The Cameroon government is busy fighting English-speaking citizens who are demanding liberation and the least of their worry is the plight of national heroes who are living in abject poverty like the 48 percent of the population living below the poverty line.
This is the plight of former national team captain Norbert Owona, who was a national hero and played for the country in the 1960s and 1970s. He represented the Indomitable Lions in two Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournaments.
67-year-old Owona was the focus of a documentary which revealed that he was homeless and living on the streets of Douala where he once played gloriously for the club Union Douala.
Today, he is homeless and suffers from an inguinal hernia after reportedly losing his family in an accident and spending all of his savings on their healthcare.
Owona said the government did not respond favourably to a letter about his state of health and his appeal for help. I am “living like an animal” and “it is unfair to receive such treatment from my country”, he is reported to have said.
After his plight was made public by another former player, Joseph Kamga, who is campaigning for several players and national heroes who are facing difficulties, former Cameroon, Barcelona and Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o paid Owona a visit on Sunday at a hospital and donated 500,000 CFA francs ($892).
Eto’o also promised to support him by giving him a new house, reports local media.
Kamga, who played for Cameroon at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, said many other players are in the same situation and it is “indescribable”, reports the BBC.
Samuel Eto’o has helped his country and Africa greatly with philanthropic work. He built a pediatric centre to reduce infant mortality rate in Douala, Cameroon last year.
He also announced plans to build a school in the country’s northern region with support from donors. His foundation has also provided 100 scholarships to an all-girls school in Sierra Leone.
Eto’o has also invested in football with the construction of a world-class complex in Libreville, Gabon which serves as an academy.
Meanwhile, the country’s 85-year-old president who has been serving since 1982 spends most of his time in luxurious hotels in Switzerland where he is surrounded by his family and personal doctors on the account of the state.
At home, thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians have been displaced while hundreds have been killed after the president launched a war against secessionists in the regions who are largely operating outside the country.