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US Ambassador Urges 2022 YALI Mandela Washington Fellows To Build Personal Connections

Ambassador Lamora and 2022 MWF pose for a family picture

By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo

Some 22 Cameroonians who are expected to take part in the 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship, MWF, in the United States in June have been urged to build personal connections with Americans and other stakeholders during their stay there.

The call was made by the United State Ambassador to Cameroon, HE. Christopher J. Lamora, on May 12 in Yaounde during a cocktail reception in honour of the finalists as well as the 2022 Alumni Enrichment Institute programme participants.

“…We are very proud of you all. I am urging you to take full advantage of your time in the US to learn everything you can in the programmes you will participate in and most importantly to build personal connections among yourselves, with Americans and others so that when you come back to Cameroon, we are going to have a large network of exchange program alumni,” HE Lamora said.

While stressing that Cameroon’s Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni has made tremendous contributions to Cameroon after returning from the programme, the US Diplomat said, “We have high expectations that this year’s cohort will do the same.  And the US Embassy will be here as a partner in your efforts.”

Applauding fellows on their achievements, Ambassador Lamora added, “As Mandela Washington Fellows, you will represent Cameroon with the opportunity to share your perspective and to teach Americans about your great country. I am confident that you will be excellent cultural ambassadors as emerging leaders from such a dynamic and vibrant country full of potential.”

HE Lamora also pointed out that the United States and Cameroon have long-standing people-to-people ties starting in 1962, when Cameroon was one of the first countries to host the Peace Corps.  And for over 65 years, he indicated that some 2,000 Cameroonians have participated in US government exchanges.

To Solomon Ateh Pemamoh, one of the MWF finalists, “I am particularly happy that I am going to the US to build a connection. I am particularly happy because this is going to be an opportunity to learn from the American approach on how civil societies can better collaborate with the government to enhance development.”

Also, Pertulla Ezigha Ketcha, one of the MWF finalists stated, “I am excited but I am looking forward to connecting and using the knowledge that I will learn while in the US so that when I come back, I will better serve the community.”

The Post gathered that, in a few weeks, some 700 young African leaders from all across the continent will participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a six-week academic and professional exchange in the United States.

Of the 22 fellows from Cameroon, five from the 2021 MWF cohort will participate in a three-week Alumni Enrichment Institute programme in the United States to complement the leadership development and academic sessions from their 2021 virtual programme.

The 22 achievers and changemakers from seven regions of Cameroon have varied backgrounds from journalism to music, education, health care, energy, climate change, software, and electrical engineering, peacebuilding, gender advocacy, transparency and accountability, social entrepreneurship, and business. 

Since the launch of YALI in Cameroon 12 years ago, 124 Cameroonians have participated in the Fellowship in the United States and 750 others have done so at the Regional Leadership Centers in Accra, Dakar, and Lagos.  More than 26,000 Cameroonians are advancing their leadership skills on the YALI Network platform and serving their communities every day. 

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