Jun 2018

Dear brothers and sisters,

My dear compatriots,

I come straight from Cameroon, on the occasion of the World Day of Refugees that we commemorate today, June 20, while in our country we seem to ignore your existence. Who is talking about your massive presence here in the Greek islands and other places in this country, in Europe, in North Africa, in Nigeria, where a fratricidal conflict has forced many of our English-speaking compatriots to seek refuge?

You are invisible shadows in the eyes of those who are in charge of our country’s affairs. But, I see you. And my revolt is every day greater when I realise that you seem not to exist in their eyes. The spectacle of young people coming from our continent, sold to the slave market in a North African country, deeply hurt me. We cannot turn the page so quickly, after the shock of the moment caused by this disaster that has upset the conscience of many people in the world. The dehumanisation of Africans, I mean Blacks, cannot be a repetitive spectacle that other human beings will impose on us over and over again, and which we Africans, the Blacks, can accommodate.

I did not come to see you because I hope to have your vote in the upcoming elections in our country, since I know that in the situation you are in today you will not be able to vote. I came because you are dear to my heart. Your lives, your health, your future are important to me.

I came with a heavy heart, aware of the suffering you have endured here. You are wounded in your flesh, bruised in the depths of your soul. And I wonder: what have we done in Africa, in Cameroon in particular, so that our children prefer to take all the risks, including the risk of being enslaved or dying in the desert or at sea to flee their country? What has happened to us so that we remain insensitive to the distress of our children who have lost all hope in the future of their countries?

I know you have not thrown yourself on the path of immigration for convenience, as some have been able to say, or fantasy. We do not leave those who are dear to you, parents, wives, husbands, children, friends on a whim; you do not risk your life on unknown paths by mere taste of adventure. We go into immigration because we aspire to a better life for ourselves and for those we love and leave behind. It is a difficult, serious, expensive decision. It is also sometimes a decision based on bad information that leads you into a dead end, where you find yourselves trapped without knowing how to get out. And the hope of a better life is transformed into a drama, even a tragedy.

I have come to tell you that the future of the world is in Africa, in your continent, on the land of our ancestors. And if the future is here, why are we going to look elsewhere? It’s because I believe in Africa that as soon as I finished my studies, I went back to Cameroon. Yet it was at a time when it was easy to settle in Europe, find a good job, or even start a family there. But, I preferred to return to Cameroon to make my contribution to the construction of our country. It was not an easy decision either, believe me. And I made my modest contribution to building our country, with dedication and selflessness. I know that conditions have become more difficult to find a place in the sun in our country. But, whatever the difficulties, you will always have more opportunities, respect and consideration in your country than here in Europe, where most people look at you like hordes of barbarians, invaders, because you do not have the same colour as them, because you do not have the same culture as them, sometimes because you do not speak their language. I tell you: the future is bright on our continent and in our country. If I entered active politics, it is because I am convinced that by putting ourselves together, by working hard, with honesty and at the service of our people, another future is possible. That is why I promise you that if the Cameroonian people do me the honour of entrusting me with the lead responsibility at the head of the country during the next October elections, I will come and get you to come back to build our country together. I make the commitment to you.

These rich countries that attract us so much today have been built by determined women and men, who have braved all kinds of difficulties, but have remained confident in their ability to transform things. They agreed to make sacrifices. They fought to snatch liberty and democracy, it was not won in advance; they did not spare their trouble to build railways, subways, roads and highways, to run the factories, develop their agriculture and build the beautiful cities that attract us so much today. My belief has always been that we can and must do the same.

So, I will take you home, if I am elected President of the Republic of Cameroon. I will not take you there to give you money, which I do not have. I will bring you back so that we share together what little there is. If there is a banana finger, a bobolo or a bowl of rice, it will be shared. Because, as you know, at home in Africa, when there is something for one, there is something for everyone. I will bring you home, to our house, so that we will not be insulted anymore, so that we do not spit on you, because you are Blacks. I will do everything in my power so that no more Cameroonians will die of despair in the desert, in the Mediterranean or in other seas of the world, because he or she wants to be “a bush faller”, as we say. I will work tirelessly so that together we create the conditions for young people who want to unnecessarily become “bush fallers” to be at home, in this Cameroon that God has exceptionally blessed.

I am sick to know that some people treat you less well than they treat their pets; that they despise you as if you were wandering wild beasts; beings without a country and without anyone who cares about your fate. I cannot sleep peacefully knowing that you are contained here, like caged animals, without perspective. I cannot stay calm knowing that my compatriots, sons and daughters of a country as endowed with resources as Cameroon, are the object of a spectacle of desolation and humiliation in the face of the world.

It is undeniable that the type of governance put in place in some of our countries does not offer our young and old other perspectives than the perilous path of the illegal migration adventure. In that, our countries bear their share of responsibility in the disaster. But, let me repeat what we all know: the ruthless plundering of the resources of the African continent and the controlled cutting of its economy by foreign state or entrepreneurial powers are the main cause of the mass migration tragedy which we have been witnessing almost daily for a few years. Europe must realise that the more this plundering will continue behind a false wish to contribute to the development of Africa, the more it will be confronted with the massive and uncontrollable migratory flows coming from our continent. It is time to articulate the responsibility to protect the responsibility to develop, and to make the space that extends from Africa to Europe, a space of genuine solidarity between peoples and nations, in a common will to enable, between the two continents, the sense of an Afro-European good.

My dear friends, the denial of your humanity is the decay of all humanity. Those who hurt you by their oblique glances, their poisonous words, even physical violence ruin the trace of humanity in them. They think they can hide behind improbable walls. They forget very quickly that it is in Africa that their grand-parents sought and found a land of welcome and survival after the disaster of the First World War, when Europe was ravaged by famine and diseases. They will discover in the decades to come that they will not be able to find anywhere else other than in Africa a chance to get a job, to earn a decent living.

I thank the generous souls, on this side of the Mediterranean, on this European land with history so mixed up with that of Africa, often for the worse, which have rescued you from the clutches of the sea; I associate people who work tirelessly, selflessly and with humanism, for your survival and help you keep a little dignity.

The history of humanity is not carved in stone. It is up to us, Africans, to ensure that after Asia, the wheel of progress in the world passes through Africa and makes our continent the new pole of economic development of our planet.

It is with this conviction that I came to rekindle the flame of hope in you. Hold on tight! A new day will come to Cameroon next October, God willing. So, I can tell you, my dear friends: Never will the new Republic in the making abandon you.

God bless you!

The National President of the CRM,
Candidate for the presidential election,
Maurice KAMTO,
Mira refugee camp on the Greek island of LESVOS, 21 June 2018.