Mac students Sashas Lansky ’14 and Mackey Borg ’14 pose with Cameroonian opposition candidate John Fru Ndi.

Sasha Lansky ’14 (Amherst, Mass.) is an international studies and anthropology major with a French minor who is studying abroad this semester in Cameroon. She offered some reflections on her experience meeting a Cameroonian political opposition candidate.

One of my favorite quotes of his was, “What is politics used for? Politics is used to care for humanity,”

All is going quite well here in Cameroon. Aside from the difficult cultural adjustments, I’ve been enjoying myself immensely and have learned more than I could have ever imagined.

We have just returned from a two-week trip to the western part of the country, where we discussed and learned about politics and Cameroon’s opposition parties. The final weekend of the trip was spent in Bamenda, in Cameroon’s Anglophone region. We had a lecture from a member of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), and on Saturday night were honored to meet and dine with John Fru Ndi, leader of Cameroon’s main opposition party—the Social Democratic

Fru Ndi was truly inspiring. His ideas reminded me of many that we avow at Macalester, including strengthening the participation of youth and orchestrating crossroads at which the world’s youth can engage in dialogue. We spent well over two hours asking the chairman questions and listening to his passionate responses.

One of my favorite quotes of his was, “What is politics used for? Politics is used to care for humanity,” something I think is often forgotten in Cameroon, where many feel ignored and disregarded by the government.

John Fru Ndi began his career as a bookseller, so naturally he spoke with us quite a bit about books. He suggested a book that has changed his life—Leading like Madiba, which is about Nelson Mandela, and encouraged us to continue reading and to read quickly.

One of his final comments was also memorable. When he was asked by my classmate, economics major Mackey Borg ’14 (Honolulu), how youth from outside Cameroon can contribute to its development, Fru Ndi suggested that out of the 13 American students in our group, 5 of the girls marry Cameroonian men and that both of the boys marry Cameroonian women as a way of creating more bridges between our two nations. We all laughed.

Fru Ndi’s speech was particularly inspiring since he is the first Cameroonian we’ve come across who really believes in working toward change, and that change in this country—which has been under the leadership of one man for 30 years—is possible.

October 19 2012

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