An eye opener in matters of Peace Building and Communication

Wanja Gathu of the Association of Media Women in Kenya, a WACC project partner, attended the recent “School on Communication Rights” organised by WACC in Nairobi from 11th to 15th December 2017.

Attending the December 2017 Workshop in Nairobi for the first time, was for me a stroke of luck and also the best time spent among peers and people from whom I learnt a great deal.

As a career journalist and newcomer to the field of peace building and conflict resolution, I recognize the important link between communication rights and stable peace and conflict resolution.

I however, have struggled to find forums such as this one where these very important issues are discussed at length and useful lessons shared.

From our brothers in Lebanon I learnt how young people are working together to foster peaceful co-existence, forgiveness and reconciliation after years of civil war.

From Egypt how social media spurred a revolution. This is a cautionary tale for media workers to be sensitive to conflict when doing their work.

From our brothers in Nigeria, I learnt with delight how a secular and conflict sensitive media is slowly but surely de-escalating tensions between religious groups there.

And from Cameroon, the encouraging success stories of interfaith dialogue that is bringing people separated by values that much closer together. 

The intriguing tale of Cameroon’s ‘gagged media’, which ironically suffers no government, regulation, at least not in the formal sense and Uganda’s media under siege, gave me, a Kenyan Journalist who is often very critical of government something to be grateful for.

Compared to other countries in Africa, Kenya has made great strides towards press freedom. Kenyan media enjoys near unhindered access to information.  Access to information and freedom of expression are rights enshrined in our 2010 constitution. We also enjoy fast Internet access. Our media is vibrant and diverse and our media workers some of the best trained.

All these are things I have taken for granted and which the WACC Rights Workshop helped me appreciate afresh.

Through this workshop, I gained valuable skills about media monitoring; how one can use these tools to point out and combat gender bias in the media.  I also heard through AMWIK how women journalists in Kenya experience online violence and harassment and how some have managed to overcome this challenge with great agility and resilience.

The inspiring story of Zimbabwe’s bloodless coup told by one of their own, was another high point for me.  It is an indicator that there is hope for Africa and those who live and work in it.

Thank you WACC for such a wonderful experience.  I look forward to the next Workshop should I be invited.      


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