After some delay and miscommunication with the printing and distribution of the YAN Club tshirts –
Youth Day 2014 was a major triumph!!!

In Cameroon, several holidays (including Youth Day) are celebrated with a very serious and organized march from the Presbyterian High School to Enap Junction up around an area called “Clarks Quarters” which is the area before Buea Town (the highest point and end point of Buea). On this particular day, students meet and organize themselves according to school. First are the areas nursery schools followed by all primary, secondary, and professional schools. To march, you must be in uniform. Most students wear their school uniform and march as part of their school but other will sport a ‘club’ shirt and march behind the school with their respective club.

You can expect these marches (which are also known as “March Pass”) to happen on the following holidays: Youth Day, Women’s Day, Reunification Day and whenever the President comes (if ever…remember: Buea has been waiting nearly 2 years for his arrival). There might be other holidays but these are the only ones my friends could think of when I asked.

This ‘marching’ I speak of is similar to parades we have in the US but the major difference is the seriousness of order and unification. Schools are shamed if their students aren’t marching in unison. You might remember me writing about some of my students missing class because they were ‘marching’ – and now I understand why. Marching is something that is practiced throughout the year. Those who march best are put in the front lines which is an honor to yourself, your family and whoever you are marching under (whether it be a school or organization). Schools were literally laughed at along the sides of the streets by those observing if they were not marching well.

On Tuesday (Youth Day) I had attempted to meet all of the students between 9am-10am at the Presbyterian High School so we had time to set up and organize ourselves before the marching began at 10am. I easily forget “African Time” or “Blackman Time” because at 10:30 when the Primary Schools started marching, I only had a handful of kids ready to march. I won't deny it, I was really worried that YAN would be laughed at for only having 2 members marching under each school and I was also at the same time confused because all the students seemed so eager to march. But nevertheless, I had to leave the students to organize themselves so that I could find a good place to take photos.

There were so many people around it was hard to move or even think!! The only other time I have seen a gathering of that many people was at a Cameroon football game in Yaoundé.

I finally found a good spot to post up and take photos. After watching all of the nursery and primary schools pass I knew Lycee was next – they are the first secondary school to march. I saw the YAN banner coming from a distance and was pleasantly surprised by the number of students I saw following! The students came through in the end and I realized my panic and sad feelings were nonsense! I should really know better by now. Shortly after Lycee passed, those from Buea Town went by with a good number of students marching as well!

BGS Molyko

GHS Buea Town

YAN looked fantastic!!! I was so proud of those kids. The police officer even let me step onto the road to take their photo after I nicely asked him, “Excuse me Sir, abeg, a wan comout roadside and snap just one one of ma own pikin dem. Ma pikin di com na na so” as I pointed to the approaching students. I think he was more surprised and impressed with my pidgin than anything else so he couldn’t refuse my request to take photos.

As soon as Buea Town went passed I squeezed my way through the crowd to the ‘stadium’ where I told everyone to meet. By everyone, I mean the 4 or 5 students who were on time. I was hoping they would pass on the word to others by when I walked passed the stadium no one was there so I continued walking up. I found the students from Buea Town collecting their ‘tickets’ which they would bring to school the following day to prove they marched so that they wouldn’t get “punished” aka beat. We quickly snapped some photos so that I could go find Lycee and do the same.

After walking everywhere in the neighborhood looking for Lycee I was finally able to find a few of them who had been walking around looking for me! Since it had already been more than an hour since Lycee finished marching, we were only able to gather about 8 students for photos which is better than none!

I would have to say my favorite part of the march pass, except for my exceptionally bright and awesome YAN students, would have to be the Nursery and Primary schools who had an “Arts and Culture Club”. I am the biggest ‘cultural/traditional’ clothing fan you will ever meet. So when I saw children ranging from 4 years to 10 years dressed in local traditional wear as their uniform I nearly died. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen – like mini little chiefs marching about, Take a look:

I also learned a new pidgin word this day : chakhara = scattered, disorderly, messy, chaotic.
eg: Clarks quarters don chakhara fo Youth Day.


Cheers to a successful

Youth Day 2014!