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Engaging Youth Leaders in Innovative Advocacy Strategies | Claude Tomoh'21

In the midst of a devastating crisis that has claimed countless lives and uprooted thousands of people in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, the words of John F. Kennedy resonate with an urgent call to action: "If not us, who? If not now, when?". It is a rallying cry that demands our attention and prompts us to unite for the resolution of this pressing issue.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the two-day National Youth Forum for Peace held at the Yaounde Conference Hall from September 27th - 28th, 2023. This event, organized by the Movement for Democracy, Development, and Transparency (MDDT) in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), MINJEC, and other partner organizations, brought together over five thousand passionate and determined youths from all ten regions of Cameroon. The primary focus of the symposium was twofold: to explore how young people can contribute to the restoration of peace in the troubled Anglophone regions and to seek effective strategies for reducing youth radicalization in these areas.

Throughout the program, we were privileged to hear from an array of keynote speakers and engage in thought-provoking panel discussions. The event commenced with an impactful speech delivered by Christian Achaleke, who emphasized the crucial role that youths must assume as agents of change and ambassadors of peace in Cameroon. His words resonated deeply within us, igniting a renewed sense of purpose and responsibility.

One particularly enlightening panel discussion, moderated by the esteemed Ms. Nancy Saiboh, centred around the theme of "Youths as Policy Makers in Peacebuilding".

Distinguished panelists passionately underscored the importance of seeking alternative solutions to the crisis, leading by example, demonstrating environmental sensitivity, and actively participating in the quest for solutions. Their insights inspired us to step forward as change-makers, equipped with the knowledge that we can be part of the solution.

Another enlightening panel, titled "Engaging Youth Leaders in Innovative Advocacy Strategies," was skillfully moderated by Yagaka Gabriel. The panelists, including Marcus Davies, Ateki Seta, and Eteki Stella, shared invaluable wisdom. They stressed that true change takes time, encouraging us to adopt a people-oriented approach to advocating for peace. They also emphasized the importance of acting with integrity, building relationships, and collaborating in groups. These key takeaways will undoubtedly shape our future endeavors.

As the forum progressed, we were given the opportunity to work collaboratively in groups, focusing on developing recommendations to combat youth radicalization and contribute to the resolution of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. The energy in the room was palpable as we brainstormed innovative ideas and harnessed our collective creativity. The resulting recommendations were both comprehensive and actionable.

Among the proposals was the urgent need for equitable distribution of resources across Cameroon, ensuring that no region is marginalized or deprived. Additionally, we emphasized the imperative of active youth participation in the decision-making processes of our nation. We advocated for a society free from hate speech and discrimination, where dialogue is inclusive and involves all concerned parties. These recommendations encapsulate our unwavering commitment to fostering a peaceful and harmonious nation.

On the second day of the symposium, we had the privilege of presenting our recommendations to the representative of the Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education. It was a moment of great significance, as our voices were heard and our collective determination was acknowledged. The program culminated in mesmerizing artistic performances that served as a testament to the power of unity and creativity in fostering social change.

Reflecting on this extraordinary experience, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude and accomplishment. To have participated in such a dynamic and impactful program, contributing to the vital discourse surrounding the elimination of youth radicalization and the pursuit of peace in Cameroon, is an honor that I will cherish. The symposium served as a powerful reminder that, collectively, we have the capacity to effect change and build a brighter future for our nation. Together, we can shape a Cameroon where peace and harmony prevail, where the voices of the youth are heard and valued, and where the flame of hope burns brightly for generations to come.

- A National Youth Forum For Peace Report by Claude Tomoh | Open Dreams

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