Sahara Reporters

It seems that everywhere in the world, a new breed of reporters and news reporting organizations are arising organically. This appears to be a natural result of the failure of established communications organs to adequately address the information needs of their prospective audience. In Nigeria, one of these new guardians of the public weal is an organization known as Sahara Reporters. This Nigeria-based operation is tearing away the veil of endemic corruption that afflicts Nigeria and so much of the surrounding region.

Operating on the principle that a fearless application of sunlight is the best disinfectant for political corruption anywhere in the world, this band of dedicated truth-seekers are uncovering the uncomfortable realities which established interests would prefer to keep concealed from general knowledge. Even a brief scan of their home page reveals an almost endless stream of ingenious and blatantly corrupt schemes that appear to have no limit to their ubiquity.

Yet the mere existence of Saharareporters seems to offer a significant glimmer of hope to the people of Nigeria. That these brave volunteer journalists haven't been simply hustled off to the nearest dungeon would appear to be a sign that there remains a reservoir of goodness and decency inside the country that is merely covered with the veneer of institutional abuse. Clearly, the exposes that they are publishing on a daily basis are uncomfortable to certain people, and those individuals cannot look forward to what each new day must bring on the front page of the increasingly popular news tribune.

Yet the struggle is merely beginning. Perhaps the sting of these young gadflies has yet to fully penetrate the tough old hides of their prey. It may be that it is only a question of time before some excuse is found to turn the letter, if not the spirit, of the law into silencing these independent voices. The fact that it has not yet occurred on a systemic basis can either mean that the fight is being won one expose at a time, or that the forces of reaction have not yet bestirred themselves. One can only hope that it is the former and not the latter case which is taking shape in Nigeria today.

Of course, if Saharareporters were just a single straw in the wind, they might be facing a much different environment. A whole new wind is blowing worldwide, however, and a new community of support and encouragement is watching the birth and growth of countless similar endeavors worldwide. When people ask what they can do to help fight injustice and corruption in the world, the answer is simple: let everyone know that you are reading the reports from the Sahara Reporters in Nigeria, as well as their compatriots laboring away everywhere else. It's an easy thing to do and heralds the hope of great changes for the better in a troubled world.

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