The Missing Stories: What implications for Business and Public Interest?
What is missing is absent! As scribes, missing may mean – missing in action, missing files, missing people, missing children, among others when telling the public interest stories. Missing is not new in life. Indeed where things or people are missing means that, that is really the heart of the story and the substance of the message. It means that the ‘missing’ is so important and integral that without it the storyline and the story remains incomplete!
Maya Angelou once stated that,
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”.
Hidden means that it is not present! Hidden means that it is out of sight or not readily apparent or unexplained. This could mean that there are hidden people, hidden words or hidden messages, hidden things, hidden places, among other hidden’s. There are indeed many aspects in our lives that still remain unexplained and as people become more knowledgeable and bold the ‘hidden’ becomes added to our daily body of knowledge and visible to our sights and interactions.
If you recall, there was a time when women, persons living with disability, persons living with HIV and AIDS were ‘hidden’ and did not participate in many aspects of life. We never talked about them, we never ‘saw’ them until we made the choice to ‘unhide’ them.
Also recall, the black race and black and brown people were ‘hidden’ leading to the partition of Africa during the Berlin conference in 1884. Africa was known as ‘the dark continent’! Black people or the Moors in Ethiopia or now known as Africa were considered backward, primitive and needed white attention and rescue! For those who have watched the documentaries Hidden Colors Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 or the movie Hidden Figures appreciate the hidden color and hidden woman phenomenon. Those who were historians also remember phrases like the white man ‘discovered’ the source of the Nile, ‘discovered’ Mt. Kenya, among others!
However, it’s important to note that what is missing is therefore ‘hidden’ and is not necessarily bad or backward. It is just usually different, not understood and excluded from public life, public mediums and public participation.
Remember Jim Morison (1943 to 1971, Songwriter, USA) statement that “Whoever controls the media controls the mind”.
The word ‘Missing’ is a verb, an active word. Therefore the political question is: who is hiding the hidden and why is this information or subject matter missing? Do the hidden hide themselves? No. They are hidden by those who are more visible, with power and control! Anyone who is hidden is therefore disempowered, excluded, and vulnerable and their human rights and fundamental freedoms are usually violated.
It’s for this reason that in 2010 through the Constitution of Kenya we agreed as a Republic not to encourage missing and hidden persons or communities. Article 27 provides that people are not rendered ‘hidden’ and therefore excluded for the civil, political, social, cultural and economic life with other human beings. Article 27 establishes the principle of non-discrimination because of once sex, social status, race, ethnicity, birth, among others. It further provides in Article 28 that all person’s dignity must be respected and protected at all times.
A critical story that continues to miss from media reporting and analysis is the story of intersex persons. An intersex person is a child born with ambiguous genitalia or physic or mixed hormones (testosterone and estrogen), mixed chromosomes (xx and xy) and mixed gonads (ovaries and testis) who cannot be classified as a typical fe/male binary.
Let me give you a few facts about intersex people in the Republic of Kenya: (i) intersex persons are neither fe/male, (ii) intersex people are recorded in the Bible (Mathew 19:12), Koran (42:49-50) and our communities have specific names (Kamba – Malinda, Gikuyu – Kiugu, Maasai – Entapis, Kipsigis – Chelososiot, Ameru – Nturuntu, Somali – Labeeb, etc) for them though derogatory, (iii) intersex persons constitute 0.05% to 1.7% of every population – 47,564,296m = 23,782 to 868,593 intersex persons in the Republic of Kenya, (iv) intersex persons are 84% infertile, (v) intersex persons are documented wrongly (recorded fe/male at birth) or undocumented, (vi) there are more than 46 intersex variations, (vii) most intersex persons are not tested or do understand the nature of their intersex variation, (viii) intersex persons are the least or not educated (usually standard 6) vulnerable group and (ix) most intersex children are recorded female at birth, (x) intersex persons are invisible, hidden and their stories missing.
JRR Tolkien (Author and Scholar, South Africa) said that,
“A story must be told or there’ll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are most moving”. (Intersex Picture)
This data is merely indicative of the intersex phenomenon in the Republic of Kenya due to the stigma, exclusion, discrimination and enumerators omissions. There are indeed more intersex persons!
KNBS Intersex Count
IPICC Intersex Count: 0.05% to 1.7%
2,199 – 74,750
1,208 – 41,102
934 – 31,749
835 - 28,400
1,131 – 38,458
711 - 24,173
726 - 24,715
568 - 19,315
633 – 21,536
605 - 20,551
11. Uasin Gishu
582 – 19,774
578 - 19,645
13. Homa Bay
566 – 19,243
558 - 1,980
The Accenture Strategy 2018 Survey, To Affinity and Beyond: From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand’ states that,
“In an era of radical visibility, technology and media have given individuals the power to stand up for their opinions and beliefs on a grand scale. This power, reflected in everything from the #MeToo movement to the growing intolerance for “fake news,” is infiltrating every aspect of people’s lives, including their purchasing decisions”.
In its findings, 62% of the customers want companies to take a stand on the current and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices. This means that the closer a company’s purpose is aligned to their own beliefs or to the public interest, the better. Charles Leadbeater (Author and former advisor to Tony Blair, UK) once said that,
“You are what you share”.
What stories do we share? Do they include these missing stories? How would this impact the media business?
I was looking at a Survey Report on Audience Measurement of February and August 2019 which recognises that there are 64 free TV and 91 FM radio stations. It has rated the top TV and FM radio stations and the best timing. It shows that the youth aged especially between 15 to 24 years engage and listen more with what is being aired in our various stations. This means that we impact a lot on the minds of the leaders of this our Republic of Kenya in respect to their values, culture, political and economic outlook and vision. It is clear that there is something in the stories or the way the stories are told by certain media houses because they inspire and have a high audience.
What if, What if we add more of the missing stories? What would be the impact on the viewers and brand?
As I conclude, let’s look deliberately look for the missing stories, missing voices, the hidden people and let’s be their mouth piece. Let the media speak loudly louder! The story of Kenya and intersex, is still untold. Kenya is setting the pace on intersex in respect to enumeration, registration, public awareness in the world. Will you be that media that leads in this dialogue …