Reporters Without Borders today published four Letters to a young African who wants to be a journalist to coincide with a two-day Africa-France summit dedicated to young people that starts tomorrow in the Malian capital of Bamako. The letters were written by veteran journalists from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
“These four personal accounts are instructive, showing us how African journalists do honour to a dangerous profession despite oppression, poverty and indifference,” the press freedom organisation said. “Independent journalists are vital for people and nations. If France really wants to help Africa, it should defend its freedom. And if Africa’s leaders want to defend the interests of their peoples, they should be proud that a vigorous and responsible press is free to criticise them without risking prison or death.”
African teenagers dream of being journalists, the authors of the four letters say. “Just for fun, I used to play at being a reporter during the school championships,” writes Donat M’Baya Tshimanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who heads an Congolese organisation called Journalist in Danger (JED).
Journalists often serve as models, like star soccer players or film actors. Guthrie Munyuki of Zimbabwe’s Daily News says he could not decide whether to be a lawyer, journalist or soccer player. “I saw myself as the next Mike Munyati, the late journalist for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, and Michel Platini, the former mercurial French footballer.” [..]