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This man Opere and why floods are not news

Few people know Alfred Opere.

We did not know him too, until we started thinking about how the media has been reporting on the recent heavy rains and floods.

Now, at the risk of public lynching, we want to state here that ‘flooding’ is not news, and that the way the media has been reporting ‘flooding’ is an insult to the collective intelligence of at least two generations of Kenyans before and after independence – the kind of reporting that has made ‘floods’ political.

Back to Opere, and why any journalist reporting about ‘floods’ must know Opere.

Now, there are fellows who go to university and write all manner of excellent treatises, including one on mating habits of cockroaches and why they die on their backs.

Why? We know a fellow that earned a PhD for writing an excellent treatise on ‘The importance of zero.’

Another went to university and wrote an excellent treatise on why the sun rises in the East and sets in the West and why the sky does not collapse on our heads although there are no supporting columns between the earth and the sky.

But not Opere.Smart fellow went to the University of Nairobi and thought, and thought, and thought.

Then he thought again, and bang! A golden apple fell from the top self of the library and landed on his head, and eureka! The title of his treatise burst into his head – Floods in Kenya!

Well, we have never met this Opere fellow, but he sure did a better job telling the story of floods in Kenya than all our current crop of ‘flood’ journalists-radio, TV print, digital, traditional – all of them combined.

Gentleman went and dug up Kenya’s history of floods and from the corridors of UoN’s library, decreed that floods are not exactly news in Kenya; that we have had at least 20 deadly floods in Kenya since 1963.

But then, Opere likes using his brain while writing on floods, and brainwork is such tiresome business in newsrooms today.

Who, for example, wants to think that the term ‘floods’  can actually mean a basin of water that suddenly overflows or tips over?

Who wants to think that the Solai dam burst that killed tens of people actually caused ‘flooding?”

And have we heard of the London beer floods back in 1814? Back then, a freak accident burst a beer storage facility, releasing thousands of litres of beer onto the streets. A number of deaths were reported as well as property destroyed.

Had it happened in Kenya, we doubt if there would have been a journalist sober enough to flood the newsroom with a flooding story.

Long live Opere!


And now to our ban bin.

The Mediascape proposes that the following words and phases be banned from Kenya’s mediascape:

Come to terms, as in ‘residents are coming to terms with the incident’. We are yet to come to terms with this overused phrase.

Rude shock as in ‘Residents woke up to a rude shock’ unless of course, there is something like polite shock.

Counting losses, as in “Residents are counting losses after floods blah blah..” unless of course, we are discussing Shakespeare’s Merchants of Venice.

Forced to, as in ‘They were forced to eat grass after running out of food’, unless, of course, a gun was put on the head of whoever we are writing about.

Wreaking havoc. Please leave havoc alone, do not wreck it!

Gruesome as in ‘gruesome murder’. Let’s stop trying to colour death!

Sad state of affairs. Use this only when you are writing a novel!

Deceased as in ‘The deceased blab la blah’. This is a diseased cliché. If we die, just say John died……. not the deceased died…The deceased was married…. the deceased was killed. It is crappy, and diseased.

It was song and dance. Leave this one for grade one English compositions.

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