Dare to care beyond cultural differences
In 2022 the youth of the Focolare Movement in Cameroon promoted the Youth Festival on the theme “Dare to care: peace, fraternity and ecology”, that attracted over 400 Cameroonian youth both Anglophone and Francophone.
Over the years, the musical and cultural festivals in the whole world have become a fundamental method with which the youth of the Focolare Movement show the world that universal fraternity and the building of a united world are possible. It wasn’t different in 2022, and in Cameroon the Ambassadors for a United World and the Youth for a United World organized a youth festival with the theme “Dare to care: Peace, Fraternity and Ecology”.
The main objective of the event, that was carried out during 6 days at Bafoussam, west region of Cameroon, was that of promoting and working for fraternity and peace in their society.
“For us, this festival was an opportunity to live the Golden Rule, common to all the people and religions; to be instruments of peace and love when we will return to our own cities”, says Nkemanjen Regina, a young participant of the youth festival, referring to the famous phrase “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” found in the sacred books of different religions.
Cameroon is a country that counts up to more than 258 ethnic groups with different cultures and languages. The central African country has two official languages, English and French. From 2016, Cameroon faces a socio-political crisis in the Anglophone part of the country, as a consequence of the colonization history of the country. Such a crisis generates the separatist conflict between the French- and English-speaking Cameroonians. Despite this, the festival was able to reunite over 400 youth of different ethnicities and cultures, coming from over 12 cities of Cameroon. Regina tells us that she has had participants from both sides of the country:
“In the beginning one would notice the disinterest of the groups to interact amongst themselves, and as a consequence the interactions were limited to the people of the same language and of the same country. During the event, it was evident that many tried to overcome the linguistic and cultural barriers to get to know each other. We could see our Francophone brothers and sisters who tried speaking in English and the Anglophone people who were doing the same with French. We dialogued together, shared our experiences and ideas that rendered our theme beautiful in practical terms. There weren’t Francophone nor Anglophones, but a big family”.
The Youth Festival, so-called by them, was also an occasion to present the theme of the pathway of this year: “Dare to care: people, planet and our ecological conversion“, encouraging the youth to be the protectors of the ecological systems and of their resources as the answer to the plea of mother earth and to build bridges of fraternity between different ethnical and social groups.
“We used the word “Dare” because we understood of how challenging but not impossible it is, to live peace, fraternity and ecology as of today. We were all encouraged and motivated”. Godric Mbunya Azombu, a participant of the event, tells us.
The youth lived the theme through experiences, dialogue, theatre workshops, dances and songs, practical interactions that promoted the coexistence amongst them, as an answer to the obstacles the youth have to face and to the environmental crisis. For young Azombu, the cultural presentations were particularly important for the acknowledgment and appreciation of the diversity amongst themselves, as the groups could exhibit themselves with their cultural costumes, giving the opportunity to accept the individual differences present. “We were really motivated by the desire, above each challenge, to dare for peace, fraternity and ecology. We knew that ours was an ideal of unity and not of uniformity”.
This event was also crowned by a message from Fon de Nkar, king of a village affected by the socio-political crisis in the north-west region of Cameroon. In his message, the king urged the youth to move forward together and to be daily messengers of peace and fraternity, to always be the reflection of peace and unity.
According to Regina, the young Cameroonians returned home completely lifted in the spirit and in the experiences lived to continuo with this new way of living, especially in the difficult times in which they find themselves in. “We realized that the time had come, and this was the place to start from.”
Azombu, on the other hand, said the young people pledged to return home to work for peace, brotherhood and sustainability. They all agreed to start with their small daily drops, so that these drops could form an ocean. “Love, peace and unity is all that we need every day. They can make the world turn around”.