The virtues of living together and nationhood were exalted yesterday 20 May 2019 throughout the national territory as the defence forces, pupils, students and the population including some political party supporters came out to celebrate the values that make them Cameroonians. In Yaounde the Head of State, President Paul Biya accompanied by other national dignitaries, members of the diplomatic corps and even the man on the street thronged the May 20 ceremonial ground to watch and acclaim the variety and colour demonstrated by those matching.
Spontaneous cheers and applause from the onlookers in appreciation of the resolve and style shown at the march past all pointed to the sense of collective desire to stand by national symbols of unity in diversity. Coming within the backdrop of tensions in the North West and South West Regions linked to problems of identity and unity, sporadic Boko Haram attacks in the Far North, the theme for the 47th National Day has been carefully carved to reflect the concerns of the moment namely; “
Unity in diversity, a major asset of the Cameroonian people in their determined move towards emergence.” Cameroon today faces the challenge of enabling sons and daughters of the country to sink their differences, push back all divisive tendencies and threats to peace and harmony in across the country. In choosing the theme for this year’s manifestation, officials are deliberately dwelling on the fundamental concerns that must mobilise the entire nation irrespective of differences.
To transform the country into an emergent nation requires that every citizen should be conscious of putting their own building blocks rather than focusing on negative disparities. The orderly and disciplined manner in which elements of the defence forces, pupils, students and political party supporters marched at the May 20 Avenue all indicated how excited those present are willing to contribute towards a stronger nation. Cameroonians from North, South, East and West could all be seen in collective march past as a sign of their common belonging.
Such unity in diversity was equally reflected in the choice of officials to lead the march past. Brigadier General Assoualai Blama who commanded the troops hails from the Far North Region and Colonel Amboakwe Gaius Ujogha of the Gendarmerie who seconded him comes from the North West and that mixture evidently cuts across all the different groups present at the May 20 Boulevard.
The 60 minutes military parade brought out all samples of the capabilities of the national defence forces spanning through foot soldiers to the air, sea and other components of the Cameroon army. The same purposeful insight was shown by the over 17,000 persons who mobilised to participate in the civilian march past. The patriotic songs they sang all geared towards inviting Cameroonians to rally around the ideals of living together.
A desire to care for each other that has been evident in the country through the situation in all restive parts of Cameroon. For example, the unrest in the North West and South West Regions, Boko Haram attacks and refugee influx in the East have so far brought out the sense of solidarity in most Cameroonians who have readily accepted those fleeing from conflicts in search of shelter in other parts of the country.
Voices of discord may exist in the country like any set up where diverse ethnic groups and cultures do co-exist, but the challenge to forge ahead especially in harnessing a patriotic spirit can be daunting. Yet, the essential concern of making out the areas around which unity and togetherness must be constructed remains paramount.
Cameroon has over the years taken credit for being able to overcome differences even if the political history of the country has disclosed another facet this time around with cries of division and secession. But the events of May 20 yesterday in Yaounde and in administrative units across the country also point to the resolve by citizens to show a positive image of the Republic of Cameroon whereby citizens can still move on as people who share a common fatherland and heritage