Unfortunate 11 February Nkambe Mayhem and Urgent Need for Paradigm Shift on National Day Celebs

The Colbert Factor:

Unfortunate 11 February Nkambe Mayhem and Urgent Need for Paradigm Shift on National Day Celebs

Colbert Gwain

Since its creation, the Kom legislative assembly – the Kwifoyn – has always communicated and disseminated its decrees and edits on the popular market days of Fundong, Njinikom, and Belo. These three usually heavily attended markets have been to the Kom Fondom and CRTV and Cameroon Tribune have been to the State of Cameroon – their mouthpieces. With the outbreak of the raging deadly conflict in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon in 2016 (and after initial hesitation and serious introspection), and given that most Kom indigenes have been displaced in their droves both internally and externally, the Kwifoyn had no choice but to make a paradigm shift to the social media — in replacement of the traditional channels of communication which were the Fundong, Njinikom, and Belo markets.

Although this strategic move hasn’t gone down well with many bona fide Kom enthusiasts and traditionalists, it has nevertheless demonstrated in triumphant detail that with relevant content, social media platforms could be used in good measure (not just to peddle rumors, misinformation, and disinformation). Far from the tedious three-day trekking journey by the Kom Kwifoyn to disseminate its decrees and edits to a wider Kom audience in the Fundong, Njinikom, and Belo markets (and with the possibility of the information being distorted through third-party narration), the social media offers the Kom traditional institution immediacy and spontaneity and to both the internal and external elites wherever they are to be found.

Perhaps, a more fitting elucidation of the paradigm shift concept would be the case of the late Bobe Fuchi Clement, a traditional influencer in Muteff village in the Fundong Subdivision of the Boyo Division in the Northwest of Cameroon. He once challenged his contemporary who had bragged to him how he was more than him in his allegiance and patriotism to the Kom traditional and cultural institutions because he had been admitted into the Iyuo Society (a traditional upliftment that entitles a Kom man to not only erect a family shrine in his compound but also to freely conduct burial and death celebrations). Bobe Fuchi Clement minced no words in telling him that the real social upliftment that would not only bring sustainable honor to Muteff and Kom was the Iyuo-Kfang (“Modern Iyuo” through the education of the children rather than spending all family wealth only on traditional entitlements).

It wasn’t until Bobe Fuchi Clement’s children had successfully gone through their education and were contributing positively to society, with the fallouts being felt back in Muteff, that Bobe Fuchi Clement’s contemporaries made the paradigm shift and resolved to invest more in the education of their children than only going for traditional upliftments.

Unlike Bobe Fuchi in the Muteff example and recently the Kom Kwifoyn, the Government of Cameroon which is usually quick to change the organic or fundamental law (the constitution) at their whims and caprices, continues to insist that the only way for citizens to show patriotism and love for the nation is to take part in national days through marching. They continue to insist that ‘as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end; Amen!’ when we know for a fact that only God Almighty is unchangeable.

Insisting that patriotism and love for the country must necessarily be demonstrated through marching even at the risk of one’s life (as obtained in Nkambe, Donga Mantung Division, last February 11, 2024), smacks of a skewed gospel and doublethink – the ability to hold two contradictory ideas and at the same time believing them by both to be true — whereas the primary way to show patriotism and love for the country should be through the non-tinkering of the constitution!

After this unfortunate incident of last February 11, 2024, in Nkambe, many have dared to ask whether the national day celebrations must involve civilians, especially school children and youth groups. Could young Cherish Lenyinyuy’s life not have been spared if the State of Cameroon had thought out of the box? Must pupils, students, political parties, and other groups march past in front of top-ranking civilian authorities for our national day to be seen to have been celebrated?

Where did the culture of civilian march past come from? Are our military and the police corps not symbolically representative enough of our independence, national unity, and diversity? By deciding to raise and keep a standby force for the defense of our territorial integrity (and with a majority of the armed forces today being youths from all the nooks and crannies of Cameroon), should it not be their sole responsibility to march to our glare during such a nationally sanctioned public holiday? By putting them on the country’s priority payroll, did taxpayers not subcontract the aspect of civilian march past to the uniform officers who routinely even carry out march practices? Must youths march on February 11, and march again on May 20, barely three months after?

To mark their independence from Spain, Costa Ricans every September 15, simply wear their traditional paraphernalia and perform dances in the street parades. In Cameroon, authorities proudly adorn themselves in expensive three-piece suits freshly flown in from the colonial master’s factories and claim to be celebrating Independence Day.

In Belize, Independence Day is a public holiday where Belizeans assemble annually at the capital City to shop, eat, and drink uniquely made-in-Belize products, drinks, and food at the centrally located Expo Belize Market Place. Not like in Cameroon where wine, flowers, and even toothpicks used during such events, are all imported in the name of national day celebrations!

In Peru, independence Day celebrations every July 29, are a unique opportunity for Peruvians to honor the armed forces and the police of Peru with a military parade down the decorated streets of Peru.

Rather than insisting that pupils, students, and political parties March on February 11 and May 20 as the surest sign of patriotism, Cameroon authorities could encourage teachers and school authorities to take the brilliant and more sustainable step of engaging the kids during such periods, on tree planting. The life of trees could be set as an example to explain the concept of unity and diversity to our children. This is more so because the growth of trees is remarkable in clusters, which shows the significance of unity. Similarly, the concept of diversity can also be seen when different kinds of trees support each other, for survival.

This could be a more creative way of inculcating the concept of National Day to children through nature, rather than forcing them to file past three-piece suited administrative officers who are always far removed from reality.

Would it not be a great idea that each national day, Cameroonians be encouraged to assemble at National and Regional Expo Markets to shop, eat, and drink exclusively made-in-Cameroon products? Didn’t I hear someone drumming the idea of import substitution? Or, was it just another doublethink/doublespeak?

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