By Boris Esono Nwenfor
This award was bestowed on the renowned writer, pan-Africanists and member of the National Commission on the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, NCPBM, this May 3 by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, JMC in the University of Buea during the World Press Freedom Day celebration.
“I am elated for such an award and more elated because it is given by the JMC Department which itself is supposed to be the cradle of journalism. I am very happy especially to be in the category of the promoter,” an elated George Ngwane told Pan African Visions in an interview shortly after receiving the award.
“I know that I have over the years tried to promote journalists out of campus and I think it is not just an award but a reward for the services I have offered in the area of press freedom and especially access to information.”
Through his organization AFRICAphonie, the astute writer and political analyst have for over the years been engaging media practitioners on the aspect of press freedom in the country while also urging the government to look into the media laws in the country that need to be modified.
On March 24 in Buea, AFRICAphonie schooled some fifty journalists on Press Law and Access to Information funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. That training was the second phase of the project after the multi-stakeholder conference that had taken place in Yaounde the previous month.
“I think everyone complains about access to information, especially public information and I think we have a provision even the 1996 amended information that talks about how we can access public information. The government provides laws and journalists should be able to navigate within those laws and be able to make them in such a way that they become friendly to the public,” George Ngwane added.
With the various training being organized, the founder and Executive Director of AFRICAphonie George Ngwane hope that the media professionals will engage the government on laws that impede the exercise of their profession and be equipped with skills in digital journalism which will help towards a transparent regulatory system – a system that guarantees the right of freedom of opinion and expression in Cameroon by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Journalists and associations must group themselves and fight for their press freedom. No one is going to do that for them…,” George Ngwane said.
“It is up to the journalists themselves to see how they can navigate some of the setbacks that the government has put for them without necessarily confronting the government. There must be a friendly dialogue between the government and the journalists and I look forward to someday when there will be a national forum on communication where all of these can be sorted between the government and the journalists.”
George Ngwane is thus looking forward to organizing more training in the months ahead for journalists as he continues his quota in shaping, educating and making sure that the journalism field has a serene atmosphere so that the journalists can practice their profession without any hindrances and barriers.
A brief note on George Ngwane
Mr George NGWANE was born in 1960 in Ngomboku, Tombel sub-division, Kupe Mwanenguba Division of the South West Region. He is the holder of a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, a Diploma in the French Language, a Postgraduate degree in the English language from the University of Yaounde and a Post-graduate diploma in Environmental Education from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.
He is a writer, teacher and civil society actor, a Senior Chevening Fellow in conflict prevention from the University of York (UK); a Rotary Peace Fellow from the University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand; a Commonwealth Professional Fellow tenable at the Minority Rights Group International London; a Bilingual Commission Scholar at the Welsh Language Commission, Cardiff Wales and a United Nations Minority Rights Fellow from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland