Press and Freedom of Speech in Eritrea

teclit photo (1)

— By Teclit form Eritrea

A tiny country in the horn of Africa, Eritrea is mostly known for their human rights violations, lack of freedom of speech, press, and dictatorship. Eritrea borders Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and the Red Sea.

Press: In 1996, the temporary government of Eritrea announced a new law of press. Two years later, in 1998, private newspapers started to be published, and people started to follow and read them. Many critical articles were published, educators started to use these articles, and many youngsters, like students from the University of Asmara, started to work on these sites.

On September 18th 2001, the government announced that they would close private newspapers for the security of the country. Owners and writers started to be detained and kidnapped and we still don’t know where they are.

Not only them; even ministers, generals, military commanders, students, and religious people were detained when they demanded change and democracy.
I will always remember the journalists that sacrificed their lives for freedom of speech and press: Dawit Isaac, Amanuel Asrat, Fissehaye Joshua, Dawit, Temesgen, Matiwos, Mahmud, Sium Tsehaye…and many other unknown journalists are in prison.

Freedom of speech: In Eritrea, freedom of speech is not accepted. People can’t criticise events, things, or officials, and if heard, they are known as guilty in Eritrea. If you listen to a radio programme from abroad, you could be sentenced by security. At events, you are not allowed to speak unless you are in support of the government officials. Critics are not liked by the leaders. Many innocent people, like Asmara University students, are detained for more than 10 years. Some of them have escaped, while others have lost their lives in detention centers.


My Journey to Begin Charity Work

— By Dorcas from Ghana

While growing up, I had the passion and determination to help the less privileged in the society. This passion gradually grew to become a dream where I had to achieve it even while in school. I had the passion and the interest to provide care and support to people especially to less privileged children and also to make impact in their lives. The challenges and the struggles that I went through, while embarking on a charity work as a journalist makes it more memorable and worth sharing with people.

Knowing very well that there would be no support from anywhere in terms of finances, I started making some little savings from my personal money that my parent gives to me while in school. While doing the savings, I had short discussions with friends to also support me with some old clothes and shoes or items and this is where my dream of providing care and support to orphans started. While in school, I established this organisation called NABA Foundation which had its main aim or mission to provide care and support to orphans, less privileged children as well as widows and promote health and education in rural communities. My vision was also to become the well-known non –governmental organisation in Africa and beyond that stands out to sorely provide Care and Support, Education and promote Health as well as researching to know the needs of Africans especially those in the rural communities.

After establishing, I began fulfilling the first core area that I have chosen that is providing care and support. I invited few friends and used the money I had to purchase some items that we donated to some families who were in deep poverty and residing in a deprived house in the surrounds of Accra. While conducting the donations, I observed that most people are in deep hardship which means they do not have enough financial support to cater for their family and some have travelled from their respective rural communities to the capital city of Ghana, Accra to search for jobs and end up on the street when they do not get any job.

This observation urged me to do more donations to those on the street and people who need either financial support or clothes or food to eat. The need came for me to contact several colleagues to set up a team in this foundation that will mobilize resources to be used for this donation and also support the research. The team was able to raise some funds among ourselves to make other bigger donations at Osu Children’s Home and conducted free health talk and donation at another orphanage in Dodowa, all in Ghana among others. We have been able to also register the foundation and currently have worked extra hard to attract the interest of some bigger musicians and celebrities both in USA and in Ghana to serve as ambassadors to promote our course including Education, health and care and support.

I have a personal principle that states that “There is no situation or action in life that is called challenge. So far as that situation urges you to think, re-think and provide a solution it, then it is no more a challenge but rather an exam”. I believe it is only during examination day that one has to think and re-thing to ensure the answer given is the best and will provide the best grade and so it applies to this principle. I have worked with this principle that I set up for myself for a long time and it has helped me both in academics and life goals. I had some many hard times while starting up this non-governmental organisation alone. Even though the conversations I had with few friends before starting were all emphasising on getting a huge amount of money before I can provide care or donate to the less privileged in the society especially while being in school. But I ignored those comment and started using my little savings to purchase items and share to people living on the street and to those who are in need.

Indeed, I was able to think and re-think to put certain strategies in place to overcome all those difficult times when setting up this organisation to provide support to less privileged children in the community. In view of my great leadership skills and setting up this organisation even while in school with no huge money, I received the Leadership and Excellence award sponsored by Databank Foundation in Ghana and was also announced the Overall Best Student in Journalism in 2014 at the African University College of Communications (AUCC). After the hardship, the foundation had been duly registered in Ghana as NABA LIFE FOUNDATION.

Addiction to Activism


— By James from Malawi

He switched gears and immediately accelerated the motorcycle into high speed. This became problematic as he failed to see the sharp bended and twisted road towards Nkhokwe maize mill. His motorcycle soon crushed him into the water channel and he immediately lost consciousness. The terrible sound of the crush attracted the villagers who flocked to the scene. Even though it occurred during the middle of the night, they improvised for a stretcher and took him to the nearest hospital.

James was the name of the driver who was in the motorcycle accident. He was on his way from the end of the year party of the Namitembo mission trade school in 2012. Despite being late and not invited to the party organized by Namitembo trade school, his popularity within the school led him to the high table. He was sitting with the chief priest of Namitembo Catholic parish and the coordinator of the school. He quickly took glasses of various wine and alcoholic beverages without a pause as a way of reaching the same level as his other colleagues. Beer kept flowing to the high table and the VIP at the table were drunk. James began mixing beer and shouted to friends that he would come up with a unique mix drink that would be sweeter and filled with even more flavor. Some waiters tried to caution him but he ridiculed them. He relocated himself to the corner where the beer fridges were, so that he would not wait to have his beer refilled. Totally drunk and confused he came out of the urinal room where he was smoking cannabis, and asked the security guard the whereabouts of his girlfriend ‘Alena’. The guard suspected she joined the company of anonymous guys in the blue Mercedes Benz classic that had just left the place. He got angry and promised to track, fight them and take back his queen. The guard and some of his friends tried to convince him not to leave the party and wait for the mission duty vehicle to deliver him home as he was extremely intoxicated, but he denounced all the advices, jumped on his Honda XL125 motorcycle and raced to the high way. Just three kilometers away from Namitembo he experienced illusions and lost control. After two days in coma at Nkansala hospital, he gained consciousness and realized that his body was bloused. He screamed ‘How, why and when did this happen?” He was hysterical.

The nurse calmed him and he started narrating what he recalled from his tragedy. He explained how he found himself at the party after being called by the driver of Namitembo Parish up to how he received the good gesture of the high priest in the party to join them in the high table. He managed to recall the conversation he made with the guard and friends, from that point it was as if there was blackout and the camera went completely off, so that he could not remember what happened to him, or who took him to the hospital. He put all the blames to himself by being an addict. He narrated his previous life to the nurse as if he was confessing to God. She comforted him that he would recover and gain back his disfigured appearance. In a comforting way, she told him that he had a crotchet ligament tear of the left knee, he would not die but he would have permanent unstable knee, since the ligaments do not re-grow. James had a flash back on how he joined the company of drunk work mates, really had the picture how Joni and Alex lost the job due to absenteeism. He saw how Blez was killed on the road accident after being run over by a heavy vehicle while drunk and Zondi was paralyzed after falling from 10 meters high on the railway bridge on way home from the bar.

James recovered after his accident and he is now an advocate for peace and behavior change, he used his own experience as an instrument in counseling the youth on drug and substance abuse addiction and sexual and reproductive health.

James during his recovery