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Cameroon: Celebrating HM The Queen at 90

A speech by the British High Commissioner - Brian Olley on the ocassion of the Queen's Birthday Party 2016 in Yaounde

Cutting of the cake with members of Government

Your Excellency the Minister Delegate in charge of Relations with the Commonwealth at the Ministry of External Relations of the Republic of Cameroon, your Excellency the Minister of Communication, Members of the Senate, Members of the National Assembly, Traditional Chiefs, Captains of Industry, honoured guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Unlike most countries we do not have a national day. After all whose national day would we celebrate ? The Welsh St David’s Day on 1 March ? St Patrick’s Day on 17 March in Northern Ireland ? St George’s Day in England commemorating killing the dragon on 23 April ? Or the Scottish St Andrews Day on 30 November ? Of course we celebrate all of those. But there is a special unifying focus to the diversity that is our United Kingdom and I am delighted to welcome you this evening to the Queen’s Birthday Party.

C’est bien sûr un anniversaire très spécial. La Reine a 90 ans, et en mars cette année a passé le point où elle a régné plus longtemps que tout autre monarque britannique précédent. Au Royaume-Uni il y a quelques semaines il y avait une fête d’anniversaire pour la Reine au château de Windsor avec 900 chevaux, 1500 artistes et un gâteau si grand qu’il a dû être remorqué par une Land Rover. Nos arrangements ce soir sont bien sur plus modestes, mais je vous promets qu’il y aura un gâteau - et nos jeunes artistes, certes moins nombreux qu’à Windsor, sont de l’école de musique “L’abre à musique” et je suis sûr qu’ils vont nous divertir royalement.

At 90 years old your memories go back a long way. To take some examples: in 1940 Queen Elizabeth, then 14 years old, made her first radio broadcast to lift the morale of children who were being evacuated at the beginning of the Second World War. Since then the Queen’s reign has spanned 7 popes, 12 Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill, and the creation of the Commonwealth. Often said but true - she has been a constant in a changing world. Amazingly she has never expressed an opinion officially in public. And yet she has dedicated herself to serving her people. Most would agree she has done this spectacularly well and has been a force for good both for the United Kingdom, in her support to the Commonwealth, and around the world.

Et je n’utilise pas le mot «force» à la légère. Nous parlons parfois de «soft power» ‘la puissance douce’. Ce que nous avons assisté à mon avis, est le succès spectaculaire de «soft power» , influencer , guider , aider , partager , et de fournir un guide moral pour nous aider à travailler ensemble pour créer un avenir dans lequel nous espérons que nos enfants seront plus sûrs , plus sains , mieux éduqués, plus prospère , et surtout plus heureux . Comme nous sommes confrontés à des défis de taille de la croissance démographique insoutenable, la pression sur les services de santé, les mégalopoles, les migrations, les pénuries d’eau et les changements climatiques, il est de plus en plus clair que d’essayer de forcer les gens à faire des choses ne marche pas. Il faut les aider à voir, à comprendre et à travailler ensemble pour créer un meilleur avenir. Nous devons leur donner les outils, l’éducation et l’ambition pour s’améliorer eux-mêmes et leur environnement.

I am not going to go through a long list of things that the United Kingdom has done this past year in Cameroon. Suffice to say we have worked tirelessly with many partners here to help feed and house refugees, to boost the economy through attracting investors, to help fight against terrorists, and to promote human rights. But above all, the one thing that I should like to highlight is the 24 young people, men and women, who we are sponsoring to study for a year in the UK at Masters level all expenses paid, and for the 20 women we are paying to study in Cameroon, and the support we have given to the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme. In total each year we are now helping around 60 Cameroonians to a better education. We will support the same number next year and ask for your support in encouraging, bright, energetic Cameroonians who you think can help create a better future for the country, to apply.

Looking ahead to the coming year, we will be working even more closely with British businesses, many of whom are here tonight and to whom we are grateful for their support to this event. A country needs economic success as a foundation to progress. We all know Cameroon has huge potential. Together we will continue to work in partnership with the government of Cameroon and our partners from the international community, to help realise a better future.

Thank you.

Published 6 June 2016