Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dialogue Across Cultures, HOFNA Cameroon’s Cure To The Boko Haram Malady

Bamenda, Cameroon—Over 200 youth and women leaders from Cameroon’s ten regions —most of them from the troubled Far North— have taken part in a two-day workshop on peace which sought steps to rein in the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect and cut back all forms of extremism in the country.
It was organized by the civil society organisation, Hope for the Needy Association (HOFNA) Cameroon in the North West capital Bamenda.
Workshop attendees pose for a group photo (credit, HOFNA/facebook)
Boko Haram, the extremist group that has waged an ongoing six-year insurgency in neighbouring Nigeria, stepped up cross border raids into Cameroon recently.
Authorities have blamed at least nine suicide bombings in the last three months in Northern Cameroon on the jihadist group.
 “The unfortunate insecurity situation often perpetrated by unidentified individuals calls for unity, determination, patriotism and collective efforts,” Christelle Bay Chongwain, director of HOFNA Cameroon said.
The workshop’s main thrust, according to Chongwain, was to tout the benefits of enhancing multicultural dialogue for peace and security in Cameroon.
Such an endeavour, she added, is the missing pearl needed to reinstate and instill valued peace needed for the growth of the country.
“Despite social, biological and religious differences, engaging in meaningful exchanges, Cameroon will become a better place void of insecurity.”
U.S together with Cameroon
The workshop was organized with support from the U.S Embassy in Cameroon.
NW governor, U.S Embassy rep., other officials and some leaders pose
“We are together in the fight to counter violence, terrorism and extremism in this country,” Matthieu Smith, Deputy Chief of Missions at the U.S Embassy in Cameroon said, adding that Boko Haram is nothing but a sombre cloud hovering over Cameroon which the United States of America is partnering with patriotic civil society organizations like HOFNA to dispel.
On behalf of the government of Cameroon, North West governor, Adolphe Lele L’Afrique, said the fight against the Nigerian jihadist group is a collective undertaking, both for government and civil society organizations.
“Youths are pivotal in ensuring peace and national security as they are exposed to the social media where the cultivation of unfounded rumours to stir radicalization are spread,” Lele L’Afrique said.
He called on the youth leaders to encourage their peers to denounce all suspects and share information with security officers.
Populace on permanent alert
Rabiatu Ahmadu, a lady in her early twenties from the Far North where Boko Haram has successively carried out onslaughts, said people in the region are permanently on the alert.
Youths with different cultures, religion...but one vision
“You don’t know when they [Boko Haram] will attack, what tool they will use and where they will strike.”
“We are scared to go to the market and socialize,” Ahmadu lamented.
The youths and youth leaders who attended the two-day workshop were educated on the need to fast track peace and be peace ambassadors in their respective regions and organizations.
Discussions centered on the current security threats in the face of the country after which measures required to enhance peace and security with youth and women as key actors were drafted and channeled to government.
At the close of the workshop, the director of HOFNA Cameroon, Christelle Bay Chongwain, announced that the association will organize a peace tour in the University of Maroua in the coming days.
The tour will feature three projections of animated films to portray the importance of peace, solidarity and security.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi, just back from Bamenda.

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