Larry Madowo had a tough time during his last days at Nation Media.
Speaking during his acceptance speech at the Association of Foreign Correspondents in the US, he said his former employer refused to publish a story he had written, that served as a memorable experience in life.
He also spoke about his experience evading police, for covering the swearing-in ceremony of opposition leader Raila Odinga. Together with his colleague, he crouched under a car that came out of the basement of Nation Media Group.
“We made it out of the newsroom where I used to work. It’s very dramatic in the movie but in real life, it’s not. It’s smelly,” he said.
Larry explained how tense the situation was back then after the government unexpectedly shut down three major media houses, to ensure Raila’s planned swearing-in ceremony did not receive any sort of national coverage.
“I was an anchor and an editor at one of the stations, NTV, and I was on the air when our signal was taken off the air and I became one of the most critical opponents of this attempt to muzzle us,” Madowo said.
He said his decision to directly oppose the government’s direct assault on the media was the reason why they were targeted.
“One of my colleagues and our boss were earmarked for arrest by the wing of the Kenya police that is known for very brutal arrests and people disappearing. So I would have been arrested and disappeared forever. That is why we hid ourselves in a safe house,” he said.
Larry said they then got an anticipatory bail, which blocks the government from arresting you.
When he went back to work, where he also had a column in the newspaper, he wanted to write about his experience but the editor refused to publish the story.
“I was also put off air for a while and told that I can interview these people when I come back,” he said.
He said he was not only the target of arrest but also the organization was trying to self-censor not to upset the government.
“That was unacceptable for me and so I ended up publishing the same story with CNN.com and I left the organisation. I joined BBC, where I got a great job,” he said.
Larry Madowo has had it good ever since he moved from Nation Media. Now with a higher educational level, he is bound to have an even greater decade.