Cameroon marked its 51st National Unity Day with a grand military and civilian parade in the capital city of Yaoundé.
The celebration comes amidst a backdrop of political and social challenges plaguing the country. For the majority of its existence as a unified nation, Cameroon has been under the leadership of President Paul Biya, who, at 91 years old, is currently the world’s oldest head of state.
Despite the festivities, the country’s unity is being severely tested. Since 2016, ongoing conflicts between Anglophone Cameroonians and the Francophone government led by Biya have resulted in thousands of casualties and over a million people being displaced.
Nevertheless, some citizens remain optimistic about the future and view National Unity Day as a symbol of hope and progress.
Therese Temgoua, a Francophone Cameroonian and bank executive, emphasized the importance of unity in nation-building and development.
Similarly, Enobi Akepe, an Anglophone Cameroonian and university lecturer, expressed satisfaction with the direction of Cameroon’s democracy based on the events of the day.
However, Pierre Youte, a francophone journalist and director of Soleil d’Afrique newspaper, described the country’s unity as a mere facade. He pointed to the ongoing secessionist movement in the North-West and South-West regions, as well as the rise of hatred within the nation.
Adding to the challenges, Cameroon is currently grappling with a cholera epidemic during the rainy season. The disease has spread to all regions of the country, infecting approximately 20,000 people.
However, the actual number of cases is likely higher, as only those who manage to reach hospitals are officially recorded. In an effort to contain the outbreak, authorities closed down some food markets in Yaoundé to prevent further spread of the bacterial disease.
Amidst these complex circumstances, National Unity Day serves as a reminder of the importance of solidarity and collaboration in overcoming the country’s challenges and fostering a prosperous and peaceful Cameroon.