Telling African stories in the media


Thomas Mukoya, Kenyan photojournalist
27 September, 2010

Thomas Mukoya

African stories rarely appear in the Australian media and, when they do, are most often focused on war and violence interspersed with the occasional animal-interest story. Is there Africa-fatigue among western media with regard to African stories of war and conflict? And how does a photojournalist strive to maintain the dignity of his subjects (especially those in camps) while knowing that heart-rending pictures are the ones that many agencies and media want?

In a moderated discussion with Joel Negin, lecturer in international public health at the University of Sydney, Thomas Mukoya, presented his experiences in telling African stories in the global media; outlining challenges, successes and reporting angles. Thomas and his camera have documented many of Africa’s humanitarian crises, showing the circumstances of refugees and displaced people whose lives are forever changed by the effects of conflict and insurrection.

With an introduction by Naomi Steer, National Director, Australia for UNHCR

Thomas Mukoya is a Nairobi-based Kenyan photographer who has worked with Thompson Reuters, the world’s largest international news agency, since 2004 and is currently the Pictures Editor for East Africa. Thomas is the Secretary of the Photojournalists’ Association of Kenya (PAK). Thomas has travelled widely across Africa covering breaking news and feature stories from Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Comoros, Djibouti, Malawi, and South Africa.

After graduating with a Diploma in Journalism from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Thomas began his photojournalism career at The People Daily Newspaper in 2002 and joined The Nation Media Group (the largest media group in East and Central Africa) in 2004.

Thomas was a key member of the Reuters pictures team that covered the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya and the 2010 FIFA World Cup Reuters photographers team in South Africa. He has worked extensively with humanitarian organizations in the field including MSF, UNICEF, UNHCR and Australia for UNHCR.

This lecture is part of Australia for UNHCR’s 10th anniversary public awareness program, highlighting the circumstances of refugees and displaced people around the world. Australia for UNHCR raises funds for UNHCR’s international humanitarian programs for refugees and displaced people. For more information visit

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