5 December 2012

Cameroon: Massive Turnout at Communication Forum Opening

Beyond expectations, the solemn opening of the National Communication Forum in Yaounde yesterday was euphoric. Clad in suits and Sunday-best vestments, communication professionals from the media, advertising, cable distribution and institutions turned out massively for the grand opening of the 2012 National Communication Forum that started yesterday, December 5, in Yaounde.

Standing in several groups, the spirit of camaraderie that was noticeable in the Conference Centre's main lobby betrayed the enthusiasm felt by professionals in meeting their peers. As drums from several traditional dance groups accompanied the march of guests and personalities into the 1,500-capacity hall filled to the brim, organisers could be seen reorganising their protocol stratagems to manage the huge attendance that tripled the expected 600 persons. Seated in the hall, participants listened expectantly to speeches alongside several cabinet ministers and guests. Foreign experts Jean-Louis Roy and Georges Gros who occupied frontline positions joined in applauses as the personal representative of the Government Delegate to the Yaounde City Council, Rose Zang Nguele, called for the rebirth of professionalism in Cameroon's communication sector and expressed the wish for communication professionals to become vectors of development.

Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary hit the message further in a bilingual speech by castigating the press for breaking the social contract with its readership, preferring repeated and unjustified attacks on citizens. As he announced the imminent end to administrative tolerance in a bid to cleanse the sector, he did not fail to name the 2008 collective agreement with journalists and the ratification of the 1950 Florence Agreement by Cameroon to ensure minimum well-being for journalists and press organs.

A melodious interlude by the Belinga Group which sang the well-known "We are the world" sent participants humming and perhaps mentally changing the lyrics with those urging pressmen to "make the world a better and a brighter place." The Prime Minister, Head of Government's personal representative, Minister of State, Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Relations with the Assembly, Amadou Ali, paternally called on professionals to regain their lost patriotism to enable the country consolidate achievements. "Freedom conferred to you by society does not give you the power to destroy, but to construct," he beckoned. However, his call could not have been heard by a group of protesting pressmen who brandished placards carrying messages illustrating their plight. Meanwhile, the Scientific Commission launched the workshops with inaugural presentations.

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