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Pioneers, Rebels, and a few Villains

150 Years of Journalism in Eastern Africa

This 310-page publication discusses the defining moments, key events, phases and some faces and personalities that have - however differently - inspired, or contributed to, the growth of journalism in Eastern Africa since 1871. The book , spanning 13 chapters and authored by journalists from across the region, covers 16 nations.

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Edited by veteran journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo, the history-rich book takes readers across the region: from Sudan, Burundi and Djibouti on the mainland to Comoros and other African island states. The first chapter, by Morris Kiruga, on foreign correspondents, throws back to the famous scoop of 1871. The final chapter returns readers to the present – Covid-19: The storm that knocked journalism off its feet.

The publication leans on storylines that connected the Eastern African nations, notes Onyango-Obbo, co-founder of The Monitor (Uganda). Besides these aspects – he writes, citing contributors such as Morris Kiruga, Oyunga Pala, and Zarina Patel – the “countries covered were also the common domains of the first generation of foreign correspondents who were active in Eastern Africa from the last one third of the 19th century, and the stomping ground of the region’s own, and indeed some of the world's greatest". Fast forward to the the beginning of the 21st century, journalism and journalists are under pressure across Eastern Africa and beyond. This is thanks to a mix of factors such as the proliferation of social media and tough economic times.

Taking a stock of where things are, author Rita Nyaga's offers a sobering account. “With the job losses, shattered careers, and the collapse of incomes and livelihoods, Covid-19 could result in easily one of the largest physical dislocations of journalists in Eastern Africa, and their exit from the middle class, of recent times.” Notwithstanding the extended storm for journalism and journalists, she discusses the admittedly surprising upside of Covid-19:  the internet has presented an opportunity for those “who were crazy enough to gamble”. Against this background, a rising trickle of media houses is introducing a paywall to bolster revenues.

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Nairobi, Kenya


  • Charles Onyango-Obbo
    • book editor
  • Christoph Plate
    • Director
    • KAS Media Africa

Christoph Plate

Christoph Plate bild

Director Media Programme Southeast Europe +359 2 942-4971 +359 2 94249-79

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