CAMs Update: Mbalangi 2012

For the past week CAMs has been continuing with our workshop series in Mbalangi. Last week we held two workshops, one each for the Quarter Councils and for the Traditional Council, respectively. With the Quarter Councils and Social Group leaders, we discussed the importance of Accountability and Transparency in Governance. Workshop attendees participated in an “icebreaker” activity where one participant was handed “3,000 francs” (fake paper money), taken out of the room and blindfolded, and then led back into the room where he gave the money to an undisclosed person. The recipient of the money then took his seat, the first man’s blindfold was removed, and he was asked to identify the man to whom he had given the money. Naturally, he could not. The purpose of this exercise was to illustrate what happens when there is no transparency in government, and follow-up questions were asked of the participants. Some of these questions included : “If you don’t know for what purposes your tax money is being spent, how do you know it’s going to the right place?” and “Would you trust a government that didn’t tell you how it spent its money or ran itself?” This icebreaker provided a great introduction to a very productive workshop where the important concepts of Accountability and Transparency were discussed at length.

On Friday, the theme of our workshop with the Traditional Council was Equal Treatment and Respect for Human Rights. Participants discussed the importance of our fundamental human rights, which include the right to life, the right to be free from torture, and the right to freedom of religion and conscience. Other discussion topics included the freedom of adults to enter into contracts and the impact of mob justice on the judicial system. We ended the workshop with what turned out to be a productive brainstorming session on ways to rectify human rights violations in Mbalangi.

Outside of our workshops, the CAMs team continued to conduct interviews regarding mob justice and witchcraft in the Mbalangi community. Intern Rachel Braden had a particularly memorable afternoon discussing cases of witchcraft in Mbalangi with a villager from the Kindongi quarter – cases which included a woman accused of eating children and another woman who displayed her skills at witchcraft to an awed courtroom. The CAMs team is conducting these interviews to better understand the phenomenon of mob justice in Mbalangi as well as in Cameroon as a whole, and our aim is to create a workshop curriculum dealing specifically with the problem of mob justice. These workshops will then be administered in nearby communities in the same way the Good Governance workshop series is currently being administered in Mbalangi. Stay tuned to our blog for updates regarding this exciting project! The final product of workshops will also eventually be posted here, on our website.

CAMs also checked in on GCI’s weekly radio program, Human Rights Hour, which airs every Monday at 6:30pm on Lake Site Radio here in Kumba. We use our radio program as a platform to keep the public updated about what we are doing in the local community, as well as to remind our listeners in Mbalangi to attend our weekly workshops. Be sure to tune in every week for updates on the CAMs project!