This working paper seeks to identify the extent to which the national TV and radio programme Sema Kenya (Kenya Speaks), part of BBC Media Action’s governance work in Kenya, supported accountability, peace and inclusion at the time of the 2013 Kenya election. The paper explores these issues using qualitative data from two samples: a panel of 17 media and governance experts, and a broad cross-section of Sema Kenya's TV and radio audience. In addition, quantitative data from a nationally representative survey of 3,000 Kenyan adults provides overall audience perceptions of the role of the media during the Kenya election as well as attitudes towards Sema Kenya among regular viewers and listeners.
After being complicit in post-election violence in 2007, Kenyan media swung to the other extreme in 2013 when it self-censored to avoid instigating violence.
In this environment, Sema Kenya provided the public with constructive, moderated, audience-driven discussion and, arguably, more detailed information than other media sources.
By providing a platform for dialogue, where citizens were visibly empowered to question their leaders, the programme also made a contribution to supporting individuals to hold government officials to account.
Muriithi, A. G.; Page, G. The Kenyan election 2013: the role of the factual discussion programme Sema Kenya (Kenya speaks). Bridging Theory and Practice Research Dissemination Series: Working Paper Issue 05. BBC Media Action, UK (2013) 39 pp.