#SomebodyTellKenyans: Yes, Quest means business, Nairobi’s traffic means no business
7 days ago, 15:20
The inaugural Kenya Airways direct flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to JF Kennedy Airport in New York was a success.
The flight was the culmination of many years of back-and-forth discussions between Kenya Airways and the government of Kenya on the one hand and American authorities on the other. Kenya hopes that the convenience of the direct flight will bring in tourists and business to the country. Kenya Airways hopes that the daily direct flight will be profitable.
And who better to report on the maiden flight than Richard Quest, the CNN business reporter whose catchphrase “Whatever you do, may it be profitable” on his CNN programme, Quest Means Business, has softened the rough edges of ultra-capitalism.
Before Richard Quest, business news for people not directly involved in it was as exciting as watching paint dry. He made business news interesting and fun and, importantly, conveyed it in a language lay people could understand. His interviews with CEOs or political decision-makers were lively, bringing out their human side. In earlier times, captains of industry and politicians came across as somewhat constipated.
In his career, Quest has covered the food industry in different parts of the world. He has reported on wine, manufacturing, startups, tourism, etc, from multiple countries. He comes across as being not only interested in the money-making side of business but also in its impact on the lives of ordinary citizens.
What Richard Quest says about an industry or a country may not be the “whole truth and nothing else but the truth,” but it is based on direct observation, statistics and stories from, as it were, the horse’s mouth. It is a perspective that any industry or country ignores at its own peril.
What industries and countries should do, therefore, is not to defend themselves against criticism from Quest in the usual knee-jerk fashion. Instead, they should listen to his perspective and figure out what to change or do in order to improve the situation. To deny or deflect the criticism or to give excuses is, to put it mildly, not an intelligent strategy.
In Africa, we have a long tradition of dealing with criticism using the following strategies:
First, there is obfuscation. Here, criticism is diffused by bringing in history or culture. For example, when Thabo Mbeki was president of South Africa, his government bristled at criticism of the country’s horrific crime situation, routinely attributing racist motives to those offering the criticism.
If the critics were African, they were either labelled as apologists for colonialism or ignored. Needless to say, the crime situation in South Africa has continued to worsen over the years.
And when people suggested that Jacob Zuma should indulge in serial marriages on his own time, preferably after leaving office, Zuma would react by accusing the critics of not respecting African culture. When the history of that county is written, it will record that Zuma’s years in power were a lost period in terms of economic and social advancement.
Second, there is denial. The existence of the object of criticism is denied ...
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