By Ajong Mbapndah L
As the world marked thirty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ramifications on parts of Africa were part of an interactive discussion in Dickerson, MD, with people for whom division has been a reality.
Speaking at the event Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director For Central And West Africa at the Washington,DC,based National Democratic Institute, NDI, started by reminding participants that before the Berlin Wall, the Berlin Conference of 1884 created its own walls from which Africa is still to recover till date. Reverberations of the artificial boundaries that resulted from that conference are still very much present across many parts of Africa today, Dr Fomunyoh said.
On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh painted a graphic picture of the sad developments which have brought the country to the brink of a civil war.
“The killings and atrocities are erecting new walls, literally and figuratively,” Dr Fomunyoh said. Citing recent United Nations, Fomunyoh indicated that educational, and economic activities in the English-speaking regions have been grounded. The humanitarian emergency is now affecting close to 2 million people. Arbitrary arrests, burning of villages, wanton killings have become the order and the widespread insecurity has contributed significantly in keeping some 855,000 children out of school, Dr Fomunyoh said.
Echoing reports from some analysts who say believe that the situation in Cameroon remains one of the most under reported crisis in the world, Dr Fomunyoh said those who see a miniature of the Rwandan genocide in Cameroon may not be completely off the mark.
It is unfortunate that the government of Cameroon has continued with the logic of arrogance, bad faith, dishonesty, and mismanagement that have created profound mistrust between the Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh said, while affirming calls he has consistently made that only genuine dialogue, with the political will to push through profound political reforms can start the healing process in Cameroon.
The experiences and developments in Cameroon and Africa, shared by Dr Fomunyoh, mirrored challenges shared by other guest speakers from different parts of the world at the event which took place at a beautiful agricultural reserve . Born in Germany, Ulrike Rodgers shared experiences growing up close to the wall. A Program Director for Francophone West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, Ulrike said both sides of the divide worked hard to drive the separation. Though her family lived less than an hour away from the wall, they and many others were clueless about life on the other side, she said.
Originally from Nashville Tennessee, and Lecturer of African and Security Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Travis Adkins shared personal, and family experiences of life growing up in the segregated American South. Despite the significant progress that has been made, the scars are still there, and the challenges remain many, Travis said.
Tony Culley-Foster ,who lived in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday agreement, shared the checkered history of his country of origin. Mr. Foster who brought the torch of the 2012 Olympics and a piece of the Berlin Wall, said his experiences contributed to the creation of a network of young Ambassadors to fight for peace.
Dubbed stories from the Other Side of the Wall, the event was organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German think tank in Washington, DC, which shares transatlantic perspectives on global challenges. Serving as moderator for the discussions was Emily Rodriguez, communications director for the Foundation. Participants were in unison that more was needed from people across the globe for the best in humanity to re-emerge.