Friday the 13th has often been linked to all the dark things and true to the devil’s script,terrorists launched serialized attacks in Paris that left over 120 dead and scores injured. The news shook the world and everybody came out in condemnation of the heinous acts and messages of solidarity trickled in from world leaders with solidarity messages headlining. Our own president,Uhuru was among’st those who were on the forefront alongside counterparts in Africa to console and stand with French government.

Expectantly, messages of prayers were overflowing in the social media streets with solidarity messages coming from all ends. All was well until Facebook made the whole event make a sharp bend that would later shift the discussion. Zuckerberg, decided to roll out a safety check feature on Facebook and a flag feature where users would change their profiles to French flag colours. While this seemed like a good gesture,many especially in Africa and Kenya particularly,took it the wrong way.

The move by Facebook was seen as discriminatory, many of the critics argued on one voice that Facebook didn’t roll out such features when Kenyans and particularly the recent Garissa attack where 147 students were killed yet the company claim to enjoy global network. Again,I have to agree this wasn’t in good faith,elements of white supremacy could be seen clearly. This development,killed the solidarity and prayer messages to France as social media users resorted to shaming the western media on their hypocrisy and double standards in news coverage.

Kenyans and Africa together with other disgruntled countries launched severe attacks on the western media forgetting the issue at hand,leaving French people in the cold. What Kenyans don’t know is that:

  • The French government has been offering military help to our army
  • France has been paying salaries to the KDF soldiers fighting Al Shabaab in Somalia.
  • France has been a great ally of Kenya and that’s the reason you saw President Uhuru being on the forefront of standing with them.

During Garissa attack, France stood strongly with Kenyans, they prayed held several night vigils across the country, actively participated in the #147NotJustAnumber campaign on the digital platform. If you were active enough those days,you’d realize France especially their universities were amongst forefront international community groups that gave strongest and continued support when our country was in deep mourning.

Paris created the #JeSuisKenya after the Garissa attacks in April 2015

Why I Stand With Paris 

Meanwhile, we seemed to have forgotten all that and how did we payback the support that French people gave us when we were weakened? We’ve let France down at a time when they needed us most and it’s a shame. Critics have been castigating the western media on their imminent double standards in news coverage,saying they’ve been treating Africa news with a pinch of salt and blowing up on anything that touched their countries.

For starters,it’s called Western media for a reason, their audience and main financiers are the West. Africans we contribute less or none at all to their revenue.

Floral tributes the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris, outside the French Embassy

African media will be quick to jump on the lynching mob and forget their own flaws. Media has been diversified,news dissemination is no longer left in the control of a few,we’re in a digital era, Africa has a relatively high number of social and mainstream media with substantial coverage. Instead of constantly accusing the western media for discriminated coverage, why don’t we use the available platforms to perfectly tell our stories and the world will listen.

We have Failed Africa

Just the next door in Burundi, over 200 people have died and numbers continue to pile by the day yet no single African media set is focusing on the crisis in that country but quickly take live coverage of events in France.

Ebola was sweeping Sierra Leone and as soon as western media stopped reporting,even African counterparts followed suit despite the fact that many still continued to die. During the Charlie Hebdo shooting that happened in France killing about 12 people, the media came to a standstill, meanwhile Boko Haram was butchering Nigeria and in three days into Charlie’s they had killed over 2000 Nigerians Nobody talked about this and more disappointing, the African media completely ignored this too and gave by the second updates on the events in France.

Hundreds of bodies killed by Boko Haram

So who is the enemy here? Ourselves. The truth is,we’ve been infatuated,blotted and think the western media owe us. No they don’t, they only owe their countries. African media owes us and we must pile pressure on them to take the lead and tell our African stories.

We’ve let pettiness get on our way and let down the French people which by the way is home to many black people if you know history you’ll understand why. They stood with us,we haven’t,any night vigils in Nairobi as they did for us during Garissa? None. We owe France apologies for this and it’s never too late.

To the French people I sign off by saying sorry on behalf of my brothers who’ve seen the light,we’re together during these tough days. Prayers to France.

By Kenya West