The revolutions taking place in some Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East have some common denominators- acerbic economic conditions and seething political frustrations. From Tunisia, through Egypt, Libya and Yemen to Bahrain, these countries’ leaders have all held on to power for frustratingly long durations and have become so complaisant and dictatorial that they have confused their States for personal properties, lost touch with reality or simply outlived their political usefulness. These youth-initiated and youth-driven revolutions have country specific components, no doubt, but the sparks that are detonating them are the same- youths’ inability to dictate or influence their economic and political destinies.
By Grace Ongey, Rev. Fr. Jean Benoit Nlend and Ireneaus Chongwain Chia in Yassa
Rector's ransacked bedroom
On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, at about 6:45pm, thieves burgled the presbytery of Collège Bilingue Notre Dame de Nation, Yassa, Douala, slightly wounding a student and making away with an unspecified amount of money and valuables.
Mentally ill people are some of those Cameroon’s social welfare crisis is affecting the most. No part of the country has been spared as the number of mentally ill people parading our streets, who the State and their families have abandoned, continues to soar. Speaking recently during the World Day for the sick Pope Benedict XVI prickled many a collective conscience when he said a society that is unable to accept and assist its sick and suffering is cruel and inhuman. Using this rating scale, are many families in Cameroon and the State not all shameless social terrorists the way they treat those mentally ill?
In recent years, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of mentally ill people parading the streets in Cameroon and creating a despicable eyesore. Just take a walk along the Bamenda Commercial Avenue and the Yaoundé Central Post Office and you will better understand the predicament of this forgotten class.
The attitude or treatment shown towards the mentally handicapped varies from one person to another. While some people and societies welcome them, prejudice and judgmental societies reject and neglect them.
The growing number of mentally disabled people in Cameroon is raising a lot of debate on the causes of mental disabilities. In many African countries mental disability is mostly attributed to witchcraft.
The absence of mentally deranged people in the streets of Bertoua will strike anyone visiting the town for the first time.This is not to say there are no mentally unstable people in Bertoua, but the number is so inconspicuous most visitors would mistakenly assume there are no mentally ill in Bertoua.
In Cameroon mad people receive little attention from the government and family members. After all, in many cases madness is linked to witchcraft and occult practices. It is therefore believed mad people are responsible for what has happened to them.
On December 18, 1990, Rev. Fr, Roland Berngeh, then Rector of St. Aloysius Minor Seminary in Kumbo, saw his dream come true. He had always been intensely disturbed by the lamentable spectacle of mentally disturbed individuals roaming the streets of Kumbo and surrounding villages, without anyone seemingly doing much to help them. On that day, he convened a meeting of other concerned individuals and 39 of them attended, thus laying the foundation stone of what has come to be known as "The Apostolate of Mentally Disabled People" of Kumbo Diocese. He tells L’Effort Camerounais what it is all about. Excerpts: