1. East African Print Cultures and Histories of Governance

E-mail of panel organisers: ankodani@yahoo.com

The East African region has witnessed a chequered history insofar as governance is concerned.   At the moment, Somalia is still crawling from the jaws of years of conflict while in South Sudan, a crucial peace deal/cease fire has just been signed between the government and rebels. In Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the rest of the great lakes states, critical debates with long histories still rage on issues of governance, constitutionalism, citizenship, press freedom and human rights. For decades, East African’s experience with issues of governance has been immortalised and preserved in their print cultures such as newspapers, diaries, personal journals, pamphlets, newsletters and even personal letters. These printed materials and the corresponding modes and practices of consumption offers critical insight of how groups and individuals articulated their interests with the state. Indeed, the scrutiny of these materials promises an invaluable yet under researched perspective insofar as governance was imagined, preserved and actualised in the past.


1. Photography, the Refugee and the NGO factor: The Visual Economy of Picturing Refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab Camp

Author: Pamela Chepngetich (University of Bayreuth, Germany) pammyroc1@yahoo.com


Photographic representation is pivotal to our understanding of the world around us, and events that matter to us. However, photographs are neat slices of time that cannot portray everything concerning the particular group represented. It is indeed true that those involved in the photographic representations of others can only offer selective representations of subjects in ways most relevant to their organisational structures and specific to their mission objectives and demands.

Focusing on how a consortium of NGOs came together in a project aimed at ‘empowering refugees’, in a refugee camp in Kenya, this paper, using W.J.T. Mitchell’s (2005) approach to photographic analysis in exploring photographs in terms of their representational angles seeks to interrogate their content and highlight the excluded frame by dialoguing pictures from different categories of photographic representation. In so doing, the paper illuminates the ideological and structural biases which manifest when humanitarian organisations enter into the arena of representation and how this feeds into the discourse of governance, compassion fatigue, aid and ‘victimcy.’

2. “Holding the two swords”: Kiongozi Newspaper, Religion and Governance in Tanzania

Author: Francis Ngatigwa (St. Augustine University of Tanzania)

Julius Nyerere the first president of the United Republic of Tanzania, at the dawn of the Tanzanian independence in 1961 prohibited mixing religion with politics in the public domain.  Matters of religion were left private. In the media sector, religious media (mostly print) were reduced to the service of religion. On the other hand, Nyerere advised religious leaders to play their part in the development of the country. Based on this background this paper uses the Social responsibility theory to probe the part played by the Catholic Church owned newspaper Kiongozi (The Leader) on aspects of governance and development in Tanzania. This paper reveals that due to its country-wide distribution and news reporting from rural areas, Kiongozi newspaper as its name suggests, played a “leading” role towards good governance and development in Tanzania.

3. The Anvil and Imaginaries of Governance: Uncovering Kenya’s Historical Unease with Itself through a University Newspaper

Authors: Duncan Omanga and Sirma Buigutt (Moi University, Kenya)


In the 1960s through to the 70s, a group of young journalism students at the University of Nairobi launched what would later become perhaps the most incisive campus newspaper in Kenya at the time. Forming around persons who afterwards became the leading names in Kenyan journalism as educators, practitioners and entrepreneurs in the media, The Anvil, as it was named, acquired a reputation as a no holds barred publication insofar as governance and social justice was concerned. Indeed, at a time when press freedom was not guaranteed The Anvil took advantage of the comparatively free social and political space in Universities to probe and reveal issues which would normally be cautiously treated by the mainstream media. Situating its focus on the last year of founding President Kenyatta’s rule in the late 70s, this paper draws from lengthy interviews with The Anvil editor at the time, Sirma Buigutt, now a media educator at a local university and also from selected issues of the Anvil that were published while he was editor.   From coverage of a surreptitious military operation in Northern Kenya, the unending local political intrigue to encounters with Marxist professors and foreign spy agents, the paper reveals how The Anvil filled a critical gap in shaping and constructing critical social political imaginaries from perhaps the most politically active segment of Kenyan society in the 70s: university students.


Author. Kati Anttalainen (University of Oulu, Finland)


Cameroon has been defined as a “classical fragile state” with features of highly centralized and personalized governance, political manipulation of ethnic tensions and very widespread corruption. Since independence in 1960/1961, Cameroon has had only two presidents. Paul Biya (born in 1933), the president since 1982, was elected for his sixth term in 2011. Despite the formal multi-partyism in Cameroon since the 1980’s, the state remains almost synonomous with the president’s party.

I will discuss, how the governance is being displayed in the textbooks through the intertwined conceptions of leadership and national unity, as part of the constructed history consciousness. I have studied textbooks of a nationally distinguished Cameroonian publishing house Anucam Educational Books (ANUCAM). Due to higher enrolment rates, the focus has been on the primary (classes 4–6) and lower secondary education (forms 1–5), pupils aged 9–16 years.

Here, the colonial legacy of the education system needs to be kept in mind. Like in so many African countries, also in Cameroon the institutionalized education system with formal structures and objectives was originally established by colonial regimes – the Germans, the French and the British. Schooling aimed at colonizing the mind of the natives. Today, despite the aims to “promote the spirit of democracy” and “the spirit of criticism” – explicitly expressed in the educational policy lines – the history textbooks do not seem to promote the skills of critical and analytical reflection.

So far, the focus of the International organisations such as the World Bank has been mainly on textbook production, markets and distribution chains, with aims to find solutions to the lack of learning materials. The need to improve access to (pedagogically sound) textbooks is undisputed. However, it is also of great importance to analyze their contents, in order to examine, what kind of citizenship, values and skills they promote. Taking into account the central role of history in the nation-building, it seems surprising that textbook content analyses in the African context are largely absent, hence also in Cameroon. As the international debate on the post-2015 development goals of education is increasingly tuned towards learning, more attention should be paid also to the quality of learning materials.

5. Transformation in Political Reporting and News Coverage in Kenya: Retrospection

Author: Joyce N. Omwoha (Masinde Muliro University, Kenya)


From 1978 when Daniel Moi became president of Kenya, the first news item by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (formally Voice of Kenya) and on the front pages of every newspaper was always on the activities of the President. With the liberation of the media, this has changed. The current President has to say something important and meaningful to be in the news. It is for this reason that media scholars and political pundits and analysts have recently started to appreciate the change in political space in Kenya since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in the country. Different media houses have come up with many creative ways of reporting. Many observers have noted tremendous amount of change in the ways media houses have sought to present balanced views in their coverage of political events, competing towards presenting themselves as fair and balanced. Long gone are days when opposition rallies were given news blackout by establishment stations.

This paper seeks to interrogate political reporting and commentaries in print media over the years. The main argument is that there have been positive changes, largely due to opening up of political space as well as political awareness among Kenyans. Although both electronic and print media try to be balanced, we argue that there are some newspapers that still pander to conservative or progressive standpoints and interests such as ethnic and class. I will use newspaper articles, scholarly articles and books to examine transformation in media reporting of political events in Kenya over the years. The paper will deploy social change theory to show that although there are changes, they should be looked at under the prism of competing interests, some of which are interested in status quo, while others seek change.

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