In a bold move to combat hate speech, defyhatenow has enlisted the support of taxi drivers in Buea who have committed to creating hate-free zones within their vehicles.
The initiative aims to educate both drivers and passengers about the dangers of hate speech, transforming taxis into spaces of unity and understanding.
Ngala Desmond, the country project manager of defyhatenow, emphasized the need to change the narrative, turning taxis into hate-free zones and, by extension, fostering communities free from hate.
The sensitization effort took the form of a caravan, with hundreds of taxi drivers joining the procession from Molyko Omnisport Stadium to the office of the Divisional Officer for Buea.
Among the drivers, Che Nelson shared his personal experience of facing hate speech due to his North West Region origin. Determined to make a difference, Che pledged to incorporate sensitization into his daily routine, declaring himself a hate speech ambassador. In a similar line, Tabe expressed similar concerns of being a victim of hate both from customers and fellow taxi drivers.
Other drivers echoed similar sentiments, acknowledging their roles as both victims and perpetrators, now committed to standing against hate speech.
The union executives of the taxi drivers pledged to use language that promotes unity, avoiding any form of incitement or dehumanization based on tribe, culture, or religion.
The commitment was lauded by various speakers, including representatives from the chiefs of Fako, the South West Chiefs Conférence, the South West Regional Assembly, the parliamentarian of Buea, and the Divisional Officer for Buea.
The collaborative campaign, known as “Taxi Tales, No To Hate,” is an initiative led by defyhatenow, Civic Watch Cameroon, and the parliamentarian for Buea Urban.
Onlookers enthusiastically applauded the campaign, recognizing the pressing need to address hate speech, particularly within the confines of taxi spaces. As the caravan passed by, locals expressed hope that this initiative would bring people together despite their differences, heralding a positive step towards unity and understanding.
The next town as declared by Ngala Desmond in the days ahead is Bamenda.
By Emmanuel Tamanje