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Journalists, Others Awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees 

By Francis Tim Mbom

Three renowned Journalists, The Post’s Editor-in-Chief cum National President of the Cameroon Union of Journalists, CUJ, Charles Ndi Chia, the Publisher of The Star Group of Newspapers, HRH Chief Osari Maribo Nkemayang Paul Foanyi and the Southwest Regional Communication Delegate, Eno Chris Oben  have been awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees.

Dr. Charles Ndi Chia

It was on Sunday, November 21, in Limbe at the City Conference Hall that these three, alongside two former MPs: Hon Victoria Tomedi Ndando, Hon. Gwendoline Burnley and the current MP for Fako East, Hon. Rachel Lyonga, Mr Moses Kem Fongang, Sylvester Vefonge,  Zaacs Nnoko Ngaaje and Chief Donatus Odirichukwu. They received Honorary Doctorate degrees from the renowned St Thomas-a-Becket University of Canterbury, London.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of the Limbe I Council, Daniel Matute Lyonga, Architect, Ewane Nnoko Ngaaje, Mrs Jane Lawrence, Ms Esther-Love Afy Ayuk and one other were conferred with Academic Doctorate degrees from the Charismatic Theological College, CTC, Limbe, an affiliate of the St Thomas-a-Becket University of London. Ndi Chia, Nkemayang and Eno were awarded PhDs in Journalism while Hon. Ndando and Chief Inoni had theirs in Political Science.

The other degrees were awarded in various other fields like Public Administration, and Business Management. In reaction to his distinction, Ndi Chia said he was humbled: "I say with humility, that I have, at last, been recognised by the Cameroonian and the larger society for all that I have done for the development of Journalism in this part of the world. "I have trained so many; may be a few hundred Journalists in this country," he said.

Ndi Chia who has put in some three decades in the profession, nevertheless, said that the harbinger of his recognition began way back when "I won an award as the best political commentator of the decade in Cameroon during the period 1990 to 2000." He went on to say some years back, a Presidential Decree appointed him one of 21 members of the National Communication Council of Cameroon.  Two years ago, Ndi Chia was, again, unanimously chosen by the Journalists corps in Cameroon to head the Union of Journalists as its President.

For over 30 years, Ndi Chia, who trained as a Journalist in Lagos-Nigeria, has fought hard in the line of his profession to feed Cameroonians with the much needed information for them to make informed choices and judgments. But doing this has not been easy. "And if some of you are into Journalism today and can afford to say and write those things that you do freely, it is because, for your tomorrow, I gave my today; I sacrificed my yesterday, as it were.

"I was in and out of jail so many times. I was tortured, hand-cuffed and even lived in very dingy and putrid cells. I would be having a meal right next to another detainee who was "stooling" into a bucket. I was even forced to go into exile from this country and could go for, say four, five, eight days without having tasted any water, let alone food…" he said.

For having fought hard, went through the rough Journalism terrain and made things easier for the young Journalists of today, Dr Ndi Chia had but one thing to say: "I am fulfilled, I am happy."
He, however, said his success, despite the difficulties over the years, has been as a result of humility. He will add that his indefatigable penchant to tell the truth made his professional colleagues to, at one point, think that he was mad.

"Even today, as I talk, some with whom I worked at CRTV, considered me unwell; they considered me stupid when I used to tell the story as it is. I remember one of my bosses telling me; Charlie, we don’t expect you to inaugurate a new ethic of Journalism here. You are supposed to say what is, and not what ought to be," he recalled. He would continue: "But from insisting on saying what ought to be and not what is, it has come to the point where Journalists, politicians and other Cameroonians can at least talk and write freely without spending time behind bars. So I’m fulfilled and happy."

Another Journalism icon, HRH Osari Maribo Nkemayang Paul Foanyi, had this to say: "I now begin to feel that choosing the profession of Journalism was not an error because that is where you show your worth. So the significance of this degree is hard work, honesty and dedication. "You remember they took us from here, sometimes by helicopter and sometimes by road for detention in Yaounde," he said. There were other Journalism icons on hand who witnessed the award of the degrees and also had appreciable words of encouragement to them.

They Deserve this Kind Of Distinction

Eno Chris Oben, Southwest Delegate of Communication said: "It is not surprising to me that somebody from outside might recognise the true value of a Journalist and send somebody to come to Cameroon and confer such an award. You know people sit far and they read what you write, hear what you say on radio and they follow you over the years and then, they say, this is the kind of recognition we can give to them," he said.

"If they were students enrolled into our University, even by virtue of the number of years they have put into service, consistently, unbroken for so many years and the quality of the professional work they have been bringing forward, we think that these people deserve this kind of distinction," he added.

Awards Non Negotiable

Another veteran Journalist, Martin Nkemngu, said: "I have the feeling that these awards will make a lot of other people in different walks of life take their work more seriously.

"That somebody is watching them without them knowing. The fact that these awards were not negotiated for and they are given by people with a very high international standing. This is a sign of recognition of hard work and service to the community. It is recognition of academic performance."

Mayor Uplifted

Mayor Matute until then a holder of a Master Degree in Political Science and Education bagged an Academic Doctorate in Public Administration. He sounded very elated as he talked to The Post: "It is proof that I can be a resource person in the academic world and I think it is a challenge that I should not put down my pen and my desire to serve mankind." It should be noted that Matute has several publications to his credit, one of which is "Ethnographic Studies of the Bakweris."

The Award was presided at by a designated representative of the St. Thomas-a-Becket University, Archbishop Dr Paul Hanson, alongside some other church leaders of the Wesley Synod of Churches, and Bishop Dr. NC Lawrence, Executive Director of the CTC Limbe, did the conferment. The award ceremony was preceded by the consecration of NC Lawrence from the rank of Bishop elect to Bishop of the Wesley Synod and the launching of NC Lawrence’s new book titled: Effective Higher Education."

The work, as reviewed by Chris Eno Oben, noted that NC Lawrence, has, indeed, found out that there was something seriously wrong with the Cameroon educational system. He stated that the book  x-rayed Cameroon’s educational system and found out that the educational policy which has been based more on training people for the civil service, has rather been helping to make Cameroon a more dependent, consumer based economy than a produce oriented one.

According to Eno Oben, the author posits that Cameroon needs a new educational paradigm, where the orientation needs to shift from churning out "personnel for the public services" to moulding Cameroonians who can become job creators." We must move from studying to get a job to studying to make one," Eno said.

The Wesley Synod, The Post gathered, was a congregation of over 3000 churches around the world and NC Lawrence, 40, is also the President of the Royal Assembly Church Intl Cameroon.

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