The need for Cultural Diversity dialogue in Cameroon, Africa

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

In Cameroon, there are more than 240 cultural groups (tribes), each with its own national language.

Sr. Vera reflects on how we can better understand cultural diversity in Africa and how each individual culture can be beneficial to the country as a whole.

The World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a sanctioned UN International holiday for the promotion of diversity issues. It was created as a result of the destruction of the Buddha Statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001. It was proclaimed by UN Resolution 57/249, as part of UNESCO’s universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001.

Cultural diversity is defined as the existence of a variety of cultural groups within a single society. Cultural diversity has increased due to the movement of people from one place to another and subsequent inter-marriages that now expose children to a variety of new experiences.

The main goals of creating the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development are:

  • to help communities understand the value of cultural diversity by getting to know individuals on a personal level
  • to learn to live together in harmony
  • to address the need to bridge the gaps between cultures
  • to increase awareness of the urgency and necessity for peace, stability and development
  • to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms

The need for Cultural Diversity Dialogue in Cameroon

In Cameroon, there are more than 240 cultural groups (tribes), each with its own national language. Understanding that every culture is as important as the next can be very beneficial to the country as a whole. These cultural groups have very rich traditions, which when accepted and harnessed, can benefit everyone.

For example, people from the English speaking regions of Cameroon are considered to be more gentle and respectful, as compared to their brothers and sisters of French speaking origin. Some tribes from regions in the Northwest give great respect to their traditional leaders and consider them to have the final say in every discussion.

Unfortunately, some of these tribes are considered minorities or less privileged. This creates challenges when dealing with people from varied cultures, such as:

  • prejudice in employment and treatment of employees
  • the loss of useful skills from less privileged individuals
  • conflicting work styles due to conflicting understandings

If cultures cannot be harnessed within just one country, then how can we talk about all of Africa understanding cultural diversity and living in harmony? God made us in his own image and likeness (Gen 1:27), whether black, brown, white or yellow. It is so important to break through the cultural barriers and to learn to respect each other, if not for any other reason but the simple truth that we all have one Father in Heaven.

ASEC works hard to break through this barrier of cultural differences. During ASEC’s SLDI workshops, we had the opportunity to live and study with Sisters from over thirty different cultural backgrounds. This enriched each one of us significantly and helped to open our minds as we learned to work together.  SLDI alumnae are privileged to have this experience. As we look forward to celebrating this day of Cultural Diversity, let us encourage everyone that “where two or three different cultures are gathered together, there I am in the midst of them.”

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Reduce inequality within and among countries
Sr. Vera Ndifoin, SST

Sr. Vera Ndifoin, SST
SLDI Finance Track - Cameroon  

Sr. Loretta Mulry, IHM

Sr. Loretta Mulry, IHM
Volunteer Editor - USA  

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