Journalist Andrew Mwenda has spent his career fighting for free speech and economic empowerment throughout Africa. He argues that aid makes objects of the poor — they become passive recipients of charity rather than active participants in their own economic betterment.

Why you should listen

Andrew Mwenda is a print, radio and television journalist, and an active critic of many forms of Western aid to Africa. Too much of the aid from rich nations, he says, goes to the worst African countries to fuel war and government abuse. Such money not only never gets to its intended recipients, Africa's truly needy -- it actively plays a part in making their lives worse.

Mwenda worked at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala starting in the mid-1990s, and hosted a radio show, Andrew Mwenda Live, since 2001; in 2005, he was charged with sedition by the Ugandan government for criticizing the president of Uganda on his radio show, in the wake of the helicopter crash that killed the vice president of Sudan. He has produced documentaries and commentary for the BBC on the dangers of aid and debt relief to Africa, and consulted for the World Bank and Transparency international, and was a Knight Fellow at Stanford in 2007.

In December 2007, he launched a new newspaper in Kampala, The Independent, a leading source of uncensored news in the country. The following spring, he was arrested and accused of publishing inflammatory articles about the Ugandan government. Since being released, he has gone on to be recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and to win the CPJ International Press Freedom Award.    

Andrew Mwenda’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Andrew Mwenda

Global Issues

Andrew Mwenda on progress in Africa

July 18, 2013

In 2007, journalist Andrew Mwenda took the stage at TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania, and decried the symptomatic disease affecting his home continent: aid. The surprising take certainly got the goat of some members of the audience, including U2 frontman Bono, who has devoted so much time to promoting the need for African aid and who […]

Continue reading

Controversial journalist Andrew Mwenda profiled in the Guardian UK

August 7, 2008

Anne Perkins of the Guardian UK offers a fascinating profile of controversial journalist and activist Andrew Mwenda, who in 2007 told his TEDGlobal audience that aid is poisoning African governments. Mwenda’s incendiary writings, which fearlessly confront corruption, have earned him 17 arrests and status as a symbol of free speech and transparency. Not to mention […]

Continue reading

UPDATE: Andrew Mwenda out on bond, must report to police

April 28, 2008

Andrew Mwenda writes to the mailing list Africa Club: I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement. I am now out and free, although reporting to police tomorrow, unsure of the outcome. The struggle for freedom in Uganda is not going to be easy. The challenges are enormous and so are […]

Continue reading