AUN's Communications Scholar Professor Last Moyo says that rather than pontificate on who is right or wrong, Nigeria's Twitter ban should stimulate a robust conversation regarding free speech and democratic citizenship in Africa in the age of social media and the Internet.
"Many African countries are still struggling to come to terms with the concept of Internet freedom, which by its very nature extends to the freedom of expression for citizens. We often witness heavy-handed action on bloggers and social media activists.
"At the worst, we have seen African governments effect Internet blackouts, especially when the citizens try to register public discontent on issues of public concern and interest. Most African governments are still stuck in the mode of yesteryear where political censorship and self-censorship were normalized".
One of AUN's most prolific and illustrious lights in academic research, Professor Moyo's whose latest publication, "The Decolonial Turn in Media Studies in Africa and the Global South (2020, Palgrave Macmillan) is eliciting rave reviews within global communication circles, had in an academic critique of post-apartheid communication practice and pedagogy at the 2016 South African Communications Conference in Bloemfontein, South Africa, canvassed a "progressive and transformative cultural politics" and advocated "democratization of media systems and cultures with regards to access, citizens' participation, media diversity and cultural citizenship". Professor Moyo commands indisputable leadership in the vast and expanding field of media sociology in the developing world.
According to the South African born intellectual titan, "the Internet and social media have occasioned a demotic turn in free speech, citizen participation, and civic engagement in ways that make most political principals sweat in their pants. The past historical experiences of the Arab Spring strike fear in most African governments. Yet, the changes brought by the Internet in the ecology of free speech and political activism by citizens is irreversible, and governments need to accept that by transforming people's material realities".
Professor Moyo, who teaches at AUN's Communications & Multimedia Department (CMD), concludes that poverty is rampant in Africa because freedom of expression in most of the national constitutions as a political and ethical principle has not translated into the transformative change in the material conditions of ordinary people, including the basic service delivery from the state.
"As such, given that most governments in Africa are simply failed states for various reasons, many also easily transition to rogue states that clamp down of free expression by blocking Internet and social media. In so doing, they always invoke national interest and national security questions, but in reality, they fear the voice of the people or social movements that have long gained traction online.
Professor Moyo's teaching and research interests cover new media, African media systems, critical political economy, comparative journalism, global media, media policy, and Southern critical media theory. He has conducted several research and consultancy collaborations with global and Southern African corporations had has to his credit peer-reviewed globally indexed publications in new media technologies, convergence cultures, citizen journalism, digital divide, media and human rights, and media ethics.