From the suit of Writam-Pen
February 11, 2014 is at hand and as usual the sugar cane festival is gathering momentum in villages nationwide. As a tradition, the speech of President Biya will be broadcaster to the listening of the officials at the various grandstands while the youths who are concern are being battered under the hot sun in lines waiting for their turn to march, sing and pour panegyrics on President Biya. By the end of the day, children will be going back to their homes with everyone holding a log of sugar cane. Ask them the content of the message from the head of state and none will tell you. With the coming into the scene of the new group of covenant (I mean a government creation to control youthful minds) popularly known as the Cameroon National Youth Council this year's 48th Youth Day celebration will be another feast of personality cult to applaud President Biya. Banners will be exhibited to thank government and especially Paul Biya for the empty promises. Hypocrisy, indeed!! Whenever I look back at this day which was instituted in 1966 by former late President Ahmadou Ahidjo it takes my memories to the story of the fascinating South African-American film “Sarafina” which combines the typical traditional African sensibilities with the bad fate fancy promises that a free society offers to youths such as “Leaders of Tomorrow, Freedom is Coming Tomorrow, etc”. Even though this celebration was initiated in 1966, President Paul Biya for example has addressed youths for the past 31 years. And for the 31 years he has always said that better days are coming tomorrow. Yet many tomorrows have come and gone with no better tomorrow. Implicitly, many have died without seeing that promised better tomorrow or tasted the position of leadership that was promised yesteryears. In the funeral sermon to youths in “Sarafina”, the preacher tells disgruntled youths that “they fear you because you are young; they fear you because you are the future. How powerful you must be that they fear you so much. You are powerful because you are the generation that will be free of violence, the beatings, the tortures, the killings, all these is the bad fate of our free nation. Please grow up and live with it but if I don’t, I see now on your faces like the light of the rising sun that might have lived within me if I too was young again. And I know that freedom is coming tomorrow”. It is therefore very obvious that a nation that doesn’t take the future of youths into consideration is building a foundation on sand.
Youth Day nowadays in my humble opinion could be likened to “Sarafina” because it brings land from afar to close range, traces not only the great injustice in Cameroon but above all, the moral dilemma of generations with distorted history. Indeed, many Cameroonians do not understand why the Youth Day is celebrated on February 11, just like me too. The question is whether it is out of fear that this day was dedicated for youths because if I am not deadly wrong, 11 February was the date a plebiscite, a day during which the former British Cameroons and Northern Cameroons were to decide their fate to either gain independence by joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria or La Republique of Cameroon.
The approved history syllabus for school teaches us that on February 11, 1961, the Southern British Cameroons opted to join French Cameroon while their counterparts in the North cast their votes in favour of joining the Nigerian. This is a fact. But how many youths know this fact.
I was also told by my father that Youth Day was a special day in the then West Cameroon and it was celebrated every October 26. He said before they use to celebrate Empire Day but barely a year after the Plebiscite, John Ngu Foncha, West Cameroon's Prime Minister at the time, recommended that it was befitting to dedicate West Cameroon's national day to its youth on whom the future State depended. It is not clear if this recommendation was debated in the assembly but it was enforced that same year.On 26 October 1962, the first "Youth and Sport" day was organised in West Cameroon. There is no doubt that at its initiation, gargantuan significance was ascribed to the Youth Day by West Cameroonian politicians, traditional leaders, civil servants and the public. Yet in today’s Cameroon, the activities of Youth Day are all reduce to march-passes and sporting activities. Hardly do we hear of round-table discussions, debates and historical talks on the trends of the history of this nation. Yes, the politician dictate and the youths listen to clap. Can we then conclude that all this is the bad fate of our free nation?
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa