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General News of Thursday, 12 February 2015

Source: yaounde.usembassy.gov

Youth enjoined to take a stand for peace


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On February 7, 2015, US Ambassador, Michael Hoza and three Mandela Washington Fellows joined the Ark Jammers in a “Camer action for Peace Program” that engaged youth at the Yaounde Sports Complex to heighten awareness on peace and security in Cameroon and build solidary in the face of violent extremist insurgency in the Northern regions of Cameroon.

The musical concert brought together renowned Cameroonian musicians in the likes of rap artist, Valcero; gospel icon, Grace Decca; operera virtuoso, Jacques Greg Belobo; world class guitarist, Andre Manga and the National Ballet dance troupe featuring Ayissi Le Duc in a thrilling performance.

Also present during this memorable event were the Minister of Communications, the Secretary General of the National Assembly, Roving Ambassador and icon football player, Roger Miller, and Professor Emmanuel Pondi, an ardent advocate of Peace building in Africa.

The Ark Jammers kicked off the event with a traditional call to action through wooden tam-tams inviting the ancestors of the land to revive the tradition of peace in our nation.

Performers took turns in different genres to express their solidarity with the Cameroonian soldiers on the battle front. In between performances, US Ambassador Michael Hoza, IVLP alumni Fidele Djebba and Mandela Washington Fellows - Christelle Chongwain Bay, Gerald Afadani, and Charles Wandji, took turns making powerful clarion calls on all Cameroonian youth to “stand up and be united for Peace.”

Opening his statement with the greeting “Aslammalekum,” which drew a thunderous applause from the audience, Ambassador Hoza reiterated US' commitment to stand by Cameroon. In his words word he said “Solidarity, unity and mobilization are what a nation needs most when its integrity is at stake.”

In a heart wrenching appeal, IVLP Alumni Fidele Djebba deeply lamented over the situation of the soldiers in the North, entreating the audience to remember that these soldiers are dying, not only for their country, but also to ensure that we may live".

Gerald Afadani, Chairman of the Regional Mandela Washington Fellows network, engaged all the young leaders of Cameroon as he said, “You, listening to us right now, are those leaders, like the over 500 young Africans, including myself and eleven Cameroonian young men and women, who were welcomed by President Obama to the White House for our commitment to empower fellow African youth and to promote development, peace, and unity on this continent of promise.”

Christelle Chongwain Bay, President of the Cameroon Chapter of the Mandela Washington Fellows, drew applause from the audience in her ardent call for young people to be active participants in peace building and nation building in the following statement: U.S. President John F. Kennedy, once said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

I am going to ask you the youth of Cameroon, Ask not what Cameroon has done for you but what you can do for Cameroon. That is the spirit of the “Cameraction for Peace program;” We, the youth, make up 60 percent of Africa’s population.

The success of African nations and Cameroon will depend on OUR leadership, skills and initiative as young leaders building the future. I am peace, you are peace; together we can foster peace.”

The third Mandela Washington Fellow, Charles Wandji who interned in Yale University re-echoed in French, “Our commitment is to empower fellow African youth, to promote development, peace, and unity on this continent of promise.

Get involved for your family, community and the future of Cameroon. I invite all of you to take a stand for peace.”

The U.S. Embassy team’s participation in this program increased public diplomacy outreach and strengthened the empowerment of youth.

The participation of Ambassador Hoza and President Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellows was very significant because it enabled Cameroonian youth to see the commitment of the United States in enhancing their welfare and also to hear their own voices through those of their counterparts.

This gave the youth of Cameroon reason to dream that they can also achieve greater things when they take pride in their nation and when they participate actively in nation building.

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