Your excellency, Mr. — Minister of Arts and Culture
Ladies and Gentleman , All Protocol Observed
Bimbia, a small rural agricultural and fishing community in the Southwest of the country, was not known to Americans until the latter part of 2010, just short of 5 years ago. Its historical significance as a site at the center of the Transatlantic slave trade was not well known by Cameroonians either.
But as Americans are a people who pride themselves in their roots, which makes the United States the beautiful mosaic and mélange that it is, manyAmericans genetically-traced their DNA to Cameroon – pinpointing the port where their very ancestors boarded a ship. That port was Bimbia.
Through pain, tragedy, and loss suffered in the past, Cameroonian lineages from multiple and diverse parts of this country have given the United States some of the best and brightest of its citizens today. They include Musical Genius Quincy Jones, Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Astronaut Ronald McNair, Filmmaker Spike Lee, Songstress Erykah Badu, Award Winning Actress Angela Bassett, UNESCO Artist for Peace Bassist Marcus Miller and so many more.
These are quintessential Americans who help to showcase the best of talent, skill, hard work, and brilliance in the United States. Their survival and success today is a testimony to the spirit of both African resilience and American opportunity.
Today, we celebrate that connection through the United States Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and take pride of our common ancestry, common struggles and most importantly the common victories that lay ahead in preserving Cameroon’s rich cultural heritage.
I was in Bafut last week to inaugurate an AFCP project to restore the Achum and I’ll end with what I told His Majesty, The Fon: I have enjoyed being a part, along with you, in the strengthening of the partnership between Cameroon and the United States. These ties strengthen our political, economic, cultural and security cooperation. A threat to security anywhere is a threat to security everywhere. That is why the United States is proud to support Cameroon’s brave and courageous efforts to defeat Boko Haram.
But Boko Haram is not just a threat to security. It is not only a tragic devastation of our economy. Boko Haram is an attack on our very humanity.
Boko Haram, the self-styled Islamic State of West Africa, has allied itself with barbarians who actively destroy cultural treasures. Cameroon’s incredible rich and valuable cultural heritage is worth fighting for, to cherish and preserve for future generations.
As we advance together to defeat Boko Haram, it is important that we take the time to preserve and celebrate the noble values of Cameroonian heritage and traditions.
Vive la culture camerounaise! Vive Bimbia!”