Dear Cameroon, we need to talk…

Standing up today before this great host of dignitaries, I have the privilege speaking for a cause which has stood beckoning to our attention but till now, has received a deafened ear. But now, when are faced with the ravaging consequences of our negligence of this fact, we are forced to realize the mistake we made from the time of our Fathers; who’s voice we hear faintly but authentically in our hearts and minds. I’ll like to present my address as a letter: a letter from the Cameroonian Association of the Dead (CAMAD). It is a fictitious but powerful representation of why we are here-the purpose for this gathering and what we should fight for and take action. It reads:

“Dear compatriots, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues and Cameroonians, we are the Cameroonian Association of the Deceased, writing this letter to whoever might read, whatever audience might listen and wherever this message may reach. This is the first time we as an association have daunted to breach the law of nature in communicating with the world above. We wish to begin by extending our heartfelt greetings to our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, loved ones and the Family of Cameroon whom we all left behind and sincerely miss your presence; your deceased here present all send their humble salute. This letter came as a result of many pending issues in the land, thus we wanted to raise our voices beyond memories, in response to the current crises in our land. We decided not to keep silent in the midst of all the prevailing circumstances plaguing our land of promise. Our hearts bleed and we’re deeply hurt to find out that many are joining us today not in the fullness of life or after accomplishing their visions, but because of the errors some of us here committed. It is true: we made errors and we have no defense for it for we plead guilty before the face of justice but lately, we decided that we can’t let guilt cause us to stay mute whilst things go wrong in our Fatherland. Now we say, `Dear Cameroon, we need to talk. Each of the major groups-fathers, mother, youths and children have something to say to the people and listening passionately is all we demand now.

The Father’s cry: We are the Cameroon Men’s Association of the Dead. We remember the days where we could sit in heat of the day under the shade of the mighty palm trees, sipping our local drinks, laughing, talking and cheering ourselves with topics which came from diversity in ideologies and cultural background. We recall vividly the days where the entire village will come out for community service; building a bridge, clearing the road or even cleaning the local district hospital. We thought all of these where a sign “all was well”, only to find out that all through, we lived in hypocrisy as we carried every day, the secret burden of hate. This, we bore so long, deeply rooted in our subconscious that it had been unconsciously handed to our offspring. Everyday, we see our young men troop in here from the upper land as a result of the manifestations of the anger and resentment we didn’t resolve. Even worse, based on mere sight and total assumptions, many have been given wrong judgments, hence a wrong fate; death or being bludgeoned. The places we observed from to be solemn, from this land of rest are now piles of rubble, dust, ash, and blood. We realize how much pain fills your hearts instead when we aren’t around to remedy. Please, let’s Forgive and end all these battles, we may have transgressed by denying to forgive, but we beseech you, stop the hate, end the bondage of holding to the past. As an African proverb says: “A child that falls down refuses to stand up might end up receiving discipline”, if we fail to stop and let our wounds heal, then there might be no end to the damage we’re causing to ourselves. We, here might not have the chance to rectify the errors that have been made but we entreat you to please sit down together and settle all the differences we have. That’s the only route to true and long-lasting peace and glory. Dear Cameroon, we need to talk…

The Mother’s Tears. We decided to join our voices to plead for this cause as of what we have witnessed of the land above. It is with great weeping that we lay our petition, as we are the most affected. Before coming down here, most of us were assaulted, insulted, raped and finally murdered in the process. We faced the highest pain, watching our children murdered in cold blood, our husbands shot dead as criminals and disposed as though it was sewage and even our property which took a lifetime to build, destroyed in the splint of a second. Our cherished and hard-earned crops all turned into ash, the farming huts now secret hideouts for weapons. We are shattered by what our land has turned into; we watch how our young boys and girls are consumed by hate while some of our fellow countrymen keep fueling the fire of discord, but we wish to raise our voices to all those left behind, please Cameroon, we need to talk… We had enough weeping in the land above and we wish not to continue in this next world: Enough is enough, let us stop all this. Yes, the dead can’t do anything now-the chance we had to change the system is expired, as we’ve been separated from the land of life, but as this letter reaches you, feel our hearts through this paper not just the words and ACT. This is our invisible but deep cry. Dear Cameroon, we need to talk…

In the good old days, we would gather on the eve of the youth day, with firesticks, lighting up the campfire together which would burn till dawn and then we’ll  play the “contri drum”, xylophone and other local instruments whose melody will not elude our memories and dance to its tune round the flame. Then together on youth day, we would perform the colorful match-pass, bearing the flag at the forefront of every institution signifying we were all one until something happened … Where did we lose it? where did we drop the core values we once esteemed? where did we fail? Apparently, the day, we considered our interest more than that of others. The day where our priority became our bellies and our focus drifted from “we” to “me”. It’s most hurting to find out that we have started fighting ourselves rather than fighting together. Now we ask, who is the enemy, me? You? Or who for God’s sake! Many of us thought fighting for freedom (from what we don’t even know) using arms was the best solution but unfortunately, we ended up here, lifeless: unable to tell if what we did brought change or actually, we bruised ourselves in total vain. Please, we shouldn’t waste our strength-our pride as youths in aimless battles which won’t bring progress. Rather, as our parents failed in doing the work of reconciliation, we shouldn’t carry over the hate but rather let us be fully involved in mending the broken pieces. Back in ages, we promised to fight for unity, love and peace and battle against corruption, bribery and the like, but here we are, doing the exact opposite. We plead, hear our petition oh Dear land of glory, Cameroon, we need to talk.

We might be small and elfin but our voices are just as important as every other. Who had thought that even the little ones, babies and infants in their first days of life would be introduced to the sound of loud gunshots? rather than the sweet and soft symphony of nature. Our environment made even kindergarten able to tell what was an “armored car” and machinegun which wasn’t so in the past. Worst of all, one of the most important gift one can ever have-education turned to be the pathway of death to some and a snare to everyone who mentioned the word “school”. Many of us ended up here just because of the hope that through education, we could change the world. Some of our fortunate siblings and friends only managed to remain living after being severely brutalized and assaulted, sometimes both sexually and physically. Others due to threats and fear of death had to stop their educational journey and many ended up as delinquents and misfits. Before our demise, every day we were blessed with, appeared as though it was our last. Who would have ever imagined that the path of change, one of the most powerful tools to transform the human race, would eventually become a death trap? Some of us lost our parents and all we had at a blow. And yet, others keep suffering, many more are kidnapped and beaten, talk less about those killed. Please, do not let the remnant of us keep suffering when the solution lies within us. Let us refrain from ignoring the truth and face facts. In tears, we cry aloud, Dear Cameroon, we need to talk…

If we keep fighting and destroying ourselves, who would live to enjoy the outcome. Here, in our world, we all realize how selfish it was to thinks about how our problems would be solved, not how we could together fight for Survival thus forfeiting the first principle of brotherhood which is Selflessness. While anger and violence seem to offer a temporary salve to our wounds, it cannot be a path to a people seeking for long term solutions to our problems. The future is bleak if we continue on this pathway. If we walk down this alley, then be rest assured that the end will be apocalyptic. Remember, we have the chance NOW to rectify our actions, hence bringing light and change to our future. Please, sons and daughters of our great mother country, let us refrain from being unchanged. let’s end this plague for we need no longer tears but triumph, no pain but glory gain. Then we can lie in peace knowing our work was not in vain. 

 Please, in unison, as one man, we cry out again, Dear Cameroon we need to talk…”

This story many sound fictitious but when we meditate silently, we “feel” the silent cry of our fallen brethren whispering into our hearts to take the right decision. It appears as though we have lost the sense of brotherhood we once had. I am aware that many communities and persons are questioning the potential of this conference to solve our national crisis and problems mainly arising from the variability in our ideologies on co-operation and co-existence. We can’t ignore the anger and frustration of those who are suffering more than others owing to our pride, which have devastating consequences for our Beautiful land. But must we seal our fate by our inaction, NEVER! To all of us seated here, I wish to say that we must not make the same mistake as our parents did by assuming that in due time, all will be well. This is the season of action. More than 500 thousand people all round the nation are directly affected by the crisis. But even more, they’re affected by our decisions directly or indirectly. Fellow Cameroonians, it is only by working together across sectors and engaging at all levels, that we can mobilize in effective ways to bring lasting change and solutions for our Fatherland.

We must therefore justify our name ‘homo sapiens’ (wise man) as we work together to preserve our National integrity, and one day surely, we will together read a new chapter of progress as brothers working together– a precious gem indeed, radiant with our love for one another and our cherished home. 

By Nchanji Faithful Ngirnyu

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