By Jesse KONANG
Advocacy is a powerful tool in a country’s governance process that inspires and motivates the different stakeholders (individuals, communities, the government) to take desired actions on topical public-related issues.
This constituted the theme of a three-day training workshop that AFRICAphonie, supported by the British Council-Cameroon, recently organised in Buea for leaders of some thirty civil society organisations (CSO) and media practitioners operating in the area.
If the workshop discussions were properly implemented and adequately supported by the Government, Ngwane further explained, they would help reduce the level of voter-apathy in the country’s forthcoming municipal and legislative elections as well as civil-society apathy towards unpopular tendencies and policies within the country’s Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (Vision 2035).
From the 19th to the 21st of December, 2012, the trainers, Victor Arokoyo and Yankyaa Terna from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, fascinated the participants with well researched policy advocacy lessons, ranging from the basics through networking to the role of mass communication in the process. Their lectures were consistently followed by group work, salted with interesting jokes, rich participant-experience/information sharing, and congregational dance songs and movements that energized the participants, from start to finish.
Closing the workshop, Mwalimu George Ngwane appreciated how supportive the British High Commission-Cameroon has constantly been to AFRICAphonie. He congratulated the two trainers on their professionalism and lauded the participants for their sense of commitment to the ideals of the workshop, hoping that the latter would faithfully apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills back in the field. He equally launched an appeal to the Government to ensure an enabling environment for the initiative, to increase public-private partnership in policy formulation in the country’s governance process within the “Vision 2035” emergent framework.
On behalf of the participants, Shey Ben Serkfem of People Earthwise, thanked the organisers, sponsor and facilitators for the “timely” workshop and promised to do their best to implement the discussions thereof and make the recommended advocacy network of CSOs operational as quickly as possible. The first planning meeting to that effect was unanimously scheduled on Wednesday, 16th January, 2013, in CHAMEG Office, Bomaka near Muea-Buea, at 10 a.m. The attendees encouraged the AFRICAphonie management and her donor partners to continue to organise more of such workshops in the future, to make CSO-interventions in the country’s democratic process more effective and sustainable.
The workshop ended with a moving parting prayer, the award of “Certificates of Commitment to Policy Advocacy” to the participants, exchange of contact addresses, taking of souvenir photographs, and sharing of a solidarity meal.