Monday, 11 March 2013

When the Media is at cross roads with politics

PM Raila Odinga addressing the media after he had cast his vote during the 2013 general Elections

The media construction of reality is not a unilateral process exclusively performed by Television media and political actors that shapes and conditions the citizens.

Political agenda and influences the information of public opinion and various peripheral spaces administered by civil society, that seek to influence from the edges, the institutional definition of reality.

We constantly compare the media version with our subjective individual reality based on accumulated knowledge, interpersonal interactions and past experiences. Therefore, we are consumers of meanings, chiefly those circulated by media organizations on which a greater or lesser extent we cognitively depend but, at the same time, we develop a function of producing social meaning, the final result of which is the configuration of our world view.

Back to the basics despite a now evolving media, the press can play the role of:

Disseminating information and analysis to the public and make penetrating criticisms of each side, without implicating the mediator in value judgement that may change the relationship with the negotiating parties.
Informing the public about what is at stake, the media can dramatically increase the pressure on both sides to reach a resolution quickly.
Has the advantage of talking to both sides without affecting the process (outside negotiations)?

The media play an important role in amplifying information and communicating it to the public at large and that in turn can contribute to judging both sides in a conflict to accept a compromise solution.

In deeply divided societies, the media shape opinions and decisions related to the nature and scope of conflicts, as well as how to constructively handle actual and potential conflict where social/political and economic conflict have degenerated into widespread violence, the role of information in mitigating the effects of violence in presenting alternatives can be crucial. This is according to excerpts from African Media and conflict (Abiodun Onadipe & David Lord).

Robert Karl Manoff, Executive Director of the Centre for War, Peace and the News Media has pointed out,

“Overall media influence is significant and increasing so, as a result the media constitute a major human resource who’s potential to help prevent and moderate social perspectives.”

It filters important information for individual opinion and this way affects the awareness of people whose reality is increasingly opened up by the media.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sitawa Wafula - to grace the International Women’s in Day in Arusha

Sitawa Wafula MCing TCWLaunch

Rise up and Dance
On February 14th this year I celebrated my body,

I took time off to be with it,
I undressed it and held it tight,
Appreciated the twists and turns of its being,
Poured sweet scents and draped it in fine linen,
Then I took it out to the streets to join other bodies, rise up and dance.

I stood in awe as I watched it shake alongside women and men in Nairobi’s city Park,
My body was celebrating 10 years of strength for exactly 10 years ago I got raped,
I can’t shake the priceless victory in its eyes as it shuffled and alingo’ed in the crowd,
Every part of its being was celebrating in unison with women and men world over in different time zones united to rise up and dance.

My body rose up and danced for the woman from India who was gang raped in a bus and unfortunately died,
It rose up and danced for all the women and children raped during Post Election Violence in my country,
Specifically for the woman who was asked to go back and get raped so that the police can have evidence,
For lesbians in South Africa, in Kenya, for StaceyAnn Chin raped to 'correct them’,

On Feb 14th this year, my body rose up and danced to inspire others to rise and dance to their tunes of freedom,
It rose up and danced for all the women who suffer behind closed doors,
For girls whose fathers, uncles, grandfathers touch them over and over,
For those whose mothers and guardians do not want to give them an ear
It rose up and danced for emotionally abused women,
For all those who have acid poured on their faces to wipe out their beauty,
Those who have sticks and spoons stuck up their vaginas
For women vying for office that get threats and intimidation but wake up the next day more determined,
For those who are just but statistics in a report
Those who never live to tell anyone.

Sitawa Wafula, through her poetry, she has been invited to grace the Arusha Poetry Club in conjunction with Alliance Francaise, Njiro Arusha- as the guest act at International Women’s Day celebration this Friday 8th March.
This is because, “best known for her use of poetry for advocacy, as the guest act at International Women’s Day celebration this Friday 8th March. 

Sitawa openly talks about her rape ordeal and mental health.”
Through her blog Sitawa re-writes her life full of turbulence, being tossed to and fro like a ship engulfed within a storm.

She has to cope up with a seizure that makes her convulse over and over again whenever she is attacked.
2002 as a form four student St Lucie Kiriri Nairobi she experienced her first attack, but come the year 2005, it became persistent that she was hospitalized something that made her dreams of becoming an Actuarial Scientist being shattered to foot her hospital bills.

“When I got my first, I was in high school, top of my class, dorm captain, footballer, basketball player . My dorm had just won inter-house so I was ecstatic then bang!!! I don’t know what causes it  and eeh!! call it ignorance but I care less what causes it. What I know is that I have had it for the 8 years."

Eight years now, she holds her head high.

"The convulsions cut me off so many times. I dust it off and continue, every time I fell," she says as she smiles. “When opportunities come my way I give my all," she adds.

In her own private way she writes about her way of life:
I know it is very traumatizing to see someone roll on the floor uncontrollably, looking so fragile and helpless and there is nothing you can do about it except watch and if it’s severe, wait for medical personnel to give them a tranquillizer.

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually with thousands of events worldwide to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. This year’s theme is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence againstwomen”.