Kah Walla, is Cameroon’s only female candidate for the upcoming October presidential elections.
She says she’s trying to rouse the women’s vote.
“Women are excited about having a woman candidate, but the challenge is to get them active,” Walla said during a recent visit to the northwestern city of Bamenda. “We need to see them register, vote and seek to be voted across all political party lines.”
Walla, who is running her campaign under the slogan “The time is now,” said her main campaign activists were young people. She said getting women involved was more challenging.
Women hold only slightly more than 10 percent of the seats in Cameroon’s parliament and are nonexistent in the top leadership ranks of the military and local government.
Walla knows all too well the intimidation tactics used to discourage women’s political involvement in the authoritarian government.
“I was kidnapped on the 20th of May, 2011,” said Walla, recounting some of the obstacles to her candidacy. “I had water cannons turned on me and I have had some forms of intimidation, too.”
Diana Ambofei, vice regional chairwoman of the Social Democratic Front, Cameroon’s main opposition party in Cameroon’s Northwest region, can relate. She said death threats caused her to withdraw from her run for parliament in 2002.
“I was summoned to a hut by the traditional heads in my constituency and palm wine was sprinkled at the entrance of the hut,” she said. “They said if I wanted to live, I should cross the entrance of the hut and stop my campaign, but if I do not want to see the dawn of the next day, I should cross the entrance of the hut and go on with the campaign. I left the hut and declined my candidacy.”
Although a couple of other women have run for president — one in 1992 and another in 2004 — Walla said they didn’t get as far as she has.
“My candidacy is the first to draw national and international attention,” she said.