What have you been up to since the program?
After an eye-opening experience with the UMass Civic Initiative in 2010, I returned to Cameroon very enriched. In 2011, I received the prestigious US State Department Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence Award for which I had the opportunity to return to the US. I spent one year giving lectures on topics including: African Governments, African Politics and Global Issues in the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Savannah State University (SSU) in Georgia. I also developed an undergraduate program in International Studies and received the Fulbright Occasional Lecture Fund to be a guest speaker at Ithaca College (New York) and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (Tifton, Georgia). I also spoke at Kennesaw State University (Georgia), Shippensburg University (Pennsylvania), Trident Technical College (Charleston, South Carolina) and Georgia College and State University (Milledgeville, Georgia). At the end of the program, I returned home and was voted pioneer President of Africa for Research in Comparative Education(AFRICE) in addition to being appointed as a member of the Publications Standing Committee of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES). Greatly inspired by my new experience, I expanded on the activities of the African Network against Illiteracy, Conflicts and Human Rights Abuses(ANICHRA), as it's Founder-Executive Director. In November 2015, I was elected Vice President in charge of African Affairs in the Civic Commission for Africa (CCfA), a network of African civil society organizations. Since November 2014, I have been an Associate Professor of Political History and International Relations in the university system of Cameroon with a permanent faculty position at the University of Yaoundé. I recently returned from Japan, where I was invited to participate in the preparatory G7 meeting conflict resolution, with particular emphasis on the Syrian crisis.
What was the most influential experience you had while in the US with the Civic Initiative?
I would say that the opportunity to meet, cohabit and share stories and experiences with people from 18 different countries despite our different realities was the most impactful aspect of the program. I also greatly appreciated the hard work put in by the course facilitators and the young leaders/Civic Initiative staff who took us around. From a global perspective, the culture of, accepting, recognizing and protecting the "other", along with the idea that celebrating differences can promote global peace and understanding.
If you could spend another day in Amherst, how would you spend it?
I would re-take some of the interesting lectures that shaped my thoughts and influenced my current area of interest. I would spend the afternoon buying used books to enrich my library for the benefit of my colleagues and students in Cameroon, who may not have the opportunity to buy a book.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a person chosen to participate in this program?
I would advise any person chosen for this program to be open-minded, dream big, learn from the American experience and be determined to return home and actively contribute in uplifting his/her community/country. I hope I am doing that myself.
What is next on your To Do List?
My country of Cameroon, is a complex juxtaposition of various diversities, linguistics, geography, ethnicity, religion and politics, which calls for effective decentralization in the internal state structure as a means of ensuring internal cohesion. Paradoxically, the federal system adopted in 1961 was abolished in 1972 in favor of a strongly centralized system. I am working to:
- Engage in campaigns for effective decentralization.
- If possible, carry out comparative research and publication on why federalism failed in Cameroon and what makes it work in the US. This will provide me with a more nuanced understanding of federalism, and enable me to attempt to replicate that system within Cameroon.
- Be fully engaged in Peace-building, Democracy & Good Governance, Citizenship Education, Minority & Human Rights Issues, Leadership & Community Development and Social Research.