Why democracy? Here’s why

“Why Democracy? Because we deserve justice.” Wrote Sokwanele today.

It’s deja vu: At conferences and in other settings where democracy, free speech, the media etc are discussed, it’s so healthy to put people from different continents and countries side by side. Typically a participant from a Western country will lament the erosion of democracy and standards of journalism, the commercialisation of the media. All important enough. Then someone from China, Russia, Thailand or any other country where freedom of the press must be fought for and defended every day, often with bitter defeat, will just talk about their experiences — and the perspective changes completely (another example, in Norwegian). When you happen to be in a place where democracy does not exist, or if you have experienced that condition, that’s when you can write like Sokwanele. Or like Ory Okolloh:

You couldn’t dare criticise the President or the government – the repercussions were harsh and most of Kenya’s intelligentsia went into exile. But the activists perserved and slowly change came to Kenya, culminating in the historic 2002 elections when Kenyans finally said “No” to Moi and his appointed successor. Today, I have free! I can write and say what I want about the government or the President without fear. I can work on projects that shine a spotlight on the performance of Kenyan politicians without a shred of concern about my safety. I have a plethora of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV stations where I can obtain information. Hell, I can surf the net freely. It’s easy to take these freedoms for granted once you have them…the events in Myanmar have reminded me to appreciate them and to not take democracy for granted.


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