While it can be acknowledged that Africa has generally made great progress in recent decades, in some respects, it still has a long way to go.
Granted, although governance has improved in most countries on the continent, there are still aspects which leave a lot to be desired.
Take for example, the media. Unfortunately, the continent’s post-colonial history is marked by an uneasy, tense relationship between governments and the media.
This can be partly attributed to the many dictators and despots who bestowed excessive powers upon themselves and did not brook dissent.
Indeed, in some countries, journalists are contemptuously treated as enemies of the state. One wonders why. It is a fact that citizens of any country, businesses, markets and even governments need accurate, timely and independent news that they can trust. And who provides this much-needed resource? None other than journalists.
We all know that information is power. According to experts, few people can make a living, hold their governments accountable, and educate their children without a healthy supply of free-flowing information.
Sadly, and indeed shamefully, there are many cases in African countries where organs of the state like the police, intimidate and even brutalize journalists.
It is baffling as to why they get away with this. The vicious slaying of the late Channel Ten correspondent, Mr. Daudi Mwangosi, is a startling case in point.
The question of why Mwangosi had to die is weighing on everybody’s mind in Tanzania and it is one that nobody has even tried to give an answer to.
Let us not forget that this man was killed while carrying out his duty as a journalist, which means informing his fellow Tanzanians of events taking place in the country.
Evidently, someone did not want him to do his job, and even took measures to silence him forever! Well, Tanzanians need to know why and who specifically was responsible for this dastardly crime and they want those responsible to be immediately held accountable.
This is crucial, as Tanzanians would like to believe that the laws of the land are always diligently followed, regardless of whoever is involved in a crime.
The foot-dragging typifying the authorities’ response to this ruthless crime is totally embarrassing and completely unacceptable.
The fact remains that an innocent man was killed in broad daylight and in front of eyewitnesses. It is totally incomprehensible why no one has yet been brought to book.
It is worth mentioning here that the hallowed role of journalists in society is considered in disdainful terms by some governments in Africa.
For instance, in Eritrea all media outlets are from the ministry of Information, which is a government source. The country is also notoriously known for having the highest number of jailed journalists on the continent.
In the dubious company of Eritrea, as far as press freedom is concerned, is Rwanda. According to a report released in 2010 by the media watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders, the leaders of China, Russia and Rwanda were named as some of the world’s worst predators of press freedom.
These disturbing examples paint a worrying picture of press freedom or the lack thereof in Africa. Governments on the continent should be advised that the media are a necessary cog in the overall wheel of governance. This then means that they should treat journalists with respect and not turn them into the endangered species that they are on the verge of becoming.