By Yerima Kini Nsom
Since Monday, July 11, one of Cameroon’s frontline newspapers, The Post, has been basking in its Silver Jubilee euphoria. Even without attracting public attention with any public meeting, individual members of The Post crack team have been commemorating the 25th anniversary of the newspaper in one way or the other. For, 25 years are not 25 days. They are 9,125 days and 1,200 weeks.
By a sheer conspiracy of circumstances, The Post was sired into Cameroon “newspaperscape” on July 11, 1997. The newspaper, thus, is a child of the conflict that pitted the editorial staff of the defunct Cameroon Post against the management. The Post was conceived in anguish following the ideological intercourse among members of the editorial team who decided to liberate themselves from the managerial despotism of Cameroon Post owners at the time. No doubt its birth was caesarian in many respects. From the look of things, it is likely that The Post might never have been born if the editorial staff did not rise like one man to reject the proprietorial arrogance of Cameroon Post management. We did not only decide to dump Cameroon Post, but also resolved to create a bi-weekly publication called The Post. Two rebel leaders, Francis K. Wache and Charly Ayeah Ndi Chia who served as Executive Edifor-In-Chief and Editor-in-Chief of Cameroon Postm respectively, fired the first salvos and beckoned the rest of us aboard the coup. Consequently, Clovis Atatah, Bouddih Adams, Joe Dinga Pefok, Chris Mbunwe, and yours sincerely, Kini Nsom, joined the duo in executing the bloodless coup that catapulted us to the limelight.
It was a leap in the dark for we created The Post without a business plan. We had only one thing, viz; the professional fire and zeal to move on even if all the odds were stacked against us. To say the least, The Post project was a byword of business lunacy, birthed on a bouquet of journalistic fundamentalism and pegged on the temerity to gore the old order. There was no business plan and no capital set aside anywhere to show the visionary clarity of the project. The passion for the profession was the only capital and the binding force that kept members of the team together. Small wonder that we turned obstacles into stepping stones, our foes into friends and mistakes into didactic lessons.
For a quarter century, we have stumbled, moiled and toiled in our journalistic soldiering, yet we stagger on with our dream and vision. We have disappointed our fans by putting smiles on the faces of our detractors with unpardonable bloomers, but we have moved on in our mission to not only curse darkness but light the proverbial candle for the Cameroonian society. By virtue of our motto: “The Newspaper At The Service of The People,” we commit ourselves to be, in all objectivity, the voice of the voiceless and the emasculated masses who are gnashing under the bondage of the obscenely mighty of the establishment. The motto is a kind of guiding compass that is a succinct summation of the editorial policy of The Post that is laced with the moral suasion akin to that of a constitution. Our mission statement underlines the onus of “watchdogism” that burdens our journalistic assignment with the responsibility to ensure checks and balances by holding those in authority accountable for their deeds.
The letter and spirit of our editorial policy, is a pledge to inform, educate and entertain the people in all fairness and objectivity. Within the ambit of our editorial line, we also take the commitment to light a candle after cursing the proverbial darkness. As far as these ideals are concerned, we have been basking in the warm glow of a simulacrum of infallibility to boost our forward march enthusiasm. Yet, the truth remains: that as group of fallible mortals we have fouled and blundered in one way or the other. We have even pained our fans with the kind of unpardonable bloomers that have widened the smiles on the faces of our detractors to hearty guffaws. Campaigns of cynicism have been waged against us for daring to hit the facts on the head as it were. Still, the wheel of our dream turns on. We have survived smear campaigns that are tailored to derail us from our ideas and ideals and push us to join the madding crowd of alleluia choristers that litter the fraternity of the awarawara press. But we have refused to abandonthe truth which is our first obligation and the people who should enjoy our loyalty at all times. Even quarrels among us and some misfortunes that hit us have only succeeded in scotching the dream, not kill it. Small wonder that our corporate image has been the envy of many even as we stagger in penury as the arch victims of a stressed and whimpering economy of misplaced priorities. The odds have been very daunting, yet they stood face-to-face with stiff resilience and resistance of a journalistic army to defend itself against all odds. We continue to march on because the zeal we have for our vision and mission represents the catharsis of our professional souls.
The Silver Jubilee of The Post provides us with an opportunity to renew our social contract with our fans/readers and the people in general. We once more pledge our commitment to do a balanced coverage of events so that citizens are well versed with what is happening in order to make informed choices on issues of national import. We express our enthusiasm to give a faithful rendition of events in such a way that when people read us, they can see with their mind’s eyes and touch with their mind’s hands what happens in the society. As we battle to keep the flame of this dream alive, we pay glowing tribute to some of those who have gone ahead of us in life’s journey.
The arrowhead of The Post, Francis Wache, went back to his Maker in December 2019. The Post is poorer by his demise, yet richer by the vision he fostered in the newspaper. He lives on in his legacy. Julius Afoni, who quit this sinful world earlier in 1998, is irreplaceable. He was a wonderful editor’s good boy and a veritable go-getter reporter. Before death, the callous and wicked reaper, cut down Loveline Mbori at her prime in 2009, she was virtually emerging as The Post version of Christiane Amanpour. People who had skeletons in their cupboards in Kumba, avoided Loveline as she sniffed around for the scoop. Churchill Samba was such a daring reporter. Small wonder that he received the baptism of fire in the den of royal thugs whom he had censured for abusing human rights in Kumba. Before Panky Wamey quit the earthly stage a few years back, he was our ears and eyes everywhere he went.
The contributions of some members of our team who are realising their dreams elsewhere cannot be underestimated. Our former editorial boss, Charly Ndi Chia, was the frontline mover and shaker. Besides, his fiery intellectual, economic, social and professional contributions, he fought many battles to keep The Post alive. He was always the one boldly defending The Post each time the newspaper was dragged to court on claims of libel. Pegue Manga, Elvis Tah, Ernest Sumelong and Isidore Abah, among others, found greener pastures after contributing their own quota to the growth of The Post. We thank them for having been part of our dream. We encourage our colleagues in the managerial and editorial department who continue to sacrifice for this dream. We express sincere gratitude to our business partners, especially the advertisers, who come to our rescue whenever we gasp for breath in pecuniary asphyxia. At 25, The Post is an adult with the resolve and commitment to march forward on the path of its dream.