NAIROBI, Kenya: A story on efforts by Naivasha-based flower farms to ensure peace prevailed before, during and after the 2013 general elections in Kenya and has been recognised for conflict sensitive reporting.
The story that was published by the February-March issue of HortiNews under the headline “In Naivasha, it is Flowers for Peace” is the Tuvuke Initiative’s choice of the best institutional award on peace reporting, in its inaugural media awards.
Presiding over the ceremony on December 5, 2013 in Nairobi, Information and Communications Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i called on investors in media to invest in training journalists to understand the weight of what they report.
Dr Matiang’i implored the media to cultivate patriotism and to report sensitively and sensibly when touching on emotive issues. “This is the only home we have on earth, and for different opinions, let’s consult”, he added as he called for better engagement through monthly round tables between the government and media adding that the media personnel being rewarded by the Tuvuke Initiative had shown that reporting can be tampered with sensitivity. “Tuvuke Media Awards is a way of encouraging those who are doing something right with a view to encourage best practices”, he said.
Hortinews managing editor Catherine Riungu said the story on the initiative, was picked from an initiative by the Oserian Development Company, whose workforce of 5,000 is represented by all the 41 tribes in the country creating a perfect ‘home’ to encourage national coercion and peaceful co-existence. She added that the concept was followed by other farms in Naivasha and spread beyond the Lake region and has since become a mantra. The key message by Oserian’s human resources manager Kezah Ludovick that we will need our country and our jobs to continue normal lives after the elections were so powerfully engaging, encouraging everyone to want to stay peaceful.
The flower farms coined the Flowers for Peace phrase because flowers are about love and peace, and the message was timely considering that the flower industry in Naivasha bore the brunt of the 2007 post-election violence with businesses disrupted, people killed and losses running into billions incurred. “This had to be forestalled”, Ms Riungu said.
With flowers being symbols of love and peace, workers were encouraged to carry flowers as a sign of promoting peace. The judges at Tuvuke were impressed by the simplicity of a the message that carried enormous power, and for this to have been captured in an agriculture magazine to the extent that the concept was picked especially on Valentine’s Day when flowers were sold with a message of peace indicating that the objective was achieved far beyond Naivasha, the citation said.
Tuvuke Initiative is a systematic effort aimed at developing collaborative pre-emptive actions and activities to forestall any pre-planned spontaneous violence before, during and after the elections. It equips members with knowledge and skills to either individually or collectively, enhance peace and justice. Among others, Tuvuke Initiative has worked with the media to build capacity for conflict sensitive and responsible reporting.
Commenting on her success, the Tuvuke Media Award winner and owner of HortiNews, Ms Riungu said, “It was a humbling moment, winning in the institutional category for a sector specific magazine, beating the giant media outfits.” She added, “It is also a plus for the flower industry. “Flowers have been in the news for all the wrong reasons and winning this is a plus. It goes on to show that horticulture is not about growing and selling. It is all inclusive, and the message put out there is, for agriculture to thrive, there must be peace.”