Massive media coverage mirrors the adoration Kenyans have for the Pope

By: PETER MWAURA

Pope Francis’ three-day visit has dominated all media in the country, almost to the exclusion of other headline news.

Since Wednesday when he arrived, the media have given the Vicar of Christ blanket coverage that can be described by non-Catholics as media genuflecting.

Even before his arrival, public interest in the papal visit was high.

Some readers sent me articles for publication — though I do not handle material for publication outside this column — which welcomed the Pope and predicted what he was going to say, or should say.

I cannot forget Amos Ruturi’s Pontiff, thank God you are coming! He beseeched the Pontiff to, among other things, deal with politicians.

Njeri Muathe’s This is what Pope Francis Should Tell Our Leaders During His Visit predicted almost correctly what Pope Francis was going to say.

Augustine Mwendwa, a Moi University student who said he is a poet and a writer, wrote a poem welcoming the Pope, while George Okoth sent a story published elsewhere about a Catholic parish priest on the run that the Pope must know about.

Ngaruiya Wahinya wrote an article challenging all believers to take this special moment to ponder what he called one critical question that is often overlooked by many: What is the place of animals in the God’s new kingdom and their physical wellbeing here on earth?

And on Wednesday the Daily Nation devoted 22 pages and nine pages on Thursday to stories and photographs of Pope Francis’s first visit to Africa (The Standard devoted 28 pages on Wednesday and 21 on Thursday).

COVERED IN ALL PAPERS

The Business Daily used up 14 pages on Wednesday and five pages on Thursday.

The EastAfrican carried six pages devoted to the Pontiff. Taifa Leo dedicated five pages on Wednesday and four on Thursday to the Pope.

The photographs included some meant as possible pinups.

Between Wednesday and Thursday, the Daily Nation published four pinups, Business Daily two, Taifa Leo one, and The EastAfrican one, while The Standard had six.

Pinup lovers were spoilt for choice.

The media saturation coverage matches the adoration Kenyans have for the Pope and the reception they have given him, though the number of Catholics in the population is estimated as 23.3 per cent (www.gcatholic.org).

All people, in fact, have taken advantage of the three-day papal visit.

Thousands braved rain and cold yesterday to attend the Mass at the University of Nairobi.

Vendors have been selling rosaries, crucifixes, crosses, pendants and Pope Francis-branded T-shirts and pictures. Hotels have been reaping big money.

DAILY NATION LEADS IN PUBLICITY

But it is the Daily Nation that has scored big publicity about its brand.

On Wednesday, it carried a full-page advertisement featuring the mitre and a message below it in white letters against a dark blue background, which read: Your Holiness, we have something to confess; we always tell the truth!

This seems to be a parody on the Sacrament of Confession.

I wish, though, the last part of the message had read (and without the exclamation mark): “We always seek to tell the truth.” My understanding is that a good confession tells the truth.

I would also want to change the colour motif.

Blue symbolises the sky and the sea and is associated with freedom and imagination.

I prefer red, which symbolises passion, danger, and determination — attributes associated with journalistic truth-seeking.

Journalists have to struggle to find and tell the truth because there is always somebody somewhere who wants to suppress it.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION