JOHN FRU NDI : INSIDER OR OUTSIDER?

May 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

Henry Monono

The juju which used to dance behind the house is now dancing in the market place. ….Anonymous.

Since Paul Biya received John Fru Ndi tongues have not stopped wagging. The advent of multi –party politics put Paul and John apart. They were unlike poles that people thought would never meet. The fire brand rhetoric of the SDF at that time was such that it was rumored that the head of state turned down many opportunities to meet the opposition chieftain. The SDF was a hotbed of revolution and its rallying cry of “power to the people” was in sharp contrast to the tame and vapid “oye ye ye ye” of the ruling party.

The chairman cuts the picture of an uncompromising no nonsense revolutionary who is ready to overturn the apple cart with his advocacy of a socialist revolution. It is more leftist then centre of the road. Many observers believed that it was this stance which informed the western powers to side with Biya and the ruling party when many of the SDF supporters generally believed he had won the elections in 1992. Fru Ndi’s mantra in every political rally was “Wunna want make I chop Soya?” To the ordinary SDF militant chopping soya meant and was meant to mean, Do you people want me to compromise with the government , tone my hard stance and become a middle- of- the- roader like the other opposition parties ? Fru Ndi refused to tone down his rhetoric or in the words of Professor Bole Butake he refused to be “La Piroed”. The masses loved it. This is a man who was on their side who was ready to buck the system. Even when Fru Ndi was bereaved and the government paid the medical bills of his late wife and word went out that Joseph Owona a baron of the system had visited him with a briefcase or was it a” Ghanamust go” bag the masses of the city did not loose confidence in their man. He remained the only one who could cock a snook at the government and stir it out of its comfort zone.       The greatest strength of John Fru Ndi is the facility with which he connects with the hoi-polio. He speaks the language of the streets and his down to earth style is far removed from the staid and starchy manner of Paul Biya. It is not only in their sense of dress and body language that the two who hold the destiny of the country differ. Biya is an arch conservative His language, manner and attitude are like  that of the haughty and uncompromising Bourbons of France who in the words of Talleyrand“had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”. Biya has been heard to say “If you find yourself on a good road stay there” and   “They want change, what do they want to change?” Fru Ndi on the other hand wants to bring the status quo down but it is not apparent if he wants this for altruistic reasons or merely for his own interest in order to perpetrate himself in power like Biya.Fast forward to Bamenda December 2010 and the lion of Mvomeka came to the den of the lion of Ntarikon and the two men met , held hands, looked into each others eyes  sat down and talked. Then they met again at the unity palace over dinner, then they met again at the agric show and Fru Ndi showed Paul Biya his cows. The two who could not meet for twenty years have suddenly met three times in less than forty days. Who has changed or is changing?

 In retrospect the two have some common ground. They are both sit-tight autocrats who do not brook any opposition within their parties. The democracy within their parties does not permit any opposition that can threaten their own positions .They are both pseudo-democrats. They have both lost wives and are both monolingual .Biya carries himself like a king and Fru Ndi like a tribal chieftain. They both encourage and court a fanatical following and the mystification or deification of power. They are both farmers, both rich, of the same generation and they have educated their children abroad. We do not know what they may have seen in each other because as the Yoruba’s say, when two witches dance a man does not go there to watch.

This new look Fru Ndi has confused quite a few people. Is the old lion loosing its claws? Is he becoming an establishmentarian? Is he now ready to moderate his stance and to temporize and disengage? Is he tired of fighting from the outside and is he now ready to join the party and eat some soya? Would he join the government if invited? How would this new understanding affect the chairman in the pools? All those who have dined with Biya have got their wings clipped. So if the chairman is coming to the party he better have a long spoon. On the other hand a new middle –of- the- road- image may augur well for the SDF as it would shake off its image of violence and revolution. There is nothing wrong for the leader of opposition and the head of state to talk to each other. There should even be a hotline between the two keeping in mind that the opposition is a shadow government always ready to blow the whistle, raise eyebrows and advance constructive criticisms. It is the SDF parliamentarians who started the Mouchipougate which ushered in the national cleansing now called operation epervier.

Paul and John have been around for too long and if anything is wrong with this country both of them are to blame. They have become unwitting partners in the delicate business of nation building. So the government should give the opposition the respect it deserves and cloth Fru Ndi with all the privileges, prerogatives and rights attendant thereto. The dance must go on.

Source: Post News Line

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