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Should we brush Kenyan media gay bashing behaviour under the carpet?

A number of people have said ‘enough said’, and ‘it’s an old story’, ‘move on’, and “Caroline  didn’t really mean it”  as well as “don’t trust the media”, “don’t try to change the media” with regard to media attacks on Kenyan gays in my last 3 blog posts.

I know that Caroline can’t really think it’s ok for radio to be gay bashing but what I don’t understand is her defense of fellow gay bashing presenters, and her failure to step in and show some leadership. She is after all the most popular and loved of all Kenyan presenters.

How temptingly delicious – wouldn’t it be great if we could just pretend that it didn’t happen and maybe the furore and bad feelings will magically go away.

Great for who I wonder? The media, Kenyans or Kenyan gays?

I’ve been seriously thinking about brushing this gay bashing issue under the carpet, after all its eating into me and affecting my sleep patterns….Hmm….I’m juggling ideas here…

Brush it under the carpet

or

Get  a conversation going.

hmmmm….I’m having a light bulb moment. Isn’t that what we said should not happen in Kenya after the post election violence? Maybe we don’t need a truth commission after all.  Yes, let’s just forget the post election violence (and ignore the little problem of victims and the remaining IDP’s after all they are minorities right?).

Friends I wonder if it’s our collective failure to speak out, to discuss, to analyse, and to understand issues that makes our community unable to comprehend how something as ‘small and insignificant” as gay bashing on radio. Is it a reflection of our collective psyche  that we are unable to admit when we make mistakes, to apologise and seek forgiveness? Perhaps that’s why the aggression and violence keeps escalating.

I don’t know about you but if the response from Caroline Mutoko at Kiss FM and Marcus at Classic FM is anything to go by, then we are in for a disastrous time during elections come 2012. If we accept gay bashing then what about tribe bashing, religion bashing…yes lets hit out at whatever and whomever we have an issue with.

Brushing the ethical issue of allowing gay bashing on radio under the carpet is a crisis behavior – just peek underneath and you’ll find that the hatred is breeding and it will eventually pop out again, this time with teeth.

I think that we need to deal with these issues that affect Kenyan Society up front and I still maintain that radio is the best and most powerful medium to bring about this change in Kenyan society. But first the radio personalities have a big responsibility and to be credible, they must have moral authority.

Moral authority it seems is in short supply right now on our radio waves. But that need not be a long term problem. It can be fixed with a simple apology.

Thanks to all of you who have made your opinions known on this blog and your own, as well as through twitter. Keep the conversation alive and remember, its not about your opinions on gays, its about how the media are stirring up hatred. We need a thoughtful examination of what we expect of the Media – perhaps then they will understand and change…just maybe.

Speak out or you will be responsible for letting horrible people do horrible things.

Have a great day.

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October 29, 2009 Posted by | Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stop stirring hatred and violence – a message to Kenya Media houses

When the marriage of Chege and Daniel hit the Kenyan headlines, media houses went to extremes to attract viewing audiences. KTN even invaded the parents of Chege and behaved in a way that can only be called cruel and despicable.

This blog is a continuation of an issue that’s bothering me -the irresponsible hatred aired on radio and incitement to violence. I started with a podcast and in my last post shared correspondence with Caroline Mutoko of Kiss FM who surprisingly defended gay bashing DJs on Classic FM. I’ve had further correspondence with Caroline Mutoko in the last 24 hours which went something like this

“Dear Caroline…I hope that you find these comments useful and have it in your hearts to take them seriously. We are a country in pain that is in dire need of healing. You should be the first ones to step up to the plate. It would be a great step if you could apologise to Charles and Daniel as well as all people of different sexual oreintation to yourselves. I think your listeners will applaud you”.

In response Caroline wrote

“Paula;
There is hunger, floods, cholera, Swine flu and other more important issues to deal with.
I’m bored with this nonsense about gay people. I have The World Cup Trophy to deal with
And Tusker’s new brief, Zain’s tariff to execute and serious sales to create for Air Kenya, the people
Who pay our salaries and keep us in business. My day will not be taken up by the drama about
A few homosexuals, I don’t care how livid some people maybe.

If you are disappointed with us, fine. But I really need to do other things with my time.
On my list of priorities afew gay people, are not that important. Yes, I’m being brutally honest….”

and “….Honestly, you’d think I don’t have gay friends!! I do, but enough!”

I totally understand how busy Caroline Mutoko is, hell who isn’t busy these days?  But she doesn’t seem to hear what the listeners are saying. I am not protesting her or Classic FM DJ’s opinion on gays, I’m protesting hate reporting, and incitement to violence.

Classic FM and it seems Kiss FM seem to have a fixed mindset about programming vitriol to attract listeners, and will even use the radio platform to promote hatred and xenophobia. This is what I’m up in arms about.

Kenyans deserve more ethical approach and more relevant programming from all media houses.

We are a country steeped in grief over post election violence. What we really need now is deep healing, and radio stations have the most important role in this.

As the most influential radio presenter in Kenya it saddens me that Caroline Mutoko cannot find time to think deeply about this, about the impact of Kiss FM and Classic FM programming on the public mindset and especially on stirring hatred and calling to violence. She was one of the most listened to voices during the Post election violence. Afterwards the public fiercly defended the media houses during the Media bill fiasco. We trust our radio presenters and we permit them to influence us. That’s a big gift, why don’t they cherish it?

So my question to you readers is how can we influence the media and get them to apologise and reform?

Who can we write to and complain about media irresponsibility in order to change this irresponsible and plain dangerous trend? Leave a comment. Thanks

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Caroline Mutoko supports gay bashing DJ’s on Classic FM

Friends,

This is another post about gay bashing in Kenya – listen to the previous podcast here . I’m speechless at the response from Caroline Mutoko to my letter (see below). Caroline is one of Kenyas most listened to and respected radio personalities and she runs the morning show on Kiss FM which is a sister company of Classic FM.  I wrote to her to complain about the gay bashing program. I expected at the very least for these folk to air a public apology. What I got was far from it, indeed it seems Caroline isn’t quite as  moral as she had me think.

Here how she responded.  Judge for yourself why we have such a homophobic society. If leaders like Caroline think that gay bashing is fair game in Kenya, then perhaps we need a totally new crew of radio presenters in the country. People who think before they present, and use their intelligence to move society away from the negative and hurtful. At this time more than ever before, Kenya needs healing, not more divisions. Radio is such a powerful medium through which our presenters can catalyze change – sadly they are just having ‘a good Time’ as Caroline puts it.

Well if gay bashing is fair game then so is sharing her letter. Friend please write to Paul Illado and air your complaints

Paul Illado – paul@classic105.com (In charge of Classic FM)

Also write to the having too much of a good time gay bashing Marcus Kwikiriza – marcus@classic105.com

27 Oct 2009

Dear Caroline,

I am disgusted with the way that Kenyan journalists have covered the marriage between Charles Ngengi and Daniel Gichia, the two Kenyan men who married in London.

Nick and Marcus of Classic FM, your sister company were for calling Kenyans to ‘slap gays’. This is the most irresponsible journalism that I’ve heard in a long time – it smells awfully similar to what happened during the election crisis.

Please send me Paul Illados phone and email address so that I can complain.

Thanks

Paula


Paula Kahumbu
Executive Director WildlifeDirect
P.O. Box 24467 Nairobi
Kenya

Dear Paula;
Please find Marcus’s response below and I have listened back to the session and wile I accept that they had too much of a good
Time, at the expense of the gay people amongst us, they handled the issue pretty well.

Let’s also not be pretentious, this is Kenya and we are more homophobic that any other nation in the region.
Marcus and Nick are simply exerting their masculinity above all other men and standing to be counted.
The majority of their audience expect nothing less and yes the majority of their audience is the average Kenyan
who finds the whole gay marriage issue unpalatable.

Caroline Mutoko.

—— Forwarded Message
From: Marcus Kwikiriza
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:20:10 +0300
To: Caroline Mutoko <
Subject: RE: Gay bashing on Classic FM MUST STOP

Well, I guess they are listening.

Plus the question was, Is it a natural thing(which we shall respect) or is it ujinga that can be cured by a slap? It was a question opened to the public. She could have called and given her two cents……FYI


October 27, 2009 Posted by | Podcast | , , , , , | 36 Comments