall probably had some form of internet access, right? Buggers were probably watching mkubwa on Al Jazeera, thereby negating attempts to control information getting to them. All I’m saying is, war spin in this day and age needs to be a bit more sophisticated, the natives have iPhones. Detour over. This is all speculation on my part, its my attempt at understanding why any right thinking journalist wouldn’t question the dodgy statements coming out the minister’s mouth, and the even dodgier releases on the ministry’s twitter feed. Mattresses? There is no fire? The fire is out? We are in control? There are no hostages? There are no bodies? He’s not completely shit-faced drunk in front of the camera, he’s grieving? There was no light-bulb moment in any of those newsrooms, someone sitting up and saying, “Hang on, we is being bamboozled…”? No no, these buggers were too busy making money selling us ‘no-news today’ news, basking in their unfortunately more than 10 minutes of fame, ‘engaging’ with facebook and twirra, and generally wasting our bloody time.
Do you think I’m being too harsh? Perhaps I am, but they are called the fourth estate for a particular reason. In theory, the press is the custodian of public interest. In theory. In reality, The Nation prints a List of Westgate mallvictims – UPDATED, a list that proudly proclaims the cosmopolitan nature of the deaths right up top, and then proceeds to list people like cattle, only bothering to put in details of a token few, they of relevant fame and/or importance? The list is incomplete, by the way, but why should that be of any concern to those buggers? In reality, The Sunday Standard prints an article claiming National IntelligenceService report warned of Nairobi terror attacks, and then goes ahead to state therein, “NIS submitted a Situation Report dated September 21, 2002 — Serial No.184/2012 — which indicated that at least three suspected terrorists were in Nairobi planning suicide attacks on undisclosed dates.” September 21, 2002?
In reality, our media is simply another part of the establishment. God forbid they actually do something not in their own self interest, like actively pursue the whereabouts of the approximately 59 people still listed as missing (Kenya Red Cross).
I’ll say it again.