Why we must fight for online freedom

When I created my first ever blog somewhere in 2008, all I wanted to do was tell stories that I thought might never make it for publication on the media house I worked for and to share my personal opinion on a wide ray of issues in a manner I was not able to do in the traditional media. Never had it ever occurred to me that Seven years down the line I would be one day worried about landing in jail for sharing my thoughts with the rest of the world – albeit within the confines of the law or for talking about the injustice meted against innocent citizens.

Today that is the world we live in as bloggers who are passionate about good governance, justice, human rights and politics. As I am putting out these words to commemorate Internet Freedom Day, one of our comrades is behind bars for speaking loudly about impunity.

His name is Abraham Mutai, I did not know him personally, I did not have his phone number but I followed him on twitter and read his blogs and like the rest of other bloggers and Kenyans on twitter it felt like we are family because we wanted to tell stories that otherwise go unnoticed or ignored by the mainstream media when they go to bed with the same people looting our country of its natural resources and stealing from its future generation – that becomes even more literal when politicians grab school playgrounds to build hotels.

We are in this war because we are fighting against very powerful and influential people and we are fighting this war today so that our children could be free tomorrow. This is why we must all fight for a free online space where we can tell the small stories that will ordinarily go unnoticed by the Standard, Nation Media and Royal Media Services of this country.

Even though bloggers can and have at times been compromised by these people who rob us of our future, their sheer number and the fact that indeed anyone with a story to tell can create a blog and tell their story to the world or simply tweet it makes internet the most reliable platform for fighting against injustice in our society.

Today these freedoms are becoming seriously threatened by the Kenyatta administration. Apart from attempting to pass laws that curtail on internet and media freedoms this government has clearly shown us that it sees the blogging community as a threat.

Robert Alai is always in court for one or another tramped up charge, blogger Allan Wadi was arrested and sentenced to two years in jail in a record 24 hours, Dikembe Disembe has faced the same threats as Alai and yesterday they came for Mutai tomorrow it might be me or you…yes you and that is why you need to care about standing up for our rights. I did not mention Bongoko Bosire – we don’t know what happened to him two years later.

It doesn’t matter that one of our own is in charge of Digital Communications and Social Media at Statehouse, he can’t fight for us. He cannot stand up for his own people, he has turned his back and bit the hand that once fed him.

We can’t trust the digital government either because they see us as terrorists because we have dared to speak about the selfies and harassment of our colleagues. We have spoken loudly about digital corruption and land grabbing. We have unmasked the kingpins of ivory trade, we have become more dangerous than the Al-Shabaab because we have become a direct threat to the their very existence and now impunity is fighting back.

They know where we live and where we work, they have made it their number one goal to silence our voices. That is why when one voice goes out a thousand more voices have to come out and speak, they might have deleted Mutai’s twitter accounts and blogs but a new Mutai must rise up – not one, not two, not three. There has to be a Mutai in all of us. I am Mutai, You are Mutai, We are all Mutai.

Speak out for internet freedom because these stories have to be told.

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