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Vox pop: How Has The Commonwealth Impacted On Cameroonians? 

Compiled By Francis Tim Mbom, Angwi Tassang*, Lettisia Anye*, Jude Fuhnwi*, Quinta-belle K*, Peggy Pofoura*, Marriane Tabi* & Stephen Mbunya*

I think Cameroon’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations has brought a lot of positive impacts on the Cameroonians in general and the youth in particular. Commonwealth empowers the youth by training them in different fields during workshops and seminars wherein exhibitions are done. With these, we are able to expose our culture to the world and equally know the culture of others. The youth also come up with projects which the Commonwealth finances and this helps to promote self-employment and financial independence.
Rose Esembe, Civil Servant – Buea

The Commonwealth Has Had No Impact On Cameroonians
Cameroon’s membership in the Commonwealth has not had any positive effect on the lives of its citizens. Let us know that we are nothing or we are not part of the Commonwealth and we will keep living our lives the way we have been living than having the notion that we are part of the Commonwealth and we can’t benefit anything as members.
Romanus Bongyuy Serkferm, Limbe.

Cameroonians Don’t Feel The Commonwealth
Cameroonians can’t feel commonwealth’s impact because information on Commonwealth is not available. Before, the Commonwealth used to organise the Commonwealth Week   here at the Bamenda City Council British library. Since the departure of the British Council in 2004 there has been no such activity.

So, one can say it was because of the presence of the British Council that these activities were organised.  Even books and brochures on the Commonwealth here in the library are outdated. If the Commonwealth was so important the minister in charge of the Commonwealth would have sent down information to the library.
Oscar Anye – Bamenda City Council Library Attendant

Little Impact On Cameroonians
The Commonwealth has little or no impact on Cameroonians. To me, they are not helping us in anyway. The Commonwealth ought to have representatives everywhere in Cameroon and these representatives have to help us know and defend our rights. But it is far from that. Hence there is violation of our rights. They ought to be our teachers but they are not playing this role. So, what will our children gain from us as a Commonwealth legacy?
Pa Ferdinand, Driver – Buea

The Commonwealth Is Not Living

To Expectation
We are not feeling the impact of Commonwealth.  We are not comfortable with the manner in which the Commonwealth is looking at Cameroon’s degrading socio-economic situation.  We expected that being part of Commonwealth we are under the direct supervision of the organ but the Commonwealth is turning a blind eye on the poor electoral system in the country. The Commonwealth is not being felt as concerns pushing reforms in the country. It is rather unfortunate but the Commonwealth is not doing what it’s expected to do.
Henry Kum, SDF Regional Chairman, Bamenda
Commonwealth Has Nothing To Do With Us

The Commonwealth has got nothing to do with us in Cameroon. In the first place, which of the Cameroons belongs to the Commonwealth? You should know that the Commonwealth was meant for the Southern Cameroonians, but when you look at it they are only dealing with La Republique du Cameroun and saying that the country is bilingual. How can the country be bilingual?

This is our main problem because when we are talking one thing, the Commonwealth is doing just another with La Republique. But normally, they are supposed to have known that it is the Southern Cameroons which should have been the fundamental beneficiary of the Commonwealth. And, in the Commonwealth, whatever it is, the offices in Yaounde are manned all by La Republique’s citizens. So, they always know what and when profits do accrue from the Commonwealth and they know to whom to give. So, we the Southern Cameroonians don’t benefit anything out of it. So, it is of no relevance to us.
Mathias Ayuk Enow, Limbe
 Integrated Cameroon Into English-speaking Nations

Commonwealth has enhanced the unity among English-speaking nations. As a result, Cameroon being part of the Commonwealth has been invited to world summits. It also provides scholarships for students of Commonwealth Nations, but I know of no individuals who have benefited from such opportunities.
Alenwi Numfor, ACMS Bamenda

 Cameroonians Are Ignorant Of The Commonwealth
The Cameroonian public is ignorant of the importance of Commonwealth to them. So, most of them don’t pay keen attention to Commonwealth activities. When I was in the university we tried to bring students together to join the Commonwealth group of the university but none of them were interested. That’s because they do not know the importance of belonging to the Commonwealth. Those who tried to be part of the initiative did not get feed back and thus most of them developed a lukewarm attitude towards Commonwealth activities.
Anthony Ndoh, Pupil Lawyer – Bamenda

Has Had Positive Effects
I think Cameroon’s membership to the Commonwealth has had some positive effects on some Cameroonians. A couple of them have won scholarships to study abroad in the Communication and Business fields but my only worry is that these scholarship awards are not known by many. Only some specific Cameroonians benefit from this. It has, however, reformed the electoral process in Cameroon but the Commonwealth does not follow up that free and fair elections be carried out. The citizens are worried and that is why people don’t have the faith to register for the next Presidential Election.
Randy Joe Sa’ah, BBC Correspondent – Cameroon

Commonwealth Ha Improved On Bilingualism
I can say that bilingualism has been improved upon because as we can see today, most countries are bilingual. Also, bilingual education has been reinforced in many universities through lectures which are received in both languages. I think this helps people in some way to learn both languages.
Mirrielle Otabela, Polytechnic Staff

No Impact On Cameroon
I don’t know if there is any real impact as to Cameroon’s membership to the Commonwealth. We were very proud when we knew that Cameroon will be a member country of the Commonwealth. We thought that many things will change, but we realise that there is nothing special that has changed. One could agree that in words many things have changed, but in reality I don’t see anything.
Mathurin Ngakou, Teacher

I Don’t Know About The Commonwealth
I don’t know anything about the Commonwealth. But I know an organisation like it does exist. I believe Cameroon’s membership in the Commonwealth is to satisfy the selfish ambitions of some people.

They get Cameroon into an organisation only to satisfy their personal interest. Some people may say we benefit from their donations like scholarships and cultural expositions. But how many Cameroonians do profit from it? Just a few. In fact, there is not a single impact of the Commonwealth on Cameroonians. So, Cameroon’s membership has no use.
Nelson Adoh, Postgraduate Student – Buea

No Impact On Cameroonians
There is no impact of the Commonwealth on Cameroonian citizens. I hear people talk about it as an organisation but if we really want to weigh its impact on Cameroonians there is none. Cameroon’s membership in the Commonwealth is simply for political reasons.
Joel Mbiakeu, Businessman – Buea

It Has Promoted Democracy
Though Commonwealth and Cameroon have not had a good tie, the democratic process has progressed. You can find the media like the CRTV talking on the ills of the society and the government. This is thanks to the role Commonwealth is playing.  Also, because of the presence of the Commonwealth in Cameroon we have been able to develop our civil society. The civil society has had its say on many aspects of development in the country. I believe that with time and the investment of resources things would get better.

However, the Commonwealth has not had great impact on the young people of Cameroon because they are still being misled by the government. If the Commonwealth can educate and sensitise the youth directly without passing through the government then their impact would be felt. I think the Commonwealth is yet to make an impact in the lives of Cameroonians.
Rene Mbuh – Bamenda

Has A Huge Impact On Cameroonians
The Commonwealth has got a huge impact on Cameroonians. Talking from an academic point of view, many Cameroonian students have received scholarships from the Commonwealth as a result of Cameroon’s membership in the organisation. So, Cameroon’s educational level is improved as these Cameroonians go and study in international universities which have high standards contrary to our universities at home.
Emmanuel Fangyong, Businessman – Buea

Has Promoted Good Governance
The Commonwealth has promoted issues such as Good Governance in Cameroonians. Because the Commonwealth is all about exchanging cultures, it has brought the good aspects of other nations like the United Kingdom to impart on Cameroonians. And, of course, they try to fight corruption, which is a cankerworm in our country.

In the domain of education, students are benefiting from the Commonwealth through scholarships, exchange visit programs and seminars.  All these assistance we receive is because we belong to the Commonwealth.
Sylvia Bih, Journalist – Bamenda

*(Journalism Students on Internship)

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