CJA Vice President for Africa defines mission at VOA Washington DC meeting
-Speaks of professionalism, partnership and Africa politics
By Nkong Ndem Peter
The Vice President of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) for Africa, HRH Chief Foanyi Nkemayang Paul has told the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington DC that after their elections in London last April, he and his team have kick-started activities to make CJA a rallying force for Journalists before their mandate comes to an end.
Speaking to VOA Managing Editor and Host for Day Break Africa James Butty, Chief Foanyi Nkemayang said the Commonwealth Journalists Association was created in Canada in 1978 by a group of talented and dedicated Journalists to promote professionalism, foster ethical goals and enshrine the canons of responsible Journalism in the golden books of history in Commonwealth member States. He said since then, the association has spread to several nations, particularly those that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. CJA, he told VOA networks with the Commonwealth Secretariat in an indefatigable effort to improve on the cardinal objectives of the profession.
The Vice President told VOA that after the London World Conference, CJA Africa has a defined mission for the training of its members on investigative reporting, ethics and deontology, elections coverage and monitoring in Commonwealth Nations in Africa, holding of Conferences, Seminars and Workshops.
He said exchange visits also feature as one of their priorities as members need to be exposed to what obtains in other countries, particularly in developed nations. Partnership was also discussed in the area of training and funding of members for Conferences, Seminars and Workshops at home and in the Diaspora.
On the practice of the profession in Cameroon and Africa, Chief Foanyi Nkemayang did not mince words at painting a pathetic picture of the state of the media in most African nations because of bureaucratic red tapes and political witch hunt. He lamented, these are some of the impediments that throttle the practice of Journalism in most African nations.
Advertisement which remains the live wire of every media house in Africa has become a teething problem as the State prefers government-owned media to the independent press in Cameroon, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Independent media ownership, he told VOA, remains a herculean task with bottlenecks here and there that plays against professional interests. Advertisement is hard to come by and even when it does come, payment is problematic; forcing some independent media houses to their knees. This is where feeble and light weights are compromised professionally with banknotes from paymasters.
Instead of applying the holistic approach, some spineless media professionals have resorted to yellow journalism by commercializing the profession. They publish highly defamatory material to satisfy their paymasters, the reason why some of them have embraced the law. Some politicians have also been accused of infiltrating the press and getting a few scrupulous and weak minded to dance to their cadence.
He condemned in strong terms what some professional adventurers publish only when they have been hired by avenging forces or political adversaries to run down opponents. Journalism in Africa he said, is still striving, but praised Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and to an extent, Cameroon and Liberia for the high level of professionalism in some sectors.
He told VOA that the government of Cameroon created the National Communication Council (NCC) to help reshape the Cameroon media that was almost running riot for lack of a clear vision and respect for ethics and canons of responsible journalism. The National Communication Council, he told VOA is doing a splendid job and recommended that the Council be given more powers not only to suspend and ban erring media houses and practitioners but to grant financial compensation to victims. None professionals, he also recommended should be stopped from murdering the profession further and lauded the Cameroon government for decreeing a Press Card Commission to rigorously put in place checks and balances to filter the quacks from professionals.
On the issue of politics, the CJA Vice President told VOA that most African leaders do not want to leave office. They choose to doctor their Constitutions to stay in power for as long as they desire, or rig their way through questionable elections in gross violation of electoral laws and rules.
Many have also decided to become Dictators and Presidents for life with no terms limit since they wield excessive power with a strong grip on the army and the nation’s wealth.
After the interview, the CJA Vice President for Africa Chief Foanyi Nkemayang, together with the Managing Editor and Host of Day Break Africa James Butty, met with the Managing Editor and Host of Straight Talk Africa Dr. Shaka Ssali and William Eagle another Managing Editor at the Voice of America. Talks of VOA partnership with CJA Africa have been tabled for further discussion. This article is just an excerpt of the Vice President’s interview on VOA.