Wednesday, May 20, 2009


As we reach the zenith of our national day celebrations, DC asks Cameroonians what their nationality and 20th May mean to them.

Being Cameroonian means being proud of the fact that I am bilingual and sensible enough to realise together, we are better than segregated!
By Wax Ndefonka (Musician)

Well for starters, I think somebody owes me for all those years in Primary and secondary school that I marched for nothing.
By Cyril Nambangi (Student/ Film Director)

N'importe quoi, I believe in one Cameroon. This separatist thing doesn't make sense to me. We've come too far. An identity was forced upon us but the least we can do is make the best of it.
By Jean Marc Soboth (Journalist)

Being a Cameroonian is the fact that many of our parents have accepted to live together within a territory inherited from the colonial period. We are heirs of a nationality.20th May does not have any meaning for me as far as we are talking about patriotism and fatherland.
By Roselyne Mathieu

I am part of what we may call the 20th May generation, which was relentless pummeled in my childhood with messages about "unité nationale" and made to believe that this "unité" could be achieved only through an unquestionable loyalty to “le grand parti national’ (the CNU) and to “le père de la nation” (“Grand camarade” Ahidjo). It is that same generation which was at the frontline of political change in the 1990s, and which ended up being thoroughly disillusioned with the "Kamerun Idea", and which debunked the fraud behind the official national unity and national integration rhetoric. So being a Cameroonian to me is about refusing to buy into the official discourse that patriotism means not criticizing the system, not questioning the actions of those in power, not challenging the basis of the bilingual Cameroon republic, in short, not rocking the boat. To me, being Cameroonian is about constantly asking why and why not; about striving for those things that make us all move forward as a people rather than a select few. It is not about waving the flag and keeping quiet.

I don't celebrate 20th May in any way, shape or form; I don't attend 20th May parties, I don't even discuss it - except in this rare instance. Why? French Cameroons got its independence on January 1 1960 and became the Republic of Cameroun. On February 11, 1961, the British Southern Cameroons voted to unify with the Republic of Cameroun. On October 1, 1961 the new unified state, known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon, officially came into being with the lowering of the Union Jack and the raising of the two-star flag of the Federal Republic of Cameroon in Buea. If the Cameroonian state was true to its history, October 1, would be its national day because of its historical significance and unifying message.
What occurred on May 20, 1972 was essentially an administrative reorganization of the Cameroonian state, with the switch from 2 federated states to 7 provinces. I don't see what is there to celebrate. Should we also celebrate the 1983 administrative reorganization that increased the number of provinces from 7 to 10? Or the 2008 decentralization decree which transformed the provinces into regions? Of course not! 20th May is a celebration of the deleterious centralization of power in Cameroon that occurred in 1972; it is a day which sounded the death knell for the erstwhile vibrant associational life in Cameroon; it reinforced Ahidjo's police state and made a mockery of individual rights, and most of all, it marked the end of any form of autonomy for West Cameroon, thereby laying the foundation for today’s “Anglophone Problem”. This is a Day of Infamy, not of Celebration.
By Dibussi Tande (Journalist)

The 20th May discussions have raised questions about the state of our union. While we reflect on the achievements and mistakes of our forbears, let us ask ourselves where we go from here and how can each of us build the Cameroon we want to see?

And on that note, Dulce Camer would like to take this opportunity to wish y'all a happy celebration! However and whatever you do to celebrate or not celebrate, ENJOY!
Stay sweet

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