During a debate organized this weekend by the Okwele series association, I became aware of this fact: Cameroonians are VERY individualistic. That fact shocked me instantly as I thought, "This is a very true statement! ". We used to fiercely criticize Western societies accusing them of been individualistic, opposing them to African societies seen as more community. This may be true at the scale of continents but if we take the case of Cameroon, one realizes that maybe we are not the ones weighing in that comparison.
Why? The Cameroonians, and I think for once many will agree with that, share very little information. We don’t talk about our future plans, perhaps we can vaguely refer to them over the discussions, sometimes with a strong dose of humor in order to not be taken seriously. We barely share our "networks". We work in secret and just allow people "discover" once the project is implemented. We only rely on our reliable means or relatives. The Cameroonian is wary of his compatriot. For several more or less legitimate reasons: the desire to be the one to succeed in his entourage, the desire to engage in questionable activities, fear of being copied, beat, fear of being laughed at if ever the project fails, the fear of being sabotaged, fear of jealous people to the point of fear for his life ... Because yes, it is common knowledge that the Cameroonian does not like when his brother succeeds.
How to explain this? Is this a hidden aspect of our culture? Perhaps. This is a question to dig. If not, does that come from our history? Has it been exacerbated the last thirty years? I do not have the answer to these questions, but I have just observed this : between our parents' generation and ours, a lot of things deteriorated sharply. For example, in his thesis entitled "Individualization versus Democratization? Conditions and forms of student activism in authoritarian situations (Cameroon, 1962-2014), "Cindy Morillas made this observation: the conditions of studies at public universities in Cameroon started deteriorating in 80s/90s. And surprisingly this period coincides with when we moved from one party to multiparty. The Cameroonian has a very weak fiber of protest. Of course some of them can mobilize for the common good, but for most, it's every man for his mouth, everyone fights at his level. We live everyday with the frustration of not being able to trust the neighbor, but we continue in this system. A cameroonian professor said : "It is not a guarantee of good health than to adapt to a sick society." But as you know, this is well known in Cameroon : « How will we do?"
I have always been fascinated by the cultures, languages, music, art, etc. worldwide but in recent years, my heart no longer beats for Cameroon, Africa in general, and may be a bit for Asia as well. I am interested in almost everything related to Cameroon, and am deeply in love with the culture, the music, the history of this dear country. I was educated with the idea of one day returning to contribute to its development. Today, I know the task is less easy than my elders let me think (they deployed so much arguments to convince me) and it is with a certain mental preparation that I want to face the return to Mboa.
I am not the first to take this step certainly; but my goal, beyond finding a good job as many others, is mainly to work for the common good. Serge Bakoa, appointed representative of the diaspora in France and invited to the 2nd edition of the Okwele series said, "it is our job to define what will be the development of Cameroon [...] without prior definition, we cannot put actions in place. " Indeed, I have often found two types of people among Cameroonians who want to return to Cameroon: those who have opportunities, who are eager to return to a country where you feel so good, and want to get rich in a business more or less well put together; and those who want to return home to bring something new, propose solutions, commit to contribute to a change : basically, those who are ready for commitment and sacrifice. This last category is very rare but tends to expand! While the first category is the most widespread, to the point that many volunteers are discouraged even before leaving flourish in them the desire simply because they have no or few opportunities. I often hear: « That guy knows where he will land eh ..." (read: he can always fall back on his feet). I also hear, « No, you want to return back just like that? Wait at least until you find something … ». They believe that finding a job in Cameroon (from abroad) is a necessary condition BEFORE considering returning back. For me, a job is a necessary means of subsistence. In this sense, we must actually think seriously about the issue. But that should not condition the desire to return. It is always possible, when the desire is deep, to take the risk of confronting directly to ground realities. Perhaps those who call themselves citizens of the world and for whom working in Cameroon is an opportunity as another, as well as working in China or Canada, have another vision of the matter? I respect the choice of each one. I know that family contexts and personal sensitivities weigh heavy in the thoughts and decisions of each. I just wish to point the need to define what we mean by development of Cameroon, knowing that the two categories contribute in my opinion in their way.
However, I note with great enthusiasm that around me ideas are growing and the information is much more shared. This may just be the fact that our generation is over connected through social networks? Anyway, it seems to me very important that we are not alone in our actions, we can pool the ideas / projects, inspire each other, accompany, advise, encourage each other because unity is strength. That's what I learned from my participation in the second edition of Okwele series this year.
I want to congratulate the team for this initiative and encourage them to go as far as possible in their actions.
Okwele series' Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Okwele-Series-1691088657783028/