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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
G8 summit diary: Friday 08 July
Kenyan journalist John Kamau is in Scotland for the G8 summit and is writing about his experiences for the BBC News website. In Kenya he works as a senior reporter on the Sunday Standard newspaper.


We are coming to the end of what now feels like an anti-climax and a humbling experience for me. To be amidst this big story is a story in itself.

But I am a bit angry that on this, the last day of the G8 summit, we have been running around looking for interviews with the African presidents that are here.

Yesterday we were told that they would have a press conference today. But as I write this, no African journalist I have met here seems to know where our presidents are.

South African President Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki is among African leaders present

"Was this some kind of a hoax?" asked a Nigerian who works for Sky TV. If we do not have a chance to talk to them then it will be the mother of all let-downs.

The African story must be given to those who can report it from within and without. We need desperately to know their perspective on the connection between terrorism, poverty, democracy and rule of law.

Unlike in western nations where the presidents and prime ministers are accessible to the local media, for an African journalist, getting an interview with an African president may take a lifetime.

Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi was in office for 24 years, and did not call more than five press conferences in that entire time.

And when he did, it was because he specifically wanted the help of the international press.

I have western colleagues who have telephone numbers for the press officers who accompany their own leaders and they are in touch with them.

But my Tanzanian friend has been struggling to get a contact with President Mkapa's entourage - and if he succeeds, I'll eat my hat! He has just told me he won't try again.

A time has come when Africans should prove that they are real humans who deserve equal treatment by assertively demanding their rights.
J. Mumbi Mugambi, Mankato, USA

It is sad that our leaders are only seen when they seek votes. Accountability must be central to the way we relate with our leaders, for how will they communicate with the people back home if they do not use the communication channels available? They must make themselves available to answer questions and be interrogated on what they stand for.

As for the leaders of G8 I feel a sense of frustration.

Poverty in Africa must be tackled head-on, just as we have to take on terrorism. The zeal and determination must be the same for both of these are the two battles that we have to fight.

The right to equality and the right to peace are both human rights. The announcement here that the G8 has agreed to a $50bn (28.8bn) aid boost and that no agreement has been reached on climatic change is a great setback. Blair has said that "It isn't all everyone wanted, but it is progress."

The cowardly attack in London has let us Africans down and that is why we take the battle against terrorism personally. They have made our story end prematurely. But we should not be derailed by the terrorists - or, as British newspaper The Mirror aptly called them, "Bastards!". The Africa agenda will continue and move on.

The Nigerian and US presidents clasp hands
Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has also been taking part

So, spending this week in the Scottish countryside has been a beautiful outing, all the more so since it looks like the Kenya Highlands, the former Happy Valley of colonial days. The grazing sheep and cows, the familiar hills and farms all resemble my own countryside.

Africa, too, is beautiful and rich, and to open it up will require the right leadership, determination and support.

We needed to do it in this generation, for tomorrow will be too late.

To me Gleneagles has not lived to expectations. Perhaps the bar was too high, but it will be disastrous if we lower our sights. As my nursery school teacher always reminded me - aim high and fail rather than aim low and succeed. Africa must take that lesson forward.

We as journalists must raise the bar ever higher for our leaders. and I am off to look for them...

Previous diary entries:

John Kamau attended the G8 summit in Edinburgh with assistance from the Panos institute, a non-profit media organisation that works with journalists in the developing world.

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