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Being and Becoming Cameroonian

Cameroon may be likened to an extended family. One would suppose, that what makes people bond or flow are the things they share in common. What then would we say about Cameroon with over 240 tribes indicating a lot of disparities. Well, her diversity could be much more of a strength and not a weakness if each offshoot understands and phenomenally plays his/her role. By doing so, they would be able to complement one another and fill the existing loopholes.

While others become Cameroonians by birth, others by naturalization declaration or even marriage, I must say what matters more is not the process of "becoming Cameroonian"(acquiring the nationality) but the "being"(having a sense of belonging and actively participating).

So what exactly does it mean to be Cameroonian?

Being Cameroonian proceeds from knowing that identity, accepting it, and having a sense of belonging.

Being Cameroonian surpasses the name. It goes as far as being a robust member who is concerned about the downfalls and victories of his country. This would mean that where an individual resides does not make him more or less of a Cameroonian. Rather, his involvement in matters that concern his country and what he does for the betterment of Cameroon plays a greater role.

It entails being able to communicate. As much as you try to make yourself heard, you are also willing to give a listening ear to other Cameroonians of differing backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions and come to a compromise where need be.

To be Cameroonian is a state of being. It drives beyond being fans of the national team to vigorously taking part in problem-solving. It stretches to focusing on what can be done rather than spending the most time on unproductive complaining.

Being Cameroonian is being informed and aware of Cameroon's policies and programs and following suit that is Obeying the rules governing the country.

You don't have to be considered a member of a family because you were born into it but because you act like one. This would mean referencing other family members and acknowledging the fact that they possess the same rights as you do. It would mean standing with all other members of the family against a common enemy rather than joining the enemy to fight your own family which would be an indication of betrayal.

A family becomes worthwhile when each individual knows his role and plays it well recognizing that the little he does is of great service not just to him, but to the entire family at large.

It encompasses accepting other family members despite their shortcomings, helping them better themselves, and protecting them from harm's way. That is to say, it involves knowing the role you have to play as an individual and in collaboration with other Cameroonians to ensure the family thrives and blossoms. In other words, being a Cameroonian is being an effective team member.

It even goes as far as asking oneself " What have I done for my country?" or "What can I do for my country? much more than asking "What has my country done for me". This should be about imparting the change you want to see rather than folding your arms and waiting for that change to come to you on a platter of gold.

Being Cameroonian implies playing "the role" even when others don't. It ranges from the things we might consider little to the mighty things. This involves keeping the refuse with you and only dumping it in its proper location thereby ensuring the cleanliness of the environment rather than throwing it through the bus window or dumping it by the roadside. It will mean declining an unqualified fellow tribesman a job offer and letting a more qualified individual who merits the job get access to it.

It will also incorporate "playing the role" when no one is keeping watch. Means you are doing the right thing not because you are compelled to but because you know it's your responsibility. Having this in mind and implementing it would pertain to; Not driving above speed limits, not hunting indiscriminately or killing endangered species, not embezzling state funds, not partaking in corruption to make ends meet.

Being Cameroonian can also be likened to "a lover". When you love something or someone, you attach value to it, you don't speak ill of that individual, you bring about ideas and discussions which are constructive for the betterment of that individual.

This is where patriotism jumps into the scene. Patriotism pertains to the love for one's country(Cameroon in this case), devotion to it, and feelings of attachment. The Oxford dictionary says "patriotism is
devotion to and vigorous support for one's country". What makes this definition different from the previous is the word " vigorous" which to me is characterized by effort and backed by a whole lot of energy. Yes, it involves feelings of love and attachment but these have to be shown in supportive actions.

If we agree with the aforementioned definition, it will mean being patriotic goes way above participating in "match pasts" to ensuring that the nation's income is used judiciously rather than being embezzled for selfish reasons. It is not about favoring those of the ruling party at the expense of nonmembers. Neither is it about giving the best of opportunities to the most privileged, well-to-do, and relatives of the most influential. Contrarily, everyone be it the underprivileged or nonmembers of the ruling party are Cameroonians and should be treated on the same bases.

It is about sacrificing for the good of the country and opposing the Country's opponents, being proud of one's identity, and being actively involved in community and nation-building.

Patriotism refers to love for one's country and not the government. Meaning the government shouldn't define your love, your devotion to the country. Being patriotic as a Cameroonian will therefore mean working hand in glove with the presiding government when they have the nation's growth and development at heart but refusing to partner with them during periods when they have lost track and are headed in the wrong direction which might likely cause harm than good.

I, being Cameroonian, is not just by descent or acquiring nationality by other means. It spans from nationality and spreads its tentacles toward citizenship and patriotism. I need not only be called a Cameroonian or known to be one as per my certificates and identification documents. I am a family member, I have a role to play likewise, I am a lover and I am expected to show my devotion and unwavering support to my homeland.