By Ngala Hans, May 3, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Bamenda – Some twenty journalists plus other media professionals today May 3, commemorated the 2017 edition of World Press Freedom Day in Bamenda. The ceremony took place at Ntamulung Church Center, attended by both members and non-members of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ). Deliberations focused on the role of the Internet in aiding journalists do investigative journalism.
Aya Bach, a German lecturer in journalism at the Protestant University of Central Africa in Yaounde, gave a lengthy and rich discourse on the need for press freedom, stressing that “peace journalism is not appeasement journalism.” She insisted that “while the journalist has the duty to maintain peace, he cannot be oblivious to the truth. He must tell the truth, however bitter” Bach said.
Following Bach’s, Nkwain Colbert presented journalists with leaflets on internet laws in Africa and called on all to make sure they read it. The information in the leaflets he said, should help journalists avoid the traps of falling into wrong use of the internet. Nkwain regretted that a country like Cameroon chooses rather to instill fear into its citizens instead of making the press freer and more accountable.
A brief interaction moment ensued with reporters asking questions and sharing experiences on how they survived three months without internet. One reporter recounted how he had to buy a USB flash drive in which he will load in stories and then have to pay FCFA 1.000 (about 1.66455 USD) to the travel agency to get the stories to the editor in Yaounde. It was a very daunting task he said, but his paper pulled through nonetheless.
A high point at the deliberation was the raising of funds to support detained colleagues in Kondengui prison who were jailed, mostly in connection with the on-going crisis in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon.
Speaker after speaker at the meeting drew attention to the fact that the press is still far from being free in Cameroon and Aya Bach came back to highlight on this. Latest rankings by Reporters Without Borders, she said, place Germany at the 16th position and Cameroon at 130 out of 180. Cameroon has a long way to go with over 50 other countries.
It will be recalled that a reporter with Radio France Internationale (RFI) Ahmed Abba is behind bars for his reporting on the Boko Haram insurgency in the north of the country. More than ten other indigenous journalists are equally in detention in Cameroon, leading many to ask if the press is indeed free in Cameroon as the regime wants the world to believe.