Developing a Bullet Proof Mind Through Cameroon Crisis

What do you do when your hometown has become a place of constant chaos? Sometimes the first thought is to run away. But running to where? We can’t control everything that happens externally but the one thing we can control is our mind. How we react to situations depends on the quality of our mind.

I come from a place that was once a reference of peace but has become a hub for every day violence. Though the option of running away may sound considerable, there are many questions running through my mind in the growing heat of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. What about the stakes you have in the place where you spent your entire life? Where do you start from if you leave? Can you really run away from your mind?

Fear, doubt and panic
This crisis started as a peaceful protest against the government for marginalization (of the English speaking minority as oppose to the affluence of the French speaking majority) and a request to return back to Federalism. As it is with every protest that is not tactically handled, this too aggravated from peaceful to violent and a quest for secession. When this tussle persist, the regular man of which I’m a part of is the one that ends ups confused in the midst of both violent parties.

This state of mind comprised of fear, doubt and panic is that which is shared by many in the community. So, when you look around and realize there is no need to run because the stakes involved and the love for patriotism supersedes any other, the only way out is to find a means to deal with the situation and not run away from it. This conception is what led me through a journey of retrospection where I decided to make use of a skill I once learned in a country far, far away from home.

Visualization and flower garden
Together with a group of peace loving youths, we started the Buea Peace Club which aims at empowering the minds of youths to be calm and resilient towards effect of the sound of frequent gunshots in the neighbourhood. We use the tool of mindfulness meditation which I learned in Thailand to train the mind to disconnect from the negative physical environment and create an imaginary one of everyone’s choice where we visualize, focus and feel the pleasure of being in a positive environment such as a beach, flower garden or anywhere we love to be.

These mental exercises have proven to help the participants of the club deal with the chaotic situation in the community better than before. In one of the sessions, a participant named Joy said: “I felt like I was floating, as light as a balloon during the process. The headache that I came in with has all of a sudden gone away!”. Many others said the process gave them a feeling of freedom and peace instead of the constant fear and negative energy brought by the sound of gunshots.

The chaos has not ended in the region, but we – the members of the club – are not feeling the effect as others may because we know how to control our mind. Hence, meditation has now become the bullet proof of the mind. Hopefully, we can reach out to more people with this approach of peace that is grounded from within.

How Can Music Sustain Peacebuilding?

The existence of music is almost as old as the evolution of a human. Words in melodious sounds used in conveying information to a particular group of people constitute the entity of music as a cultural symbol. Different types of music are peculiar for different cultures. For example, the Yorubas* have their orin ibile (traditional folk songs) while the Doualas in Cameroon have Makossa. But how could music bring more peace to the local communities and the world?

Need to sensitise people

In international relations, a dispensation of peace is not just the absence of wars but the presence of cultural and economic understanding by all parties. As per Eastern philosophy, peace is a state of mind.

However, diverse forms of violence, insurgency activities, and ritual killings are prevalent in the world today. The source of these gruesome acts exists amidst the grassroots of each society. It has to do with the selfish mentality of humans to amass all for themselves and leaving others deprived. The major cause of violence can be attributed to this disorientation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to combat this and sensitise people on the importance of building and sustaining world peace. At this juncture, the impact of music cannot be overemphasised.

Cordial relationship

Music integrates mind, body, and spirit thereby connecting the inner self to the outer world in order to create a connection of inner peace, motivation, instruction leading to a deep understanding. Music serves as an entertainment tool which makes occasions lively and peaceful. It subsequently creates cordial relationship among the people and promotes societal norms and values.

Ogunrinde (2013) posited that African music practices are first and foremost meant for and directed by the community’s ideology, economic, social, religious, recreational tendencies and rite of passage rituals. Thus, there is an inseparable link between the community way of life and musical practices. This shows that music is an effective tool in peacebuilding in every society.

Sustaining peace

Music is not only useful in preventing conflicts but in sustaining peace. A composition by late Samuel Akpabot titled Cynthia’s Lament, in 1963, explains it. The Nigerian composer and Cynthia Boudreau, a 16-year old white woman, were denied service in a Pittsburgh hotel on the basis of racial discrimination. As the young woman fled the scene tearfully, Late Samuel made a musical piece (Cynthia’s Lament), thereby preventing the issue from degenerating into conflict.

Also, the concert organised by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999 developed into a permanent programme which unites Israeli and Palestinian musicians. This permanent programme tagged West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has enabled the sharing of knowledge and comprehension between people from societies historically known as enemies. This shows the impact of music in sustaining peace among societies in the world.

In addition, the famous British singer John Lennon used music in his peace activism which had so much impact that the perpetrators of war could not stand it and decided to take his life. Even decades later, Lennon’s music still lives on and has been performed at the UN by nowadays singers in an effort to sustain peace.

Reduces violence and heals trauma

Further research explained that music, as well as other forms of cultural expression is a vital resource in the healing process of individuals and societies who have been afflicted emotionally and mentally. This is with reference to communities who lack peace as a result of wars and crisis. Examples can be seen from Ivorians in West Africa and South Africans who all used music as an escape from the violence and trauma they were going through, and till today music is still a strong cultural export of these countries. The influence of musicians like Espoir 2000 in Ivory Coast , Brenda Fassie and Lucky Dube of South Africa cannot be undermined when it came to curbing violence and especially apartheid and other forms of discrimination.

From the critical points mentioned above, there is no gainsaying that music is a powerful tool for building sustainable world peace in the globe. Therefore, all strategies should be employed to build capacity by sensitizing, developing knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that prevent conflict. Music is an integral part of this as it enables inner peace in human beings and connects it to outer peace inevitably leading to sustainable world peace.

If you are a musician, why not make it a commitment to have at least one song in your album that inspires peace in the world? Sounds great, right? Together we can change the world not just by talking or writing but also through creativity and entertainment. Peace In, Peace Out!

Photo source: lee-pigott, Unsplash

*Yorubas – tribe in Nigeria

**Makossa  –  traditional music of the Duala tribe and from which most contemporary music originate in Cameroon

Pourquoi nous continuons à échouer en Amour

Le concept d’amour a existé aussi longtemps que la race humaine. Pendant des siècles, les chercheurs ont essayé de trouver différentes définitions de l’amour, mais cela ne suffit jamais en raison de la complexité de ce mot ou sentiment magique. Tellement de fois j’ai essayé de comprendre ce que signifie ce mot, mais il n’a jamais été facile de trouver une compréhension à cent pour cent du mot.Le concept d’amour a existé aussi longtemps que la race humaine. Pendant des siècles, les chercheurs ont essayé de trouver différentes définitions de l’amour, mais cela ne suffit jamais en raison de la complexité de ce mot ou sentiment magique. Tellement de fois j’ai essayé de comprendre ce que signifie ce mot, mais il n’a jamais été facile de trouver une compréhension à cent pour cent du mot.

L’amour pourrait-il être un mythe ou une ruse? Est-ce juste un concept créé pour rendre les gens heureux et vulnérables en même temps? Ou est-ce vraiment la clé du bonheur éternel? Quel est ce sentiment qui fait qu’il est difficile de s’endormir sans que la tête tourne comme un carrousel? Ce sont quelques-unes des questions que beaucoup d’entre nous posent surtout quand nous nous sommes retrouvés dans une relation infructueuse auparavant.

Nous ne réalisons pas que l’amour est le même
J’ai vécu dans ce monde pendant au moins un quart de siècle, j’ai eu ma propre part de relations délabrées avec différents types de personnes dans le monde entier. J’ai finalement pensé que beaucoup d’entre nous n’aimaient pas la bonne façon. L’amour signifie la même chose partout, et la bonne application de celle-ci apporte le même résultat. Je pourrais commencer par vous demander, comment voulez-vous être aimé? Je sais que la réponse à cette question peut être une liste interminable, comme si je voulais recevoir de l’attention, recevoir des besoins matériels, ou être complimenté très souvent ou ne jamais être trompé.

Que diriez-vous si nous inversons la question ci-dessus, comment voulez-vous donner de l’amour? Ça vaut le coup d’y penser, n’est-ce-pas? Mais le problème ici n’est pas seulement de donner mais plus de donner ce que nous avons. Il n’y a aucun moyen que vous puissiez vraiment aimer quelqu’un si vous ne vous aimez pas assez. La durabilité de chaque relation dépend énormément de l’amour de soi profondément enraciné avant d’aimer une autre personne. Souvent, nous avons échoué avec l’amour parce que nous essayions si fort de faire plaisir à nos partenaires que nous avons en quelque sorte diminué notre propre valeur ou plutôt parce que nous nous attendions à recevoir davantage que ce que nous étions prêts à donner. À mon avis, il s’agit de trouver un équilibre entre s’aimer et donner de l’amour à un autre.

Etre comme un pilote avec un avion
Si vous passiez plus de temps dans votre propre développement personnel, vous vous sentiriez plus confiant et finiriez par développer votre amour-propre. Cela vous rend prêt à être dans une relation amoureuse sans nécessairement être trop attaché, dans le besoin, vulnérable ou égocentrique. Vous donnez simplement de l’amour naturellement, sachant aussi quand trouver un équilibre sans se sentir coupable ou en faisant en sorte que votre partenaire se sente moins important. La meilleure façon d’aimer est comme être un pilote avec un avion, sachant quand voler haut, monter et descendre sans accident. Tout comme un pilote, cette compétence n’est possible que si vous investissez en vous avant de pouvoir gérer les émotions d’une autre personne.

Il est donc nécessaire d’identifier aussi le fait que nous ne pouvons pas agir pour investir en nous-mêmes si nous n’avons pas cherché à l’intérieur pour voir si ce manque d’amour vient d’une expérience dans nos vies telles que l’enfance ou autre. Il en va de même pour comprendre et traiter avec un partenaire insécurisé ou dans le besoin. Il m’a fallu des années de contemplation avant que j’apprenne enfin l’art de la méditation qui m’a appris à observer sans attentes et à laisser aller, en particulier les auto-négociations négatives ou les suppositions. Cette compétence m’a aidé à débloquer certains des mystères de l’amour et des relations.

Trouver l’équilibre
Vous vous demandez toujours comment commencer à vous aimer, à trouver la paix intérieure et à avoir de meilleures relations? Essayez de méditer 15 minutes par jour pendant au moins 21 jours et vous pouvez vous remercier plus tard. S’il vous plaît ne prenez pas cela en mal; partager mon opinion ici ne signifie pas que je suis un expert en amour ou en méditation. Je travaille toujours pour aussi évoluer sur ce plan. Ce que je peux dire, c’est que je me sens plus équilibré dans mes émotions maintenant que je ne l’étais auparavant. J’espère que vous trouverez également votre équilibre. Joyeux mois d’amour!

Photo source:  Akexandra GornUnsplash

Why We Keep Failing At Love

The concept of love has existed as long as the human race. For centuries, scholars have tried to come up with different definitions of love but it never suffices due to the complexities involved in this magical word or feeling. So many times I’ve tried to understand what this word means but it has never been easy to come up with a hundred percent understanding of the word.

Could love be a myth or a trick? Is it just a concept created to make people happy and vulnerable at the same time? Or is it really the key to eternal happiness? What is this feeling that makes it hard to go to sleep without one’s head spinning like a carousel? These are some of the questions that many of us ask especially when we have once found ourselves in an unsuccessful relationship before.

We do not realize love is the same

Have lived in this world for at least one quarter of a century, had my own fair share of messed up relationships with different kinds of people worldwide, I figured eventually that a lot of us are not loving the right way. Love means the same everywhere, and the right application of it brings the same result. I might start by asking you, how do you want to be loved? I know the answer to this question may be an unending list, such as I want to be given attention, provided with material needs, or complimented very often or never to be cheated upon.

How about if we reverse the above question to, how do you want to give love? Worth thinking, right? But the issue here is not just about giving but more of giving what we have. There is no way you can truly love somebody if you do not love yourself enough. The sustainability of every relationship depends hugely on deeply rooted love of self before loving another person. A lot of times we failed at love because we were either trying so hard to please our partners that we somehow diminished our own value or rather because we were expecting too much than we were ready to give. In my opinion, it is about striking a balance between loving yourself and giving out love to a significant other.

Like being a pilot with an air-plane

If you spent more time in your own self development, you would feel more confident and eventually develop self-love. This makes you ready to be in a loving relationship without necessarily getting too attached, needy, vulnerable or egocentric. You just give out love naturally, also knowing when to strike a balance without feeling guilty or making your partner feel lesser. Loving the right way is like being a pilot with an air-plane, knowing when to fly high, higher and descending without a crash. Just like a pilot, this skill is only possible when you invest in yourself first before you can be able to manage the emotions of another person as well.

It is necessary therefore to also identify the fact that we cannot take actions to invest in ourselves if we have not searched within to see whether that deficiency of love comes from an experience in our lives such as childhood or another. The same goes with understanding and dealing with an insecure or needy partner. It took me years of contemplation before I finally learned the art of meditation that has taught me how to observe with no expectations and let go, especially negative self talks or assumptions. This skill has helped me unlock some of the mysteries of love and relationships.

Finding balance

Still wondering how to start loving yourself, finding inner peace and having better relationships? Try meditating 15 minutes a day for at least 21 day and you can thank yourself later. Please don’t get it twisted; sharing my opinion here does not mean that I’m an expert at love or meditation. I’m a work-in-progress, and all I can say is, I feel more balanced in my emotions now than I was before. I hope you find your balance too. Happy love month!

Photo credits: Finn Hackshaw,