#KOT react after New York Times picks Kenyan as East Africa correspondent


#KOT react after New York Times picks Kenyan as East Africa correspondent
Abdi Latiff Dahir who has been named The New York Times' East Africa correspondent. PHOTO | COURTESY

In Summary

  • Mr. Dahir joins the American media giant from Quartz Africa where he has served for three years as a reporter covering East Africa.
  • The Times, in a statement posted on its website on Monday, commended Mr. Dahir's previous works covering a variety of topics such as "China’s deepening reach into Africa, the political transitions in Ethiopia and Sudan, and the intersection of technology and geopolitics."

Abdi Latiff Dahir, a Kenyan-born journalist has been named The New York Times’ East Africa correspondent, a move that has delighted many Kenyans.

Mr. Dahir joins the American media giant from Quartz Africa where he worked for three years as a reporter covering East Africa.

The New York Times, in a statement posted on its website on Monday, announced the new hire and commended Mr. Dahir’s previous works covering a variety of topics such as “China’s deepening reach into Africa, the political transitions in Ethiopia and Sudan, and the intersection of technology and geopolitics.”

“He has written about how companies and innovators are shaping industries, from agriculture to art. In between, he’s brought readers insightful stories about African culture, literature and food.”

Mr. Dahir – who was born in Nairobi and partially raised in Mogadishu, Somalia – earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

He started his journalism career as a business and technology reporter for the Daily Nation almost a decade ago before going on to write for various outlets including Africa Review, The East African, United Press International and Al Jazeera English.

“Besides his work in East Africa, Abdi has reported from Egypt and Nigeria, covered the United Nations General Assembly and written from Minnesota about the surge of the Somali political class there during the 2018 midterm elections in the United States,” added the statement.

Kenyans have since taken to social media to congratulate the seasoned journalist:

The appointment of Mr. Dahir follows months of controversy over the East Africa bureau stemming from a perceived insensitive article published by NYT during the Riverside drive terror attack.

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura was named the NYT East Africa Bureau Chief in September last year but never took up the job following backlash from Kenyans on Twitter over the article in which gory images were published.

The media house in July this year again came under heavy criticism from Kenyans on social media over the format of a call-out for a Nairobi bureau chief.

The announcement of the vacancy at the American media outlet’s Nairobi office was posted on their LinkedIn account on July 3, 2019.

“Our Nairobi bureau chief has a tremendous opportunity to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania,” read part of the job description.

“It is an enormous patch of vibrant, intense and strategically important territory with many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism.”

NYT further added: “The ideal candidate should enjoy jumping on news, be willing to cover conflict, and also be drawn to investigative stories. There is also the chance to delight our readers with unexpected stories of hope and the changing rhythms of life in a rapidly evolving region.”

KOT however faulted the wording used in the announcement saying it painted Eastern Africa in bad light.

Taking to Twitter the following week, the NYT’s International Editor – Michael Slackman – admitted fault in the advert saying he “deserved” all the flak it brought forth.

“That job posting was my doing and I want to explain what happened. We are currently looking for three correspondents to cover Africa and I saw this as an opportunity to find the best there is,” he wrote.

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Story By Ian Omondi
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