THE SPREAD LOVE ESSAY COMPETITIONS IN SCHOOLS; The voice of Students on Hate,Hate Speech and Spreading Love in Schools

This initiative seeks to  provide a safe space and build the capacity of students in Cameroon’s political capital; Yaoundé  to sensitise their peers and reflect on innovative ways to lead response to hate speech and hate crimes within secondary school milieus through storytelling and creative writing and community engagement.  This initiative will take the form of an intra-urban storytelling, debate. essay competition as well as capacity building for students in secondary and high schools from within the capital city of Cameroon, Yaoundé. The young champions and beneficiaries of the initiative shall be crowned spread love ambassadors to lead campaigns within their Schools and communities. 

Main Objective 

The goal of this project is to promote a culture of peace and social cohesion among communities in Cameroon by raising awareness on the ills and consequences of hate and hate speech in the country though youths and students.

Activity Summary: Students from 8 schools across Yaounde, participated in the Spreadlove Essay Competition and from this competiton emerged 8 best Essays. One from each school and they are as follows;

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  1. Name: Ndeh Havilah Mankah, School: Mervick Bilingual Grammar School Yaounde, Class: LSS

Topic: Promoting alternative measures to mitigate hatespeech in the school milieu.

A school is a place of learning where children from diverse backgrounds meet to achieve their goals of learning and acquiring knowledge. Hate speech on the other hand is any form of expression through which speakers intend to vilify, humiliate or incite hatred against a group or class of persons based on race, gender, skin color, ethnicity, disability.  Hate speech is not free speech because it expresses discriminatory, intimidating, and prejudicial, attitudes meant to hurt someone. In schools, hate speech is habitual between teachers and students which has moral, physical effects on the name a few examples of hate speech could be slang like “ les Bamenda, graffiti” mostly to dehumanize and intimidate. There are several ways in which hate speech could be curbed by the following measures.

Creating clubs such as the Human Rights and anti-Bully clubs should be organized by school administration to educate the student on hate speech in school. These clubs may organize programs that award and encourage students on good behavior so as draw the attention of other students and fight hate speech.

Organizing seminars in schools to educate both school administration, teachers, and students on countermeasures of hate speech. These seminars are also to monitor and report any form of hate speech. In these seminars, teachers should be taught adequate measures to address hate speech situations in school

In addition, victims of hate speech should be encouraged to speak up when biased. This will help to sort out and punish all students who don’t accept diversity and equality. School authorities should establish class values where cultures are respected, build classroom empathy where victims talk about the hate speech stories to their mates enabling the student to know their rights and differences as far as the school is a concern.

Lastly, during Parent-teacher Association (P.T.A) meetings parents should be educated on hate speech. Students copy what they hear at home and bring it to school. Educating parents on how to communicate in the presence of their children is important.

All in all, limiting hate is necessary to enable a safe and healthy learning environment. The more steps we take to support humans and speak up against injustice and prejudice the better our world will become.

Essay by Ndeh Havilah Mankah, School: Mervick Bilingual Grammar School Yaounde, Class: LSS

2. Nkengfack Carine Kitio, American School Nkolbison, Class: USA

Topic: Hate speech and social cohesion in School Campuses.

Hate speech is anything that directly attacks people based on what is known as their protected characteristics, race-ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Hate speech is also based on the unjustified assumption that a person or a group of persons are superior to others which incites acts of violence and discrimination. Social cohesion on the other hand is the strength of a relationship and the sense of solidarity among members of a community.

Hate speech bears negative repercussions and particularly damaging on school campuses. Hate speech increases stress, anxiety, depression which at times leads to serious health issues such as mental health complications.

Essay: Nkengfack Carine Kitio, American School Nkolbison, Class: USA

3. Achu Nchotu Achu, School: St Joseph Calanz Bilingual Academic Complex, Class: Form 5A (Arts)

Topic: Hate speech in through social media

Hate speech is anything in form of words that has a negative impact or effect on the life of an individual or a group of people or communities. It can be in the form of insults. Hate is a common phenomenon that has existed in our society for a long time. In the past, hate speech could be passed across through words or published in articles in magazines, newspapers. With the coming social media, hate speech has taken a different trend. It can easily be passed across from the media. Social media has greatly affected the spread of hate speech in our society today.

To begin, the advent of social has brought the world into a global technological village, community making it become a playground for hate speech to proliferate. A wise man once commented that social media is a vast nest that breeds speech. We find or see comments or publications on hate speech on platforms like youtube, Facebook, tweeter and many others where videos, write-ups with hash and provocative words are used.

Hate speech can originate or result from the hate of a particular group of people like the albinos, Muslims, or other ethnic groups such as the pygmy. It can also be spread as a result of familial hatred or the transfer of hate feelings from one clan to another. Sometimes people are insulted because of their outward look, size, and appearance.

Hate speech has also contributed to cases of stigmatization. In some environments when a Muslim is with a non-muslim integrating the group is sometimes difficult because of the belief. We can counter hate speech by recommending policies to the state that punishes and limits the use of hate speech.

Sensitization is a major means of fighting this issue of hate speech. We should learn to use social media for the right purpose. Encouraging peace, love, and encouraging the positive use of these social media platforms. Understanding that we are all made in the image of God we will learn to use social media wisely.

Essay by Achu Nchotu Achu, School: St Joseph Calanz Bilingual Academic Complex, Class: Form 5A (Arts)

 

4. Name: Nsi Betsi Emmanuelle Lucie Marina, School : Bitame Lucia Int. College, Class : LSS   

Topic: How has the coming of ICT influenced the propagation of Hate Speech. How can ICT be used to counter hate speech in our communities?

Hate speech has been a social threat for our communities for decades. Hate speech does not have a fixed definition given that it is regarded differently in various countries. A general definition of hate speech could be a public speech that is aimed to demonstrate violence or express hatred to a person or a particular group of people based on something like a tribe, belonging to sexual diversities, etc.

It is a willing action aimed at saying words to spark violence or giving attributes with intentions to dehumanize the other. Hate speech has been viral even before the coming of ICT. Examples could be the Rwandan genocide, born out of hate speech. With the alarming rate at which ICT has entered into communities, the growth of hate speech has been very rapid. That is from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to radios stations then to graffitis on street walls and from mouth to mouths.

In Cameroon, Governmental authorities are great promoters of hate speech during debates and electoral campaigns. They dish out numerous slangs that become unavoidable stereotypes to those concerned. Slangs like “ cam no go”, “ anglofous”, les Bamenda”, “les porcs de l’ouest”, etc. when these words are a twill they become viral immediately after being diffused on social media thereby leading to the situation which started as viral to real life.  This situation has contributed to the outbreak of several civil crises like the situation in the north with the book Haram crisis. More so, the Bamileke civil crisis in 1994.

Videos or mediatic platforms are vital constituents for the propagation of hate speech. The videos of a woman cut into multiple pieces and killed by separatists from the Northwest is a good example to demonstrate the consequences of words we can say to people that harm them and spark violence.

The means through which hate speech has propagated through ICT is the same way through which it can be countered. ICT can be a means of countering or preventing conflict or hate speech. Massive sensitization through social media platforms can be means of countering hate speech in schools, places of work, homes, and communities. They should be the creation of social media platforms where youth and educative counselors are included to stop or silence the growth of hate speech in Cameroon

Also, there should be the creation of online platforms comprised of students, community development volunteers, Civil Society Organizations, and state institutions that will contribute to defying hate speech and propagating extremism. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, should create foul language detectors to limit the vulgarization of hate speech through the internet.

If we all cultivate the spirit of togetherness and national integration, love for everyone, we can be able to fight and say no to Hate speech in Cameroon.

Essay by Nsi Betsi Emmanuelle Lucie Marina, School : Bitame Lucia Int. College, Class : LSS 

5. Name: Meye Lenora Limmyuy, School: MADA International College, Class: Upper Sixth  

 Topic: Promoting Multiculturalism As An Alternative Way To Hate Speech In Cameroon.

Multiculturalism is a situation where all the different cultural and racial groups in a society have equal rights and opportunities and none is ignored or regarded as unimportant. On the other hand, hate speech is any form of expression through which speakers intend to humiliate, enact hatred against a group or class of persons, on the bases of race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender, ethnicity, disability or national origin. Promoting multiculturalism as an alternative to hate speech can be a very important strategy if implemented in our society today. The following paragraphs will illustrate this:

Cameroon has a rich and diversified culture, made up of about 250 indigenous languages and customs. Cameroon has over 250 ethnic groups and an estimated 300+ languages. For this reason, promoting multiculturalism as an alternative to hate speech is very important. In addition, multiculturalism has played a significant role in Cameroon’s growth and a better approach to education since individuals of many religious groups, ethnicity, and regions join together to educate little children and students to learn everything from their friends of various religions and ethnic groups, which cannot be possible in a Cameroon with hate speech. Furthermore, multiculturalism provides opportunities for employment because people of various religions, groups, ethnicity, region, race, and skin color are employed in the same office or business where they interact with one another and perform excellent work as part of the team. Moreover, multiculturalism affects the need for political inclusion. This can be seen in the parliament, senate , and various ministries where people of different religion such as Christians , and Muslims , ethnic groups such as “Bamileke”,and the “Bassa”, just to name a few, are able to take part in decision making. They are able to portray their culture of dressing, language and beliefs. Thanks to multiculturalism, this is possible. This would have been the opposite if hate speech was allowed in Cameroon. However, multiculturalism promotes integration of different cultures and sharing of ideas. On the other hand, hate speech may lead to inter-tribal wars, and a multicultural environment does not agree to this. A multicultural environment is characterized by freedom of speech and peace, freedom of navigation, which is an important factor in promoting multiculturalism. Again, a multicultural environment allows individuals to get under the skin of cultures that are valuable, but hidden. As such, people will acquire a level of knowledge that will not only help them perform their jobs better, but provide tools to expand their careers or the business internationally.

Looking at the importance of multiculturalism, it can be improved or promoted in many ways. To begin with, Cameroon should emphasize on the celebration of the mother tongue day, which is gradually disappearing from our society. In addition, people should bridge the culture gap with good communication skills. Good communication skills are important when dealing with different cultures. Furthermore, traditional holiday’s festivals and food should be celebrated. Celebrating diversity can help increase cultural literacy, awareness, and acceptance.

Moreover, seating arrangements should be mixed. For example, in schools, people of different ethnic groups, religion, and regions should be mixed. This would enable them learn about each other’s cultures and beliefs. Our Cameroonian society is progressively being eaten up by the devil of hate speech, tribalism and divertive tendencies that are threatening the very foundation of harmony, living together and unity of citizens. For this reason, we as Cameroonians should eliminate hate speech and promote multiculturalism.

  Essay by: Meye Lenora Limmyuy, School: MADA International College, Class: Upper Sixth   

6. Name: Assana Ebaya School: Harvard School Complexe, Class: Lower Sixth Arts

Topic: Tolerance As An Alternative To Hate Speech

Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with. On the other hand, hate speech is any form of expression through which the speaker intends to humiliate or incite hatred against a group or class of persons based on race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, disability or national origin. The paragraphs below will emphasize the forms of hate speech, disadvantages of hate speech and finally the advantages and forms of tolerance. Firstly, hate speech exists in different forms, which includes: discrimination, insults, dehumanization and incitement of violence. These different forms of hate speech have negative effects on its victims and those practicing such acts. These negative effects will be emphasized below.

Victims of online hate speech may show low self-esteem, they may feel lonely or isolated, which increases anxiety, fear and insecurity. Their human dignity might be violated, no longer seeing themselves as good and appropriate in accordance with socio cultural norms. Thirdly, it poses grave dangers for the cohesion of a democratic society and the protection of human rights and the rule of law if left unaddressed; it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a wider scale. In this sense, hate speech is an extreme form of intolerance that contributes to hate crime. Also, hate speech is disadvantageous to victims because they feel frustrated and think they are different from others , and therefore hate them and their values, feel as been excluded from  the society, have no importance and as such this doesn’t only frustrate them physically, but also psychologically, which causes them to react negatively towards the society. Again, the statutes forbids communication that is hateful, threatening , or abusive and targets a person on account of disability, ethnic and national origin, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, whose penalties are fines, or imprisonment. Nevertheless, tolerance exist in different forms like orientation, location and end-out tolerance and as such can be used as a good alternative to hate speech because tolerance promotes non-judgmental , open minded, patience, permissive and live attitudes towards diverse people, ideas and practices. It is an essential virtue in a democratic society. For instance, tolerance between people make it possible for conflicting claims of beliefs , value and ideas to coexistence as long as they fit within acceptable moral values.

Moreover, respecting the similarities and differences of others, opens doors to many opportunities. You will learn new things and make better discussions, which in turn will help your career and improve your self-confidence. In addition, tolerance is a good thing if it means letting people live as they will in accordance with the law as long as all parties are fine and nobody is harmed. If people become more tolerant towards others,  and take time to get to know some of those with whom they were unfamiliar with previously, it would lead to a fair , more peaceful and understanding world and ultimately when considering your own self growth , acceptance of other people’s differences is a sure way of peace. Again, lack of tolerance leads to fighting, violence and finally destroys the peace and security of the society, and as such if people become more able to accept one another’s differences, it can have a positive effect on one’s self-imposed barriers and allow us to think more broadly and enjoy greater inner peace. Tolerance leads to less stress and greater happiness in the overall community.

Finally, tolerance is an important concept that helps people to live together peacefully and as a virtue, it implies that one accepts differences in people. Tolerant people are usually free from prejudice and discrimination. Hence, being tolerant makes you feel more mature, more civilized and a better human being.

Essay By: Assana Ebaya School: Harvard School Complexe, Class: Lower Sixth Arts

7. Name: Tar Kiven Bessem Karent, School: Wisdom International College, Class: Lower Sixth               

Topic: How is Hatespeech Manifested in Schools?

Hate, which can simply be defined as the intense dislike and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury, is very common in our society today. Hate, can be practiced through hate speech. Hate speech is the abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudices against a particular group especially on the bases of race, religion or sexual orientation. Hate speech could also be understood as any type of communication in speech, writing or behavior that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminating language in reference to a person or a group on the bases of who they are. Hate speech has clear consequences in our everyday life at the individual and the collective level. But where does hate come from? Hate comes from marginalization, violation of human rights, discrimination and undermining of personal dignity. Hate has a good number of consequences. Firstly, hate can result to crisis, retard development , undermine personal dignity, violate right to private life and can also constitute to inhuman and degrading treatments. Hate as well as hate speech, if left unaddressed can lead to acts of violence and conflicts on a wider scale. In this sense, hate as well as hate speech is an extreme form of intolerance, which contributes to hate crimes.

Since hate and hate speech have a negative effect on students’ academic life and performance, there is need for students to play an important role in defying hate and spreading love in their school campus. This can be done through the following ways: first, by raising awareness of the problem on campus, support students who are targets of hate speech and hate, boast positive messages of tolerance amongst students, creation of a club in the school campus that denounces hate and hate speech and preaches love amongst students in the school campus. Students should also notify organizations fighting hate and hate speech, informing them about the worst cases they see. Students should also be made to understand that, one can be jailed for hate speech and as such, there is no need for it. On the other hand, we should preach love amongst students in a school milieu.

To conclude, after having enumerated the causes and consequences of hate speech and hate, there is a strong need to defy hate, hate speech, and rather spread love amongst students on campus. Since the Bible teaches us that, we should love one another and be one another’s keeper.

Essay by: Tar Kiven Bessem Karent, School: Wisdom International College, Class: Lower Sixth 

8. Name: Bonglan Kate-Angel, Class: Lower Sixth Arts, School: Oxford Comprehensive High School  

Topic:  Hate Speech And Freedom Of Speech In School Campuses  

Hate speech is the use of raw language, which causes discomfort to a fellow student, friend or mate, while freedom of speech is the free will to say what is on one’s mind or his or her feeling. But should we, because of freedom of speech, use hate speech on each other?

In the society and school milieu, hate speech is common since there are students from many different families, background, and races on campus. Generally, it is said that every human has the freedom whatever is in his or her mind or express their feeling towards one another. Due to this, people tend to exaggerate on this freedom. The most common general example of hate speech in my community and schools today is that which concerns the people of the northwest and southwest of my country as their French counterparts commonly call them “Les Anglofoous” or “Les Bamenda”. This makes it seem as if they are different from others in the country. Nevertheless, some people take it as a joke, but it really hurts those concerned. At the local levels, words or phrases like “Your big head”, just to name a few are frequently used. These statements sometimes causes discomfort, whereby the person on who these statements are being used on feel inferior to others.

Consequently, the exaggeration of freedom of speech, which was more of a slang before, has turned into a conflict zone where citizens want to be separated from each other. It was due to slangs such as “Les Anglofous” that crisis, misunderstanding and conflict arouse in the country. As a solution, I personally think we as Cameroonians should primarily accept ourselves the way we are, including our backgrounds and culture. More to that, we should consider the fact that we are all Cameroonians and consider one another’s feelings, not only considering self-satisfaction and happiness.

Finally, all citizens should have a moderate freedom of speech, thereby sure of not consequently hurting each other’s feelings with our words and expressions. We are all Cameroonians, so we should learn to live as one in peace and harmony.

Essay By: Bonglan Kate-Angel, Class: Lower Sixth Arts, School: Oxford Comprehensive High School 

                   

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