Institute for Policy Research

From Al-Qaida to Al-Shabaab: News Media and Global Implications of Terror in Kenya and East Africa

Thu Nov 19 15:15:00 GMT 2015

IPR Seminar

Time: 2.15pm - 3.05pm

Venue: Chancellors' Building, 3.11

Speakers: Dr Fredrick O. Ogenga, Rongo University, Kenya

Chair: Professor Timo Kivimaki, PoLIS

Audience: This event is free and open to all, with registration in advance



This seminar will discuss the media coverage of terrorism in Kenya, and that this coverage has had global and local implications which have complicated the Kenyan State’s effort in counter-terrorism, and domestic politics, as various stakeholders and citizens differ on who funds and what motivates terrorism.

In 2010, Kenya launched 'War on Terror' code named 'Operation Linda Nchi' or ‘Operation Protect the Nation’, to neutralize AlShabaab, an offshoot of Al-Qaida in Yemen. AlShabaab posed, and continue to pose, a threat to Kenya’s political-economy and it has become increasingly difficult to see how the fight against terrorism can succeed using current conventional approaches.

This seminar will discuss the role of news media in combating terrorism. It will highlight the ways Peace Journalism can reconstruct discourses of terrorism in news reports by considering local nuances. This can enable news media in Kenya to play an important (and innovative) role in reducing controversy around peace-building - A role that news media in Kenya is yet to play.

I will explore the need for conceptualising a hybrid approach in conflict reporting driven by African philosophy and ontology (Hybrid Peace Journalism) in the context of conflict volatile societies in Africa by borrowing from good journalism tenets found in Peace Journalism which follows a Western conceptualisation.

Hybrid Peace Journalism implies that journalists reporting about Africa depart from the Western tradition of sensationalism to imbibe African wisdom, gnosis or ways of seeing in order to report news in a manner that will de-escalate the conflict and promote development on the continent. The approach is therefore developmental, driven by African ideals of community belonging or Umoja, working together or Harambee, and Utu or humanity ‘you are because we are’.

The seminar will conclude that news media has successfully employed War Journalism by sensationalising and escalating the impacts of terror causing hysteria in the mind of Kenyan audiences.


Dr Ogenga is Head of the Department of Communication, Media and Journalism at Rongo University, Kenya, and Visiting Researcher at the African Studies Centre, in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, USA.