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The following was written by Burundi-based ASFL Local Coordinator Hendrix Nkamicaniye  

Burundi (1)During the last few decades, Burundi has faced gruesome conflict periods due to military coups and unequal power sharing among the two ethnic divides which comprises this nation.  The recent conflict dates back to 1993, which led innocent civilians to be killed or fled their country because of the undemocratic regime or armed groups who waged war against, what they called the dictatorial regime. In some instances, civilians were accused mistakenly for combatants, or targeted simply because of their ethnic backgrounds.

In 2005, after a ceasefire agreement was reached; most of the people who were refugees returned home and lived in what was to be a relatively peaceful decade. From April 2015, however, when the sitting president decided to run for another term, the opposition and civil society took to the streets to protest this decision. From that time onward, the news has been bringing us daily images and stories of people streaming out of Burundi. This is largely due to the sporadic violence in Bujumbura, the capital, and due to the crimes perpetrated against the people from responsible parties.

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The following report was submitted by ASFL Local Coordinator Aimable Manirakaza

Burndi 1Amid the lingering crisis since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term in office in Burundi, 126 students congregated at the University of Bujumbura Light Campus, Kinindo to discuss how to liberate their country from the shackles of poverty and state oppression. The event which was the first of its kind in Burundi was organized by the African Students For Liberty group led by Aimable Manirakiza, featured keynote sessions, discussions and cocktail.

Aimable, in his welcome note, spoke on the existence of ASFL in Burundi and how the group is committed to hosting events, and be in the frontline of advocating for human rights, rule of law and economic freedom in the country.

Bella Munezero, a Political science and International relations student of the university explained the need for youngsters to sow seeds to build the next generation of leaders who will also champion the libertarian movement to change the world.

In her words, ‘’we do not seek to cause a transformation of the world overnight. Rather, we sow the seeds as much as we can to change the world to be more inclined to liberty and to enable individuals to take action in a meaningful and sustainable manner to the realization of a freer world.

To change the world, we need people everywhere to embrace this change. We need widespread public calls Burundi 2for libertarian politics –that politicians are elected on pro-freedom platforms; journalists who accurately represent current events; business leaders who fight for freedom, and support university research publishing that satisfy the need for freedom, and more.

We are at a turning point where this is within our reach: the youth of today is the libertarian generation, there is an available path that leads to a freer world, and momentum behind SFL to succeed. With the right investment, the right people and good execution of the SFL strategy, we can change the world.’’ She noted.

On the need for Free Economic Exchange, Innocent KezaKima, a student of Management and Administration explained Free Trade as the principle aimed at promoting the development of international trade by eliminating tariff and non-tariff trade barriers and national regulations which may restrict the import of goods and services; adding that free exchange opposes protectionism and mercantilism.

In between sessions of the event, questions were raised by participants, and there were distribution of CDs on the Ideas of a Free Society at the end of the programme.

The following, being the first of reviews of libertarian  books, was written by Michael Gyekye 

Anatomy of the State by Murray RothbardAnatomy of the State is an approximately 35-page essay on the idea of the state, written by the eminent libertarian scholar, Murray Newton Rothbard. It was published into a single book with the same title, by the Mises Institute, in 2009. The essay originally appeared as part of a collection of essays by the author, titled Egalitarianism as A Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays, first published in 1974, and republished by the Mises Institute in 2000.

Anatomy of the State is a captivating tour de force that performs a surgical incision into the concept of the state, as popularly understood. Comprising just seven chapters of roughly 5 pages each, it busts common myths about the state, exposes its true nature, and reveals some of the stratagems it invariably employs for self-perpetuation. The book further discusses how the state exceeds its conceived limits, and presents some of its fears, along with an explanation of the nature of its relations with other states. The final chapter of the work briefly pictures history as a contest between voluntary creative production and cooperation (termed social power) and coercive systematic predation (termed state power).

A thoroughly fascinating work, it opens with a lamentation of how the ‘miasma of myth has lain so long over the state’, that its true nature as that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area,’ and which ‘…obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion,’ has been cleverly masked by its false portrait as that rather indispensable though not infrequently inefficient social institution, best suited for accomplishing some societal ends, deemed outside the competence of the private sphere of production.

 

With remarkable emphasis, the irrepressible Rothbard chides the popular saying ‘we are the government’, describing it together with allied expressions as organicist metaphors’, that seem to cast the government as an embodiment of citizens’ will and intent, on the basis of warped views of popular legitimacy engendered by democratic representation. Rothbard offers an insightful list of scenarios that highlight the absurd self-contradictions of such sentiments, when juxtaposed with the true nature of the state.

 

After rebutting such noxious misconceptions of the state, Rothbard directly confronts the question, ‘What is the state?’ His answer is a combination of views from the German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer, fellow libertarian traveler Albert Jay Nock, and Bertrand de Jouvenel, into a revisionist definition of the state. This recasts the state’s origin in unapologetically contrarian terms. The state is explained by him as classically a social construct produced by ‘a conquering tribe pausing in its time-honored method of looting and murdering a conquered tribe, to realize that the timespan of plunder would be longer and more secure, and the situation more pleasant, if the conquered tribe were allowed to live and produce, with the conquerors settling among them as rulers exacting a steady annual tribute.This contrarian conception of the state denies its foundation on any form of social contract, as posited by some political philosophers, and regards it as a unique parasitic entity, engaged in systematic use of the political means, that is, violent appropriation of peacefully and privately produced wealth, rather than the economic means: production of wealth via peaceful private production and exchange, to obtain wealth.

 

The survival of such a state, we are led to realize, must necessarily hinge on a diverse array of lasting wiles. The state thus typically utilizes cunning devices to procure mass support and insure self-sustenance. These include the creation of vested economic interests, formation of alliance with intellectuals, spread of fear about alternatives to state rule, appeal to tradition, and a belated resort to scientism.

 

Landmark attempts that have punctuated centuries and generations of state rule, with the intent of bringing the state’s power under limits, are noted by Rothbard. These have straddled the circumscription of the state’s actions under divine law, institutional checks and constitutional restraints. Their collective futility is however not lost to him. Most eruditely, he ushers us into a discovery of how such measures are ultimately exploited by the state to finagle more power.

 

Closing his wonderfully captivating work, Rothbard soberly explores what counts as the state’s worst nightmares, the common deficiencies that most influence the nature of inter-state relations, and the chances and channels for social power to triumph over state power.

The work is such a precious gem liberty-lovers would dearly treasure!

The following was contributed by ASFL local coordinator Abayomi Odewale

The frivolous petition bill is a threat to freedom of expression.

The frivolous petition bill is a threat to freedom of expression.

The passage of Freedom of Information Bill, by Nigerian National Assembly on May 28, 2011 was signed by former President Jonathan on May 28, 2011. The approval was greeted with encomiums from everyone –journalists, bloggers, editors, and freelancers, who sensed that the approval would avail public records and information to all and sundry. And of course, it was necessary in a true democratic space.

The FOI Act is to make public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving public officers from adverse consequences of disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and; for related matters.

But there seems to be a twist to this act, with the wake of recent events in the country. The Nigerian Senate has just proposed a 2-year jail term for offenders of abusive statements on social media. The bill, seeking a two-year jail term for any person who makes allegation or publishes any statement or petition in the newspaper, radio or medium of whatever description against another person, institutions of government or any public office holder, has just passed second reading in the Red Chamber. (more…)

The following was contributed by ASFL Local Coordinator Bezawit Tesfaye 

Ethiopia faces a challenge of Press Freedom

Ethiopia faces a challenge of Press Freedom

Ethiopia does not have a free status of the press. All television stations, most newspapers and magazine are state-owned and controlled. News media streaming oppositions on political issues in the country are to be banned from the public. This has been responsible for many local and international journalists on the run.

The government says, ‘Private media sectors go beyond their rights and end up in creating a very bad image on the minds of the generation on issues like the development of the country”.

According to statistics by  Freedom House, an organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, Ethiopia is next to Eritrea in jailing journalists. Many journalists, who have raised their voice to speak against government policies, are locked up in cell.

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The following was written by ASFL chairperson Linda Kavuka

World Human Rights dayAs the world marks the International Human Rights Day, the challenges to rights Africans face are myriad: Terrorism, child slavery, oppression, domestic violence and war. These age-long issues have not waned even as human civilization has progressed.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights defines Human Rights as rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Sadly, Africa is still home to many dictators who rule with the clench of their fists. The continent has seen genocides in the East, West and Central regions. It has seen states overtaken by rebels. It has seen millions of people displaced as a result of civil wars, and thousands dead at sea. Young boys forced into being child soldiers to fight wars they do not understand. Young girls and women have been kidnapped, raped and made sex slaves to the rebels.
A cursory look at the various challenges faced on the continent leaves much to be desired. (more…)

November 2015 update

ASFL would like to congratulate the 47 individuals that completed the Local Coordinator training from Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, South Africa, Cameroon, Malawi, Morocco, Burundi, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

On the 26th of Novem12314115_10207220388444706_60622897590790269_nber 2015,  over 300 students at the Ajayi Crowther University participated in the annual campus debate competition, which is organized by the African Student For Liberty group at the University. The event provided a platform for students to discuss the importance of market-based solutions to poverty in Africa as well as the difficulties entrepreneurs face. Props to ASFL Local Coordinator Adedayo Adetayo and Gbenle Iyanuoluwa for organizing this year’s debate.

 

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The following was contributed by ASFL executive board member Olufemi Ogunjobi

Emmanuel Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor

Africans, football fans especially, are not quick to forget the embittered family feud between sports personality Emmanuel Adebayor and his family – a story of a successful child, who did all his best to save his family from hard times, but was taken advantage of until he had to burst out .

From a nuclear family of six, with extended relations, I know his story is credible and not an unusual one. Actually, it tends to be a common scenario within and outside Africa. You have that one person that is successful and if they happen to come from a poor family or relatives with extreme financial hardships, they become the bank rollers for these relatives. In fact, they are sucked dry to the bones to the point where they feel their families and loved ones would even have the skins off their bodies, if they could.

I understand African cultural set up so well, particularly for poor families whose ‘bread winner’ (mostly the father) died so early. The other members are left shattered, and struggle their way through until there is another bread-winner. In many cases, the eldest child or whoever is successful in that household takes up the responsibility and care for the mother and younger ones.

This is no bad thing, and indisputably, families – your people, are an integral part of one’s life, and should be taken care of to the best of one’s abilities, but not to be dependent on for survival.   (more…)

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

According to an article in The Guardian dated 3 November 2015, three Zimbabwean journalists working for the weekly newspaper The Sunday Mail were arrested for making claims the government found unfavorable. They have since been released on bail.

Mabasa Sasa, Brian Chitemba, and Tinashe Farawo were arrested for “peddling falsehoods” and “lying”, after alleging on the front page that certain police officers as well as “other officials” were involved in poisoning elephants for their tusks. In October alone, 62 elephants were killed in the Hwange National Park.

The police felt that the culprits should have been named and identified, which the journalists did not do. This, the police said, “sensationalizes the matter”. But as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists’ Foster Dongozi correctly points out, the police are in any case supposed to be pursuing the poachers, not the journalists who investigate and report. (more…)

We are pleased to announce the birth of a new ASFL group at the Oyo State College of Agriculture, Igboora, Oyo State, Nigeria, and the official inauguration is billed to hold 18th of November.

The ASFL group at Maseno University in Kenya held a Student disorientation event for fresh students on campus, they were able to sign up a total of 116 new members to the group. The huge increase in the number of members in the group has rejuvenated it and they look forward to hosting another event within this semester. Special props to LC trainee Stacey Nduta for organizing this disorientation event.

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Africa Liberty Students Organization SEKU Chapter in collaboration with ASFL Kenya held a seminar on economic and individual liberty, the first of its kind at the main campus in Kitui Kenya. The event was hosted by Julius Onduru Ouma, currently an ASFL LC trainee. Over 100 students attended the one day training. Onduru introduced ASFL and the importance of free markets and individual liberty, while Linda Kavuka, the current chair of the Exec Board at ASFL gave a presentation on libertarian leadership and self reliance. Considering that most of the attendees were new to the ideas of liberty, she talked about the basics, what liberty means, who libertarians are and what they do and the importance of promoting a tolerant  and liberal society. She then explained the meaning of liberty in society, in politics and in the economy markets.

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Each participant was issued a CD on the Ideas for A Free Society courtesy of Atlas Network and the Network for a Free Society and a copy of the book – Morality of Capitalism courtesy of Atlas Network and SFL. The participants left the event with knowledge of the basic principles on the ideas of liberty and a free society. The participants were urged to become members of the cheetah generation made up of young Africans who are bringing positive change to their societies by leading the way to a freer Africa.

With these exciting events happening all over Africa, we are excited that the ASFL Local Coordinator training is in its last week, with over 100 students taking part in the training, we look forward to accepting the highest number of Local Coordinators in a single class. Congratulations to everyone who finished the training, we look forward to a year of freedom.