By Solomon Tembang with Africaphonie team in Bakassi
Three training workshops on enhancing peace building capacities especially among youths in the Bakassi peninsula took place in Bamusso, Kombo Itindi, and Idabato from the 28th November to 3rd December 2010.
Participants at the Bamusso Workshop
Supported by the Challenge Bid of the British High Commission, Yaounde and implemented by AFRICAphonie, the workshops were aimed at providing the citizens in Bakassi peninsula with the skills of early warning signals of conflict and establishing the intricate link between peace and development so as to eventually produce a home grown, bottom-up Peace and development Plan for their different communities.
The Bamusso workshop ended with the election of a local peace committee with a core working group made up of Mr. Anthony Effa, Mbulla Ivo, Ngalle Ekwete Harry, Helen Motomba and Mbongo Victorine.
The second lap which was in Kombo Itindi was more tedious as some participants had to travel by boat from Ekondo titi, Bulu beach, Isangele and Barracks to converge at Ngosso (administrative capital of Kombo Itindi) where the workshop held. Even though it started late and witnessed a heavy downpour, the workshop seemed to have touched the intellectual chord of some of the participants like Ayuk Hanson Baiye, a Councilor of Kombo Itindi and a businessman living in Barracks who had this to say “Two good points I gathered in this workshop are conflict resolution can be achieved through collaboration and compromise, while development is like an egg that is supported by the three firestones of unity, resources and peace”.
Participants at the Idabato workshop
A five-person core working group made up of three men and two women was put in place under the supervisory authority of the Mayor of Kombo Itindi Mr. Cornelius Edonde. In his closing remarks the Assistant Divisional Officer for Kombo Itindi Mr. Anjoambum Richard thanked the British High Commission and AFRICAphonie for reaching out to his people and empowering them to take peace and development issues into their hands. He looked forward to the Bakassi Peace and Development Plan Forum that will comprise all core working groups in the five sub divisions scheduled to hold in Mundemba, early next year.
The turbulent waves and rough tides did not deter the Africaphonie boat from sailing through Barracks, Kombo Amunja then to Idabato for the last lap of their workshop. On hand to welcome the Executive Director of Africaphonie Mwalimu George Ngwane were the Commander of Idabato Brigade Mr. Beti Dominique, the Commissioner of the Special Police Branch Mr. Awana Alain and the Divisional Officer of Idabato Mr. Ngah Jonah Mbemngong. This legendary hospitality in the thickly Nigerian populated town of Idabato heralded what one of the resource persons of the workshop Mr. Richard Ndi Tanto described as the most participative, interactive and lively phase. Even though only thirty participants had been invited, the Divisional Officer could not help admitting forty-five participants in the small classroom of G.S.S Idabato. There were Peace songs, dance and questions that spiced the lectures and working groups. Free copies of the Cameroon National Anthem and the Bakassi Peace Letter were distributed and one of the administrative authorities stressed that because of the peculiarity of Idabato there would be a need for AFRICAphonie to return with a workshop targeting traditional rulers in Idabato.
Again a five-person working group was elected by acclamation under the leadership of the Youth President Mr. Etongo Effanga Edem and a follow-up financial support presented to them by the workshop organisers. The workshop ended with a word of appreciation and a family photograph. At the end of the three workshops supported by the British High Commission, another Resource person of the AFRICAphonie team Ekpe Inyang summarized his experience by saying “It was a journey that needed courage, workshops that gave us new communication skills as all of them were done in pidgin English, Bakassi people eager to put the past behind them, and a maritime peninsula endowed with touristic potentials yet in search of more structural and human resources.