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#YouthDay2024: Engaging Cameroon Youth in Peace Processes & Advocacy!

To mark the celebrations this year, #defyhatenow is running activities in the North West and South West Regions, as well as the three northern regions of Cameroon.

Youth in Cameroon are today celebrating the 58th Youth Day 2024, usually marked by a series of sociocultural and economic activities nationwide. On the D-day, that is February 11, a civilian march past with children of school going age, universities, sociocultural and political groups hold in all 360 subdivisions, 58 Divisions and 10 Regions of the country. Another main feature of Youth Day is the traditional Head of State’s Message to the Youth during a live simultaneous broadcast on national radio and TV.

This year, as in the past, #defyhatenow through its implementating partner, Civic Watch, is engaging young community leaders in several parts of the country on issues relating to the current challenges faced by the country. Top on this list is hatespeech, which social scourge threatens the core values and fabrics on which our nation is built. From the South West, North West, Centre to the Northern parts of the country, peacebuilding actions happening in these Regions are aimed at building the capacities of youth peace advocates, raising awareness and educating the masse on the dangers of hatespeech and its resultant violence on the society as a whole. This is how we saw the Youth Day 2024:

Bamenda: Peace Weavers Trained, Released for Community Impact!

Over 30 Community Peace weavers met from February 1 to 3, 2024, in Bamenda, headquarters of the North West Region for their second meeting. Cohort 1 members are made of leaders of youth associations, peace advocates, faith-based and tribal group leaders from the North West and South West Regions. For three days, guest trainers joined our team to share knowledge on topics such as identifying and countering hatespeech locally, leveraging social media for campaign visibility, collaborating with local authorities to run peacebuilding initiatives, spotting mis/disinformation online and curbing their spread. At the end of the training, fellows are expected to host pass-it-on sessions in their respective communities for more impact. The high mark of the gathering was a #HateFreeAbakwa peace march from Custom Junction to the Regional Assembly, where they were received by a delegation led by the Commissioner for Economic Development, Honorable Awunti Ghejung. Other stakeholders including the Regional President of the Cameroon National Youth Council, Reverend Mekom Samuel, #defyhatenow partners and media associations also answered present.

Yaounde: Civic Watch and Cameroon National Youth Council Sign MoU

Civic Watch, the host organisation of the #defyhatenow initiative in Cameroon on February 9, 2024 signed a Memorandum of Understanding – MoU with the Cameroon National Youth Council – CNYC. As part of activities leading to the 58th Youth Day celebration in Cameroon, CNYC organised a Youth Development Forum with youth leaders from different parts of Africa. It is equally during this solemn gathering with a cross section of government ministers present, that the signing of MoU with four institutions happened, among which Civic Watch, represented by its Founder, Ngala Desmond Ngala. The overall expectation is to run capacity building, sensitisation and community mobilisation activities in different parts of Cameroon. Through youth advocacy, civic engagement and leadership, the collaboration aims at addressing the root causes of hatespeech, violence and violent extremism among young people. Both institutions aim to leverage on their joint prowess to foster the crusade for peace in the nooks and crannies of Cameroon.

Ngaoundere Hosts Zero Hatespeech Caravan and Intergenerational Dialogue

On the occasion of the 58th Youth Day, five community-based organisations operating in the Adamaoua Region organised a hate-free campaign on the theme: My fight: zero hate speech in Adamaoua! On February 7, 2024, the activity started with a sensitisation caravan, grouping young lovers of peace and sympathisers drawn from different parts of Ngaoundere. The overall event sought to foster the spirit of social cohesion, community tolerance and integration among inhabitants of the Region. The Lamidat of Ngaoundere hosted an intergenerational dialogue during which community members freely shared ideas on core values needed to enhance peaceful coexistence among the population. The public discussion was also an opportunity to reflect on past relations, assess the present societal changes and trends, especially technology-based, as well as set the basis for inclusive development at all levels of the society.

Garoua: The Junction Town Where Peace and Tolerance Converge

Building on a capacity building training last year with community-based organisations from all three northern regions on the use of the #defyhatenow Social Media Hatespeech Mitigation Field Guide 2.0; the North Region is hosting a restitution session this February. Under the coordination of the Regional unit of the Cameroon National Youth Council – CNYC, five organisations initially trained by the #defyhatenow team will be engaging other youth on using the Field Guide as a conflict-mitigation tool in Garoua. About 50 participants, drawn from youth-led organisations, faith and tribal groups, student unions and secondary schools have been selected for the session. Popularly dubbed Garoua Pour Tous (loosely translated Garoua for all) the junction town of the northern regions is taking a public stance against all forms of hate and violence, a message voiced loudly by the youth.

Maroua: Youth Denounce Violence and Violent extremism

After Ngaoundere and Garoua respectively, the headquarters of the Far North Region; Maroua will equally take turn in championing youth-led activities under #defyhatenow. Five community-based organisations, bearers of messages of peace, will join forces for a campaign against hatespeech and violent extremism in the region. It should be noted that the Region recently witnessed resurgence in intercommunity conflict among the Musgoum and Shuwa Arab ethnic groups, which led to the loss of lives and destruction of property. The border region, close to neighbouring Nigeria and Chad, is equally one of those areas affected by the Boho Haram insurgency that led to youth radicalisation, mass displacement, as well as heavy casualties. These youth-led organisations have therefore committed themselves to address the underlying causes of issues affecting their communities by engaging their peers in what they do best: Peacebuilding!

#AFFCameroon: 3rd and last session for Cohort 9 Fellows

While dust will be settling on #YouthDay2024 activities after February 11, another group of young soldiers will be negotiating a decisive bend in their fight against hatespeech and fakenews. Cohort 9 Fellows of our Africa Factchecking Fellowship – #AFFCameroon will converge at the end of the month for their third and last onsite meeting. The quarterly training is currently hosting 20 Fellows, comprised of journalists, bloggers and community-based organisation leaders, who are gaining knowledge on advanced information verification using online tools. As Cameroon is fast approaching an electoral year, past experience from 2018 revealed that pre and post elections periods are usually marked by a rise in mis/disinformation, hatespeech and attacks mostly fuelled by tribal and/or political differences. As a result, #AFFCameroon is #defyhatenow’s contribution to ensuring safe digital spaces; promote healthy public discourse and civic engagement geared towards the sustainable development of Cameroon as a nation. Our Fellows are trained to map viral trends, curb the spread of false information and organise community educative sessions. It is therefore for this reason that we are banking on the youth of today, who are leaders of tomorrow!

#YouthDay2024 Theme:

Youth, Import Substitution and Economic Patriotism for Cameroon’s Development

#defyhatenow

#Act4Peace

#HateFreeCameroon

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