The nobility and glamour that characterises the journalism profession in more advanced societies is a thing of beauty and envy. The power the media has over the society and to wreckless leaders is what makes the profession honourable and respectable.
In advanced societies, non functioning governments have changed, reforms granted, presidents have been put on hot seats which have led them to resign and wars ended because of the active role the media has played in these societies.
In Cameroon, it is a different ball game altogether. It is not a place for journalists to thrive in the line of duty due to laws that constantly threaten the freedom and independence of the media. The press is always kept on its toes for doing their job. The government of Cameroon has taken away the very essence of every journalism practice itself, “the freedom of expression”.
The constitution actually guarantees freedom of the press, but in reality, the threat of government censorship generally prevents points that may oppose the views of the big men in power. The press in Cameroon has never been free throughout the two regimes that have ruled the country.
To be a press man in Cameroon, you just have to tell yourself anytime is anytime.
To be a journalist in Cameroon, you have to learn to see the truth and not say it unless it does not concern the big men in power or if it will bring down the opposition. Otherwise nothing goes out if you are to be spared. Ministers organise press conferences and instruct journalists on what they have to say and what not to say.
If you fail to toe the line, you are arrested and charged with acts of terrorism, especially if what said was not in favour of the regime in power. Many have faced summary arrests, torture and detention as a result of not adhering to the government barons. Besides the intimidations and excessive physical brutality meted on journalists, the psychological torture they incur through warnings and strict censorship only go a long way to exacerbate an already bad situation.
A climate of terror has been instilled on the practice of journalism. The government has even withheld final legal certification from many radio stations around the country in order to keep them permanently under threat of closure if they fail to comply. They equally often come up with defamation prosecutions against journalists without prior notification, and now with the Anglophone crisis at its peak, the general call has now turned to cooperating with the separatist fighters, consequently charging with acts of terrorism.
Journalism in Cameroon never ceases to be a nightmare and it seems like it might remain so until at least power changes hands.
Mimi Mefo Info