Government International media is not resting on its oars
20th April 2012 · 0 Comments
Indeed, indeed : This is not a mumu government ! ! !
Yesterday, The Information Ministry put out a press statement in which it said that the All People’s Congress (APC ) Government is not a “mumu” ( Deaf-Mute ) government. I write to agree with the press statement. Speaking on behalf of the international government media, part of which I coordinate and which constitute the government information machinery , I want to say that we are well grounded about our responsibilities and are up to the task . Those who follow up the Sierra Leone media landscape can attest to the fact that we have not been leaving anything to chance. We who are entrusted with the responsibility to propagate the activities and achievements of the government have been leaving no stone unturned to inform the international community and the outside world about the magnificent transformation going on in Sierra Leone under the progressive leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma.
As a matter of fact, this is the first time in the history of our nation that there is such a glut of information on the operations and achievements of government in our country and the international world , both online and in the local media . Anybody who wants to be honest can agree with the fact that , aided by the internet and the advancement of information technology , as well as President Koroma’s acknowledgement of the power of the media in the promotion of good governance , there is more government information out IN THE WORLD than it has ever happened before in Sierra Leone. Not only that, every propaganda against the government is swiftly responded to by news outlets like COCORIOKO and NEWSTIME AFRICA –which have wider readerships than some of the Western media. And now, there are many other newspapers online that are backing the government’s development initiatives , like the DAILY MAIL, DAILY NATION, SALONE MONITOR, SIERRA NEWS-INQUIRER, APC TIMES, TORCHLIGHT, NEW RISING SUN , SIERRA LEONE HERALD TRIBUNE and etc.etc. The Publishers of these news outlets are doing well and news about government is always available. There are also some freelance op/ed writers sympathetic to the government’s cause who are working with online and print media to always defend the government. Many of them go on the offensive to defend government policies and flay opposition propaganda. And now some pro-government networking forums have been set up in the social networking media, FACEBOOK .The result is that as far as online journalism is concerned, the government is on top of the opposition SLPP in the propaganda warfare .
It is the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) era that can be rightly called a MUMU GOVERNMENT ERA because in those days government was conducted in secret and news about government activities was so scanty and people so literally starved for news that when the NINJAS came online they received outright universal aclaim and support from diaspora Sierra Leoneans until it started being rumoured much later that the website was controlled by the RUF rebel group led by Foday Sankoh (A fact that has never been acknowledged or proved by the SLPP Government or by rebel forces or the editors running the site with anonymous names ). I wrote a series of articles for them lambasting the Kabbah government but when rumours started spreading that it was a rebel website, I backed off and sent them no more articles. But this was how dire and desperate the situation was with getting information from Sierra Leone until Peter Andersen started the SIERRA LEONE WEB.
The SLPP is behind most of the defamatory reports about the government . The SLPP has been used to living in murky waters and will always muddy the water all the way , though it does not benefit them. As the government statement rightly put it, we are in governance and must not be seen to be overreacting every time mud is being splattered by the mud-bug, SLPP, a sorry and irresponsible opposition. Where necessary, we have tried to put things in their right perspectives.
Much is being done and a lot has been accomplished in correcting the distortions of reality in the foreign media. We do not necessary have to announce to the public the measures we have been taking to engage and correct the Western media whenever they write rubbish about our government. For diplomatic and ethical purposes, we would rather not go public . However, the Ministry of Information in Sierra Leone and my office as well as those of the press attaches scattered across the world have in the past taken diplomatic measures to get misinformation and deliberate distortions corrected in the foreign media and in international organizations. There are other media outlets that are pro-government whose publishers are not directly employed by government but have also been doing a great job.
It must be emphasized that since President Ernest Koroma came to power in 2007, he has gone a long way to conduct an open government guided by the principles of accountability and transparency. It is in the spirit of the President’s commitment to open and transparent governance that we at the helm of the government media have been dishing out every available information and analyses of government news . If our efforts are not going to be lauded , then we must at least not be called MUMUS because WE ARE NOT.
As far as the Western media is concerned, it is a matter of the monkey and its black hand. They will always seek the scum sent to them by the opposition because that is their source for the negative news they prefer to always publish about African Governments. We do send them positive news about the socio-economic and political developments in Sierra Leone but they do not publish them and prefer stories that perpetuate stereotypes about our presidents and our countries . I once complained to an ambassador about an article about President Koroma’s achievements that the Western media did not publish .The humorous Ambassador looked at me , guffawed and said : Kabs, you sef . You are pretending not to know the modus operandi of the Western media. Who told you news about the achievements of an African leader or country is news for these media ? Bo nor hamburg me dis morning ya. They want the world to hear only about wars, people being shot and killed on the streets; poverty, starvation , sicknesses, plagues, AIDS , the rebel troops capturing government outposts, pegnant women dying on the birth table and corruption that they erroneously think exists only in Africa. That is what they call news. But President Koroma’s achievements ? Nah. I will be surprised if they ever publish it . ” And they never did. I burnt the telephone lines for almost two weeks but despite promises, promises and promises, the article never appeared . What must be understood is that , as PASCO TEMPLE always tells me, we do not need these Western press to help us promote good governance in Sierra Leone because our circulation is larger than their’s . THE PEOPLE WHO MATTER MOST–THE VOTERS– READ LOCAL PAPERS LIKE COCORIOKO, NEWSTIME AFRICA, PATRIOTIC VANGUARD , AWARENESS TIMES , TORCHLIGHT, INDEPENDENT OBSERVER, WE YONE, NEW CITIZEN, CONCORD TIMES, AWOKO, ETC . THEY DO NOT EVEN KNOW ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF SOME OF THESE FOREIGN NEWSPAPERS ! ! ! And foreign diplomats who read them have people on the ground in Sierra Leone who brief them on a regular basis. Therefore, these foreign media do not exact any influence on the politics of Sierra Leone.
All these postulations are however not meant to disagree with Dr.Sylvia Blyden that there is room for improvement in the working methods of the pro-government media . Much more needs to be done to make the government information machinery more responsive , more efficient and more effective and able to swiftly correct the misinformation being peddled against our government and country in the foreign media.
I acknowledge that much the Information Ministry has more to do , but please if you have suggestions , kindly send them to the Ministry . Our government is open to suggestions from learned people about how to make the media more operational and more effective . This is an open and transparent government. The Minister of Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and his Deputy , Hon. Sheka Tarawalli, are liberal democrats and their ears are inclined towards any citizen who wants to suggest how they can improve on the dissemination of government information. The government of President Ernest Koroma is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Be part of the team by making valuable suggestions about how best we can serve our people and protect the legacy and integrity of our beloved President.