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Learn fine art of storytelling, not just packing facts and figures

Rodgers Swahili, 28, who lost his hearing as a child, champions the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to translate spoken words to sign language, enhancing communication and inclusion for the nearly 150,000 individuals in Kenya’s deaf community (Star, January 2, p.14). Rushed. Heavy, dull intro. Bad storytelling. Begin slowly. Who’s Rodgers? How did he lose his hearing as a child? What happened next until he discovered AI, appreciated it, and started championing it? That’s the fine art of storytelling.

In a move to address long-standing issues of negligence, misdiagnosis, corruption, industrial strikes, and medical quackery, which have made it difficult for Kenyans to access good healthcare services, the government has introduced the Building Resilient and Responsive Health Systems Project (BREHS) (Standard, January 5, p.2). This is not newswriting. Lots of words that don’t communicate anything.

Next: The World Bank-funded and supervised initiative, tagged with tough recommendations, intends to reform the health sector, mainstream vulnerable and marginalised groups, promote transparency and accountability, and ensure stakeholder engagement to stop industrial strikes, corruption and negligence. Urgh. A string of buzzwords and clichés.

All that’s being said here is that the government has partnered with the World Bank to reform the health sector. You can then provide the details of the initiative in simple, clear language. Fine art of storytelling.

Narok braces for better days after a tough year of devastating drought (Star, January 2, p.21). Wrong. If you “brace yourself for” anything, it means you are preparing to face something difficult or unpleasant. You don’t brace yourself for better days.

Kenyans from all walks of life flocked to churches across the country to usher in the New Year with joy and optimism amid the challenges posed by economic downturn in the country (Standard, January 2, p.6). Wordy, repetitive. Kenyans from all walks of life means “across the country”. And we know economic downturn is “in the country”, not need to state it.

The petition follows the drowning of four victims after the autopsy revealed they were tortured (Standard, January 2, p.8). Ala, how did it happen? After the autopsy revealed they were tortured, the four unfortunate fellows drowned? Shida hapa is poor use of “after”.

Primary school enrolment is poised to decline significantly [in 2024] given the restructuring up to grade six (Nation, January 2, p.6). True. Conversely, there is an expected uptick in JSS admissions as students move from grade eight to grade nine. Partly true. The JSS pioneer class moves to grade eight, not nine, this year.

Men and women to watch in New Year (People Daily, January 2, p.1). Men and women to watch as political intrigues take shape (p.4). People to watch as country gears for big changes in the education (p.8). New KMA boss Munga a man to watch in 2024 (p.16). Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano will be a person to watch… (p.17). Sawa basi. PD is the newspaper to watch in 2024.

Governors splash on offices as development takes back seat (Nation, January 3, p.5). Again, the word is “splurge”, meaning spend money extravagantly. The verb “splash” can’t convey “spend”, whether directly or metaphorically.

Umbrella bodies representing healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses have condemned a viral video in which a nurse on duty is being harassed by two disgruntled individuals at a hospital in Port Victoria, Busia county (Nation, January 5, p.10). What’s being condemned here, the viral video? Headline says: Unions condemn attack on nurse as probe is launched. And can’t you write neatly “health unions”, instead of “umbrella bodies representing healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses”?

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