The 45th edition of the National Day is taking place within a context where a general evaluation of our being together is absolutely necessary.
Cameroonians across the country will tomorrow 20 May, 2017 organise various activities to mark their attachment to values of national unity. The event follows the advent of a Unitary State in Cameroon in 1972 through a Referendum that transformed the Federal State, East and West Cameroon into a Unitary State and over the years the national policy has been geared at creating a harmonious and peaceful co-existence amongst the sons and daughters of Cameroon, as well as neighbouring countries that have their fair share or hurdles which at times spill over into Cameroon with disastrous consequences.
Yet, the diverse ethnic and cultural groupings in the country, as well as regional and linguistic differences are both a blessing and a challenge which have to be either appreciated or surmounted daily to forge the sense of nationhood. Often qualified as Africa in miniature, Cameroon epitomises some of the most atypical historical and geographical mix which require both art and tact to blend into an embolden whole.
For the past three years, the Boko Haram extremist group from Nigeria has spread fear and mayhem in three divisions of the Far North Region. Attempts by the sect to create a caliphate in that part of the country have been so repulsive to the extent that the army and the entire population had to mobilise against the threats.
The resolve has been such that the initial warfare embarked on by the militants dwindled into an asymmetric battle with sporadic suicide attacks at public gatherings. In spite of the losses incurred by the defence forces, the military might of Cameroon coupled with the sense of duty and professionalism demonstrated by the uniformed officers have been vital in frustrating the hoodlums.
By adopting a new tactic against the national defence forces, the Boko Haram terrorists hoped to make gains, but little did they imagine the supportive role of the population in defending their territory. Members of the local vigilante groups in the Far North Region have been lauded at the highest level of the State for providing remarkable support to the soldiers on the field making it impossible for any iota of the national territory to fall in the hands of the enemy. Understandably therefore, the theme of the festivities this year is the “Army and Nation in full synergy for a Cameroon, united in its diversity and devoted to the ideals of peace, stability and prosperity.” The Ministry of Defence also organized Open Door Days from 17 to 19 May, 2017 at the 101 Air Base, Mvan, Yaounde to “strengthen the bond between the army and the nation, popularize the military defence tool, its capabilities and organization, through a presentation of different corps, associated career profiles and the different fields of recruitment, in order to arouse public interest in the Army and the Gendarmerie.”
In addition, the inter-cultural blend that the population has witnessed over the years makes the people intractably linked to one another. Cameroonians from different backgrounds criss-cross the length and breadth of the national triangle either through inter-marriages, work, and other social needs that make them overcome artificial divisions that have existed over the years.
If unity is strength, diversity can be riches as the various cultures, languages, and ethnic groups are often a source of pride to the nation. Thus, the recent show of disenchantment resulting to social unrest in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon took many unaware and the Head of State had to respond by creating the National Commission for the promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism in order to improve on the sense of living together in Cameroon.
Cries against marginalisation, attempts to sideline the English Language in the country and other claims which President Paul Biya qualified as legitimate have been the subject of a series of government measures to provide solutions that could lead to a better and harmonious living among the population.