Creative nonfiction titled: “I Can Only Dare To Dream”
Let us not live in dreams
Let us not lie to ourselves
Let our lies not reverberate into the very embers of our souls
Let them not for one second fool us that Cameroon was peaceful, for it wasn’t.
Do not let the elaborate illusions crafted by the repetition of tales of peace by our forebears, cemented through time continue to delude/deceive us, that the society our parents lived in was devoid of corruption, “paradise on earth”. That being Cameroonian meant upholding the ‘generic’ principles of honesty, camaraderie, kindness, and peace, for it didn’t.
No! Their Cameroon was anything but peaceful. It possessed all manner of ills, congested with tribalistic tendencies, betrayal, envy, and evil, reigning supreme. From the hands of the cut-throat “Germans” who tortured our ancestors for pleasure to the cunning ever conniving British and French whose use of the indirect rule and assimilation respectively, became the basis of what is today known as Anglophone and Francophone. The passing of time has made these powers our friends and allies, but as the saying goes, there are no permanent friends and enemies on the international stage. And finally, into the self-proclaimed independent hands of ours, those we call brother, Cameroon has bled, Cameroon still bleeds. That is what being a Cameroonian meant, that is what being a Cameroonian perhaps still means.
The overly gloomy picture that my words have painted in the fine compartments of your minds is perhaps a tad too negative, but in no way is it an overstatement. Alas! This is not my intention, but this is no eulogy either. I do not wish to massage already bleeding wounds with fresh salt, I do not wish to stir still sinister waters, I do not wish to poke a resting tiger in the eye and say I did nothing, but I do not wish to let sleeping dogs lie either. Too many young have been pushed into unending depths of hatred towards each other. Alas! We have had enough of that.
Today, over 60 years since this great nation rose from the ashes of colonialism , the inter tribal inequalities, the great divide created by the very nature of our existence, and our so called mighty colonial heritage is perhaps greater than ever, if that were even possible.
Others have left, seeking pastures new, pastures green. South Africa, America, Great Britain, Australia. This is how far we have gone to escape the evils we have created. These are those we call the Diaspora. And years after, when they have perhaps thought that they were “made”, some who were silent, those who felt Cameroon wasn’t good enough have found their voices. Voices, magnified by their newly acquired riches, not to praise their home land, No! Not to offer sincere and genuine help. No! How could they? But to sit in their comfy cuddly couches, comfortably stoking the flames of violence that now threaten to burn us all. Yet, not all is dirt and ruin because even in the ashes of the fireside, there are still a few burning embers. Weak, sometimes nearly imperceptible covered by the ashes of violence, but present nonetheless. These embers are the few, the few who left, but still try to help. The few in the Diaspora, who are not fooled by any fancy mirages of home, but who do their part regardless to help home. A home that is not as it should be, a home whose rebuild they have made the essence of their every day breath. So, in that sense, there is a torch in the dark, a few stars on a moonless night, not bright enough to push away the darkness, but more than enough to be a symbol. A symbol of something perhaps even more precious than the peace we so crave for, a symbol of one day, a symbol of hope.
Today, being Cameroonian seems to mean that we may be bound in the same geographical location, but we are fragmented into a thousand seemingly unbendable pieces. That the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity that we possess has not brought us together as was intended, but it has instead cultivated the self-eroding terms like Anglophone or francophone, Like English speaking and French speaking..Oh! How well these seeds have grown, just how well they’ve grown dully watered by the blood of the innocent, spilled upon the soil of our predecessors. And today, now that we talk of being Cameroonian, we now see what it truly means .We now see that being Cameroonian was and still is just a fancy way of saying that we are thieving, narcissistic beings who care nothing for the wellbeing of those we call brothers , of those they call sisters, of those they call family. People who believe that whatever is different is bad, that those they can’t understand are not to be befriended or reasoned with. That they ought to be shunned, to be scotched like vermin.
But! It doesn’t have to be so
Surely! Our fate is not sealed in endless and meaningless bloodshed. In favoritism, Nepotism and all forms of discrimination.
Surely!, being a Cameroonian is not ambient in chanting “ 500francs” at the police, or in the embezzling and squandering away money meant for the betterment of the masses by a few greedy hands.
Oh, surely, this country nestled in the armpit of our great mother Africa can, and should do better.
Surely, we can put aside petit rivalries, our envy and the founded or unfounded enmity that threatens to engulf us. We can set aside our enormous greed and eyes for what is not our, and reason like one well oiled machine. We can kill the terms “Anglophone or francophone” inculcated in us by colonial masters Britain and France who wanted to divide and conquer us. If we cannot put aside these differences, then, they would have indeed conquered us.
Let us rise like the mythical phoenix from the ashes of death. The death of greed. the death of division, of envy and every other thing that pulled us asunder. Let us rise, rise I say rise, brushing off the remnants of our former selves and become Cameroonian. A new Cameroonian. One who is able to identify and revel in the beauty of the diversity of being from the North West and marrying from the west region. A new Cameroonian, who knows that he rises to power, not for the mere sake of it, but to be like a centurion, devotedly serving the cause, diligently serving his people. A Cameroonian with a new mindset. One who will look to the horizon at the break of dawn, on sunny day and sigh, knowing that he has left a true legacy. And as Margaret Afuh puts it, a monument, built not by the masterful hands of a sculptor, but by posterity, in remembrance of his good deeds, immortalized in their hearts and souls for all of time.
Sadly, that day has not come. So, we can only dream of it, when tired eyes do shut to rest, knowing that perhaps, just perhaps, better days lay ahead
Oh! Sadly, that day has not come, so Cameroon can only dare to dream. I can only dare to dream.