Caleb Atemi

Expanding Election Horizon

Caleb Atemi, a former News Editor with the Nation Media Group (NMG) joined Internews in Kenya earlier this year to head up the Free and Fair Media training program.

This ambitious training project will assist the media in professionally and responsibly covering the next general election.

Atemi, whose journalism career spans more than twenty years, has been an active media participant in previous Kenyan elections – as journalist, editor and media trainer. His first major election coverage assignment was the infamous queue (mlolongo) voting system of 1988, when the government of the ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU), was all powerful.

“Those days, victors became losers. Candidates with the longest queues were declared losers while those with the shortest ones celebrated their victory as orchestrated by the ruling party machines”, he recalls.

Atemi later covered the political assassination of Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Robert Ouko in 1990: “The Ouko murder sparked protests and demands for political pluralism. These sparks burst into infernos that KANU could not stop. In 1991, it culminated into the introduction of multiparty politics followed by the 1992 multiparty elections,” says Atemi, who is among the journalists who were repeatedly arrested and harassed by the State.

In 1997 he covered the general elections both as a news editor and field reporter. In 2002, the year KANU lost its grip on power, Atemi headed up  Communications at the Kenya Domestic Observers Programme (K-DOP), a project that brought together leading religious groups, civil society and donors. K-DOP assembled the largest election observer group of ever in Kenyan history.

Atemi left the NMG in July 1999 to venture into the academic world and communication consultancy.

He is also a biographer and a martial arts instructor and holds a Masters degree in Journalism Studies from Cardiff University, in Wales.