Cameroonians have been debating over a video showing children marching in a parade in torrential rain in front of a stand where officials sit, warm and dry. The video was filmed on May 20, a national holiday in Cameroon, in Abong-Mbang, a town in the eastern part of the country. Since then, the video has been viewed more than 80,000 times on Facebook. Some viewers were shocked and concerned for the children, while others lauded their patriotism.

The video shows a group of little boys, wearing shorts, and girls in matching blue dresses marching in time and waving their arms during a torrential downpour. Some carry the Cameroonian flag. The video also shows a high-ranking officer sitting in a stand, warm and dry.


When this video was first posted on Facebook on May 20, it garnered more than 23,000 views. Activist Paul Chouta then posted it on his Facebook page two days later, where it garnered more than 60,000 views.
 

This video sparked lots of discussion on social media. Some Cameroonians – like the man who posted the video on May 20 – lauded the “patriotism” of the children and commended the fact that they had braved the rain to celebrate the national holiday.


Comment translated from French: “Bravo, children, for this example of patriotism. [In this video], we see determination, joy and willingness. For the Cameroon of tomorrow, I am heartened.”

Comment translated from French: “This is an expression of patriotism. These children braved the bad weather to celebrate, loudly and clearly, this holiday of unity. If I were a decision-maker, I’d award them a special prize for courage.”

But most people on social media deplored the fact that the children were forced to march outside in torrential rain and worried that they might get sick. Some asked who was going to pay the medical costs to treat them afterwards and others made ironic comments about how the officials stayed nice and dry.

Comment translated from French: “Really, what are these people on about? Tiny kids in torrential rain? People are talking about patriotism. Only in Cameroon would we applaud this. Go see these children after the parade when they are suffering from the flu. They shelter and ask the children to march in the rain. Even the head of state wouldn’t accept this kind of punishment.”

Comment translated from French: “No – I’m hallucinating, I’m dreaming. Tell me it’s not true! We didn’t make children march in TORRENTIAL RAIN????!!! Tell me I’m dreaming! Really… LOL... good luck to you, dear parents, who barely manage to send your kid to school, who must then pay medical fees because your kid comes home sick in the name of the homeland… Deplorable!”

"There was no discussion of suspending the parade”

Aside from primary school students, secondary school and university students also participated in the parade. Marcel A. (not his real name) was among the university students.
 

Before the parade, the authorities awarded medals of bravery. Then, around noon, the parade began with soldiers. The sky suddenly darkened and the wind picked up and then the rain started to fall. At this point, the children were already lined up to march behind the soldiers. The spectators who had some shelter stayed to watch, while others left to find cover.

"Some parents were angry because they saw their children shivering”


Around 1pm, the children started to march. It was really coming down hard then. There were children from all of the primary schools in the town and neighbouring villages as well as secondary school students. It’s actually mandatory for students to participate in the parade. They were marching for about an hour. It rained this entire time, but there was no discussion of suspending the parade.

Some parents were angry because they saw their children shivering. Some went and complained to school officials, asking that the parade be delayed until the rain stopped. Others said that their children never would have gotten wet if the celebrations had started on time. The parade kicked off an hour later than it should have because the officials arrived late. By the way, the officials were all sheltered in the official stand. When the children stopped marching, the first thing that the parents did was to dry them off to try to keep them from getting sick.

After the children, it was my turn to march alongside the other training schools. Then, local associations marched. In total, the parade lasted about three hours. With the rain, we were all frozen and no one was having a good time. We only participated in the parade because it is our duty as citizens, but we went home quickly as soon as it was over.