Sunday, October 27, 2019

Cameroon Journalists Charged to Add Valor to Democracy

The question of freedom of speech, stands as a challenge for many Journalists in Cameroon. Many journalists will not  publish sensitive content that may lead to their arrest but will rather keep as archive. Madam Leanne Canion from the Public Affairs Department Of US Embassy in Cameroon, visited trainees and expressed delight meeting the Journalists attending the training, as She talks of Journalists being the number one priority for the US Embassy, to Accompany them in shaping the roles to play in Democracy.

                                             Miss Leonne Canion, Public Affairs Officer with US Embassy

Miss Canion explains that she has spent more time with Journalists for the past 3 months and thinks that it is important for Journalists to add more valor to Democracy. Trainees in attendance had an exchange with her and decided to find out how the US Embassy will accompany the Cameroonian Journalists to reach their goals, considering that the stakes of the era are high and the training session is only timely to contribute in fixing the situation.

The training session made Journalists edified and tooled, yet required a lot of reading. In line with this, Miss Leonne Canion talks about the US Democracy having rooted principles, protecting expression and thereby, allows the Press to criticize Government or the President, as this was approved in the 10 amendments of the US constitution. The US does not regulate laws or have laws prohibiting freedom of speech, and according to her Journalists in Cameroon have a major role to play, to counter laws that prohibit some actions like freedom of expression, laws that prohibit protecting people and respecting people’s right.

 From the exchange with participants, she mentions that it may also depend on how much independent a media organ is, like its state of finances; revenue or Income and advice that for those who want to report on elections, Journalists should seek the experts in the domain.
Charles Ebune, a senior journalists working with the state media talks continues to advice that Journalists should developm keep and practice the reading culture. He talks on Investigating Corruption and says that to do a good report, the reporter ,must be corrupt, so that it is based on facts. The 2 types of corruption he talks; Corruption in media and in public officials.  He remarks that most Journalists in Cameroon do not get awards because of their corrupt means in getting information, and that it is important to rather get involved with social issues, refraining from being a diplomatic gossip, telling your interest in a story to someone, which will help detractors derail the reporter from the matter. The sensitive nature of investigative Journalism, needs focus and the reporter in question must be able to do more of listening than talking.
                                                               Charles Ebune, Journalist with CRTV

In investigative Journalism the reporter should do a background check of all those in the chain of investigation, though there are a number of challenges in doing so; Journalists are extremely poorly paid and news organs turn to gossip clubs deviating from editorial policies, the flippant nature of investigative Journalists, the legal framework not being in the favor of the Journalist doing the investigative report and to have all facts correct. The reporter or Journalists must read extensively and refrain from whistle blowing.

To be credible and have authority over stories, Charles Ebune explains that it is important to always put in mind, the notion of time, to contextualize, be data based and quote sources. Much attention given to diction so as to create impact. A report carrying a lot of anonymous sources is considered a fake report. To combat fear, a Journalist should have in mind a purpose driven life and legacy.

Measures for securing interview content, as trainees gathered from the session; be professional at all times, not making your guests your friends, the material obtained is for your employer not for personal interest, accept to be scrutinized or be used as an example, ask pertinent questions. All key points he outlined in answering questions of Journalists in the session, gave an insight on some negative things done by Journalists which makes them not credible.

                         Comfort Mussa, An expert in the field of Communications trains on Peace Journalism

Peace Journalism is one of the main focus of most Journalist reporting within conflict hit zones and Comfort Musa, one of the Training’s facilitator did a throwback on this to find our how much Journalists have done on content as Peace Reporters. Making the forum more interactive, participants reflected on possible stories to report on, as an element of Peace Journalism. Journalists had to peach stories and were encourage to do them in their different communities. Learning that with Peace Journalism, stories peached must be unique in their angle and their content should be different from what other Journalists may have reported on. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Trainees Sort to Know WHO Regulates HateSpeech and Fake News

  Journalists exploring modules during the training session in Yaounde
Journalists attending a week long training session in a Yaoundé, have embarked acquiring lessons on the different modules prepared for the workshop, geared towards their practice in the profession. In the course, they have met and listened to different experts and facilitators who gave out lessons depending on their field of competence or expertise.As they fine tune their skill in reporting in conflict situations or during elections and were provided with the tools to manage some of the challenges faced on the field.

Accompanied with studies and some practical lessons, participants were opened to a question and answer session especially on topics like The Stakes and challenges on fair reporting, Media and Elections, Digital Security and Big Data. Dr Etoa Georges, explains that its is Important for Journalists to equip themselves better on what entails to cover elections before doing so and were encouraged, to have a mastery of the electoral code given the Political Context of Cameroon, in order to avoid reporting on any content that will spark violence.

 The training that centered around Media, Peace and Elections, Mr Etoa George also explained that there is knowledge on legality and legitimacy of Press restrictions, laws and regulations concerning information and communication. And that this must never hinder journalists ability to present a range of ideas and opinions that arise in an election campaign. Journalists are suppose to protect their sources and yet be wary of being manipulated and be influenced in their reports and also, must remember that their objectivity and neutrality will give the public or their different target audience the right information. 

Despite the rights that gives access to information for Journalists, they are still called to be aware on Digital Security, to prevent a situation of arrest, detention, intimidation or threat of life and Miss Prudence Noutcham a facilitator, skilled in this part of technology, drilled Journalists on the different ways to protect information using the different devices in their procession in Communication. Journalists in the session proved ignorant about some of the techniques they needed to use in protecting their different content and shared ideas, while considering the need to update their way of preserving information, based on the lessons learnt.

Miss Prudence laid emphasis on the need for Digital Security and exposed trainees to reflect on reasons why some platforms provided the opportunity for browsers to get free access to other sites.  She also enlightened trainees on the reasons why such sites were easily accessible and also gave reasons for the high possibility that this could give room for hackers to have access to the privacy of users by use of links.
Slides shown during the training session             
Journalists were also faced with the question of who should regulate hate speech and fake news , which appeared, to be one of the major topics discussed in the training and the challenge of  knowing  how to decipher what hate speech is, before regulating it. The reasons why to regulate Hate Speech, is to curb the effects of it online and offline and preserve national unity, integrity, public order, thereby promoting responsible citizen journalism and to foster Peace. But, Who should regulate it becomes a million dollar question.
Mr Sakah Bernard teaches on Hate Speech and Fake News
 Mr Sakah Bernard talks of about 6 million people having access to internet and about 3.4 million people of that same population, In Cameroon, have access to social Media, and the question of proposing content on what information should be used or diffused online or on public platforms is in a way tampering with Digital Rights. Therefore Promoting Democratic values and Principles, enhancing social cohesion to counter radicalization, will need someone or an institution to regulate Hate speech and fake news and if that same regulatory body uses or promote hate speech, the challenge will even be   huge.

Adding ingredient to how hate speech and fake news can be handled, there was room for an exchange between Journalists and Members of Parliament Invited, who saw the need for this phenomenon to be punishable by law imposed by Government, which might also be one of the recommendations arrived at, from the Training with Cameroonian Journalists. Members of Parliament, Honorable Njume Peter and Honorable Pangnashi Roland started discussions by engaging Journalists to understand how sometimes bad reports can influence smooth functioning in Administration.
Members of Parliament in an Exchange with Journalists
Honorable Njume Peter explained that though there had been continuity of fake news and hate speech after the Major National Dialogue, he perceives calm will return if recommendations of the Major National Dialogue are implemented. He proposed that if Journalists could sit as a body and do a write up or do proposals, being the eye, ears and mouth of the people, and forward to Parliament, this action will create an impact and will be a trigger for those in Parliament to prepare a Bill that could help improve on the Digital rights of Cameroonians.
                          Trainees in an Exchange with Members of Parliament on Hate Speech

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Over 50 Journalists drawn from different parts of Cameroon including those from crisis hit zones have been called to attend the second edition of training with NewSETA;  Network for Solidarity, Empowerment and transformation for All under the theme Mediam Peace and Elections, in Yaounde on October 22nd 2019. A week long training that ends on October 26th, for Journalists to be enlightened and sharpen their skills in reporting.
      The Director of NewSETA,Mr Ateki Caxton and Member of Parliament Mr Enwe Francis

Official Launching and opening of this second phase of training by a Member of Parliament, Enwe Francis, gave room for discussions on Data Journalism and Fact Checking, Ethics of Journalism,Media and Elections, Challenges in Fair Reporting, Digital Security and Big Data and Peace Journalism among other topics and also involved them in some practical modules to help them better understand the scheme of work prepared for the training workshop.
                                             Journalists in training Session In Yaounde
 Media, Peace and Elections are some components that can break a Country apart and Communication in this light can make a country Shine or put it in Darkness.Journalists reporting within a conflict hit zone benefited from the knowledge dished out by Facilitators or experts from diverse experience on the field of communication.

The Director for NewSETA appreciated the interest of Journalists who took part in the training session , who according to him was timely given the social unrest in the English Speaking Regions in Cameroon. He  highlighted that media freedom is vital to striving democracy and the forum is necessary for young persons in the field of journalism to improve on their skills in reporting. 

NewSETA provides a platform to strengthen institutional activities,democracy and Peace  and empowering youths to be more responsible, creative and actively engage in nation building.
According to the veteran Journalist Mr Joe Chebonkeng tells the participants at the training workshop, about the task that lies ahead of professional Journalism and  finds the aspect of Journalism being complicated in recent times with the coming of the social media, where everyone with a smart phone poses for a journalist, a challenge that reporters in recent times are faced with the problem of catch up given the constraints in information or what makes news before publishing an article.
              Mr Joe Chebonkeng, Veteran Journalist with CRTV, Sharing with Journalists

The workshop help Journalists understand the challenges they are faced with and to understand how to manage them. The media standing between the Government and its citizens, without Press there is no country  and living in the Era of information in superhighway, Journalists are charged with informing the public with credible information and provide a platform for Government to communicate the public.

Mr Joe Chebonkeng, the veteran Journalist laid emphasis on the ethics of Journalism and gave more knowledge on the mass media being a strong ingredient in democracy,the media is responsible for regulating some of the excesses of the elected officials in  Government. Encouraging Journalists to be accountable and transparent in their action and to be balanced in their reports. Reminding them of being the 4th initiative power and as such are elites of the different communities they represent.

NewSETA an open society initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, National Endowment for Democracy and an African Movement for Democracy, provide a platform for Journalists across Cameroon to gain knowledge on the dynamics and techniques on reporting especially in Conflict situations. Some Journalists told this blogger how they felt attending the workshop and also shared their expectations.

The Director of NewSETA, Mr Ateki Seta Caxton says it is a youth organization working to build youth and institutional capacities in Cameroon, as well as carrying out informational activities through research and advocacy programs. He talks on the essence of the training for Journalists.  “it is necessary to build the knowledge and the awareness around values and tool needed for them to do their work professionally. The training is important to us because we see a lot of lapses in the profession, where some reporters use words to insight the public negatively, we need the kind of media that is accessible for al, independent, and that can be a force to consolidate Democracy for all”. Mr Caxton said.

Mr Njeck Sylvanus from the South West Region of Cameroon, reporting with CRTV Mount Cameroon FM, is attending a workshop with NewSETA for the first time. “I am expecting a lot given that the seminar is training on Peace, Development and giving knowledge on what will better our Journalism and reporting, makes me expect much and hope to achieve much before the end of the training.”Mr Sylvanus said.

Mr Jerome Essian reporting with Le Jour Newspaper based in Ebolowa, describes the training as being important given the area where he reports in. “its an opportunity for me to build up my capacities as concerns elections coverage which is a very sensitive issue, working in the South most especially who face challenges in doing such reports. I am here to get more knowledge on election reporting techniques. I will like that by the end of the training I will be more professional on the field”. Mr Jerome Essian.
Journalists who are also considered as those who face series of challenges on the field that sometimes influence their reports, receive knowledge from the training to combat the components that might insight the public negatively or escalate a conflict situation.

Ndefru Melanie

Friday, October 18, 2019

PROFILE: Mboumien Sally Maforchi epse Ndeh: The Unstoppable Peace Builder

Meeting Sally for the first, third or 17th time, there is something you will not mistake about her. MBOUMIEN Sally Maforchi epse Ndeh will strike you with her shinny skin head – so cleanly shaven and you would think she came fresh from the Barbar’s shop. In local parlance, she has a “crow bow” head. Whilst women spend long hours in beauty salons, struggling to look good with artificial hairs, nails and eye lashes, Sally would have had a cold shower, driven herself to a workshop, work place, market or social gathering. Shaving off the eye brows may be in vogue for women but not for Sally. Her family genetics has blessed her chin with a few hairs. Barbers often ask if they should cut off the few hairs on her chin. Yes, they would shave it smooth. Tell the dark-complexioned woman she’s got big eyes; and she would retort: “yes my eyes are big. I have large eyes to see the world.” Breaking into good laughter, and revealing her gap tooth, her dimples would deepen in her cheeks. Let’s leave Sally’s headful looks alone. Let’ see what’s inside her brain box.
The Bamenda-Bafoussam-Yaounde highway is one of the busiest and most challenging, only the very brave and skillful drivers can tear-track on. Sally the driver is one of the few Bali Nyongha women who can do it better and safer than men; and of course on record time, day or night.
Aged 39, Sally Maforchi Mboumien is a native of Bawock and Bali Nyonga in Cameroon’s North West Region. She is married and when she is not on an outdoor peace campaign or holding discussions with women, she spends time with her four kids – three girls and one boy.
The trained secondary teacher, sexual and reproductive health rights advocate and peace builder went through primary, secondary and tertiary education in the North West Region where she has dedicated her life to the community.
For those who know Sally, it is small wonder she is called The Fighter. Yes, a woman fighter! Many say she is at her best when challenged. Perhaps no woman loves challenges more than her. And there have been plenty of challenges in her life.
The Fighter
Growing up among three boys as a lone daughter would have made Sally Mboumien a Queen, but she did not have the luxury of queenly treatments. “Yeah I had to fight to survive male dominance”, a spirit which later turned out to be the base of her life as an activist or social advocate.

Life in a polygamous family as Sally puts it is a glaring example of living in conflict which can either be violent or non-violent. “This greatly influenced my life as young girl and a married woman.”
She therefore grew up to become a fighter; one who is always conscious of the fact that social injustice should be abhorred at all levels of society. She became a troubleshooter, the one who will never miss an opportunity to seek peace.

“What brought me into the field of peace building are the skirmishes between the people of Bali and Bawock,” she says. Interestingly, Sally is a native of Bali and Bawock. Her mother is from Bali Nyonga and her father is from Bawock.

When the Bali/ Bawock Crisis came to a head in March 2007, Sally had to put her troubleshooting skills to the test. Being a product of both communities, she felt the burden weighing on her shoulders. It was in the heart of the crisis that she started talking to the people of both communities on why they should bury the hatchet and let love lead.

“It is at this point that I discovered there was power in peace building,” Sally says. The outbreak of the crisis in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions pushed Sally to intensify her peace building efforts. She would later join the South West North West Women’s Task Force to broker for peace. She started off as the assistant Regional Coordinator for North West and oversaw the organization of the first lamentation campaign.

The tense condition that characterized Bamenda on the day of the lamentation campaign revealed to Sally that working for peace is indeed even more dangerous than fighting a war.
The Bridge-builder

It has not been a bed of roses for this crusader of peace. Under the umbrella of the South West North West Women Task Force, Sally and her peers lobbied women to come out and use the nonviolent approach to communicate the urgency for dialogue.

 Becoming the North West Regional Coordinator for SNWOT, Sally had the opportunity to lobby government and the international community, as well as the Non-State Armed Groups towards a return to peace. Through radio programmes on peace to one-on-one peace discussions, Sally has taken the peace effort to a whole new level.
The peace builder has been putting to use the knowledge sharpened through crash programmes on mediation in times of crisis. She has benefited from the social media space through which she continues to articulate on issues of peace and peace building.
It has not been an easy ride for Sally given that peace builders are often caught between warring parties. Because they work on the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, their identity is often mistaken as that of an opposition. But preaching the gospel of love and compassion for humanity has always done her the magic.
Sally agrees that it is a difficult thing for women to assume leadership position, given that they have to break stereotypes. The Cameroonian society is one often taken by surprise when women emerge as leading voices. This accounts for why women like Sally have had attacks on their personality and dignity. But she says staying focus and being relevant has made her brand her peace message to the admiration of many.
“The best part of my life is the sacrifice, the ability and the opportunity to be a peace builder in times of armed conflict where there are divergent views because it is so intriguing. There is the risk, there are challenges, but you serve as a source of hope to other women,” Sally says.
She reminds whoever gives her a listening ear that her dream and ambition remains to see women come on board and take up leadership positions in areas believed to be reserved for men. Hear her: “Women are usually the most affected and should be able to take charge of their collective destinies.”
 The change maker

  Sally is that one person who believes in change to the point where she can change the topic of discussion wherever she finds herself. She says if she could cut down her weight considerably in three months, then her determination, patience and discipline can take her places.
She blends her peace crusades with training and coaching women on dieting so they can put off weight and boost their self-confidence. “These components have helped me to understand that in the society, being a woman leader, you have to be proactive to the things that happen to your society so as to be a solution provider,” Sally avers.
She bubbles with a lot of dreams for women to take decision making positions to change the situation. But she is faced with the giant problem that slows down all women with big ambitions, Money. She lacks financial and technical support to bring these dreams to fruition.
Sally says though the course she has chosen seems deadly, she won’t stop because it is a passion and a divine assignment. I prefer to die for something rather than die for nothing. When next you see her in a barber’s shop, waiting to take her turn to shave, be sure she will engage the manly conversations typical of barbing shops. And yes, before she leaves, many male chauvinist or abusers would have had a good dose of mind-changing education from the crow-bow woman fighter.
‘Empower Me Don’t Blame Me’
In 2016, Sally decided to create her own organization Common Action for Gender Development, COMAGEND, which seeks to uphold women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. Sally says women don’t develop their full potentials because of poor management of their sexuality. It is for this reason that she has been running the Empower Me Don’t Blame Me campaign aimed at bringing every stakeholder on board to discuss issues of sexuality which is a taboo subject in almost every household or community. This campaign has taken her to many communities within Cameroon.
The go-getter
Sally’s goal is to uphold the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls for as she puts it, “if women and girls do not have autonomy to their sexual and reproductive rights, they won’t be able to develop their full potentials.”
She believes that women have to be well educated and economically and politically empowered to stand the challenge of time. She has thus been a champion for women’s rights to freedom of expression and social inclusion.
“I aspire to see a society where women take up every space of decision-making, policymaking and decide for themselves. Women should be able to design, implement and evaluate policies for society. They should be able to have the power of the pen and make political decisions,” the women’s rights champion says.
Every Girl For Any Girl Initiative, My Sister My Friend Project
As a girl child Sally had a normal life. She took her education seriously and is today pursuing a PhD. The pressures from polygamy made this lone daughter of Nah Yeba miss mother-daughter talk on her sexuality. A void which created a pit she fell in. It’s a mistake that almost destroyed the fine woman she is today.
“At the age of 17, I had a crude illegal abortion at the backside of a drugstore which almost cost my life,” Sally says. This act which was not uncommon among her peers has now become the foundation of her life as a social advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive health rights and full participation of women in political decision making.
Sally started reaching out to adolescent girls and young women on issues of their sexuality as far back as 2004 when she joined the teaching corps in Cameroon. She worked as mentor in girls’ leadership clubs and other women social groups. This service to women and girls proved insufficient as women and girls continued to be victims as they made tons of uninformed decisions regarding their sexuality.
  The life she has chosen as a community change maker has sure given her many opportunities to serve humanity. From her humble beginnings as Impact Leader for World Pulse, Sally would later become World Pulse Ambassador, a free online platform where women tell their stories and support each other.
This may well be her motivation for engaging into field work in the community to help women and girls come out. The “Every Girl For Any Girl Initiative” made it possible for girls to sit in a leadership club and talk about their differences. With Sally serving as their mentor and facilitator, she takes the position of an elder sister to the girls. As such, they discuss sexuality in a bid to guide the young girls make informed decisions and choices.
The Every Girl For Any Girl Initiative” morphed into the “My Sister, My Friend” project which has established clubs within schools and communities in a bid to help girls discuss, prepare and package themselves as leaders. With more than 10 workshops and over 1,000 girls touched, Sally says she is not stopping yet.

 Her “Empower Me, Don’t Blame Me” campaign drew along a lot of commendation from local communities. The inclusive campaign targets parents and adolescent girls and young women to understand that it is imperative for them to talk about their sexuality without which many girls will take the wrong directions.
As facilitator in no fewer than 15 workshops within the framework of the “Empower Me, Don’t Blame Me” campaign, Sally has worked with other organizations to make the voice of the girl child and woman louder. She has mentored young women leaders, molding many others to be able to come out and take leadership roles.