#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.

By Nanjira

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