Project accurate image of Africa, president urges media

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the media to embrace the tenets of good journalism and portray the accurate image of Africa.

He appealed to journalists to be factual and balanced in their presentation of news instead of only exaggerating the failures of the continent.

The President took a swipe at the foreign media for applying double standards and misrepresentation of the continent.

President Uhuru Kenyatta

Citing recent global headlines on Africa, the President noted that they focused on the coup in Burkina Faso, a bombing in Nigeria, crimes in Mali and the latest about Ebola but downplayed the continent’s achievements in child mortality and women’s access to political leadership which is growing faster than other regions in the world.

“Why exaggerate African failure? Why ignore African success? Stereotypes have an amazing ability to destroy our ability to see the facts; we who love Africa must stand up for her truths,” President Kenyatta said.

The Head of State was speaking on Saturday evening when he presided over the 2015 CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi.

He said it was unfortunate that while foreigners got the story wrong and misrepresented Africa, some African journalists also got the African story wrong.

President Kenyatta called on African journalists to lead in projecting the positive picture of the continent instead of dwelling on the negative and old tired stereotypes.

“I recall an African newspaper that led with the photo of a Westgate victim and another in which the bodies of the Mandera victims took centre stage. If we cannot respect the dignity of Africans, who will?” the President posed.

The Head of State pointed out that Africa is not a doomed continent but a dignified one. He said while there were challenges like Ebola, the continent – backed by the African Union – gave its skills, time and money to save lives.

“There’s an Africa at war, but African peacemakers in AMISOM are ending some of our most intractable conflicts,” the Head of State said.

He said the fact that in the last two years Kenya has connected 14,000 primary schools to electricity and 97% of Kenyan primary schools are now lit means Africa is a continent working to address the needs of its people.

“I have heard of an Africa that is hopelessly dependent on aid and charity; but the Africa I know has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies powered by radical transformation in technology and billions dollars of investments in infrastructure,” the President said.

He said the innovation, resilience and sacrifice of Africans is lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Congratulating journalists who won awards including Kenya’s Paul Kalemba, Enock Sikolia and Charles

Kariuki, President Kenyatta expressed optimism that the journalists will serve as leading lights in presenting the continent in positive light.

“So, today, we celebrate these men and women, and all of you who uphold the highest standards of your profession. When those high standards are the norm, we will reclaim the African narrative,” the President said.

Other speakers included Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, CNN International Senior Vice-President Ms Deborah Rayner and MultiChoice Chief Executive Officer Tim Jacobs.