Keith Somerville on Africa’s Long Road Since Independence

As a journalist, Keith Somerville was stationed in Malawi in 1981 to monitor regional radio coverage. The BBC World Service maintained the Monitoring Service, with bases in Kenya and Malawi, to track events across southern, central and eastern Africa. The Monitoring Service worked both for the BBC and its funder, the British government, and routinely passed on information to the Ministry of Defence and, by extension, to the intelligence services. The radio networks played a vital role in Africa because of widespread illiteracy, as well as the lack of infrastructure and logistics necessary for a functioning press. Radio broadcasts offered … Continue reading

Africa: What Obama didn’t say was more revealing than what he did

Africans are used to having heads of state from the global north coming and telling them what they should be doing to lift their countries out of poverty. President Barak Obama’s visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in East Africa at the end of July in many respects upheld that time-honoured tradition. But with an important difference. Obama’s Kenyan paternal family background made his presence in the country as much a homecoming as a state visit. He was welcomed with open arms by an adoring public and upbeat local media. The same went for his visit to Ethiopia. For many people … Continue reading