Reflections on 3 weeks in Ethiopia and Cameroon
Random observations as I reflect back on the previous three weeks in Ethiopia and Cameroon:
1. In both places, everyone was extremely eager to find out about and learn peace journalism. In fact, of the 30 or so countries where I’ve taught, I can say that nowhere have I found journalists, academics, and students more interested and curious about PJ. Lecture halls were full, and, in Ethiopia, 19,000 people even watched one of my presentations on Facebook Live.
|Press conference, Kumba, Cameroon|
2. In both places, the journalists are aware of the many obstacles they face, starting with heavy handed governments. Although I did encounter a few reporters who threw their hands up and basically said that they were powerless to change things, most others saw in peace journalism an opportunity to change the harsh situation for journalists, and to improve their profession.
3. Ethiopians and Cameroonians are keen to continue learning about peace journalism. In Ethiopia, my colleagues are working on a proposal for a long term (6 months or so) project that would entail teaching and developing PJ curriculum at one or more universities. In Cameroon, the community media network is putting together a plan for a peace and electoral journalism project to head off media-induced election related violence in 2018.
|At the American Center in Addis Ababa.|
My sponsors during the weeks were tremendous. I was on a State Dept. program in Ethiopia, and my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa did a tremendous job setting up meetings, handling logistics, and so on. It’s always a pleasure to work with embassy personnel.
In Cameroon, Alexander Vojvoda of the Cameroon Media Network nearly worked me to death meeting nearly everyone in Cameroon, but I would have died a happy man since the meetings, and workshops and lectures, were uniformly interesting and satisfying. Handling logistics in Cameroon can be challenging, yet Alex had the whole project running like a finely tuned Swiss clock. I look forward to our continuing collaborations.