27-03-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
In this age of madness we lacked the idiots of horror", sang in 1980 Franco Battiato, megaphone in hand, in "Bandiera Bianca".
Forty years later, in full pandemic media confusion, information should be one of the pillars supporting the entire "nervous" system and the foundation of the hope to get out of an unprecedented situation soon.
In the past, idiots used to play games that were perhaps provocative, but almost never dangerous. They used to shock the well-meaning with horror and porn (which is nothing today) and it was satire that cheerfully played the part of "fake news".
Today, unfortunately, anyone can hope to monetize by launching fake, partisan, rough, hair-pulling news, with headlines and retouched photos. More than idiots, vulgar swindlers who play with the feelings, instincts and naivety of readers, taking advantage of the bombardment of news. There are thousands of blogs, headlines, fictitious website addresses that last for a weekend and suddenly change connotations like a Mayweather left hook.
But when the invented, bloated and dramatized news and the headlines come from a national newspaper, there is a lot to worry about and the disgust must make room for action.
This is the case of an article that appeared two days ago in Repubblica, signed by Antonella Napoli (not an expert on Africa, not a correspondent, nor an envoy of the Italian newspaper.
"Coronavirus, Africa "Via l'untore bianco". From Kenya to Ethiopia episodes of violence against Americans and Europeans".
Try reading the article, reread it and ask yourself where there would be episodes of violence, if there are places, facts, direct testimonies. And above all from what, what words and deeds, it is clear that there have been similar episodes in Kenya too.
Here is the link.
The only testimony in the article is that of Father Kizito Sesana, the Combonian founder of the community of Koinonia in Nairobi, who is keeping a daily social blog. A nice "copy paste" of some of his phrases and that's it.
It is Kizito himself who denounces the bogus and tendentious operation of Repubblica.
"An Italian friend who lives in Nairobi wrote to me: But it's you who wrote this stuff? - explains Sesana - Before I can read it I get a message from a Neapolitan friend, who has come to Kivuli several times already, with the same message and the incredulous question: "But is it true?"
In fact, the extensive use of quotes from my posts in this piece makes the reader believe that I share the title of the short article and its setting. This is not the case. I have never written or seen in person but I have never heard of "episodes of verbal and physical violence involving in particular Americans and Europeans, including many Italians". Some of the journalist's opinions are linked to my quote so that one might believe that she is continuing to expose my thoughts. This is not the case. Even in the quotation mark there are small additions, such as "The government is ready to deploy the army" and "So you risk disaster". Those phrases, as they are and as they are related to the previous sentence, are not mine, and they reinforce the impression of a vision of Kenyan society that those who know me know well that it is not mine.
I live in Nairobi, where I have always felt well received, since 1988, and here I enjoy the friendship and affection of many Kenyans. Some of them I consider my teachers, others my children. This article offends them.
I have had many meetings in the past, and also deep friendships, with professional journalists from "La Repubblica" and other important mass-media and never before have my words been so misinterpreted. The fact that in an article - even if published only online - of a magazine I know as serious, a typo as "missionary let's combine" escapes me makes me think that the level of proofreaders has also dropped a lot".
Malindikenya.net also decided to reply to Repubblica, but it did so directly, sending an email to the editor Carlo Verdelli.
Here it is
I introduce myself, my name is Freddie del Curatolo, I am a colleague and director of the most popular information portal for Italians in Kenya.
In this period of great emergency, confusion and attention to words, I consider your newspaper one of the reference points of well-founded news and serious insights.
Today, however, I am sincerely shocked by the superficiality of the article "Via l'untore bianco..." by Antonella Napoli and the useless and harmful sensationalism of the title itself.
I write about Kenya, I've been attending it for 30 years and I try to be always updated on the other nations of Subsaharian Africa...
Writing about "white anointing hunt" for sporadic verbal episodes that are not even explored in depth (because they are obviously little) and mentioning Kenya only because our friend Father Kizito explains in his blog that Europeans do not travel around Nairobi (of course, those who have not returned to their homeland are locked up at home well aware of the arrival of the virus in the capital) is either senseless or, worse, pretentious.
Even if one wanted to imply an alleged "racism of response" to the European policy on migrants, which sincerely to two guappi of the district of Arada in Addis Ababa or to the black Cambists of Yaoundé doesn't matter, in this case the target is definitely missed.
In Kenya, if anything, local politicians are under the radar, given that the number 1 is a Vice Governor of the coast, among other things in the region most frequented by Italian tourists, who was arrested for failure to respect self-isolation and, found positive, resigned, plus some provincial councillors of Nairobi returned from Dubai.
The Kenyans are, if anything, worried by the policy implemented by their rulers, who in blocking the country, the places of commerce in the tertiary sector such as markets, kiosks, bars and local restaurants and the tens of thousands of "boda boda" (motorbike-taxis) risk bringing starvation to those who earn a daily living. In the slums of Nairobi, two and a half million people would rather die of Coronavirus than hunger and hardship. They are asked to wash their hands with soap where there is no water for days and no money for soap. You know how much they care about the White Anointed One. To talk about Africa, as for all the other subjects I am not familiar with and often make up, among other sources, to you with confidence, one would have to know the subject.
I'm sure you have journalists to do that.
Sincerely, Freddie of the Curatolo...
Director Malindikenya.net - The portal of Italians in Kenya
At the moment, we have not received any response ... I would add that I would clearly never feel that I can rule out violence against "mzungu" during this period in Kenya. But apart from the endemic criminality, I am sure that the motive at the limit would not be racism, or our "original sin", or simply and painfully hunger.
Journalists for passion, with a desire to tell and the need to do so freely.
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