Today, May 3 is the International Press Freedom Day, an annual event during which media practitioners around the world, celebrate press freedom by holding parades, award presentations, panel discussions, among others.
The country’s media community, led by MISA-Malawi, this year will commemorate the day this coming Saturday, in the objective of having as many media professionals and paraprofessionals as possible, participate in the event.
Events are as usual, organized in the three main cities Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Blantyre.
The International Press Freedom Day has its origins in Windhoek, Namibia, when the continent’s indipendent media practitioners in 1991, gathered at a UNESCO-sponsored five-day seminar. It was entitled “Promoting the Establishment of an Independent and Pluralistic Press in Africa.” Malawi was represented at the seminar by Capital Radio’s president, Al Osman (at that time working for the Botswana Gazette), and Maravi Post Senior Editor, Janet Karim.
Two police officers and an official from the Office of the President and Cabinet, were also present at the meeting.
The objective of the seminar was to promote the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press in Africa. It resulted in the landmark “Declaration of Windhoek on Promoting and Establishment of an Independent and Pluralistic African Press, Namibia, 1991.”
Among the other outcomes of the landmark seminar, during which journalists were urged to be champions in calling on their governments to remove draconian press laws, to pave the way for press freedom, and allow an independent media to be established and flourish in all countries on the continent, was the establishment of the Southern Africa regional body, called MISA.
MISA is an acronym for Media Institute of Southern Africa; it has branches in all SADC countries. Championing the pillars set out in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration, MISA chapters, assisted by the MISA headquarters in Windhoek, are often the first and loudest voices when media freedom issues are impinged.
Long live press freedom!