Prof. Kwame Karikari, a Ghanaian press freedom advocate and Executive Director, Media Foundation for West Africa, MFWA, has expressed optimism over the growth of press freedom in Africa.
He expressed this optimism at the 70th birthday ceremony of Olatunji Dare, foremost journalism teacher and columnist held in Lagos on Thursday.
While speaking on the theme, “Memories of Censorship: Struggling for Press Freedom in Nigeria,” Karikari traced the roots of media censorship in Africa to the days when many African countries were ruled by military personnel and one-party states where there were life presidents who wanted to perpetuate themselves in power.
“It gratifies me to join my brother on his 70th birthday. I want to express my sincere appreciation for inviting me to share with you the story work I have been doing in the last few decades trying to promote media development and freedom of expression,” Karikari said.
He added that, “Media censorship in Africa dates back to the days when most African countries were ruled by military personnel and one-party states, where there were president-for-life. Then, freedom was an alien concept in many African states. The present-day multiplicity of media in the continent has given us a strong basis to be optimistic about media development and we are confident that progress will always be in sight.”
The event, which held at the AGIP Recital Hall, MUSON Center, Onikan, Lagos, attracted eminent academics and renowned personalities in the media industry. Personalities at the event include; Niyi Osundare, prolific poet and dramatist; Femi Osofisan, novelist and playwright; Ralph Akinfeleye of the department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos and Theophilus Danjuma, former minister of defence.
Other personalities at the event include Sam Omatseye, Chairman, Editorial Board, The Nations Newspapers; Kunle Ajibade, reputed journalist and author; Ademola Oyinlola, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Tell Communications Limited; Abike Dabiri-Erewa, member House of Representatives; Doyin Abiola, Managing Director, defunct Concord Newspapers and Maiden Ibru, CEO, Guardian Press Limited, among others.
Dare, who used the occasion to launch his book titled, Public Intellectuals, Public Sphere and the Public Spirit: Essays on Olatunji Dare, thanked the organisers for the honour shown to him.
“I will start by discharging the huge debt of gratitude to those persons, individual and corporate, without whom this event would not have been possible or would have been much less remarkable,” he said.