The following was written by Olumayowa Okediran, member of the Executive Board at Students For Liberty. These events have been driven by many inspiring individuals including Olumayowa, young pro-liberty activists in Africa, and members of the SFL African Charter Team.
The past few weeks have been a mix of both fun and fatigue amongst members of the African Liberty Students’ Organization, University of Ibadan chapter (ALSO UI). ALSO UI embarked on a tour of selected tertiary institutions in Nigeria and Ghana with the aim of bringing the ideas of liberty, limited government, and prosperity to other students in Africa. The uniqueness of this project termed “The Jonathan Gullible Project” lies in the use of drama to communicate the moral superiority of the ideas that lead to a free society to African students. The play, A Letter from Jonathan Gullible authored by Adedayo Thomas, Director of Outreach and Publisher of AfricanLiberty.org (the African focused program of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation), is a theatrical adaptation of the novel Adventures of Jonathan Gullible originally authored by Prof. Ken Schoolland, a Director of the International Society for Individual Liberty.
On the 16th of September, after several weeks of rehearsals about 30 pro-liberty individuals armed with a liberty advancing-play and a bus took off for a two week tour of five schools including the University of Ibadan – Nigeria, University College Teaching Hospital – Nigeria, University of Education, Winneba – Ghana, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education – Nigeria and the University of Cape Coast – Ghana. However, at the frequent stops in the Republics of Benin and Togo despite the language barrier , the countries being francophone, these high-spirited individuals made use of dance to communicate the message of liberty.
The team faced a few challenges on the borders of Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and Ghana by government officials who unnecessarily delayed the crew for over 9 hours, due partly to the complications of the bureaucratic process involved in travelling within West Africa which is supposedly a free trade/free movement zone, as well as corruption and the sheer ineptness exhibited by the custom and immigration officials. Trudging through these barriers, enduring pothole-infested roads and battling fatigue from sitting through a 468 mile journey, these awesome individuals maintained their composure and enthusiasm.
The hospitality of the students in Ghana was amazing and many of them pointed out the timeliness of the presentation in respect to the coming elections in Ghana. “I’ll know how to choose my leaders now, I’ll watch out for fraudulent promises,” we heard from John, a student from Ghana who talked to us after the play. Cumulatively, over 2000 students came to see A Letter from Jonathan Gullible in their respective schools. The audience at the University of Cape Coast, the University of Ibadan and the University of Education, Winneba were particularly awesome, with many of the students indicating their desire to start new chapters of the African Liberty Student Organization in their schools. I can’t help but look forward to an eventful 2013.
After the events, books advancing the cause of liberty were donated to the libraries of these respective schools to provide students interested in exploring the foundations of a free society with the opportunity to investigate the works of such authors as Bastiat, Mises, Rand and Hayek.
I feel lucky to be part of the most libertarian generation ever and I am fascinated by the rate at which students in Africa are beginning to accept the ideas of liberty as a viable alternative to the negative heritage of tyranny Africa has passed through for centuries. The enthusiasm amongst members of ALSO University of Ibadan and other chapters of the organization brightens my heart and gives me hope that the movement of pro-liberty students in Africa has come to stay.