Spreading the Message Of Liberty In Africa by Linda Kavuka

Being the text of the speech presented by SFL’s African Programs Manager, Linda Kavuka at 2017 Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum in New York.

When my close friend Chukwuemeka Ezeugo asked me to join SFL, it took me a while as I was a final year law student, but when I did, I was amazed! The first book I read about the classical liberal ideas, “The bubble that broke the world economy’’ got me very interested. That year, I was introduced to the founder of African Students For Liberty, Olumayowa Okediran, and the passion he had, inspired me to join SFL as an advocate for Liberty in Kenya.

My role was to reach out to talented students, create student groups and host libertarian events. I wanted to help young people like me, who were not so fortunate to access opportunities. I wanted to help improve the skills set of young people where our education system is heavily theoretic, lacked practical market skills. I hoped that with improved skills and knowledge of the classical liberal ideas, they would improve their lives and that of their societies. I did not have the money to make a big impact, but I saw advocacy for liberty, as a method to achieve my goal.

What we are doing now to share the Ideas of Liberty in Africa

SFL in Africa was formally launched in 2013 and at this time with a presence in about 7 countries in the continent. Our mission is to educate, develop and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty, Achieved through identifying potential leaders, training them on the classical liberal ideas, nurturing their leadership skills and giving them the platform to practice their advocacy for liberty.

We have designed our online Local Coordinator Program to not only teach classical liberal ideas to our students but also to teach leadership, professionalism, public speaking, effective communication, writing, events organizing, management among other key topics aimed at creating a champion for liberty. The experience with the support from SFL gives hope to young people, and access to a wide network of young passionate libertarian leaders across the world and also opportunities for career development offered by our partner organizations. The free volunteer program helps the students gain skills, which can then go along way in building their Cvs and to prepare them for the job market.

Over the years, after noticing that some students could not clearly relate to these ideas within their context, feeling that the ideas were foreign and did not apply in Africa, we partnered with six Think Tanks and with the support of Atlas, designed the Liberty in Africa online course, that explains the classical liberal ideas to beginners in the African context. This year alone we have received we have received over 1,000 applications to our Local Coordinator Program from 37 countries.

Real Stories of our work in Africa:

A one-fits-all advocacy strategy does not work for us. Our approach for instance in South Africa is not the same as in Gambia. Different regions are unique in their nature due to the political environment, culture and the opportunities available to young people. Sometimes we face great challenges.

Around the end of 2014, there was a coup attempt in Gambia that was unsuccessful. Our leaders who had hosted several libertarian events were accused of being involved. Students were called in for questioning by police, which frightened them and their families. Our two top leaders had to later flee the country as a close family member working with the National Security informed them that they were a target and would be killed. They fled to Senegal and later Nigeria until it was safe for them to return home. They were forced to lay low, and it is only after the regime-change with the fall of Yahya Jammeh that we are now able to regroup.

There is an ongoing crisis between English and French-speaking Cameroon that is not getting media attention. Our Local Coordinator was recently asked to take down a post he had shared on facebook about SFL as it may have been misinterpreted to be political. Our leader is not discouraged and is working with students to host events for liberty.

Very little is known about Eritrea. Well, it is the North Korea of Africa. The people would rather face hell than remain in the failed state and so they do. We were able to connect with those who have left the country to reside in other African countries whether to study, work or as missionaries and launched the Eritrean SFL. The group was founded by Bekit, a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology from a university in Kenya who was jailed in his home country, has several harrowing stories to tell of his experience in his home country and uses his expertise in psychology to help others who have escaped from Eritrea understand the mind-control tactics of the dictator in power.

We also managed to set up groups in Burundi, Rwanda and Congo and soon South Sudan. These countries have something in common, they all face political instability, have experienced civil war and the people are devastated a great number of whom have fled to rebuild their countries outside of their countries. We are working closely with these groups of people, understanding the sensitivity of their cases and teaching them the classical liberal ideas in the most basic of ways.

Success Stories

Today we have free market think tanks in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi founded by former SFL leaders that are contributing to policy changes in their countries. A commentary and media platform in South Africa – The Rational Standard is run by Martin and Nicholas, our top leaders in South Africa. Former LC Victoria Ibiwoye founder of the One African Child, Nigeria a Non-profit to support children in Africa was recently selected to represent Africa in the UNESCO NGO forum 2017 in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. ASFL was recently given invited to the Great Lakes Trade Summit hosted by Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists Europe in Kampala, Uganda where I was asked to speak about our role in promoting free markets in Africa.

Our Leader in Kenya hosted peace conferences in the region that saw major killings during the 2007 poll, weeks before the August 2017 elections, which called on young people to be peace champions during the electioneering period. Martin in SA wrote a paper on the Hate Speech Bill which was submitted to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on Preventing and Combating of Hate Crimes and the Hate Speech Bill.

This year we have received over 4,000 attendees to our events held in Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, DR of Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Uganda.

At African Students For Liberty, we have decided to take up the challenge to be the leaders of African prosperity. We have pledged to enlighten young people with the classical liberal ideas and open up their minds to the possibilities they were once blind to. Through the support of Atlas Network, we are witnessing the change in the hearts and minds of the next generation of leaders who are the future of Africa. We are the Cheetah Generation, champions of liberty in Africa and together with others spread across the globe, we strive to achieve our vision of a freer future.