In Nigeria, neither the constitution nor the law gives people a right to information. It could make you cry, but there’s also a whacky side to it.
Activists seeking change have spent a decade’s worth of struggle in a topsy-turvy political landscape that would be comical were it not also tragic. But after all their work, Nigerian officialdom remains opaque, and there is no short-term prospect of relief.
Imagine two groups of pilgrims on two different journeys, taking roads that intersect occasionally.
One group is doing research into media. The other is spending money to develop media.
Currently, their paths cross only sporadically. Most hurry along their route with their minds focused on their destination.
But what if someone threw a party at one of the junctions; got them all to pause and talk to each other?
While still in office as Minister of Communications, the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri initiated a process to review legislation around the SABC. This was in the face of the political conflict around the CEO and the Board, and pre-dated the economic crisis at the corporation. The then suddenly pro-Zuma Parliament didn't wait on the processes of an Mbeki-ministerial appointee, but decided to act to remove the Mbeki-approved board (which they themselves had recommended before he lost power at Polokwane).
African journalism educators are not the easiest constituency to construct into a community. Nothing wrong with them as people! The challenges come from their jobs in general - and the particular conditions of African j-schools (dispersed, under-resourced, divided by language and country, etc).
But a major reason why Rhodes pitched for, and won, the hosting status for the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) over 5-7 July, 2010, is to help overcome these obstacles. We're convinced that all of us across the continent benefit from networking.
Taking a medium term view, there has been an interesting shift as regards the prospects of press self-regulation in South Africa - and it's positive. This is the gist of my research paper presented at the SA Communications organisation conference in Potchefstroom today. SEPT 2010: Here's an updated version in the light of subsequent developments.