Our story of visiting the Muslim quarter, called the Briqueterie in Yaoundé, actually began shortly after we arrived in December. In our first days of being here at Mont Fébé, we met a server named Amadou who was a delight to see first thing in the morning with our tray of breakfast. He took very good care of us and quickly realized that there was indeed something special about us...we weren't your average hotel guest.
As you can imagine, Antoine speaks to EVERYONE, no matter their station in life. This has allowed us to get to know a number of the hotel staff and of course, that works in both directions. We discovered that Amadou is a Muslim.
One day, Amadou asked Antoine for one of his cards and of course, Antoine obliged. The next day, Amadou came with the card of the Imam of the Grand Mosquée in Yaoundé, and told us that he would like a call from us to schedule a time to be received by him. You may not be aware of it, but the Imam is the spiritual leader of the community, in the Muslim religion. This was a great honor and we called and went to see him at the Grand Mosquée in the area known as the Briqueterie.
His translator also accompanied us as he showed us the building improvements that are being done on the Mosquée and showed us around the grounds. Afterwards, he invited us into his home and as we brought our water purification equipment with us, we did a demonstration with water from the well near his house. We gave him four 1.5 liter bottles of pure water.
We also took him a donation in honor and respect for his position. I have to say that we had an absolutely fabulous exchange of ideas; political, economic, social and otherwise, for approximately two and one half hours. He finished by blessing us with oil, and praying for us and over us. He, before us and his God, blessed us to continue and be successful in achieving our goal and mission. He even offered to take our cause to his elders in
So, for me, campaigning in the Muslim part of Yaoundé brought back warm feelings even with our difference in religion. You can imagine my surprise by the reaction of the 'temporary Imam' in charge until the Imam we met, returns from
One faction decided that they should unilaterally get rid of all white men, and run the country themselves. The other faction decided that this was suicide as there were not enough people within the population who could take on all these duties all at once. The man, who promoted the former in 1951, was also an opposition leader, and the interpretation of the ‘temporary Imam’ we met Tuesday, was that as Antoine is an opposition leader now coming with a 'white woman' to become Head of State, he could not endorse us. The former internal struggle in
It has taken me almost 24 hours to really understand what was stated, and the actions we witnessed with this Imam. And I am grateful to have been able to understand more of the psyche of at least one old Muslim in this country. This is the only incidence I have thus far experienced of intolerance in a new generation.
As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words" I will let the accompanying photos speak volumes for themselves. I am so very happy that I was able to really capture the general mood and enthusiasm of the rest of the people in the streets of the Briqueterie. The people here do not care if they go against the conventional thought...all those who are part of the current government with their monthly paychecks. The people in the Briqueterie are living the effect of the policies handed down to them from a top heavy leadership who no longer has the interests of the people at heart.
There is a fire brewing just under the surface; we could feel it and see it in the eyes and faces of all those we met. Our message is clear: we have solutions which will help each man in the street, be able to feed himself and make for himself and his family a better life. This is not a matter of changing the constitution or not. This is not a matter of being violently against the current Head of State to promote our own agenda.
This is a matter of what well founded truth will begin to help change the lives of each citizen of
These people were receptive and given the political will, will be instrumental in helping us to achieve our mission, our destiny. Who would have thought that this Muslim community would become so important to the life of one American woman who is committed to becoming the next First Lady of Cameroun!
Amen! By God’s Grace.
Anita Lynne NDEMMANU
Anita Lynne NDEMMANU