An exciting phenomenon
The media is an indispensable tool in the development of every society. The importance of the media is best substantiated by the celebrated American statesman, Thomas Jefferson, who once said that if he had to choose between a press and a government, he would not hesitate to choose the former.
The significance of the press lies in its function as the mirror of society. There are only two things to do when standing face to face with the mirror – adjust or break the mirror.
The press in the North West is more than just vibrant; it is electrifying in its reporting and truly reflects the very active (volatile) nature of the North Westerner. Bamenda town alone has six FM Radio Stations. They are Afrique Nouvelle, Abakwa FM, Radio Hot Cocoa, Foundation Radio, Christian Gospel Radio and CBC radio. There are at least three Community Radio Stations: Ngoketunjia FM, Donga-Mantung FM and Batibo Community Radio. There are also three TV Stations operating from Bamenda: Cameroon National Television (CNTV), Republican Television Network (RTN) and Horizon TV. Private newspapers operating from Bamenda include: Chronicle, The Watchdog Tribune, The Herald Tribune, Frontier Telegraph, The Vanguard, World Echoes, The Reporter, Life Time, The Pilot and of recent, Day Break. Other publications in newsletter form are, however, enriched by regular newspapers with headquarters elsewhere. There are as well the dailies: Cameroon Tribune, and Le Jour, with headquarters in Yaounde; the bi-weeklies: The Post and Eden, with headquarters in Buea and Limbe respectively. The Guardian Post is another widely-read newspaper, it is a weekly with head office in Yaounde. Others are The Star, The Spokesman, City Times, Cameroon Now and Cameroon Express.
Many of these newspapers are like kolanuts. Nobody knows when a kola nut would fall from the tree. Just as in every popular profession, there are guards and charlatans. You see the latter at almost all public occasions brandishing recorders or conducting interviews which are never published. The North West Governor calls them Ayaba journalists, just like Hilton journalists in Yaounde. Even some of those who publish occasionally are also involved in the unenviable practice of harassing politicians and other newsmakers for money, popularly nicknamed “gombo.” The most derogatory term ever used on such journalists came from former Governor of the North West, Kumpa Issa. He once described them as coupeurs de routes (highway robbers). This was when some of them tried to obstruct a visiting Minister whom the Governor was accompanying to Bafut.
Cameroonians, as a rule, do more listening to the radio and watching television. North Westerners are, however, among the most informed Cameroonians. There are yet another group of persons who excel in misinformation because they are not informed themselves. They are always at the newsstands, not to buy newspapers but to peruse through headlines and later pose as political schoolmasters in beer and palm wine houses.
Even more dangerous to the communication landscape are publishers of newspapers without a fixed editorial policy. For instance, the person they carry to heaven on the wings of panegyric in one edition is the same one they damn as a rogue in the very next, and they do not think they owe the reader an explanation for that.
The vibrancy in the North West media is further demonstrated by the activities of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ). Apart from the fact that the North West chapter of CAMASEJ holds monthly meetings and educates members on the tenets of the profession, it organises scholarship awards for meritorious GCE candidates.
Janet Garvey, out-gone US ambassador to Cameroon, left with a very positive impression of North West CAMASEJ, which she communed with more than once. The same was the impression of Maryline Green, a Canadian media expert. The vibrancy in the North West press reflects the vibrancy of democracy and human rights in the Region.