Written by Zuzeeko Abeng, LL.M.

Saturday, January 18, 2010, I published an article on my blog, entitled, “Africa's Leaders of Tomorrow on Voluntary Exile". It was written after a bus ride in Helsinki – the capital
of Finland.
As the bus drove through the well developed city, I could not help but imagine
how much work and commitment the good people of Finland had put in – and continue to put in – to develop their
country. I wondered what would have become of Finland, if a majority of Finns had a desire to live and work abroad. As I gazed through the streets, I noticed many Africans – Africa’s leaders of tomorrow – running off to their odd jobs, while their continent – Africa – lags behind miserably in every imaginable aspect of development.

Mindful of the fact that today, Cameroonians worldwide celebrate 50 years of Independence, I decided to re-write this article, in a bid to highlight the need for Africa's leaders of tomorrow to step up to the plate.

You would
agree that the future of a democratic, entrepreneurial and innovative Africa, lies in the hands of future quality leaders. Africa is in desperate need of leaders
who can make a real difference to the economy and the society. But there is a problem – who will make a real difference – with all Africa's
leaders of tomorrow on voluntary exile?

During the many years spent at school (I have academic degrees to prove it), teachers often reminded us
May20th that we are the leaders of tomorrow. Remember? We provided our teachers with hope for the
future. They did their utmost best to help develop and enhance Africa's leaders of tomorrow, with the hope that the
leaders they create would move the continent forward. Personally, I was very excited about the possibilities. Weren't you? While growing up, did you have the vision to move your country and
continent forward? What happened to the dream? Were your teachers wrong to consider you a leader of tomorrow?

Nowadays, the quest for "greener pastures" has stunted Africa's
growth and the prospects of a better tomorrow. Most of Africa's
leaders of tomorrow are on self-imposed exile from the continent. In other
words, many innovative and enthusiastic Africans live away from their native
countries – working to further develop developed countries. Does this help or hurt our beloved Africa?

Recently, I was looking at one of my High School group photographs: out of the 12
boys in the photograph, 9 – including me – are on “voluntary exile” from Cameroon. I am in contact with most of them and it might or might not surprise you
that NONE – is looking forward to returning home to lead in business, politics or civic life. Whenever we talk about returning
home to make a difference, discussions focus on entertainment – partying and
spending money lavishly to impress the people back home.
Is this what Africa needs? Have we misplaced
our priorities? Many argue that they will NEVER return home unless "things
. Who is going to effect the change we expect to see in the continent? 

It is true that circumstances force people to travel abroad, but it is also true that a
continent – Africa – needs leaders with the
ability to anticipate, envision and work with others to initiate positive changes in the continent. Unfortunately, Africans with these
leadership capabilities are on voluntary exile.

Make no
mistake – it is important to travel, educate and empower yourself. But keep in mind that your country needs you! You don't have to be a
politician or run for President in order to contribute to the betterment of
your country. Do you?

It is worth reiterating that today, 20 May 2010, is the National Day of my
country – Cameroon; today, Cameroonians worldwide
celebrate 50 years of Sovereignty. To honor this occasion, permit me to share the National anthem of my Fatherland…

I hope this article strikes a chord, as well as inspire my fellow Cameroonians and Africans – to make a move in the right direction and commit to improving the
continent, for present and future generations. We have the power to change the
destiny of the richest continent in the world – which is home to the world's poorest people.

A great American once said, "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country".

*Photo of African safari lanscape, by Adorenomis

Zuzeeko Abeng


Also By Zuzeeko on Face2Face: The Portrait of a Leader


  1. This could not have come at a better time! Great thoughts! As we celebrate 50 years of independence, the year of jubilee. These lines are music to my ear, as I firmly believe that we can and should take what we learn from our experience, in these developed countries we live in, and go back and make our nation a place we want to live in.
    Oh how I hope your article stirs that desire with the readers and ignite a flame that’s not going to die.

  2. Beautiful Article Lema…”Africa is in desperate need of leaders who can make a real difference to the economy and the society. But there is a problem – who will make a real difference – with all Africa’s leaders of tomorrow on voluntary exile?” You hit the nail on the head there! We all want change, but how can we effect the change in absentia when most of the future leaders are in the diaspora with no prospects of returning home..? “You don’t have to be a politician or run for President in order to contribute to the betterment of your country”…No you don’t! A message we all need to ponder on!..Very inspiring and thanks for sharing!

  3. Great article full of truth about the future of African leaders, but would have loved if your article addressed and provide answers to the questions you posed because these people left their nation for a reason, and are not willing to go back for many reasons. If you find out those answer your article’s title will change to “why are African leaders pushing its future leaders away”. It is a very sad situation but non to be ashamed of, we left because our country refused to give us the support to be want we can.

  4. This is a great article and I commend people like you who bring such thoughts to life with your writings. However, you mentioned your high school friends who do not plan to return to Africa any time soon, but did not tell us their reasons for their decision. Most of my friends, though, plan to return to Africa (Cameroon) some day. The only problem is that African (Cameroon) leaders are usually in their way. I had thought of writing an article on how to save Africa (Cameroon), but reading from you, I believe you are capable and probably willing to do that. So, if you could, please write an article to the African leaders(especially Cameroon). Ask them why they do not care for the development of their nations and why do they not want to take advantage of their citizens and their talents abroad. How can they incorporate these learned individuals and not see them as a threat? Specifically, ask our Cameroon leadership why they are letting Cameroon deteriorate under their watchful eyes, when they could invite their citizens abroad to help. When it comes to soccer, they know how to call the talents abroad. When it comes to nation building, they chicken out and get scared to seek for help. If you write the article, we will to circulate. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important issue – future leaders in self-exile.
    At the end of your post, you said:
    “… today, 20 May 2010, is the National Day of my country – Cameroon; today, Cameroonians worldwide – celebrate 50 years of Sovereignty.”
    I am sorry but
    “Fiftieth anniversary of independence on May 20th”?
    Of what year?
    Independence from who?
    Does any colonial power remember granting independence to any of the Cameroons on a May 20th?
    In the Information Age, how can untrue statements like this be made and no one raises a finger?
    Maybe no one cares. Does anyone?
    If you ask me
    I will say celebrating a May 20th 50th anniversary
    is a lie that stinks to the high heavens.
    Untruth that is made to look like …
    And the younger generation might swallow this
    hook, line and sinker … and would not hesitate
    to start their own lies.
    Who’d you blame?
    Celebrate, but be kind and truthful.
    If it is the May 20th that I know of,
    it’s not been 50 years yet. And if that
    is the May 20th we are talking about,
    what happened on that day again?
    Do you remember?

  6. I have personally learned from your comments and I am happy we all feel the same urge to do something for our beloved fatherland. I will be following up in a couple of days with another article addressing your wonderful comments.
    Dear Mr ‘Wanaku’ … u come off as being kinda ‘angry’. What are u angry about? If u find some statements in the article to be ‘untruthful’ why not provide the right statistics or information? As a people, we must learn to be polite and not so aggressive and polarizing wherever we go. Meanwhile, we welcome your contributions – if u wld like to make corrections, we will gladly publish them. We are not pushing any ‘agendas’ here … this is one medium where positivity reigns. Thank you and we hope u check back daily for quality material.

  7. @ Wanaku
    I am sure you know Cameroon’s history goes like this
    January 1, 1960: French Cameroon obtained its independence and was called “La République du Cameroun”.
    October 1 1961: The southern part of the territory under British rule, called West Cameroon, and “La République du Cameroun” were reunified and given the name: The Federal Republic of Cameroon.
    May 20, 1972: A referendum gave birth to the United Republic of Cameroon.
    May 20th was hence chosen to celebrate National day
    @ Lema
    Can’t wait to read an article to address the very important and interesting issues raised by this article, it is a must!

  8. @Lema
    Apologies if my post “sounded angry”. Not the intention. Words can look ‘angry’ but may also sound very different.
    In trying to make the point about a minimum
    of precision in recounting the history of a people,
    I am a bit surprised at the gullibility of a good
    cross-section of our people who would receive information like the following without even blinking:
    “On May 20, 2010, let’s celebrate 50 years of Independence of Cameroun”.
    How one intellectually reconciles the facts of history to come to this conclusion (and to agree with it body/soul), is what seems a little odd to me.
    I am not angry. Your post was most welcome. I am just full of questions with no intelligible (at least in my judgment) answers forthcoming.
    Any answers will be most welcome. The biggest fear is establishing a precedence of lies or untruths. 50 years from now who knows how cooked these little lies/changes to history would have become?

  9. @Wanaku, I respect your thoughts and the fact that you are pointing out what you consider to be wrong statements. “”On May 20, 2010, let’s celebrate 50 years of Independence of Cameroun”. Really?”
    @Marie C pointed out why she thought the statement to be correct by outlining the history she and us have been taught that led up to the statement on the blog u now point out to be wrong.
    Let’s turn the tables over to you. To grow, we must learn from each other. Instead of just being ‘concerned’ and ‘criticizing’ (I mean this in a good way), why not explain to us why we are wrong? No one on this forum means any harm and we certainly do not want to pass on the wrong information to future generations.
    So please, outline the corrections.
    Thanks very much, looking forward to hearing from you.

  10. Thanks for your prompt reply.
    Without going into gory details that you are aware of, I will just point out a blatant error.
    Marie C wrote:
    “January 1, 1960: French Cameroon obtained its independence and was called “La République du Cameroun”.
    From 1960 to 2010, does that not make it 50 years?
    Does this not mean that the so-called “Independence Day” should be celebrated on “January 1”?
    Now to the May 20 date … this does not come up until 1972. From that date to 2010, it is only 38 years.
    I thought these were obvious questions requiring some explanation, but I seem to be wrong here.
    My question is: by what kind of intellectual decision-making process (parliament or other) was it concluded that “Hey let’s celebrate the 50th anniversary of “our” independence on May 20th?”
    Thanks for your time.
    Great blog.

  11. Thanks Wanaku … I just googled ur name and I think I understand where u are coming from.
    Let’s just apologize to you and others who stand for what u stand for ‘for joining Cameroon in celebrating 50 years of independence’.
    The main point of the post was to have us thinking about how we can give back to our fatherlands … all Africans, not just Cameroonians.
    I believe that’s just as important (if not more important) as the ‘political’ rhetoric that has plagued us for decades with nothing to show for.
    I will do all I can to find a historian who can explain why Cameroon celebrated 50 years.
    Meanwhile, I truly appreciate ur input and will be following ur blog as well.

  12. This is Zuzeeko – I wrote the article in question. Thank you Lema – for reminding us that this blog is one medium where positivity reigns.
    For some reason, I’ve been watching the drama unfold from the sidelines and at this point, I thought it wise to weigh in. A big THANK YOU to all those who have contributed, including Wanaku – who has taken the article out of context, to suit his political ambitions.
    As Marie pointed out, the facts are clear: January 1, 1960: French Cameroon gained independence and was called ‘La République du Cameroun’.
    October 1 1961: British Cameroon and ‘La République du Cameroun’ were reunified, giving birth to the Federal Republic of Cameroon.
    On May 20, 1972, a referendum gave birth to the United Republic of Cameroon.
    From the above, any “reasonable man” would understand why May 20 is the National Day of our country – the Republic of Cameroon. This is the case because on May 20, the Cameroons, divided by colonialists, REUNITED and became one nation – as it was before the scramble and partition of Africa.
    The MAJORITY of Cameroonians gained independence in 1960 – hence the year of independence. Fortunately or unfortunately, October 1 1961 was not choosen because we joined the majority of fellow Cameroonians in independence. Call it the numbers game.
    Celebrating 50 years of independence on May 20, 2010 is therefore NOT a “lie that stinks to the high heavens”. Rather, questioning the facts to push a political agenda is a “lie that stinks to the high heavens”.
    I submit – without any fear of contradiction – that my article is apolitical and does not contain any untrue statement or distorted facts.

  13. @ Zuzeeko
    Apologies for changing the context of your post.
    I just want to repeat that from any reasonable
    person’s point of view, the idea of a “50th Anniversary of Independence” on a date that is not the official date of that independence is convoluted. And requires some further explaining.
    There is no so-called “political ambition” to be fulfilled by this assertion. I’m sorry, none whatsoever. It’s my pov (point of view), that’s all. I hope I can still have one (pov, that is), without necessarily becoming a so-called “politician”.
    Thanks for the post. It seems to be a good kick-start for some intellectual (not political) work on the subject.
    Kind regards

  14. @Wanaku True and thanks for sharing your pov. I respect you for that and I do believe you have a valid point. Like u said, we need to start discussing these things. My husband who has been following this discussion happens to agree with u. Hope u keep the comments coming.
    @Zuzeeko, that was a great post … I think it has taken more hits than most other articles on face2face. To me that indicates that it’s a message we all needed to hear. U are the best!

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