“Shut up and put it in a blog!” I have often wanted to tell myself that. No, it is not because I write slightly longer tweets, longer than 140 characters, but because I feel that our conversations are undocumented. It is not that we are not having conversations. We do, all the time. Unfortunately, all these conversations are buried somewhere in the privacy of coffee shops and the overloaded twitter streams. There is really never a tomorrow for them.
After the #SomeoneTellCNN debacle, a friend asked me why we are complaining about ‘stories untold’, yet we never really tell our stories. “Don’t you people have blogs?” he asked before I could slide in an excuse of how our publishers are to blame. And you know what? He was right. There is something we are lacking, something that only a few blogs, like this one here (Diasporadical) have going. If someone were to scout the interwebs, not for news pieces, but for social and political commentaries in Kenya, I doubt they would find many. Maybe I am the one who does not know where to look.
A writer I was reading over the weekend tackled the issue of gutless writers of this age, and it resonated. He spoke of the lack of a political dimension in the works of fiction being produced. He was speaking about the American literature sphere, but just like them, we have very many writers in Kenya, but many of us do not write. A certain twitter I follow likes to put this message out there: ‘Writers write’. What else do they do if they do not write? But the gutless of us will rarely write, especially on social/ political commentaries. We steer clear of this. When issues arise, where there is a clash of interests, even the most opinionated do not talk about it. I understand that things often get messy, and there are snakes you do not want to rattle, but I know I am not alone when I say that the conversation on blogs is dying, and/or it is leaning towards some subjects and steering clear of the most important.
I might not be the biggest fan of Clay Muganda, but his writing, I find fearless. I have often wondered how many lawsuits he has collected in his writing career. I don’t know if there is a shift of interest, where writers are no longer interested in matters of politics and social commentaries. Maybe I am just being a paranoid reader.
We all know that mass media shapes opinion, and it isn’t a secret that it has already prostituted itself. If you have a sharp eye for cracks, you have noticed that most of the opinion pieces in our mainstream media drive an agenda. It is commoditized opinion. Even most of the articles and talk shows we are watching on TV are purely a case of promotional work, where opinion is subject to the products or the politicians which these shows and columns represent.
There is thus a vacuum that needs to be filled. Unfortunately, many of those who would fill in this cavity aren’t as gutsy. We tremble a lot. We would rather just not be concerned. I know you want to tell me that ‘it depends’ with the kind of work one puts out there. But if we were to learn from history, writers have been vocal about things affecting societies of their times, regardless of their genres. In some areas, they go ahead and even hold debates.
Here, we are not that engaged with our society. A few are, and many among them are driving paid-for-agenda.