Democracy and freedom of speech are two sides of the same coin – Op ed

Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 04 December 2022:

There can be no democracy without freedom of speech. People should be very free to express their opinions in a turbulent, dysfunctional political dispensation like Sierra Leone.

There are always three kinds of spheres in the journalism realm: Those who support and promote the status quo , those who are middle of the road and those who oppose the status quo and seek changes in the way they are being governed.

All three are very important and should be provided unfettered, unrestrained and unequivocal opportunities to say it as they see it. Until the three spheres are allowed to rule, governance will be dysfunctional.

Democracy , nourished by Freedom of Speech, is the only way to promote national development ideas through appraisals, promotion and criticisms of governance in a thriving country.

Sierra Leone is not a one- party state. The two major political parties are the ruling SLPP and the opposition APC. Operatives and functionaries of both parties should enjoy a free and unfettered opportunity to say it as it is in the marketplace of ideas ( Newspaper columns and forums ).

The SLPP should be able to propagate and promote their blueprint for national development without hindrance. Similarly, the APC should be able to criticize government agendas and policies without any curbs.

Until we embrace these principles of governance, Sierra Leone ‘s socio-political and economic development will continue to be held hostage by those who have no serious agendas larger than their own.


  1. I personally believe that the freedom of speech expressed in Sierra Leone under the leadership of the President Bio is unprecedented. Even “Mammy Cuss” against the president, his wife, religious leaders, parliamentarians, judges, religious leaders and even our law enforcement officers is now regarded as so called freedom of speech.
    I have lived most of my life in Europe and the USA, but I have never heard any citizen insult the mother of any leader. Even former President Trump who was one of the most hated president in the USA never experienced such disrespect.
    May the almighty change the mindset of most of the APC members and supporters who believe that as long as they are not in power, our country will be ungovernable by inciting their gullible supporters to challenge our law enforcement officers.
    The scripture commands us to “Honor our mother and father”.

  2. The right to offend and the right to be offended is a fundamental human rights that is non-negotiable . The first thing you do when you are delivered in this world is to cry .So you are born with the freedom of speech .If the baby fail to cry , more like trying to draw attention themselves, then the parents and those around will start to worry and think something is wrong .So is in your nature to speak out .Any government that tries to muzzle you is going against the rules of nature .In any a democarcy the freedom to speak and the freedom not to speak is enshrined in our Constitution .”You do not have to say anything but anything you do say will be use in a court of law”.In other words this is your right to stay silent when you’ve being caution about a matter under investigation. In a free and democratic societies even people suspected of committing a crime still enjoys their fundamental human right to free speech. Through out history the right of ordinary individuals to express themselves freely have been challenged by their parents , communities, and governments. The regular debate surrounding free speech has always remains the same .In other words the dial haven’t move and has stayed in the same position .The headliner for supporters and those that are oppose to Free speech has been battling it out in a tug of war to establish the breaking point of free-speech. Free speech has always been dressed up in controversies that might sound hateful to others and refreshing to others because it represent their thinking but they choose not to express themselves especially in a dictatorship like ours .Under Bio , the right to freedom of speech has been undermined and use as a political tool to harras political opponents and ordinary citizens that dare express themselves against his government policies. Members of the Sierra Leone police force and their leadership that are not schooled enough about the rights of ordinary citizens to express themselves freely have willingly took an active role in interpreting the right of free speech and freedom to assemble peacefully to how Bio perceive them to be interpreted instead of what is laid down by the laws of the land .The ancient Greeks were the first to coin the word free speech .”Parrhesia”means “Free speech , or to speak candidly”.”The term first appeared in Greek literature around the end of the fifth century BC.During the classic period Parrhesia became a fundamental part of democracy .In Athens , leaders, philosophers, ,playwrights and every Athenians were free to openly discuss politics , and religion and to criticize the government in some settings .Is the principle that supports the freedom to articulate your opinion and ideas without fear .”Under Bio’s watch he had used every trick in the book to ensure we stay silent whilst his government continue to squander our country’s feature prospects and trampled on our fundamental human rights the right to free speech .

  3. You are right, as we all know that it is not workin. Even in our workplaces. I am a bike rider in Murray town. We had an election, can you imagine they brought in politics inside and gave it to Sisqo who is a mende. When we say the truth that government should not involve in the local election they almost arrested all of us.

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