Controversial US Billionaire Funding John-Allan Namu

  • The Kenyan investigative journalism space is only as small as the giants who have claimed it over the past few years. One of these is the award-winning journalist John-Allan Namu.

    The famed journalist carved a space for himself with his collaboration on multiple investigative journalism pieces most notably, his work with present-day Nyali MP, Mohammed Ali, on Jicho Pevu.

    Namu who has worked on stories such as ‘The Rogue Tracker’ with Mohammed Ali, ‘In the Footsteps of Kabuga’ and ‘The Profiteers’ left mainstream media in 2015 after about 10 years.

    Left to right: Award winning investigative journalists Mohammed Ali and John-Allan Namu.

    He went on to co-found Africa Uncensored with three other partners, Kassim Mohammed, Mohammed Ali and Wanjala Were where he continues to tell stories. One of these was Kanjo Kingdom detailing how city council officials extort vendors.

    However, the famed journalist has not escaped scrutiny with questions arising as to his sources of funding since he left mainstream media to work independently.

    Accusations have abounded that his associations with the controversial billionaire George Soros may have affected the objectivity of his exposés.

    The allegations were brought up during an interview with Spice FM on November 21, 2019.

    During the interview, Namu was pressed to respond to the question of being a beneficiary of George Soros - the billionaire philanthropist claimed to have used his wealth to bankroll revolutions in a number of European countries including Ukraine and Hungary. 

    In response, the journalist stated:

    "This is what I think of George Soros and our funders generally: do they interfere with our agenda?"

    “The intentions of the funder are one thing but our intentions should also not be discounted. We don't just go to one person to ask for resources. We have a pool of organisations that fund us and that acts as a counterbalance for whatever interests that may be at play.”

    The revered journalist was also questioned on whether the funding he received would require him to be aligned to the thinking of those who fund him.

    In response to this, he cited the fact that he had said no to organisations that he felt compromised their values and their judgment.

    "The aims of the journalist and the principles of the journalist are a very important sieve in determining what goes on and what doesn't. At the end of the day, the one who will be responsible is the journalist themselves."

    Asked about whether he worries about  his safety in his line of work especially as an independent journalist, the journalist surmised: 

    "If you try to be as objective as possible then danger becomes minimal because you are not trying to show a person as a monster...then you see the person as a vehicle through which the pressures that are put on the public are expressed. In that way, investigative journalism becomes less about the danger and more about the reform.”

    Hungarian-born US George Soros at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland on January 23, 2020.

    Soros' Open Society Institute, has funded several investigative reporting projects around the world.

    "We support efforts to build a free and safe environment for journalism. We also help investigative journalism collectives network across borders, exchange expertise, and refine methods and tools for exposing abuses of power, corporate wrongdoing, and corruption that undermine democratic values and institutions," an excerpt from the institute's website reads. 

    The Open Society under which Africa Uncensored is covered provides that its aim is to offer support to individuals and organizations across the globe fighting for, among other things, the freedom of expression and accountable government.

    The founder, Soros, was the victim of ethnic and political intolerance during the Nazi occupation in Hungary of 1944-1945 which resulted in the murder of over 500,000 Hungarian Jews, 

    “I believe that in philanthropy one should do the right thing, whether or not it succeeds," states the successful investor and philanthropist, Gerorge Soros.