A terrorist Attack is Violence, #SomeontellKenyans to Apologize to CNN

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Why are Kenyans so angry at CNN? .  After a grenade attack on Nairobi Machakos bus station killed at least six people and wounded 63 ,CNN  was on the ground putting the pieces together. They reported the breaking news of the blast with the studio background banner written Violence in Kenya.  Many Kenyans had one interpretation of that and in their minds Kenya was being  portrayed as a country full of violence. To be exact, people fighting and killing each other like it happened back in 2008.

A Kenyangirl captured what made Kenyans mad:

What incensed Kenyans is not so much the content of the clip, but the image flashed to the world in their headlining banner (Courtesy@Switcheeks)

Even Vice President  Kalonzo Musyoka weighed in:

On Twitter #SomeoneTellCNN  hashtag was the the top worldwide  trending  hashtag  for many hours. One Kenyan even called CNN offices to tell them how pissed off he was and recorded the conversation here

At the end, the CNN Kenyan reporter  Mr. David McKenzie was forced Apologize on twitter:


Unfortunately, my fellow  Kenyans..I have to tell you that you were wrong and you should apologize to CNN. Before I go to specifics, I have to admit that even me, I was caught on the mix and retweeted a number of tweets which made sense to me.

Ok, let’s start again what did CNN do wrong? They used the word Violence in Kenya.. Now you don’t expect CNN reporting to the international audience to use specific location names like Machakos Country Bus . So I don’t see the problem in them using the word Kenya which definitely would make sense to most of their viewers. Next, is the word Violence….mmmmmh it is the problem .

I checked all the available definitions of the word violence and I don’t see where CNN was wrong in the context they used it.  In the end, I think all of you Kenyans were wrong and it is time to admit that the reactions were due to emotions and historical issues and not specifically what happened on Saturday. What happened in Nairobi was true violence and unless we are trying to change the definition of the word violence..#Apologize

Here are definitions of the word from different sources:

According to

1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.

2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.

3.  an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, asagainst rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.
4. a violent  act or proceeding.
5.  rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language:the violence of his hatred.

Look at the second definition critically.. read it again..clearly people who died, was because of violence..!!!!

Next: according to

a : exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (as in warfare effecting illegal entry into a house)
    b : an instance of violent treatment or procedure
: injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation: outrage
a : intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force <the violence of the storm>
    b : vehement feeling or expression : fervoralso : an instance of such action or feelingc : a clashing or jarring quality : discordance
4: undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)

Again from those definitions what happened at the Machakos Bus Station was Violence…

Move to Wikipedia…Violence borrowed from WHO:

Violence is defined by the World Health Organization as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.[2] This definition associates intentionality with the committing of the act itself, irrespective of the outcome it produces.

Globally, violence takes the lives of more than 1.5 million people annually: just over 50% due to suicide, some 35% due to homicide, and just over 12% as a direct result of war or some other form of conflict. For each single death due to violence, there are dozens of hospitalizations, hundreds of emergency department visits, and thousands of doctors’ appointments.[3] Furthermore, violence often has life-long consequences for victims’ physical and mental health and social functioning and can slow economic and social development.

Yeah what happened at the Machakos Country Bus was Violence by all accounts…

Oooh and those who think that they should have looked at it in the line of it being terrorists action on the innocent Kenyans, here is the definition of Terrorism:

1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce,especially for political purposes.
2.the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism orterrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting agovernment.

And there you have it, you should start a TT for Kenyans to apologize to CNN.




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Kennedy Kachwanya
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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  • You have made your point, but the use of the word Violence when Terror Attack would have sufficed makes more sense. The thing here is that a terror attack was carried out in Nairobi, that is all.

    I must say that I do believe that anyone out there in foreign capitals…if they saw Violence in Kenya, the first thing off their minds would be machete wielding youths and burning tyres. Violence as a description may be right but in the context of the explosions, a terror attack was most ideal…..!!


    mmnjug ™ March 12, 2012 6:58 pm Reply
    • So you change that mentally by telling them not to use the word violence which has many definitions including what happened in Nairobi on Saturday?  The act of  machete wielding by youths was done by Kenyans in 2008 and nobody in Foreign capitals started was started by Kenyans . So it is upon Kenyans to clean that image by not doing it again forever.. 

      “Terror attack” vs “Violence”, as per what have seen people saying it is about the context…and each of those words can be twisted to mean anything 

      Kachwanya March 13, 2012 4:02 am Reply
  • Kachwanya I like your urguement point of view but me tell u…once existing or prospective tourists in Kenya source markets hear of any phrase about Kenya with a ‘Violence’ aspect in it…makes them shiver and you can not simply chunk them different dictionaries to try explaining the different meaning or the magnitude of violence CNN is trying to report…that day the damage was already done even if/though/after Mckenzie apologized…try seeking some more info on the effects of that reporting from a number of tour companies, they’ll amaze you March 12, 2012 8:32 pm Reply
    • I hear you boss. But look at it this way, people were killed ..there was grenade attack or “terror attack” which I have seen most people saying should be used.. Does it mean that tourists will be happy that it was just “terror attack” and not “violence”? Really? As I have said, if you taken time to analyze the two words without tying them to Post Elections Violence ( which by the way was started and done by Kenyans and not foreigners ) then you will see that terror attack is more scary. Kenyans should be mad at the fact that the people who killed some Kenyans are yet to be brought to book.. not a foreign tv station for using a word which basically describes what they were saying.

      Kachwanya March 13, 2012 4:30 am Reply
  • By using pure definitions to support your case, you present a very simplistic linguistic argument. News is reported along the lines of certain keywords or key phrases that often have connotations attached to them. The terms “terror attack” and “violence” mean totally different things. Let me use examples to demonstrate: “Terror attacks in NYC”  was an effective descriptor of the events that transpired in NYC on 9/11, the same cannot be said of the news title ‘Violence in NYC’. Whist the former may infer to an externally motivated attack on citizens, the latter infers to internal conflicts that often result in anarchy.  It is not just Kenyans who think this way because 2007 PEV gave us a complex, it is a world view. Indeed  It is absurd for CNN (through David McKenzie) to state that the report was accurate whilst on the other hand admitting that their graphic was wrong. By virtue of their admission that the graphic was indeed wrong means that the whole news item was a misrepresentation of the facts. A news item is either wholly accurate or inaccurate. There is no middle ground. The damage done by that banner is quite substantial as it has reinforced a false view in the minds of an untold number of people – a number that may well be in their millions. In my view, CNN must own their mistake and offer a retraction on their news bulletin. This action, though painful, may serve as a stitch in time that may save nine, nine that may be a result of Kenya seeking legal redress on this issue. 

    Kenyan AtWork March 12, 2012 8:35 pm Reply
    • Who define these words? I can remember Kenyan media coming up with the Phrase Post Election Violence..note the word Violence there was part of Kenyan discourse..why are we now so mad that somebody else used the word which is part of the phrase our media coined?

      The issue of context..connotation is  neither here or there. As somebody noted here , it was not like there was record sales of Flowers in Nairobi and then they reported that as Violence. There was actual violence , 6 people died, 65 wounded. There was panic all over  Nairobi and If you in town at that you relatives were scared to death where you are when whether you are safe. Plus if there is one explosion in town, you can never tell whether there is going to be another in the next is violence and no matter amount of training you boast of..violence cannot be sugar coated to mean candy bars

      Kachwanya March 13, 2012 9:31 am Reply
      • PEV was rightly coined as that because we as a country, were in a state of anarchy and therefore, the term violence befits the state of affairs at that time. Can you compare PEV to the bombing on saturday? There was no violence in Kenya on saturday, there was a violent attack on Kenyans. David McKenzie of CNN said in a tweet –  “We are having offending video pulled. Again, apologies for the mistake. It was changed on air, but not online. Now it is.” –  acknowledging the banner as a mistake, why then would you say that there was no mistake in the banner? We are not fighting because of the content of the story, we are up in arms because the banner misrepresented the event, a fact acknowledged by CNN.  

        Kenyan AtWork March 13, 2012 2:34 pm
  • Lets not forget the underlying story here. The negative sentiment caused by the error still applies to a terrorist attack. Even if they reported the correct story in the correct words, the story was that therewas a terrorist attack in Nairobi.
    We have a strong emotional connection to the PEV, I think that’s why we (myself included) reacted the way we did, however,the international community does not.
    To them, there’s not much of a difference between PEV and a terrorist attack in our capital city while we are at war. They will still issue travel advisories, they’ll stillcancel non-essential trips here.
    The wording in this case doesn’t matter, the effect woukd be the same even with the right words

    Anonymous March 12, 2012 9:00 pm Reply
    • Thank You Bwana Mwirigi

      Kachwanya March 13, 2012 4:21 am Reply
  • as @mmnjug:disqus  says, a ‘terrorist attack’ would have been an appropriate term to use. Giving dictionary meaning here might not be the best way to go. Society defines things. Not a dictionary. Associative meaning is all that matters out here. When people hear violence+Kenya, it is the Post Election Violence they think of first.

    Forgive me for I will use your platform to reply to arguments I have read on other posts and tweets as well. I agree that we have issues. Bigger issues like insecurity and political instability and a long list of problems and the word ‘violence’ on a CNN banner might have been a waste of time, but that does not make what CNN did right. Forgive our anger at the sensationalistic African narrative that CNN is so fond of telling. As I mentioned in another post,  if your neighbour is constantly attacking you for the lice in your
    house, especially when there seems to be a motive, even when there is
    actually lice, you will not shut up my friend. You will speak out. But
    you will also need to deal with your lice as well.

    Someone else also mentioned that our approach to the whole issue was rather hypocritical. I mean, our media gives us pedestrian coverage of news- tribal commentaries, hate-speech, which are the greatest wounds of our nation. Yes we should direct the same energy to them as well. But does one wrong make another wrong right?

    @RookieKe:disqus  also mentioned that investors and business travelers depend on Embassy communication not CNN news. Forgive my simplicity but I believe CNN to be an international news channel. It reaches millions of people. How can we write it off? However, Rookie is right on something- such emotive reaction is extremely dangerous.

    Another mistake from our end was overlooking the real issue here- a terrorist attack. As @Mwirigi said on twitter, it was already detrimental to our image on its own. We might as well have forgotten that 6 lives were lost. May they Rest in Peace.

    But we do not owe CNN any apology. We don’t!

    Ndinda March 12, 2012 10:11 pm Reply
    • “When people hear violence+Kenya, it is the Post Election Violence they think of first” Yes, because PEV happened in Kenya 2008 and it is upon Kenyans to assure them that Kenya is safe and not a foreign tv station.  Why do you guys talk as if PEV was something started by foreigners ? Or let me put this way, are you guys trying to hide the fact that PEV happened in Kenya in 2008? It was done by Kenyans and even now there is possibility that it might happen again going with what has been happening in some parts of Kenya!!!! It is upon every Kenyan to ensure that it does not happen again, and from that foreign tv stations will take notice.

      I am not defending international media, I know they do not represent the best interest of Africans but it is high time Africans shape their on future and take back the mic. Nobody is going to clean Kenyan image apart from Kenyan citizens and I don’t believe it will be done by begging them not to use the word Violence

      Back to Saturday…Kenyans killed…some wounded badly… instead of people being mad at the killers and pressuring police to do a thorough investigations and bring those who carried out the crimes to book..we are mad at foreign tv station for using the word which basically meant what they were saying!!!!! sometime we get distracted by sideshows and with that the most important things usually go unsolved

      For the investors and travelers…The word terror attack or grenade blast is even worst if we take time to analyze the two words without emotions and historical baggage of the word “Violence”.  

      Kachwanya March 13, 2012 4:20 am Reply
      • Now you are talking. These are the arguments you should have raised on your post. Not defining what violence is and how much we owe CNN and apology.  We have issues we need to deal with and an image to work on. But did I say that the PEV was caused by foreigners? We are responsible for all that. We are responsible for our own problems. And calling out CNN was in no way an attempt to blame them for our own problems. They are not the only ones tainting our image. We are the ones giving them this fodder to air.

        Ndinda March 13, 2012 5:20 am
      • And the reason why I defined violence was to show how Kenyans are mad at the wrong things..Plus you have to remember that the words Post Election Violence were coined by Kenyan media not cnn. So now we don’t want anybody who is not Kenyan to use one of the words we started!

        Again cleaning our image will not be done by being mad at foreign media..we should tell our own media to be as patriotic as the other foreign media are to their own coutries.

        When Arabs got tired of being defined by the likes of CNN they started it defines them…

        Do you remember how eager we are to to pour oir dirty stuff to foreigners? Just check the wikileaks…

        Anonymous March 13, 2012 6:15 am
  • This is where responsible journalism is called into place & however much you would want to defend CNN’s use of the word,”Violence” was way overboard. A more appropriate one would have been “grenade attack” ” explosion”. But in my very humble opinion, we have seen an exaggeration of headlines especially coming from this part of the world. Anyone remember last year when there was violence in the UK, the mainstream media in the West took the longest time to show these stories & at most didn’t show the ‘hotspots’ of this violence.
    So if you were to justify the use of the word, would you say this “violence” on Saturday is comparable to what happened in 2008? Let’s not defend mediocre and sensationalism headlines just because its from some media house that ought to be more responsible and objective than it is.
    @Ndinda & @Mwirigi:disqus aptly put it in the comments below but just thought of adding my two cents worth of thoughts! 
    Being an election year, let’s see how the Western media will tell our story

    Rwanjohi March 13, 2012 6:45 am Reply
    • I have said this several times, CNN is not a Kenyan station, their owe it US citizens and their reporting is meant to educate US citizens not Kenyans.. Now if there is explosion somewhere they will say it using the terms which the US audience understand. So you don’t expect them to come and sugar coat the explosions in your capital. It is upon the Kenyan media to drive the narrative getting out there. And it is the reason why I think Kenyans anger was directed to the wrong place. 

      Don’t take this to mean I am defending them, I am not. My argument all along has been that Kenyans should have been angry at the killers and should be pressuring the Law forcing agencies to bring the people responsible to book. I don’ t see that anger here.. As it has happened with PEV..the victims are forgotten and the argument are about the wrong people and at the wrong places 

      Kachwanya March 13, 2012 9:40 am Reply
  • I am guessing this writer can be forgiven because he hasn’t taken a course in journalism/communication. When it comes to news reporting, an image speaks volumes in comparison to the actual words that accompany it. Journalists are trained to make good use of the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

    When an ordinary person puts the words ‘Violence in Kenya’ using the Kenyan flag as a background, nothing much should be read into it. But when a journalist – to be precise, a CNN news editor – does the same, a whole new meaning is created. That particular piece implies the whole of Kenya is on fire. In as much as they couldn’t specify the exact locations of the violence, due to obvious reasons, a headline such as ‘Grenade attacks in Kenya’s Capital’ would be perfectly applicable.

    Your arguments were purely based on a point of ignorance, which some of us might be willing to forgive. 

    Eugene Wanex © March 13, 2012 8:09 am Reply
  • Great Piece indeed.
    I also did a Blog Post on the #SomeoneTellCNN on Social Media Lessons one can pick from the Twitter Bashing.
    Here it is

    muthuri kinyamu March 16, 2012 5:54 pm Reply
  • boss you are wrong to say that CNN was right. If there is a bomb attack or terror attack else where in the world, they don’t say Violence, they put it as such. cut us the slack and allow us to correct them as they should be corrected.

    Dhikims March 23, 2012 7:13 pm Reply

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