Almost four years after the Anglophone crisis started in the NW/SW regions of Cameroon, the population is still anxious and on edge as they go about their daily lives. Community development now sounds like a dream as social facilities have been destroyed, agricultural activities disrupted and the health sector drained.
Aim at promoting peace and community development, Cameroon Community Media Network (CCMN) provides a safe space for journalists to create platforms with special focus on the effects of the crisis on communities, so actors involved in the crisis can seek long lasting solutions.
To achieve this, CCMN under the “peace and conflict transformation” project of the PCC, empowers media personalities in the NW through trainings to boost their communication skills so as to help deescalate the ongoing conflict and promote community development.
Media houses have reshaped their editorial policies to include peace and development reporting.
“My media house has decided to be a tool for peace and not war so in the course of broadcasting, we have changed our language and also make the common man feel the importance of our reporting,” said Ndong Carine, a journalist in the NW region.
Some journalists have taken the project out of their news rooms to create more impact.
“Apart from doing peace reports, I have decided to make my lifestyle reflect peace journalism so that the things I do in life should be pro-peace and anti-violence,” said Fongoh Primus Ayeh, a journalist with Rainbow radio Mbengwi.
“Members of the network have been walking the talk as what they have been doing does not only reflect in their reports but on the community. A lot has changed in terms of how journalists behave professionally and personally. They do a lot of underreported stories that directly affect the community.
“Members give room to the common man to air their worries so they can heal and policy makers/government can react, thereby bringing change. I believe that the peace reports and those advocating for peace, influenced the creation of the Grand National Dialogue held in Cameroon. Gunshots in Bamenda have also reduced so I believe our peace reports to an extent, have influenced the non-state actors,” said Rose Obah Akah, president of CCMN.
In recent years hate speech, greed, irresponsible citizen journalism, cyber bulling, revenge among others have flamed the ongoing crisis, bearing boundless challenges – involuntary migration, economic and developmental stagnation, limited resources, environmental hazards, insecurity and kidnappings.
During one of its network meetings in Bamenda on the 20th of November, it was revealed that in the days ahead, members will fine-tune their skills to report more on these challenges there by talking on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that aim at providing a better and more sustainable future for all.
“More of what we have been talking about has been in the direction of peace journalism. As a community media, it’s not all about peace but community development that is also sustainable development. You can’t talk about that without touching the SDGs,” said Rose Obah.
By Maikem Emmanuela Manzie