The status of citizen media in Kenya

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Society & You - Social Critic
Saturday, 14 July 2012 11:03

What is the status of citizen media in Kenya?

The debate moderator is Robert Kunga .

Kachwanya Kennedy is president of the Association of Kenyan bloggers [en]. Collins Mbalo [in] won the award for best African blogger, and is a Global Voices author who writes from the perspective of Kenya. Judith Owigar is cofounder and President Akirachix [in].

Kenyan Citizen Media 101 # GV2012

Robert asks: What are the average citizens?

Collins talks about Kenyan experience in citizen media. Bloggers and microbloggers in Africa are very prolific. Kenya has the second highest number of Twitter accounts of Africa. Kenya is the third largest blogger country in Africa after South Africa and Nigeria. About 20 million people use mobile phones in Kenya and most of them have Internet access from their phones. According to recent research, most people use the Internet to get the latest news and chat with your friends.

Judith organizes Akirachix [in], an organization that connects women with technology. They do this blogging all its activities, making Internet media to show what is happening. Coordinated by blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn. You have crossed the border from Kenya to Uganda and Zambia.

What is the state of blogging in Kenya? Kachwanya Kennedy talks about the blogger coverage of violence after the elections [in] in 2008. He also talks about Ushahidi [in], a collaborative mapping platform. To encourage that more blogs, bloggers Kenya Association awards an annual prize, the " Bloggers [in]. "Right now, Kenya has at least 11,000 bloggers.

What are the challenges for citizen media? Blogs are mostly in urban centers, where the Internet is more widespread. Kennedy hopes that some of the 3 billion mobile phone users in Kenya to share their stories. Collins notes that local regions often lack media in their own languages. This trend is beginning to change: we are now starting to see indigenous languages ​​appear on the Internet. Incitement to hatred is another challenge for online citizen media. Just yesterday, the Kenyan government began to talk about monitoring the speech on the Internet, especially in view of the forthcoming elections.

How do I use citizen media in Kenya? Judith said that people use microblogs to criticize the government. In a recent case, the Kenyan parliament attempt to change the constitution to implement the requirement to have a college degree for public office. Judith said large public complaints on Twitter, he believes influenced the president rejected the constitutional amendment. Kennedy highlights ways that blogs challenge the international perception of the country. Highlight the label # PrimitiveEnergy [in] which challenged Kenyans to an advertisement in a derogatory Korean airline. Recently, when CNN published an article on violence in Kenya. Also encouraged to follow the label # KOT , "Kenians on Twitter" (Kenyans on Twitter). Social networks have also been used in Kenya to fund health initiatives and raise awareness. One of the Twitter accounts of Kenya's most followed @ KenyaRedCross , which shares information and coordinates support.

What is the relationship between government and citizen media? Kennedy believes that government has a positive attitude toward citizen media, some of the computer board members are former bloggers. But like most governments, Kenya is closely watching, do not want to face lifts. But Kennedy believes that, above all, the government is more like a partner than an adversary. At the same time, hoping that things stay as they are.

Collins tells the story of # 140friday [in], an online discussion about why the government did more contracts to companies in Kenya. The government realized and reacted with these bloggers finding and committing to provide more contracts to local companies.

How people use the video in citizen media? Collins notes that in Nairobi and Mombasa, the Internet connection is very good. In these places you can watch videos without problems. For now, most of the content is text. Kennedy cites examples of photoblogs dedicated to documenting agriculture farming practices. The musicians and political activists using YouTube. Political candidates use websites and all hoping to reach Internet users between 18 and 30.

Judith believes that we should not focus on format: what matters is the relevance of content. Twitter users in Kenya live mostly in Nairobi and share common interests. You wonder about people in rural areas whose needs and interests are not displayed in the content of most bloggers, whatever the format.

What people outside the internet means people use? Kennedy mentions ways in which progressive movements also do things outside the Internet. Notes motion on February 28 [in] on Twitter, that led people to meet Internet out to sing the national anthem of Kenya. It also highlights the poetry in and out of internet Njeri Wangari [in] and POWO, Poets and writers of Kenya Online [en]. Collins talks to the usual happy hours of bloggers in Nairobi.

How Kenyans use citizen media for education and entertainment? Collins talks about the music videos from Juliani, which highlights the work of the slums. Believes that every citizen media in Kenya are a series, the labels are in the news trends of the mainstream media. Kennedy notes back to # KOT and jokes, games and entertainment Kenyans debated. When the ICC announced the upcoming trials of Kenyans accused of involvement in violence after the elections [in], Kenyans made ​​playlists of music videos. Judith tells us about the video Makmende [in] the first viral video of Kenya.


Many people around the world knows the role of blogs in violence after the 2008 elections. Ethan Zuckerman wonders what bloggers Kenyans want the world to know about upcoming elections and what support they want from the international community during and after them.

Collins replied that what everyone wants above all is peaceful elections. He hoped that the forthcoming elections are as peaceful as 2002. Believes that bloggers around the world must make the positive aspects of not only Kenya and the slums. Kennedy replied that we should expect that citizen media offer an alternative channel to traditional media worldwide. Will be everywhere: in the voting and in the streets with Twitter, blogs and photos. We ask people from other places citizen media continue to have credible information instead of simply relying on national and international press.

A participant who is a computer center and library exhibits concern: after the violence following elections in 2007 and 2008, the slums were the most affected areas. We can talk about blogs, but people continue to trust what they see and read on paper. Judith mentions that in the slums often there are people whose role is to be an information resource for their communities, perhaps they could work with bloggers. Kennedy mentioned that the Association of Kenyan bloggers would love to add content from bloggers slums.

Internews Henry asked if they believe that the speech on the Internet should be subject to legal regimes that currently apply to print and broadcast, if you must have its own law, or if it should be regulated.

Kennedy, a lawyer, says that while there are no specific laws for the Internet, the Kenya Communications Act does have provisions that can monitor and punish online activities. Kenya expects to have specific laws governing citizen media. These laws should provide a framework for effective practice but not to hinder citizen media.

A blogger Nairobi citizen media questions about the deaf people in the Kenyan blogosphere. Kenya Kibera says initiatives to support the deaf blogs. Judith mentions a new Kenyan government grant to support NGOs that help deaf people to express themselves online.

A participant from the Institute of Human Rights and Development in Africa asked what initiatives exist to ensure freedom of expression online. Kennedy replied that although they are working on Internet freedom, no project is organized. While the government decides how to respond to Internet media Al-Shabab, believed to be an urgent necessity.

Robert shares a Twitter question: "When talking on the network of relevance, what do we mean by it?" Kennedy believes that local relevance is that more and more people come to the internet and start producing content. For now, most of the content is focused on situations in urban centers, but expect to see soon more rural content.

Collins believed that 95% of the content on Africa is not Africa. The Kenyan media should be defined by people who see and experience the things they report.

An adjunct professor of journalism at Coventry University suggests that Kenyan bloggers only reinforce what the mainstream media covers. He says that bloggers need to be better organized to counter the concentration of power in the mainstream media. The Nation Media Group and The Standard are powerful and the presidential candidates are conventional media owners. Talk of the questions about the deaths that show Kenyans, but we need bloggers to find and remarquen tests.

Kennedy believed that most bloggers are not active for change. However, pointing to MarsGroup Online [en] ( blog [at]) of Mumati, a blog that covers corruption and accountability. Robert points out that many Kenyans rely on traditional media. For now, Kenyans receive breaking news on the Internet much faster. Expected to lead to a greater number of public trust in citizen media on the Internet.

Concluding Remarks
Judith, which mainly focuses on culture, hopes that if bloggers put more cultural content online, more people come into the network.

Kennedy calls the state the fifth Kenyan bloggers citing their ability to influence international business. Think that means we want Kenyans to be more natural and more active for change.

Collins reminds us that Global Voices has asked Kenyan bloggers to write a post about how to use citizen media in the upcoming elections and is expected to go soon.

Written by J. Nathan Matias · Translated by Laura Rebollo · View original post [en] · Comments (0)
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