Agnes Taile | 2009 Courage in Journalism Award
Canal 2 International, Cameroon.
Agnes Taile was a reporter for Canal 2 International radio and television in Cameroon until June 2009. Her broadcasts on human rights and press freedom have put her life at risk.
Taile, 29, began working as a journalist in 1997 in Cameroon, where press freedom is “a precarious quality,” according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Working as a journalist is dangerous, RSF reports, especially because the army, secessionist impulses on the part of the English-speaking region and corruption are sensitive subjects.
Taile knows this firsthand – she was nearly killed for her work in 2006. She was a reporter for Sweet FM in Douala, where she hosted a show called A vous la parole (Have Your Say) that was often critical of the government, particularly President Paul Biya. She also reported on government corruption and social inequality.
Taile began to receive threatening phone calls in the fall of 2006 demanding that she stop her “pursuit.” She ignored the threats and denounced the callers on air, saying that she refused to alter her reporting.
Not long after this, on November 6, 2006, Taile was abducted by three hooded men who broke into her home. They dragged her at knifepoint from her home, beat her and attempted to strangle her, leaving her for dead in a ravine.
Following the incident, Taile was unable to speak due to severe damage to her vocal chords. Her show was cancelled, and her attackers were never found or punished.
After her attack, Taile said that the only reason she did not continue her program on Sweet FM was because it was cancelled by station managers. As soon as she recovered, Taile went back to journalism, securing a position with Canal 2 International in Yaounde, Cameroon. She covered three Northern provinces of Cameroon, an area disadvantaged by a hostile climate, poverty, lack of potable water and hunger.
Taile was one of the few reporters who covered the conflict in Chad in February 2008, despite difficult conditions and a heavy military presence of government loyalists and rebels. Her coverage was retransmitted outside of Cameroon.
In her acceptance speech for the Courage in Journalism Award, Taile said: ”I have chosen the most beautiful job in the world: I am a journalist. Such work provides the feeling of having done something positive for humanity, affording a smile and a voice to the oppressed by carrying on the relentless pursuit of truth and an end to inequality.”
Taile was born January 20, 1980, in Garoua.
Agnes Taile is the first Courage in Journalism Award winner from Cameroon.