Cameroon: Remarkable Popular Support!

The just-ended Major National Dialogue convened by President Paul Biya on September 10, 2019 and chaired by the Prime Minister from September 30 - October 4, 2019 has gone down the history books as one of the rare national events in recent times that got an unprecedented acclaim from almost all Cameroonians. Irrespective of their political, cultural and linguistic leanings, Cameroonians from all walks of life saluted the call for the inclusive dialogue as timely and from far and near took part, both as observers and delegates, in its deliberations. From the time the much-awaited dialogue was announced till when curtains dropped on it, over a thousand proposals were received and treated at the Prime Minister's Office. The enthusiasm shown the national event demonstrated by the length and breadth of pre-dialogue consultations through the dialogue proper were telling of adhesion to a common course.

Some 600 Cameroonians were duly invited to partake in the brainstorming as delegates but the Dialogue village, the Yaounde Conference Centre, was beehive-like. Just from observation, the number of people who streamed into the venue could only be evaluated in thousands. Reports from across the national triangle also spoke of keen interest shown deliberations in Yaounde and heightened anxiety on its outcome. Even the various social media platforms were awash with comments from far and near on the unfolding of the Yaounde come together. Such reactions have been eloquent testimony of the interest shown the much-awaited dialogue.

Logically so as Cameroonians were already fed up with happenings in the country. Insecurity in the North West and South West Regions might have triggered the convening of the dialogue but other issues of national interest had already been worrisome. Tribalism, nepotism and political servility had reached alarming proportions igniting a feeling of rejection on one hand and superiority on the other. Common knowledge teaches that all these are vices and regrettably serve as weapons of division. Little wonder hate speech was already distressing! All these were internal problems and needed inhouse handling. In fact, a forum where Cameroonians could look at each other straight into the eyes and say what and where it was hurting. A veritable moment to wash the somewhat dirty linings within so as to have a proper and acceptable appearance without. Fortunately, Cameroonians understood this and adhered to the peace-seeking platform, the Major National Dialogue.

No one doubts the fact that in a union where two parties freely accepted to embrace each brother, what pays better is holding unto what unites rather than seeking what divides. Like someone said, the decision to come together and form a new nation was a sole event in Cameroon's history which citizens should be most proud of. For, coming together was not decided by foreign powers, but by Cameroonians themselves and willingly so. The popular support that the dialogue received could thus be perceived as the desire to remain faithful to the initial intent to make the country's bilingual and bicultural heritage be of equal status. Reasonably so as unity, they say, is strength. But for one thing, Cameroonians must understand that unity does not necessarily mean uniformity and so should accept each other the way they are. That will make the much-preached unity in diversity an incontestable truism.

And the dialogue table was set such that all could pass across their views. Even those who came with suggestions out of the scope of the dialogue, contained in the eight committees created, were allowed to air them out. After all, those views as diverse as they were, only reflected the deep desire by people of a country to make tomorrow better than today. The visible conviviality in and out of the deliberation rooms was equally a pointer to the fact that Cameroonians needed to transcend cultural, ideological and linguistic differences to polish up the unity bestowed on them by the founding fathers for a better and reciprocally-useful nation.

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