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Visions of the African Press in Colonial Kenya: What the Nationalists Imagined
Unformatted Document Text:  8 The colonial government responded by proposing to establish a string of its own papers in several African languages (Kikuyu, Swahili, Kamba and Luhya) through the government-owned Kenya Vernacular Press. Sixteen district newssheets also were published and distributed free through the local African District Councils, while the government Information Office in Nairobi also published an illustrated monthly. These papers failed to win many African readers. The East African Standard made an attempt to appeal to African readers by starting the Swahili paper Baraza ("Council" or "Forum"), but this publication did not speak for Kenya’s Africans. While African papers freely ran letters to the editor, Baraza first gave them to government officials who censored them and provided a response for the paper to publish. Baraza also was unpopular with African readers. 19 A call for self-reliance African papers were seen as representing the nationalists’ calls for African self reliance. Especially with their first two newspapers, Tangazo and Muigwithania, African leaders believed that they had a means of demonstrating to each other their ability to speak for themselves. They saw the newspapers instilling confidence in the men who produced them, and inspire confidence in those who read them. Putting out a newspaper also gave Africans a chance to learn new trades such as printing. Though they were not intended to make money, the publications gave Africans a chance to learn how to financially manage a business. Certainly the most well-known of the newspapers produced by Africans was the monthly, Muigwithania, which began publishing in 1928 in the Kikuyu language. Financed by the Kikuyu Central Association, Muigwithania’s first nine issues were edited Jomo Kenyatta. Muigwithania, which featured the motto "Pray and Work," was described by an African reader as "uniting the masses and teaching them how to help 19 Ibid.

Authors: Wall, Melissa.
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8
The colonial government responded by proposing to establish a string of its own
papers in several African languages (Kikuyu, Swahili, Kamba and Luhya) through the
government-owned Kenya Vernacular Press. Sixteen district newssheets also were
published and distributed free through the local African District Councils, while the
government Information Office in Nairobi also published an illustrated monthly. These
papers failed to win many African readers. The East African Standard made an attempt
to appeal to African readers by starting the Swahili paper Baraza ("Council" or "Forum"),
but this publication did not speak for Kenya’s Africans. While African papers freely ran
letters to the editor, Baraza first gave them to government officials who censored them
and provided a response for the paper to publish. Baraza also was unpopular with
African readers.
19
A call for self-reliance
African papers were seen as representing the nationalists’ calls for African self
reliance. Especially with their first two newspapers, Tangazo and Muigwithania, African
leaders believed that they had a means of demonstrating to each other their ability to
speak for themselves. They saw the newspapers instilling confidence in the men who
produced them, and inspire confidence in those who read them. Putting out a newspaper
also gave Africans a chance to learn new trades such as printing. Though they were not
intended to make money, the publications gave Africans a chance to learn how to
financially manage a business.
Certainly the most well-known of the newspapers produced by Africans was the
monthly, Muigwithania, which began publishing in 1928 in the Kikuyu language.
Financed by the Kikuyu Central Association, Muigwithania’s first nine issues were
edited Jomo Kenyatta. Muigwithania, which featured the motto "Pray and Work," was
described by an African reader as "uniting the masses and teaching them how to help
19
Ibid.


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