Africa Today | Silicon Valley African Film Festival & Updates on Sierra Leone

KPFA Radio’s Africa Today, september 16, 2019 | Silicon Valley African Film Festival & Updates on Sierra Leone

[Click Here To Visit Africa Today], A weekly news program providing information and analysis about Africa and the African Diaspora, hosted by Walter Turner.


After over 50 years of post colonial rule in Africa, most of Africa’s narrative is still presented to the world through a foreign lens. The 10th annual Silicon Valley African Film Festival ( will be held between October 4 and October 6. At the historic Hoover Theater in San Jose. The theme of the festival — Africa Through An African Lens — will be represented by 85 films from 35 African countries, including documentaries, narratives and animation. Over 50% of the films will be world or North American premieres, and more than half of the films are by female directors. Chike Nwoffiah, is the founding director of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, and he joins host, Walter Turner on Africa Today.


Chernoh Alpha Bah is as award winning journalist, historian and political activist from Sierra Leone. He is the author of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa: Corporate Gangsters, Multinationals and Rogue Politicians, and also Neocolonialism West Africa. He joins Africa Today to discuss the recent political history of Sierra Leone.


WT: 2:13
The Silicon Valley African Film Festival was founded to confront the sad reality, that after over 50 years of post colonial rule in Africa. Most of Africa’s narrative is still presented to the world through a foreign lens with narratives they have created blurred interpretation, and perceptions of Africa and Africans. The 10th annual Silicon Valley African film festival will be held between October 4 and October 6. At the historic Hoover Theater in San Jose, the theme of the festival — Africa Through An African Lens — will be represented by 85 films from 35 African countries, including documentaries, narratives and animation. Over 50% of the films will be world or North American premieres, and more than half of the films are by female directors. We are joined on the line thankfully by Chike Nwoffiah, the founding director of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival. He is a graduate of Lagos Nigerian Columbia University graduate program of Business. He has many years as a corporate strategist for Silicon Valley biotech companies. He transitioned into private enterprise. He has investments and work and media and agriculture and real estate around the African continent. He is a past president of Mountain View TV KMBT, Channel 15, your former arts Commissioner for the City of Stockton and the arts Advisory Commission for the San Diego International Airport. This is the 10th anniversary of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival. You can get more information at Chike, thanks for joining Africa Today.

CN: 3:55
Thank you. Thank you, brother, Walter, thank you so much.

WT: 3:58
Good. How have you been? First of all? Well, before we get into specifics, how are you? And how’s the family doing?

CN: 4:04
Oh, we’re doing great. Thank you so much. Yes, we are well,

WT: 4:09
okay, this must be a very busy, very busy time of year for you with the film festival. You don’t get too much of a break, do you?

CN: 4:17
Well, well, you know, yeah, we’ve been doing it for 10 years. So I’m used to it. But you know, I’m blessed really, that I’m surrounded by an amazing team. And so that’s how come I’m able to smile and laugh at this point. You know, my wife is very supportive, my son, and then the core team of the planning. And the planning group of this film festival will have just been amazing. And they’ve been holding it really holding me up, as well as the community support that we’ve enjoyed. And so it’s really it’s really, I’m humbled by all of that. Yes, it is. We are barely 20 days away and get ready.

WT: 5:00
Right, though, it seems like it’s tomorrow. You know, Chica was looking back at the interviews, we did that the third festival, and there was I think they were what 35 films from 15 countries. And now we’re at 86 films in 35 countries. And if I’m not mistaken, the length of the weekend hasn’t changed. This is the length of the weekend. It’s still it’s still Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but you have so many more films.

CN: 5:29
Right now we have more screening rooms, for instance, we’re gonna have for screening rooms. And so films are going to be going on, we’ve actually also added things like a fashion show, panel discussions, and, you know, food, of course, and performances and all of that. So it’s really become an amazing cultural celebration of the African continent. In one weekend, really? Yeah,

WT: 6:00
yeah. I’ll do does your background you’ve been in media? I didn’t tell everybody you are a famous actor. You work with the Screen Actors Guild, etc. But does that open some doors for you? Because I noticed that many of your films, as you say, many of them are North American or world premieres. And that seems to be quite a coup. How do you manage to get them? And how many do you have to look at GKO? Well,

CN: 6:30
as the festival director, I make a point to make sure at least I have eyeballs on on the final selections. But our process is a fairly Beto well oiled process. We send out the calls to filmmakers in the African filmmaking communities, and they begin to solve it. And would you believe this year we hit a record we had over 1300 1300 Films we have sent in by filmmakers all over all over the world and across the African continent. And so we have the first range of people that get to look through these films, and get them through the first level of elimination, if you will, and then and it goes now to the next ring of people and, and on and on and on. And finally, when we start coming down to about 100 120, hundred and 30 films, you really get very difficult because we know we have only so many hours, we have only so many programming opportunities. And then we have to make those hard decisions bed. The filmmakers are beginning to seek us out over the last, I would say the last four or five years. But I think to your point, I’d make it my business to I’d like you to know I traveled by the big across the African continent, I’m invited to be Giuliana on some sort of film festivals, we actually mentor film festivals on the continent, we partner with a lot of them. And so we have developed our made it our business to develop a personal relationship with the filmmaking ecosystem on the continent. So they trust us and they know, man, and yet, we’re able to get some films that probably even the big sort of speak festivals are not able to get

WT: 8:27
Okay, you know, you mentioned in there, and it says, interpret this for us. And why you do the festival and tell the lions learn to speak the tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter, how does that play into what you’re trying to do with the distinctiveness of the Silicon Valley African film festival?

CN: 8:50
Well, just like as you said, in the intro, when you are alluding to why we started this whole thing in the first place, reason is that I feel just a risk of repeating the whole thing. But yes, for far too long. And we do know this, that the history and the story of the African has been told by people that are so far removed from the continent. And, and so they have filtered the continents narrative through their own lenses deliberately, intentionally or not, the fact is, the stories that are told and continue to tell about Africa, its people and are aware of life has been through their own lenses. And most often, these lenses I call them because the narrative of Africa, the National Geographic narrative, Africa, this is an Africa that gets depicted as a place that is always always needs. Africa is always desperate begging, and all of that. And you begin to wonder with, particularly for a lot of us that are born that were born that we grew up there, and some of the images of Africa we encounter over year. strange to us, is the one narrative that seems to be the dominant narrative of Africa. And, and so we felt that if only the storytellers from the continent can be given a platform to tell their own stories, good, bad, ugly or indifferent, it doesn’t matter. But let the person who owns the story tell their story. And that’s the essence of what we do. And that speaks to that tactical, our old age saying that until the lion legs to speak, a tale of the hunt with glorify the hunter. What it means then is when they hunt that goes into the bush to have an encounter their life. Right? If the lion doesn’t have the family to tell the story of that encounter, when did you pull the rug back out, or comes back into the village, they say What happened?

CN: 11:01
Of course, he’s going to talk about the bravery and courage and all of that stuff. But if only they could speak the language able to really tell the real story. And so that’s why we say that now, the African storytellers have the tools of trade. They have the technical know how, as well as the tools to tell their own stories. And so they are they Africa lives and that coming all out? Not only to speak they to raw.

WT: 11:28
Okay, and you have you divided into narrative documentaries and and an animation. And going back to that. That point, I think when I watched some clips of one of the films that you sent out that I could view in advance children of the Congo. Listen, I felt that story because it was I guess some I’m not in the cinema area. We call it cinema verite. Because it was a real life story of an election process in the the Congo was it was a it was a beautiful, was a beautiful film. I just I enjoyed it to death era. GK.

CN: 12:07
Oh, good. Yes, yes. And that’s the thing. You know, we we also tell folks that when you come to our film festival, you get the whole menu is the whole, the whole spectrum of filmmaking, is revealed to you all unravels in front of you. We have incredible animation filmmakers, we have incredible narrative filmmakers, we have incredible documentary filmmakers. And so we present all of this. And just like you mentioned, without technical RP, you will also begin to see that while that in this domain of documentary film, for instance, you will see that these are actual storytellers, using the African style and approach to storytelling and, and bringing it in front of you in form of moving images. And so you not only do you get the knowledge or experience, this subject matter, but your senses begin to enjoy this new style of reveal, if you will. And so if this is a complete experience, we tell people and when people come they get to see that

WT: 13:22
so everything is going to be starting on the fourth of October. This is the Silicon Valley African Film Festival. This is the 10th year we’re speaking with GK no FLIR who is the founding, the founding director, the mastermind with a strong team behind him of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, the times I’ve gone I’ve totally enjoyed my myself and on so you’re starting with the big press conference. And then that opening night with the red carpet and the flag ceremony that’s on the fourth. That’s the Friday is that not?

CN: 14:00
Yes, yes, Friday, the fourth at 12 noon, we will be at the ivy City Hall Plaza in San Jose will actually take over the plaza. And we will activate that Plaza level 30 that morning with African drums. Our friends and colleagues from San Jose Tyco say they’re going to definitely come join us, our friend from the Aztec dance company are going to join us. So you’re going to place to be activated from 1130 something no one should meet, we will be firing off the drums. And then at 12 noon, we engage into a formal press conference to announce our presence and they kick off our 10th year. And then later that evening at 530. The red carpet and all the other ceremonies became

WT: 14:43
is this is this a serious red carpet is not going to be just a carpet there’s gonna be a red carpet with celebrities. Is it gonna be the whole nine? Is that correct? GK?

CN: 14:52
The whole nine we the whole thing development roles, they owe all of that and then get reception in the courtyard with cocktails and all of that stuff. And then the opening ceremonies, something no one should miss because we do the flag parade. We call all the 35 countries in the festival with President out slide on stage. There’s a Ghanaian elder that starts with a libation ceremony, then oh, yeah, we we go we go all out. Okay,

WT: 15:22
I hope that I hope to see you there. Now. It was this by purpose, that of the 86 Films 8586 film that over 50% are are done by female directors is did it just happen that way? Is it a sign of the times? You said that so many of the films were by female directors?

CN: 15:42
Yes. In fact, I’m glad you asked that question. I know, we don’t have a lot of time to go into so many details. But the simple answer is it wasn’t deliberate. We actually began to look at our numbers and and look at the demographics and you know, look at the data. And all. In the last six years of our festival, we began to see that the representation of female directors in our final selections have just been popping up and bumping up and the last two years exceeded about 40 something percent last year was at 52%. And this year, crossed that threshold. And we are happy for that. And so we actually decided, that’s why you know, but we decided to call attention to it. And this year been our 10th anniversary, we are going to celebrate that our opening night film is by a young sister 26 years old from Uganda. She’s going to be here to reveal how film on our opening night. And then on Sunday at 2pm we’re going to have a panel discussion that we are calling Global African women voices in film, it’s going to be a panel of female film directors from the United States included from the Caribbean and then from the African continent, they’re going to be on a panel having conversations with the community on their journey and their role in this new era of storytelling. So we want to celebrate our sisters because they’re bringing credible stuff and they are fire with your filmmaking we’ve had about three opening night films in the previous years now by women and so we’re excited about that. I want to hold that up

WT: 17:21
now and notice the the film I was interested in the black mamba, which is about the female anti poaching unit on female anti poaching. The one about the woman in Mozambique. The the the amazing story there about women who were involved in the Mau Mau rebellion and in Kenya, but this is this is this is a is a place to go to Silicon Valley African Film Festival, because you have a fashion show. You have receptions, you have dialogues with the filmmakers. You have the red carpet, you have an African marketplace. This has gotten bigger and bigger as a years ago going on GK Oh, yes,

CN: 18:02
yes, I’m damn I, you know, you’ve been there from the very beginning. And you’ve always been supporting this thing. And not only by having also your show, but also honoring us with your presence. And so yes, it’s really taking off. I do remember that in 2016. You know, Danny Glover visited the film festival, and, and then we actually had a panel discussion, his wife happened to have been on one of the panels as well. Last year, we had Susan Taylor, the former editor of Essence magazine, was our guest of honor. And this year, we’re having the former deputy prime minister of the Bahamas, the Honorable Reverend Cynthia, Martha Pratt is going to be with us to to receive an award from us for the work she’s been doing. But also to engage with a with a bigger community. Okay, so

WT: 18:51
yeah, I would be remiss not to to put in a plug for some of the many of us have known here from KPFA. And that Eli Jacob fun to Oh, yeah. Who has a family, everybody in the Bay Area know of him and his family, because they’re such prominent filmmakers and activist around the Caribbean around Cuba. And he has this film by cultural, which is about the music of Cuba, that’s going to be there.

CN: 19:15
Oh, yes. Yes, yes. Yes. You know, Eli, of course, I mean, you can I can say enough about the brother and the work he’s doing when you talk about brothers that, that, that that are, that are in the trenches doing the work. And that just an incredible genius of a filmmaker, storyteller, really. So yes, we’re excited that he’s film, you know, basketball is going to be in our lineup. So the folks who come out and support the brothers, and enjoy it,

WT: 19:43
I guess, are the ones that I took a look at, I certainly won’t ask you as the director to say, or which one you like more than another. That never works with Film Festival directors, because they’d have to mention everyone. But I was really intrigued with the film, which is entitled, mouth cannon. And also the one about South Africa, the one about mouth cannon is a real is a real gym. I won’t say too much about it, but say a few words about it. We want people to go in there and see it.

CN: 20:14
Oh, wow. First of all, when I tell people we had a film is from they say, how is that in Africa? Because the film is from Cape Verde, you know. And so, you know, it’s a place that folks don’t really associate with Africa does have maybe you haven’t ever heard of. So one of the things that I would say come on out really and get better This ain’t about this film is it’s a documentary piece that talks about the the fight for the liberation of Guinea Bissau on Cape Verde back in the day, and just the way the film is rendered in terms of the talking heads and the footage and all of that stuff. And I would I don’t want to give away Why that feels is called mouth kinda because I think when you engage with itself, it has to do with integration radio and all of that stuff. But and I’m sure someone like you is a journalist was really a love that film. But it is it is definitely a it is it film to see at least a short is not that long, but you know, is about 15 minutes long, that I invite people to come and don’t miss that piece. You also

WT: 21:31
have a creature ever creature film, which is from South Africa, I looked through all of them. And I mean, I wish I had time to, to watch all of them. I was moving around a bit. So I watch them as best I could. But it’s just an amazing variety of films of short narratives. In terms of a political point here, cheeky, what why is it important? We’re talking with GK know, for the upcoming Silicon Valley African Film Festival, you can go to their website, www SVAFF. In order to get tickets and get all the details and get the in the schedule. Why is important at this point in? In Africa, when you look at the second youngest continent, and you look at the challenges in Burkina Faso and the elections in Nigeria, the events in South Sudan and the movements and why is it important that these films are shown and talked about and consumed? Yeah,

CN: 22:36
I didn’t know how much time we have. But let me try and be as the same as possible. Africa can no longer be discounted. period, the fact that just like you mentioned or hinted at that Africa has the youngest youth population amongst all the other continents. And I’m this is a continent of 1 billion people, a continent that is fast moving forward. And so it’s important that people begin to really listen to Africa, see Africa through a different lens, understand Africa, else, they’re not the Africans, but the people on the other side, what the most out of what is going to happen tomorrow, because Africa is the tomorrow, Africa is where the game is going to be played. Africa is where the wealth in terms of new discoveries in terms of even technology advancements and all of that, because if you go to the city, if you go to the the tech hubs in Lagos or in in, in, in in Addis Ababa, or in Nairobi, or Cape Town, and all these places, you see the young Africans that are doing some amazing faces, and then in the field arts and you know, go to Legos, Fashion Week, and Cape Town brush, we got all this thing. And you see the creative genius of this young people. And there are no waiting for anybody. And so I just feel I believe that what is holding people back is because of these age long decades, if not centuries of the wrong narrative of the wrong stories coming out of Africa. And the little we can do to flip that script, to change that narrative so that people can begin to understand and accommodate and also appreciate Africa, for what it is, then people can be comfortable in not only interacting with Africa, but actually going back and being part of what is happening, because and that’s one of the things that I’m I’m presently doing even with with with our brothers and sisters, here, do you understand that its business to be done or the continent, before you engage, you have to understand, and then when you understand, you can then engage and the way to understand is through stories and interrupt interruption. So that’s what we’re doing.

WT: 25:11
Very well said, very well said, Give us the the website, this is October 4 to October six. This is a Silicon Valley African Film Festival. Give us a website and how people get tickets and enough detail that we can get people rushing down there. Because you’re making it sound like a person who comes here should just get a room down there, get accommodation, and just stay for the three days. That’s what it sounds like you’re doing GK

CN: 25:37
and, and, and I encourage that and we have actually a discount hotel, a hotel that has decided to discount the rooms for all three nights to anyone who wants to come to the film festival and it’s our hotel sponsor the wild palms Hotel in Sunnyvale, we have a link that you click on and boom, you get very discounted results with us can be yet you go to our website to buy tickets, the tickets are flying off the shelf. It’s And from there, you click on it takes you to I ticket in portal. And my tickets are very affordable. I mean for barely $25 you can get a whole day ticket.

Unknown Speaker 26:22
What about 20 something films?

WT: 26:24
You try to see all at 86 of them. We’ve been speaking with a GK no fear the founding director of Silicon Valley African Film Festival. And let us personally thank you not only from Africa today, but I know you’ve been on other venues and give you a big Bay Area California. Thank you for the work that you’re doing and your the films that you select. They really represent those stories that those of us who follow Africa for all types of reasons, and don’t follow Africa need to know. And he so we’re very proud of you, Chike and we look forward to seeing you at the festival. Thank you, sir. Take the camera, my brother.

CN: 27:01
All right, thank you.

WT: 27:31
You are listening to the voice of Chike Nwoffiah, the founding director of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, go to the website, WWW.SVAFF.ORG coming up October 4 to October six. You don’t want to miss it.

WT: 28:29
Minerals and the militarization that goes along with it.

CAB 28:32
This whole global context of the emergence of new imperialist nations, the margins of China, for example. And it’s increasing role in Africa. If

WT: 28:44
we’re gonna stop and go right back to the beginning of this one, okay,

CAB 28:47
you know,

CAB 28:50
big up colonial powers.

WT: 29:24
Chernoh Alpha Bah is a award winning journalist, historian and political activist from Sierra Leone. He is the author of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, corporate gangsters, multinationals and rogue politicians, and also neocolonialism West Africa. He is currently the editor in chief of the African is pressed a media agency and investigative journalism project focusing on democracy and free speech in Africa. He is also one of the founders of excitingly, so of freedom radio, which will soon be broadcasting from miss home country of Sierra Leone Cherno. Thanks for joining Africa Today.

CAB 30:05
Thank you very much for having me.

WT: 30:06
Good. The last time I think we spoke was around 2018 was last year. And we’re basically talking about the elections in your country of Sierra Leone, and the President was elected was Julius Bio, is that correct?

CAB: 30:22
Yes, that’s correct.

WT: 30:23

CAB: 30:23
Julius Bio is now the president of Sierra Leone

WT: 30:26
Okay. And he is he from the opposition party from the Sierra Leone People’s Party?

CAB: 30:31
Yes, he’s from the southern People’s Party, and one of the general army officers that kicked the APC One party dictatorship in power in 1992. And has been a member of the civilian opposition for the last 15 years and was eventually elected in a tight race in 2018. And it’s now president of Sierra Leone. So he’s two times now the head of state of [inaudible].

WT: 31:08
But he was hed of state t in the early 1990s. During the military coup or no, is that correct?

CAB: 31:14

WT: 31:15

WT: 31:16
With Strasser, I believe. Valentine Strasser?

CAB: 31:19
Yes, he was

CAB: 31:21
With Valentine Strasser. And they came to power to a military coup in 1992. And then he eventually became the head of state, following the party’s coup. And after that, he organized the elections and return the country to civilian rule, and then left and did his further studies and then came back and became a civilian politician, joined the Southern People’s Party again, and contested elections two times. And on the second time, he became, you know, the winner, and now he’s the president.

WT: 31:53
Any assessment of from your perspective as a longtime journalist and activist in Sierra Leone, in the region of West Africa, about Julius Bio, and what he’s been able to do, I know you’ve written extensively on the roles of Neo colonialism and democratization, any any assessment, Cherno, from your perspective?

Unknown Speaker 32:16
I think the country of Sierra Leone has suffered from 50 years of Neo colonial rule, what it does Neo colonial rule. And for the last 50, or more years of the country’s independence, what they call independence, we’ve had two political parties that have run the country, the APC, All People’s Congress, which was led by the last president, Ernest Koroma was in power for 10 years. And now we have the Sierra Leone People’s Party is, has always been the interchange between these two political groups that have dominated the political landscape of the country for the last 50 or more years now. So Julius Bio came to power at the time when we we have significantly fought against APC because of the landscape, corruption of the Koroma regime, the intimidation of journalists, and this was happening in the context of the Ebola outbreak. So the economy was in difficult, you know, moment. And for the last one year, things have actually worsened there more. The national currency has collapsed, there must be inflation. The economy is contracting. And people are complaining. And the government has mounted what it calls a robust campaign against corruption, Commission’s of inquiries, investigating how the members of the previous regime ran the country, how they mismanage the economy, how they stole public funds. But they also problems with that. People are complaining that the corruption investigations are only targeting individuals who are members of the previous ruling party, and they are high ranking civil service members who are currently key players in the current administration who have not been held to account. So there are issues of selective justice, issues of whether the corruption, the fight against corruption in itself is not a strategy designed to clamp down on the contenders to the regime and things like that. And also, we’re dealing with the legacies of the previous regime and also tendencies of the Korean government to act the same way that grew Miranda country. So is on the positive note, Bill, declared a free education program for elementary to high schools. And there has been increased governmental on to help education efforts to reorganize the universities and all of that. So there’s possibilities of revamping the economy. But the signs are not looking good. So far. It’s depressing. It’s too early to judge power this government is going but one will not be too optimistic about what this new dispensation if it’s a new dispensation, actually is offering on the horizon. So going to be a fraud on the line.

WT: 35:34
Okay. Well, thanks for giving us some basic assessment there. I’m excited about and congratulations. Freedom radio, which is a project you’re working on, which is going to be a new radio station, I’m assuming here in your country of a Sierra Leone, a one does that go online, or you you just got in the paperwork? What’s the prospectus for when you’ll be able to broadcast and what you want to do with it?

CAB 36:01
Yes, freedom radio has come full of in 10 years of our efforts to establish an independent media program to promote what we call citizen journalism, to broaden the landscape, the free speech landscape, and also help to cultivate the kind of independent journalism that we think is needed in a country like for everyone to advance the democratic space to also advance people’s participation in governance and to also be able to hold political leaders, civil society leaders, and abroad a sector of the country to minimum standards of accountability. And that will enhance good governance and the collective involvement of citizens. So we’ve been struggling with the bureaucratic and events in the country for the last 10 years to have this going. We had problems with the previous regime, the HPC, deliberately refused to fine frequency to us. Over the last couple of months, we activated our application. And now with with the new dispensation, we’ve been able to get a frequency assigned, and we are currently doing the setup. We hope that test broadcast of the new radio station will start in November, and then in December will do an official launch of the radio station where our programming, effective programming will begin. An objective, like I said, is to give what we call grassroots voices, the opportunity to be heard, and to also participate in the ongoing debates and discussions that will enhance the development of the country, both his democratization efforts at good governance and to also help prevent the life skill corruption that has eroded the opportunities for a social collective social and economic development in the country. So we’re hoping that we will introduce citizen journalism project that will promote independent media discussions and also enhance free speech in a country that badly needs development with a greater number of young people who are disenfranchised, who needs empowerment, who need their voices to be heard, and at least alive at the point where a leader as will be able, where citizens will be able to hold leaders accountable to minimum standards of governance.

WT: 38:35
And personal question, how did a radical thinker like you unable to get a radio station

CAB 38:44
It has been a very challenging situation, this has been 10 years of project, I think, key to efforts to change the country’s resilient resilience, the ability to hold on to vision, and to able to fight for that vision for the long haul. It’s not been it’s been a bumpy ride all the way. And even as we speak days, there are still challenges to have an independent

CAB 39:14
platform for people who are not aligned

CAB 39:18
to functions of the middle class that have been holding on to governance and sharing the loot, participating and sharing, you know, the public tests of national resources and holding the rest of the majority hostage to the politics of division, and bad governance. So we’re hoping that the that resilience is what goes on to where we are, and that moving forward, building institutions that will also enhance our collective energy is key to the advancement of any struggle. So I think what this can represent for us at this moment,

WT: 40:00
I do want to know that you are also the editor and one of the editor in chief of the Africanist press AFRICANIST, which focuses on international affairs and a question of affairs regional in terms of your country here in the own West Africa. I know you’ve been active in Gambia, a number of other countries. You You also. So I’m sure that’s tied in with the radio, what if some of the topics I read through, and you’ve had an emphasis very recently on issues of freedom of the press and journalists that have been arrested and you talked about these are very recent events in Cameroon and Tanzania course, in Nigeria? Why this spate of crackdown on a journalist in so many different countries in Africa, not least of which is a retrained Ethiopia, and Eritrea, but certainly in many other countries I channel.

CAB 41:06
Yeah, the ongoing crackdown on free speech and arrest and harassment and assassination of journalists are people involved, including political leaders accountable Lisa, global phenomenon and African his players have decided to highlight the African segment of that ongoing war against democracy and free speech. Over the last two years, beginning 2016, so to speak, to now there has been we’ve noticed an increase globally on the attack on journalists, for example, in 2018 250, journalists were imprisoned globally. And 63 of that vehicle did not in addition to 63, journalists who are still missing who we cannot account for, and DCI alone 415 journalists have been killed globally and five of the five have been within

WT: 42:06
the African continent.

CAB 42:08
Yeah, five within the African continent. And it includes one in Ghana, one in Nigeria, one in chart, one in Libya, and one in Somalia. This is a contrast to 60 journalists that were killed in Africa for the year of 2018. So we have more figures of journalists. So what I’m trying to say is that there has been a an astronomical increase in the number of journalists who are imprisoned globally who are because of the efforts to highlight issues of corruption to the rise in a dictatorial regimes on a global scale. Fire, right movement, militant organizations, you know,

Unknown Speaker 42:48
mothers of young people in

WT: 42:51
Thailand, a couple of those cases, one, of course, we’ve talked about before, which is the case of almost yet a swarm from Nigeria, one of the founders of Sahara report, behind like a couple of these cases of journalism, may be the case in Cameroon or Senegal, a forest channel,

CAB 43:07

CAB 43:10
Like I mentioned, in 2016, we saw Ahmed Hussein, develop with a three year old journalists, was killed in Libya. And then we have Mohammed bin Khalifa.

CAB 43:28
Also in Tripoli, in July 19.

CAB 43:32
And in charge, so these are young journalists to I involved in anti corruption investigations who are challenging, highlighting corporate exploitation, and rogue politicians who sell enough multinational resources. So Nigeria, at this stage in Africa, we have increased attacks on journalist in places like Nigeria and Cameroon, please, areas where dictators, you know, have come to power to rigged elections, and in other places where leaders are refusing to yield to basic demands of democratization, and aspects of economic and social development, issues of an issue of unemployment. So you cannot have a situation where politicians and a few business people have held them to the state and are using the state as a basis for their own enrichment and for the change of their own material conditions or the experience of the country. So this increasing demand for democratization and for good governance for basic economic and social development American citizens is challenging some of these leaders and they have resorted to coercive methods to hold on to power. So journalists are trapped in between tension between demand demand for democratization and for holding leaders accountable to basic questions of governance, employee housing, basic social economic development and accountability and the war against corruption and effort to highlight that efforts to convey these messages to to the rest of the world. So in order to carry on dictate dictatorship, the media dictators have resorted to, you know, different methods of coercion. And and that includes the war against free speech, the war against organized expression, the right to ask them the right to assemble the freedom of conscience. So, but the African situation is not happening in a vacuum is happening within the context of a global war against democracy, a global war against good governance, even in the United States. In Europe, you see the rise of far right movement, far right leaders who are now in power, and in the popular words, the media and United States, where journalists are constantly attacked, the issue of fake news is being used to discredit not only for the role of journalists to highlight issues of corruption, and issues of bad governance, or the politics of division, but also use now as a popular frame, to provide the basis for the arrest of journalists in Africa where social media is challenging, it’s been used by citizens to challenge old style dictators and advance democratic the passion for democratic space. So this is what we see with the arrest and detention of more morally story and speak this morning, the Nigerian government, even

Unknown Speaker 46:45
the publisher of the cross river watch

CAB 46:49
about the lingo with with treason, you cannot judge the journalists with prison for just publishing the newspaper not mean, so these, these increasing repression against free speech, but within the context of this,

WT: 47:02
how much how much of this channel I mean, you work constantly in the African kinda how much of this is a result practice something we don’t see as clearly here in the United States? And that is the role of you, and the passion for democratic institution. And where do you place that not only as you talked about in your, your books, or your presentation at the left forum, neocolonialism the new democratic movement is in this in this increasing search for minerals, and the militarization that goes along with it.

CAB 47:36
The context, the emergence of new imperialist nations, the emergence of China, for example, and it’s increasing role in Africa is, as you note,

Unknown Speaker 47:48
former what called former, you know,

CAB 47:53
big colonial powers, ancient colonial powers, like you can nations and now the United States. So the situations and and the, the the edge for new areas of control for resources, guys, is crucially important in this space. So we see what is happening in Europe, in Britain with, you know, the whole question of Brexit. And all of this is tied to the question of trade and resource exploitation. So we have arrived at the point where there is supposedly no independent organizations like the role of United Nations and the path to at least provide some kind of pressure on dictatorial regimes that might prevent certain actions against, you know, ordinary masses. We saw what happened in talking with the assassination of the Arab journalist with Saudi Arabia and all of that MBN capability of the United Nations to do anything. And in the face of that the United States, the condone such guys of action. So when we have dictatorships in other parts of Africa or the Middle East, or maybe in Latin America, puppet regimes that equally Buddha leaf or their their actions are endorsed by imperialist nations who deserves inquisitively subletting democratic space in their own country. So we, we have arrived at a place where, you know, there’s no supposed global action, to put pressure on leaders to see, you know, the kind of space of accept basic questions of human rights and basic questions or democratization, giving citizens the right to express their feelings to hold their governments accountable. So in this, in this period of conflict, the journalist the role of a journalist become crucial, and efforts by global radical global leaders to discredit journalists on Uber’s K. God, and not only that, now, the journalist is a representative of the community, in the content in the context of Africa, we must have people do not have the opportunity to speak out. So they rely on the media, or the people within the media, independent people within the missionary increasing movements over the last 10 years. Yeah, that are challenging, challenging dictators. We saw the Arab Spring, we saw what happened in Burkina Faso,

WT: 50:26
how strong how strong are these movements of, of young people of citizens on the African continent? I’m asking you as somebody who’s intimately connected, I mean, we don’t get that type of coverage about Africa. Here in the US, we get some hotspots and a resistance in Burkina Faso resistance in Nigeria. But from a firsthand perspective, how active is this surge now that people are demanding accountability and transparency,

CAB 50:57
I think we have to look at the response of leaders on a global scale. With the war against, you know, the global war against media, you cannot have a situation where 250 journalists in prison globally, and that includes in the United States and all across the world. So that is a clear indication of the fact that there’s an increase intensity, mass movement of people on a global scale that are challenging to political capitalism, dictators, imperialist nations and their puppets in most parts of the world to control older to old styles of government, income, urban independence

CAB 51:37
region that is now with its own government, you know,

CAB 51:42
where people have held on to territories have held on and brought in a government and you have journalists who are constantly attractive, because they are highlighting that’s it situation. So the war against the media is in this as an effort by leaders on a global scale. You know, dictators on a global scale to prevent the circulation of this information, this new phenomenon that is emerging, right across the world. So while it is challenging, I am optimistic that is to highlight some of the phenomenal

WT: 52:27
Yeah, in our in our last moment here, turn off a Bach, who is a award winning journalist, a couple of textbooks out. His most recent one was the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, corporate gangsters, multinational enroll, politicians, we certainly seen since last year, the outbreak of the Ebola crisis in the Dr. See, you covered it in your first book, which I just named any any points of reference, because at this point, I think there’s more than what 2000 deaths in the DRC, Uganda region, several thousand cases, any bullet points here in our last moment that we should look at as we follow the seriousness of this issue channel.

CAB 53:16
I think the global news is that they now do now the effectiveness of vaccines that they’ve been trying for the treatment of Ebola. We saw a couple of weeks ago, the World Health Organization and doctors who are involved in the in the epidemiological response into Congo announcing that they have a show Yeah, showed up in 91 to 90%.

WT: 53:44
You You were talking about the recent discussions among doctors in the Congo about cures or ways to prevent the spread of an epidemic?

CAB 53:54
Yes, indeed, now supposedly have gotten beyond 19 trust and assurance of an Ebola vaccine, okay, that means that we have a point where doctors will not talk about a cure for Ebola. The questions I think, we are interested in or some of us are interested in is the processes that this research went through to arrive at this, you know, point where the cure for Ebola has now been advised, what informed consent protocols were violated, because these developments have taken place in a country where as war and so, what questions of experimentation was not been undertaken by doctors. So, that is what our interest and investigation is currently looking at. How many human possible human human subject research was done in the in the conflict affected areas of Eastern DLC where this research and development has taken place. So we will not just celebrate a bola vaccine to clear people with Ebola but who what communities have suffered at the consequence of that process? What humanoid violations may have possibly been committed by some of these research in the process of developing the efficiency of this vaccine. So those are some of the lessons and these ladies are important questions of informed consent. And what how we can hold international responded academics to international norms, international protocols governing medical research and response to epidemics. So it’s good news that we can talk about the development of remedies or treatment mechanisms for parties just like Ebola, think if you’ve left a few, okay. Okay. Avoid violations that come along. Development, mostly in that area to Africa.

WT: 56:10
For the last 27 minutes, we’ve been speaking with a terminal alpha boss who is an award winning journalist, historian, political activist from Sierra Leone. He is well written and well quoted. We want to give Him as our congratulations on the launching of freedom radio in his country of Sierra Leone, it’s been a long process. And cheering though as you know, you’re always welcome on Africa today. And best of luck with freedom radio, and we hope to see you soon on the west coast. Okay.

CAB 56:41
Thank you very much.

WT: 56:42
Take care, my friend. You’re listening to channel on for bother of the Africanist press. New radio station coming out here in the own freedom radio. For that will be talking about GK no fear, the Silicon Valley African Film Festival coming up on October 2. so much stuff to get to on the African continent. This is Walter Turner, your regular host for Africa day.

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African Elements is a website that fosters discussion and understanding of topics relevant to Black and Africana Studies. Comments are welcome, but please make your comments specific and relevant to the blog topic. For general comments on the site or requests for link exchange, please click here to contact me. A variety of viewpoints are welcomed, including SPECIFIC criticism along the lines of “I disagree with your point about …” but non-specific comments or comments that do not foster discussion will not be posted. Trolling, ignorance, and/or spamming comments will be deleted.

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