How do you make Cameroon better? That question has been on my mind a lot lately. Cameroon, like most African countries, has tremendous potential, but unfortunately it’s on that is poorly harnessed, if at all. You can’t help but get frustrated when you see such waste.
How do you make a better Cameroon? One of my cousins believes that we have to get rid of pubs and churches because these are two institutions that have lulled the people to sleep. I don’t share this opinion. Rather, I think that churches and bars have been springing up because of the economy that has been worsening over decades. Your average Cameroonian is struggling to make ends meet and to cope on a daily basis; it’s only natural to seek solace in relidion or alcohol.
When solving a problem, it is important to tackle its cause(s) instead of its consequence(s). By my observations, the root of Cameroon’s is the unemployment rate; it is far too high. Idleness being the mother of all vices, finding a cure for this gangrene as quickly as possible is of utmost importance. Otherwise, left unattended, this situation will lead irreparable damage.
Last year, I spent about ten days in Cameroon. During my stay, which did me a lot of good, I had very informative conversations with many Cameroonians. These exchanges allowed me to draw some conclusions.
First of all, Cameroon, like most African countries, is not in a bad position: a good leader can solve all the problems that plague Africa in two five-year terms. Secondly, I believe that the path to Cameroon’s salvation goes through youth empowerement and a more active participation in democratic life. Obviously, I am aware that these two endeavours will not solve all the problems, but if they are properly implemented, it would be a good start …
Give young people a chance
Just a few years ago, foreign music was the lone currency on Cameroonian airwaves; I noticed during my recent trip that things have changed. We are witnesses to the advent of Cameroonian pop music. I have met several people who told me that they only listen to local artists.
If Cameroonian music has found a second wind, then we have the new generation to thank. Rather than being passive and adopting a wait-and-see approach, the young Cameroonian artists took their destiny into their own hands. They took it upon themselves to improve the quality of their music and their videos. Today, there is a real craze around the local music.
It really makes me happy to see that youth is at the heart of Cameroonian music’s revival. Indeed, labels such as New Bell Music, Alpha Better Records or Big Dreams Entertainment are led by young people. Thanks to their hard work, they have managed to conquer the Cameroonian public.
I wrote the above not to praise Cameroonian music, but to highlight the dynamism of the Cameroonian youth. In Cameroon, young people are as brilliant and educated as they are creative. They just need to be given opportunities to express all those natural talents. Unfortunately, finding work in Cameroon is an arduous endeavor to say the least. During my stay, I met several people who were even struggling to even unpaid internships.
Those lucky enough to have jobs often work in appalling conditions. Employers do not hesitate to make them understand that they are easily disposable and have them toil with no respite.
In Cameroon, young people are unemployed while old people work. The real tragedy: the older generations no longer have the skills to lead the country. Those skills they acquired in the seventies are now obsolete.
The handling of the Anglophone Crisis is the best example of our old leaders’s glaring incompetence. They think social networks are the the devil incarnate, so they deprived the English-speaking provinces of Internet access for a hundred days.
Initially, Anglophones wanted a little more equality. But when the state decided to repress them, the tone changed and the rhetoric became more secessionist. A conflict, which could have been settled amicably, has degenerated because the leaders have doused flammes with gasoline instead of favoring the dialogue option. If we want Cameroon to thrive, then old people have to go to rest and give way to young people. It is important!
Paul Biya has been ruling Cameroon for 35 years. The presidential elections will be held this weekend; I was expecting the people to do everything to get rid of him. Unfortunately, what I have seen are disillusioned people who have little interest in Cameroonian politics.
During my stay in Cameroon, I met many people who are disenchanted. They do not intend to vote; they do not know the candidates who will stand for election; they have not bothered to register to vote. Regretably, I’ve noticed that the much of the Cameroonian population has given into fatalism. Convinced that things will not change, many Cameroonians have resigned themselves to more Biya. They’d tell me, “What will my change?”
This defeatist attitude doesn’t help our situation. I understand that many Cameroonians have experienced a long string of disappointments over the last few decades, but that is no reason to give up. I concede that it’s easy to get discouraged when you do not see progress, but you must not give up.
To end the suffering, you have to stop being a spectator and become an actor. Since the elite will do everything to maintain the status quo and their privileges, it is important to mobilize to change things as quickly as possible. Enough is enough. We can no longer indulge in mediocrity. Improving Cameroon is a long-term job. Improving Cameroon is a lifelong struggle. Let’s improve Cameroon and start now!
The original opinion piece can be found on ‘Un lion parmi les hommes‘
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