5 October 2017

Cameroon: Stage-Managing Information

Photo: Le Pays
Riots and civil disobedience in the two regions of Cameroon are drawing closer to a year.

Recent events in the country with the ramifications taken by the crisis in the North West and South West regions have exposed threats of another nature namely, the type of misinformation being dished out to the public about Cameroon. Most people generally understand the circulation of false information on the social media since the medium can be accessed by just anybody irrespective of their knowledge in communication. The results have been that those going online to look for news could do the filtering themselves by selecting what appears useful news depending on their inclinations. Such a situation is an obvious consequence of modernisation or better still what the Information Super highway can do to a society. Thus far, the challenge has been enabling citizens to count on mainstream media to be informed about the salient issues in the country and abroad. Unfortunately, the tides seem to be changing. Of late, some international news outlets have focused attention on Cameroon deliberately for the wrong reasons. Evidently, the public demonstrations which reflect the social tension in the North West and South West regions, the injunctions by administrative authorities in both localities against the free movement of persons all combined to attract media attention. Yet, without calling names, the Radio France International, RFI has opted for newspaper review that left few observers indifferent. Could the choice of online publications alone on Cameroon and foreign news outlets from selected African countries, especially in West Africa be innocent? Sure enough, the editorial options of any media organ can be justified by the choices made by the management of the house. But when such decisions clearly appear to create disorder and draw parallels that reflect bad faith, value judgment becomes inevitable. Besides announcing on Monday 3 October, 2017 that the situation in Cameroon could be likened to the Arab Spring, the choice equally turned a blind eye to efforts by government to encourage cohesiveness across the cultural divide in Cameroon. Other facts being pushed into the press reviews have surrounded issues like the age of the Head of State, his style of governance or lack of it, as the media organs may think fit. Cameroonians have value systems that many who look at the country with foreign eyes generally end up with erroneous notions about the people and their nation. Predicting carnage and insinuating doom's day for Cameroon has often proven to be pipe dreams of another epoch. The people have in most cases been able to identify their point of convergence by ignoring calls for division and destruction to rally behind their common good. Those who continue to instigate violence and disorder may just have to go elsewhere to achieve such results. By picking and choosing information that attempts to paint Cameroon and its leadership negative cannot in any way be the true alternative for the country. Those who manoeuvre facts and figures about the ongoing civil strife in the North West and South West regions may end up being surprise that they have been preaching in the air. Government may not have provided the type of answers that some people would have wanted but efforts have been made and are still ongoing to ensure that peace, concord and stability reign in the two localities that have been affected by social tension for the past months . It is such a spirit of consensus and harmony that all well meaning Cameroonians and friends of the country ought to look for and not make deliberate attempts to set the country ablaze.

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