Celebrated journalist, Charles Onyango-Obbo has quit Mail & Guardian Media Africa, Chimp Corps report.
The co-founder of Daily Monitor joined M&G two years ago in what he said was part of a “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 crowd sourcing tools offer to do that in new ways.”
Described by the media organisation as the ‘leading pan-African journalist with an unparalleled grasp of the African narrative,’ Onyango-Obbo served as M&G Africa editor and continued authoring provocative and analytical pieces for several publications in East Africa.
On Sunday, Onyango-Obbo Tweeted: “Farewell @MandGAfrica. Was a rich and defining two years. Will always love you. Moving to develop Rogue Chiefs @AfricaExplainer and @africapedia.”
Considered as one of the finest journalists Africa has produced in many years, Obbo has exhibited a strong penchant for digital media – a stark contrast to his old generation that treasures traditional print media.
When Onyango-Obbo took over as M&G Africa Editor, the media house expressed hope of turning into 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.”
However, it appears not all was rosy.
Responding to a follower on Twitter, Onyango-Obbo said the job was “worth doing” but came along with “trials, heartbreaks, and joys.” He did not elaborate.
But that he is quitting to focus on promoting other digital platforms tells a lot about his passion for new media.
Onyango-Obbo served under media mogul Trevor Ncube. At a workshop in Kampala recently, Ncube admitted the online media revolution was hurting print media revenues.
Ncube also faced the challenge of meager resources in building a strong media business with a continental appeal.
It is possible that M&G Africa was yet to reap from its sweat, underlining African media houses’ failure to commercialise news websites.
Onyango-Obbo was leading a carefully selected contingent of African journalists and editors operating across the continent from the Nairobi office.
Obbo announcing his quitting of M&G Africa on Twitter
When he accepted the job two years ago, Onyango-Obbo promised 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,” he emphasised.
Whether this objective was realised, only time will tell.
The journalist recounted that not all was rosy at his M&G Africa
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.