Freedom of Speech vs Freedom To Diss by Ernest Bazanye
2016-12-21T12:14:10Z

 

 A Liberian newspaper editor was arrested for republishing an unflattering Daily Mail story about the president a couple of nations down the street. This reminds me of the time had a Tanzanian facebooker was brought up on court charges for insulting his president, John Pombe Magufuli online, and when Burundi's schoolkids were taken to jail for defacing their president’s image in their text books.
 

African presidents, what is biting your bums? That that is not how you behave when people are saying bad things about you. Idiots!

The Liberian paper, The New Democrat, reran a story in which the Daily Mail of the UK alleged that Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo liked to skin his enemies and eat their brains, livers and testicles.

The story is obviously false. What could smack of more lies! That is not even a question. It overreaches beyond credibility to absolute fantasy. Cannibalism is one thing but eating testicles? Even the most psychotic tyrant doesn't eat testicles.

They all know that once you eat one, your point is made. No need to eat them in plural.
And have you ever noticed how so many parts of the cow are eaten? The ears, the hooves, the kidney, the tail, the eyes, the intestines… Clearly someone went through the trouble of testing each organ and deciding which can stay on the plate and which can go.


The fact that we don't have worldwide cow testes delicacies suggests testes aren't, excuse the pun, very tasty.


If you need more evidence for your case, I refer you to the Americans and their reality TV shows-- there you will find video footage of living humans eating testes. None of them, not even the most preposterously unhinged Wisconsian from Fear Factor looked like he was enjoying the meal.
In put it to you, friends, that one does not eat balls unless under duress, and who could possibly have the capacity to leverage duress against a man as as powerful as Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, a man so mighty you don't even have to be in his country to be arrested for talking trash about him?

The story follows that incident earlier this year when Tanzania's new president John Pombe Magufuli saw a dude fetched and carried to the pen for the crime of insulting him on Facebook.

It was a confusing time for us who talk about presidents in Facebook because, well, all we ever do is insult them, all day, to rapturous applause of likes and shares running all the way up and down the newsfeed, for what the hell is Facebook for of not to abuse the powerful?

Magufuli was the first president to buck the trend. When he came into power one of the first things he did was pay a surprise visit to a Dar es Salaam hospital. Seeing that it was running down and concluding that this was due to poor management, Magufuli ordered the firing of the hospital’s director.

Facebookers responded with gleeful flurry of thumbs and posts of adulation.
It seemed unanimous. Not even a word of complaint from the members of the hospital’s admin and HR staff who now had to run around trying to find a way to terminate the MD’s contract on the grounds that some dude just strolled in one day and said he should go.

But it was not to last. Time went on and social media returned to its senses and remembered that we don't log on to praise caesar bit to bury him in shade. So the Magufuli bombs were inevitable First of all, the man's name is John Pombe and he inspects his guards of honour in outsized suits inelegantly flapping all over the place. Both of these characteristics are begging for a Facebook diss. Remember that the word Pombe means booze in Swahili, and if you are going to walk among files of the best dressed soldiers in your army, don't do it in the suit your dad handed down to you in 1998.

Then there was Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza. A lot has been said of Nkurunziza this year, very little of it glowing props.


The coup, the shootings of civilians on the streets, the tyrannical crackdowns... so it was a surprise that he would think anyone who has anything to say about him would not be sneering in rage and disdain.
But Burundian officials picked up and jailed schoolchildren who defaced photos of Nkurunziza in their schoolbooks.

If you have seen Pretty Pierre, you will have seen that, unlike the sartorial travesty that is Magufuli, he is a dapper fellow, some might even say good-looking.
But there is a coldness in his face, a shadow of the sinister, a distinct humorlessness.
His is a face that can only be improved with some squiggles from a schoolboys pen.


Which brings us back to our question: what is biting your bums, African presidents? We are already exhausted with hearing you bleat about “freedom of speech doesn't include freedom to say we suck”, but you really should take a chill pill. If you won't respect the rights of your citizens to dissent, at least consider this: Justin Bieber. He is one of the most abused, most reviled, most parodied and most abused people in the world's media, both social media and otherwise. But at the same time he is one of the most popular human beings alive and would beat any African president in any election four times over. Let us abuse you, and you will be like Bieber.

Idiots.

 

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Ernest Bazanye

Ernest Bazanye is an Ugandan journalist, who writers for Real Issue Africa, and is the self-appointed Ugandan High Commissioner to Twitter
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