In the midst of violence, a local imam in Cameroon inspires his community

When Ahmadou Baba Boubaker, a local Imam from a neighboring town discovered Facebook Live, communities struggling with life under violent extremism found a voice they needed.

When Ahmadou Baba Boubaker joined EAI as a Community Reporter in Garoua in northern Cameroon, it was obvious that this young, charismatic local Imam had an uncanny ability to connect with people and that he was destined to become a community leader.

Boubakar began his journey into civic life as the host of EAI’s radio program, Douanirou Derk’en (World of Young People), one of the few local programs produced in Fulfulde, the local language, that airs segments on pressing issues concerning youth and women. But it was his discovery of Facebook Live that launched him into local stardom. This development, which he attributes to his love and curiosity for social media connected him to a wider audience, where he spoke directly to the issues of violent extremism, an issue that deeply affects communities in the area.

Between 2015-2018 EAI partnered with 15 community radio stations, as part of the Cameroon Peace Promotion Project (CP3), across northern Cameroon in communities affected by Boko Haram. Successfully promoting programs emphasizing peace and coexistence in a sensitive environment has only been possible because our teams are made up of local staff who have built pathways of engagement through listening and partnering with communities on solutions.

Ahmadou’s initiative has not only grown the listenership of the stations, as he hosts Facebook Live call-ins just after Douanirou Derk’en is broadcast each week, but it has also created a safe space for people to share their input and feedback about the show’s programming. This connection keeps the show relevant to its listeners, Ahmadou provides feedback to the writers and producers based on his Facebook Live chats ensuring people listen and voice their perspectives on the radio program.

What is especially moving is that this connection that Ahmadou has with his community extends into the offline world too.

Ahmadou has taken his role as a Community Reporter for CP3 a step further by holding regular meetings with youth and women in his community. In a sensitive context, he has embraced the responsibility that comes with being a trusted source of information. The work at the radio station and his first-hand experience listening and learning from people has inspired him to create an organization in his hometown, Gourore, for diverse members of his community to come together and talk about peace and tolerance.

Ahmadou’s call-in show broadcast is seen by an average of 500-600 people on Facebook. His December 2017 show, about social cohesion, was seen 681 times. In addition to his Facebook followers, Ahmadou also supports his community as an Imam in his village just North of Garoua. He shared with us that he sometimes uses ideas from CP3 broadcasts, and the conversations he has with call-in participants, in his Friday prayer service.

CP3 closed in February 2018.

EAI’s team in Cameroon continues its work with community radios through the five-year USAID-funded Voices for Peace (V4P) project (2016-2021) which is implemented in five countries across the Sahel. (Linked to V4P)

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