Having been at the Highway Africa Conference for just a day, I am proud to say that I am used to the hustle and bustle of things - delegates and journalists rushing to the next workshop and everyone else scrambling to get a seat on a shuttle to lunch or dinner.
In and amongst all the rush, I managed to meet Sampa Kangwa-Wilkie, one of the speakers at a discussion I attended on the challenges and prospects on access to information in Africa. The first thing I noticed about her was her bright green scarf and long dread locks. I was also drawn to her by the vigour with which she spoke and the passion she had about ordinary African citizens having the socio-economic right to access to information.
When I first spoke to her, she was just as captivating. Kangwa-Wilkie is Zambian and she works as a MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) Media Consultant on Free Media and she also heads the Freedom of Expression and Media Law Policy Programme. She has extensive knowledge about the situation of access to information in Africa and one of the most interesting things she told me was the fact that South Africa is the only African country with a comprehensive freedom of expression law.
One of her main aims is to make sure that this changes, so that many more Africans will be able to know exactly their government is doing with the country’s funds. One of her other roles is to step in whenever an African country’s government denies journalists information. She believes that this is particularly important because of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on Press Freedom in 2011.
Meeting Kangwa-Wilkie has also been one my highlights of the Highway Africa Conference so far. I believe that her work is extremely important for Africa and I love the fact that she is taking the initiative to change the press freedom situation in Africa. I will definitely be keeping in touch with her.
By: Zinhle Mncube