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Culture Enthusiasts Advocate For Better Media Coverage 

By Walter Wilson Nana

Not much of arts and culture is seen in the media in Cameroon and other parts of the African continent. That was the worry expressed by scholars, observers, artists, journalists and promoters of arts and culture at the recent international workshop on Reporting Arts & Culture In Cameroon that took place in Buea.

Africaphonie workshop participants

The workshop convener, George Ngwane, Executive Director of Buea-based NGO, AFRICAphonie, posited that journalism institutions, beginning with that implanted in his town of residence, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, JMC, in the University of Buea, UB, should include the art and culture component in their curriculum. He argued that the skills of journalists must be built on reporting arts and culture in the classroom, before they move to the newsroom.

He said coverage of arts and culture is sporadic and not deep in content, laying some of the blame on the arts journalists who are not properly skilled on reporting in that domain. The AFRICAphonie executive invited Cameroon Association of Arts and Culture Journalists to consolidate themselves, recognise and promote each other; showcase the artists, celebrate African icons and celebrities, explore more opportunities, especially on the internet, which are focussed on arts and culture.

In his keynote address, Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Ghanaian-born journalist and communication consultant, said African cultural voice should be collectively and forcefully pushed into globalisation. Kwasi invited journalists to consistently cover cultural issues within and out of their respective countries, adding that cultural journalism does not remain on the art, but there are more elements such as the aesthetics and the value of art. While the communication consultant encouraged constant lobbying on cultural policy, especially in parliament, he said cultural journalism is a one-stop-shop, including; politics, economics, social and cultural issues.

Kwasi said cultural explosion by journalists would bring the people together and fight poverty.
Professor of African Literature and Culture at UB, Kashim Ibrahim Talla, questioned what the contribution of the African continent was on the world scene, while recommending that it was the duty of journalists to bring back Cameroonian and African culture on to the fore.
“The story of Africa must be told by journalists,” he advised.

Suzy Bell, arts journalist and director of Amani Arts Festival, from South Africa, noted that arts journalists must be useful in their community and determine a new way of thinking. She encouraged arts journalists to engage in volunteering for the development of the arts sector.
According to Bell, arts journalists should celebrate cultural heroes, celebrate cultural diversity, be proactive, steadfast and get hold of the key cultural calendar within and out of their communities.

In a discourse that sought to liaise arts and culture from the classroom to the newsroom, Telesphore Mba Bizo, arts journalist at Cameroon Radio & Television, CRTV, and member, Arterial Network – Cameroon, challenged UB’s Department of JMC and other journalism institutions in Cameroon to begin preparing arts journalists from the classroom so that they will be better equipped to report arts and culture.

However, he expressed disgust that art and culture beats are shelved for the backburner, blaming arts journalists for lack of interest in the domain. At the close of the three-day workshop that was sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation, Ngwane said, though the African cultural industry is blocked in the room of silence, it was the time for UB’s JMC to start a pilot centre for the study of art and culture.

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