New African correspondent Cameron Duodu, the veteran journalist from Ghana, has mounted a one-man crusade aimed at stopping the conflict in Central African Republic. It is a very good cause, but not even the Pope or the King of Saudi Arabia or his own friends in the British media and Aljazeera, would lend him a helping hand. Here, he explains why.
A joint initiative needed
Now, suppose the Pope (held in awe by the Catholics of CAR) and the King of Saudi Arabia (equally venerable to the Muslims of the country) were to embark on a joint-initiative to try and stop the internecine fighting and thereby save the lives of the people caught in the conflict?
The Pope could issue an encyclical, to be read in every Catholic Church in CAR, warning that any Catholic who molested a Muslim would be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. If, after his appeal, the fighting still continued, the entire Catholic population of CAR would be ex-communicated.
On his part, the King of Saudi Arabia would issue instructions to all the mosques in CAR, to the effect that no Muslim from CAR would be allowed to perform the hajj (holy Islamic pilgrimage) ever again unless the fighting stopped immediately. The French, UN and AU troops in CAR would then not be desperately needed.
I dispatched my idea to the Vatican. One week passed. Neither The Holy Father nor any of his officials acknowledged receipt of it. I sent a copy to the King of Saudi Arabia, care of the Saudi foreign minister, through the Saudi embassy in London. Again, no response.
I then sent the proposal to the editor of The Guardian, Allan Rusbridger, whom I respect greatly, because of his fearless campaign against the wholesale eavesdropping being carried out by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) of Britain. I implored him to take up the idea in an editorial in The Guardian.
Meanwhile, I also sent the article to every member of The Guardian Comment team, whose name I could remember. So far, no response from anyone! I have subsequently sent it to the New Statesman and The Independent. Ditto!
I am not easily discouraged, so I have sent a copy of the proposal to every BBC news programme I know of, as well as to every BBC news-staffer whose name I can recollect. I have made myself available to be interviewed to elucidate the idea. But although I am often called by them to comment on news they want me to comment on, I have not received a single response from any of them to my proposal to make myself available to talk to them about ending the bloodshed in CAR.
I have also called Al-Jazeera English in Doha. Again, they have often called me at odd hours to go to their studios in Knightsbridge, London, to comment on news. But when I called them, the woman who received the call said she was “too busy” to listen to what I had to say. I was so peeved that I put the receiver down. I then called the London office. They said they would call me back. They have not done so.
What I have concluded from all this is that most of the modern, so-called journalists employed by the powerful world media, have very little – if any – actual empathy for the world they report on. The world is just a commodity to be used by them to earn a comfortable living. And unless they decide that part of that commodity would be good for them to own, then they are not interested. A mere “outsider” trying to arouse empathy in them? Forget it.
My attitude to the “inky fraternity” has thus changed radically. I am pursuing my objective of saving lives in CAR by other means. And I shall not rest until I have done everything possible. For I believe strongly that journalists should, when necessary, use their skills to serve humankind.