By Jesse Konang
This Guide summarises the deliberations of a workshop on “Reporting Conflict: Border Crises and Elections in Cameroon” organized by AFRICAphonie-Cameroon, with support from British High Commission to Cameroon, from 24th to 26th August, 2011 at Eta Palace Hotel, Molyko-Buea, South West Region, Cameroon. It was moderated by the Manager of the South West Regional Station of CRTV, Bernard Eko.
The aim of the workshop was to increase the professional and ethical soundness in the journalists covering border, election and ethnic conflicts in the country as well as strengthen networking among the news media.
Participants from a wide spectrum of press organs in the country attended the workshop. AFRICAphonie was honoured that the British High Commissioner, H.E. Bharat Joshi, could take time off his busy schedule to commune with the journalists.
The workshop activities included lectures, question-and-answer sessions, group work, and field trips, culminating in the award of certificates to the participants. The deliberations centred on (1) Understanding Violence, its Early Warning Signals and Conflict Management; (2) Reporting Elections, Ethnic and Border Conflicts; (3) Peace Journalism and Networking.
The journalists recognized that in reporting conflict, they disseminate more of reconciliatory, than inflammatory information. According to the resource persons, hate language tend to exacerbate rather than solve conflicts. To that effect they strongly recommended that the journalists implement balanced reporting, neutrality and provide equal opportunities to the contending parties desirous to express themselves.
According to the Workshop Convener, Mwalimu George Ngwane (Executive Director of AFRICAphonie) this Guide is relevant in both the immediate knowing that Presidential elections in Cameroon are imminent and the future knowing that the tools that journalists shall be equipped with after reading the Guide shall be used at the service of the society today and the day after tomorrow. He says
“the task of conflict-sensitive journalism does not by any means seek to transform journalists into fire brigades especially when politicians mine the political space with embers of invectives and flames of division; neither does it seek to make journalists grenades in the hands of self-seeking elite who rise to the pedestal of power on the rugged rungs of the human ladder. Rather it seeks to restore the basic tenets of whistle blowing reportage that would enable the journalist to identify early warning signals, analyse the proximate causal factors of conflict, bridge the chasm between latent and open conflict and accompany other stakeholders in establishing the elusive search for a just, sustainable and equitable democratic development”.
The Guide is available at AFRICAphonie office Buea, Tel 237 77668479 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,www.africaphonie.org