Last week the President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki attended the East African Journalists Convention held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, setting high expectations for the news media to be fair and balanced, and to play its educative and informative roles in Kenya and Africa at large.
“As we approach the forthcoming elections, we expect the media to be at the forefront in informing and educating Kenyans on various electoral matters so that they can make informed choices of leaders,” said President Kibaki.
He reminded African journalists that their reporting on the positive side of the continent would shape the attitudes, biases and opinions of the international media.
“Always bear this in mind because we need to start preparing the world for the days ahead, as Africa slowly but surely begins taking its rightful place on the international platform. Help the world capture the true picture of this significant moment. This will be your contribution to Africa since you are the first chronicle of history,” he observed.
While the President did also talk about the importance of new technologies and social media, overwhelmingly his concern was that these new platforms aren’t abused for immoral acts. President Kibaki urged users of new media across the continent to exercise their freedoms responsibly and use such platforms to promote development, peace and cohesion.
“Our young people should especially view new media as modern empowering tools and not avenues to corrupt their morals”, he observed.
Observing that information and telecommunications technology has enabled the diffusion of vital information to a large number of people in a very short span of time, president Kibaki noted with gratitude that Kenya is ranked second on the African continent in the use of the social networking site, Twitter with Facebook users in approaching two million.
This rapid growth of technology use, the head of state stated, promised to transform and enable the emergence of new ways to communicate, share information and knowledge, and for people to widen their sense of participation, identity and belonging.