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Visions of the African Press in Colonial Kenya: What the Nationalists Imagined
Unformatted Document Text:  6 nationalists themselves thought about their press. In addition, I examined previous studies and colonial government reports about the Kenyan press. The time period ranges from 1921, when the first such publication appeared, until 1952, when the colonial government declared a State of Emergency and banned nearly all of the African papers. Each autobiography and biography was read through, noting all information that pertained to the press. Once this material was noted, I used roles that alternative media often fulfilled in South Africa as a guide to see if the nationalists saw their media fulfilling similar or different roles. VISIONS OF THE PRESS A place to be heard African nationalists saw their press as a place where African voices could be heard. The settler, white-owned press was rarely interested in the African point of view. In addition to being written in English, which was not a first language for Africans, these newspapers showed little interest in what Africans were thinking or doing. African political leaders were seldom given space to present their views. Political leader and trade union activist Tom Mboya noted that "a speech, however trite, by a settler leader to fifteen Europeans would be given a front-page column, while a speech by an African leader to ten thousand people might get an inch in an obscure corner." 13 When African leaders did appear in the white-run press, they were often portrayed as incompetent or dismissed. A story about Odinga Odinga’s political views ran with a belittling headline: "Odinga Brays Again." 14 Thus, if a Kenyan African wanted to be heard at home or abroad, he had to create other means of communicating ideas. When Mboya was unable to get his views into the settler press, he began his own publication which was simply known as the Newsletter. "[I]t was not so easy to generate 13 Mboya 75. 14 Odinga 80-81.

Authors: Wall, Melissa.
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6
nationalists themselves thought about their press. In addition, I examined previous
studies and colonial government reports about the Kenyan press. The time period ranges
from 1921, when the first such publication appeared, until 1952, when the colonial
government declared a State of Emergency and banned nearly all of the African papers.
Each autobiography and biography was read through, noting all information that
pertained to the press. Once this material was noted, I used roles that alternative media
often fulfilled in South Africa as a guide to see if the nationalists saw their media
fulfilling similar or different roles.
VISIONS OF THE PRESS
A place to be heard
African nationalists saw their press as a place where African voices could be
heard. The settler, white-owned press was rarely interested in the African point of view.
In addition to being written in English, which was not a first language for Africans, these
newspapers showed little interest in what Africans were thinking or doing. African
political leaders were seldom given space to present their views. Political leader and
trade union activist Tom Mboya noted that "a speech, however trite, by a settler leader to
fifteen Europeans would be given a front-page column, while a speech by an African
leader to ten thousand people might get an inch in an obscure corner."
13
When African
leaders did appear in the white-run press, they were often portrayed as incompetent or
dismissed. A story about Odinga Odinga’s political views ran with a belittling headline:
"Odinga Brays Again."
14
Thus, if a Kenyan African wanted to be heard at home or
abroad, he had to create other means of communicating ideas.
When Mboya was unable to get his views into the settler press, he began his own
publication which was simply known as the Newsletter. "[I]t was not so easy to generate
13
Mboya 75.
14
Odinga 80-81.


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