The choice of the theme of the 45th edition of Cameroon’s National Day celebration; “Army and the nation in full synergy for a Cameroon, united in its diversity and devoted to the ideals of peace, stability and prosperity”, is not by chance. The national day is taking place within the context of specific security challenges, notably the fight against the Islamist activist group, Boko Haram in the Far North Region with its far-reaching consequences, refugee problems in the East Region born out of the socio-political crises in neighbouring Central African Republic and the most recent social crisis in the North West and South West Regions. These crises have come not only to challenge the efficacy of the country’s army but the unity and love the population has for its country. It is a test of nationhood. A national day in the real sense is a designated date on which celebrations are organised to mark the values of a nation. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming a republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler, birthday, accession, removal, etc. In the case of Cameroon, this day marks one of the turning points in the history of the country. It symbolises the transition from the Federal Republic to the United Republic of Cameroon established through a referendum on May,20 1972.
In order to give the day the honour it deserves, several activities are being organised across the national territory. The army and the population are fully in synergy to ensure a hitch-free celebration. This expression of oneness is not only reserved for national celebrations like this but has threaded through the life of the nation for many years. This symbiosis reached its peak the moment the country got into an undefined war with the Boko Haram nebulous sect. The population has so far stood up, like one person, with the brave defence forces combatting the dreaded enemy. This important contribution from the civilian has on several occasions been appreciated by the Head of State, President Paul Biya in his speeches to the nation. Thanks to the perfect symbiosis between the nation and its army, no millimetre of the national territory has been lost to the terrorists, the President said, underscoring that joint efforts are vital to consolidate these.
In a veritable show of gratitude to the relentless efforts of the country’s defence forces and as a mark of contribution to the battle against the common enemy, the population – notably of the war-affected areas in the Far North Region constituted themselves into vigilante groups. Target has been to join efforts with the forces of law and order to reduce and possibly pre-empt suicide-bombings that the bestial group was increasingly resorting to. Cases abound where suicide bombers were frightened to intonate their explosives to kill only themselves or few people; testimony of the fruition of the army-people harmony. At the level of the military, these security challenges have led to the mobilisation of all segments of the forces such as: the Army with its combat units, Air Force, Navy, the National Gendarmerie, and the Police, all acting in synergy to scale down insecurity.
In addition to the salutary performances by the population through the vigilante groups there have been spontaneous contributions in cash and kind to keep the security men highly spirited and combat-ready. When the wave of contributions started blowing, nobody wanted to be left behind. Big and small groups, individuals likewise Cameroonians in the Diaspora, each at their levels, generously donated in cash and in kind to support and boost soldiers’ morale at the war front. This collaboration has produced very palpable results and is contributing greatly in enhancing the peace and unity necessary for the livelihood of the country.