« Hate Speech Kills Living Together, Creates Social Conflicts”

Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Political scientist.

For some time now in Cameroon, there is an upsurge of hate speeches disseminated through social media networks, audio-visual and print media. What explains this state of affairs?
Hate speech is any language be it  verbal or body language, any write up, declaration, any word, conversation, reports  and  research works that are intended to hurt someone or some group, inflict pain, exclude or destroy someone else.  It destroys society and blocks people. We can explain the upsurge of hate speeches in Cameroon by two things. The political and governance system that have been put in place is a democratic one.  People feel free and they want to more and more exercise their freedom. In exercising their freedoms they tend to do that according to how they feel, see the laws, how the institutions are, what makes them happy or not.  People are expressing their freedoms in a way that is not in conformity with the law, in a way that is a reflection of the state of their minds, social status, economic and social conditions. They are expressing the freedom in negative ways. The second reason is that in the age of modern communication (internet) and globalised setting that we live today, the tendency is that people want to copy what they see elsewhere.  Everything is automatic and people think that as they see what is happening elsewhere, they can also do it here in the country. This is the wrong way of reacting to globalisation and modern communication that is more and more instant. People copy things the wrong way and that is deviant behaviour.

What should be done to tackle the propagation of hate speeches in the country?
Hate speech kills living together, national cohesion, national unity, patriotism, destroys national concord, state of peace and happiness, creates social conflicts, destroys the diversity among people that is supposed to be an asset and not a liability. To tackle hate speech, we do not only have to go back to our history but also to our cultures.  The founding fathers of our country believed in and had the vision of a Cameroon united in diversity among its cultures.  President Paul Biya has continued to be the disciple of the spirit of the founding fathers. In his latest tweets, he told the nation that we should take time to heal, reconcile, be polite, find common understanding and avoid exclusion. 
To stop hate speech, we have to begin with the agents of socialisation or acculturation. We have to  begin from family. The Cameroonian family must understand that the time has come given the upsurge in hate speech for social actors and educators to get back to their jobs. The heads have to bring the family together, educate the family that the human being in order to be useful to society, must be decent, nice,  accommodate and be considerate of someone else, find common ground with  someone else and give  them those basic values that make them decent citizens and human beings. The education system on its part has a role to play in the type of education and curricula drawn up. The authorities have to make sure that the kind of education they give to the young people who are growing up  has to make them  decent, honourable, nice and human beings who will be positive in language, attitude and in whatever they do and say. Social actors such as religious groups, political parties and NGOs equally have a great role to play. Political parties have the moral duty to educate their members not to be violent, do negative things, insult people and not to violate rules. NGOs have to teach positive norms. The final level is that State has a role in its policies and declarations so that people will receive them in a positive way and also react to the messages and declarations in a positive way. Government officials should be ambassadors of positive norms.

What is the place of the media in the mobilisation?
The media depending on where it is placed is either State or private media. The State media goes along with government policies. The private media goes along with civil society.  The media is media, whether it is State or private,  it is supposed to carry out its organic missions which are to inform, educate, entertain and to mould people. The media in the process has to understand that it has a particular role...



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