FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1: Why Create a Commission on Bilingualism and Multiculturalism?
The Creation of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism (NCPBM) comes as a logical follow up of the commitment made by the Head of State following his end-of-year address to the nation on the 31st of December 2016.
As a guarantor of the constitution, President Biya by creating this Commission sets out to reinforce this aspect of the Cameroonian people which he describes as rich and should be preserved.
In the same vein, Cameroon is a country with a multiplicity of cultures characterized by over 250 languages which give her a specific identity in the African continent. Unfortunately, instead of serving as a serious source for the development of the country, Bilingualism for instance has remained limping.
2: Does the Commission annul the Adhoc Commissions on the English sub system of education?
The answer is monosyllabic "NO". The NCPBM will operate as a separate entity.
It is placed under the authority of the President of the Republic and has as duty to promote official Bilingualism and the various cultures of the country in order to reinforce national unity and national integration.
The Adhoc Commission to examine the problems raised by the Teacher's Trade Unions of the English sub system will continue to fulfill its mission.
3: what the Commission is not.
The NCPBM is NOT responsible for regulating political problems in the likes of the famous Tripartite Conference of August 1991. It is not a Court and it is not a place where cultural groups will come to settle inter-tribal wars.
In the same vein, it will not be a structure to promote cultural cleavages. The NCPBM does not replace existing cultural Institutions, neither is it out to counteractor duplicate the attributions of the Ministry of Arts and Culture.
4: what are its set objectives?
Cameroon's Bilingualism as well as its diverse cultures are under threat from political manoeuvres and are demanding protection with increasing insistence. The Commission is charged with ensuring that this cankerworm does not go deep into the veins of Cameroonians.
It has set as objective to make sure English and French remain official languages of equal status and as such should be used interchangeably in public places without any stigmatization. The Commission is expected to whip up the interest of the people in speaking the two languages and to make sure official documents are written in both English and French.
5: what is awaited from Cameroonians
Bilingualism is a constitutional affair and consequently the responsibility of every Cameroonian. It is not only the affair of government officials or people holding government posts of responsibility. Bilingualism is not an issue for Anglophones neither is it only for Francophone Cameroonians.
In the same manner, the cultural identity of a people should not be looked at only from a negative side. People must not link certain behavioural patterns such as wickedness, prostitution, gluttony, dirt, primitiveness etc. to certain cultural groups.
The creation of the NCPBM is a serious challenge for all Cameroonians to enhance their love for Bilingualism and promotion of national cultures.
6: what will change?
The NCPBM will not only strengthen official Bilingualism (official languages of English and French) but will as well uphold the rich and diverse cultures of the country. With this, a sense of feeling of superiority or inferiority that greatly frustrated the essence of Living Together will be a thing of the past and Cameroonians from all backgrounds will be expected to feel important, and have a sense of belonging and hopefully jointly contribute to the social, political, cultural and economic development of the country.
With the Commission, the hitherto practice of important information in both public and private places and road signs solely in one language (depending on where one is), people pushing others from public service because they are of one language or the other could change for the good of all.
7: what distinguishes Bilingualism from Multiculturalism?
Cameroon's Bilingualism comes from the historical backgrounds of the two people (English and French) that today form the country's uniqueness and oneness. Meanwhile, the two peoples have diverse cultures and traditions which constitute irresistible wealth worth upholding and preserving.
The newly-created Commission will therefore work to deepen the respect not only of the bilingual nature of the country but also to promote the different cultures and traditions of the people. Developing each others' cultures will also give importance to all and sundry in the country as well as help in the deep understanding of the country both by nationals and expatriates.
8: who can complain to the Commission?
Being a veritable watchdog for the promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism in the country, the creation of the Commission gives Cameroonians from all walks of life and socio-cultural backgrounds an avenue where they can complain cases of marginalization.
Going by the Presidential decree creating the Commission, members will be charged with receiving complaints of well-founded discrimination on the constitutional provisions related to the respect of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.
The decree, likewise the country's Constitution, reiterates the equal nature of the two official languages that give Cameroon a unique identity.
9: does the Commission annul existing bilingual structures?
No. The Commission will complement the work of other existing structures created to champion Bilingualism and Multiculturalism in the country. As such, it works to ensure that what the Constitution stipulates for Bilingualism and Multiculturalism is respected to the letter.
Structures like the Pilot Linguistic Centers will continue to train citizens in both official languages for better communication and understanding of one another for unity to be felt in all its depth.
10: what could be the role of the private sector?
Promoting Bilingualism and Multiculturalism in Cameroon cannot solely be an affair of the government. While government will be expected to step up the practice in its daily function (through some texts and personnel that can live up to the expectation of Bilingualism without prejudice), the private sector will also be needed to do as such.
Excuse will no longer be given that the private structure is purely from a French or English speaking country. Since the Constitution of Cameroon as well as other laws of the land make provision for the respect of the country's bilingual, multicultural and bijural nature, all and sundry will be bound to respect such whether in the public or private sectors.