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Saturday, August 15, 2020

My Reflections, Liberty of Mind

Columns My Reflections, Liberty of Mind

Kellys Kaunda
Kellys Kaunda


When a State-owned-media covers the travels of the Head of State of their country reporting his/her arrival, meetings held, places visited, dinners or lunches attended or inspection of development projects – a section of the country and media commentators in the west scream: propaganda! The effect? No attention is paid to the activities. But when a leader in the west leaves on a similar assignment, journalists from all kinds of media are invited on the plane, interview him/her onboard, beam live the landing of the plane, meandering of the motorcade to the reception center, cover all the meetings held, press conferences conducted, dinners and lunches attended, etc. They pronounce this as a model of journalism!

In both instances, the same thing is happening – its both journalism except that in Africa, we are made to believe that covering a Head of State in this manner is propaganda but legitimate news in the west. When the western media uses commentators as the coverage is unfolding, we hail this as quality journalism unlike our coverage that rarely provides such commentary. However, did you know that the downside of providing so-called expert commentary is that the media can then decide to influence the direction of independent thinking on the part of the viewer?

When Aljazeera organized a discussion on governance in Zambia recently, one of the commentaries I read “wondered” why similar discussions are not held on ZNBC. First, in the mind of the commentator, Aljazeera has demonstrated quality journalism, which ZNBC “does” not have because they are hosting a “very” important topic that the national broadcaster has never hosted. This reasoning is confirmation of how we have been influenced to view what is news and what is not news. As far as we are concerned, the discussion programs that ZNBC holds are propaganda and mean nothing to a Zambian citizen and therefore not worth watching.

For us, watching a program on efforts to combat malaria, provide clean drinking water, build roads, schools, provide water transport, build a hospital on Chilubi Island and many such issues is not journalism but government propaganda. And yet, when BBC covers similar issues for their own audiences, we are so glued to television we forget that it is the same developmental news we refuse to watch on our own ZNBC! We become so conversant with infrastructure development in the west, we forget similar efforts in our own country.

Today, we hail Aljazeera as a worthy and quality alternative to CNN and BBC. But do we know that Aljazeera as a media initiative is a response to the portrayal of the Middle East on these once-dominant news channels on the global stage? Do you know that CGTN (a Chinese global TV network) is also a response to how the international media covered not only China but, the rest of the world? But when African governments respond by similar models – owning their own media, some sections of our own societies scream lack of press freedom! Private media on the African continent is modeled after the thinking in the west, which some parts of the world like the Middle East and China have rejected but accepted among some sections of our populations in Africa. Our private media entities have reinforced the western narrative of who we are “supposed” to be by making available their platforms to newsmakers and commentators of similar ilk. You hear them describe the state of governance in Africa in the same way as their western counterparts: any development that contradicts their wisdom is bad for everyone and from their perspective, most African leaders and their governments are corrupt and dictators.

The narrative on the African continent is filled with so much contradiction, it can only mean one thing: the absence of the liberty of mind among those that have access to the media.


  1. I hope you are not suggesting we should watch ZNBC or that what the spew out is quality journalism?

    The difference that Kelly has failed to highlight in this article is the discrepancies in the liberty of expression and publication. ZNBC will not undertake a live discussion because they will not be able to control discerning views.

    The public press is a shame in Zambia. They are starving the truth.

    Good luck watching ZNBC. I will stick with the foreign press, with its weaknesses.

    • The middle east media with Aljazeera taking the lead does not go round with a bowl asking for donations from the west like your parasitical African govts do iwe Kelly!!!. Do the same, and you might just succeed as no-one will follow you up on how their money from the American or British people was spent. FACT. PF and ECL are violent, intolerant and visionless, let alone ZNBC which they have raped

    • The middle east media with Aljazeera taking the lead does not go round with a bowl asking for donations from the west like your parasitical African govts do iwe Kelly!!!. Do the same, and you might just succeed as no-one will follow you up on how their money from the American or British people was spent. FACT. PF and ECL are violent, intolerant and visionless, let alone ZNBC which they have f$cke without consent

  2. While you have a point here, ZNBC however lacks any iota of credibility to give us that alternative perspective you are highlighting. ZNBC is used by PF to devide Zambians to the core. What’s your excuse?

    • Actually, Kelly’s Kaunda has no point at all…he is just another PF Cadre looking for a job!! I have worked and lived in the UK and USA and have never watched a TV “program on efforts to provide clean drinking water, build roads, schools, provide water transport, build a hospital” because those are guaranteed and therefore not newsworthy! You will never see that programme on BBC so STOP telling LIES you ID.IOTt!! Have you ever watched a programme on BBC or Al Jazeera, CBS celebrating Government efforts to give British people or Americans clean water, build roads, etc? Are you suggesting that people in Britain would be drinking dirty water?
      Please Kellys Kaunda, stop exposing your uncivilised PF jungle mentality by comparing REAL civilisation to your PF thuggery and mediocrity!! The…

  3. Indeed, why should Aljazeera, not ZNBC, hold a TV discussion on Zambia’s current political situation and governance? Even if ZNBC was to hold such a live discussion, will it be balanced as Aljazeera’s?
    The answers my friends are blowing in the wind. Thanks.

  4. Do you remember URTNA??? If URTNA (Union of African National Radios and Televisions) was still worth restarting, then just say so. If there is still need for a different continental mode of URTNA, then just say so. The existence of International Channeling / Programming Initiatives is now a norm rather than exception. Examples include: BBC World; France 24; DW; VOA; Turkey also has a vibrant International Service Initiative. etc. In my view, there is need to prioritize private initiative followed by public initiative. In the case of Zambia, the International Service Initiative ended with the end of the liberation struggle. Certain individuals had also suggested a revival of the International Service Initiative. The response was not good for obvious selfish, myopic reasons.

  5. It is even shameful to compare ZNBC to any television station in the world.
    Let PF stooges who believe in Lungu watch it. UNIP abused ZNBC and are now regretting for they won’t use it for political purposes. MMD same they live to regret after abusing ZNBC for 20 years. PF also abuse it and they will live with it and regret . UPND has no policy how they will do to ZMBC when they form government. They will also abuse it till the end of the Age.

  6. Ba Kellys, NO govt lasts forever, let alone a a job awarded in return for parroting a ruling party’s propaganda. Soon you will learn like Kambwili has done. Lesa ni malyotola!

  7. It would have mattered much if this writing was a research paper. But being a mere REFLECTION stagnates it to a face value.

  8. Like the Chitimukulu observed: The so called opposition and their circles always seek approval from their white masters; that’s when they feel like liberal thinkers. They do so at the expense of the approval of their own people who they look down upon as being primitive and unable to understand matters of national interest. This attitude is what led to the demise of the post newspaper: as its owner felt that he was a genius and political kingmaker and the western backers patted him on his back, his audience, the Zambians from all sectors of our community, who paid K10 every morning in their multitudes became alienated with his style of hostile political journalism, abandoned his newspaper; This led, ofcourse, to the newspapers’ financial calamity as revenues hit all time lows. This is…

  9. …the attitude that has disconnected opposition politicians from their indeginous voters as they prefer to parade themselves in “internationally approved media” and get endorsement from their white masters. REALLY SHAMEFUL. INSIGHTFUL ARTICLE, MR. KAUNDA.

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