Interviews

Interview with NTV’s Yassin Juma : Part IV

Here is Part IV and the final segment of Opride.com’s exclusive interview with NTV’s Senior Correspondent Yassin Juma. On behalf of all us here at Opride.com, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Juma for his selfless and courageous report on Oromo Struggle. And for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview. I hope that as the result of this interview the Oromo people got to know him better and many had sent me offline messages thanking the Journalist.

Parts I, II & III

Opride.com Take us behind the screen, how much of your original work was altered due to the controversy? And can you talk about some of the editorial decisions you or your network made in deciding what to keep and what to cut?

Y.J – I have been asked this question several times before and my answer is that there was no altering whatsoever. The only thing we did amid the controversy is to try to allow “other” sides to be heard including the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments. Our integrity was on the line and we had to be none biased as much as possible because as a journalist I do not belong to any sides.

Opride.com – What was the general public response, Kenyans and otherwise to your reportage, did your rating and viewing go up?

Y.J – Our ratings shoot up even as the promo was posted two weeks before the documentary was aired. TV journalism is highly competitive. The documentary was and still is the talk of the town. It attracted a lot of viewership locally because Kenyans were for the first time getting to see the faces behind the OLF. Many say it is the best TV Series of the Year.

Opride.com I was one among those free speech advocates and we contacted your network expressing our disappointment. Why did NTV suddenly decide to take down the videos from its YouTube channel? And why was it restored at last?

Y.J – Those were tough time for me and my station…real tough times. At some point, I even thought my documentary will not go on the air. What many people don’t understand is that we actually went against our government’s decision to have that documentary on the air.

When the diplomatic row emerged, the Nation Board decided to give the Ethiopian government time to react…there was a lot of confusion even after the first series went on the air. We had to take down the videos on YouTube awaiting a last decision from the Board as talks between the station and Kenyan leaders (the President and Prime Minister) went on. The Kenyan government was taking matters seriously as Ethiopia had issued diplomatic threats. Nonetheless, at last the videos were restored on YouTube after the Board decided the documentary should to go on. Tough times!

Opride: Were you aware of the protest letters coming from all over the world? And some of your viewers were disappointed that NTV did not address that aspect of the controversy in the final segment. What do you say?

Y.J: It was actually my boss who informed me about the streaming emails protesting our move to take down the videos from YouTube. When I come to think of it now, yes I think that should have been part of the final segment…but it should be understood that there was so much happening in so little time. And I was under a lot of pressure to not only beat the deadline but also to ensure that I was safe. I think I became more anxious about my security and the security of the tapes when I knew my moves were being tracked

Opride: Speaking of safety, now that you instantly became a household name and it is a known fact that the Ethiopian government has secret operatives inside Kenya, are you worried for your safety at all?

Y.J: I am aware of the presence of the Hager Fiqir secret agents here in Nairobi…in 1991 a US report indicated that they assassinated OLF’s Jatan Ali here in Nairobi . That is just one example of the many more such cold-blooded murders and forced deportations that doesn’t get reported. Apparently the Kenyan government knows about these operatives but there seems to be a deal between Addis Ababa and Nairobi. I am just a journalist not a rebel or not even an Oromo but I still have to be very careful. Information is a deadly weapon you know. I since stopped going to places that I used to visit frequent. I miss Shakla, Tibs, Zigny and Buna! I love Ethiopian cuisine. Anyway am just being more vigilant nowadays as all my moves are being trailed.

Opride: In a way you are a victim of Ethiopia’s amateurish bullying of free media even beyond its shores, do you sympathize with Journalists like yourself who live and work in Ethiopia?
Y.J:  I believe the real heroes are Ethiopian journalists who are languishing in jails for giving a voice to the voiceless. For me, it was challenging yes but in the end I could walk out of the country, return to my newsroom in Nairobi, do the story and go on with my life. For Ethiopian journalists they are stuck in their own country. It is a pitiful situation but I believe time will change things in the future. Yes I sympathize with Ethiopian journalists a lot.

Opride: How much do you think your documentary changed the general view people have about OLF and the Oromo struggle against Ethiopian government?

Y.J: I believe I achieved my main goal which was to demystify the OLF. The documentary as told through the personalities covered such as Falmatu and Gurache speaks volume to why Oromo people took up the armed struggle. Also, it generated a lot of interest on the Oromo subject here in Kenya. And for many Kenyans, the Ethiopian government had been unmasked as it frantically protested and campaigned against the airing of the documentary.

Opride: You have been herald as “A True Friend of Oromo People”. What do you say to the growing base of your Oromo fans?

Y.J: Oooh indeed the Oromo people have shown so much appreciation for highlighting their story. I am grateful for their support and I hope I will be in the memory of the Oromo for many years to come.

Opride.com: Yassin Juma, on behalf of all our team and the Oromo people, thank you so very much. And I wish you success in your career.

Y.J: Galatomii!

Related Stories:

  1. Gadaa.com : Interview with Yassin Juma
  2. Bilisummaa.com: Yassin Juma on Oromo PalTalk Room
  3. Media watchdog groups react to Ethiopia’s efforts to stop NTV Report on Rebels.
  4. Kenyan TV series starts row with Ethiopia.
  5. TV series sparks diplomatic row
  6. Ethiopia forces Kenya to alter OLF Documentary
  7. Opride.com; Free Speech Protest letter to NTV
  8. Kenya, Ethiopia riled over documentary : Variety – Christopher Vourlias

Videos

  • Inside the Rebel Territory

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1pqpd1a27k

  • Inside the Rebel Territory – Part I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9FzsWE0NNg

  • Inside the Rebel Territory – Part II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFpmJ6e20bo

  • Inside the Rebel Territory – Part III

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_aQVr1r5KM

  • Inside the Rebel Territory – Part IV

Opposing Views:

1.       A Wayane posing as an Oromo: Aiga Forum

2.       OLF Annual Film Festival – By Jawar Mohammed

3.       Misguided Criticism and Laughable Review – By Jamal Adam

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