How to address hate speech, fake news – AFRICMIL

Chido Onumah
Chido Onumah

The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, has called for mass literacy to address hate speech and ‘fake news’ as a way of promoting peaceful co-existence among the different groups in Nigeria and strengthening the unity of the country.

In a statement signed by the Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah, to mark the International Literacy Day, the organisation noted that hate speech has over the years caused many crises around the world.

September 8 was declared International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Celebrations take place in several countries.

The theme for 2017 as announced by UNESCO is `Literacy in a digital world’.
Some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults are still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

According to UNESCO’s “Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2006)”, South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6 per cent), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7 per cent), and the Arab States (62.7 per cent). Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8 per cent), Niger (14.4 per cent) and Mali (19 per cent).

The report shows a clear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women.

AFRICMIL noted the benefits of mass literacy in a fast-changing digital world and encouraged governments and individuals to take advantage of the potentials of the digital age to create awareness about hate speech and “fake news.”

The organisation observed that even as the dividend of democracy made way for freedom of speech, it was never imagined that freedom of speech would translate to freedom to create hate and hurt.

It regretted that the digital age had also helped to grow the monsters called hate speech and ‘fake news’, thus causing so much rage and fanning embers of war.

It urged governments to put in place measures to encourage mass literacy to counter the negative side of the digital age, adding that this was better than making stringent laws that might interfere with democratic practices.


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  • suleiman

    But what really is hate speech? Is it when people ask who is footing Buhari’s health bill or they want to find out whether he is alive or not? Don’t Nigerians have a right to know what the government does with our money? Or is it hate speech when people say people are dying? Please define what hate speech is. Secondly, what is fake news? Is it when Donald Trump says CNN or all the liberal news channels are fate news and only conservative news channels, especially Fox News that are playing his bidding authentic news channels? Why do we always need to copy what America does. Was there anyone in this country that propagated lies, hate speech and fake news like Liar Mohammed, current minister of information during the Jonathan years? Is there any hate speech that is more than what Candidate Buhari said when he said, “Muslims should vote only Muslims and Kare jini, biri jini (meaning blood will flow on our streets if he didn’t win the 2015 elections)? So somebody define what hate speech is and what fake news is. Ah, so it hurts only when people say it and does not hurt when you they say it? The popular English writer said, “The evil that men do lives after them.”These people are reaping what they sowed, including equipping and intensifying the activities of Boko Haram in order to wrestle power out of the hands of Goodluck Jonathan. They conspired with Obama, Merkel, Cameron and Hollandes to win election and now they can’t deliver and are blaming honest Nigerians for hate speech and fake news. Oh come on, give me a break!