Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Polygamy: Another Silent Killer in War Time

Patriarchy is a social system in which men dominate and in which powers and possessions belong only to men. There exist both patriarchal men and women. A patriarchal woman is one who has internalized the norms and values of patriarchy, which could be regarded as ‘any culture that priviledges men by promoting traditional gender roles’. Patriarchal beliefs prones the inborn inferiority of women, who are accordingly termed to be naturally submissive. The place of the ‘Nordist’ woman in Cameroon is the same as that of every rural woman. As a ‘good woman’’, she is in charge of the home’s chores, child bearing, and farming. She is the property of her husband or something beautiful that a man could own, gaze upon, and satisfy his sexual needs. That is why; he can have as many as four wives.

The negative effect of war on women and children are enormous and we will not come back to it now.  Women and children are particularly vulnerable in times of war. Many have brought up theories against polygamy but none or very little have taken time to discuss on the added disadvantage of polygamy during war time or crisis. Stories from the North of Cameroon have been brought to us, some of us have travelled to the North to see it for ourselves and in conclusion, Polygamy has an added disadvantage on women and children in times of crisis.

The threat posed by the Boko Haram sect is persisting in the Northern part of Cameroon. Bomb blasts are multiplying and the number of victims is on the rise. Apart from violence, women being used in suicide bombings and rapes, most women have become premature widows with several orphans to look after.  Since the outbreak of the crisis, it has been reported that more than 600 men have disappeared from the town of Mora alone. We are talking of family heads that have disappeared abandoning wives and children. Each man who disappeares leaves behind at least two helpless wives and ten children: These women, to whom no one ever taught how to get a paid job or learn money making skills, are abandoned with a host of children to look after. Meanwhile, the area is facing economic stagnation, poverty and high unemployment rate. Most of these children could easily fall prey to the succulent proposal of Boko Haram heads. There is a wide literature about the negative effects of polygamy and its negative aspect on war is worth noting and giving a second thought. 

Here is my proposal: I think polygamy should stop being considered as a traditional or social norm.  Polygamy should be a personal decision. In this light girls should be educated against polygamy; women should be educated to warn the girl child against polygamy so as to encourage these young women to be interested in education and the right to a paid job. If women in these areas are educated, the family doesn’t end with the man. Women will be able to take care of their families in times of war and this will reduce alcoholism, criminality and promiscuity in our communities, thus reducing HIV Aids and other veneral diseases.

I therefore, strongly share Bole Butake’s point of view in his book 'Bethrothal without Libation' when he says that ‘a woman is capable of rising above her supposed degenerate self’. This point should not be misunderstood. It goes beyong the noise ‘’what a man can do, a woman can do it better.’’ I am no feminist but an objective and rational woman who knows the benefits of education. I do not mean women are better than men. I mean men and women are all human beings who need to be treated with respect and dignity. No two people are the same in the world, not even twins. Women and men are two different types of people, and even, no two women are the same. For me, the relationship between men and women in our society is not and should not be that of rivalry, but should be one of complementarity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A stand for Peace and Security...Cameroonian Youths take Action

Hope for the Needy Association (HOFNA) organised from 11 to 12 September in Bamenda a youths women national workshop on peace and security under the theme 'Enhancing multicultural dialogue for peace and security in Cameroon'. This workshop brought together Government officials ( the Governor, Regional Delegate of the police, representative from Minproff), Civil society organisations (Women for a Change (WFAC) Youths Renaissance International, Association des Jeunes Mbororo de l’Est etc etc), Entrepreneurs (Go ahead africa) Individuals (Commonwealth Youths ambassador, National Youths Council Presiden)t, Diplomats (representatives form the US Embassy) and youth leaders from across the ten regions of Cameroon.

The first  symposium brought to the same table, Religious heads, Government representatives, youth leaders and professionals from different works of life to discuss the threat posed by Boko Haram and suggestions on how to best tackle this. The threat posed by Boko Haram is real and its quite a phenomenon not known by Cameroonians. Stories from the North were recounted and we learnt that this part of the country basically lives half day with the army becoming morethanthan civilians in the region.Many feared this could be the most dangerous humanitarian crisis witnessed by Cameroon so far.  The discussions of the forum consisted of equiping all youths to stay alert on how to fight Boko Haram and on how to deal with the post Boko Haram era.

 Discussions centred on religious and inter cultural conflict: the unique geo political situation of Cameroon, and the unique role every Cameroonian should play in order to better tackle this crisis. Participants were took home evidence why Cameroonians need to celebrate their cultural diversity and take advantage of it; they learnt that Islam is Sallam which means peace and any religion worth following should preach peace. However, extremist groups take some verses from the Quran, deform it and use it to justify their terrorist acts. One of the things to take care of is to avoid victimisation. Sometimes, we call some particular people Boko Haram because they are from the North or are Muslims. 

-          Can violence be justified?
Some participants pointed out poverty, unemployment and the unfavourable climatic condition of the Northern region as factors encouraging the quick proliferation of Boko Haram. According to stories heard from the North,  about 600 youths have joined the rangs of Boko Haram. These youths are said to have received a motor bike each with 30 000frs and some have gone as far as taking oaths. to better present the deplorable living conditions in that part of the country,the story of a bike rider was recounted. This guy had helped the police to arrest   a man carrying explosives. The only compensasion he requested from the commissioner was his desire to get married. However, a problem persists because after killing one’s brothers and sisters, how does that solve the poverty and unemployment problem? How does that directly affect the governing body? In this regard, such acts could therefore be qualified as cowardice.
Panelists at the conference gave Cameroonian youths every reason to dream. They had to stop complaining and take action. They had to stop accusing the government to be themselves good exmples to follow, they had to stand out, reach out to one another and create that positive change in their country. They had to carry out actions, no matter how little, to make sure there exists no safe haven for terrorists and be prepared to deal with the Boko haram post era; be patriotic, encourage inter generational dialogue because every cameroonian has a role to play in a unique way for nation building process. 

By the end of the workshop, a declaration was adopted. This document outligned the desire of Cameroonian youths on how the government, international and civil society organisations, Entrepreneurs and youths could work together to curb Boko Haram threats and all forms of extremism in Cameroon. The closing remarks of the President of HOFNA resounds and echoes in the minds of the participants.

Nobody is a Nobody
Everybody is a Somebody