A Statement of Our Pause: Reflections on the Past, Drawing Lessons, and Unveiling Chapter 2.0

From the desk of Founder and Outgoing Executive Coordinator- Monique Kwachou

It’s January 2024

This same month in 2013, I embarked on the formal establishment of Better Breed Cameroon, receiving the stamped ‘acceptance’ from the D.O. of the Buea sub-divisional office. However, the official permit would take three years to materialize, highlighting the systemic corruption ingrained in the process of registering an association committed to nation-building – I didn’t have the money nor inclination to bribe, and since my hearing impairment makes it difficult to get whispers and hints of what is desired… the registration file remained at the Limbe Special Police branch for 3 years before I finally hired a lawyer to facilitate the process.

Why share this now? Because the past is prologue. In 2013, armed with a cash prize from the University of Buea and Orange Cameroon Foundation, I founded Better Breed Cameroon with a simple thought: addressing the root problems instead of the symptoms. My vision aimed at sustainable development by working with young people, preventing the emergence of future corrupt leaders, abusive partners, and questionable scholars.

What I couldn’t articulate then, with my limited exposure, was that I was trying to break the cycle and address the system. Because there is a system that keeps us this way. Sexism is internalized in men and women, and so is our corruption and poor governance. We have normalized bribes as ‘facilitation fees’ given even if not asked to ‘encourage’ good service. We have normalized the fear of engagement in politics, normalized our poor roads, our depreciating infrastructure and our hesitancy to question. Critical thinking is seen as doing too much. Rest! We tell the next person, “Le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun!”

Fast forward to last year when Better Breed Cameroon celebrated a decade of service, prompting deep reflection. While we have had successes, including essay contests, training sessions, workshops, scholarships, and the largest job fair in the Anglophone regions, the journey has been slow and challenging. Lessons learned during this decade have led to significant realizations.

  1. Strategic Resistance: Our battle is not about reporting activities but strategically resisting systemic oppression. The language we use – “capacity building,” “empowerment,” and “sensitization programs” – can sometimes mislead. The true goal is addressing the bigger problem, and that is inherently political. Strategy is required for combatting systemic oppression and whether we admit it or not, the misgovernance we experience that renders the country what it is today, is a form of systemic oppression.
  2. Financial Independence and Strategic Growth: Initially wary of external funding, I aimed to prove that Better Breed Cameroon wasn’t a money-making venture. Wary of the trend of CSOs becoming money-making ventures for their ‘activists’, I was hell-bent on avoiding external funding. However, passion is necessary but not sufficient. Smart fighting includes ensuring the sustainability of those recruited. Therefore, we’ll adapt our stance on seeking funding, combining financial independence with grants to support strategic goals. As we would say in pidgin: Na who dey alive di fight for Better Cameroon. Na who don chop fit do nation-building work.
  3. Intentional Leadership: Recognizing unintentional founder syndrome – that desire to control everything and everyone because one ‘founded’ the organization – there is a need for intentional leadership development. Let me break that down; my failure to be intentional about grooming a successor and creating a mechanism for someone other than me to lead this initiative meant I unwittingly played out founder syndrome. I no longer expect anyone to work for passion just because I can/have. (No one told me to do so and that is how I got burned out anyway). So membership, and leadership in Better Breed Cameroon won’t just be believers; Teams may not share the founder’s passion, and that’s okay. Commitment trumps interest, even if that commitment is paid.
  4. Clear KPIs and Continuous Improvement: Reflecting on our vision, mission, and theory of change, the realization struck that our projects are means, not ends. Success should be measured by envisioning a “Better Cameroon.” Key performance indicators are the dents and splinters we make in the root problems towards our vision of Better Cameroon. So what would that Better Cameroon look like? I’ve tried to illustrate it below.

After this reflective exercise, it’s clear that while we can contribute to a Better Cameroon, we cannot achieve it alone. Our efforts focus on breaking the cycle of mediocrity, underdevelopment, social division, and misgovernance. The strategy involves swings of a machete at the roots, with key performance indicators being the dents and splinters made in the stump.

Moving forward, Better Breed Cameroon will evaluate work differently, emphasizing strategy, logical and tactical approaches, and the outlining of a better strategy. This is BBCam 2.0 – the second chapter. The first order of business is intentional leadership development, current members have agreed to switch to the board/membership base/operational secretariat structure and we’re presently redefining of what it means to be a Better Breed Cameroon member and delineating what activities will be undertaken in alignment with the strategic objectives of BBCam 2.0.

With this statement I am offering an open invitation for you, dear reader, to join us and bear with us on this journey.

For one, re-strategizing for effectiveness takes time. More often than not, things have to be pulled apart before they can be built back better. So please bear with us as we put a halt on certain activities till we are able to perform them in a matter that reflects our core values. It is for this reason that the annual Sama Randy Youth Write Contest has not been launched this year.

Most importantly, we are currently scouting for potential leaders of Better Breed Cameroon as we embark on our 2nd chapter- such a person needs to be a young Cameroonian with a passion for nation-building and aspirations for running an organization such as this one. If this sounds like you, reach out to us via email to either admin@betterbreedcameroon.com or betterbreed@gmail.com stating your case as an ideal candidate. We cannot wait to hear from you!


Dr Monique Kwachou


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