“Cultural Diversity is an Asset, Not a Source of Conflict” NW Governor

The conference was opened by NW Governor Adophe Lele Lafrique

Northwest governor, Adolph Lele Lafrique has described the rich cultural diversity of the Northwest region as “an asset” that should unite rather than breed “conflicts”. This was during the opening of a regional conference for the restitution of activities of the project “Bridging the gap: safeguarding peace and human rights by promoting intercultural dialogue in the Northwest region of Cameroon” on Tuesday January 26, 2020, at Ayaba Hotel Bamenda.

The government he said is ready to support initiatives that promote peace. The project is also in line with the Head of State’s “efforts to strengthen social cohesion” in the country, and his presence at the event is a testimony to his attachment for peaceful cohabitation by all in the NW. 80% of the population of the NW region lives on agriculture and depend on it for their lively hood he stated. The Northwest region he continued is the third highest producer of cattle in Cameroon with about 80% of cattle producers form the minority Mbororo community, while on the other hand, 90% of cropping is done by the non-Mbororos. These all provide a fertile ground for conflicts of culture to manifest.

The conference featured a detailed presentation of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) project, testimonies of beneficiaries, and a way forward, including how to continue funding such initiatives. Amongst some of the key proposals where the calls for demarcation of grazing and farming land, continuity of government services to ensure follow up of conflict resolutions, embark on intense lobbying to hold governments and law makers on promise initiatives on land reforms, promote the passing of private member bills and to continue advocacy on all fronts.

The BTG is a three years project from February 2018 to January 2021 funded by the European  Union through United Purpose in the UK. Its implemented in the Northwest region by the Mbororo Cultural and Development Association (MBOSCUDA) and the Northwest Farmer Organization (NOWEFOR). The project aims to strengthen social cohesion through the promotion of intercultural dialogue and cultural rights.  It aims at reducing conflicts as a result of cultural differences and the marginalization of minorities, youths and women in the region.

The regional conference provided a platform for MBOSCUDA and NOWEFOR to present the BTG approach to various stakeholders and decision makers as a tried and tested means in promoting intercultural dialogue as a solution to conflicts and in particular farmer-grazer conflicts.

A key highlight of the event was the presentation of testimonies by some beneficiaries of the project and stakeholders. HRH the Fon of Akum glowingly described how the project has helped him understand better the Mbororos whom he has been living together with for over five decades. The fon said he adviced Mbororo women to engage in crop cultivation rather always buying, something he has witnessed changed over the years with some of the Mbororos now owning crop farms.

Barrister Fon Robert, a lawyer based in Bamenda narrated how he used to have dozens of cases involving farmers and grazers but since the BTG project started it has narrowed to virtually none. Other community representative from both Mbororo and non-Mbororo communities testify how their perception of the others have considerably changed towards the positive, with many even saying they are prepared to overcome their difference and even intermarriage.

Cross section of participants

The conference brought together participants from both the NW and the West region. Sali Django, program Coordinator MBOSCUDA NW said this was to help improve on the advancement of MBOSCUDA in the West region which is still lacking behind those of the NW.

Amongst the 50 carefully selected participants where six administrative officials including the governor of the NW and the SDO of Mezam, municipal and traditional authorities, MPs and senators, representative of relevant government ministries, civil societies, the media, community representatives, academia, and some partners organizations.

By Abongwa Fozo

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