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                                                                                      Report by John Mugabi, ASFL Uganda

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On December 17th, 2016, Students For Liberty leaders and members converged at Nkumba University TS Hall for the first African Students For liberty’s Liberty and Leadership forum, in Uganda. This event which brought all groups in 13 universities together for leadership training  about Students For Liberty, drew altogether 68 participants representing African Students For Liberty groups in their respective universities.

I opened up the forum with the welcoming remarks and the genesis of SFL  – Uganda. I introduced the 13 SFL chapters from various universities and colleges and also welcomed the speakers and guests present.

Linda Kavuka, a member of the ASFL Executive Board was the Guest Speaker and lead trainer on the topic of building a strong and sustainable ASFL Uganda.

Mr. Matanda Abubakari, the director of Young Lawyers Association shared about students leadership regarding human rights advocacy. He emphasized the exemplary leadership of SFL leaders if students are to make impact in spreading liberty in Africa.

Musisi Joseph co- founder of Centre for Graduate Entrepreneurship shared the need for participants to embrace innovation and creativity  as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. Mr. Musisi touched on the need for SFL to extend its reach to youths in local communities in order to sow the seed of liberty and prosperity. In his presentation he gave a demonstration of how entrepreneurship can lead to peace in Africa.

15578303_572104576312331_7888388575943339864_oEsther Kyomubi, member of Students For Liberty Uganda and a participant at the first East African Regional Conference in 2014 called upon SFL leaders to embrace student advocacy and activism in order to be a force of change in Uganda. She shared about opportunities SFL has for students.

Breakfast and lunch were served and participants also got books including Why Liberty, Ideas For A Free Society CDs, and other SFL Swag items. Awarding certificate of leadership and group photos marked the end of the forum.

Special thanks to Students For Liberty and SFL- Uganda for tremendous support that made the leadership forum possible. The forum encouraged participants to join the efforts to grow the freedom community in Africa by signing up for the African Students For Liberty Local Coordinator Training Program, and current SFL leaders to act as champions of liberty in Africa.

                                                                   Written by ASFL Executive Board Chair, Oluwafemi Ogunjobi.

Almost two years after it came on board, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has commenced payment of N5,000 monthly stipends it promised to poor Nigerians and the unemployed. The development was substantially embedded in the campaign promises of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC during the 2015 presidential election. The Programme is also a part of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes, SIP for which N500 billion was appropriated in the 2016 national budget. The CCT also targets one million Nigerians who would receive N5000 monthly payments as a form of social safety net.

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Nine states are mapped out for coverage in this first batch and already, many of the beneficiaries were reported to have started receiving their first payments by Friday last week. The states were Borno, Kwara, Bauchi, Cross Rivers, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti. Of the states, Borno, Kwara and Bauchi have started receiving the money while the rest of the states in the first batch would commence the CCT payments soon. As expected, some Nigerians have applauded this move by the government, especially with the biting economic situation that the nation is enveloped in, and with the opinion that it was not only an indication of better things to come but indeed showed the commitment of the Federal Government in fulfilling one of its ‘stubborn’ campaign promises and alleviating the sufferings of the common man. But, business and economic sense would tell us that such move is one with telling negative consequences on the economy.

The action of the government is synonymous to creating a Manna economy, and a Welfare state – where people rely on government for sustenance. A welfare state is counter-productive and unsustainable. It destroys the incentives for hard work and enterprise and discourages people from building up the capital that boosts the productivity of the whole society. In its place, government should look into economic dynamism that gives entrepreneurs new market opportunities. The chief beneficiaries of this dynamism are the poor. It channels people’s self-interest in socially beneficial directions. The move of the President Buhari-led administration in legalizing paid idleness will kill a troubled, borrowing, and poor economy like ours. It will make more people live by the begging bowl.

Nigeria’s Federal Government need to know that the cost of welfare will keep rising, and poverty will not reduce. Instead, it creates a culture of entitlement, drains the fiscal purse of the government, and robs other Nigerians of their honest and hard-earned profit. There is no income gained by doling out money to people, but there’s much income when people engage in productive activities. What the government can do to ‘move people out of poverty’ is to drastically reduce all levels of taxation which cripples productive energies, savings and investments; to reduce government expenditure, and removing its own barriers from their productive energies. Heavy license fees and restrictions prevent the poor from starting small businesses and creating jobs on their own. People should not be afraid to exchange value for money.

The real solution lies in an open economy, respect for the rule of law, jobs and opportunities. Welfare programs are not long term social safety nets, they cannot be sustained. Money is earned by producing what other people want and are willing to pay you for – not government’s handouts.

                                                      Written by Aimable Manirakiza, ASFL East African Regional Director.

President Robert MugabeD’après l’intellectuel ghanéen George Ayittey, seulement 16 sur les 54 pays africains sont réellement démocratiques. Ça représente 29,6%. Ce qui veut dire que dans 70,4% des pays africains, les élites au pouvoir peuvent emprisonner, condamner à l’exil ou même mettre à mort ceux qui ne pensent pas comme eux ou osent leur disputer le pouvoir. Beaucoup de citoyens de ces pays ne peuvent pas s’exprimer librement, adhérer à un parti ou une organisation de leur choix, ou critiquer leurs dirigeants.

Nombreux sont les gens qui n’aiment pas vivre dans de telles conditions, mais se résignent à subir l’oppression parce qu’ils estiment qu’ils n’ont pas le choix.

Nous tous Africains, nous connaissons dans notre pays ou dans un pays voisin certains de ces héros qui se sont battus pour la liberté. Et certains de ceux qui ont réussi à chasser des dictateurs sont devenus des tyrans à leur tour, au grand dam de leurs concitoyens. Ils ont seulement inversé les rôles : les victimes d’hier sont devenues les bourreaux d’aujourd’hui.

Mais les plus courageux sacrifient leur confort, et même leur vie, pour braver la tyrannie. Certains le font de manière non violente, en créant des mouvements d’opposition parfois interdits ou en militant dans des organisations de défense des droits de l’homme. D’autres, les plus radicaux, vont jusqu’à prendre les armes. Les uns et les autres disent avoir un noble objectif : changer le monde, se débarrasser d’un pouvoir qui les opprime et créer une société où ils seront plus libres.

Voilà ce qui cloche : ils ont eu ce qu’ils cherchaient: le pouvoir et la richesse. Quand ils disaient se battre pour la liberté, ils parlaient de leur liberté, eux et leur famille, tribu ou ethnie. Pas pour vous et nous.  Et ils considèrent qu’ils sont des héros, que le fait d’avoir vaincu l’ancien tyran leur a donné le droit de vie et de mort sur le reste de leurs concitoyens.

La solution ? Tuer le tyran qui est en vous

Alors, quand un tyran remplace un autre, surtout après avoir dit à tout le monde qu’il voulait faire la différence, ça fait mal. J’écris ça parce que je fais partie de ceux qui ont été déçus par un certain nombre de dirigeants africains, et j’imagine que je ne suis pas le seul. Beaucoup de ceux qui militent pour une Afrique libre et démocratique se découragent et se demandent : que faire ? Nombreux arrivent à la conclusion que l’Afrique est maudite, et qu’il n’y a rien à faire, ou plutôt qu’il faut faire comme tout le monde, c’est-à-dire servir les autocrates ou se reconvertir en tyran soi-même.

Je ne suis pas de ceux qui pensent que l’Afrique est maudite et qu’elle ne sera jamais un continent de liberté et d’abondance. J’ai de l’espérance car un changement social demande du temps et de la persévérance. Pour que l’Afrique soit un continent de liberté, il faudra, à chaque démocrate, tuer le tyran qui est en soi-même. Oui, il faut d’abord le reconnaitre : chacun de nous a un côté obscur. La preuve, pour prendre un exemple classique, est que les champions de la Révolution française, qui chantaient liberté, égalité, fraternité, ont instauré la terreur et la guillotine. Nous avons tous le potentiel d’être des fossoyeurs de la liberté, tout en la désirant. Au lieu de se lancer dans la vengeance et la répression, Mandela a choisi de se libérer de ses démons, en libérant les oppresseurs et les opprimés. L’Afrique du Sud n’est pas devenue un paradis, mais elle a pu couper court aux cycles de guerres et de dictatures qui paralysent la plupart des pays africains.

Haïr le système oppressif et aimer ses ennemis

Ce processus de tuer le tyran qui est en nous, le philosophe Tzvetan Todorov l’appelle l’insoumission. Dans son livre intitulé Insoumis, Todorov considère que les insoumis «doublent la résistance à l’ennemi par une résistance aux démons intérieurs (…). Ils ne se contentent pas de s’opposer à l’oppression. Ils s’opposent sans construire l’autre comme une incarnation du diable».  L’un de ces insoumis est naturellement Nelson Mandela, qui écrit dans son autobiographie : «En prison, ma colère contre les Blancs s’était apaisée. Mais ma haine du système s’était accrue. Je voulais que l’Afrique du Sud voit que j’aimais juste mes ennemis tout en haïssant le système qui a fait naitre notre affrontement». Et il a décidé, quand il a sorti de prison, de construire un pays où les  Blancs et les Noirs, les anciens bourreaux et les anciennes victimes, vivent dans l’harmonie.

C’est là où Mandela diffère de la majorité des autres leaders africain. Il aurait pu décider de chasser d’Afrique du Sud tous les Afrikaners qui avaient mis en place ce système oppressif ignoble qu’est l’Apartheid. En agissant ainsi, il n’aurait pas été différent de ses anciens geôliers, puisqu’il n’aurait fait que répliquer sur ceux ce qu’ils lui ont fait subir et l’Afrique du Sud serait probablement toujours en guerre civile, avec les Noirs comme oppresseurs cette fois. Au lieu de se lancer dans la vengeance et la répression, Mandela a choisi de se libérer de ses démons, en libérant les oppresseurs et les opprimés. L’Afrique du Sud n’est pas devenue un paradis, mais elle a pu couper court aux cycles de guerres et de dictatures qui paralysent la plupart des pays africains.

Dans la plupart des pays africains, libérer un pays de la tyrannie ne revient qu’à inverser les rôles, l’opprimé d’hier devenant l’oppresseur d’aujourd’hui. 

C’est décidément plus facile de lutter contre les tyrans, mais c’est infiniment plus difficile de résister contre nos démons intérieurs.

                                                         Written by Stephen K. Oyedemi, ASFL West African Regional Director

President-Buhari

Early this year, most Nigerians were optimistic and hopeful that the so called ‘Budget of Change’ of the Buhari administration was going to bring substantial positive change to Nigeria. Unfortunately, the country has so far been experiencing a negative growth (economic recession), a weakening currency and a hyper-inflation that have resulted in prices of many commodities becoming more than double their 2015 prices. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the country’s unemployment rate rose from 13.3 per cent in the 2nd quarter to 13.9 per cent in the 3rd quarter of 2016.

Protectionism, according to Investopedia refers to “government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade, often done with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition. Typical methods of protectionism are tariffs and quotas on imports and subsidies or tax cuts granted to local businesses.”

We have seen a lot of protectionist policies come up in recent times, and this needs to be questioned. The real value of the Naira (Nigerian currency) is unknown as the government continues to fix the exchange rate. Not less than 41 items are on the Central Bank’s Prohibition List, preventing many dealers and traders from accessing the Nigerian Foreign Exchange market. This has led businesses to seek foreign exchange from the black market where the exchange rate is much higher, contributing to the instability in the financial market and the inflation being experienced. A deep-cycle battery, for example, that was sold for about N55,000 in January now goes for N115,000 making it more expensive for people who use renewable energy as these batteries are imported.

Historically, when there are crises or problems including those economic in nature, people tend to develop the ‘strong man syndrome’ believing that what is needed is a strong man or a group of strong men who would forcefully get things in shape. This has contributed to the rise of the protectionist policies we now experience in Nigeria.rice1

Many people are made to believe that importation of things like cars, rice, clothing, machines and recently fruit juice should be discouraged in order to motivate local production and create ‘local jobs’. This narrative excludes the fact that no country can produce all its needs and that Nigeria equally exports a lot of things such as cash crops and notably, crude oil ome mineral resources among others to countries which need them. While local production is good, it cannot be sustainable except it produces quality products that compete favourably with others produced elsewhere. Many Nigerians who need to do adverts on the internet or buy things online are saddled with enormous problems as a result of the many restrictions placed on online transactions in the country. One should be disturbed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) is raiding supermarkets and destroying imported fruit juice in the name of helping local production. Individuals should have the freedom to choose what juice or drink to consume, whether it is produced in the orange rich Benue State of Nigeria, or in the grape rich Sardinia in Italy.


In Nigeria, it is difficult to do business because of the many impediments created by  bureaucracy, overregulation and excessive taxation by the government. Nigeria ranks number 169 of the 190 countries on the 2016 Ease of Doing Business ranking of the World Bank. It is no new saying that one of the major duties of the government is to create an enabling environment for businesses to prosper. This has to come in form of free-market policies, which helps to facilitate trade and wealth creation, resulting in more jobs and positive economic growth. 

The implementation of favourable market policies which include reduction in taxes and levies, the freedom to import and export goods according to market demands, price of commodities to be determined by market forces, etc,  is what is going to help Nigeria, not the growing protectionist mentality that is in fact making things worse and will only keep the economy down.

                                  This article was written by ASFL Local Coordinator, Ibewuike Donald Chike.

The wedding Fatiah, or party, of Maryan Nazifi, in Dawakin Tofa, another small town outside of Kano.

To begin, when I speak of women being traded, I mean in marriage. Now I can almost see the traditionalists with trailer tyres over their heads and jerrycans of fuel in their hands, waiting to roast me and my “fancy” article in a grand pyre, but, I will appeal to their humanities (and to yours also), for them (and you also) to join me to realistically and in a humane manner, subject this matter to scrutiny. As it seems like the marriage system in Africa is the market where the liberties of women are being traded under the mercies of the market forces of culture.

Not to denigrate the concept, but, marriage has a lot of similarities with business transactions like leveraged buyouts (LBO’s) and hostile takeovers. After such transactions, new names emerge like in the case of Standard Chartered. In the same vein, after marriage, name changes or additions usually occur. The major differences between both are that one; marriage is (or at least should be) between two or more individuals excluding any externalities, and two; the contractual agreements in marriage do not (or at least should not) involve any kind of coercion.

That being explained, let us look critically on the African marriage institution. Africa is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs which is not necessarily malevolent. Now culture has been defined as a way of life by many, but I will simply define culture as society’s habits. So as an individual can possess “bad habits” (by bad I mean habits that harm other individuals), I believe a society can possess “bad habits” (habits that harm societies or individuals that interact within or with that society). Cultures like the respect of the young for the elderly, are beneficial to society as their partial absence in Europe is somewhat responsible for many societal ills there. However, most cultures surrounding our marriage institution in Africa are not beneficial to us, and desperately intrude on the personal liberty of individuals (especially women). Let us examine them carefully.

First; the bride price. Now if this culture had a more amenable name, I might have been less animous towards it. The idea of a human being having a “price” is absolutely absurd. To put a price on something means you own it. No one can claim to own a human being!!! Except the individual himself. Now though culturists claim that it is merely a tradition and does not indicate sale, I beg to differ, as in most cultures; no bride price, no marriage; and even in cases where there is concession by the family of the bride, the father has to give consent. Also families have even been known to turn down grooms on the basis of financial affluence (they seem to be looking for the highest “bidder”). This is offensive to the couple on many counts. First, and most importantly, a bride is not for sale. Be it half sale, full sale, or any other term applicable or associable with this scenario. Next, these “bride prices” are sometimes so exorbitant that grooms even run into debt to pay them and in some cases have been known to even forsake a potential spouse because they cannot “afford” her, and even when they can, there is always the possibility of them itemizing a wife. I am not trying to justify woman brutality or masculine oppression of any sort, but, a man who had his wedding surrounded by such fiscal “policies” may have room to entertain such thoughts.

Furthermore, women (or in some cases, even young girls) are forced into marriages against their wills by their parents based on cultures of early betrothal or arranged marriages (in South Eastern Nigeria), and, forced marriages (in Northern Nigeria). This is a violation of the human rights of these individuals and is akin to slave trade. People should be free to marry whosoever they want, as long as they are in agreement.

Finally, it is a myth that cultures are unchangeable; cultures do not define people, people define cultures. It (culture) is the generally accepted habit (practice) by society, and much like an elected government official, it can be voted out. Let us therefore, not allow our culture become an “oppressive government” restricting our own freedom and that of our loved ones with its “nationalistic policies” of cultural demands. Let us say no to the “monopoly” of traditionalistic ideals of parents insisting on choosing spouses for us. Slave trade has long been abolished; it is past high time we lift the banners high that say, ”Our Women Are Not For Sale”.

NYSC

  Written by Oluwafemi Ogunjobi, Chairperson, ASFL Executive Board

Following the deaths of three university graduates at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps in the last two weeks, the mandatory one year scheme is currently in the eye of the storm.

Deaths were reported in Bayelsa, Kano and Zamfara state orientation camps where Chinyerum Nwenenda Elechi, Ifedolapo Oladepo and Monday Asuquo, respectively, lost their lives. The collective outrage that greeted these unfortunate incidents was informed by the belief that the youngsters died as a result of negligence and ill-treatment. Such a terrible loss of young promising individuals. For the parents and families, it is a lifetime pain and sorrow for losing their children whom they hope of a better future.

Birthed in 1970 during the military regime under General Yakubu Gowon, the scheme was conceived as a strategy to encourage cultural integration in the aftermath of the civil war. It was probably modeled after schemes of service that existed in countries such as the UK, US and Israel where youths were given military or paramilitary training, often for defense. However, almost all of these schemes have been reviewed or phased out after serving the purposes for which they were fashioned, except in Nigeria.

The NYSC achieved its purpose and fostered integration in the country to a very large extent. It also provided much needed skills and labour to disadvantaged communities as doctors, lawyers, nurses, and engineers are posted to various parts of the country to serve. The decree that established the NYSC made it compulsory for all graduates and before long, it became a prerequisite for employment or admission to postgraduate colleges in some cases. However, attendant of all welfare schemes, corrupt mismanagement has turned the compulsory Nigerian National Youth Service into a total failure.

Sadly, the deaths of Chinyerum Nwenenda Elechi, Ifedolapo Oladepo and Monday Asuquo are not new cases. The scheme has overtime been plagued with several similar cases of corps members losing their lives during the service year. Some have died in accidents on their way to orientation camps, some kidnapped, some brazenly killed by hoodlums during elections, and so on.

The continued insecurity of lives and the financial waste that comes with the scheme, makes it worrisome on why it has not been scrapped.

Rather unfortunate, the negligence responsible for the death of these corps members reflect the flaws with social welfare programs and attendant government’s ineptitude. NYSC is a reflection of the rot in many public institutions in Nigeria. The program, through dependency, has rubbed on graduates to become independent and become a productive member of the society.

Government handouts, or unemployed benefits de-capitalize the productive members (the entrepreneurs) of society and capitalize unproductive members. It is a situation that the most creative and productive people in society are hindered from continuing to make valuable contributions to society.

What the Nigerian government has successfully done is create a culture of dependence on social welfare where individuals grow to depend on the assistance they will receive from the state, instead of correcting the problem that causes the need for assistance.

A March 31, 2016 article on this same subject matter explained that ‘the value of skilled labour that corps members provide to the country is such that the government cannot truly afford to pay for it.’

These youths are paid minimum wage, a pittance of 19,800 Naira monthly and are expected to be pillars of the communities they are posted to. They are expected to provide top notch services as doctors, lawyers, teachers, or engineers and yet, the government cannot guarantee their safety. They are sent into “war zones”, with little or no preparation. For a lot of corps members, the one year program is a huge waste of time as it does nothing to advance future career prospects.”

With huge budgetary allocation of more than 70 billion Naira annually, NYSC has continued to be source of gross-corruption – a major reason why the scheme is yet difficult to scrap.

Olufemi Ogunseye, in his call for the abolition of the scheme, opined that:

For a scheme where numbers can be easily manipulated without any serious authentication techniques, you can just imagine what goes on. There are probably thousands and thousands of ghost corp members who get monthly allowances from the Federal Government. They are not ghosts. Actually, many of them are NYSC and government staff that have devised immoral means of enriching themselves. Then the procurement process for kits! I learnt a single corps member’s official wears, jungle boots and all, costs over seventy thousand Naira on the budget although, they may as well go for as low as ten thousand or even less in the real market. So thrice a year, someone makes over fifty thousand Naira on the head of over a hundred thousand corps members. As if we have no more urgent national needs that require every kobo we can gather.”

Welfare schemes, like the NYSC destroy any incentives that may be present in a free market economy. The thousands of ghost corp members, NYSC and government staff who receive monetary incentive do not produce anything that revitalizes the system being funded. When the government continues to give people incentives not to produce, they produce less, and the circle of dependence and stagnancy keep getting large.

The Nigerian government is taking advantage of the productive abilities of young individuals through the NYSC scheme. The time these youngsters should make use of after brilliant years of academic pursuit should not be wasted on a social scheme. Their energies should rather be channelled towards making a good living for themselves, especially as entrepreneurs, and therefore contributing to a free and better society.

                                                      Written by Nicholas Woode-Smith, ASFL South African Regional Director

Everything needs to be evaluated accordingly. We rate a knife by its ability to cut, a phone by its ability to communicate effectively and institutions by fulfilling their mandate. The success of anything is not measured by its by-products but by the fulfilment of its goals. This is especially important, for it means that we must not be deceived by false flags of positivity. We must remain focused in order to evaluate thNanny Statee true results of any action, project, product or strategy.

When evaluating states, we must not be coaxed into petty and irrelevant metrics. The purpose of states is unclear to many. For most, they are taken for granted. They are as concrete and irreplaceable as nature. For students of politics, states reveal themselves to be much less concrete and much more prone to interpretation.

What has persevered as one adequate interpretation of the state and its goals is that a state exists as a monopoly of force. Under this view, the state exercises a legitimate use of violence in order to protect its citizens from illegitimate violence and force.

This is culminated into what Locke and Hobbes called the Social Contract. Individuals living within a state enter into a relationship with the abstract state, giving up their right to enact violence in exchange for protection. If the state fails to live up to its end of the bargain, by demanding too much or failing to fulfil its obligations, then the people have the right to disobey it.

Then what is the goal of a state? It cannot be the monopoly of force. That is a right – a function. It is a means to an end but not the ends itself. To find the purpose of the state, one need only look at the Social Contract. The Social Contract describes the relationship as beneficial wholly to the individual citizen. The state exists as an organisation of individuals forming a compromise in order to maintain society. Ultimately, the Social Contract exists for the individual’s betterment.

Thus, the goal of the state is the protection and betterment of the individual. Any state action that goes against this runs the risk of causing a failure of the state’s goal. It doesn’t matter what other bonus objectives it fulfils, if it fails the individual, it fails its purpose.

In this manner, states all around the world are failing and have been since time immemorial. Rather than acting as the heroic watchman, meant to protect the weak, it acts as the bandit, burning and pillaging. States have enslaved their constituency where they were meant to help them. They have attacked where they should have defended.

Even in petty regulations, the state proves itself to not care for its primary constituency – the individual. I cannot access foreign payments as easily as I would like, because the South African Reserve Bank has created a draconian and stringent set of regulations to prevent South African access to PayPal. This has stopped me from receiving donations from my website and getting paid royalties for my book. In this way, the state has not protected me from violence, nor has it protected anyone else from any form of violence. It has merely stopped my own prosperity due to a petty need to be involved in all affairs, regardless of their relevance or legitimate claim to the context.

A good state should exist for only one reason. The betterment of its individual members. This does not mean welfare. This does not mean nanny state projects. This means the enabling and protection of freedom so that individuals with their own creeds and agency can pursue their way in life. It is not the business of the state if a willing American wants to send me cash. It is not their business if an adult want to smoke a plant. It is not their business if two adults want to form a contract where no coercion has occurred.

States have not become overbearing. They have always been so. The freest states in history were the most accidentally the weakest. If given the chance, many would have embraced authoritarianism. They just lacked the means.

The goal for the modern liberal, libertarian and free-thinker, therefore, should not be a return to a fictitious history, but a formulation of the new where the theory of the Social Contract is followed properly and where the citizenry are aware not only of their natural rights, but of the proper role and purpose of government. For it is not empire that a proper state should aim, but the success of its individual members – and that success can only be gained through the freedom to act, live and strive.

      Report by Gabriel Ogunjobi, 400L Student of Obafemi Awolowo University

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On the 25th and 26th of November, 2016, African StudentsFor Liberty (ASFL) organized a 2-day Write For Liberty Workshop which took place at the U.I Cooperative Building, University of Ibadan.

The aim of the workshop was to educate, develop, empower and motivate pro-liberty students to write in defense of liberty in and outside their schools and local communities.

34 students from the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Ilorin, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Delta State University, and Ladoke Akintola Univeristy of Technology were engaged through series of lectures by various speakers at the maiden writing workshop.

Olumayowa Okediran, SFL African Programs Manager who spoke on “Liberty in Contemporary Africa”, emphasized the need for pro-liberty writers to understand what sells in their immediate environment in order to channel their writings to issues that matter most.  Also, he encouraged participants to find their strength in writing, either about Africa’s contemporary policies/issues or libertarian ideology.

Dr. Pogoson, a Political Science lecturer at the university pitched the cord on “How Youths Can Write Actively on Democracy’. She challenged the participants to think wide enough in order to identify the features of a functional democracy. She outlined some areas which she believes youth advocacy could be focused, which are: protection of fundamental human rights, economic freedom. She emphasized the importance of a vibrant civil society in democratic processes in Africa.

A journalist from The Cable, ‘Mayowa Tijani lectured on “The Importance of Data-driven Journalism.” He analyzed how to consult reliable sources for facts in journalism. This, he advanced, will help writers resist the confrontation of tyrannical governments or individuals who may not be comfortable with their works.

Peter Oluleke, former Local Coordinator at ASFL and founder of the Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development spoke on “Economic Freedom and Development in Africa.” He explained why some countries are poor while some are rich; and also how greater economic freedom leads to overall wellbeing in a society.

On the second day, Femi Ogunjobi, Chairman of ASFL Executive Board, took the audience through the topic, “How to Write for your Intended Audience”.  The interest of the audience, he explained, should be the priority and focus of the writer. He also established on the crucial importance of feeding one’s particular audience with the right information peculiar to their culture with a view of promoting or correcting certain ills within. “The primary assignment of a writer is to an exact audience and every piece of work must be channeled towards this”, he added.

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Remilekun Alex Ojekunle from the Nigerian Bulletin gave practical ways of maximizing social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so in pitch ones articles to a larger audience. He said, “Writers find satisfaction when they know they have a large audience.”

Wale Ajetunmobi, editor at the Campus Life of The Nation Newspaper lectured on “Introduction to Writing and Publishing”. He gave a clear-cut distinction between mere writing and journalistic writing. He admonished student journalists to be brief, updated and not opinionated in their news stories if they are to meet publication requirements.

Stephen Oyedemi, member of the ASFL Executive Board and lead organizer of the workshop spoke on “Utilizing Technology to Advance Freedom in Africa.” He explained how the internet is being used to advance freedom and how writing goes hand-in-hand with the use of social media and blogging platforms. He also encouraged the participants of the workshop to take advantage of opportunities in SFL such as the SFL academy and the Local Coordinators Program for those willing to join ASFL leadership.

Certificates of participation were issued to interested participants at the end of the workshop.

This event was organized and reported by ASFL Local Coordinator, Adedayo Adetayo and Gbenle Iyanuoluwa.

A cross-section of audience at the debate

A cross-section of audience at the debate

On the 11th of November, 2016, Students For Liberty in Ajayi Crowther Univerity, Oyo, Oyo State, Nigeria organized an inter-university debate competition with the theme, “the impact of knowledge on the political leadership in Nigeria”. This is the first inter-school debate/conference hosted by the team of Students For Liberty in the university with support from Atlas Network.

180 students of the Ajayi Crowther University, and representatives from four (4) other invited universities participated in the event. The other schools present were Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Tai Solarin University of Education, Lead City University, and the University of Ibadan. Also present was the Vice -chancellor of the university, Rt. Rev. Professor Dapo F. Asaju as well as the school’s Dean of Student Affairs, Professor C.O.O Agboola among other lecturers. The welcome speech was delivered by Mr Odeyemi, a lecturer from History and International Studies, who represented Dr. W. Arinde of the same department.

ADSC_0777 speech on the first topic, ‘’you need more than ideas to change the world’’ was presented by Wale Adetayo; this was followed by a panel discussion which featured Gbenle Iyanuoluwa, Okediran Mayowa and Oiku Peters. After the discussion the judges for the debate were called up to the front table and the 1st round of the competition started. Each participating school was represented by two speakers each.

For close to an hour, the debaters debated on the topic, “Is it encouraging and easier to advance liberty through education rather than engaging political processes?” This was followed by a second speech by Mrs. O.A. Adeyemo on “abortion and child abuse in Nigeria: implications and solutions.” She gave insights into the nature, causes and implications of child abuse as well as abortion and the need to recognize the reproductive rights of women.

The 2nd round of the competition was focused on “the impact of knowledge on the political leadership in Nigeria”; this was also the main theme of the debate. Here, participants had the chance to participate through an interactive session.DSC_0819

At the end of the debate, Ajayi Crowther University took the 3rd position, Lead City University 2nd, and University of Ibadan came 1st. Awards were however presented to all participating schools and certificates of participation were presented to participants in attendance.

The following was written by ASFL Executive Board Member Martin van Staden

The Cold War is over… but we know that! We’ve known it since the early 1990s. Unfortunately, however, we have not reaped the benefits of it being over here in Africa – much due to our own stubbornness.

fidel-castro-con-mandela

When the news broke that Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro had finally died, my mind wondered to his comrade Robert Mugabe, who is far more advanced in age than Castro was, but still rules Zimbabwe with an iron fist. Mugabe, however, also represents an ideological tendency which is evident in various places throughout Africa. The adherents of this ideological tendency are not yet convinced that the Cold War is over.

To them, Marxist-socialism still represents a viable framework for Africa’s development and prosperity, despite the fact that not only did reality disprove Marxist-socialism, but market capitalism has been steadily bringing Africa out of poverty!

Contrary to popular belief, the Soviet Bloc did not fall as a result of a military engagement or trade sanctions. Ordinary, everyday economics destroyed the Soviet Bloc, just like ordinary economics destroyed Zimbabwe, and how ordinary economics destroyed Venezuela. This is why the fall of the Soviet Bloc is often referred to as ‘the fall of communism’. It represented a moment in time when a particular ideology was, objectively, decimated by reality. This has not happened often in history.

But many in Africa are unwilling to accept this. When these individuals think back to the Cold War, they see only the Western powers not being not too keen on supporting the anti-colonial liberation movements, and the Soviet Union and Communist China, on the other hand, being more than happy to do so.

This support, however, was not out of the kindness of the communists’ hearts. They were very much committed to spreading their ideology around the world – whereas the West was not – and Africa and South America represented fertile ground for them to do this, as well as undermine the liberal West. 

Many of my peers are quite proud of how unapologetically pro-Castro they are. To them, the fact that Castro and the communists assisted the liberation movements, and, particularly, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, was enough to vindicate them and their ideology. While this is understandable within context, what bothers me is the fact that they would reject facts just to push narratives sympathetic to socialism.

The most glaring example of this is the continued belief among many who belong to the so-called ‘post-colonial’ school of thought that Cuban forces won a grand victory over the South African military in the Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale during the Border War.

This, despite the fact that only around 30 South African soldiers were killed in the period spanning 1987/88, while the Cubans and Angolans lost well over 4,000. The battle, from a strategic perspective, was a draw, because both the Cubans and the South Africans got what they wanted. (For the Angolans, however, the battle was a complete defeat. Unfortunately, the Angolan military did not, at any stage during the entirety of the war, match the far better equipped and well-trained South Africans.)

The only reason Castro romanticized the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, and fought so hard to make it appear like a grand victory for Cuba, was so that Cuba could exit the conflict in Angola with its head apparently held high. The Cuban people had supported the intervention, and the Soviet Union had paid for it. Castro could not afford for it to look like Cuba was defeated, otherwise risk losing already-dwindling Soviet support, and low public morale. It was simply underhanded Cold War political posturing.

It is truly bizarre that many of my peers continue to adhere to this twentieth century narrative. By doing so, they aren’t spiting those of us who oppose communism. Instead, they are contributing to the continued misery of ordinary Africans. They are – or they are at least trying to – breathe legitimacy into a doctrine that has killed more Africans than direct colonialism ever could; bearing in mind that Marxist-communism is certainly indirect colonialism. Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and all the other core socialist and communist theorists were white European men, after all!

There is no doubt that it is a taint on Western liberal democracies’ history that they opted not to support the anti-Apartheid movement quite as enthusiastically as the communists did, but that doesn’t change the reality of how economics works. Indeed, price controls will always lead to incorrect signals being sent throughout the market, thus leading to useless surpluses and disastrous shortages. And value will always be subjective, meaning that no amount of romanticizing farmland by post-colonial politicians, will ever make ‘patterns of ownership’ any more important in the minds of the people.

Individuals will always be the best judges of what is best for them. These are axiomatic truths which no amount of doctrinaire demagoguery will change. However, the Marxist ‘Frankfurt’ school of thought tried to delegitimize how economics works by attempting to deny logic; the very fabric of reality itself! Ridiculous!

When the Cold War ended, Africans should have rejoiced! The end of the Cold War meant that we no longer had to stick to our communist allies, despite the fact that economic realities did not support their position. When the Berlin Wall fell, so did our moral obligation toward the Soviet Bloc.

It is not too late. The principles of economics never change, and are waiting for Africa to embrace them wholesale.