GCI completed last friday one month presence in Mbalangi since the re-establishment of the cooperation with this community. In this context, a monthly report has been drafted which illustrates the current situation within the community and the assumptions that GCI has made. It is far too early of course to say that this evaluation does capture entirely the problems that this community faces, the causes of these problems and most imoportantly the way that GCI can assist. However, after one month presence some things have started to become clear, while it became obvious that this community needs GCI and GCI needs to continue its efforts towards the community in an even more systtematic way.
o Between Youth, Women and Elders: The elder people and the women tend to find the work of the Council quite good and effective. The Youth on the other hand raised some points of dissatisfaction. The different views here were at some point completely contradicted to each other as one highly educated youngster in particular stated that he prefers to get a case to the central court than to the council. The same person complained for bias exercised by the council related to elections and for prevention of speaking about human rights violations as ‘mob justice’ within the community.
o Within the Youth and other social groups there are conflicting views related to the issue of ‘unity’. Most of the youth said that there is no ‘unity’ which in turn can explain the big number of cases that the council has to deal with every week. Some, however, do not emphasize on that.
· Points of Agreement:
o The recent election of the new chief has helped in terms of reducing criminality and strengthening unity.
o There is the need of secondary government school, health centre, examination centre, and better management of the market. It was not quite clear if people trust that the council will put most of those issues forward.
o There is a common mentality among young and older people regarding violence and corruption. All of them accept them up to a point as a necessary evil which exists to every society. In terms of corruption they believe that is impossible this to be completely eliminated. This can be taken as both negative and positive. Negative in the sense that they do not actually believe that those issues can change for the better. Positive in the sense that they demonstrate a sophisticated level of realism which people of cities lack. The ‘corruption’ in Cameroon is of course a big problem and there is much space for improvement. At the same time, however, understanding that those kind of phenomena will always exist in a way allows you to built your community and your life in more realistic terms. In terms of ‘violence’ there was a surprising consensus in the acceptance of harsh punishments in a violent form. They did not embrace ‘mob justice’, but they accept violent punishments executed by the council as necessary for their protection. This illustrates how traditional those societies remain as they focus on discipline, namely harsh punishment, rather than security, namely prevention.
o The youth agreed on that they wish to remain to the community. This again illustrates a realist perspective of things which again you do not meet in many cases in cities. Those people do not idealize neither big Cameroonian cities nor migration to the West. Despite their problems they wish to remain to their community and fight for the changes that wish to achieve.
o Young people are not satisfied about their access to the decision making process, while they do feel that the elders want to impose them several traditions. They remain grounded by having realistic views on many issues, but at the same time they wish to bring progress to the community.
o Each week council receives many cases related to debt. This can justify the lack of unity argument and illustrate the lack of welfare policies within the community. People seem to live in a vicious circle of debt which starts due to the inability of one person to pay the other which has to do with both the lack of unity and welfare policies.
o The effectiveness of the council cannot yet be properly measured. The positive facts are the presence of women and the good knowledge of the law. The negative are related to the above mentioned dissatisfactions and the overall focus on discipline and punishment rather than prevention and causality.
o ‘Human rights’ is a very broad western term that it appears that does not help the work of the organization at the local level. Good governance, aid, assistance, education, unity, peace are all much more identifiable terms which should be used in all the approaches that GCI attempts at the communal level.