Africa

It’s “Devil’s gadget”: 3 students refuse to wear face masks, agreed to spend extra years

Three candidates failed a national examination in Cameroon for refusing to submit to the obligation to wear a protective mask, on the instructions of their pastor. Too many scandals attributed to evangelical revivalist churches who told his faithful that face mark is “a devil’s gadget”.

Widely reported in the local press, the affair is still a hot topic on social networks. The events took place on 5th August at the Biyem Assi high school in an outlying district of the capital Yaoundé.

According to reports by the online newspaper ‘Agence Cameroun Presse’, among others, three candidates for the probationary examination – the official exam for admission to the final year of secondary school in Cameroon – took their exams at this examination center without protection, thus violating the obligation to wear masks in public places, which is part of a set of measures to prevent coronavirus in Cameroon.

Who ordered this incivility? The pastor, who allegedly forbade them to wear the mask, which he considers to be “a devil’s gadget”. When contacted on the phone after bitter negotiations, the preacher insisted that “his followers do not wear masks because they are protected by the blood of Jesus… and the coronavirus does not exist,” the news website reports.

After trying unsuccessfully to convince the candidates, the headmaster of the high school attempted mediation by seeking the help of their parents. But the parents, who were members of the same church, agreed with the pastor. In the end, the three students signed the minutes recording their withdrawal, preferring to spend a blank year.

The authorities then raided the place of worship to affix the seals, while the pastor remains untraceable to this day.

Under the influence of the revivalist churches

Barely believable, the case is still going around the social networks, taken up and commented not without sarcasm. In Cameroon, revivalist churches are proliferating and are regularly cited in similar stories.

Last May, amid the rising global pandemic, worshippers at a place of worship in Douala, the economic capital, decided to keep the body of their pastor killed by the Covid-19 for several days, hoping that he would come back to life. The authorities had to use force to recover the body for burial.

Scandals that raise many questions about these religious practices in Cameroon, and which are part of the daily lot of Cameroonians. Although they lack common sense, these attitudes are nevertheless explainable, according to Mathurin Soh, a Cameroonian sociologist, for whom “the multiplication of these places of worship in Cameroon gives rise to abuses such as students who only act according to the instructions of their spiritual guide”.

“It’s a manipulation of the masses. You have to have a high level of discernment not to succumb to the songs of these men who use mental manipulation techniques to incite their followers to change their way of life,” the sociologist explained.

Thus, continues the expert, it is no longer rare to see the authority of the State challenged by the faithful on the instructions of their guru. “ Some churches are pushing the envelope further by increasingly provoking the State whose laws they are breaking.”

“Moreover, in residential neighborhoods, neighbors regularly complain of noise pollution due to nights of preaching and miracles”, remarks the sociologist.

On the advice of their guru, or in the name of their inner conviction, the faithful engage more and more in implausible behavior. The various reframing actions and calls to order from the authorities in the face of ever-increasing abuses do not seem to change much.

In the country, these places of worship continue their dizzying expansion, and the scandals that take place there feed the newspaper columns every week.

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