It was an ordinary day in Maroua, a city located in Northern Cameroon. As is typical for July, the sun was beating hard upon the dry earth. A veiled young girl - typical for the predominantly Hausa & Fulani Muslim communities in the region - dressed as a beggar, walked into the central market. All of a sudden, a blast that shook the entire nation.
And a second blast in a nearby neighborhood, the culprit also a lady in disguise. 22 were left dead, 32 were wounded and a citizenry was scarred. I suspect that the terrorist group, Boko Haram has once again inflicted mass destruction, agony and desolation on innocent people. When it happened in the past in Nigeria, indeed it was horrific, but knowing it has happened in my country, so unassuming and peaceful yet strong, this I find extremely heartbreaking. I cannot understand the motive of such attacks -- what do they hope to gain by wreaking havoc in their own towns and communities? By killing their fellow neighbours and friends?
I am not on the ground, so I do not know the amount of physical devastation nor the emotional shock the people must feel. News travels fast though - despite the lack of or limited coverage in Western media outlets, the diaspora quickly received information about these attacks and denounced them along with Cameroonians at home, issuing prayers of peace and restoration, and prompting questions of what we can do to prevent a recurrence. What can ordinary people do to bring communities together instead of exacerbate divisions? What can I do to celebrate differences? If I am more privileged than someone else, how can I share that privilege? How can I motivate, mentor or inspire so that - despite our cultural diversity - we can all aspire to create one unified Cameroon?
If you have suggestions, do tell.