Defending and Promoting Freedom of Expression in West Africa

“PROF. Olatunji Dare came back home in 1977. I returned to Ghana in 1979. At the time and through the 1980s, our continent was ruled by military regimes and one-party states, with many presidents-for-life. The only places with some semblance of democratic rule were The Gambia, Botswana and newly independent Zimbabwe. As in Nigeria and Ghana, attempts at multiparty liberal democratic constitutional rule were short-lived. The military intervened – usually brutally — before the last votes in democratic elections were counted.

In this political atmosphere, the situation of the mass media across the continent was like, as an American scholar, William Hachten, described it with the title of his book, “Muffled Drums”. In terms of the press, Nigeria, Kenya and apartheid South Africa were the only countries with a multiplicity of private press ownership worth talking about. Apartheid was a fascist state where censorship, arbitrary arrest and detention and forced exile of journalists were the norm. There were also government controlled state-owned press in Nigeria and Kenya and journalism generally came under the culture of state repression prevailing everywhere else. Freedom was an alien concept for the authoritarian regimes. The worst was exemplified in Nigeria by the murder of Dele Giwa in (1985/86?”.

This  is  an  excerpt  from an  insightful  article by  Prof  Kwame  Karikari.  Read  the  full  presentation here

Share this story!

Related Stories