Prepared by Hilda Bih, Jeff Ngawe , and Lynn Cockburn.
A weekly media schedule for programs in the NWR is at the end of this newsletter, and available on the GRID Website. Please send updates to GRID Network Coordinator, Dr. Mbibeh Louis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff Ngawe Yufenyu at email@example.com
Disability and Inclusion in the news – GRID Media and Rehab Group Co-Leader Jeff Ngawe Yufenyu has a new weekly column in The Independent Observer newspaper called “Disability and Inclusion”. Each week he writes on a topic of interest such as how persons with visual impairments are using Smart phones, and the challenges of employment for people with disabilities. Please buy the paper to read all about the issues! Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to support this great initiative.
Breaking Barriers: Hilda Bih is the host of a new show called “Breaking Barriers“ showing on CRTV. Breaking Barriers is a monthly TV show that highlights the reality of life for persons with disabilities in Cameroon, celebrating their achievements while putting a spotlight on the challenges they still face. Its goal is to effect change in wrong perceptions about disability in Cameroon.
Interview with Media Leaders Hilda Bih and Jeff Ngawe Yufenyu
We are delighted that these two media leaders have agreed to be interviewed for this edition of the GRID Notebook.
Q: What do you think are the most important issues related to media coverage about disabilities and inclusive practices in the North West Region?
Hilda: For too long media coverage about disabilities and inclusive practices has followed the model of pity and charity which is practised in the region. It is important for media practitioners to set the pace by
adopting a more rights based approach to reporting that speaks the right language and gives a voice to persons with disability (PWDs) to speak for themselves.
Ngawe: Media practitioners are not quite involved in DID (disability inclusive development) issues as they could be. They are not very clear on how to approach persons with disabilities or development actors for news stories. The low profile and poor visibility and exposure given to PWDs by the media, the wrong language used when referring to PWDs, the poor knowledge about what policy or the law says about PWDs, the self-defeat of some PWDs who have become resigned to their conditions, and generally, how to go about issues concerning PWDs, are areas that need greater focus by media people.
Administrators and government people sometimes make things worse by portraying ignorance to policies on disability. Even when their attention is drawn to such policy, they decline to respect the policy, sometimes with the excuse that they haven’t had clearance from their hierarchy. These are important concerns that if properly addressed the standard of media coverage about disabilities and inclusive practices would step up.
Q: Who are your media role models? Who are your favourite authors or media personalities, and why?
Hilda: Oprah Winfrey is one of the media personalities I admire. She has a contagious passion that helps her relate with almost everyone she interviews. Her willingness to open up and be vulnerable about her own struggles and her courage to delve into many untold stories is quite encouraging. She believes in using the platform she has to bring positive change.
Ngawe: I have been a radio fanatic from childhood. This drive in me pushed an uncle of mine to buy a small transistor radio for me, when I was in secondary school. I have usually slept with my radio on. Apart from listening to local radio stations, I have usually, during my Secondary and High School days, stayed glued to Cross River Radio in Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria, Voice of America and the BBC. Magazines like Cameroon Life (now defunct), newspapers like Cameroon Post (also defunct) kept me reading every time they were published.
One individual whose writings I admire is Mr. Francis Wache, Executive Editor of The Post Newspaper, who is now the Mayor of Nkor Council in Bui division. Amongst other reasons, I admire Mr. Wache’s framing of sentences, which sometimes are as short as one or two or three words. He always reminded me of the acronym KISS meaning Keep It (your sentence) Short and Simple. As for my favourite authors, I’ve read books generally, but one author I can put my finger on is Geoffrey Chaucer, who inspired me with his high sense of imagination and satire, coupled with his humour.
Q: What do you appreciate most about what is happening in the NWR community, related to inclusion?
Hilda: The exciting thing about how inclusion is being practiced in the North West Region is that it is touching almost all the facets of the community, unlike in the past where rural areas were left out, only a few organisations were active, and certain forms of disability were not considered.
Ngawe: The community of North West is still living in the era of the charity model in dealing with PWDs. However, there is much awareness being raised, for example, from the direction of Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, CBCHS, through one of its programmes known as Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, SEEPD. I have witnessed greater attempts at inclusion as the efforts of SEEPD have motivated municipal councils around the North West to assume active roles in DID issues, especially in recent times. Much, however, is still to be done as far as inclusion is concerned.
Q: Both of you have recently started new disability and inclusion initiatives. What inspired you to do so? What have you learned from taking those risks?
Hilda: I’ve always believed in the power of the medium of television to change wrong perceptions. My hope is that the TV show I’m running will trigger discussion and action in the right direction.
The experience is teaching me anew about the power of concerted action and team work.
Ngawe: I’ve taken the commitment to create a column in The Independent Observer newspaper titled “Disability & Inclusion.” This compels me to do at least one story on disability inclusive development every week. We just published the sixth story. My motivation is first that I belong to a media group called GRID Media & DID, where I am Co Leader.
I thought to myself that it was not enough coming together in this group once in three to four months and holding a meeting to discuss DID issues and then go to sleep and wait for the next three to four months to meet again. So I told myself: “Heh man, you must be active in the period between these meetings.” I went into reflection and when the idea of a column came to mind, I immediately embraced it and went into action. After taking the risk, I’ve come to learn that though it’s difficult, it’s not impossible, because, now, I can do at least one story each week.
Q: We know that you have been active in many ways locally, nationally, and internationally. Any other key messages that you have for the GRID members?
Hilda: We cannot afford to ignore the effect that every ‘little’ contribution we make brings.
The most advanced societies in matters of inclusion are still striving for better, so we shouldn’t relent our efforts at creating a community where everyone matters.
Ngawe: I have been active in Journalism practice for several years. I am very involved in radio and newspaper journalism. I am an active member of Cameroon Association of English-speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, North West chapter. I encourage colleagues to take an interest in disability and inclusion issues, while urging GRID members to report DID with passion. The scope of DID is broad and wide requiring commitment and involvement. I also encourage leaders of the GRID Network to make openings for members of Media & DID group to do field trips to be acquainted with DID realities.
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