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Kenya istahili heshima: Media spoke for Africa in splendid coverage of climate summit

You know Maina. Uncrowned King of Radio. Talks a lot about certain things hidden between the neck and the knees. Na buroti maguta maguta. Yes, that one.

No one would have predicted in a thousand years the topic Maina chose for his Classic 105FM breakfast show on Friday, September 8.

“What did you learn from the Africa Climate Summit?” he asked listeners. Maina Kageni talking about what? That was a true measure of the roaring success of the Africa Climate Summit Kenya hosted last week, why lie.

Television legends Zain Verjee and Julie Gichuru electrified the august audience at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, and millions of those watching around the world.

The media dropped everything in their hands and spoke loudly and eloquently for Africa. Studio guests and experts explained climate change, Africa and the world in live shows on radio and TV. Learned editorials and op-eds explored the issues. Splendid coverage of a historic event.

For a week the headlines spoke about nothing else.

Ruto: Don’t kill us with debt” (Daily Nation, September 6).

Africa’s loud voice” (Standard, September 6).

Keep your promises, Ruto tells rich nations” (Star, September 6).

Tunataka haki” (Taifa Leo, September 6).

Climate: Leaders speak up for Africa” (People Daily, September 6).

What Africa wants” (Daily Nation, September 7).

Africa’s demands on climate change” (People Daily, September 7).

If Africa has long lacked a strong, united voice in the rigged platforms of global governance stationed in Western capitals, last week the continent found a powerful platform in Nairobi.

Global institutions need to step up, guarantee African representation, and respond to African needs and African potential. From international financial institutions, to the Security Council of the United Nations, where Africa lacks a permanent seat.”

That was Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. Wapi nduru!

“After three days of intense discussions, the inaugural Africa Climate Summit has taken a huge leap of faith and is now seeking to assert the continent’s strong voice in the resolution of global climate challenges to which it contributes the least. And led by President William Ruto, the African leaders were crystal clear on their demands to the West,” the Daily Nation stated.

For staging a hugely successful international event and rallying the Motherland to break its shackles, seize its opportunities and march into a brave new future, the Weekly Review magazine, published with the Sunday Nation, declared Ruto “President of Africa”.

If – Jehovah Wanyonyi forbid – the inaugural Africa Climate Summit does not achieve a single resolution contained in the Nairobi Declaration, it would still remain a massive win for Kenya. For at least two reasons:

One, the People Daily reported that with over 20,000 delegates at the event Nairobi experienced a “rare financial windfall in recent times” in terms of accommodation, food and transport services.

Kenya Tourism Board acting CEO John Chirchir said all major hotels in the city were fully booked.

No doubt the event cemented Nairobi’s reputation as a major global conferencing destination. Kenya shone to the world as a land of warmth, hospitality, and top-notch organising. The full value of this single experience for Kenya cannot be calculated in shillings and cents.

Second, the dedicated media coverage raised the awareness of many Kenyans about climate change – including Mumias East MP Peter Salasya who told reporters he had never heard much about the mind-boggling mathogothanio. (If Salasya visited Nyamira County, villagers would name him Ekenyamondogese. No translation.)

In just a few days, the media informed and educated Kenyans about climate change and the injustices of global politics that would take one many years of learning in a classroom.

And all those Kenyans who grumble about too much politics in the news had a week devoted to a single subject that has galvanised the globe.

The media not only informs citizens about matters of public interest, holds power to account, comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable; but it also, as in this case, mobilises wananchi around important issues and builds national pride by showcasing Brand Kenya to the world.

The Fourth Estate lived to its calling as vibrant, engaged and focused on issues.

Even Maina Kageni. Kudos!


See you next week!

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