A Cameroonian on the Move
For anyone who knows about the Cameroon Professional Society (CPS), it is almost certain that you have heard of Denis Foretia. As founding president of the CPS, he has been the de facto face of this dynamic and novel institution. His reputation as a progressive and deeply-involved member of the Cameroonian diaspora transcends academic, linguistic, ethnic and demographic boundaries. He is as many have noted a force to be reckoned with.
Dr. Foretia’s involvement in the CPS is no coincidence. After completing a remarkable and highly successful tenure as President of CAMSA in 2007, he became totally convinced that the time had finally arrived for the Cameroonian diaspora to stand-up, organize and exert a palpable influence on their communities but especially in Cameroon.
“We were absolutely convinced that Cameroonians abroad, from all walks of life, from all ethnicity, religious or linguistic preference, from diverse political affiliations and cultural heritage needed an organization where their collective expertise and resources could be harnessed to positively change our communities and Cameroon. This is the CPS.”
With a small and very dedicated group of about ten, they worked tirelessly over the next 18 months until the launching of the CPS in 2009. In just over two years, the Cameroon Professional Society is now the leading organization of Cameroonian professionals in the United States with a growing membership throughout the world.
“Our success is based on the fact that Cameroonians are tired of complaining about the system in Cameroon and are increasingly willing to put their time and money into making a difference. These are the type of people who join the CPS. Individuals who are willing to give back in many ways and are ready to support many progressive initiatives.”
For Dr. Foretia the stakes are growing higher everyday and his background is particularly reflective of the current generation of pragmatic Cameroonians with a wide breath of experiences. He grew up in Buea where he obtained 11 subjects in the G.C.E Ordinary Levels from Government High School Buea and 5 subjects in the G.C.E Advanced Level from Baptist High School Buea. He would spend a year at the University of Buea before moving to the United States where he obtained a Bachelor’s with honors in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. With a calling in medicine he obtained his medical degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine on a four year full-tuition Dean’s Scholarship and now surgery residency at Emory University. Yet he is more than just a surgeon. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School as well as a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins.
His perspective on life is illustrative of the core principles of the CPS and he engages freely on a wide range of issues such as community development, human rights, poverty and economic growth in Africa, educating the next generation of Cameroonians as well as social and economic entrepreneurship.
“We believe strongly in the Cameroonian potential. That is why at the CPS we have instituted the CPS Scholars Program which identifies and mentors high school students of Cameroonian descent within the United States. We believe that by growing such a network, our country will benefit tremendously from such successes.”
The inaugural class of CPS Scholars was inducted during the last year’s Distinguished Annual Congress held in Washington D.C. These high school students receive a token of $500, are paired with mentors in such fields as medicine, engineering, health, entrepreneurship, business and many more. The program is funded by goodwill donations from CPS patrons.
The work of the CPS has not gone unnoticed. Last year the CPS participated in a follow-up to President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Forum at the White House. This forum reflected on the President’s call that “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions.”
Another defining feature of the CPS has been the yearly CPS Distinguished Annual Congress organized every July in Washington D.C. The CPS has used this forum to attract leading Cameroonians and progressives from all over the world to address the burning issues of our time.
As Foretia noted, “our generation faces daunting challenges from every direction. In most of Africa income inequality is expanding, unemployment is at record high rates and economies like that of Cameroon are struggling to curb the consequences of economic stagnation. It is now becoming evident that Cameroonians abroad must become intricately involved in stimulating growth and investments in Cameroon. These are just a few of our problems and the Distinguished Annual Congress provides a great opportunity for us to begin to formulate solutions to these challenges.”
People like Dr. Foretia and the rest of the CPS team have shown us that we cannot wait for change to come but we must become involved, become part of the CPS and made a difference. We need many more institutions like the Cameroon Professional Society to coalesce like minds and become actively involved in the future of our communities. The CPS is on the move, Denis Foretia is on the move and we must get involved.