My latest piece is up on Global Voices, mainly based off the conversation at Ugandan Insomniac's blog about press freedom.
Africa: Is Chinese influence eroding press freedom?
The BBC posted an interview with head of Reporters Without Borders Leonard Vincent commenting on the decline of press freedom in Africa over the past year.
Ugandan Insomniac was the first to discuss it:
Vincent’s response, in my opinion, was typical of the misunderstanding of African statehood, international affairs and democracy.
She quoted some of the interview, with special emphasis on parts she found especially difficult to swallow:
VINCENT: Two major factors for me is that first of all, is the fact that there is this sort of African pride in the culture, in the political culture, that has been renewed this year and more and more over the years makes it difficult for western countries to intervene in internal affairs of their former colonies.
Meanwhile, AfricaFlack offered another angle:
RSF Secretary-General Robert Menard knows the cure. The leaders of the so-called league of democracies and international institutions must stand up for common values. One underlying reason for this reluctance – at least for the “democracies” – is business, Menard argues. Who wants to offend China’s leaders about imprisoning cyber journalists when their market is so big? Who wants to offend Russian President Vladimir Putin when oil is so important?
Let’s get back to Africa and its dark year of 2007. One reason so many African countries became so brazen in their repression of the media: the rise of Chinese power on the continent along with the corresponding loss of legitimacy of the continent’s former colonial powers.
But back on the Insomniac's blog, tempers - and comments - flared.
@God: Why did you make the West? Why, why, why, why? Why did you make them people who turn I into an incoherent burn-dem-downer? (27th Comrade)
The voyeuristic nature of western media thrives when there is trouble in nations they consider to be less civilized than their own. It reinforces their opinion that they are somehow superior to these rabid uncultured people babbling in some weird sounding language that they will never learn. (imnxtac)
Vincent is saying it wrong, especially up there about African pride. He also thinks wrong, putting the blame on China for instance. Even in countries where Western governments are all over the place the same thing does happen. It’s a matter of who is playing who. Eg, while Rwanda has been putting off France, they’ve been dancing with American and British money. But the media in Rwanda is one of the most repressed in the Great Lakes region, and it is only a few years from now that RWB of this world will be noticing. (Minty)
I think the biggest flaw of places like Reporters Without Borders is they don’t take into consideration the difficulty of local media to operate within their own countries.
IGG anyone?? (Scarlett Lion)
Discussions of media freedom - and more so what is reported about Africa - never fail to incite a plethora of opinions, though it is doubtful the RWB will respond to the voices all over the blogosphere.