On 7 October 2018, Presidential Elections will be held in Cameroon. The election is prepared under challenging conditions as violent conflicts between anglophone separatists and security forces in the North-West and South-West regions continue to escalate. Media houses and journalists see themselves trapped between separatists, military and government. The Cameroon Community Media Network (CCMN) has collaborated with the Centre for Global Peace Journalism and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Yaoundé on a month-long training-of-trainer workshop series on peace journalism and election reporting for the over 70 members of the peace journalism network.
The initial protest of the anglophone minority in the Cameroonian NW and SW regions have escalated to a violent conflict between armed anglophone secessionist groups and Cameroonian security forces in the last weeks and months . Cameroonian journalists, especially in the anglophone regions, face difficulties in covering the up-coming Presidential elections in October 2018 as fears of harassment, threats and violence against media houses rise. Especially civilians are fleeing the two English-speaking regions (around 160.000 IDPs according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)), but also civil society activists and journalists find themselves caught between the lines of the military and the anglophone separatists because of the way they cover and report on the conflict and the elections. Since 2015 the Cameroon Community Media Network (CCMN) has built capacities in peace journalism, reconciliation journalism within the Cameroonian media landscape and since June 2018 working on how community media can address the situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of the anglophone conflict.Peace Journalism in Cameroon, difficult but feasible – The Insight News Africa
After last year’s cooperation with the Centre of Global Peace Journalism and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Yaoundé, during which over 120 journalists were sensitised on issues of election reporting and conflict-sensitive journalism in 4 workshops and 7 in-house trainings, the CCMN has initiated further joint activities on peace journalism and election reporting. The CCMN decided to hold three training-of-trainer workshops for the members of the peace journalism network in Douala, Bafoussam and Yaoundé from 4 July to 4 August 2018.
“This workshop was a necessity given that the concept of peace journalism is still new in Cameroon with limited or no resource persons on site. Prof Steven Youngblood’s visit was a great relief as we had first-hand knowledge on peace journalism and election reporting. It gets heightened with his bank of experience, sharing of success stories around Africa and the world like Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Sudan.” Rosaline Akah Obah, CCMN president of the NW and West chapter, comments on the importance of the 3-day training-of-trainer workshop on peace journalism and election reporting for CCMN NW and West members with Prof Steven Youngblood, Director of the Centre for Global Peace Journalism/US, held in Bafoussam/West region.Journalists Challenged To Uphold Peace Journalism Principles in Crisis Situations « THE FOCUS 237
“Journalists of the network have come to see the difference between conventional journalism and peace journalism, that in any case does not take away any tenets of journalism. Rather it emphasises that good journalism is peaceful journalism.” Rosaline Akah Obah continues. The results of a risk analysis which has been conducted during the workshop series with members from the NW, SW, West, Littoral and other Cameroonian regions reflect this assumption: the self-assessment of the Cameroonian journalists shows that practicing peace journalism, have a lower risk of becoming victims of violence, harassment or threats from government or separatists in the current conflict.THE STATESMAN_ Peace Journalist, a Community Media role model to a better society_
Rev Geraldine Fobang, CCMN president SW/Littoral chapter explains at the second workshop held in Douala “At a time when Cameroon faces multifaceted crisis, further compounded by the uncertain outcome of the Presidential elections on 7 October 2018, Prof Youngblood’s visit was very apt to strengthen the fragile media landscape. Journalists of the SW, Littoral and other regions gained peace journalism skills to be proactive in reporting in order not to “exacerbate an already dire situation” and minimise media induced violence before, during and after the up-coming elections.”
The final 4-day workshop was held at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Yaoundé and concluded the month-long project with a training-of-trainer workshop with participants from all ten Cameroonian regions. The main discussion evolved around how to build trainings for colleagues at home media house, reporting on IDPs, peace and reconciliation journalism and the use of social media as a tool for peace journalists. In addition, the CCMN was welcomed to expand its work to other Cameroonian regions. Especially colleagues from the Grand North region (Extreme-North, North and Adamawa) expressed their interest to build capacities in peace journalism in their sub-region and to form a peace journalism network in the face of the violent conflict with Boko Haram.