Through their Unions, they led the motorcade, alongside administrative, municipal and traditional authorities, accompanied by lovers of peace and well-wishers.
In a ground breaking motorcade, hundreds of taxi drivers in Buea rallied together under the banner of the “#StopBadMop Caravan,” organized by #defyhatenow, Civic Watch Cameroon, in collaboration with the Parliamentarian for Buea, Honourable Malomba Eseme. The rally started from the Omnisport Stadium in Molyko, moving upward to the office of the Divisional Officer for Buea.
Recognising taxis as pivotal meeting points for people of diverse backgrounds, the campaign aimed to transform these vehicles into hate-free zones, thereby fostering more inclusive communities. Ngala Desmond, Country Project Manager of #defyhatenow Cameroon, emphasized the need for a narrative shift, stating, “Our taxis should be hate-free zones, and by extension, our communities will be hate-free.”
Representatives from various taxi drivers’ unions pledged their commitment to advocating for a hate-free Buea. They vowed to educate passengers against hate speech, both in the presence of administrative authorities, the political elites and the #defyhatenow/Civic Watch team.
“We will use language that does not incite violence or dehumanise others based on their tribe, culture, or religion whether publicly or privately,” Eben Chu, spokesperson for the taxi drivers’ Unions,
Madam Becky Lynonga Efoe, Executive Secretary of the South West Regional Assembly, called on the drivers to become voices against hate speech, preventing violence resulting from such discourse. Other speakers, including representatives from the Chiefs of Fako, the South West House of Chiefs, and the Divisional Officer for Buea, commended the initiative for addressing hate speech at its roots.
The #StopBadMop Campaign was a joint initiative by Honourable Malomba Eseme, Parliamentarian for Buea Constituency and #defyhatenow, with the collaboration of Taxi Drivers’ Unions. “It is our duty to make our communities habitable for all, irrespective of their backgrounds,” explained the Member of Parliament.
Individual stories from taxi drivers underscored the impact of hate speech on their lives. Che Nelson, a driver from the North West Region, shared his experience of being targeted and insulted because of his origin. Through campaigns like this, individuals like Che found a platform to promote tolerance and understanding, turning diversity into strength.
“I can assure everyone that our conflicts are ended because as drivers, we have learned the values of tolerance” said Che.
The “Taxi Tales, No To Hate” campaign gained support beyond taxi drivers, with civil society advocates and residents participating in the walk out of solidarity. Ebigwe Johnson, a civil society advocate from Douala, highlighted the need for collective responsibility in making cities hate-free: “I came to Buea from Douala purposely for this campaign because we must all put our efforts together to achieve a hatefree society” he said.
As the caravan passed through Buea, onlookers applauded the initiative, acknowledging the rise of hate speech, particularly in taxis. The campaign’s potential to bring people together and foster unity was echoed by locals who cheered as the caravan made its way from the Molyko Stadium to the office of the Divisional Officer for Buea. The fight against hate speech has found a unique ally in the heart of Buea’s transportation hub, signaling hope for a more inclusive and tolerant community.