Just over one month ago, the International Free Expression Project launched our "Faces of Free Expression" Exhibit, based on a collection of illustrations IFEX curated for their website. They describe the collection as such:
Our Faces of Free Expression campaign shares the stories of change-makers. Whether working to secure our right to information, strengthen and defend civic space, make it safer for journalists to do their work, or ensure accountability for crimes against freedom of expression in all its forms, their tenacity and sacrifice are an inspiration.
While honouring their important contributions, we recognize that they are part of a much broader global fight. We hope their stories draw attention to the countless individuals and organisations around the world who work to promote and defend freedom of expression and information, often below the radar, and far too often in very difficult circumstances.
Working with these illustrations and learning the free-expression advocates' stories was the most powerful part of the exhibit design process. We have been so excited to share with Pittsburghers over the past month these stories – accessible by scanning the QR codes on individual advocates' windows.
One story that we couldn't fit in our exhibit is that of an incredibly brave investigative journalist in Ghana who goes by the name Anas Aremeyaw Anas. Referred to as the "James Bond of journalism," Anas' identity has been carefully protected, and he uses disguises (including prosthetics) in his investigations.
Anas focuses his work on naming, shaming, and seeing justice delivered, and he has a long history of making that happen. In 2007, he went undercover as a janitor in a brothel and published evidence that some of the prostitutes working there were minors. He made international headlines in 2018 with his story "Number 12" about widespread corruption in Ghanian and international soccer.
“Journalism is about results. It’s about affecting your community or your society in the most progressive way.” As such, Anas doggedly pursues stories of child abusers, human traffickers and corrupt officials.
His uncanny ability to gain access to police stations, government agencies, Ghana's biggest psychiatric institution, and other places have convinced some that he is a spirit, and the pervasiveness of his name in headlines has created new linguistic phases:
To go undercover is "to anas"
To make secret recordings is "to anas-anas"
To wear disguises is to "do an anas"
To be caught in the act is "to be anased"
To have someone exposed taking bribes is to have that person being given the full "Anas Aremeyaw Anas"
Of course, this is a but a cursory dive into the incredible work Anas has done. We suggest you poke around Google for a bit (or a while!) to learn more about his work. To begin, a full list of Anas' investigative works can be found on Wikipedia, and Columbia Journalism Review's Susana Ferreira wrote an article about meeting with the journalist in 2019. If TED Talks are more your thing, check out his from 2013.
As IFEX described, Anas Aremeyaw Anas is one of countless free-expression advocates globally, and one of the many highlighted in their Faces of Free Expression. So, now that you've delved into one such story, we highly recommend reading the incredible stories of the others as well.
One of the window bays of the exhibit at 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh
You can find our virtual exhibit at ifep.io/faces or you can check out the Faces exhibit while it is still up on the old Pittsburgh Post-Gazette facade until July 4. If you want to explore other stories of changemakers that we couldn't fit in our physical exhibit, explore the full collection of illustrations on IFEX's website at ifex.org/faces.
The beautiful illustrations used in this exhibit were created by Florian Nicolle, who is actively adding new ones to the collection you can find on IFEX's website. Other work of his can be found on his Behance.