The Story of Patriotism: Who Can Die for Cameroon?

By Mokosso Divine Keming

Last February 11, 2009, the young people of Cameroon came out en masse to celebrate the great day dedicated to them in pomp and pageantry. Plebiscite Day
is the name some may want to use while cursing the current status quo for
historical distortion of facts. Notwithstanding, on the night before the big celebrations,
President Paul Biya informed the youths
about the giant projects his administration has set aside for them in an
address to the nation.

Logically, a rebroadcast of this message has been made mandatory by regime stalwarts before the Youth Day celebrations commence - as an inspirational reminder to our rash and forgetful young people
of today. A call to service, higher education and patriotism was the
fundamental message this statesman gave to his children in their ultimate task
of carrying the flags of Cameroon. Unfortunately many youths followed this
address like a routine singsong that does not concern them as words sound far
louder than concrete actions on the ground.

Many were more concerned with the feasting and drinking that characterized the occasion. The dancing, singing and games were given super-attention, as the various schools battled for coveted
trophies. Patriotic songs score very high marks in singing and dancing
competitions, especially those praising the actions of the president.

Patriotism has been described as the love of one's fatherland or motherland. History has it that the greatest sacrifice in the eyes of patriots is to die in battle in
service of one's fatherland. Sadly enough, close to fifty years after independence,
is still struggling to stand and set a framework for its development, as
proponents of patriotism now double as celebrated swindlers who rape, pillage
and kill their own people to the glory of their self -aggrandizement.

The UPC Martyrs and Others

Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) founded in 1952 is a political party that has inspired many to the path of freedom and independence in Africa. Even the
legendary Nelson Mandela in the long struggle to free South Africa had to use guerrilla tactics, some
of which he learnt from the UPC struggle to purge the French out of Cameroon.
Eventually, the UPC was banned in East Cameroon with the French disciples like
Ahmadou Ahidjo hunting the UPC rebels like perennial enemies of Cameroon.

As a result, the inspirational leaders of UPC in the persons of Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie and Ernest Quandjie all met their untimely deaths in the hands of paid assassins. Even Bishop Ndongmo was
not spared by the hot waters of the Ahidjo regime. And it took only the
influential claws of the Vatican
to save her Bishop from the onslaught of evil in high places. These men did not
want a Cameroon
that serves as a puppet to other nations, and they died because of this sacred
conviction. Charles Atangana, Martin Paul Samba and Duala Manga Bell also
shared the same fate as the UPC martyrs because their views of a nation state
of Cameroon
conflicted seriously with the intentions of the German colonialists. Although
the UPC is now a shadow of itself, its initiators are seen by many as true
patriots who died in the fight for total freedom for their country.

Also, the footballer, Foe Marc -Vivian died in Lyon, France in the 2003 FIFA Confederation Cup while defending the colours of Cameroon against Colombia. His death made
Cameroonians from all walks of life weep like a sudden darkness has overtaken
the land. This is an acknowledgment of love and sacrifice for the greater glory
of Cameroon.

Some Cameroonian soldiers too have died in active service in defense of the nation during the Bakassi and other conflicts, but unfortunately some family members have found
great difficulties getting the dues for the ultimate patriotic services of
their kinsmen. This is because many people in high places see the State of
Cameroon as a tool for their own personal enrichment and have no respect
whatsoever for patriots.

Is Cameroon worth dying for?

The UPC martyrs like most Pre-independence African politicians were young men in their early thirties, burning with desire to serve and free their nation from the hands of the colonialists. Nelson
Mandela in the famous Rivonia trial told the court that he is prepared to die
for the high ideals of freedom, democracy and equality of all races. But how
many of our politicians today can stand for these ideals when danger threatens?
Politics of the stomach seem to be all they know! But who can make the ultimate
sacrifice when the nation calls?

American patriotism shows how young men can massively join the army in defense of the nation or what their nation believes in, but in Cameroon
joining the army is even a matter of bribery and corruption with many of the
recruits having no vision to serve. The Great American President, John
Fitzgerald Kennedy, in launching the American Peace Corps told his beloved
nation: “Do not ask what America
has done for you, but ask what you have done for America.”

In the face of danger, many will run for their dear life, as many military men did escape from Yaoundé a few years ago when a military supply depot caught fire and suffered from multiple explosions.
They thought a coup was in progress! And today we ask the question once again:
Who can die for Cameroon
where criminality, embezzlement and mediocrity have taken the centre stage? Who
can die for Cameroon
where genuine patriotism is viewed with scorn and some politicians revered
above the state, and some citizens treated as second class individuals?

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