The International Press Institute is wrapping up a four-day congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. Editors, publishers and leading journalists from around the world have been discussing a range of issues that pertain to press freedom worldwide. Those that addressed the gathering include South Africa’s Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Among the African participants at the I-P-I conference is Fred Mudhai – lecturer of journalism at Coventry University in Coventry, United Kingdom. In an interview with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje, Mudhai said delegates used assigned blocks of time to discuss press freedom issues in Africa. He voiced qualified support to South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s assertion that western media paints a disproportionately negative image of Africa. “I would argue that African leaders themselves have not done justice to the continent. For instance last year, the IPI committee in Kenya did everything to improve the image of the country. Within the last few months, the Kenyan government destroyed that image and raided a newspaper. So African leaders, some of them are part of the disappointment in the image of Africa abroad.”
Mudhai says there are bright spots in Africa where the independent media is faring well. “There are a number of countries where this has happened, particularly in South Africa after the apartheid era. There is also Ghana where there has been reasonable improvement. Botswana also had relative improvement. Nigeria has experienced marked improvement. Sierra Leone 50-50, recently jailed journalists have been released. So there are a number of countries that have recorded some improvement.”
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