The Media Institute of Southern Africa, the West African Journalists' Association, the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Eastern Africa Journalists Association will all be participating in various events in Africa in acknowledgement of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, 2009. For the 15th year in a row, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is unveiling its report, "So this is Democracy", which looks at the state of the media in Southern Africa. MISA recorded 163 alerts in the year 2008, the most serious violations taking place in Tanzania - most notably the acid attack on journalist Saed Kubenea of the "Mwanahalisi". The government later banned the weekly, allegedly for publishing seditious material.
A similar distrust of private media has been the basis for media closures in Lesotho and Zimbabwe, says MISA. On 3 May, MISA's World Press Freedom Day statement and report will be available at www.misa.org for download.
The West African Journalists' Association (WAJA) is taking up UNESCO's theme of "media, dialogue and mutual understanding" by participating in demonstrations in Bamako, Mali and Dakar, Senegal and calling for talks between government and the media in West Africa. WAJA has high hopes that dialogue will help create an environment conducive to development of the media sector, "to decriminalise press offences and to put an end to the killings, assaults, arrests and imprisonment of journalists." For more info go to www.ujaowaja.org.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is teaming up with the Ghana Journalists Association to put dialogue between the government and the media in practice. On 4 May, press freedom advocates, such as Kwame Karikari, executive director of MFWA, and the presidents of Ghana's journalists', newspaper publishers' and independent broadcasters' associations, can exchange views with the Minister of Information, Zita Okaikoi at a symposium at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra. On 6 May, more talks will follow on how to turn GBC - Ghana Broadcasting Corporation - into a "true public service broadcaster." For more info go to www.mediafound.org.
Worried about the growing intolerance towards independent journalism and rising violence against journalists, the Eastern Africa Journalists Association is organising a workshop on 2-3 May in Kigali, Rwanda. IFEX members the Media Institute from Kenya and Somalia's National Union of Somali Journalists will be among some of the attendees addressing the situation facing journalists and media in eastern Africa, including journalists' safety and working conditions, professional ethical standards, the place of investigative journalism in the region, and media as a tool for dialogue and reconciliation. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.