Story, Louvier Kindo Tombe
After dedicating herself for years to heal traumatised survivors of conflicts in Cameroon and Africa through art, the young Cameroonian art therapist, Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong is being honoured for her steadfastness. The Champion of Tolerance crown is coming at a time when she is even more determined to carry on with her vision.
“As a Champion of Tolerance, I hope to continue to promote tolerance and I hope that the lord will guide me to know what exactly to do,” Franca Ma-ih told reporters who attended the 2023 edition of the Tolerance Show in Yaounde – Cameroon.
The Tolerance Show 2023, which was in its 5th edition was another occasion for Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong, to use art and promote tolerance. She brought together young people from diverse backgrounds and the message was that “tolerance is living together peacefully and harmoniously with people of diverse backgrounds, religions, cultures”.
The audience at the show were encouraged to make use of their arts in promoting tolerance, culture and other societal vices. “We use art as a vehicle to promote tolerance”, Franca Ma-ih said.
The representative of UNESCO at the show, Ndugouh Ndongfack EPO, encouraged the Champion of Tolerance to carry on with her vision and not relent. “We are coming here to to say we don’t have enemies,” she said, adding that “tolerance is a path to peace and reconciliation”.
On his part, the representative of the Minister of Arts and Culture thanked the organizers of the show for using arts to inspire hope among youths, extending words of encouragement and congratulations from the Minister.
This 5th edition of the Tolerance Show was particular not only as it’s promoter, Franca Ma-ih was crowned Champion of Tolerance, but most especially because of the diversity of awards presented to young Cameroonians who have used their arts to promote tolerance at local levels. Five categories were programmed. Art for Tolerance Prize, Fraternity Poetry Prize, Speak up for Tolerance Prize, and prizes in drawing and storytelling.
The winner of the Speak up for Tolerance Prize was Mohneng Guinette, who in her speech made it clear that “tolerance helps in challenging extremist ideology”.
“You can show tolerance by taking ownership of your feelings, acknowledge the fact that no one can make you feel a certain way without your permission, develop curiosity,” reads part of the speech that earned her the prize.
In many cases people lack tolerance towards others simply because they do not understand one another. “we need to ameliorate our thinking style and above all practice respect”, Mohneng Guinette told News Upfront.
Christians, Muslims, the young and elderly people, traditional authorities, among others attended the 2023 Tolerance Show at the conviviality hall of the National Museum in Yaounde. The event was spiced with artistic displays. It was organized by the organizations; Afrogiveness, and Positive Youth Project (PYP), in collaboration with UNESCO Cameroon.
At the end, the take home message was clear. “We now want to focus on a wider range of youth, not only those affected by conflicts,” Franca Ma-ih said.
“Tolerance is not just about survivors of conflicts, tolerance is about the rich, the poor, everybody.”