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Film Student Documents Freedom of the Press from a Global Perspective

It’s 8 o’clock on Saturday morning.

While some are still in the midst of their sleep, UT senior John LeRoy is on his way to Riverview. The film and media arts major is shooting a documentary about Professor Pius Nyamora and a political magazine he published and edited in Kenya, named Society.

He saw the need for a political magazine depicting the politics by several dictators, such as Daniel Arap Moi. Although Moi, himself claimed to follow the ideals of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, which he preceded in 1978, he certainly knew how to scare people.

“After he came into power, a lot of self-censorship happened, because people were afraid,” Nyamora said.

Nevertheless, in 1988, Nyamora started publishing Society, serving the need of freedom of speech and delivering another source of information besides the government one’s owned by the government.

The idea behind Society was to help people that did not support Moi’s government.

Doing so turned out as a challenge, since the government would send police officers to government opposing citizens in order to imprison them.

Nyamora kept publishing, often printing political cartoons on the front page, which caused someone to ask him “Why do you put your head on a chopping board?” Nyamora replied that he honors the freedom of press, as stated in the constitution. He found out, that the reality was a little different.

Friends soon told him, that the government does not like the cartoons. Having 30,000 copies in circulation, he managed to escape a bomb placed in his office. Doing so, he still presented a threat to the government, which then decided to arrest him and deport him to a maximum security prison in Mumbasa.

Luckily, Nyamora received an invitation by the State Department and the American ambassador to Kenya which helped him get his passport back, thus enabling him to travel to the US.

The invitation to leave the country come at the right time, Nyamora gladly accepted saying to himself that, “It is time to get out and escape death.”

Coming to the US, he often encountered the question, “You have an accent, where are you from?” Ironically enough, he explains, even Americans have different accents. He would therefore appreciate if people would rather ask him about his different accent. He smiles at John and after four hours, the shooting is done.

1 Comment on Film Student Documents Freedom of the Press from a Global Perspective

  1. I would like to get in touch with John LeRoy. Please give him my email address. I am also on Facebook.


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