Diplomat East Africa Celebrates its first anniversary, a year of achievements
Diplomat East Africa is one-year-old with this issue. This time last year, we had just made the switch from putting out Diplomat Kenya to Diplomat East Africa. Yes, our original name was Diplomat Kenya, but as we put it together it dawned on us that the five-member East African Community was to enter a common market treaty in November. We could not be left behind; if the region was moving to create a bigger trading bloc, we could not confine ourselves to Kenya. We, therefore, shifted gears and became Diplomat East Africa.
There is another reason why we did that. We said in our founding editorial that with that issue we were laying the building blocks for a pan-African title. This was a good way to begin our journey to that end.
That was before we hit the streets, mail boxes and bookshop and supermarket shelves. When we did, we started off as bi-monthly, but midstream we changed course and became a monthly.
As news people used to the hustle and bustle of newsrooms and the constant buzz of news, we found it difficult to sit around and wait for two months to hit the streets while keeping what we had under wraps. We could not bear it; the time was short but the waiting was long — much too long for our liking. Secondly, we reckoned our readers need to get information at the earliest opportunity. Why keep them waiting?
Something else happened. As Global Village Publishers EA Limited, we have global partners in Global Village Partnerships and they liked our idea of a journal of diplomacy and sought to make it better. Why not publish an online magazine called Diplomat Africa, Mr Sven Boermester, the President of Global Village Partnerships, asked. We agreed and so we have this as a sister publication online, www.diplomatafrica.org
Diplomat East Africa will always be ready to take new ideas on board, to change with the times and because of them in order to break news and analyse it for our readers at the earliest opportunity.
We have already demonstrated that we are a serious title. We have brilliant writers in Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Dar-es-Salaam, Addis Ababa, Khartoum, Juba, London, Washington DC, Los Angeles, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, to name but a few.
We have interviewed some of the best-known newsmakers in the region, among them presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Ambassador Michael Ranneberger of the United States in Kenya, Ambassador Margit Hellwig-Boette of Germany to Kenya, former UNEP boss Dr Ann Tibaijuka, current UN-in-Nairobi head Dr Achim Steiner as well as the Chairman of the African Union Secretariat, Dr Jean Ping.
From the outset we made it clear that we would pursue issues affecting the region and which affect its relationship with the rest of the world and provide a platform for stimulating and serious discourse. We have lived up to that promise.
We have always brought the latest issue affecting trouble-torn Somalia to the table with a view to galvanising action from the Somali people themselves, the African Union and the international community to help restore Somalia to order.
Diplomat East Africa has done the same for the Sudan, which only emerged from a vicious internal war that pitted North against South and claimed two million lives. Our pitch all along, and which we repeated in our November issue, is that peace must prevail even if, come the referendum on January 9, the South votes to secede. This journal did not just transform from Diplomat Kenya to Diplomat East Africa in name only; it has endeavoured to encourage the development of the East African Community and the Common Market as veritable drivers of the emergence of the region as a continental and global player in finance.
Piracy continues to be a major challenge for the region and the world, seriously damaging the maritime trade in the Indian Ocean and escalating the price of moving goods and doing business throughout the region’s hinterland. We have been and remain on top of the story.
Democracy, good governance and human rights have been a staple of Diplomat East Africa. We have raised issues regarding the conduct of elections and referenda in the region as well as providing a platform for discussion of the conduct of the International Criminal Court and its relationship with governments on the continent.
On the global stage in the eponymous section we have tackled matters of international finance and given voice to issues raised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, especially with regard to how their policies impact Africa. We have also delved into American, Asian and European politics, again the idea being to show that Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan was right in describing the world as a global village. When the British election in May failed to produce a clear winner, we brought our African experience to bear in juxtaposing the outcomes. Green Agenda is Diplomat East Africa’s forum for exposing, analysing and bringing perspective to matters concerning the environment. We made our entry into the market during the 2009 conference in Copenhagen about which we carried articles by Kenya’s Nobel Laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai. That signalled our intention to be big — and remain big — on conservation.
Last, which could well be first, Diplomat East Africa celebrates sport. That is as it should be, since the eastern Africa region is the home of world-beating athletes. Africa loves football and that explains why our June issue featured the FIFA World Cup in South Africa as its cover story.
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