The greatest challenge most African countries faced after the achievement of political independence was the need to forge a genuine spirit of nationalism without which it would be difficult to consolidate national unity.
Besides the strong African kinship ties that often triggered tribal loyalty at the expense of national cohesion was the fact that most of these emerging nations were in fact, colonial creations whose masterminds cared less about their linguistic or ethnic links.
Even though the organisation of African Unity, today the African Union (AU) in its charter spelt out that after the attainment of independence, African nations should keep to their boundaries inherited from colonists, most geopolitical conflicts often stem from quarrels and differences arising from the impacting influence of colonialism especially socio-cultural incompatibilities.
In countries like ours, Cameroon which despite its colonisation by one European power, Germany, later became a victim of global conflict, post-colonial administration by nationals was rendered even more difficult and delicate.
But fortunately, Cameroon after colonial rule by Germany and later by France and Britain as mandated and UN Trust territories surprised the world. It created an enviable name for itself when in the UN plebiscite of 11 February 1961 its citizens west of the Mungo opted to reunify with their kindred East of the Mungo instead of integrating with Nigeria.
The birth of one Cameroon on October 1961 brought pride not only to Cameroonians, but also to other African countries which noted with pride that a colonial wrong which caused socio-cultural differences between compatriots had been righted.
Hence, the reunification of Cameroon in October 1961 and the birth of a bilingual country on the continent of Africa was a precious development and act of political maturity that brought honour to other Africans especially Cameroonians themselves.
But greater pride would come from preservation of all that it means to sustain the ingredients of unification and keep the country one and indivisible. This remains a challenge to all patriotic citizens since keeping Cameroon one and indivisible is a test of political maturity no patriotic citizen can undermine. For, it demands fraternal love, tolerance and commitment to strategies that ensure political stability and progress in all forms.
The socio-political scenario that today robs us of our political maturity is regrettable but through love for the fatherland, and concern for its future, the ongoing crisis can be stalled.
After our teachers’ trade unions and common law lawyers in November 2016 went on strike to demand some rights, we can recall the redress measures that were taken to put things right. No one doubts that the measures could have advanced faster, had violence and untimely deaths of innocent compatriots not emerged to mar the trend. But it is possible to correct mistakes if we truly love ourselves and our country.
For, with the ongoing socio-political crisis in a country that for long has been known as an icon of peace on the African continent, how many of us are at ease when thousands of Cameroonians are today in Nigeria as refugees, many hiding in forests and children out of school?
What political sins have we committed against ourselves that we cannot forgive, tolerate, dialogue, reconcile and think more seriously of the future of our children and this beloved country of ours?
As the day set aside for celebration as our national day comes up on Sunday 20 May 2018, let us reflect on the challenge to live together in peace instead of settlement of political scores. Let us demonstrate a sense of political maturity, not endless anger and socio – economic suicide that is threatening our unity and progress. For, divorce or separation in any union, marital or political hardly results in the comfort or happiness hoped for.
In this light, all peace loving, Cameroonians at home and abroad should reunite in mind and act with love and fear of the Almighty God to restore our enviable image that is being tarnished by the ongoing socio-political crisis.
Let us daily think of those innocent children in the Northwest and Southwest Regions that are out of school, and many of their parents today hiding in forests for safety and others in neighbouring countries as refugees.
Without these reflections on the future of our country and the need to forge ahead in love and tolerance, it is difficult to sustain the enviable political image that has been ours for the past 57 years.
What is precious deserves prudent preservation and protection in words and deeds.