Cameroon: A merciful principal confronts two lesbian students

A Youth Day parade in 2015 in Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of

A Youth Day parade in 2015 in Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of

By Jean Jacques Dissoke

Youth Day is a festival held on Feb. 11 each year in Cameroon to celebrate the potential of the nation’s young citizens. But for two LGBT youths, the lead-up to this year’s celebration turned into a time for anxiety and, unexpectedly, a bit of mercy.

Traditional activities of Youth Day in Cameroon include parades and activities called Kermesse devoted to fund-raising for charity, with time for students to dance, put on skits and play games.

This year, during fundraising events on Feb. 9 at the Lycée d’Essazok high school on the outskirts of Yaoundé, the school’s principal found two teenage girls  locked in a passionate embrace in a corner of the school.

The events were reported to this news site by an eyewitness who knows the school well. For the girls’ safety,  pseudonyms are used here instead of their real names.

The two students — Ody and Ada — were taken to the principal’s office discreetly in order not to attract the attention of the crowds of other students engaged in Youth Day celebrations. The principal asked the girls to explain themselves.

“What were you doing?” he demanded.

Scene at Lycée d’Essazok

Scene at Lycée d’Essazok

Baffled at how to answer, both girls remained mute and both started crying. Then, after a few moments, they explained:

“I am Ody. I am 18 years old and in the second level [at Lycée d’Essazok].”

The second girl added, “I am Ada. I am 17 years old and I am also a second.  We’re friends and we’re dating. We were embracing.”

The principal was taken aback.

“So are you lesbians?” he said.

Then, like a father, he began to advise them. They should change their behavior, he said. Unlike most Cameroonian adults in similar circumstances, he did not tell them to change their sexual orientation.

Instead, he said that, ss lesbians, they should be careful not to make a show of themselves, because they might end up being lynched by other students who did not understand them.

His words were an unexpected relief for the couple, because many other young lesbians in Cameroon have been expelled from school and rejected by their families after they were found in such a compromising situation.

After a few minutes, the principal let Ody and Ada return to their other friends, but he did not offer the girls further support. He warned that, if they were again found in an amorous embrace at school, they would be expelled.

Jean Jacques Dissoke, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian activist. Contact him at [email protected].