I remember vaguely when The East African newspaper was born. My father bought it every week without fail and there was a joke in the family that that was the only thing for which he was not competing with the rest of the household. He read every one and even as he periodically discarded lots of old newspapers, he always kept the East African. My siblings and I were too young at that time to know or appreciate the wealth of news and information that lay within the pages of that paper.
The East African which recently turned 20 years old was born during one of the region’s most definitive times. There was something major happening in just about every country around the region. Rwanda had just come out of the horrendous genocide that saw close to one million people killed. The country was in the fragile state of healing and the East African has over the years documented the step by step story of hope, success and conquer that has been Rwanda. It was indeed the first Kenyan based paper that interviewed Paul Kagame post-genocide. Kenya had just two years earlier come out of the single party status and was still grappling with the fairly new multi-party politics. Uganda was in the process of writing a new constitution. Further afield, South Africa was just coming out of apartheid. Clearly there was a lot to report on and The East African could not have come at a better time.
Politics aside, the paper also boasts thorough and authoritative reportage and analysis of the region’s business. Its fully-fledged team has seen to it that each region gets a feel of the other business-wise. The economy of the party countries has become the paper’s business. From the shilling’s worth to equity markets change in benchmark index, the paper has over the years kept readers well informed on developing markets and potential of economies in the different states. It is an authoritative newspaper based on whose analysis local as well as multinational businesses can make decisions and go ahead to follow through with actualization of the same. Right from the time that the first paper rolled out of press in 1994, it has set itself as a paper that understands the region’s business and reports thoroughly and authoritatively on it.
This is not one of those papers one would skim through to catch up with the latest celebrity sex scandals or any such content that would come off as pesky nonsense to the paper’s niche readers. It is not a paper to sensationalize politics, but rather one to look at for deeper and more analytical stories and the effects they would have on the region.
The paper which has since also gone online has played a huge role in shaping the political and business landscape of the region and when the history of the integration of East Africa is written, its contribution will be right up there with other big and ambitious efforts that were and are being made to create a unified East Africa. It has seen it all through solid, authoritative reporting and analysis. Here’s to many more years of knowing the region and beyond.