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Of Haiti, Rai and Mbarire: Mambo ni mawili, get the story or spare us rambling tales

The jewel in the crown of the Black race. The first Black republic, and the first and only successful slave revolt that created an independent nation. That’s Haiti.

The historian CLR James records in The Black Jacobins that during the revolt that lasted 12 years from 1791 to victory in 1803, the slaves defeated in turn the local whites and the soldiers of the French monarchy, a Spanish invasion, a British expedition of some 60,000 men, and a French expedition of similar size.

“The transformation of slaves, trembling in hundreds before a single white man, into a people able to organise themselves and defeat the most powerful nations of their day, is one of the great epics of revolutionary struggle and achievement.”

This achievement was almost entirely the work of a single revolutionary genius: Touissaint L’Ouverture.

That is the country Kenya wants to send 1,000 police officers to. Why? Because today Haiti is a morass of dystopia, a perfect microcosm of imperialist meddling, capture and sabotage of the Black race. Space doesn’t allow us to delve into Haiti’s descent into the abyss over the past two centuries. Gangs have taken over the Caribbean nation ever since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021.

Concerns have been raised about the ability of Kenyan police to contain the gang violence and crime on the streets of the capital Port Au Prince and other Haitian towns.

A high-powered police delegation Kenya sent on a fact-finding mission to Haiti returned on Sunday, August 27. What did they find? Will the deployment go ahead amid the concerns? Under what terms?

The Star newspaper broke this story under the headline, “Kenyan security team returns from Haiti assessment mission.” But the paper said nothing on those critical questions. Lion Place only listed who went to Haiti and whom they met there.

“The team plans to brief President William Ruto on their findings before a decision is made on the way forward, sources said.”

That’s bad journalism. Tell your readers the “findings.”

We leave the Haiti mission. A billionaire is apparently kidnapped in Nairobi. What are readers supposed to do when their favourite “bold newspaper” tells them that:

“And yesterday, one of his lawyers Martin Gitonga did not receive calls or respond to text message inquiry about the incident” (Standard, August 28, p.2).

“Another lawyer declined to be dragged into the matter, saying, ‘I am not the right person to comment on the issue’”.

“Sohan Sharma, chief executive officer, West Kenya sugar company, that is owned by the missing industrialist, who had initially promised to give an update on the incident, went quiet.”

Story was headlined, “Mystery of missing billionaire”. Who is supposed to unravel such mysteries?

And Nation in one of its online stories reported that, “The daring abduction has raised questions about whether the country is going back to the days when security agencies carried out such abductions with complete disregard for the law.”

If, in fact, the “daring abduction has raised questions”, who is supposed to answer them?

Kimathi Street told its readers on August 28, “Questions abound on gangland style kidnapping of sugar baron.” Of course, questions abound. Sasa tuulize nani? Tufanye nini?

And then there was the big blackout. An activist posted on social media that some infants in incubators at Embu Teaching and Referral Hospital died. What followed?

Capital FM: “No infants died in Embu Level 5 hospital due to power outage, Governor Mbarire says.”

Tuko: “Cecily Mbarire denies claims blackout caused death of babies at Embu Level 5 Hospital.”

People Daily: “Governor Mbarire refutes claims that infants at Embu Level Five Hospital died due to power outage.”

Citizen Digital: “Governor Mbarire dismisses reports of infant deaths at Embu Level 5 Hospital amid blackout.”

You see, this story is not about Governor Mbarire. Is it possible for journalism to establish the truth independently? That is the watchdog role.

A Nation story days later titled, “Our baby died at top hospital due to blackout, couple says” (August 31, p.3) did not throw any light on the matter. While the couple attributed the death to power outage, an anonymous doctor and the county health executive Francis Ndwiga maintained no infant died due to lack of electricity.

So, what is the truth?

Ahem, what did the police fact-finding team discover in Haiti? Was Rai kidnapped, and by whom and why? Did children die at Embu’s premier county hospital? Journalism did not answer these questions.

Mambo ni matatu, sorry, mawili: You either dig up the facts at the heart of a story or you have nothing to report. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee independence of media in vain.

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