|Tabe Enonchong in Paris|
Every year URTI launches the competition with a particular theme for radio and television programs as well as internet journals in its 46 member countries. This year’s theme “FRONTIERS” saw the submission of some 135 programs. CRTV had four different productions on the theme and Tabe’s program “So Far, So Near” that won gold was focused on inter-tribal marriages.
“In a country like Cameroon where there are over 280 ethnic groups and 280 different languages, we are all very different with everybody coming from whatever region. From that already, we notice ethnic differences; besides tribal distinctions, we start seeing national differences; you have people of an English background and those who are French speaking” Tabe told NewsWatch in Yaounde after receiving her award in Paris, France.
Tabe in “So Far, So Near” narrated the story of a man (Sinclaire) who leaves Bangangte, in the West Region of Cameroon for Mamfe in the Southwest Region to get a wife (Nicole).
However, inter-tribal marriage is a normal phenomenon in Cameroon. Tabe thinks as much but insists telling the normal story to transmit a message is what she did. “I looked at all the hurdles, challenges, obstacles and misconceptions about one another’s tribe and came to the conclusion that only love can make a man or woman wait for up to four years to convince their parents on their choice of a partner”.
Tabe explained that when somebody like Sinclaire who comes from Bangangte in the Nde which is in the grass-fields as well as being hilly and very cold and moves about 700km down to Mamfe which is very hot and is in the coastal zone, it means he has sacrificed to surmount major difficulties; “People must realize that you might come from very far from one another but in reality we are close because we come from the same source”.
According to the URTI International Grand Prix honoree, “if we go back to the source, we discover that we are one person, with the same ancestors, the same origin. If you are a Christian who reads the Bible you will discover that we are all sons of Adam and Eve. So differences only come later. It is only administration and politics and law that create the difference”.
Tabe assumed that fundamentally, “there is no difference between you and I, it is the physical boundaries, the languages and cultures that separate us. If we are not able to understand the other person’s culture, then we will not even understand our own. So when you understand the culture of that person, you will know that people have their own beliefs, their own likes and dislikes - but what we must do is to make sure that those differences in our cultures and beliefs should unite us instead of separating us”.
“So Far, So Near” was the only bilingual program amongst the 135 submitted and Tabe says the values highlighted in the production like love, tolerance and bilingualism are the values that URTI promotes, thus shedding light as to why she won, besides the simplicity and straightforward manner in which she told the story.
“I was told I won because the programme was simple, short and straight to the point. I said all that was necessary in 13 minutes and in simple language - clear speech, good narration and good music that was relevant to the theme. So the margin between my programme and that from Italy and Algeria that came in the 2nd and 3rd positions respectively was 21 points”, she said.
“I have always been worried at the way we live in Cameroon these days”, Tabe says, adding that she has a friend (Dr Dze Ngwa) who always says we are so conscious of the ‘THEY’ and the ‘US’. We always like to say it is ‘THEY’, ‘US’, ‘YOU PEOPLE’… “It is not a very good spirit for a country that has gone more than 50 years down the lane”, the Morning Safari host believes.
“I intended to even get an anthropologist to talk on that program but given the time constraints, I could not lay hands on one. But I played the role of an anthropologist in my narration so as to be able to explain the behaviours of Sinclaire and Nicole - why they behaved the way they did”.
Tabe explained that over 50 years after independence, we still find it difficult seeing ourselves in the other person - we cannot accommodate the other, we always want to focus on who we are and where we come from in relation to the other. That is not necessary, we are from one source; sons and daughters of one Man, all made in His image, we are one and the same person. So, if we could stop this syndrome of the ‘THEY’ and ‘US’ and start thinking of ‘WE’, we would get to know that frontiers are only in our imagination.
As regards her feelings when she was informed her production had won gold, Tabe said “I was surprised because I did the program in three days. I was told about the program in the first week of August but I didn’t want to do it. In the third week of August, my boss called me on a Monday and reminded me that the deadline was on Thursday…”
The CRTV ace presenter said that for the sake of obedience she decided to do it: “So I called Shifu Ngala who as I always tell people, is my brain. He pondered and proposed that I should do something about marriage”.
Though Tabe came back home the same day and wrote the script in less than 30 minutes, she never had someone to talk to. She saw the need of an anthropologist but could not lay hands on one. “I remembered a couple I know: Sinclaire and Nicole. I then met them and interviewed them separately”. Though surprised that she won gold with a production she “drafted”, Tabe thinks it is just a good way of celebrating her eleven years of service as a journalist. “I was surprised but I said to myself, “I have worked for eleven years - that will be a good way to celebrate an anniversary”. We are not like military people who are given epaulettes but in our profession when you win a medal like that, it means someone somewhere has realized that you have moved higher and it is a way of motivating you”.
‘So far so near’ Tabe says, is just an awareness program in which she tries to portray that despite socio-cultural differences, Cameroonians are one. “50 years after independence, we should not be talking about Anglophones, Francophones, the Bamendas… it is high time we start thinking of ‘we’ not always ‘they’ because in reality when you look around, you might not be able to say who will be French speaking and who will be English speaking in the next ten years”.
‘So Far, So Near’ received URTI’s 2013 International Radio Grand Prix at a grandiose ceremony in Paris on Wednesday October 16, 2013. CRTV’s Director General, Amadou Vamoulke led CRTV’s three-man strong delegation to Paris including the honoree.
Tabe has become the second Cameroonian to have won gold at URTI after David Chuye Bunyui in 2011 with the programme – The Virgin’s Monologue. This is also the first time a country is winning gold at the competition consecutively.