ARTerial Network Report: Monitoring freedom of creative expression in Africa

Report: “Artwatch Africa – monitoring freedom of cultural expression”

ARTerial Network, in line with its mandate of defending artists’ rights, established ArtWatch Africa — a project aimed at monitoring the challenges and constraints on freedom of creative expression in African countries.


Following a mapping exercise covering 70 percent of Africa, Arterial Network released its first preliminary report on the state of freedom of creative expression in Africa in October 2013.

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“The 2013 report is an important first step towards understanding restrictions of freedoms of creative expression on the continent. Nevertheless, this preliminary report is by no means exhaustive and requires further verification and ongoing research with the aim of producing an annual report that can be widely distributed.

The different country profiles of this report showed that artists remain at particular risk in certain countries. As their work depends on visibly engaging people in the public domain, states, religious and social groups often try to interfere by blocking their different world views and alternative narratives. There are very serious instances of contraventions to, and restrictions of, freedom of creative expression on the African continent.

Even in countries like Namibia and Seychelles, with relatively good or high levels of artistic freedoms, there is still work to be done in order to mitigate the impact of visible and invisible restrictions. The following will give an idea of the trends in terms of freedom of creative expression on the African continent.

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The headlines:

Legal framework
People impacted
Religious restrictions
Animist beliefs
Political restrictions
Economic and financial issues
Cases of repression
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