INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATIONS IN CAMEROON
Today March 8th is the International Women’s Day and I guess almost every aspect now has a day to commemorate. However, Cameroonian women are not left out in the global ambience and they are always so colourfully dressed looking gay and exquisite; unfortunately some of them have a negative perception of this day.
In Cameroon there is an international women’s day cloth or material, which women use to sew different outfits some – pants/trousers, skirts long or short and tops or blouses, dresses, a traditional free wear design known as ‘Kaba’ and a traditional mode to tie a plain loin cloth from waist downwards to the ankle known as ‘wrapper’ or call it a wrap accompanied by a top known as ‘buba’. And it is an issue or a big deal if some men do not purchase this cloth for their wives, girlfriends or concubines. But those women who are employed in public or private services the office usually purchases the materials for their female staff.
Before the day proper, there are various activities ranging from sports competitions, Arts and craft exhibitions, gastronomy exhibitions featuring the rich cultural meals of the different ethnic groups in Cameroon and also portraying the byproducts of some of our food crops and also as a means to demonstrating methods of conservation and preservation and an agricultural show for rural women.
Agric shows and other activities are also organised during World Rural Women’s Day – October 15, The World Food Day – October 16 and African Women’s day - July 31. Since the World Food Day is a Day after World Rural Women’s Day; they have decided to conjoin the celebration of these two days in Cameroon since the same officials are to preside - the Agriculture and Women Empower and Family Services. There are also choral and drama presentations. The day proper comprises of speeches from officials and women representatives, marched pass of various cultural, official and social groups and presentation of prizes to individuals and groups who won in the various competitions.
In Cameroon as I observed most women have misconstrued the whole idea and concept of Women’s day. I have tried to get diverse views and opinions from both men and women about women’s day.
Some women would endeavour to put their houses in order and provide for her family during her absence like preparing the meal for the day; if there is no big child or house help to perform the task. But some women who are perverse are so excited about the day and claim that it is their day so they are the man of the house as such the man is to do all the house chores. They leave their homes in the morning to assembly at the celebration grounds. Each town has their own grounds where such festivities are carried out. After marched pass and the entire celebrations there is what we call in Cameroon ‘Item 11’ – reception; each women’s group assemble in their own arranged spot to eat, drink and dance.
Women who are cautious go back home on time meanwhile some even married women get themselves too drunk by consuming to much alcohol, they misbehave by talking and acting unruly and put up recalcitrant attitudes like dancing indecently. There are always stories of women who do not even spend that March 8 night at home and for some women, they never go back to their marital homes. From such attitudes and misconduct by some women during International Women’s Day celebrations most men now harbour adverse feelings. Some uphold women use the day to spite and disrespect men as a result commemorating the day have no positive impact or prospect. Some men even complain some women are insolent for when women gather in bars or beer parlours they ask the men to leave because today is the day for women.
Despite lots of sensitization some women only know that Women’s Day is a day billed for women to enjoy and feel free. I feel anguish when I see and hear how women exhibit negative tendencies, I then question if they are suppose to act by being contumacious or women are instead to demonstrate a better example. We know off course two wrongs don’t make a right.
I pray and hope more women should be educated and sensitized about the real need and essence of the International Women Day instead of them to abuse the precept, ideals and principles of an International Day for Women.
Personally, I hold no keen interest on any day for women. I belief everyday is my day and only those who are in bondage or rather have allowed themselves to be in bondage seek liberation and for me the need for advocating for women’s rights consist of a matter for everyday. Please, don’t misunderstand my point for I am also in the know that situations cause some women to undergo a lot and these needs to be address. But in my opinion if all the women should know and understand their rights and also stand up and stick to it then I guess we must have attained gender equality. Unfortunately some women are still naïve and stick to the patriarchal African society where men rule, hence they refuse to denounce or go against their man no matter the abuse or violence they face from their men. Perhaps their intention is to evince true love, submissiveness and gender humility.
By Enie N. Cecile