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Surprise over miss: Media concerned by absence of Mashujaa Day chief guest

By Gabriel Melonyie

The close of Mashujaa Day celebrations last month, on October 20, at the Kericho Green Stadium, saw several stories make the headlines. Among them was the absence of Angolan President Joao Laurenco from the celebrations.

His absence did not mean that he and his country were not well represented. Foreign minister Tete Antonio graced the event and expressed President Laurenco’s intent to attend the celebrations but could not due to ‘unavoidable circumstances’.

This, however, did not hold back the media (Daily Nation, NTV, The Star, The Standard, Capital FM, Citizen TV and Citizen Digital) from raising concerns over his absence. The stories had one message: The Angolan president missed the Mashujaa Day celebrations despite being in the country after arriving the previous day on October 19.

The absence of the Angolan president has sparked curiosity about the reasons for his non-appearance and his current whereabouts,” Capital News reported.

Kenyans took to X to express their views on the absence of the Angolan President from the celebrations.

The opinions were both positive and negative, but the media was quick to enlighten many based-on President William Ruto’s statement that slightly offset the curiosity about the absence of the Angolan guest.

The president of Angola is in the country as we talk, and he will be having a state visit tomorrow,” President Ruto was reported to have said during his opening comments at the Mashujaa Day celebrations. This however did not fully explain the chief guest’s absence from the celebrations.

President Laurenco began his official visit to Kenya the next day at State House, which was widely reported. This easily shifted the media’s concerns from his whereabouts the previous day and his notable absence from the Mashujaa Day celebrations. The media in its flexible and adaptable nature changed tune regarding the ongoing proceedings and focused on the outcome of the talks between the two heads of state.

Direct flights between Nairobi and Luanda, activation of a visa-free regime, signing of 11 legal instruments, and a pledge by Kenya to support Angola’s candidature for African Union Peace and Security Council membership were among significant policy areas that the two heads of states reportedly discussed. The outcome of Laurenco’s talks with President Ruto overshadowed the question marks raised by the media during the Mashujaa Day celebrations.

While it was proper for the media to question the absence of the promised guest, they forgot about it immediately, following the events at State House the next day.

Simba alert over GSUs, the royal visit and Mr Beast’s boreholes

Introduction

In the dynamic realm of media analysis, where every hashtag and trending topic holds the potential to shape the public narrative, for the period between October 30 and November 5, 2023, The Media Observer unveils the compelling tales and pivotal events that spurred conversations online and offline. This trends report looks at the top topics of the week, including the riveting accounts of #RoyalVisitKenya, Queen Camilla, State House, King, Maina Njenga, Bottom-Up Agenda, Mr Beast and #ZiaraYaMaendeleoPwani. Through our analysis, we strive to illuminate the nuances, decipher the complexities, and offer a window into the transformative power of media in the ever-evolving fabric of our society.

Simba Arati

The office of Kisii Governor Simba Arati at Gusii Stadium took centre stage as officers from the elite General Service Unit barricaded the premises on Monday morning. In a statement to the media, the governor voiced his concerns, hinting at a possible orchestrated effort to arrest him. He attributed this to his support for a boda boda sacco and his unwavering dedication to fighting corruption within the county. Arati expressed his disappointment with the lack of communication from senior county security officials regarding the GSUs at his office. But Kisii County Police Commander Charles Kases denied a raid on the governor’s adding that the GSU officers were patrolling area and decided to relax at the stadium.

Impact on media

Stories with elements of drama and intrigue tend to attract more attention from the public. This can lead to increased viewership, readership, and engagement with mainstream media outlets, which is often desirable for these organizations. However, the media instead of providing the public with the details of the incident dwelt on the sideshows between the police, the governor, and other politicians in Kisii. The role of the media in such incidences must be to remain professional and give the public information.

When a prominent political figure like Governor Arati alleges a conspiracy or potential arrest, it can lead to increased scrutiny of government actions, which is a core function of the media. With the ongoing wrangles between the Governor and politicians in the county, journalists will need to investigate claims, seek responses from government officials, and provide objective coverage.

#RoyalVisitKenya

The visit of King Charles III and Queen Camilla marked a significant moment in President William Ruto’s agenda. Their arrival in the country took place on a Monday night, officially commencing their four-day visit on the following Tuesday, concluding on Friday. President Ruto hosted King Charles and Queen Camilla at State House. Other engagements included a visit to the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, a state banquet, and a tour of the Coast region.

The hashtag #RoyalVisitKenya gained immense popularity, trending at #3 for over seven hours on October 31 and subsequently reaching #2 with 15K tweets on November 1. Furthermore, King Charles III also experienced significant online attention, trending at #3 with 469K tweets for more than nine hours on November 1.

Impact on media

The royal visit garnered significant media attention, as evidenced by the trending hashtag #RoyalVisitKenya and the high number of tweets about the visit. This increased media coverage can be seen as a reflection of public interest and curiosity surrounding the visit.

Media outlets provided a diverse range of content, including news articles, photographs, videos, and live coverage. During such visits, media must be bold and always speak truth to power. Nation Media must be commended for their courage to highlight the atrocities committed by the British during the colonial period and the demand for an apology and compensation.

Mr Beast

American YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, popularly known as Mr Beast, took the internet by storm as he trended at #️1 with 72K tweets. He caused a whirlwind of mixed reactions among netizens after he spearheaded the drilling of 52 boreholes in Kenya. Mr Beast showcased his active involvement in the drilling process in a 10-minute video on his YouTube channel. This noble endeavour elicited a range of responses from the online community, with many netizens expressing admiration for Mr Beast’s efforts. However, some also voiced their concern, suggesting that his actions had inadvertently spotlighted the shortcomings of the Kenyan political establishment. This led to an emerging sentiment of ridicule directed towards Kenyan authorities, as they were seemingly outshone by a foreigner’s commitment to improving the lives of local communities.

Impact on media

Mr Beast’s initiative garnered extensive media coverage, both in Kenya and abroad. This heightened interest brought attention to an issue that might have otherwise gone unnoticed, resulting in a substantial increase in news articles, television reports, and online content. The media has a role in establishing the validity of the story on the 52 boreholes and highlight the impact the boreholes will have on the residents. Further, the media needs to interrogate who the ‘beast man’ is and the motive for drilling boreholes.

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