Fighting for freedom of the press

Freedom of the press is not a given in many African countries. In Liberia it was impossible for many, many years to write anything critical about government leaders. Now, in 2014, it’s getting better. That is in part due to the long fight for freedom of the press by the journalist Tom Kamara, who died in 2012. His wife, Rachael, started the Tom Kamara Foundation a year after his death. Since that time the foundation has established nine high schools, which devote considerable time to free journalism, and passing on the work of Tom Kamara to the young people of Liberia. ‘We want young people in Liberia to learn to have an open mind, like Tom did,’says Rachael.
The journalist Tom Kamara fought some thirty years for freedom of the press in his homeland of Liberia. He had to endure many setbacks. He was repeatedly arrested for writing critical pieces about a leader, he was in shot in the leg, and the editorial offices of his newspaper, the New Democrat, were burnt down. But he persevered and kept up the fight for free press in his country. Though that wasn’t always possible from inside Liberia. He spent about eight years in the Netherlands, fleeing the Liberian authorities.

Rachael-Kamara-231x412
Rachael Kamara, widow of the journalist Tom Kamara, wants to continue the fight for freedom of press.

Independent journalist
During the 80s Kamara wrote critically about dictator Samuel Doe. In the 90s he wrote about rebel leader, Charles Taylor, who had come to power. Neither appreciated his work, which meant he had to repeatedly flee the country. Then in 2006 the Nobel Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected president and Kamara was offered a position high up in her government. He declined, saying he wanted to continue his fight against social injustice as an independent journalist. The New Democratic has since grown to be the biggest newspaper in Liberia.
In June of 2012 Tom Karama collapsed at the airport in Brussels and later died in the hospital. A year later, on June 8th, 2013, his wife, Rachael Kamara, set up the Tom Kamara Foundation with the goal of inspiring the young people of Liberia to continue Tom’s work.
Truth out in the open
According to Rachael you can write more openly in Liberia now. ‘Under president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf great strides have been made. Journalists are freer to write what they want. There isn’t total freedom of the press, but it’s a start.’The New Democrat has become the biggest and most influential paper in Liberia. The goal of the paper, following Tom Kamara’s ideals, is to always seek out the truth. Other news organizations in Liberia are also making strides in the right direction, according to Rachael. ‘The big papers still print a lot of politically colored news, but there are smaller papers who just like the New Democrat strive to maintain ethical principals.’
The Tom Kamara Foundation wants to continue the upward momentum that’s building, says Rachael. ‘In our schools much attention is given to freedom of the press. We have journalism clubs where students together learn to write.’Rachael thinks it’s important that students gain practical experience. That’s why they recently added the student column to the New Democrat, where articles written by students are published.
At the moment Rachael Kamara is in the Netherlands to raise awareness and funds for the foundation. She wants to expand the work of the foundation, in order to continue the legacy and work of Tom Kamara. To strive for the kind of freedom in Liberia to write what you want, about who you want.

Solution News Source

Fighting for freedom of the press

Freedom of the press is not a given in many African countries. In Liberia it was impossible for many, many years to write anything critical about government leaders. Now, in 2014, it’s getting better. That is in part due to the long fight for freedom of the press by the journalist Tom Kamara, who died in 2012. His wife, Rachael, started the Tom Kamara Foundation a year after his death. Since that time the foundation has established nine high schools, which devote considerable time to free journalism, and passing on the work of Tom Kamara to the young people of Liberia. ‘We want young people in Liberia to learn to have an open mind, like Tom did,’says Rachael.
The journalist Tom Kamara fought some thirty years for freedom of the press in his homeland of Liberia. He had to endure many setbacks. He was repeatedly arrested for writing critical pieces about a leader, he was in shot in the leg, and the editorial offices of his newspaper, the New Democrat, were burnt down. But he persevered and kept up the fight for free press in his country. Though that wasn’t always possible from inside Liberia. He spent about eight years in the Netherlands, fleeing the Liberian authorities.

Rachael-Kamara-231x412
Rachael Kamara, widow of the journalist Tom Kamara, wants to continue the fight for freedom of press.

Independent journalist
During the 80s Kamara wrote critically about dictator Samuel Doe. In the 90s he wrote about rebel leader, Charles Taylor, who had come to power. Neither appreciated his work, which meant he had to repeatedly flee the country. Then in 2006 the Nobel Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected president and Kamara was offered a position high up in her government. He declined, saying he wanted to continue his fight against social injustice as an independent journalist. The New Democratic has since grown to be the biggest newspaper in Liberia.
In June of 2012 Tom Karama collapsed at the airport in Brussels and later died in the hospital. A year later, on June 8th, 2013, his wife, Rachael Kamara, set up the Tom Kamara Foundation with the goal of inspiring the young people of Liberia to continue Tom’s work.
Truth out in the open
According to Rachael you can write more openly in Liberia now. ‘Under president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf great strides have been made. Journalists are freer to write what they want. There isn’t total freedom of the press, but it’s a start.’The New Democrat has become the biggest and most influential paper in Liberia. The goal of the paper, following Tom Kamara’s ideals, is to always seek out the truth. Other news organizations in Liberia are also making strides in the right direction, according to Rachael. ‘The big papers still print a lot of politically colored news, but there are smaller papers who just like the New Democrat strive to maintain ethical principals.’
The Tom Kamara Foundation wants to continue the upward momentum that’s building, says Rachael. ‘In our schools much attention is given to freedom of the press. We have journalism clubs where students together learn to write.’Rachael thinks it’s important that students gain practical experience. That’s why they recently added the student column to the New Democrat, where articles written by students are published.
At the moment Rachael Kamara is in the Netherlands to raise awareness and funds for the foundation. She wants to expand the work of the foundation, in order to continue the legacy and work of Tom Kamara. To strive for the kind of freedom in Liberia to write what you want, about who you want.

Solution News Source

SIGN UP

TO GET A Free DAILY DOSE OF OPTIMISM


We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy