By Edwin Kontoh*
Cameroonian writer and Executive Director of AFRICAphonie, Mwalimu George Ngwane has described the Minority Rights Group (MRG) International London as a trustworthy Ambassador of defending diversity in the world since 1969.
Ngwane made this statement in his speech during the 50th birthday celebration of the MRG hosted by Lord Harries of Pentregarth at the House of Lords Westminster, London on May 13th 2019. Ngwane traced his relationship with MRG from the early 90s when he used to read about their activities in Africa, to 2016 when he spent 3 months with the organisation as a Commonwealth Fellow. It is during his spell with this organisation that he was privileged to travel to Cardiff, Wales to study the structures and functioning of the Welsh Language Commissioner.
On his return to Cameroon in May 2016, he wrote a seminal article in one of the local tabloids on the need for Cameroon to create a National Commission for Bilingualism. Ngwane expressed gratitude to the Minority Rights Group for conceiving the importance of a Language Commission as a strategy to address language rights in communities that have linguistic minorities.
It must be mentioned that Minority Rights Group’s vision is to secure linguistic, ethnic, religious and national minority rights as well as promote cooperation between the communities worldwide. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and observer status with the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Minority Rights Group’s golden anniversary celebration was graced by the high level meeting of its International Council (Board of Trustees) chaired by its President Madam Gay McDougall in the presence of some eight members including the Executive Director of MRG, Professor Joshua Castellino and the Deputy Director Claire Thomas. Apart from discussing the broad range of issues that MRG tackled in the previous years, the International Council elected new members on its Board among who was Mwalimu George Ngwane.
Ngwane’s election into the International Council serves as a conveyor belt between Africa and the Council especially as in February 2019 he was also elected Board Member for MRG Africa. The Global Team Week that was part of this year’s celebration was characterized by group dynamics (Council, staff, and interns) engaging in deep introspection, strategic reflection and foreseeable challenges. In terms of future challenges Minority Rights Group has identified, hopefully with donations and support, the need to find innovative ways to challenge political, social and economic factors that cause discrimination and exclusion of the most marginalised segments of our societies, to mobilize new technologies, to purchase its very first building, and to publish unbiased and unfiltered expert opinion on recommendations to decision-makers and the general public.
*Edwin Kontoh is a Communication Expert with Afronewswork,London