East Africa conservation news – Telling the good news is apparently not always welcome news

The proverbial media paranoia, fed of course and nurtured by a repressive government in Dar es Salaam which has been clamping down on the local media, and equally hard on suspected informers, has reached a new level it seems. The scenario: one gets hold of newsworthy information, a major internationally recognized success story of privately led conservation efforts, thinks this must get the exposure it deserves because after all it is good news, and then goes off the whistle. Please take the article off your blog and off wherever it was published, because it will make us end up in the cross hairs of government officials conservationists and environmentalists are not in the good books of then Tanzania government right now. Thus was the tenor of several messages received, talking even of being thrown out of the country
Gave me new fodder for thought, right here in Uganda. While our own government is often accused of being heavy handed and anti media, I have personally never experienced anything of the sort. Of course, in most issues I do agree with government, even though I bemoaned the public disgrace of how arrests of the opposition leader were handled by security operatives a couple of months ago. I disagree with our President on the issue of Mabira, and have candidly said so and reported repeatedly about it. Yet, one thing I know, the fundamentals of the NRM, which came to power in January 1986, to bring freedom and liberties to Uganda and Ugandans, have not changed. They may at times dislike what you say, may at times take journalists to court, yet have not won a single case of this nature, EVER. Our courts have upheld the press freedom and this too is after all one of the fundamentals the NRM ushered in way back in 1986, to have an independent judiciary able to decide what is within the laws of the land and what is not.
Here we dont live in fear, not any longer anyway, not the kind Kenyans lived under during the height of the one party state and following the coup attempt in August 1982.
Our conservation fraternity has been equated with unarmed terrorists a phrase I took real issue with even though used by none other than our President and the battle for Mabira was taken to war level, again by our President.
I guess he knows, that by and large I stand by him and his policies and yet there are issues I do not agree with him. That is part of democracy and we can be glad to have it in Uganda. Others too though, like in Tanzania, probably need a few lessons in tolerance and accepting that conservationists and environmentalists are the voices of nature, of forests, of marine ecosystems and of wildlife and birdlife, advocates for protecting our environment and our biodiversity for our common good. Harassing them, intimidating them and having them beg to remove a major conservation achievement report from my blog for fear of repercussions is not the way.
And this piece my dear, will stand and not be removed, even at the risk of someone drawing the right conclusions and adding up the right numbers. What right is right and we should stand up and say so. Without fear, and without favour!