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M. Fonki: Address to Africa Summit

Address to Africa Summit 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, Nov. 21–25, 2018


The founder of UPF, Dr. Moon, Chief Mandela of the royal house of Mandela, all protocol respected in the hierarchical orders, Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters, Mothers and Fathers, greetings from Cameroon, popularly known as Africa in miniature because of its geographical, culinary and cultural features. We have become very popular lately in many dimensions.

We recently had elections. We have one of the longest serving presidents, and we have a crisis. Cameroon is a bilingual nation, one of the few in the world, and it is made up of 10 regions with a population of about 25 million. Of the 10 regions, eight of them are French speaking whereas two, the Northwest and Southwest regions, are English speaking.

The crisis in Cameroon is so complex. I am not going to bother you with details. There has been an increasing call for separation by the Anglophones and also an increasing call for federation by some Anglophones, and there has been a call for decentralization. This has led to a crisis, the root being that the terms of the referendum that united the Anglophones to the Francophones have not been respected.

As a result of this, there has been increased violence in the country. This has assumed a frightfully ugly dimension with targeted killings of civilian and military personnel, provoking sporadic reprisals in communities and accompanying destruction of life and property. In some instances, entire villages have been wiped out, burned down or abandoned, with extrajudicial killings by military and security personnel.

This has provoked an outflow of refugees into neighboring Nigeria and internal displacements into close by, less conflict-stricken Francophone regions. Currently we have about 260,000 internally displaced persons and refugees.

Divided positional loyalties are largely influenced by cultural proclivities and inherent interests. Noncombatant citizens are caught up in mix. There is a lot of hate speech going on.

I want to quote the very venerated person we're honoring here today, Nelson Mandela. He said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to walk with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

The churches are in a very dicey situation in Cameroon. In order to properly mediate, they have maintained neutrality, but this is often misconstrued.  They are blamed by both sides, by both the government and by the armed civilian fighters: Either way, the church is wrong. With a membership of about 1.5 million people, the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon has played a vital role, but it seems insignificant because of the intensity of the conflict. We have donated physical items to help post-trauma healing and give emotional support, yet it is inadequate.

Women have also come together as a result of this.  Women of the Southwest and Northwest have come together and have gone on the streets and cried for peace, drawing inspiration from the cries of the daughters of Jerusalem wailing over the city of Jerusalem.  Yet nothing has changed.

Families are living in bushes, under cocoa and coffee trees, and sleeping on dried banana leaves.  Children are being born there; children die there. Women have no sanitation. Women are digging graves, burying their husbands, burying their children, and burying their friends. Churches, hospitals, and administrative buildings are being burned down. People and schoolchildren are being kidnapped on a daily basis. Worst of all, education is being stopped.

In my traditional culture, we say, when there is a fire in your house, you come out and you shout; then everybody will assemble with a bucket of water to put out the fire. I stand here, I call on all of you, and I shout: The situation in Cameroon is that of an SOS. It would not make any sense for us to gather here and go back without action. I invite all of you to come to our aid because together we are stronger. God bless you all.



To go to the 2018 Africa Summit Schedule page, click here.