#SomeoneTellCNN That Kenya Is Watching How They Tell Our Stories

And we are proving that we sure can cause a stir about faux-reporting.

The genesis. A newscast painting this picture of an attack on one of Nairobi’s bus stops on Saturday evening.

(Image courtesy of Zosi)

The outcome. Kenyans on Twitter(#KOT) take to airing outrage over the sensationalized and very misinformed headline as seen above.

One can’t help but ask why. Was this a copywriter’s error or was this a careful crafting by the CNN newsrooms? It is indeed fact, that a Nairobi city bus stop fell victim to a violent attack, that has left 4 people dead and 42(possibly more) people injured. How then, does that qualify as violence? The question was raised by Diasporadical on twitter

To which, David McKenzie , the CNN correspondent in Africa responded:

Upon pursuing the  matter with the  HQ, this is what CNN has to say, via McKenzie

There’s little need to justify the #SomeoneTellCNN  ‘tirade’. Reference to violence in Kenya is a touchy issue. We are yet to fully emerge from the effects of the 2007/8 Post Election Violence; with the next election close by, that presents numerous complexities , we don’t need an international media house evoking uncalled for emotion, whether by accident or design.

This isn’t mindless criticism, nor is it something to be swept under the rug by way of apology and taking down the headline.

The #SomeoneTellCNN hashtag highlights a whole lot, and brings to the spotlight an issue that we, the stakeholders, the people painted as hopeless,despondent and in a dire state have to address. This isn’t the first time, probably might not be the last time Kenyan or African news is overly sensationalized. Just this past week, the #Kony2012 campaign that was launched online by Invisible Children came under a lot of criticism for its misrepresentation of facts, but none of that critiquing launched a counter-campaign or culminated in concerted effort, calling on the same people the message had reached to look at the true facts. Not so with #SomeoneTellCNN. Through our relentless tweeting, we have enforced that KENYA IS NOT UNDER VIOLENCE. Some of our brothers and sisters were attacked, and its all under investigation. It is true that we have heightened security in the country, especially in the wake of our Defense Force invading Somalia to tame the Al-Shabaab threat, but we are proving that we will not just sit there and let the facts of our country be misrepresented. To that end, I salute every Kenyan on Twitter who has objectively contributed to getting the true message heard!

Does it end with a formal apology from CNN? I don’t think so. These two events point at one glaring problem. Africa is not telling her own stories on the world platform. And we need to figure out how to change that, in order to silence naysayers and them that are keen on effecting a saviour mentality on matters Africa. We cannot afford to always be on the reactionary end of things. It’s time to get proactive.

Let us find effective ways of telling the true African story, else we’ll forever be firefighters, and overlooked by notorious repeat offenders!

Time to act for Africa! Until then, #SomeoneTellCNN that we are keenly watching how they tell our stories.

PS: Local media houses, you also have a duty to not follow the sensationalization trend, yours is a bone to pick another day.

Author: Nanjira

Perched at the intersection of tech & governance, media, culture.

  • LilaAinaeny

    well said, thank you!

  • Thuothuo2
  • Job

    hopeless CNN they should grow up!

  • mmnjug ™

    Very well put.

  • Well said

  • Oscar

    thats a bunch of bull , unless we save our own trust me they are out to tarnish our own in any sense of it, pple be aware of the false prophets who will poison you and act like they have the cure for you too. we should tell our own stories to avoid this.

  • Swivelification

    This is good.

  • Bonmuwa

    they should do a press statement asap

  • Mpkamau

    Nanjira, your writing is good. I though have a problem with the fundamantals behind this. Ukweli usemwe, in some places e.g. Dubai you can go for years without hearing sm1 was killed. Have we as Kenyans gotten used to people getting killed until we trivialise it? 6 people dies while waiting for a bus and others were injured and you do not call that violence? maybe what we need is an english lesson here. To dig deeper, road accidents last year alone claimed more that 3K lifes not to mention the 10s of thousands who were permanently maimed, robberies are an order of the day, 50% population living in poverty. I ask have we lowered our standards to that level? I dream of a Kenya where we do not appear anywhere in the western news (good or bad) because we will have everything we need in Kenya and we wont look for approval from anyone. This blog just enhances the west’s perception of Africa, a child who misbahaves and expects to be treated the same way as other obedient kids. Ask yourself why in the first place we have CNN in Kenya, from the last time I checked I never saw KBC/KTN/NTV reporting issues in UK/US. Pls let get our ark together and build a brand, LETS STOP THIS LOWLY LIFE!!!

    • A better way to put this would’ve been: a violent attack. It’s not that we are desensitized. On the contrary. We are sitting on a volcano in Kenya,many thanks to the political temperatures,so any allusion to violence ,especially when uncalled for,is touching on a pricky issue.

      • Well put Nanjira, this the same simple mistakes that respected media houses here in Kenya even make. Before such print is on-air, all the critics/revisions to it should’ve been effected to avoid such a public backlash. I agree that they would have simply put it as a VIOLENT ATTACK, but not as was reported. Kamau, give credit where it’s due, we are a global village and any rhetoric affects us all, in various proportions.
        Why do we cover US election then? We have Americans living in our midst too, just like Kenyans in America; therefore whatever happens here affects the whole globe, but should be reported rightly.

    • Samuel G

      mpkamau the rate of murders in dubai is alot especially towards foreigners

  • kapseret

    Excellently written..we should fight to tell our own stories just like they do theirs in the west…its all abt whos telling the story and the outcome would be totally different…kipindi ingine always aired in the UK kila mwaka juu ya kibera…if wakenya wangeona vile wanaonyeshwa (kwa jina ya kusaidiwa)nkt.. we should protect whats said abt our country…never understood why former President Moi hakuwapenda…now am grown I understand

  • I think people dying is as violent as violent gets. CNN’s portrayal is spot on!

    • jichopevuL

      you fail to see the point…when a random kid in Cincinnati goes on a shooting spree…CNN does not give the label “VIOLENCE IN OHIO” or VIOLENCE IN USA…violence against the school…maybe…but making it look like the whole country or state is not something that happens in the western world…which is what this is all about.

      terrorist attack against kenyans…more appropriate…but to the lesser informed citizens of the world “VIOLENCE IN KENYA” against the backrop of a scorched up flag indicates that the whole country is in dire straits…that the whole nation is violent…yet this is only one incidence.

      I live in the states and this year has already seen numerous high school shootings(in many states) and not once have i seen cnn sensationalize it to the point portrayed above…I (along with thousands of kenyans fail completely to understand you and your reasoning)

      • Well in! If all incidences of violent attacks were portrayed as so, then that would be different.
        We are anything but desensitized!

    • A violent attack doesn’t qualify an entire nation as undergoing violence. Like I said, that’s a word we Kenyans are very emotional about; we have seen violence, we don’t need that word flung unnecessarily as regards our well-being.

  • Mpkamau, you are 100% right! Kenyans are too desensitized to violence.

  • vickshone

    should be sued for damages caused to the image of our soveleign country kenya!

  • Bnalia

    I think this is another knee-jerk reaction by #KOT who have over the last few months shown a hyped level of “sensitivity” about anything that slighted them. Are we becoming so callous as to dismiss 6 deaths as a result of a violent attack (in Kenya) as not being violence?? it is violence and it did happen in Kenya. You are entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts, the fact is 6 people died and 68 people were injured as a result of a violent attack in Kenya. How you choose to interpret the banner headline really can’t be an issue. seriously. anywho, i guess the Kenyan blogosphere needs idle topics to wax pundit about, right? Mjibambe

    • Telling the story against the backdrop of a scorched flag? You’ve said it yourself,people died as a result of a violent attack.
      Check the comments eco-system. Stir sensation,you get sensation right back,is the message to CNN.

  • What is so hard for CNN just to report the way things happened, or it is only one way to look at it David Mackenzie was never on the ground, of course he was somewhee in Westlands or Muthaiga sipping his cold drink and trying to piece his story together from hear say. shame on you. and you better change the way you portray our country coz we wont need you around if what you are spreading is malice and propaganda.

  • its so sad when some extremists who are loyal to the terror gangs bombards us then someone makes it even sensation reporting that there is violence in Kenya.
    McKENZIE. for crying out LOUD, Kenya is not at WAR and mind how you report ther is so much bad stuff happening in your country but CNN does not report and something happens doown here then yo guys turns it into your next meal ticket for months. STYLE UP CNN.

  • Mwitiab

    Reminds of the son by Lord Laro, “Foreign Press”.

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  • Niam Zi

    Yes, I agree its time Africa reports and tell its own stories on an international level. South Africa has its news broadcast for the whole of Africa on SABC Africa channel that can be watched all over the continent via satellite. It reports African news but I think something along those lines, if we could create our own & go international