Feb 2018

My dear young compatriots, I am Maurice KAMTO, political militant and what is more the National President of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement. On the occasion of the Youth Day, that has now become  a republican coming –together, I address you this year, not a speech of circumstance, but an invitation to join the table of discussion: discussion on your future as a particular category of our population; discussion about the future of our country, Cameroon.

From the outset, we can together observe the damage done, in recent decades, to our beloved and beautiful country. I am addressing you at a time when the threat to the security of our country by the obscurantist sect Boko Haram continues to claim many lives, even though our heroic defense forces have inflicted them some fatal blows; at a time when peace is not fully back in the north-western and south-western regions; where famine threatens the survival of populations in the northern part of the country because of both drought and the policy of abandonment of these regions in misery by our Government; where work is no longer a guarantee of a deserved social rise; where the general economic situation of the country has severely worsened with social repercussions that will be felt in the course of this year; when  faced with this situation, irresponsible leaders make fun of your intelligence with computer toys that cost a fortune to public finances and compromise your future by increasing the State’s debt that you will be obliged to pays down tomorrow; and when public higher education institutions are opened in the middle of an academic year, with no appropriate facilities nor sufficient qualified teaching, with no appropriate facilities nor sufficient qualified teaching, not to implement a higher education plan, but as part of a purely vote- seeking operation. After the pitiful failure of the “computer donation” operation, the outgoing President hopes to once again launch his election campaign thought such scheming, with disastrous consequences on the quality youth training. It is insulting to your intelligence to believe that you have not understood the purpose of the manoeuvre.

Since the independence and even long after, Cameroon has been the hub driving the economy of Central Africa. Its influence was established in such diverse fields as, education, sports, music. Its rich natural heritage and its ethnic and cultural pluralism have earned the country the appellation Africa in miniature. Cameroon is a whole continent in one country. The National Renaissance Project (NRP), anchored by the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), makes the youth the central focus This is verifiable in the Vision of Cameroon that we adopted at the creation of the CRM in 2012. This is a specific and consistent offer to combat  youth unemployment that is a real social cancer, and to prepare them to meet the challenge of modernizing the country in a global world marked by rapid changes and ruthless competition.

The project that our party is proposing to the youth, is called the YOUTH PACT. It consists of a tripod whose central pillar is EDUCATION, the second pillar TRAINING and the third pillar RESEARCH-INNOVATION.

On the educational pillar, I have been saying for a number of years that our education system must be radically reformed by the introduction of a new model. The current education system has had its day. It was designed mainly to train an administrative staff for the young State of Cameroon and the replacement of expatriate executives who then controlled all major sectors of the country by Cameroonians. This educational system gave everything it could give. It is now outdated. It must therefore be changed, from kindergarten to higher education, to a system that awakens in the child the sense of discovery of things in his environment from kindergarten, offers young people in high schools and colleges to become familiar with the professional world while studying, and young academics to explore the world of research and innovation. A national ceremony of the ACADEMIC AND SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE will be organised every year to honour the best of our educational system.

The training pillar aims to offer every young person, graduate and non-graduate, a chance to have a job that ensures a decent job, through tailor-made training in vocational training centres and careers centres. For those who have a diploma and who do not find a job or who would like to change their profession, this is a training for a specific occupation for a period between three to 24 months maximum, so as to change the initial corridor his or her initial diploma put him or her in for a new specialization corridor that guarantees him or her an occupation. For a young non-graduate, it will be a question of learning for a new occupation related to his or her skills through a tutorship from experienced staff working in careers centres. For example, a young girl or boy who left the school system too early will be able to learn, in these centres, hairdressing, carpentry, cheese making, or sculptor-decorator skills, in  short careers in agriculture or crafts, etc. The vocational training centres and careers centres will serve as bridges from one training corridor to another and from one profession to another. BEST APPRENTICES PRIZES will be awarded annually.

The research-innovation pillar will enable young people coming out of scientific and technical fields in particular to benefit from all the institutional and financial support necessary to develop the products of their intellect. They will find with the public authorities the listening, the supervision and the support which they will need for the development of the prototypes of their inventions and the facilitation of links to the industrial world and the business circles. Our project tomorrow is to sign project agreements with each public research or technical training organization for the development of a specific product within a specified period. Public funding support will only be provided to those organizations that have achieved the agreed objectives. NATIONAL INNOVATION PRIZES WITH SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS will be awarded each year.

For the artistic professions, appropriate structures such as music and dance schools will be set up at least as part of Artistic Complexes which will be established at the level of each regional capital, the apex structure being a National Academy of Arts.

As the state alone cannot solve the problems of employability, it is necessary to count on the emergence of a new entrepreneurial class which will serve as an engine  for jobs creation in various sectors of activity.

We have an ideal before us: Pan-Africanism. But in this respect, I have a pragmatic approach to its realization. Without waiting for its implementation at the continental level, which may take some time, I invite you to the realization without delay of the United States of Central Africa dreamed by Barthelemy BOGANDA of Central Africa. I call you to launch as soon as possible the Federalist Youth Movement of Central Africa.

Dear Young Compatriots,

My interest in the youth and their problems is not new, because it does not come from a political calculation. It is the expression of my acute awareness that youth is the part of life where each person can achieve the most for himself and for the Nation. This is the period when everyone’s performance is higher. This is how our country, richly endowed by nature and history, has witnessed the development, over time and at different moments, of young people with exceptional talents, proud ambassadors of Cameroon in almost every field.

I will no doubt appear arbitrary, certainly incomplete; but I must mention in these different fields some names to illustrate this prodigious wealth which has brought to our country so much admiration on the international scene:

Some of them are no more young, but the majority is of the new generation, perpetuating what has become a peculiarity of the Cameroon Social fabric.

– the intellectual domain with references like the thinker Achille MBEMBE, the novelists Calixte BEYALA, Leonora MIANO, Patrice NGANANG, IMBOLO MBUE, the economist and writer Célestin MONGA and many others;

– the scientific, technical and innovation field: I am particularly attentive to promising young people like Olivier MADIBA for the first video game creation company and his first role-playing game “AURION”; Cedric ATANGANA for “WeCashUp”; Arthur ZANG for his Cardiopad; Alain NTEFF for the “Gifted Mom”; Churchill NANJE for “Njorku”, who revolutionized the job search, and the collective of Silicon Mountain which is a true nursery of talents for the rise of the digital economy in Cameroon.

– the cultural and artistic field where the flag of Cameroon is raised to the skies by exceptional personalities like the musician Richard BONA, the Curator, writer and Art critic Simon NJAMI, the poet Paul DAKEYO, the filmmaker Jean Pierre BEKOLO,  visual artists TOGOU and TAYOU, the dancer and playwrighter WERE WERE LIKING whose talent has splashed African opera theatre for decades; the singers Charlotte DIPANDA, Kareyce FOTSO, LOCKO, Mister LEO, DAPHNE, MAGASCO, TENOR; I can’t but mention Jules TEUKAM, the first composer of Cameroonian opera and learned music and probably from sub-Saharan Africa; Greg BELOBO one of the rare African Opera Singer

– the sports field with emblematic figures like itinerant ambassador Albert Roger MILLA,Thomas NKONO, Joseph Antoine BELL, Stephen TATAW, Patrick MBOMA, Gérémi Sorel FOTSO NJITAP, François OMAM BIYIK, Rigobert SONG BAHANAG nicknamed “MANYANG”, Victor NDIP AKEM, Samuel ETO’O Fils, Vincent ABOUBAKAR, the athlete Françoise MBANGO and so on.

I cannot forget the talent of our young designers who continue to surprise us with their creativity; I will mention, in particular, fashion designers FK, MARYEL COUTURE, FRENCH KIND, JASAID, HEART BEAT, SANJA, ISRAEL B. And I take the opportunity to greet all those of you that I did not mention for time constraint.

In this regard, I would also like to appreciate the young buyamsellams, the mototaxis, street sellers commonly called “sauveteurs”, who despite the difficult context have managed to organize themselves to bring colour to our economy providing poor people in the population with food and clothing, means of transportation to overcome the chaotic state of our roads. I do not forget that you constitute the sector called “informal” which weighs more than 80% of the GDP of our country. I know you have not always chosen these corridors, as you call them. You are generally forced to do so, for lack of anything better, by instinct of survival, by refusal to fall into sloppiness and ease, by desire for autonomy too. I know how many times your efforts are ruined by goods confiscation and repressions; I know how you are violently removed from your counters without promises of relocation and that the promises that are often made in this way are never kept; I know the vexations, the mistreatment of the youngest and the helpless children.

I have a particular regard for the young, some of whom, exhausted, question their Cameroonian nationality, or go so far as to think of secession; I speak of those who, for lack of guidance, are enlisted by terrorist groups; I speak of these thousands of young people who, with lost hope, take the risk of challenging the Libyan mafia organizations to go face the sea because they dream of a better future in the West if they are ever successful. The Cameroonian youth is the main heiress of our country. The youth must be aware of their responsibilities and their irreplaceable role. No one has the right to take away that legacy and role you should be proud of. Nobody has the right to get you to put yourself in question, to extinguish your dreams for the future, to make you orphans of progress in a world where everything has become possible with the limitless possibilities offered by modern technologies. Cameroon does not belong to a category of young people, our country belongs to all its children, to all Cameroonians.

Even the political domain makes it possible to verify the exceptional role of young Cameroonians in the construction of a modern state and a nation that is gradually being built up. I recall in this regard

– that AmadouAhidjo was only 34 in 1958 when he became Prime Minister of the Cameroon Territory under French administration, and 36 when he became the first President of the Republic of Cameroon;

– that John NguFoncha and NgomJua were only 43 and 40 years old respectively when they became one after another the Prime Minister of West Cameroon;

– that Mr Paul BIYA was only 42 when he was appointed Prime Minister of the United Republic  of Cameroon in 1975 and 49 when he became President of the Republic in 1982.

And how can we forget that the nationalists who, by rising up against colonial rule, made the independence of our country possible as of 1 January 1960, were all under 40 when they began their heroic struggle? UM NYOBE who became the Secretary General of UPC at 35 died assassinated at 45; Felix Roland MOUMIE poisoned at 35; Castor OSSENDE AFANA murdered at 36, Ernest OUANDIE who was Vice-President of UPC at only 28, was executed publicly at 53 after he had gifted Cameroonian people with his youth.

If I recall these unforgettable emblematic figures, it is to tell you that you cannot allow yourself to be spectators of your lives and of your future, nor postpone your civic involvement with an indifference that would be costly tomorrow. Even if you are not a militant of a political party, even if you do not want to campaign in a political party, get involved in the citizen action of registration on the electoral lists. Go and vote when the time comes and make sure no one changes your democratic choice of leaders of our country. Your future depends on it!

The YOUTH PACT that I propose to you as part of the National Renaissance Project is, I hope, attractive. But it will remain mere ideas if each one of you did not get involved, as part of a new awareness of the issues and challenges that are those of today’s world and even more so tomorrow, that is, your world. That is why I reiterate my invitation to talks because the modernization of the country will have to be an expression of your aspirations and our collective choice.

I only ask to listen to you; I only ask to deal with you.

Dear young people from Cameroon, for a long time you have been called the “spearhead of the Nation”. The time has come to shape the iron so that it is not an iron with a broken tip, unable to hit its target. The country is at a crossroads. The choices to come will be decisive for the future of our country. You can trust me to lead these battles with determination. As for me, I’m counting on you.It is on this note of trust that I wish each and every one of you a Happy Youth Day.

Long live the youth of Cameroon;

Long live Cameroon.