No longer at ease! Why we are now no longer free on the internet #iFreeKe

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ifreedom 2

I always wanted to write but a platform to share what I wanted with the world was lacking. So it was a dream come true to be able to start writing and sharing my stories with my friends. I started with Facebook notes, then got a blog on blogspot then I graduated to my own blog at Potentash.

Looking back I am so glad I have had the opportunity over the last few years to write and connect with people who read my blog. This would not have been possible if the internet wasn’t free for people to write their views either on social media or the blogs.

The one thing I would never want to be censored is my right to write about issues. I am passionate about some certain things which include governance. I wouldn’t want to be censored in what I say. I would like for those freedoms to remain.

Today when we should be celebrating Internet Freedom Day #iFreeKe it is a sad day for bloggers and Kenya at large. One of us @itsmutai on twitter is in police custody. He was arrested yesterday because of the things that he writes on governance and politics. Right now on twitter the hashtag #freeMutai is trending.

It is sad that because of the security bill 2014 voices of dissent against the central government and the county governments may be silenced. Bloggers and online content creators will not be able to share about corruption and what’s really going on. Many people will be silenced out of fear of being arrested under amorphous laws that can be twisted around to suit accusers. Many of us cannot afford lawyers so we will not have the confidence that there is somebody who can come and get us out of jail. To make matters worse the kind of bond that is asked for is prohibitive, not the kind of money a blogger or online content creator would just have sitting in their bank account.

Not all of us can be brave like Boniface Mwangi who despite threats to his life still continues to be a thorn in the side of the establishment. But we knew that one day this day may come. I wrote a post called First they came for Boniface Mwangi – a poem about how if we do not stand up for activists like Boniface Mwangi they may come for us. The thing is many of us are activists, we care about our country and we are patriotic. That is why we speak out against the ills that plague our society. But our leaders want us to be less patriotic in telling the truth as they misuse our taxes and resources. Should we be silenced? No we shouldn’t.

But that is my fear that many of us will be silenced. We will look away when injustices are committed, we will not report corruption. We will become complacent because we do not want to go to jail. I fear for this country when one cannot express oneself freely. When one’s right to freedom of speech could now be what lands one in jail.

I miss the good old days. When we could express ourselves freely on the internet. And I am seeing like the nostalgia will be what will keep us going. Because there are cold, dark days ahead. I wrote this poem I need to write last year. I was expressing that I need to write because one day I may not be able to write what I want to write. That dark day is here.

I need to write,

Before my freedom of expression,

Is taken away.

I see them coming,

In a distance,

They lay in the shadows,

Taking notes,

Watching.

I need to write,

Because one day I may want to write,

But they may gag my pen,

And this keyboard shall ring no more its keys,

And everything will be written in my head.

Let us not become pawns in this game. Let us fight for our freedom of expression. This battle in the past was not won easily. It was fought for with blood, tears and even lives. It is something that we should fight to keep. I leave you with this poem. I have changed it to Mutai because right now he is in police custody.

First they came for Abraham Mutai,
And I didn’t speak up,
Because I was only an online activist.
I didn’t want to go to jail,
I only cheered him on social media.

Then they came for the reporters and bloggers.
And I didn’t speak up,
Because I wasn’t a reporter,
Why were they digging up scandals
That should have remained buried?

Then they came for the artists and musicians,
And I didn’t speak up,
Because I wasn’t an artist,
They shouldn’t have been making art,
That reflected badly on the government.

Then they came for me,
And by that time there was no one
Left to speak up for me.
I could no longer hide,
Behind my computer screen.

arrested

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. If you think that the definition of freedom is that you are able to express anything online, unfettered, uninhibited, then you are not only naive but dangerous to that very society you seek to to liberate.

    • I advocate for responsible use of social media. What I believe is that if you break the law you should face the consequences. But the law should not be changed to muzzle whistleblowers. That is wrong and I am against that.

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