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Samuel Eto'o

Samuel Eto’o launches Yellow Whistle Blower initiative to help Boko Haram victims

Samuel Eto'o
Samuel Eto’o

The Cameroonian football icon, Samuel Eto’o fils, has launched the Yellow Whistle Blower FC initiative aimed at raising money and awareness amid the escalating crisis in West Africa which, which, according to him, ‘isn’t being talked about enough but is causing huge pain and damage’

Eto’o feels that the escalating crisis in West Africa, which has gripped north-east Nigeria and spilled into north-west Cameroon, Eto’o’s Cameroon – Niger and Chad is in danger of being ignored; of somehow being brushed off the agenda as the global media focus on the situation in Syria.

Through the Fundación Privada Samuel Eto’o, which was established in 2006 with the purpose of raising awareness of the issues faced by Africa, he has now launched the Yellow Whistle Blower FC initiative.

The idea behind the yellow whistle was to create a symbol of the victims of Boko Haram. The yellow has been taken from the star in the middle of the Cameroonian flag while the whistle is a metaphor for the population in the affected areas, many of whom are cattle farmers or nomads; the whistle is a part of their everyday life.

Eto’o, who plays for Antalyaspor in Turkey, has won everything during a glittering 18-year professional career, most notably four Champions Leagues and two Africa Cup of Nations titles. But the football achievements of the former Barcelona, Internazionale, Chelsea and Everton player appear as nothing more than a platform to make his voice heard during times as desperate as these.

“What we want is for people to become more sensitive and aware of the problem that we have in West Africa,” Eto’o says. “It’s a fact that, unfortunately, it is not spoken about a great deal. What we are trying to do, by whatever means possible, is to make sure that it is talked about and noticed.

“This is a crisis that doesn’t only affect my country, Cameroon. It’s something that is affecting the whole region and many other countries around the world. The fact is that it is a big problem, which isn’t being talked about enough but is causing huge pain and damage.”

Eto’o’s Foundation, in conjunction with Oxfam and the UNHCR – The United Nations’ Refugee Agency – hosted the first Yellow Whistle Ball at Claridge’s hotel in London on Tuesday night. Some of Eto’o’s footballing friends were there, such as Deco, Louis Saha, Habib Beye and Benoît Assou-Ekotto, and tens of thousands of pounds were raised via the auction of various lots. One of them was a training session with Eto’o.

The money will be given to refugee camps in Nigeria and Cameroon; to non-governmental organisations that are working in the field to help those who have been displaced. According to Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, the head of the UNHCR in the United Kingdom, two million Nigerians have been internally displaced from their homes, with 170,000 of them having crossed into neighbouring countries. The global forced migration figure has reached 60 million – the highest since the Second World War.

“Forced displacement is somehow monopolised by Syria but there are other places that are just as tragic and among them is the crisis in Nigeria, which has affected Cameroon, Niger and Chad,” Vargas Llosa says. “The scale and brutality of the crisis in Nigeria is shocking. Our desire is to make sure it does not become forgotten.”

Jane Cocking, the Oxfam humanitarian director, said that her organisation had reached 92,000 people with water treatment tablets, hygiene kits and agricultural support. But many, many more, who have fled the Boko Haram bloodshed and destruction, have found themselves in unfamiliar places that lack basic necessities such as food, water and medicine. Refugee numbers are rising faster than they can be accommodated.

“This initiative is born of indignation, of the indifference towards the issue,” Eto’o says. “My Cameroon is in danger, Niger is impacted, Chad threatened. There are people like you and me who have lost everything overnight. Our goal is to ring the alarm for these people and to raise funds for practical help on the ground.

“Education is vital. As Nelson Mandela said, it is the most powerful weapon to change the world. As with the Cameroon president, Mr Paul Biya, I am convinced that we have to invest in education [for the refugees]. But I refuse to despair, because to despair is to refuse life.”

About Global Patriot Staff

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