BY SELEMAN KITENGE
The freedom of expression is still a mystery to most of the least developed countries (LDC) in Africa. Despite the major efforts done by the international community to address this issue, the continent is still far behind from achieving this long waited African dream. Though most of African countries have included this right to their constitutions and laws as part of their commitment and ratification on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Adopted on 10 December 1948), African Youth Charter (was endorsed on 2 July 2006) as well as other international laws, but its implementation is not satisfying at all.
As far as democracy as a major component of good governance is concerned, to most of the African leaders who are selfish and narrow minded with a desire to keep power for their own benefits and their close ones, freedom of expression is considered as a threat. Regardless of their commitment to international declaration, charters and other international laws these types of leaders will do anything in their power to silence those with ideas that differ from theirs and that threaten their regime or existence in power.
As William J. Hague, First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons said,
“Governments that block the aspirations of their people, that steal or are corrupt, that oppress and torture or that deny freedom of expression and human rights should bear in mind that they will find it increasingly hard to escape the judgement of their own people, or where warranted, the reach of international law.”
Therefore for the Africans to be able to attain the right to freedom of expression there should be a collective action among the people themselves and the civil society to advocate for this fundamental right tirelessly and by peaceful means. That is the only reasonable way to make the government listen to the people.
In order to realize Africa with justice, fairness, equality and democratic governance where everyone will enjoy the right to freedom of expression while respecting the rights of others, I call upon my fellow Africans to bear in mind that the destiny of the African people is in the hands of the Africans themselves hence it is the Africans who will change the perception that the freedom of expression exist only in developed nations and not in Africa. Lastly as Africans, we must join hands together and stand for freedom of expression and keep doing what we believe in and together we can make this dream a reality. As Reiterated by Ma Jian, the Chinese writer,” the freedom of expression is the most basic, but fundamental, right. Without it, human beings are reduced to automatons.” In that case it is our obligation to making sure that this right is promoted, protected, respected and fulfilled as par stipulated laws and regulations of our countries.