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Flowers for Peace story wins media award

Nairobi December 9, 2013. A story on efforts by flower farms in Naivasha to ensure peace prevailed before, during and after the 2013 General Elections in Kenya has been recognized for conflict sensitive reporting.

The story  that  appeared in the HortiNews February – March 2013 issue under the headline; In Naivasha, it is Flowers for Peace,  is the Tuvuke Initiative’s  choice for  the  institutional award on peace reporting in its inaugural media awards.

Presiding over the ceremony on December 5, 2013 in Nairobi, Information and Communications Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i called on investors in media to invest in training journalists to understand the weight of what they report.

Dr Matiang’i implored the media to cultivate patriotism and to report sensitively and sensibly when touching on emotive issues. “This is the only home we have on earth, and for different opinions, let’s consult”, he said as he called for better engagement through monthly round tables between the government and media adding that the media personnel being rewarded by the Tuvuke Initiative had shown that reporting can be tampered with sensitivity.

“Tuvuke Media Awards is a way of recognizing those who are doing something right with a view to encouraging best practices,” he said.

HortiNews managing editor, Catherine Riungu,  said the story  was  developed from an initiative by  the Oserian  Development Company, whose workforce of 5,000  cuts across all the 41 tribes in the country creating a perfect ‘home’ to  encourage national coercion and  peaceful co-existence. She added that the concept was picked by other farms in Naivasha and spread beyond the Lake region and has since become a mantra and a continuous process.

Trucks of flowers belonging to farms that support the concept are still donning the Flowers for Peace logo, nearly a year since the elections were concluded, the rationale being that preaching peace needs to be a continuous exercise.

The key message by Oserian’s head of human resources Kezzah Lodovick that we will need our country and our jobs to continue normal lives after the elections were so powerfully engaging, encouraging everyone to want to stay peaceful

The farms coined the Flowers for Peace slogan because flowers are about love and peace, and the message was timely considering that the industry in Naivasha bore the brunt of the 2007 post election violence with businesses disrupted, people killed and losses running into billions incurred. “This had to be forestalled”, Ms Riungu said.

With flowers being symbols of love and peace, workers were encouraged to carry them as a sign of promoting peace.

The judges at Tuvuke were impressed with the simplicity of a message that carried enormous power, and for this to have been captured in an agriculture magazine to the extent that the concept was picked especially on Valentine’s Day when flowers were sold with a message of peace, indicating that the objective was achieved far beyond Naivasha, the citation said.

Tuvuke Initiative is a systematic effort aimed at developing collaborative pre-emptive actions and activities to forestall any pre-planned spontaneous violence before, during and after the elections. It equips members with knowledge and skills to either individually or collectively, enhance peace and justice.

Among others, Tuvuke Initiative has worked with the media to build capacity for conflict sensitive and responsible reporting.

On HortiNews bagging the award, Ms Riungu had this to say. “It was a humbling moment, winning in the institutional category for a sector specific magazine, beating the giant media outfits”.

It is also a plus for the flower industry, she says. “Flowers have been in the news for all the wrong reasons and winning this is a plus. It goes on to show that horticulture is not about growing and selling. It is all inclusive, and the message put out there is, for agriculture to thrive, there must be peace”, she said.

By Mutuiri Gitonga

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