Good morning! Welcome to the first day of Lent, and to our first in the “Around the World in 40 Days” series where we’ll explore a different country each day, except on Mondays.
Today, we travel to Cameroon.
Now there’s a country we don’t often hear about in the news in this part of the world. But we should.
Cameroon is located on the west coast of Africa between Nigeria and Central African Republic (C.A.R.). To the south is Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea; to the northeast is Chad. By population, Cameroon is the 53rd largest country, with about 23 million people.
Cameroon has a very diverse landscape
Beaches with posh resorts
If Cameroon looks like a place you’d like to visit, Trip Advisor lists their Top 10 Things to See and Do.
- The Cameroon population consists of about 250-286 indigenous people groups, depending on the resource. In contrast, the U.S. has close to 500 people groups. For a list of the people groups, photos go to The Joshua Project’s website.
- The economy is unstable in Cameroon due to high amount of bureaucracy, governmental corruption, high personal and business tax rates, high percentage of national debt, poor infrastructure, and high financing rates for loans (via 2017 Index of Economic Freedom). Cameroon ranks 34th in Africa for it’s economy, 150th in the world and is classified as “mostly unfree” in terms of business regulations, rules and practices.
- The cost of living in Cameroon may be considerably lower than in the United States (see right), but the median household income is about $12,537.87 USD and roughly
48% of the population lives in poverty. This does not include the refugees living in Cameroon (see below; “Religion”). In comparison, the median income in the United States is $55, 775, depending upon which state you live in can be higher or lower, and the poverty rate is 14.3%.
- The literacy rate in Cameroon adults is at about 70%. Education is compulsory up to age 14. Higher education is often too expensive for many to afford. Because of this, the “wealthiest and best educated students” are leaving Cameroon to study abroad and creating a “brain drain“.
- The main languages of Cameroon are French and English, which has recently caused some civil unrest between the predominant French speaking population and the English speaking groups. On January 17, the internet was shut down; English protesters claim that it was done by the government to stop protests.
- Cameroon boasts a long list of modern writers in a wide range of genres.
- It has a world class “football”, or soccer, team depending on what you call the sport. The men’s team currently ranks 33rd in the FIFA/Coca Cola World Stats; the women’s team ranks 47th.
For more culture and life in Cameroon, try these websites:
Arts and artists: http://www.camerooncrafts.com/
The 1st video game studio in Africa http://kiroogames.com/en/kiro-o-studio.html
Business news http://www.businessincameroon.com/
For everything you’d want to know about Cameroon http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/cameroon.htm
Banana and Pineapple Salad
- 2 firm ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
- 2 firm ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 1 small pineapple, peeled and sliced
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1 Tablespoon roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1 can coconut milk
- Boil the coconut milk until it thickens.
- Set it aside to cool.
- Pile the bananas, tomatoes, pineapple, and avocado alternately in layers in individual glass dishes.
- Top with chopped peanuts and the thickened coconut milk.
- Serve cold.
Serves 4 to 6.
(recipe found on foodbycountry.com)
“Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion are guaranteed by the constitution. The Fulani people in the north are mainly Muslim, as are the Bamoun group of the western provinces. Christian missionaries (Protestants since 1845 and Roman Catholics since 1890) have been particularly active in other areas, with the English-speaking citizens of provinces of the western region being primarily Protestant and the French-speaking citizens in provinces of the southern and western regions being predominantly Catholic.”
“Social discrimination by Muslims against those of indigenous religions is fairly widespread. In the northern region, the tension between the Fulani and Kirdi groups is based in part on such past religious differences. The Fulani have been traditionally Muslim while the Kirdi have traditionally practiced indigenous religions. Many of the Kirdi are now Muslim, yet they remain economically, socially, and educationally disadvantaged in this region.”
“About 40% of the population are at least nominally Christian, of whom approximately half are Roman Catholics and half are affiliated with Protestant denominations. As many as 20% are at least nominally Muslim and about 40% practice traditional indigenous religions or no religion at all. Many of the indigenous religions are local religions practiced primarily in rural areas.”
“The practice of witchcraft is considered a criminal offense, however, prosecution is generally applied only in conjunction with other criminal actions, such as murder.”
- The Good News: According to the U.S. State Department, there were no reported abuses or discrimination based upon religion in Cameroon in 2010, reported in 2011. The report for Cameroon has not been updated on the State Department’s site since then.
- The Bad News: Right now, For 3 years, Christians and Muslims in Cameroon are “fighting” to help the thousands of Nigerian, CAR and Chad refugees that have fled Boko Haram and who are now residing in United Nations Camps in Cameroon. Many of the refugees are Christian and are escaping persecution.
Additionally, Cameroonian citizens in the north have been physically fighting kidnappings from CAR rebels, fending off attacks from Boko Haram and fleeing to other parts of Cameroon.
Imagine if you lived in the pink portion of the United States. Now imagine if somewhere around 70,000 people from Kansas, Illinois and Iowa were flooding into that area. And to top it off, you were fighting off a dangerous militant group in the Illinois region. That’s what it’s like in Cameroon.
The religious leaders in Cameroon are asking their “flocks” to help provide firewood, water and food. The religious leaders have also vowed to make pleas to the Nigerian, Chad and Cameroonian governments to provide more aid to the persecuted refugees. The situation is growing dire for the refugees and some of Cameroon’s own citizens. Growing tensions between Cameroonian citizens and refugees are due to lack of physical resources for both groups.
Between February 10 and 15, over 500 Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram were arrested by the Cameroon government and forcibly returned to Nigeria. Since last year, Cameroon has turned away about 20,000 refugees. Tomorrow, March 2, the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) is starting to negotiate a right to return treaty between Cameroon and Nigeria, to ensure that any refugees who wish to return to their homeland may do so voluntarily and safely.
More . . .
- The Muslim and Christian communities have also vowed to stand together and protect one another against Boko Haram in the north.
- Many Christian denominations host missionaries in Cameroon.
- To learn more about religion in Cameroon, I suggest this 116 page outline report from World Map’s “Missionary Atlas Project”. The report is divided into easy to read topics, and it is easy to skim though. “Christian History” and “Religion” is found on pages 7-13, but much of the report also deals with religion. I recommend reading though the People Groups section for specific prayer concerns unique to each group.
- Boko Haram to be defeated so that it will no longer be a threat.
- The thousands of refugees, that they may safely return to their own countries or be provided for.
- For our fellow Christians in Cameroon: that they will continue to grow in their faith, have the freedom to worship and share their faith in many ways.
- For Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and all governmental leaders, that they will have wisdom to lead it’s people, compassion for those seeking refuge in their country and for less governmental corruption.
- Younger Christians will not leave Cameroon, but stay and help the Christian church grow.
- Thank God for peaceful relations among the various religious groups in Cameroon.
- For the many missionaries in Cameroon, that they may be light for Christ in this country. Give them the strength and endurance to help those in need, bring God’s word to unbelievers, and to boldly share their faith in Jesus.
- Let God’s glory be known throughout Cameroon.
Thank you for taking this whirlwind trip through Cameroon. Thank you for praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ in this country.
Tomorrow we visit a new country, so rest up.