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Journalists Share Experiences Reporting on Boko Haram

FILE - Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram.
FILE - Cameroon soldiers stand guard at a lookout post as they take part in operations against the Islamic extremists group Boko Haram.

As World Radio Day 2016 is commemorated February 13 under the theme "Radio in times of emergencies and disasters," two of Cameroon's leading reporters on Boko Haram atrocities in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon share their experiences. Ebenezer Akanga and Djamo Haman have escaped several attacks by the terrorist group but have continued their reporting despite the danger.

Haman of Cameroon's state radio CRTV said he saw more than 20 slain corpses in the Cameroon northern town of Kolofata, on the border with Nigeria, four years ago. It was then he knew he had the duty to let the world know how dangerous the Boko Haram terrorist group was becoming so world leaders would be impelled to find immediate solutions to save the lives of those dying from barbarism.

He said the republican and citizenship spirit he has, coupled with the desire to be patriotic for his country and the love of his profession, motivated him to start reporting Boko Haram atrocities. He said that anytime he saw fresh corpses and blood, and heard sounds of bombings and shootings, he doubted if he would survive, but told himself he would never surrender in his quest to inform the world of Boko Haram atrocities.

French-speaking journalist Haman teamed up with his senior colleague Ebenezer Akanga, an English-speaking journalist. In the state broadcaster CRTV where they work, English and French journalists carry out assignments together for their various audiences in the bilingual country.

The reporters have narrowly escaped several Boko Haram attacks, including one in which the terrorist group attacked a Chinese road construction company in their presence, but they were saved when the Cameroon military quickly intervened.

Akanga said at one moment they were scared they had been declared wanted by the leader of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Abubakar Shekau.

"Our photographs were found in their (Boko Haram fighters) hands by Chadian soldiers when they attacked the town of Bagar. There was my photograph, there was the photograph of Djamo Haman, there was the photograph of the [former] governor [of the far north region of Cameroon] Awah Fonka Augustine. We missed many, many attacks from Boko Haram," said Akanga.

Northern Cameroon-based freelance reporter Aminou Abba said the journalists are his models in conflict, disaster and war reporting.

"They have that additional courage that we reporters lack. They go right to the war front to meet the people suffering to tell their stories. We can call them highly patriotic because they can even give their lives for the voices of the voiceless to be heard," said Abba.

Akanga and Haman have gained the trust and confidence of many Cameroonians who yearn to know how far the government is succeeding with the war it declared against the Nigerian terrorist group three years ago.

Issa Abdouraman, a 24-year old businessman in Kousseri, on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria, said it was from Akanga and Haman that he learned two years ago his uncle, a clergy and traditional ruler of Fotokol in northern Cameroon, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters.

He said Akanga and Haman are the most courageous journalists he has ever known and that each time the two journalists visit Kousseri, many people come out to see them. He believes if they were soldiers they would have done all it takes to defeat Boko Haram.