On Saturday, June 18, the Communication Officer of the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, went into the Faculty boardroom of Social and Management Sciences of the University of Buea as Tchewo Melanie, spent some few hours and came out as Doctor Tchewo Melanie.
Doctor not because she had diagnosed a patient in hospital, but because she had solved a problem plaguing the role of community radio in local development.
Before a jury of informed and knowledgeable professors, she demonstrated that, when it comes to using community radio to influence rural development, she is no stranger.
Her composure, mastery of work, language, and respect for research ethics and methods thrilled the learned six-man jury.
Aside from that, her work was epic leaving no room for many questions from examiners who noted their heads in the confirmation for every answer she gave.
Doctor Tchewo hammered the final full stop in a work she started in 2016 in the department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Her problem was that rural communities have a lot of potential, untold stories which are yet untapped.
“A lot has come to the fault in terms of understanding the various role that the various stakeholders have in pushing forward communication processes at the local level.” She said.
As one with a passion for rural development, she began finding prescriptions for it. For that to become a reality, she carved out a topic: “The role of community radio in local participatory development in Fako Division”
With that, she was able to crisscross so many academic and non-academic works to connect her problem to reality and used the method of science to know what can be done to remedy it. And she did it.
The newest Doctor in town said as a solution to a plethora of problems affecting radio’s role in local development, there is a need to revisit “the policy on management and ownership of community radio stations.” She said, “the term community radio is so loosely used.”
She gave an example of the Fako division where most of the community radios are urban centred. According to her, very little is found in the periphery and so, people may be hiding behind this concept to open radio for different agendas.
“When we look at community radio, it is a medium that is very close to the community and has a lot of opportunities for rural people to be part of the decision-making process.” Dr Techewo said, “At the grassroots level, it is a kind of medium that is people’s centred but this social role is neglected most of the time and many rural communities continue to remain in abject poverty and resistance even to the development policies and other policies directed toward them.”
To her, the media is there to create a synergy, that relationship where people will be patriotic and love their country and work for the interest of the general good.
In these findings which she termed ‘holistic’, she said if policymakers take into consideration, it will not only solve the problem but fast-track rural development also.
After listening to her dribble, two of her supervisors were unanimous that Tchewo Melanie’s work was the first of its kind. Her Co-supervisor Prof. Kingsley Ngange even described the work as “top-notch”.
She answered questions succinctly, and carefully and never resisted admitting the minor errors despite the quality of the masterpiece.
After considering every other rule in a PhD defence, the Chairman of the Jury, Prof. Emmanuel Yenshu proclaimed that they have evaluated her work and they have awarded her a PhD with “excellence”. She scored 89 on a hundred.