Media and the sustenance of collective identifications in Africa
The initial, post-independence attempt to unite the three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania floundered in the wake of ideological differences by the political leadership in the three countries. Before its demise, the East African Community (EAC), as it was called, had been looked upon by the European Economic Community (EEC), the precursor to the European Union, as an example of how to unite. However, the idea of one East Africa survived and in 1993, cooperation between the three countries was again revived. Today, the three East African countries are discussing the possibility of a political federation. Using an eclectic admixture of media discourse analysis and historical analysis, this essay examines the role of the mass media in sustaining the idea of one East Africa at a time when regional integration was absent. My research focused on editorials and opinion articles published in a section of the local media between 1977 and 1993, and examines how rhetorical and literary devices in media discourse were used to keep the idea of one East Africa alive, and to agitate for increased cooperation.