William H. Freivogel, director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, returned to East Africa this month. The following is the last of his five posts from the field. See his first, second, third, and fourth posts.
Kenya was the brightest spot on my first trip to Africa a year ago when our State Department-sponsored group traveled from Uganda to Kenya to Ethiopia. Kenya’s economy was booming, the middle class growing and a robust election campaign was underway. The press was freer in Kenya than anywhere we went.
One of the promising journalists I met then was Andrew Kimkemboi, features editor at The Standard, one of the top papers in Nairobi. Andrew, a dapper dresser, was bullish on Kenya’s future. He took me to a downtown restaurant where prosperous office workers ate lunch plates full of steaming meat and fish. He said that the good times in Kenya were one reason he was planning to vote for the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, even though he was from a different tribe.
Andrew changed his mind before the December election and, like many Kenyans, voted for the opposition. He was in the newsroom right after the election when the opposition’s lead suddenly disappeared, apparently from some election officials’ sleight-of-hand.