In most African countries, at times when u talk about someone the government doesn’t like or a course that they don’t support, even without taking sides, your broadcast house is shut down or suspended.
These same governments say the press is free and commemorate the press freedom day. But how free is this press? Why commemorate the day?
I am a trained journalist from the University of Buea. While I was a student, on press freedom day we were told horrible stories by guest speakers about journalists who got themselves into so much trouble because they stood for the truth or had the effrontery to say what anyone couldn’t say.
Some governments in Africa, hit too hard on journalists, broadcast and print media because they inform millions of people who have a fundamental right to information.
In Cameroon the anglophone crisis has led to the suspension and closure of many media organs, the arrests of journalists and the suspension of some online news sites. Actually, a few of them do not respect media laws. But most of them have been doing nothing but informing citizens about things that the government cannot tell them.
In Bamenda radio hot cocoa was shut down because of an interactive program on the anglophone crisis. A journalist still in Bamenda was suspended for a month and later fired because he anchored a program on the anglophone crisis.
The National Communication Council (NVC) asked cable distributors to remove Afrique Media signals because of an interactive program it aired which discussed the anglophone crisis from time to time. Afrique media is international TV which broadcasts from Cameroon too and had been shut down by the NCC before, leaving most of its employees unemployed.
In Kenya some broadcast houses have been shutdown since late January.
The shutdown was as a result of broadcasting the National Super Alliance (NASA) event at Uhuru Park despite state order barring TV stations to air the event live.
On January 30, Kenyan authorities ordered Citizen TV, KTN and NTV to halt transmission, for attempting to broadcast a rival “inauguration” staged by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
On February 1 High Court ordered Kenya’s government to switch TV stations back on until a case is heard and determined. However the three channels – Citizen TV, KTN and NTV – remain off-air, and the state is yet to officially comment on the order.
Truth be told if no one talks about the ‘unspeakable’ how will people get informed? How will people know what is happening in different parts of the world?