Bertoua Youth Conference

Cameroon | 2-4 August 2013

The inhabitants of Bertoua, a city located between the southern rainforest and the northern savanna in Cameroon, did not expect to see 600 radiant youth gathering in the premises of the Government Technical High School during the summer holidays. They came from the Eastern and Northern regions of the country and met together for three consecutive days to consult on the contribution their generation can make to the building of vibrant communities in various settings.

“The work ahead is very large, but I am aware now that I am an important part of that movement.”

A participant at the conference

The youth brought with them joy, enthusiasm, and in some cases contributions of food to help feed the many who attended. About 60 adults also attended and spent the weekend managing the many logistical aspects of the large conference. This outpouring of assistance permitted the youth to focus on discussing how they could work together with like-minded friends to make a contribution to the improvement of the communities in which they live. “If we want our communities to change, we have to work,” said one of the participants. After reading in the conference materials the fictional story of the village of Jambo, where youth much like themselves are committed to a long-term process of community building, the voice of the participants was heard in unison: “I want my village to be like Jambo!” They proceeded to analyze in groups the reality of their own communities and to make plans to translate the insights gained during the conference into concrete actions. Some of the plans included inviting friends to participate with them in activities aimed at assisting younger youth to identify the positive and negative forces that shape society and to improve their power of expression, while carrying out activities for the betterment of their communities. In a later workshop on the theme of mutual support and assistance, one youth commented how important it is to “form sincere friendships, not just casual ones,” while another observed, “we cannot contribute to the advancement of society alone… we must work with those around us.”

The first and last nights of the conference included cultural and artistic presentations, such as songs, poems, humorous sketches, and dancing. By the conclusion of the conference, the youth felt a renewed determination to help their communities advance and understood that part of the answer lies in making greater efforts to nurture their moral and spiritual lives. One participant’s comment seemed to capture the spirit of the conference as well as the hope for the future: “The work ahead is very large,” he said, “but I am aware now that I am an important part of that movement.”


  • Some of the youth assisted their friends with translation during the group sessions so that they could study the material in their local dialects
  • During the arts sharing, a group of nineteen friends from Yagoua, in the northern part of the country, sang songs in their local dialect and danced in a circle. Such was their enthusiasm that a number of friends from the audience spontaneously joined them on stage
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  • Some of the participants traveled by road for many hours to reach the venue

  • The conference was held in the gymnasium of a public high school

  • The conference was an opportunity for the participants to consult on how to better serve their communities

  • Some participants contributed to the conference by bringing food

  • Participants came from various backgrounds and places

  • Some consultations took place in the form of small workshops, many of which were held


  • Some participants fetching water to bring to the venue

  • Adults contributed a great deal to the conference in different ways, such as providing meals

  • The discussions were imbued with a spirit of joy

  • Participants enjoy a break outside

  • Music and songs were a significant component of the conference

  • A group photo of the conference participants

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