Birth of a Nation: The Story of a Newspaper in Kenya

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The Lake Victoria basin is part of a plateau rising eastward from the lakeshore to the Rift highlands. The lower part, forming the lake basin proper, is itself a plateau area lying between 3, and 4, feet and 1, metres above sea level.

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The rolling grassland of this plateau is cut almost in half by the Kano Plain, into which an arm of the lake known as Winam Gulf Kavirondo Gulf extends eastward for 50 miles 80 km. The floor of the Kano Plain merges north and south into highlands characterized by a number of extinct volcanoes.

These include Mount Elgon , rising to 14, feet 4, metres at the Ugandan border on the extreme north of the basin. The Rift Valley splits the highland region into two sections: the Mau Escarpment to the west and the Aberdare Range to the east. The valley itself is 30 to 80 miles 50 to km wide, and its floor rises from about 1, feet metres in the north around Lake Turkana Lake Rudolf to over 7, feet 2, metres at Lake Naivasha but then drops to 2, feet metres at the Tanzanian border in the south. The floor of the Rift is occupied by a chain of shallow lakes separated by extinct volcanoes.

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In November , the Independent Policing Oversight Authority IPOA , a civilian police oversight institution, said it had investigated at least two cases relating to the elections, but could not identify the killers due to lack of evidence. And yet the Church of England never took a stand against this system. Explaining National Heroes Acre, where Mugabe will rest For those whose remains are laid to rest here, it is a sign of courage and selflessness. Human Rights Watch found that between August and March , police and other officials targeted at least 15 activists and victims of police brutality in Nairobi and the western county of Kisumu. Coming here on the first day did not mean they would get the services finished. Staff at the Kakamega General and Referral Hospital were Sunday involved in a frenzied search for the records relating to the birth of the identical twins born there, but separated at birth, 19 year ago

West of the valley the diverse highland area runs from the thick lava block of the Mau Escarpment—Mount Tinderet complex northward to the Uasin Gishu Plateau. East of the Rift the Aberdare Range rises to nearly 10, feet 3, metres. The eastern highlands extend from the Ngong Hills and the uplands bordering Tanzania northward to the Laikipia Escarpment.

The relief of both highlands is complex and includes plains, deep valleys, and mountains. Important in the historic and economic development of Kenya, the region was the focus of European settlement. The eastern plateau forelands, located just east of the Rift highlands, constitute a vast plateau of ancient rocks gently sloping to the coastal plain. They are a region of scattered hills and striking elevated formations, the most prominent being the hills of Taita, Kasigau, Machakos, and Kitui. These hills, containing the area of more favourable climate, are surrounded by regions historically prone to famine.

The semiarid and arid areas in the north and northeast are part of a vast region extending from the Ugandan border through Lake Rudolf to the plateau area between the Ethiopian and Kenyan highlands.

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The area from Lake Magadi southward, though not as arid, has the same characteristics. Although tree and grass cover is scanty there, the areas of true desert are limited to the Chalbi Desert east of Lake Rudolf. The movement of people and livestock is strictly limited by the availability of water. The coastal plain proper, which runs for about miles km along the Indian Ocean , is a narrow strip only about 10 miles 16 km wide in the south, but in the Tana River lowlands to the north it broadens to about miles km.

Farther northeast it merges into the lowlands of Somalia.

The excellent natural harbours include that of Mombasa , which is one of the best in East Africa. This dome produced a primeval watershed from which rivers once drained eastward to the Indian Ocean and westward to the Congo River system and the Atlantic Ocean. Still following this ancient pattern are the Tana and Galana rivers, which rise in the eastern highlands and flow roughly southeast to the Indian Ocean.

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West of the Central Rift, however, the major streams now drain into Lake Victoria. These include the Nzoia, Yala, Mara, and Nyando rivers. There are no major groundwater basins, and, apart from the Tana River, most of the rivers in Kenya are short and often disappear during the dry season. Lake Victoria, with a surface area of 26, square miles 69, square km , is the largest lake in Africa, the second largest freshwater body in the world, and a major reservoir of the Nile River.

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Loughran recalls that in the period prior to independence the Nation "seemed to speak to a white audience rather than an African or even a multiracial one," with its choice of stories often reflected through "a British lens. To their credit, however, the paper's white overseers were committed to putting editorial control in black hands.

Africans gradually came to represent the overwhelming majority of newsgathering and editing personnel, to the point where expatriates today account for less than one percent of editorial staff. But that transition meant empowering many young journalists with little professional training. And these neophytes were occasionally encumbered by partisan bias. During the Nation's first decades, reporters worked for low wages in unpleasant conditions and on antiquated equipment.

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It is therefore unsurprising that the paper made numerous errors of fact and committed some hilarious stylistic gaffes. And at least a couple of times, its mistakes and misjudgments badly damaged the paper's reputation, as Loughran also documents. Kenya's political leaders—themselves generally inexperienced and insecure in the years following independence—simultaneously pressed the Nation to refrain from critical reporting.

The argument was that economic development must come first, last and always, and that the media's proper role was to exhibit solidarity with the Kenyan government. Demands that the paper respect those in authority sometimes involved threats of violence and recourse to outright repression. Six Nation journalists were arrested in , for example, and the paper was temporarily banned from covering Parliament eight years later. Self-censorship has regularly resulted, Loughran observes.

And the Nation has felt it necessary at times to print apologies to aggrieved power brokers, even when apologies were not warranted. It is vital to note in this context—and Loughran does so—that the Kenyan constitution contains no guarantee of freedom of the press. The Nation has also acted courageously, even defiantly, on issues of great import to Kenya. For many years, it was a lonely voice in support of a multiparty political system, insisting that a single-party state is inimical to democratic governance.

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The paper has exposed corruption on a staggering scale, refusing to overlook the looting of the public treasury despite threats of retribution as well as claims that it was undermining confidence in national institutions. Kenyans have rewarded the Nation for its, on balance, credible and creditable performance by making it the top-selling newspaper in the country—by far.

The Nation Media Group has become one of the biggest enterprises of its kind in all Africa, with 1,plus employees and more than a dozen print titles, in Kiswahili as well as in English, along with radio and TV outlets. Consistent with the Aga Khan's founding vision of a publishing venture spanning East Africa, the company now owns media properties in Tanzania and Uganda.

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By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy. Those in charge of the Nation , he suggests, would have needed "near-superhuman qualities" for the paper to have achieved excellence in all respects and at all times.

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But the Nation , like every newspaper everywhere, is run by fallible humans. Moreover, Nation decision-makers have "had to contend with the commercial requirements of the ownership, hostility from successive governments, the demands of an intelligent, aspiring staff and the daily scrutiny of a highly politicized readership—all this whilst guiding the paper faithfully by its founding slogan, 'The truth shall make you free.

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Launched in Nairobi in , three years before the birth of independent Kenya, the Nation group of newspapers grew up sharing the struggles of an infant. This book claims to be the most nuanced historical study of a major media outlet in Eastern Africa. Loughran narrates the story of the Nation.

Apply the question to "Birth of a Nation," however, and the answer can only be affirmative. Undoubtedly, Loughran did his best in researching and composing this unique examination of an African newspaper. And not just that—his best has resulted in something of great value. Kevin Kelley has been the U. He also teaches journalism part-time at St Michael's College in the state of Vermont.

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AllAfrica is a voice of, by and about Africa - aggregating, producing and distributing news and information items daily from over African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public. Toggle navigation. Kenya: Chronicle of a Newspaper and a Nation's Birth. One of the chapters in Gerard Loughran's new book on the history of Kenya's Nation newspaper is prefaced with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States: "Were it left for me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.