11 January 2018

Cameroon: Bilingualism, Living Together - Greater Practice Expected

The National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism is bracing up for field action after its implantation in 2017.

The practice of bilingualism, harmonious cultural diversity and the effective living together of Cameroonians are expected to get to a higher level this year 2018 considering that the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism created by presidential decree N°. 2017/013 of 23 January 2017 is already a year old. President Paul Biya in the decree specified that "Under the authority of the President of the Republic, the Commission shall be responsible for promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism in Cameroon with the view to maintaining peace, consolidating the country's national unity and strengthening its people's willingness and dayto- day experience with respect to living together."

Commission Effective

The appointment of the Chairperson of the Commission, Peter Mafany Musonge, Vice President and members of the Commission in different presidential decrees on March 15, 2017 set the ball rolling for its effective putting in place. Another decree of April 25, 2017 appointing Cornelius Chi Asafor, Secretary General of the Commission came to complete the top executive of the institution. On the heels of this important step, the Commission's members were officially commissioned in to their functions on April 27, 2017 in Yaounde.

After being fully settled at the Emergence Ministerial Complex in Yaounde, the commission members in late September 2017 embarked on field visits to consult senior State officials, present the commission and solicit collaboration. They had talks with the President of the Senate, Marcel Niat Njifenji, Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, Prime Minister Philemon Yang, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Daniel Mekobe Sone and the Chairman of the Economic and Social Council, Ayang Luc from September 25-27, 2017.

Major Challenges

Cameroonians now expect the commission to effectively carry out field work. The challenge is daunting when one considers the declaration of the Commission Chairperson after their talks with the Prime Minister Philemon Yang. He said after meeting heads of the institutions, the commission members will go down to the ministries to see how the Constitutional provision of bilingualism is being applied. The Commission's report indicate that this was done in 37 ministries from November 1-3, 2017 and the report forwarded to the President of the Republic.

Ensuring the respect of the constitutional provision has to be a daily issue and taken to all government structures and done in all the regions. The practice of bilingualism, living together, harnessing cultural diversity are henceforth expected to be ways of life in Cameroon. The Commission members have to fight against the feelings of marginalization, discrimination and more importantly the desire by some Cameroonians to break away from the much cherished one and indivisible country.

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