On Friday, January 1, 1960, Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo in the presence of then UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold, proclaimed the independence of French Cameroun under the appellation La Republique du Cameroun at the famous Hippodrome Centre in Yaoundé, which today host some institutions including the Yaoundé Ccity Council, the headquarters of the National Social Insurance Fund, Afriland First Bank among other institutions.
Ahidjo was not just the first President of independent La Republique du Cameroun, but also became President of Cameroon after reunification in 1961.
He was a Northerner and a practicing Muslim and since then Muslims in Cameroon have been at the centre of Nation building.
Ever since a near perfect symbiosis has developed between Muslims and Christians in Cameroon, which has nursed the desire for nation building, while halting any attempt at religious based conflicts.
One of these umbrella structures regrouping Muslims in Cameroon is the Council of Muslim Dignitaries and Imams in Cameroon also known by its French acronym as CIDIMUC. Headed by Dr Oumarou Moussa, CIDIMUC has engaged in works of charity, health and education.
With the rise of Boko Haram, it has led both a spiritual and physical campaign against the group and re-echoing the message of Peace embedded in Islam.
With representations throughout the national territory, it has organised prayer sessions for the nations as well as national and international conferences to counteract the activities of extremist groups.
With the rise of the conflict in the Anglophone Regions, CIDIMUC has also engaged in similar activities preaching the “oneness of Cameroon.”
One sector where Muslims have strived in Cameroon is the economy and these activities have had a multiplier effect on the Cameroonian society in general and economy in particular.
The likes of Alhadji Abbo, business magnate based in the Northern city of Ngoundéré has been very influential, employing thousands of Cameroonians.
In Douala, the Alhadji Fadil family stands tall as one of those Muslim families employing thousands of Cameroonians through their chain of businesses which include the prominent soap manufacturing company CCC.
The giant among them is Alhadji Baba Dampollo Ndawara whom Forbes magazine described as the richest man in Francophone Africa with a business empire not limited to the tea and cattle sector.
Employment opportunities in these companies are opened even to non-Muslims and each year they pay billions of FCFA to the Government in the form of taxes and also support social activities for the benefit of the underprivileged.
With immense help from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Government of Cameroon as well as Muslim dignitaries, Franco-Arabic schools have been built for Muslims in Francophone Regions and Anglo-Arabic schools for Anglophones.
These schools also participate in the training of thousands of Muslim children and take part in related activities of national pride and development.
Moreover, Muslims also send their children even to confessional schools run by Christian missionaries like the Catholic University of Central Africa and the Protestant University of Central Africa.
Muslims have been very prominent in politics occupying all the top jobs in the country, from the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Ministers and many others. Some of the most prominent political parties in Cameroon are led by Muslims including the Alliance for Democracy and Development of Garga Haman Adji, the National Union for Democracy and Progress of Bello Bouba Maigari and the Cameroon Democratic Union of Adamou Ndam Njoya among others.
However, the particularity with all these political formations is that none of them is based on religion or tradition unlike in other countries. These parties in Cameroon all preach nationhood and maintain representations even in non-Muslim areas of the country.
With the Constitution of Cameroon proclaiming a secular State, no religion is prioritised but all permitted to exercise freely their activities without paying taxes as long as they uphold nationhood.
It was a message preached at the Tsinga Islamic Complex in Yaoundé on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, during celebrations marking the Feast of sacrifice by Imam Bouba as he prayed Allah for peace and prosperity in Cameroon.