Media professionals from around East Africa met recently to discuss press freedom in their countries. They also examined concerns about recent politically motivated crackdowns on journalists in Uganda and Kenya. English to Africa?s Shaka Ssali traveled to Kenya and participated in the conference. Shaka joined English to Africa show host Kim Lewis live in studio to tell our listeners about it. At least 100 top journalists, experts and journalism students assembled at the Nairobi Safari Park Hotel in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Delegates from Madagascar and neighboring Rwanda also joined in the discussions, which focused on the theme: ?Enhancing the role of the Media in the Democratization Process.?  Ssali says, ?The significance of the conference was that it provided a platform for sharing information and experiences among journalists from different walks of life. It was the first time East African journalists had gathered to discuss what the media, the Fourth Estate, should do to maintain relevance in an era of closer economic regional integration and at a time when many African governments are making a transition from dictatorships to more liberal democracies and good governance.?

Ssali says, ?The conference also provided an opportunity to reflect on media excesses. Participants discussed alleged corruption in media houses and among journalists, arrogance of media practitioners or media dictatorship, poor conditions of service for journalists and inadequate training.?  He quotes Kenya?s Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe who told delegates that the media is doing a wonderful job of informing, educating, entertaining and analyzing issues for the common folks in the region.?

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