Huseni Hodi Sidiki is an indigenous 23 year old youth leader, holder of a bachelor’s degree, living in Yaoundé, Cameroon. He is the Head of the Executive Bureau of the Mbororo Students Union (MBOSU) and as president, he cherishes these four main values: integrity, truth, leadership, and kindness. In the past, he has organised events like the Economic Empowerment of Mbororo Youth and a showcase of indigenous traditions.
He is engaged in civil society advocacy and involved in peace building. He is a trained envoy for peace and democracy for NewSETA. Huseni is also an advocate for education, with the aim of breaking all barriers to education within the indigenous community. He engages in advocacy for nature and environmental protection because, he states, “My people are vulnerable to environmental changes, and this causes climate change through their activities such as transhumance, bush fire, and deforestation because cattle rearing is their main economic activity”.
From his research on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, he has learned that self-determination is the right of all people to freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development without outside interference. From his perspective, the lifestyles of Indigenous People have changed to an extent as a result of the advocacy made by some indigenous civil society organisations and the efforts of international organisations, especially in the field of education and social amenities development in Cameroon. However, he believes that, “much is needed in eradicating poverty and conserving the environment”.
When I asked if social media influenced his way of life, he said, “Social media does influence my way of life and those of all Indigenous People, especially the youth who own smartphones and are on numerous social media platforms. Here, we acquire foreign cultures such as dressing, eating habits, and wedding ceremonies.”
Huseni identifies some challenges faced by Indigenous People.
“I have been discriminated against as an indigenous youth on several occasions, especially during primary school days when kids of different ethnicities refused to play with me and teachers made unacceptable comments about me. At times, I am considered a foreigner in my own country, and I am always regarded as a person without a village.”
He further added that, despite the fact that Indigenous People have the right to land, they still face some issues regarding that. He argues, “Though Indigenous People have the right to land, youth face difficulties in getting land since it is hereditary or they have to acquire land through purchase. This is coupled with the fact that land is mostly occupied by the majority ethnic groups or communities, leaving Indigenous People with a few hectares of land to fight over with no land titles or certificates.”
Above all, Huseni is absolutely proud of his culture because of its dressing, respect for elders, neatness, cultural festivities such as horse racing, marriage ceremonies, and respect for traditional authorities, among others.
For the celebration of World Indigenous People on Wednesday 9th August 2023 he intends to organise workshops to address issues plaguing Indigenous People such as climate change, the protection of traditional sites, and local governance.
Thanks, Huseni, for sharing your experience with us.