It is time for Cameroonians to unite

2010-05-15 13:29

Soccer in Cameroon – as in many other African countries – plays a

unifying role among the population.

When matches are over, however, it soon becomes obvious that the

cultural, social and political divisions between the two linguistic groups

(Francophone and Anglophone) prevail.

Where is the unified Cameroon that the first president of the

country, Ahmadou Ahidjo, and others dreamed of during the plebiscite for the

unification of Cameroon in 1961?

Can we reconnect again with President Ahidjo’s speech when he said

that “after more than 40 years of separation, we are today reconstituting one

family, one nation and one state.

“I express the wish that this reunification of the national

territory should be the gauge and symbol of the unity of our hearts and


Indomitable Lions, Lions Indomitable! This is the name that pulls

all Cameroonian in the same direction, regardless of whether they are

Francophone or Anglophone.

When it is soccer time, fans rally to support their fellow

countrymen without caring if they are from their region or ethnic group.

It is common to find Cameroonians in bars, houses, offices and in

the streets watching Cameroonian matches in the spirit of togetherness.

Victory for the Indomitable Lions is victory for all Cameroonians.

When they win, Cameroonians celebrate with one voice in their drinking, singing

and dancing. And when they lose the sadness is also shared.

My wish is that this spirit of togetherness should not prevail only

during soccer matches, but in all other aspects of our daily lives.

Anglophones, who are the minority, always point fingers at

Francophones for using their numerical supremacy and political leadership since

reunification to deny them access to opportunities.

Besides this state of affairs, Anglophone nationalists – old and

young – have continued to come out with noble ideas that can bring the two

communities closer together and save Cameroon from disintegration.

In fact the two linguistic groups do not have to remain distinct

and uncompromising; they have to break the burden of divergent linguistic


Cameroonians need to look for other unifying grounds, besides

football, in order to live as citizens of the same nation, both at home and in

the diaspora.

Home to about 256 ethnic groups with numerous local languages and

dialects, Cameroon faces the challenge of finding common ground for its national


Of course, one of the unifying elements could be language. In the

same way that pidgin English unifies all Anglophones, Franglaise – a mix of

French and English – can unify the French- and English-speaking


Those who are looking for the separation of Cameroon have to bear

in mind that Cameroon has more to gain united than separated.

Cameroonians worldwide are called upon to behave as citizens of the

same nation and not as people of a particular group.

The question we have to bear in mind is: Why did the two Cameroons

decide in the first place to reunite on October 1, 1961?

>>Flavien Gagoum Nteumagne is a leader in the Cameroonian community in South Africa

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