Some claim that Cameroonian Muslims will not be able to go on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca this year because it was "cancelled" due to the coronavirus health crisis. This information is not accurate. At least, this has not been officially announced yet by the National Hajj Commission.
For the time being, the chairman of the said commission, Paul Atanga Nji -former Minister of Territorial Administration (Minat)- speaks of 'strong uncertainties' concerning the participation of Cameroonian pilgrims in the Hajj 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As it did in Cameroon, this pandemic has forced restrictions on the movement of people around the world.
"The National Hajj Commission remains in permanent contact with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Cameroon and the Embassy of Cameroon in Saudi Arabia. It will inform the national Muslim community of the evolution of the situation in due course," the Minat said in a statement issued on June 10. In the meantime, Paul Atanga Nji asked organizers to stop collecting funds for the registration of pilgrims for the journey to the holy land of Islam.
The spokesman of the National Lunar Crescent Commission advises people to not be quick to claim that the Hajj 2020 has been cancelled for Cameroonian pilgrims. "We are on stand-by. For the moment, we can't make a definite statement. It is possible that at the last minute, depending on the arrangements that Saudi Arabia will make, we may be told that the Hajj is allowed, but under certain conditions, such as a reduction in the number of pilgrims," said Professor Souley Mane.
On February 27, Saudi Arabia announced that it would "temporarily" suspend entry into the kingdom to carry out Umrah (the small pilgrimage). This journey is a way of preparing for the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam to be done at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim.
Since this announcement, many people still do not know if they will be able to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. "What we do know is that Hajj 2020 will not take place, at least not in its usual form. Almost all countries have announced the non-participation of their citizens. Therefore, the strongest probability is that there will not be an open Hajj," sources at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Yaoundé said, on condition of anonymity. "Now the Saudi government, to save the situation, can organize an extremely reduced Hajj. We will have more information on this next week," our source added.
However, Reuters announced that Saudi authorities are planning to allow the Hajj, but under certain conditions, despite its over 100,000 positive coronavirus cases. In 2019, the number of Cameroonian pilgrims expected in Mecca was 2,839, which is 350 more than the previous year.
The Hajj is scheduled to take place from July 28 to August 2, in Saudi Arabia.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem