Two days of National Mourning decreed by the Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, in respect of people who perished in a capsized Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) vessel off the coast of Debunscha on July 16, 2017, have come and gone but the concern shown the deceased as well as the affected families by all and sundry lives on. The nation wholly joined the families of the 34 personnel (military and civilians) who perished in the shipwreck, to honour the fallen heroes, each in his/her sphere of influence.
Within the two officially decreed days of National Mourning during which the flag flew at half mast, there was no talk of race or language. Cameroon as a nation was terribly hit and no citizen within and without the country was indifferent to the pain of the huge loss.
While many wore mourning attires and gloomy faces in compassion with the dead and bereaved families, others observed minutes of silence and prayed for the peaceful repose of their souls, fortitude to the affected families and courage to the national defence corps that continues the search for those still missing. Even distant observers of images of the official funeral programme in Douala Friday during which posthumous decorations were given to 11 of the 34 could not hold back their tears. Grief for the dead and affected families was shared.
The outpour of emotions from north to south and east to west portrayed a nation wholly touched and resolutely behind its defence forces. In fact, a people who defied all that separated or could separate them to stand by the symbol of unity wherein solidarity is a driving force. A sincere show of indefatigable symbiosis existing between the nation and its forces! The national cohesion demonstrated the valiant soldiers is thus thought-provoking.
It couldn’t have been otherwise looking at the sacrifices the defence forces are putting in to safeguard Cameroon’s territorial integrity and security of the citizens amidst threats from almost across the board. The fallen heroes did not die on a pleasure trip or in individual struggles for personal gains. “Le Mundemba” as the killer ship was known, was on a supply mission to Bakassi when the sea abruptly agitated and sank the vessel with 34 of its 37 occupants. Risky ventures like these have been common in the country by the defence forces.
From the northern regions with Boko Haram insurgency, insecurity in the East, North West and South West owing to the surge in refugees from troubled neighbouring countries, to maintaining peace and security in other regions, the country’s defence forces have been unwavering. Their sacrifices, sometimes supreme, have been remarkable.
The compassion of the entire nation from July 28-29, 2017 during the Days of National Mourning to the departed citizens was therefore recognition of the undying efforts of the defence forces in maintaining Cameroon’s integrity in the face of adversity. As the struggle rages on against sometimes unknown enemies, the feeling of oneness demonstrated by the population is hearth-soothing and highly galvanising. No matter the weight and height of the enemy, togetherness is absolutely needed for success. A house that is divided, they say, cannot stand any adversity. The untiring symbiosis existing between the nation and its army is therefore a deadly defence weapon against an enemy. It must not be tampered with by whoever or whatsoever. The shared values and strengths existing between the nation and its army demonstrated severally and in diverse ways are reassuring of a more secured Cameroon, united in its diversity. Veritable ingredients for a sustainable and inclusive growth that the country needs to attain already defined development objectives.