The African Media Initiative (AMI) has on August 20th lunched a Pan-African campaign against hate speech at a panel discussion held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The panel, which discussed the "Limits of Press Freedom" has brought together leading figures in African media, notably: Linus Kaikai, Managing Editor of the Kenyan broadcasting station, NTV, which is part of East Africa's largest media conglomerate, the Nation Media Group; Eric Chinje, Chief Executive Officer of AMI; Nanjira Sambuli, Researcher on online hate speech at the iHub; Fatuma Abdulahi, owner of Warya Post, Africa's fastest growing website; and Boniface Mwangi, award-winning photographer and social activist.
"The #TurnthePageonHateSpeech campaign serves as a call to media leaders and operators in Africa to lend their full support to efforts to turn the tide against the rise of hate speech on the Continent," AMI said in a statement adding using the power of the web, it will also engage thought leaders, journalists, bloggers, writers, poets, cartoonists, and citizens in Africa and across the globe, with the aim of bringing the media and the public's attention to the devastating effects of hate speech.
"Whilst 2014 marks the anniversaries of two momentous events in modern African history - 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa and 20 years since the Rwandan Genocide - many African citizens continue to witness and live with a surge of intolerance and hate, growing levels of discrimination, and the rise in ethnic and religious fundamentalism," said AMI.
According to AMI CEO, Eric Chinje: "Journalists are often used as instruments of propaganda. Yet it is in part the media's role to defend and promote people's rights and ensure that women, children, minorities and other vulnerable groups in society are not unfairly and unduly targeted."
The campaign was shaped through a consultation process organized by AMI in Kigali, Rwanda, in April this year. Media organizations and journalist unions, including the Ethical Journalism Network, the African Editors' Forum, the Federation of African Journalists, and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, to name a few, joined forces to launch this continent-wide campaign.
Speaking in Kigali, the Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, Aidan White affirmed that, "We must promote ethical, tolerant and inclusive journalism. Journalist should not regurgitate hateful speech coming from politicians, or community and religious leaders. It is a journalist's duty to put things in context and ensure that what they are saying does not incite more hate and violence."
The campaign will culminate with three days of discussions around the theme at the annual African Media Leaders' Forum (AMLF), the largest gathering of media professionals on the continent, which this year will take place from November 12 - 14 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Forum will be chaired by South African anti-apartheid activist Jay Naidoo, the African Union special envoy for Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop, and Researcher on Genocide, Joseph Karorero.