Members of the North West Observatory on the Cultural Rights of Indigenous people, strengthen their Advocacy skills.

Participants at the workshop

Over 30 Non governmental organizations and media practitioners have been drilled on how to carry out an advocacy on cultural rights in the North West Region. This was during a 3 days workshop which ran from the 10th to the 12th of July at, ideal park hotel Bamenda. Organized by the North West farmer’s organization (NOWEFOR) in partnership with Mboscuda, the workshop falls in line with “Bridging the gap: Safeguarding peace and human rights by promoting intercultural dialogue in the North West Region”, a project sponsored by the European Union through United Purpose UK.

About 80% of North westerners live in the rural areas and depend mainly on agriculture (crop and livestock production) as their principal source of livelihood. Also, over 80% of the region’s cattle producers are of the minority indigenous, Mbororo-Fulani ethnic group. The livelihood of these communities have been characterised by the intercultural conflict (farmers – grazers conflict) which has often led to the abuse of cultural rights and violence.

It is in line with this, that the Observatory was created to collect and disseminate information on cultural issues and advocacy, support survivals of cultural rights abuse, and to monitor the implementation of national and international policies on cultural rights.

Cross section of the hall

The 3 days workshop took participants through the cycle of advocacy on cultural rights which included advocacy techniques, data needs, planning an advocacy, implementation of an advocacy, monitoring and evaluation as well as media engagement. This is to enable the NGOs trace the core problem of cultural rights abuse, so as to identify and measure gaps between what is happening and what ought to be there by figuring out what can be done to eradicate intercultural conflict.

According to Shei William Kanjo, workshop facilitator and consultant, Intercultural conflicts occur because of misunderstanding between neighbours. “If they don’t understand the different cultural expressions of one another, they are bound to inflict cultural rights abuses. So there is the need for a mutual understanding. Also cultural intolerance promotes Intercultural conflict in our communities – reason why we have to be aware of one another’s culture so we can tolerate and live peacefully “.

On the part of Nchotu Christopher, coordinator of NWADO/SIRDEP and participant, to eradicate Intercultural conflict, communities in Cameroon and the international community have to begin from the root causes and those involve in the process need to have the capacity and means to enable them handle the challenges that comes with advocacy on cultural rights.

Farmers-grazer conflicts in the NWR are often triggered by cattle overstepping into farmers’ lands, farmers planting on grazing land or farmers and grazers misusing water resources which have led to the destruction of crops and cattle poisoning. Such conflicts can be avoided if each group learns to respect the cultural rights of the other and practice tolerance. For example the Mbororo community practices “Pulaaku” which is a culture of silence. They will agree to a proposal publicly but within them, they are not satisfied thereby reacting differently to what is expected of them. The culture of silence has been mistaken many times by other people to be pride.

The farmers-grazers conflict is the foundation of the “Bridging the gap” project which according to Njeh Germaine, coordinator of Nowefor, from the work done by Mboscuda and Nowefor with the mbororo community and non-mbororos, they saw the need to design such a project to address cultural issues so as to bring an end to many years of conflict.

Participants are expected to work on their advocacy techniques as in the days ahead, the Observatory will begin matching their words with actions.

Maikem Emmanuela Manzie

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