Carrying the Cameroon Flag: Patriotism or Self-Preservation?

Growing up in Cameroon, the one thing I knew for sure about the Cameroon Flag, is if one were passing by a police or military base while it was being hoisted and failed to stop and show respect, they will be in trouble.

I never understood the rationale behind being forced to show respect to the flag-actually, I still do not understand. Some will argue that it is a sign of patriotism, but I will content that patriotism should be something that comes from a deep sense of love for one’s country. On the other hand, I know for sure that the one reason I did stop for the flag, was always the fear of what would be done to me if I didn’t.

Looking, therefore, at the images of these Cameroonians holding the flag, with armed personnel standing nearby, I had to wonder what could be the motivation behind the “patriotic” act.

Could it be that these people, who clearly are living in a rundown, poverty-stricken neighbourhood, have suddenly discovered an upsurge of love for a country that takes away everything from them and gives back nothing in return? Or Could it be that they know that it is either they feign respect for the flag or run the risk of being killed and their villages burnt down by the military?

Anyone familiar with the Cameroon military’s recent record of killing unarmed women and children or killing young men and burning down their villages will surely decipher what the real situation is.

It does not require a rocket scientist to decode that these people are carrying that flag just to avoid being riddled with bullets and having their village burnt. It is a survival mechanism that some of us learned when we were youngsters, but which seems to be gaining relevance in a more ominous situation. Either respect the Cameroon Flag or face dire consequences.

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