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KEYNOTE ADDRESS PRESENTED BY PRINCE LAWRENCE AYAMBA, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE SC INTERIM GOVERNMENT IN-EXILE ON THE OCCASION OF THE SOUTHERN CAMEROONS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE HOLDING AT THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS FROM FEBRUARY 9 – 11, 2008 Freedom Fighters, Fellow Southern Cameroonians and delegates, Brothers and sisters, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, The year 2007 has come to an end, leaving each and everyone loads of things not done as well as those still to be done most especially the final push for the Independence of the Southern Cameroons. The good thing is, in every beginning there is hope for better achievements. While hoping that the year 2008 will be a year of breakthrough for the people of Southern Cameroons, I wish you all, a very prosperous year 2008 and advancement of the Southern Cameroons course. YOUNG PEOPLE AND LEADERSHIP – The way forward Africa won its liberation through the efforts of the young. Across the African continent, the moment of independence represented many things. It was the winning of the political kingdom and the promise that our countries could unshackle itself from the chains of colonial rule and achieve the political, social and economic development for which its people had yearned. But national independence manifested something else too, something that is easily overlooked with the passage of more than half a century. The social, political and all liberation movements that are struggling against colonial rule were overwhelmingly parties of the young. Not only were the rank and file of independence movements filled by youths, but the leaders themselves were young. It is striking to look at the photographs of Africa’s independence leaders as they assembled in Africa Hall for the creation of the Organizations’ of African Unity in 1963. They were strikingly youthful. It was not uncommon for prime ministers and foreign ministers to be in their thirties. And these were the veterans of many years of struggle, struggle that had often begun in high schools, and had frequently reached its zenith among students in universities just like our chairman, the SG and a host of us. When the Italian colonists lowered the flag in Mogadishu, they handed over the government to the Somali Youth League. This is exactly what will happen in the SC soon. The prominence of the young was clear in the civil struggles that yielded peaceable liberation in countries such as Ghana, Senegal and Tanganyika. Still more was it true of the armed liberation struggles that brought freedom to Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. If the leadership of South Africa’s liberation struggle were entering what would normally be considered retirement age at the time of that country’s liberation that was only because overcoming Apartheid took so many long years. The Southern Cameroons is no exception. Recognizing the importance of his young followers, Nelson Mandela proposed that South Africa’s first democratic constitution reduce the age of enfranchisement. The proposal was not adopted, but it was a genuine and bold effort to reciprocate the trust that the country’s young revolutionaries had placed in the men and women who had led their struggle for more than a generation. Liberation was the promise of a young Africa, the promise that there would be, always, “something new out of Africa.” While drawing upon African traditions, independence was also a generational revolt and still should be especially in our case, of the young against the old. It was a new dawn, not a return to the past. This promise of youth enfranchisement was in fact one of the most fundamental pledges of liberation, but over the years it has been the most neglected. Many of the hopes of independence have been disappointed: among them is the promise of empowering the young generation. African cultures are respectful of age, and the continent’s leaders have exploited the symbols of fatherhood, wisdom and experience to the full, often presiding over sclerotic governments out of touch with the rapid pace of change. The tradition of obedience to one’s elders is routinely cited. But this is only one side of the story. There is a tradition, equally vibrant, of generational renewal. This was not just a historical accident of the independence generation. Equally it was true of the first resistance to imperial conquest and the domestic movements for renewal such as the Fulani Jihads, the Sudanese Mahdists and countless others. This conference is a historic recognition of the forgotten promise of liberation, that it would enfranchise the young, and is a moment to redeem the pledge. "Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace — that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom" Youth Rights Youth have rights as well as obligations, though they are too often forgotten in a social order built around gerontocrats and welfare agenda focused on children. Domestic and international law distinguishes between children (legal minors) and adults, commonly using a threshold of eighteen years. The category “youth” will always be secondary to the child-adult dichotomy. Some age-based definitions of youth include under- 18s, others do not. Different issues arise depending on whether the “youth” in question are above or below 18: for those younger, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the corresponding African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child are applicable. Article 12(1) of the UN CRC reads, “States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.” The Article goes into further detail on judicial and administrative procedures to be followed on matters directly affecting the rights and wellbeing of the child in question. But these provisions are both secondary to the basic legal reality that children under 18 are not fully legally enfranchised and subjective insofar as they call for an assessment of the “maturity” of the child. Meanwhile, on reaching 18, the former child is a full adult with all the rights and responsibilities that status entails. All the provisions of an adult under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Conventions on Civil and Political Rights and on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights apply. Such young adults are not simply “future potential”, receptacles for learning, but they are active and contemporary social, political and economic actors in themselves. A legalistic approach to rights is essential for their robust enforcement. But an exclusive focus on what is justifiable overlooks the fact that rights are “work in progress.” The norms that underpin human rights provisions are in a constant state of contest and evolution. For example, there is still no complete consensus on age 18 as the upper limit of childhood. Many states still recruit 17 year olds to their armed forces – SOCADEF should take note. Age categories and the rights and responsibilities that accompany them are moulded by circumstances. In times of national emergency, youth are catapulted to the front rank of participation. It is young people who are recruited to the army, who are mobilized for national campaigns. Similarly, today it is youth who must refashion the social and political mores in our Country. Comrades, Ladies & Gentlemen, The confidence our people continue to put on the SCYL places a great challenge and an enormous responsibility on our shoulders. The people have proved that they are ready and capable of governing. The Youth League must continue to make its own contribution to our further success in meeting the challenges ahead of us. We must continue to draw inspiration from the dedication of the founding fathers of the SCYL and all other Southern Cameroons liberation movements, from the tradition of heroic struggles of the youth over the decades as we sustain the momentum of the struggle for the struggle for the accomplishment of the mission of the restoration of the independence and statehood of the Southern Cameroons. We who are alive today are witness to a generation upon whose shoulders history has conferred unprecedented responsibilities and in whose hands it has placed limitless possibilities. We are living in the age of a political, social and economic revolution. It is the era of our national renaissance and freedom. We cannot dare disappoint the millions of Southern Cameroonians who banker for freedom, democracy and social change in their lives. The regenerated and strengthened Youth League must continue to play its role as a front-line fighting force in that continuing struggle for fundamental change and a better life for all our people. I would also like to remind all Southern Cameroonians here present that, in coming together a lot can be done. That we should try to make the year 2008 a year during which we would join our voices together as well as our individual strengths to build a stronger network for the liberation of Southern Cameroons. Remember, “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes this year” I wish you all a successful conference. THANK YOU and God Bless the Southern Cameroons. Prince Lawrence Ayamba Secretary of State of t he SC Interim Government In-Exile
Hi Simplice, This is not the right forum for your topic. If you want to discuss this topic, join the various SC forums and let’s take it from there. I’ll gladly give you an answer. Let’s pay them our last respect - for Christ sake. Don’t you have any pity for the Dead????? We should be mourning the dead instead. Once more, MAY THE SOULS OF OUR DEPARTED REST IN PERFECT PEACE. Mr Nje, thanks for raising the same questions as I did. Mola Monono, your prayer really touched me. "You may chain a man, but you will not chain his mind; you may enslave him, but you will not conquer his spirit; you may maintain the people in bondage by force, but sooner or later, their anger and frustration becomes so great that force cannot contain it. Then the edifice cracks, the mortar crumble." Ntumazah Prince Lawrence AYAMBA Sec of State SC Interim Gov't
Hi Simplice, This is not the right forum for your topic. If you want to discuss this topic, join the various SC forums and let’s take it from there. I’ll gladly give you an answer. Let’s pay them our last respect - for Christ sake. Don’t you have any pity for the Dead????? We should be mourning the dead instead. Once more, MAY THE SOULS OF OUR DEPARTED REST IN PERFECT PEACE. Mr Nje, thanks for raising the same questions as I did. Mola Monono, your prayer really touched me. "You may chain a man, but you will not chain his mind; you may enslave him, but you will not conquer his spirit; you may maintain the people in bondage by force, but sooner or later, their anger and frustration becomes so great that force cannot contain it. Then the edifice cracks, the mortar crumble." Ntumazah