Particularly, the writers will have to be alert against becoming victims of a paralyzing “self-censorship” that expresses itself in thoughts such as, “we should not offend our government,” or “maybe our government will not like this,” or “if I write this, people will think this.” One may ask the question “Why?” The answer - as research conducted about the history of authors and literatures of other countries over and again attest—is because, once self-censorship becomes a norm in any country, it will certainly mutate itself gradually into government censorship. In other words, where there is a reign of self-censorship, government censorship will be there, inevitably.

*Image taken and re-produced from Warscapes  with permission

On November 27, 1992, Ghirmai Negash gave a talk on the freedom of writers at the Officer’s Club in the capital, Asmara. The room was packed with writers, journalists, and concerned government officials. Using Albert Camus’ metaphor of “the lion and the martyr,” he spoke at length about the essentially opposite agendas of art and power. He explained the necessity of safeguarding the principle of the right of expression for writers and artists. He warned Eritreans against the dangers of complacency and self-censorship, which he explained can easily lead to state censorship.

Below is an excerpt from the lecture. You click here to read the full essay from the online magazine Warscapes.com 

 

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