While many think about Boko Haram in the context of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted in neighboring Nigeria, Cameroon has also been hard hit by the group’s ongoing atrocities. In one attack on a border town in January alone, some 400 Cameroonians were killed.
Cameroonians, seeing the suffering of their fellow citizens, as well as the susceptibility of some marginalized communities to the influence of Boko Haram ideology and resources, started a campaign to mobilize the country against this growing threat. In the words of one of the leaders of a Cameroonian NGO, ARK Jammers, that is spearheading this effort, “Too often citizens demand that the government provide all answers to improve our country. But we have to aid and support those efforts. We have to demand of ourselves to improve our own communities and to offer solutions to serve our nation and our fellow citizens. One of the principal goals of the CAMERACTION Ark Jammers concert this year is to raise awareness among our youth to get involved and not be bystanders. To make a positive difference in serving our country and contribute to our security and development.”
The initiative, comprised of roundtable discussions about combatting Boko Haram with local government and community leaders, and a “See Something, Say Something” campaign to get local communities to report suspicious behavior to the government, would be kicked off by a concert in the capital, Yaounde. This event would showcase performances by local recording artists and would be particularly targeted at Cameroonian youth, the segment of the population most vulnerable to Boko Haram influence.
While Ark Jammers had raised the bulk of the funds needed to carry out the campaign and enlisted Cameroonian officials and musicians to participate, they didn’t have enough resources to rent out a suitable venue for the concert.
Spirit of America was able to provide $5,000 to rent out the main soccer stadium in Yaounde, the only venue with the capacity and visibility to effectively hold an event like this.
The concert, held in February, was a big success. Over 1,000 young Cameroonians attended, and the event was broadcast throughout the country on both TV and radio. Cameroonian ministers and other officials, dignitaries from around West Africa, and the U.S. Ambassador took part in this kick-off event.
Thanks to your generosity, Spirit of America is helping support the initiative of those standing up to violent extremism around the world. Boko Haram and other organizations like it are huge threats to peace and stability, and efforts like CAMERACTION are key to ending those threats.
Field Operations Manager