FOOTBALL, COMMUNITY BUILDING, AND PEACE IN CAMEROON
It is important to acknowledge that any activity can be used to unite people or to divide them. Football in Cameroon is no exception. The intensity of the sport often leads to heightened emotional states that can as easily trigger joy or outrage. There are some people, for example, who look down on the Cameroonian players who have decided to play for another country and voice this in a hateful way that challenges everyone’s identity. There are also moments in football where, when the team loses, fans turn to hate speech by criticizing individual players based on tribal lines. But football is also a sport that allows people to build community, bring different groups together, and if the football clubs support it helps build peace and acceptance of others. Especially in towns and villages, the power of sport to unite the youth in a playful and friendly way holds great promise.
Cameroon is a country crazy about football. It is not just the most famous sport, but is also something that is tied to Cameroonian identity and gives people a feeling of pride. It is not by accident that most meet-ups amongst Cameroonians in the diaspora are anchored around this beautiful game. At #defyhatenow, we believe in the ability of using all tools at our disposal to counter hate speech and support peacebuilding. These tools range from our #defyhatenow Field Guides, that have been translated into French, English, and Pidgin English, to games, #tech4peace, #art4peace and many other initiatives. Supporting the role football can play in promoting a culture of unity, tolerance, reconciliation, and dialogue should not be underestimated.
The #237footBERLIN calendar 2023
Featuring Cameroonian diaspora football clubs based in Berlin in an effort to identify and support the voices in these clubs that can help support peacebuilding efforts in Cameroon.