Communicating in Troubled Times: A Conversation on Media and Democracy Ahead of Kenya’s 2017 Elections

The way media interacts with political and civil society actors frames critical moments in the political history of a country, such as contested elections or controversial electoral campaigns. In the wake of Kenya’s 2007 elections and the ensuing crisis, society blamed mainstream media outlets for feeding the violence. A journalist, Joshua Arap Sang, was indicted for incitement by the International Criminal Court. A new narrative emerged, redefining the role and responsibility of the media in political coverage during the 2013 general elections.

On 24 August 2016, as part of the MeCODEM project, the Rift Valley Forum and the University of Oxford brought together politicians, journalists, civil society activists and academics to discuss the nexus of media, civil society and politics in the context of the 2013 political elections and the 2014 anti-terror operation Usalama Watch. The full-day workshop included three panels that reflected on what went right and what went wrong during these critical events that tested the resilience of Kenyan democracy. The discussion also sought to offer insights and food for thought ahead of 2017 elections by identifying best practices and highlighting critical issues.

Panel 1: Journalist Ethics and Practices

Hamza Egal (Blogger and human rights activist who initiated the campaign #KenyaImNotaTerrorist)

Patrick Gathara (Political blogger/cartoonist)

Buraan Cade (Founder of Eastleighwood Youth Forum)

John Sibi Okumu (Journalist, Media and Comunication Consultant)

Gianluca Iazzolino (Mecodem Researcher, University of Oxford)

Panel 2: Role of Activists and Civil Society Organisations

Atieno Ndomo (Social policy and development analyst)

Abubakar Said (URAIA)

Kyalo Mwengi (National Cohesion and Integration Commission)

Shukri Islow (Gender and youth activist)

Abdi Yussuf (Leader Somali Bantu in Eastleigh)

Jacinta Maweu (Mecodem Researcher and Lecturer, University of Nairobi)

 

Panel 3: Political Authorities Communication Practices in Conflict

Hon. Yusuf Hassan Abdi (MP, Kamukunji)

Samson Omondi (Kenya National Commission on Human Rights)

Tony Mochama (Journalist, Writer-Standard Newspaper)

Bernard Mulwa (Tumalize Umaskini Trust)

Tom Wolf (IPSOS)

Nicole Stremlau (Head of PCMLP and Mecodem Researcher, University of Oxford)