CAMEROON: Bishops Hope Afcon will Foster Peace in a Divided Nation

By Arnold Neliba

YAOUNDÉ, JANUARY 14, 2022 (CISA)– Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaoundé and Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi of Buea have in their separate encounters expressed hope that the African Cup of Nations football completion (Afcon) in Cameroon will foster unity and healing wounds of a divided nation.

“I hope that during this one month of what promises to be exciting football, Cameroonians can find more reason why they need to get together and begin to rebuild their country,” said the Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaoundé.

The archbishop while speaking on the sidelines of an interreligious service to pray for peace during the Afcon tournament described football as an event that generally unifies people.

“The football gathering is a very great moment of joy for all the people, without any distinction,” he said. “That means that our hearts are united, so I can prophesy that the advent of Afcon will help our country to renew the unity, the fraternity and the solidarity it has always sought and cherished.”

While echoing his sentiments, Bishop Miabesue of the Catholic diocese of Buea in the troubled southwest region of Cameroon said he hoped Cameroonians would be “hospitable and treat the visitors properly.”

“We are also praying that during this period, we should avoid any incidents that may not be proper, that may not reflect who we are and that everything should pass on and pass on very quietly, without any incident,” he said.

Bishop Mbarga is of the view that Cameroon hosting Afcon is symbolic of “the advent of a new Cameroon that believes in peace, unity and fraternity. That is already a first victory. We also pray for the players, the competitors, so that it should be a real feast, where each player will demonstrate their talent and give us the joy of watching the art of football so much loved by Cameroonians.”

The Afcon tournament, which includes teams from 24 African countries kicked off on January 9 and will run until February 6.

Cameroon has been at war with itself for more than five years, as separatists in the country’s English-speaking regions fight for autonomy.