Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Inside stories by the wazee: Boaz Omori (Nation 4 a)

Boaz Omori (late)
A record number of 17 African Nations achieved independence in the single year of 1960. Thus, the Nation/Taifa group of newspapers could not have been born at a more appropriate time, when world attention was switching to vigorous emergent Africa.
From the very start we were identified with the mood of the indigenous peoples of East Africa, bubbling with enthusiasm and energy, ready to meet challenge self-rule in influencing world affairs.
1960 was the year of the historic Lancaster House Conference on Kenya’s Constitutional Development. The time had come when we would hear of the rightful aspirations of the people and be informed accurately on the intentions of Nationalism which would soon lead to Nationhood.
Our reportage, comment and general handling of the internal and external scene during that fateful year immediately earned us the nickname “Uhuru Paper.” For the first time in the history of newspaper journalism in East Africa, the people had found in us a platform of expression which they could identify as their own.
Though the Nation/Taifa group of newspapers had now established a firm base from which we have rapidly grown over the last decade, it was a painful, upward struggle every step of it.
Two instances illustrate the problem – even the danger – we faced at the beginning.
By giving full expression to indigenous news and views, we were regarded as agitators by the colonial rulers. Their Conservative supporters did not give us a chance; they thought we would fade away just as the hoped the desire for self-rule would disappear.
Even when it was clear that the tide of Nationalism could not be stopped, we were denounced and threatened when, in 1963, we asked our readers to return the KANU party in the general elections which led to independence.
We had taken a course which we believed was right and inevitable, and there was no looking back. Our initiative and optimism were rewarded when knowledge and understanding of what made the wananchi tick became so important for both internal and external relations that thousands of all races, creeds and persuasions were to read the Nation and stay with us.

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