Today, 3 May 2020, is the World Press Freedom Day

Today, 3 May 2020, is the World Press Freedom Day, we’re, once again, reminded of the importance of the Press, its service to society and humanity. We’re reminded of the importance of the freedom of the Press, its critical role in society and how society is or should be governed.

Similarly, we’re reminded, or we must be reminded, and hence to reflect deeply on not only the critical necessity of press freedom and its role in governing society but equally, the need for freedom of expression in society. For, press freedom is and can only be meaningful where freedom of expression is an inviolable social right; a virtue to behold.

Equally, we’re once again reminded of the symbiotic relationship that exist between the freedom of the press and the wider freedom of expression in society. If freedom of expression is severely restricted in society, or if it does not entirely exist, then press freedom is equally severely restricted or does not entirely exist.

It’s impossible to have a free press in a society that lacks freedom of expression. In a society where freedom of expression is a social taboo or sometimes a social crime; and where everyone is essentially policing on each other, to keep each other in check, and ensure there’s no freedom of expression. In such society, what passes as the press, is what serves, exclusively, the interests of the authority – those who rule such society.

The press should, ideally, act as a medium of communication between those who govern society and the governed. Therefore, the press carries the responsibility of and acts as an interlocutor in matters of societal governance. In this regard, freedom of the press is an indispensable requirement for the press to be able to monitor, report truthfully on those who govern and how they govern society.

The press, and moreover, freedom of the press, is important and serves to keep the governed informed on matters of governance; how they are governed by those they, if and where they do, entrust with the responsibility of governance.

It also helps the governed to be and keep informed and, ideally and hopefully, be able to make better and informed decisions not only on those who they choose and entrust with the responsibilities of governing them, but also in important areas and matters of personal life.

Press freedom is therefore an indispensable and critical element in societal governance, to help keep those who govern society in check. Because societal governance is too important to be left to the wisdom and expertise, and sometimes – in some parts of the world, to the erratic but potentially catastrophic whims of a few individuals or a single individual governing society.

Thomas Jefferson’s following statement underpins the critical importance of press freedom: “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.

While we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, today, 3rd May 2020, we must also be reminded of and reflect on Press falsehood.

We must remember and be conscious of the role the press, particularly a co-opted press, deep in the pockets of the establishment, and consequently in the service of the establishment – its master, plays in propagating falsehood in society.

To all victims of falsehood, let us all pray:

“The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.” Hannah Arendt

 

COVID-19 and the world under historic transformation

The world is at a truly critical turning point in world history; the making of another phenomenally challenging era of history in the world.

The COVID-19 crisis will go down in world history as a period in which the entire world economic system was ground to a sudden halt, with devastating but truly lasting transformative economic, social and political consequences.

We are witnessing the making of an era of world history, like no other before. We are witnessing a period in which many businesses have been and continue to be destroyed; and will be destroyed post-COVID-19 crisis because the impact of the current destruction is unimaginably and unpredictably enormous.

A crisis in which many businesses are on the verge of collapse; others have either already been acquired or on the verge of being acquired by those that will weather [through] the crisis. We are witnessing a crisis in which many lives are being destroyed and lost; decades of achievements completely wiped out by a virus pandemic.

We are witnessing a crisis period in which many opportunities have been destroyed but, at the same time, many opportunities are being created by and through the destruction of the [previously] existing opportunities. This reinforces the notion that a crisis is an opportunity! A crisis period that could easily be, rightly, described as a “remaking of social life” by rearranging the way society functions; the way society lives by rearranging socio-political and economic structures motivated primarily by survival and self-preservation from the virus pandemic.

We’re living through and witnessing a crisis [period] in which, everywhere in the world, many civil liberties are being curtailed, abused and others entirely abandoned by authorities in the interest of protecting the public – society. But also an apparent redefinition of civil liberties, particularly through actions by the authorities.

The lockdown measures instituted across the world, have come with a serious curtailment of civil liberties. And in some cases, a redefinition of certain civil liberties necessary to accommodate the lockdown measures. All done, of course, in the interest of protecting the public – society – from the virus pandemic.

There’s also a surge in the consolidation of power by those in power. They are using the crisis to empower themselves more by weakening the public with stringent and restrictive rules and measures such as, amongst others, restriction of movement of people to [for] essential services and upon clearance by relevant authorities.

When lockdown measures are finally lifted and coronavirus and its possible spread under manageable control, ideally post-coronavirus, it will be imperative in most poor parts of Africa to conduct an immediate national or regional census to assess the damage on the population by death, not so much from and as victims of coronavirus but largely from hunger (starvation of people to death) at home (inside their houses) as a result of lockdown measures, particularly the “stay-at-home” orders.

Wisdom and Experience: the eggshell field and the fate of eggshells.

Once upon a time, in a defunct once powerful African Kingdom ruled by a King with three and a half King heads, and a small head, lived a man who was once a powerful Chief to one of the Kingdom’s distinct Chiefdoms.

The man was so chiefly powerful that he occasionally, to the great amusement of his army of “chieflings“, decreed that, and thus made his dogs give chiefly speeches to the chiefed of [in] his Chiefdom to roaring applause; not so much out of genuine appreciation but under obligation. This is because the alternative to not fulfilling the expected obligation to applaud the Chief’s dogs giving speeches, was having the tough and physically scary speech giving dogs unleashed upon the chiefed.

And doomed are they, who the Chief chose to unleash his dogs upon, mainly the chiefed hoi polloi, and occasionally the “chieflings” who fell out of [the] chief line who; like the “house slave“, ate off the Chief’s feet, crumbs falling off the Chief’s chiefly table to his chiefly feet.

The erstwhile powerful Chief, now a wise elder living wisely but undeniably a towering frail figure and certainly shadow of his former [powerful] self, was once asked about his reflections on his former Chiefdom. As wisdom dictates, the former powerful and errant Chief, took a deep moment of thoughtful silence.

As if waking out of his deep moment of thoughtful silence, the wise elder roared; look here, calling for undivided attention with a slightly shaking raised index finger – perhaps reminiscent of and reflecting his former commanding style – and went on to give the following analogy:

There was once a vast field, so green and full of all kinds of species living in relative harmony with each other.

The vast field was then appropriated by an invading fortune seeker. Sensing the change, the different species migrated for safety, abandoning the field uninhabited.

The fortune seeker, upon appropriation of the vast field, left it unattended and unused for a long time.

“Next to the appropriated but uninhabited vast field, was a poultry farmer and baker. The farmer-baker used eggs from his poultry farm for baking purposes for his baking business.

The farmer-baker had partly solved his raw-materials supply needs.

So, the farmer-baker had found it convenient to use the uninhabited vast field next as a dumping ground (field) of eggshells of hundreds of eggs used for baking.

Over time, the vast field was all covered with eggshells.

Upon return to the vast field, the fortune seeker cast his eyes across his appropriated vast field, and was surprised by the transformation it had undergone. It was no longer green and all its different kinds of species had abandoned it; migrating for safety in fear of the destructive nature of the fortune seeker in his fortune seeking ambitions and attitude of “no creature is safe from my fortune seeking actions”

Surprised by the appearance, what he saw and wondering what it was, he decided to walk across the field, to find out.”

The erstwhile powerful Chief, now a wise elder, cutting the story short and conscious to the custom that wisdom is attractive when kept short, he said the following:

In a field of [covered with] eggshells, no eggshell is safe from the field owner’s feet and/or the euphoric stampede of the field owner upon the realisation that the field is, after all, is full of eggshells and not sharp cobblestones that would otherwise pose danger to his feet.

Every eggshell, said the erstwhile powerful Chief, has its turn and day to be cracked; and it will be cracked, under the weight and feet of the eggshell field owner. It’s simply a matter of time.

Treading carefully, therefore, especially to [for] eggshells, is bullocks.

Their only salvation, if they – eggshells – must be salvaged or are indeed, worth salvaging – lies in the near to impossible chance of the eggshell field owner waking up as an eggshell.

Wisdom and Experience: “the meat close to the fire is best roasted” African proverb

An African wise elder nearing the end and close to home to all of us, was asked about the King’s temperament and the impact on His Royal Highness’ Kingdom; the wise elder chose to address the King’s courtiers: “the meat close to the fire is best roasted.”

To the rest of the King’s subjects, the wise elder reminded, in a rather cautionary manner, when the Chief’s dog – chief dog in the Chief’s Chiefdom – barks; it’s either that the Chief has tickled it into the barking mode or it barks to raise alarm, so the Chief must listen.

When the Chief’s dog – chief dog in the Chief’s Chiefdom – barks; the Chief’s underlings pay careful attention, with mustered calm, to the chief dog. Because the Chief’s underlings know that when the Chief’s dog – chief dog – barks, the Chief is communicating [something].

What precisely the Chief is communicating; the Chief’s underlings will know from experience without the Chief muttering a word. For a Chief who speaks and communicates directly to his underlings, is an ordinary Chief. An ordinary Chief is no Chief; because to be Chief, one must chief it over the chiefed.

The wise elder, after that arduous elaboration on the wisdom and art of chiefing, in a rather rambling manner, concluded: as it is done in the Chief’s Chiefdom; the King in his Kingdom chiefly does what his Chief, in the King’s Kingdom, does in his Chiefdom. This is because a clever King does what his Chiefs do in their chiefdoms.

The King’s subjects, therefore, must pay critical attention to the King’s dogs in the King’s court and their reaction particularly when, not only “the meat close to the fire” is being “best roasted” but also when it’s being prepared to be best roasted or cooked. The King always decides on preference.

The wise elder was also asked by the King’s courtiers why he goes to bed naked; without pyjamas. In a rather uncharacteristic exasperation of someone of his wisdom and experience; the wise elder asked the King’s courtiers whether their ancestors would know what pyjamas are?

The courtiers, sensing they were up against wisdom and experience gathered over a lifetime in the King’s court, bowed and immediately retreated to court courtesy; silence.

The wise elder, still visibly dealing with his exasperation not so much at the insensitivity of the question but the disturbing ignorance of the King’s courtiers of their own African history. He calmly reminded the King’s courtiers, drunk on and obsessed with modern King’s court titles – and enraged, some keeping a grudge for and if not addressed as “Excellency, Honourable” – that Africans went to bed naked because it was convenient with the weather.

It is worth noting that all the King’s courtiers, as is the King, are all Africans in appearance, with token African names and observing some token African royal customs but western [influenced] in mind, behaviour, mannerisms and aspirations and without doubt deeply moulded in western civilisation and its value-system. It’s no exaggeration to say that they are the paragon of western civilisation in [their] any African kingdom, through and through.

It was not until the marauding uncivilised European savages went to Africa, ashamed of and insecure about their own bodies and nudity; saw Africans confident about their own natural bodies, happy and secure in their nudity, forced them to cover themselves with European garments.

The wise elder, at this point, visibly tired and struggling for breath during a critical period in his nonagenarian lifetime when air, in the COVID-19 era, is a critical enemy to human health and breath, therefore, must be carefully rationed; asked the King’s courtiers whether or not the King is naked?

The tables were turned, wisdom and experience gathered over a lifetime in the King’s court clearly demonstrated, and the King’s courtiers were visibly not only extremely exasperated but uncontrollably dismayed – clearly put off their stroke; by the question.

As if that wasn’t enough pounding sense into their courtier heads, the wise elder, sensing their extreme exasperation, dismay and unconcealed embarrassment; with a slight cheeky grin, asked the courtiers: would you tell the King that he is naked? How would you tell the King that he is naked?

“I would walk to the King naked” One courtier replied. That’s unacceptable behaviour in the King’s court. It’s not acceptable court manners. The wise elder warned.

“Why bother tell the King that he’s naked?” Another courtier asked. The wise elder, pensively looked at him for a while, and asked this courtier whether, during his court time and experience thus far, he has heard of the court game called “treason“?

The courtier bowed and retreated to court courtesy – silence – but the message was understood.

“But the King can’t be naked. It’s not possible for a King to be naked. Even if he would be naked, I wouldn’t see it that way. I prefer to look at the King with King eyes” Another courtier bellowed.

The wise elder, clearly tired and with eyes shut, drifting to sleep but impressed by the third King’s courtier’s perspective and attitude, complimented; you’ll last long in the King’s court and service. For, blessed is the courtier who looks at the King with king eyes and kings the King.

Blessed is the King’s courtier who kings the King’s dogs in the court, treats them like dogs they are outside the King’s court. But, the wise elder hastened to caution: beware of “the meat close to the fire is best roasted.” Beware of the King’s dogs in the court too.

But the King is naked; and the King knows he is naked. The King is insecure too about his nakedness.

The King’s courtiers know too well that the King is naked and insecure about it. They are baying for the moment, the right moment to tell the King what he dreads to hear – what’s otherwise sacrilege in royal custom but what’s on their minds, what they see everday as they attend to the King under their royal duties – that the King is naked!

Every society and culture has its own taboos; so does the dog community.

Every society and culture has its own taboos. Some taboos are based around [on] what society cannot do due to its inability based on factors such as, among many others, lack or inadequacy of necessary knowledge and skills.

So, society taboos what it does not either know, understand and/or cannot do, to protect itself. It seems, therefore, that society, in some cases, rings taboo around its ignorance.

Social taboos are a protective as well as defensive mechanisms, mainly of social ignorance. As it is in human society, so it is in animal society. Of course, interpreting animal society from the arrogant, know-it-all perspective of human society.

Humans are arrogant know-it-all, each in their varied ways, especially the types who play the nonsensical high moral ground games, insisting and denying they aren’t arrogant know it all.

In dog community and culture – this should be obvious to anyone who owns dogs and closely studies dog behaviour – it’s a taboo for dogs to climb up trees precisely because dogs can’t climb. Dogs have a natural inability to climb; and they seem to have a natural fear for deep water.

So, dogs have culturally tabooed their inability to climb up the trees. But this dog cultural taboo doesn’t mean or indeed, include the exception, that dogs can’t go up the tree, or be seated up on tree branches. Or indeed, can’t have preferential treatment in human society over humans. They can, but this is up to and is the discretion of their owner; master.

A dog can, indeed, go up and sit on a tree branch or have preferential treatment over humans in human society at the will and discretion of its owner; master.

So, as a dog goes up and sits – with pride, and sometimes misguided arrogance, barking so fiercely while perched on a tree branch, at the will and discretion of its owner; master – so can it, and indeed, will be removed at the will and discretion of its owner; master.

Dogs have no agency over their ability to go up and sit on a tree branch, and start barking fiercely down on everything and everyone under the tree. The sight of a dog perched on a tree branch, barking fiercely on everything under the tree, calls for attention to its owner; master.

In that regard, a dog perched on a tree branch barking fiercely down on everything under the tree, is serving as an information and communications agency to its owner; master.

Moral of the story: when you see or come across one such dog; it does not matter how fierce it’s barking, look for and pay much attention to its owner; master.

The dog that barks the most is not necessarily the bravest or indeed the strongest dog

In dog community, the dog that barks the most, is not necessarily the bravest or indeed the strongest dog. The dog that barks the most, barks mostly out of fear. The barking is more of raising the alarm but also pretending to be strong to keep the threat at bay.

The barking dog – the cowardly dog among the dog community – so frightened by the looming threat, real or sometimes only perceived in its fear gripped imagination, pretends to bark so fiercely and with such show of bravery but when threat approaches, it barks while stepping backwards.

The more the threat moves closer, the faster the barking dog moves backwards with uncoordinated movements and the faster the fierce barks turn into inaudibly uncoordinated and helpless squeals. The barking dog starts to behave like a rat upon the sight of a cat lying still on a full belly. As soon as, and if the threat edges closer, the faster the fierce barking dog will turn its back (dangerous move) on the threat, and run as fast as it can, to save its life.

Such are the antics of a fierce barking dog, in a dog community; but it has and serves its purpose. Nothing is without purpose. Even a cowardly but fiercely barking dog in a dog community has and serves its purpose in the purpose-pecking order of the dog community.

In human community, a barking dog still serves the same purpose as it does in the dog community. Its purpose is to primarily serve as a self-operating [automatic] alarm bell that sets off at the slightest whiff of danger.

When the dog smells or senses – or maybe, who knows, dreams of – danger, it sets off its inner alarm bell, and the dog barks to alert the human community or the dog owner of the impending threat. The primary dog responsibility to human community is diligent service.

So the barking dog, to human community or its owner, is a mere tool of information and communication. But the dog knows on which end it is and what’s in it for its survival.

As a dog owner and someone who has owned many dogs, I have a profound fascination with dog culture and behaviour. This fascination is out of deep observation of how dogs behave towards people, or while in human community, i.e, dog-to-human relationship. And how, in complete contrast, dogs behave towards and with each other – while in dog community, i.e, dog-to-dog relationship.

To the dog, it doesn’t matter whether or not its owner is a prominent or obscure chief in the human community. As long as the owner fulfills the owner responsibility to the dog, such as providing food and other essentials, the owner is the chief; and the dog will obey and serve.

In the presence of the real human community big chief, in the eyes and certainly mind of the dog; its owner is the BIG chief. And the real human community chief, in the eyes, mind and perhaps based on training by association of the dog, is a potential threat [enemy] to its BIG chief, i.e, the dog owner.

So, the dog’s instinctive responsibility is to protect the BIG chief, i.e, its owner from the real human community chief. The dog, therefore, acts in self-interest and self-preservation by protecting its BIG chief from the threat that is the real human community chief. Human community chief becomes a chief threat to the dog’s BIG chief, i.e, its owner. In effect, changing the conventional chief roles as well as the perception of chief.

But, interestingly, if the real human community chief owns a dog, to that dog – in its eyes and dog mind – he’s BIG chief. That makes the real human community chief: chief BIG chief (cBc).

However, and most importantly, chief BIG chief’s dog, in dog community, is not the chief dog. It’s still a dog, treated like a dog by other members of the dog community and possibly it is the barking dog in the dog community as it is in the human community.

Yet, in human community, a mere servant of a chief is treated by the rest of the community as if he’s [the] chief in the absence of his chief and master. Why?

And interestingly, human community thinks it has superior intelligence than the dog community.

In dog community, the dog that belongs to chief BIG chief – that is, human community chief – is neither the chief dog nor treated like chief in the absence of chief BIG chief. It’s treated like a dog by other dogs in the dog community because it’s a dog.

In human community, however and too often, the dog that belongs to the chief, is treated as chief dog by the rest of the members of the human community. It’s given priority treatment over humans primarily because the chief wills and chiefs it that way.

Thus, to offend the chief’s dog, is to offend the chief. Woe betide the hapless offender! Similarly, if the chief, i.e, the human community chief, forsakes his dog thus far treated like chief dog by the rest of the human community, woe betide the forsaken dog.

A chief’s dog cast adrift by the chief, is no longer chief dog!

Economic sanctions [embargoes] are a colonial and imperial instrument of coercion and oppression

It’s obvious economic sanctions [embargoes] are a colonial and imperial instrument of coercion and oppression. There’s no question or doubt about that. One simply has to look at who has or which countries have the power to institute such socially and economically devastating measures.

Economic sanctions are instituted, for the most part and some parts of the world, on the surface, to alter undesirable political and/or military behaviour. But also with the underlying intention and objective, in case the undesirable behaviour is not altered, of stirring up internal social disharmony by causing economic disruption, resulting in shortages or lack of essentials of life, hence bringing pressure to bear on the masses to act in self-preservation.

When economic sanctions result in massive and widespread economic disruption, the ordinary masses, majority of whom – in many parts of the world – tend to be deliberately kept in the dark by the[ir] authorities [governments] on the state of national affairs, will blame those in authority/government for their predicament.

The wisdom, logic and motivation behind economic sanctions, and of those with power and instruments of power to institute them, is that – in their power powered powerful hope – when the masses have been pushed and finally shoved to the choice between death and destruction in self-preservation, they will turn their wrath on exactly those they blame for their predicament – the authorities/governments who are the indirect primary targets for economic sanctions.

But rarely do things work out that way and economic sanctions rarely bring about mass social protests against authorities/governments. They also rarely directly affect the authorities/governments. In fact, if anything, they tend to strengthen both their resolve and power to push back against the sanctions and those who institute them.

Economic sanctions severely punish the poor ordinary masses, and hardly punish, if at all, the economic and power elite who constitute the authority/government class who control economic activities and have unfettered access to national wealth and treasuries. They don’t starve to death. It’s the poor ordinary masses who go hungry and starve to death. It’s the poor ordinary masses who die from lack of basic health services while the economic and power elite who constitute the authorities/governments have options to travel abroad for medical care.

Economic sanctions tend to act as a godsend to those in power – the authorities/governments, to strengthen, consolidate their power grip under the pretext of dealing with the consequences of economic sanctions and the masses are too weak and gullible they believe whatever lies they are told by the authorities.

Economic sanctions, more often than not, strengthen and further empower the ruling economic and power elite and hardly achieve their intended objectives.

But economic sanctions have the destructive power to cause insurmountable mass suffering, deaths to poor ordinary people much to the delight and empowerment of the ruling elite.

Economic sanctions, if they have to be applied by those who use them as a weapon of colonial and imperial power and oppression, must applied with precision to target the ruling elite, with whom they have issues, to the extent that they undermine their power grip; by denying them all their privileges that power accords them.

Economic sanctions must be systematically applied to the extent, such that they make the powerful – the ruling elite – as ordinary as the poor ordinary masses; without punishing (affecting) the poor ordinary masses.

While economic sanctions [embargoes] are a colonial and imperial instrument of coercion and oppression; they are or tend to be, more as an unintended consequence than otherwise, in most cases, an indirect power instrument to those – the ruling elite (authorities/governments) – on[to] whom they are applied.