Date: March 21 – 23 2011
Venue: Hotel Residence Carlos, Muea road, Buea
Organiser: AFRICAphonie – Cameroon
Sponsorship: Commonwealth Foundation, London
At the official opening of the three-day international workshop, convener, George Ngwane explained the rationale, saying, AFRICAphonie and the Commonwealth Foundation were out to build the capacity and remind art journalists it is their responsibility to showcase the artist.
According to the AFRICAphonie executive, art journalists should be at the fore of celebrating and promoting African icons and celebritie.
While imploring arts journalists to explore more opportunities, especially on the internet, which are focussed on arts and culture, he also invited policy makers and those in the field of arts and culture to network.
According to Ngwane, the Cameroon Association of Arts and Culture Journalists should be consolidated, recognised and be promoted by arts journalists.
Ngwane said that the coverage of arts and culture is sporadic and not deep in content in Cameroon like other parts of the African continent, hence there is need to build the skills of journalism lecturers as well as include arts and culture in the curriculum of journalism students, wishing that it should start with the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Buea, in his town of residence, Buea.
Delegate of Communication, Southwest Region, Chris Enow Oben invited the arts journalists at the workshop to tap from the rich repertoire of the participants and resource persons and go forward to put arts and culture on the front page of their newspapers and make it headline news in their radio and television broadcasts thanks to a well researched and written reports.
Prof. Enoh Tanjong – Vice Dean, Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, UB, representing the Vice Chancellor of UB said knowledge on arts and cultural journalism is acquired. He enjoined lecturers of the journalism department in UB to be involved in the development of arts and culture in the area of news writing.
The journalism scholar said the journalism and mass communication programme in UB is flexible and new twists are welcomed, as designed by the fore fathers of the programme.
He mentioned that the civil society is part and parcel of the curriculum development of the journalism programme, indicating that arts and culture cannot be left out if concrete proposals are developed.
Setting the scene of the workshop, Prof George Dopgima Nyamndi, lecturer of Literature at the University of Buea and chair of the NGO, Friends For Africa in a discourse dubbed - Culture As Ideology, Prof Nyamndi invited policy makers to rise up to the challenge of globalisation by encouraging internal cohesion, cultural stability and preservation.
To him, the African cultural ideology is flying at half mast. Therefore, “We have to host our cultural flag and see it fly at full mast,” he added.
Prof. Nyamndi said arts and culture should be modernised as academic disciplines while arts journalists should ensure that media coverage on arts and culture is on-going.
In DAY TWO of the workshop, participants went into group discussions. Here are their findings;
Group Discussions Of The Workshop, Tuesday, March 22 2011
Group 1 – Strength & Opportunities
- Training – availability of training facilities at the universities
- Multi cultural representation in the universities
- Availability of ICTs for cultural knowledge management
- Government policies promote arts and cultural reporting
- Cultural reporting leads to mutual solidarity amongst tribes
- Availability museums, archives, galleries, libraries, folklore and shrines provide for indigenous knowledge management systems
- Ratification of international conventions and treaties
- Promotion of ecotourism
- Creation of job opportunities for Cameroonians
- Our newspapers do report on cultural issues
- Liberalisation of the media landscape in Cameroon
- Reflective forums – Africaphonie, Goethe Institute
- Art and Culture reporting can be packaged and marketed
Group 2 – Weaknesses & Threats
- The influence of religious background
- Limited knowledge
- Unbalanced reporting
- Weak analysis
- Lack of interest
- Limited or no broadcast or print space
- Selective reporting
- Reporter’s cultural attachment
- Lack of originality or creativity
- Limited access to information
- Armchair journalism
- Lack of formal training in reporting arts and culture
- Lack of a well defined policy on arts and culture
- Influence of “superior western cultures”
- High polarisation of the media landscape; cable television
- Financial constraints from governments, media promoters
- Cultural insensitive audience
- Editor’s bias on cultural reporting
- Increasing negative coverage of our culture by the western world
- Limited access to information
- Taboos; certain cultures don’t propagate certain rites
Group 3 – Strengths & Opportunities
- A rich and diversified cultural cultural patrimony
- Availability of media showcasing
- Hospitality of the custodians of the culture
- Intermarriage permits the penetration into different cultural spaces
- Freedom of settlement
- Religious tolerance
- Political stability
- Culture attracts a lot of foreign attention
- Four natural cultural zones
- Some of our national languages are windows of unity and African integration
- Variety of traditional festivals
- Government support and attention in the area of tourism, culture and crafts
- Rich natural and cultural sites
- An academic curriculum that encourages the teaching of national languages and cultures
- The creation of MIPROMALO to promote the use of indigenous building materials
- A rich variety of traditional regalia and costumes
- The freedom of expression in Cameroon should also be exploited in the areas of arts and culture
- The television houses and presenters should take up the policy in dressing traditional
Group 4 – Weaknesses & Threats
- Lack of financing
- Biased media programming – editorial policy
- Disorganised cultural structure
- Poor promotion for cultural events
- Poor reporting capacity
- Absence of culture in educational curriculum
- Globalisation – technical and capsule information, priority consumption
- Poor transmission of cultural values
- No national cultural policy
- Negative exploitation of cultural diversity
- Inadequate reporting equipment
Group Discussions Of The Workshop, Wednesday, March 23 2011
Introducing Art & Culture In JMC
- Problems and Challenges – specialised human and material resources
- Administrative bottlenecks
- Inadequate IT facilities
- Poor perception of arts and culture
- Availability of some human resources within the university
- On-going courses and activities in which art and culture are related
Long Term Goals
- A course design – introduction on arts and culture
- Arts and culture reviewing and reporting
- Contemporary issues in arts and cultural reporting
Short term plans
- Year I - Encourage students to minor in arts and culture fields
- Year II - JMC 303 – Mass Media and Society
- JMC 312 – MEDIA ETHICS to focus on arts and culture issues
- Experts in those fields to be brought in for seminars
- Year III – JMC 409 – Advanced Writing & Reporting)
- Experts to focus on creative writing, arts and culture and seminars
- Final year students to focus term papers on arts and culture.
OTHER SHORT TERM GOALS
- OPEN DAYS AND CULTURAL EVENINGS IN THE JMC
- Radio slots and newspapers (CHARIOT) space on arts and culture
- See short/Long term approaches
All JMC staff and other lecturers present at the workshop put these factors together.