Mail & Guardian launches pan-African platform M&G Africa
“Mail & Guardian Africa has taken the bold step to report Africa by telling why things do or do not happen, using an evidence-based, non-dogmatic and analytical approach and exploring the new opportunities that technology, social media and crowdsourcing tools offer to do that in new ways,” said M&G Africa editor Charles Onyango-Obbo, a leading pan-African journalist with an unparalleled grasp of the African narrative.
M&G Africa aims to be the leading and most important commercially successful contemporary voice on African issues. News analysis, insight, commentary and investigative journalism will be the hallmark of the platform.
Mgafrica.com, the digital news and information portal of Mail & Guardian Africa, launched on Thursday May 1 and the M&G Africa head office in Nairobi opened officially on Tuesday May 20. Onyango-Obbo will lead a carefully selected contingent of African journalists and editors operating across the continent from the Nairobi office.
The launch took place at Fairmont Hotel in Nairobi at the “meeting of great minds” business breakfast. Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary Ministry of Information, Communication & Technology in Kenya delivered the keynote address. Among the guests were HE Ratubatsi Moloi, South African Higher Commissioner in Kenya.
In his speech the Deputy Executive Chairman of the Mail & Guardian Media Trevor Ncube said: “As I have travelled across the continent, from South Africa to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana and Zimbabwe, I have realised first-hand that entrepreneurs are laying the foundation for a truly irreversible economic turn-around for our continent. Jobs are being created in new sectors, and innovation and hard-nosed business acumen are combining to give credence to the overwhelming sense of optimism”.
Onyango-Obbo added: “The aim is to focus on delivering quality African news and information via mobile to, primarily, 30 to 40 year-old audiences with a university education in both Africa and outside the continent. M&G Africa will offer a non-paternalistic, intelligent and enlightened view of developments on the continent without feeling duty-bound to talk up the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative, or to be stuck in cynicism and a refusal to see progress. The objective is to make M&G Africa the most trusted and diverse source of news on Africa.”
Chris Roper, editor-in-chief of M&G Media, described M&G Africa as “a very necessary addition to the journalism landscape of the continent, and one that knits together the many voices of Africa into a coherent, thoughtful tapestry, rather than the more usual competing narratives imposed on the continent by interest groups”.
M&G Media has appointed Anastacia Martin as the managing director of M&G Africa to drive the strategic mandate and ensure commercial viability of the news portal.
“We are excited that finally, our dream and vision to provide Africa with a platform to access impeccable journalism delivered in a creative, engaging and trendsetting way has come to fruition,” said Martin.
‘We have to tell our own story’
Speaking during a pre-launch business conference in March 2014, M&G Media executive deputy chairperson Trevor Ncube described M&G Africa as the culmination of a long-held vision that as “Africans we have to tell our own story”.
“I think nothing is more emblematic of how little influence Africa has wielded in world affairs than the fact that even Africans themselves rely on non-African media to know what is going on in their own backyard,” Ncube said.
Ugandan Onyango-Obbo co-founded Uganda’s leading independent title, the Monitor, which became part of the Nation Group in 2000. He was later appointed executive editor for Africa and the digital media division of the Nation Media Group, operating out of Nairobi. He was a columnist for Daily Nation, the East African, the Monitor (Uganda) and the Citizen (Tanzania), writing mostly on African political and democratic transition issues, the political economy of new technologies and social trends. He is a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Economic Affairs in Nairobi.
He has a BA degree from Makerere University in Uganda and a master’s degree in journalism from the American University in Egypt. He is a Harvard Nieman Fellow.
Onyango-Obbo has published three books: Uganda’s Poorly Kept Secrets, Inside the Soul of a Nation and Its People and It Never Happened: The Story of the Last Days of Idi Amin.
“There are negative stories about Africa, there are positive ones. M&G Africa will tell the thoughtful and important stories, give new meaning to old facts and look to how the future of the continent is shaping up.”
“From our Nairobi headquarters, and with all the social tools we can muster, M&G Africa will be home to every African voice imaginable, [it will] tackle the continent’s failures without fear and shine the light on its great possibilities intelligently,” said Onyango-Obbo.