In spite of spending almost two years in the most appalling conditions in an Ethiopian prison cell with 350 inmates, Dawit Kebede is unbowed. Jailed for speaking out against the Meles Zenawi government, Kebede continues to fight for constitutional rights and democracy by running Ethiopia’s last remaining independent and critical newspaper. By MANDY DE WAAL.
It’s a telling sign of Africa’s importance to China that new President Xi Jinping made Africa his second international destination (after a brief visit to Moscow). In a keynote speech in Tanzania, Xi re-affirmed China’s commitment to the continent and outlined all the good things the Chinese are doing for us, while brushing away criticism. He’s certainly got more charisma than his predecessor, but no new plans for Africa. By SIMON ALLISON.
It's called the African News Innovation Challenge, and it has $1 million to award in start-up grants. Anic, which was announced in October, and had its soft launch in last week, will formally launch in January. THERESA MALLINSON talked to project manager Justin Arenstein about the thinking behind the initiative.
There are currently 52 journalists imprisoned in Africa, in nine countries. More than half the jailed journalists are held in that scourge of media freedom – Eritrea. The most disturbing news to come out of CPJ's recent report on journalists behind bars, is that the trend of imprisoning journalists – often on trumped-up charges – has seen a sharp increase over the last decade. And if the Protection of State Information Bill is passed next year, the 2012 CPJ report could very well see South African journalists join their colleagues across the continent in serving prison time for doing their job. By THERESA MALLINSON.
As global newspaper audiences decline, some media organisations are latching onto emerging tools and open-source technologies to make news more relevant, personalised, and 'hyper-local'. Investigative journalism is being reinvented and reporters are doing their jobs in unimagined ways. 'Data journalism' is becoming the competitive differentiator for global news. By MANDY DE WAAL.
The clamour of voices calling for “African solutions to African problems” has grown ever louder of late. As African journalists, this means telling our own stories, instead of having the continent reflected back to our readership through Western news agencies. But, in all this talk and theorising, something gets lost: We forget to take notice of people and organisations who are trying to do just that. Enter Salim Amin and A24 Media's “What's Your Story” project. By THERESA MALLINSON.
When Bang Bang Club member Greg Marinovich was shot in Thokoza in the early 1990s, his initial thought was that he’d paid his dues for “the crime of being the lucky voyeur”. A film about those events has just been released in the US, but following as it does on the deaths of leading photojournalists in Libya, can Hollywood really do these brave and complicated men justice? By KEVIN BLOOM.
As South African media activists face off against the ANC government over the Protection of Information Bill, Nigerian human rights lawyer Maxwell Kadiri says protesters would do well to tap into the support of media freedom fighters throughout the African continent. But for this to happen, South Africans need to reach out and share in others' struggles too. By MANDY DE WAAL.
Did you know they have “press rallies” in Malawi? That the media in Senegal is relatively free, but doesn't always report the news responsibly? That most of Kenya's media is owned by politicians? These are just a few of the many interesting – and chilling – facts and opinions that came to light at the panel discussion. But the overwhelming message is that African journalists have a lot to say – and are eager to explore ways that will allow them say it without fear of repercussions. By THERESA MALLINSON.
You could look at the arrest of Angolan journalist Adão Tiago as faintly worrying – he was questioned by police for reporting on a nationwide mass-fainting epidemic. But it's a lot more serious than that, as the Angolan government seeks to control the narrative, rather than finding out the truth. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Meet Benin’s petrol smugglers who sell contraband fuel to consumers unable to afford the cost of high-priced legal fuel. These West African criminals bring illegal petrol in from neighbouring oil-rich Nigeria and are loved because of the contribution they make to long-suffering locals. This second instalment on Africa’s Robin Hoods looks at how dependent Benin is on these benevolent bandits. By Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR).
Whichever way you look at it, submissions made by the Volksblad at the Press Council public hearings in Bloemfontein on Monday were something of a milestone. This was one of the first times that actual journalists – as opposed to media academics or members of civil society – gave presentations. By CARMEL RICKARD.
Media freedom in Botswana has steadily been eroded over the last decade or so. The controversial Media Practitioners Act, passed in 2008, calls for all media practitioners to register with the press council, while simultaneously defining a media practitioner as anyone who transmits information. Civil society groups have filed a law suit against the state, but it has yet to have its day in court. By THAPELO NDLOVU.
The Cameroonian government can't seem to decide exactly what writer, activist and blogger Enoh Meyomesse has done wrong. On 22 November Meyomesse was arrested for taking part in a gold heist, although he was later charged with plotting a coup. Either way, the charges seem unfounded. By THERESA MALLINSON.
At Friday's Press Council public hearings press ombudsman Joe Thloloe stressed that the point of the exercise was not to engage in intense debate, but rather to enable the public and other interested parties to make submissions. The few in attendance raised some good points. Pity there wasn't a bigger audience to hear them. By ADRIAN BAILLIE-STEWART.
We hope you're not getting bored with stories about the lack of public participation at Press Council hearings being held around the country. But we can't report on all the interesting points the public is making if they simply don't exist. At least in Cape Town on Thursday the Muslim Judicial Council aired its views – but that was about it. Again. By TO MOLEFE.
For months now, the Gupta family has been waging an intense spin battle to try to stem the tide of negative press levelled at the family’s empire. The message is that the Guptas aren’t benefitting from close personal ties with the president, nor is the president enjoying financial benefit or exerting any influence. How goes the battle? By MANDY DE WAAL.
The adage “familiarity breeds contempt” may – with some legitimacy it seems – be slightly rephrased as “complacency breeds apathy”, judging by the lack of reaction from South Africans in support of any potential populist uprising a la North Africa and the Middle East in neighbouring Zimbabwe, suggests TO MOLEFE.
Unsurprisingly, the People’s Republic of China has been extraordinarily uncomfortable with the popular uprising in Egypt. Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of authoritarianism, suddenly under existential threat, has many a corollary with the Chinese Communist Party. The question is not so much whether this could happen in China—it has, and might well again—but how the Chinese have reacted to it.
If we ever needed proof Laurent Gbagbo has completely lost control of his army, it’s the latest developments in Abidjan. Armed fighters reportedly broke into the Novotel Hotel late on Monday, seizing five hostages and making off with them before the French army could get there. Surely Gbagbo wouldn’t be that stupid? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
As the Democratic Republic of Congo's 28 November election date draws closer, intimidation of journalists is escalating. NGOs Reporters Without Borders and Journaliste en Danger are sufficiently concerned about the situation to write an open letter to officials, asking them to secure the safety of journalists during the election. By THERESA MALLINSON.
No one was expecting Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda – one of the world’s most wanted men – to hand himself over to US embassy officials in Rwanda. But, running out of options, that’s exactly what the man they call “The Terminator” did, choosing the relative comforts of international justice over the unpalatable consequences of his declining popularity at home. By SIMON ALLISON.
Over the last while there's been a something of rallying cry for Africans to tell their own stories. But all too often proponents are more in love with discussing the idea than figuring out practical ways to make it happen. 18 Days in Egypt, a start-up that focuses on documenting the revolution, is turning the concept into a reality – and using an innovative, collaborative digital platform to do so. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Poking fun at Islam is no Mickey Mouse affair. Egyptian businessman and Free Egyptians Party founder Naguib Sawiris has learnt this the hard way: after tweeting a picture of Mickey & Minnie dressed in conservative Islamic garb, his court appearance on blasphemy charges is set for 14 January. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Jailed Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah – known on Twitter simply as @alaa – made yet another court appearance on Tuesday. And, yet again, his jail time was extended by 15 days. El Fattah lived for some time in Pretoria, and THERESA MALLINSON spoke to his South African friends about their recollections of him – and what steps can be taken to secure his release.
Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah has been detained in prison on trumped-up charges since 30 October. An appeal on Monday for him to be released immediately was dismissed. On Tueday his wife and fellow activist Manal Bahey Al Din Hassan gave birth to the couple's first son, Khaled. El Fattah remained behind bars, rather than being able to attend the birth of child. By THERESA MALLINSON.
When Egyptians went to the polls on Monday, several journalists and bloggers were still nursing bruises and broken limbs after the crackdown on the media in the lead up to the elections. Others remained in jail. Seems the country's current military rulers are no better than the Mubarak regime – certainly not in their treatment of the press, particularly female journalists. By THERESA MALLINSON.
On Sunday Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, who was originally detained by the military on 31 October, was sentenced to a further 15 days in prison. Sadly, Egypt's current military rulers seem no more tolerant of criticism than the Mubarak regime. By THERESA MALLINSON.
Just days after US President Barack Obama called on Egypt's military to lift a state of emergency and end military trials for civilians, prominent Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was remanded into military custody. The revolution may have rid the Egyptian people of Hosni Mubarak but his modus operandi survives in the military junta that has assumed the vacuum of power in the North African state. By KHADIJA PATEL.
An essential part of former dictator Hosni Mubarak's strategy was controlling the media. However, over the last decade, access to television stations such as Al Jazeera and to a lesser extent Al Arabiya, not to mention increasing Internet in Egypt, has meant a losing his grip on the media. Now there's a chance for free and independent media to take root. By SIMON ALLISON.