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    This weblog is based on DIBUSSI TANDE's personal views on people, places, issues and events in Cameroon, Africa and the world - Citizen Journalism at its finest!

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« (Audio Report) Meeting in Washington, DC between the Cameroonian Community and the US Ambassador to Cameroon | Main | Daily Show Interview: William Kamkwamba "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" »

October 18, 2009

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DANGO TUMMA

to a foreigner PAUL BIYA IS PRESIDENT
OF BRITISH SOUTHERN CAMEROONIANS TOO,
BUT THIS PEOPLE NEVER VOTED FOR HIM, HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON WITH HIM
THE PRESIDENT DOESNT EVEN SPEAKS NOR WRITE ENGLISH, SOO WHY WOULD HIS DECRESS AND RULLING BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY ANY SOUTHERN CAMEROONIANS WHO
ARE ILLEGALLY , OCCUPIED BY HIS CAMEROUN MILITARY,?

mbale


Agnes Taile
Acceptance Speech
International Women’s Media Foundation
2009 Courage in Journalism Award


It will soon be November 6, and once again I will remember those painful events when my work brought me closer to death than ever before. But today is a great day for women of Cameroon and I am deeply honored to represent them here by accepting this award in the name of their suffering, their frustrations and their despair.

As I stand before you, I think that one of them is going through intense pain in one corner of this country so dear to me: Cameroon. And I could not fail to mention here the courage and the determination of these women who deserve our respect and our support.

I think of all those young girls forced to give up their quest for knowledge to suffer discrimination, prostitution and early and forced marriages.
I think of those who still feel the sharp blade of the cutter's knife, leaving behind physical and psychological trauma and, even worse, the risk of HIV/AIDS.

I think of all those women who will never see their children again, them having fallen victim to hostage takers who cut their throats or burnt them alive for an unpaid ransom. I will never forget the tears of these helpless mothers whose innocent sons fell under the bullets of the fighting in Chad or in the hunger riots of February 2008 in Cameroon.

I cannot forget all these women, the children, the adults and the elderly who live below the poverty line and suffer unfairly under the ever-present corruption deeply rooted in the justice system, the police, the healthcare system and the entire Cameroonian civil service. And how can we forget the embezzlement of public funds despite the arrest of the alleged plunderers of the State’s resources.

I could not list here all the injustices I have personally experienced since I was born, which have compelled my decision to become society’s watchdog.

I know that no true journalist can remain silent in the face of these injustices, despite intimidation or gagging of the press, whether by arrests, false imprisonment and hasty trials or physical and psychological assault. I have experienced all these and my presence here today is proof of it.

This is why now, for almost 8 years, I have chosen the most beautiful job in the world: I am a journalist. Such work provides the feeling of having done something positive for humanity, affording a smile and a voice to the oppressed by carrying on the relentless pursuit of truth and an end to inequality.

I am not ready to forget the innumerable miles I have walked in my quest for information, those nights and days of hunger, working for no pay, with the constant threat of unemployment (which today for me is a reality) in the name of the freedom of expression I never cease to demand within the media.

I am not ready to let corruption win in my difficult fight against the government’s failures, our employers’ weaknesses and my family who still struggles to understand my choice.

I may have lost my job, but my conviction is stronger today than ever before. And this honor you have bestowed upon me will only harden my resolve.

I dedicate this IWMF award to all the women of Cameroon, and in particular to women journalists, journalist unions and organizations supporting our efforts.

My heartfelt thanks go out to you for this award you have granted me. And in closing, I will share with you an old saying: that which does not kill you will only make you stronger.

Thank you.

Journalist Agnes Taile Speaks Out as a Voice for Cameroon

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By Lindsey Wray

‘Shhh. Be quiet so we can listen.’

This is what Agnes Taile remembers hearing each afternoon as a little girl in Cameroon when her father’s favorite radio program came on the air. As she listened intently to the news program, Taile recalls thinking what a beautiful voice the announcer had.

She, too, wanted to have a voice.

“I was drawn to the microphone,” she said. “I was interested in everything that brought me close to the microphone.”

Like the radio announcer, Taile, now 29, became a journalist. She is the recipient of a 2009 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Eager to use her voice, Taile, who spent much of her childhood in Garoua in northern Cameroon, jumped at the opportunity to join her school’s journalism club. Then, at age 14, she was offered a position hosting the poetry portion of a local radio broadcast. She was ecstatic.

Delighted though she was at the prospect of hearing her voice on the air, Taile was unsure of what the profession entailed.

“I didn’t really know what it meant to be a journalist,” she said. “It was only when I got my first job at a radio station that I discovered the world of information.”

That first job in journalism was at Tom Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) in Yaounde. Taile had moved there to live with an uncle, and the TBC signal was so strong at his house that it was the only station she could hear. Her interest piqued, Taile went to meet with the station’s director, who tested her ability by having her read at a microphone. The following day, she was back as an employee. Within a week, Taile was reading news briefs on air, and in a couple months, she was doing the morning show. She was 22.

Taile said her older brother later told her that her chosen career is “a love story between her and the microphone.” Journalism seemed the perfect fit for her. Her mother, however, thought she might be taking too many risks, and her father warned her to be careful. Taile brushed them off.

“I am a lover of freedom,” she said.

But Taile’s freedom and her newfound voice were about to be challenged.

She started in May 2005 as a reporter at Sweet FM in Douala, where she hosted a talk show that was broadcast at a peak time. Called A vous la parole (Over to You), the show covered political, social, and economic issues. Taile reported on sensitive subjects, such as an operation to track members of the government who had embezzled funds. She reported on social inequality and homosexuality, and she was often critical of the government, particularly President Paul Biya.

In the fall of 2006, Taile began to receive threatening phone calls demanding that she stop her “pursuit.” She ignored the threats, proclaiming on air that she refused to alter her reporting.

Then, on November 6, 2006, the threats became reality. In the middle of the night, three men abducted Taile from her home. Heads covered in balaclavas and wearing all black, the men must be burglars, Taile thought. She saw their knives and felt her terror rise. It was around 2 a.m.

“My first reaction was a reaction of fear – not for myself, but for my son,” she said.

But then, she heard the men leave her son’s room and come toward her. They asked her to follow them, saying, “You better keep your mouth shut.” Taile had no time to think.

“I had no choice,” she said.

Grabbing Taile by her elbows and her hair, two of the men dragged her in silence to a ravine around 300 meters away. The third man stayed in her home.

“We’ve told you to shut up,” she recalls them saying to her. “You wanted to play tough, so this is what you get.”

When Taile inquired as to the identity of the men, one of them seized her neck and began strangling her. They proceeded to beat her on the ribs and arms for 20 minutes and then cut her hands and wrists.

“At that moment I thought things were over for me,” Taile said.

But because they heard a noise on a nearby road, the men ran away suddenly, sparing Taile’s life but leaving her for dead in the ravine.

“The pain was excruciating,” Taile recalled. “It took a lot of effort to get me out of the ditch.”

Taile isn’t sure how long she lay there. She couldn’t cry out because her neck and throat were hurt so badly. She remembers wondering if she was dead or alive. Eventually, she decided that if she could still feel pain, she must be alive, and she must make an effort to get out.

Maneuvering with her elbows, Taile crawled out of the ravine, stopping every few minutes to regain her strength. She paused at a neighbor’s house to try to get someone’s attention but was unable to wake anyone since she couldn’t speak.

Finally, she made it home, and, finding no sign of the third man, tried to wake her son. She worried that he, too, was hurt. But later that morning, after she had presumably passed out, a family member came to take her to a clinic; her son was unharmed. The attackers were never found.

The trauma of that night was so intense that Taile was disabled for three months. She did physical therapy – “I had to re-learn to do everything with my hands,” she said.

And, as her vocal chords healed, she gradually regained the ability to speak.

But upon returning to work at Sweet FM, she learned that her show had been cancelled.

“I could no longer express myself in the same way,” she said.

Undeterred, Taile found a reporting job with Canal 2 International in Yaounde. There, she covered three Northern provinces of Cameroon, an area disadvantaged by a hostile climate, poverty, lack of potable water and hunger.

In February 2008, Taile covered riots in Chad, where she was one of few reporters to venture there for coverage. Conditions were difficult, and there was a heavy military presence of government loyalists and rebels.

“I felt useless to stay behind,” she said. “You have to see it for yourself…I will not stay behind the barrier.”

Taile isn’t sure whether she considers herself to be a courageous journalist, but after the 2006 attack, she is more aware than ever of the risks she was taking and how her job was endangering her own life and the lives of those close to her.

“I go beyond the obstacles and limits some journalists set for themselves,” she said.

Her friends tell Taile that she is taking too many risks, but she is sure of her voice.

“My answer is always the same,” she said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Lindsey Wray is the IWMF’s communications coordinator

source: http://iwmf.org/article.aspx?id=1066&c=carticles

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