I have been following the bashings that many rights campaigners have been levying at the Ugandan public regarding our indifference to the Government siege of the Monitor Publications and Red Pepper Publications offices.
I do personally believe that what the Government of Uganda did by blocking offices for a week under the guise of looking for a letter that could have come electronically borders with insanity. Infact I would recommend the architect of this siege to try a career with Richard Leakey perhaps they can do better searching for Stone age relics.
Now to the media houses, for long you have and continue to feed us with news that concentrates on women nudity, alcohol binges, serial daters, sex scandals, drivers of monstrous cars like Hummers, creating celebrities out of nothing among others. What you don’t know is that progressively, you are adjusting our mindsets to stop being bothered about the serious issues of life and instead appreciate the softer and less important aspects.
Why is it important to publish the A List of rich people in Kampala for example?
I could go on and on but this is not the time to glorify pedestrian publishing.
So, considering how much you have fed us with below average content, where do you expect us to get the mindset to address serious challenges to the press like the Government Siege of your premises and its implications to the future of the press in Uganda? If we had been given an opportunity to read and learn from you about these fundamental necessities in our society, then maybe we could have come up in arms. But you chose to follow the money. Hence the famous proverb; “As you make your bed, so you must lie in it.“
Right now Multichoice is feeding us with an endless broadcast of some elitist men and women whose job is to use the most lewd means possible to win a jackpot prize in hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am told some people are so addicted to watching this mild porn to the extent that their productivity during this period is highly suspect. What much would you expect of such a fanatic? To stand at the gate of the Monitor Publications offices and be tear-gassed? For what cause by the way? I believe such a character will only be willing to go to such extents if the Government decided to deny him/her their conjugal rights because that is all they learn from such shows.
So, what lessons do we learn from this siege?
- Garbage in Garbage Out; What you feed the public is what you get out of it. This answers the question why the Ngoma (Luganda daily) newspaper that the Monitor Publications had launched failed.
- You want allies, build them. You cant plant a Mango Tree and expect Jack fruit from it. Start sensitizing we the public on the kind of issues that will increase our alertness as civil society and you will see a big difference.
- There is nothing like free press in the world anymore. Even in the countries that we so much admire like the USA, the concept of the free press is a myth. In 1983, 90% of American media was owned by 50 companies; in 2011, the same 90% was controlled by 6 companies. This has even made it easier to control what the Americans get from the media. In Uganda, between The New Vision Group and Monitor Publications, they control over 60% of the media. With the New Vision being firmly under Government control, we had the Daily Monitor to help as a balancing act only to realize that based on this article published on the 31st of May 2013, we can as well kiss the free/independent press good bye.
I can say with certainty that Mr. Onyango Obbo and Hon Wafula Oguttu are weeping wherever they are. This is certainly not the Monitor Newspaper they founded after abandoning the Weekly Topic decades ago.