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