February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment
The Chairman of the SDF, Ni John Fru Ndi, has reshuffled the Shadow Cabinet of the party, with about 85 percent of Ministers and Vices being new comers. This was done at the end of the National Executive Committee (NEC), of the SDF meeting in Bamenda over the weekend.
The greatest casualty of the shake up is Madam Chantal Kambiwa, who was dropped from her position as Chairperson of Gender Issues. The position has been modified to Gender Issues and The Physically Challenged, now headed by Miss Judith Zama. Meanwhile, old names like Hon Cyprian Awudu Mbaya was maintained as Chairperson of Foreign Affairs, and Legal and Judicial Affairs by Prof. Kofele Kale.
Other members of the new shadow cabinet are:
- Agriculture and Rural Development, Chairperson: Mathias Ofon,
- Defence and National Security: Colonel Chi Ngafor,
- Economy, Finance and Commerce, Chairperson: Evariste Fopoussi,
- Education and Training, Chairperson: Jean Takoungang,
- Health, Chairperson: Prof Joseph Nelson Fomulu,
- Information and the Media, Chairperson: Jean Robert Wafo,
- Industrial Development, Chairperson: Jean Claude Kuete,
- Internal Affairs, Chairperson: Mochiggle Vanigansen,
- Posts and Telecommunications, Chairperson: Chief Paul Nji Tumasang,
- Science and Technology, Chairperson: Gabriel Wato,
- Social Affairs, Sports and Youth Development, Chairperson: Prof. Paul Kwi,
- Tourism and Culture, Chairperson: Ebelle Din Dobel,
- Public Works and Transport, Chairperson: Johnas Achah Mbah,
- Mining, Water and Energy, Chairperson: Alexander Mulango Forteh,
- Urban Development and Housing, Chairperson: Prof. Ajaga Nji.
- I Will Run For Senatorial Election – Fru Ndi (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- SDF Chairman reacts to President Biya’s address (erasmodelavega.wordpress.com)
September 30, 2012 § 2 Comments
Criticisms abound against the demolition of drinking spots in the University of Buea vicinity and structured encroaching on the walkways, by the Council led by Mayor Charles Mbella Moki. But the Mayor says his action is justified and within the ambits of the duty he undertook to be manager of the affairs in the city of Buea. In this interview, Mbella Moki tells his challengers that he was born to peasantry “but peasantry is not my portion.”
There are complaints that during the demolition campaign, not only the buildings are demolished, furniture too is vandalised. Why?
Well, they should understand that we have authorised demolition. We have also authorised the closing of off-licences and bars within a certain distance from the University of Buea. Some owners of bars and off-licences have become recalcitrant and mercenary as well. We decided to smash anything that was making it possible for them to operate at all, in order that we eliminate the off-licences and bars completely. That was, to say, we are to do away with those so called benches and tables that were facilitating the operation of the off-licences and bars. The rest of it is done under strict control and supervision.
Molyko residents have challenged your claim that pathways have been blocked even for handicapped people, meanwhile there are open culverts in which citizens fall and are thus rendered handicapped. They think you should have started by covering the culverts?
We have a project that has been submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing and another to the Ministry of Public Works. I must say that, within this process, the gutters along the Boulevard are going to be covered.
By the council or you are waiting for these Ministries?
It is not a council project. You should know that the owner of the Boulevard is the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing; you cannot interfere in their domain. We have made a request and that request has been considered by the Minister. It is understood that, within a couple of weeks from now, effective work will begin on the covering of those gutters.
It is said that the demolition exercise is orchestrated by pressure on you by hierarchy. How much of it is coming from Yaoundé?
We have the responsibility of giving Buea a facelift. It is part of our duty as council authorities to streamline our programme and our approach to urban development. This phase of the demolition exercise is just within the scope of our work programme in the council. No matter how people want to colour it, I want to say that it is within the programme calendar of our council.
And not for the Reunification ceremony?
Well if it has to do with the reunification, what is wrong with that? Again, I want to say that the Reunification celebration warrants us to even go beyond what we would have had on the table and in our hands as activities and responsibilities to undertake. So, therefore, you cannot distant this exercise from preparing our town for the great event of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of our Reunification.
Giving the volcanic nature of our town, people were authorised to put up only structures that could withstand tremors. How is it now that five-storey buildings are sprouting in Buea everyday?
I told you that the population, to a certain degree, becomes very delinquent when it comes to constructions. That is why government has very strict regulations on the supervision and approval of such constructions. But they keep on dodging from the control measures that are in place. Sometimes, when the error has been made, it will require greater effort and higher authorities as well to intervene for corrections to be made.
It is not at the level of the council any longer. But I must tell you that we are working tirelessly to see that control measures are followed up by the relevant council services, but, again, I must tell you that we cannot do it all alone. It will require inputs.
But those five or six-storey buildings are authorised by the Council?
There is a process that requires that owners of these buildings go through a list of Government services and the council’s duty is to validate what is done by these various ministerial departments. Sometimes people go to the field and alter the diagrams they presented to the Council in the form of a plan.
When this is done, the Council hasn’t got a technical policeman to be everywhere. We only realise it, maybe when the owner has undertaken the project to a certain level, and we leave a warning for him to take responsibility for whatever happens. For instance, today we are demolishing structures we found that went out of the normal dimensions that were presented at the level of the council. Such structures suffer demolition without compensation.
Some of the structures have building permits issued by the council?
There are rules and regulations that have been clearly spelt out by the Council. There is no where that the council has demolished a building that was duly and appropriately approved. We have to inform the world and whoever cares to listen.
But if a house was approved for living and you transform it into a beer palour, a bar or an off-licence and it is affecting the quiet settlement of other citizens of the community, wherein people are drinking and they have no toilets to relieve themselves, when they are hard pressed, we have to consult all our services, health, hygiene, sanitation, and the rest that are connected to the control procedure and the only option we are going to have is to ensure that the place is sealed.
And if it is sealed and the seals are broken or cut off by owners of such facilities, then, the tendency for us will be to take hard draconian measures to arrest the particular situation.
There is a practice taking place in towns like Bafoussam or Bamenda, called two-party, where poor landlords enter agreements for two structures to be set up and they own one. Can’t you encourage that?
The Council has been preaching partnership in development. But this is an aspect which you cannot force on those concerned. You may have to preach it; you may have to educate the population on that. As I keep saying, leadership is not pursuing people with a whip in hand. That is assault, not leadership. We have to convince the people, and that measure of preaching is undertaken at the level of our Council.
We are waiting for the appropriate moment when the people themselves will yield to this request for such partnership to flourish in our community. But I think that, so far, they are doing well and we have not gotten to the need where there are dare needs for people to sacrifice what is their matrimony to conform to what development standard we want to set for them in the town of Buea. We shall go gradually and we shall attain the desired results.
You are relocating garages to far off places and that will further distress citizens whose vehicles might have a breakdown. But in other countries, mechanics who own land by the road are allowed to build the frontage so well and offer it for shops and then, behind, they operate their garages. Will that be accepted here?
We are not restricting people from developing their particular environment. We are giving approvals for all of that. We have just given approvals for two garages in Bondoma where the owners have accepted to erect giant walls facing the road, while the garages operate within a given setup.
So, all is possible, provided he allows us to achieve a well organised and clean environment. That will also take care of the environmental concerns of our citizens, of-course, we are talking about sustainable development, Green Economy and urban development as a whole. And I think that all of those aspects that go with achieving this kind of a sustainable management of our local community have to be highlighted and respected.
Some of these students and lecturers who feel deprived by your demolition of drinking spots say you have never been to the university and should not impose social life style on them. What is your take on that?
Well, for those of us who have grown up in Buea and know what Buea is, the culture of setting up off-licences littered along our pathways and the highway was becoming uncontrollable. We are not building a town of drunkards. Neither are we trying to colour our streets with off-licences and bars. There must be an image which reflects the true Buea – a Buea, which is orderly, one which the commonwealth of every individual is associated with their behaviour.
I think that there are a lot of people who face a lot of problems because the bars and off-licenses along the road extended to the major road and the pathways were completely blocked. Those who walked and handicapped persons were forced to get into the drive way and sometimes accidents occurred.
We have also had reports or complaints from University authorities, requesting us to do something about the proliferation of off-licences and bars around the University vicinity. It is not an intrusion into the University milieu, or the University environment. It is a dire need that has been expressed by the University, for us to intervene. And we are not getting on campus; we are on the area which is strictly under our control.
And I have no apologies to anybody for that. We shall do it repeatedly to ensure that the off-licences and bars within that vicinity are completely wiped out. Someone sent a message to my phone that it is because I have risen from grass to grace that I don’t want to look at those who are suffering. I want to use your medium to tell them that Mbella Moki has never belonged to grass.
God made me in a very special way and I had to conform to what God had for me as an agenda and plan for my life. And so I was made of peasant stock and that is where I emerged from. You know Martin Luther Kings said, “I was born in the slums but the slums were not born in me”. I was born in peasantry but that wasn’t my potion. I have certainly by the Grace of God gone out of that.
It is a duty for me to get any other person from where I left, to be where I am. It is my responsibility, and no amount of gossips, blackmail or back-stabbing will alter my plan in life. Because I pray and pray to a Living God. He’s the only One that can tell me when I am wrong and when I am right. He can use people to do that, but for now, God has not told me that I am wrong.
What are some of the challenges you face in this campaign?
The challenges are enormous. When the economic nerve centre of any individual is tampered with, the reaction is always negative and when you are dealing with people who are negative in their responses to the kinds of activities you are carrying out, you take pains, you exhaust yourself to explain and effect corrections and bring satisfaction and happiness to the people you are called upon to serve.
I want to say that I am not used to living with people who get up in the morning with dull faces, with tears in their eyes, with anger in their hearts and with pains in their minds. This is exactly the kind of picture that I find in front of me everyday in this town and they waste me out.
I was elected to bring happiness and satisfaction to the people of Buea, but, unfortunately, the exigencies of the job we are called upon to do at certain moments allow for extended activities that have to do with the sentiments and the psychology of the individuals we are dealing with. Why not the physiognomy? And because of all of that, today, a segment of the community is grumbling, and is very critical of what we are trying to do.
I wan to say that it is by the grace of God and the wishes of the good right-thinking people of Buea that we are relying on now. And I am sure after all of that, people will see meaning in what we are doing. I’m certain of sharing in the fall-out of the exercise that we are taking and by that I mean that out of the ashes and ruins of what we are demolishing, we are going to have a better city, well organised and structured city and a beautiful city. That wouldn’t be too long from now.
Are you confident and comfortable with what you are doing?
When Ronald Regan asked Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, those who had constructed the wall saw it as a myth in the negative manner; why something on which the Germans had invested energy and resources to construct as a barrier dividing two nations could be pulled down just by words of mouth.
But today, the tendency is that the demolition of the Berlin Wall brought development, and extended harmony, peace, love, unity and a new image in the family of the average German. And that is what we want to imagine in Buea, as I keep saying that they may be weeping in the morning, but joy should come in the evening.
You know also, we are convinced of what we are doing because it has taken us a long time to plan and realise what we are doing. The scriptures say we should not be weary. We shall reap if we faint not. We do not intend to faint. We shall not fail, we shall succeed. The tendency is that we are doing all of these with the consideration of every citizen of our community.
That is, I am saying that there is a human touch to every of our action and we believe that we are touching on the lives of individuals and trying to prepare tomorrow for our children, and our children’s children. It is that tomorrow that is very significant at this time, but very strategic for a very strategic moment and for strategic reasons.
That is why you have to put everything together to understand what we are doing. And I think that we are explaining, we are talking and acting. We are not just going to the field to destroy. We are trying to have exchanges with the population and all those who are concerned. We are trying to educate them and explain our actions.
We are not also ruling out the fact that there are some “mind poisoners”, perusing the entire municipality, trying to create dissenting voices and uphold the culture of negative and senseless blackmail, back-stabbing, witch hunting and they try to exploit every aspect of our activity to give it a bad name.
I will like to say it is the tendency of giving a dog a bad name, so as to hang it. But we have never been associated to the kind of dogs they are looking for. And we shall not make ourselves available for hanging. We are going to cross the Rubicon.
July 22, 2012 § 4 Comments
When Daniel Ebale Angounou, a former spy of the Biya regime, published a book titled “Paul Biya le Couchemar de Ma Vie” translated “Paul Biya theNightmare of My Life”, only a few Cameroonians took him serious.
Since Friday, April 4, when the Constitution amendment bill was tabled at the National Assembly, the majority of Cameroonians have not had a wink of sleep due to the frightening presence of combat-ready troops, stationed all over the country.
The most absurd aspect of the whole drama is that the greatest concentration of troops was around the same National Assembly where more than 80 percent of membership belongs to the ruling party. Even after huge sums of money had been doled out to both CPDM and opposition MPS, they were still subjected to such intimidation.
The troop deployment did not end at the premises of the National Assembly. Yaounde and the rest of the country was militarised as though a terrorist attack were imminent. People travelling from the provinces to Yaounde are subjected to serious checks. This is particularly the case of people sojourning from the Northwest and West Provinces. The same kind of harassment has been going on in Bamenda.
Why all this show of force? One of the policemen confided in this commentator that they had been informed of an imminent strike action. In reality, there have been persistent rumours of a strike action, which was supposed to begin last Monday.
Many opinion leaders think a strike action, especially now, would be exposing many people to unnecessary risks, especially as stories abound that the soldiers would not use teargas in the event of a strike action. That they have all been furnished with live bullets and told to consider all those who might stage street protests as terrorists rather than peaceful demonstrators.
SDF Planning A Strike
The SDF is planning a strike to support the determination of the youth to take their destiny into their hands. No details were given about the date and duration of the strike action, The SDF had intended to hold its National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting last weekend, but postponed it to a later date, obviously for fear that it might be misconstrued for a forum to plan street protests. The SDF is seen by government as the only force that can mobilise a majority of Cameroonians for a strike action and so is “keeping an eye on the sparrow”.
One major principle of democracy is the right to peaceful protest by citizens who are not satisfied with government policy or an unpopular decision. Biya himself has admitted that people have a right to demonstrate when dialogue fails. An insider of the regime told this analyst that Biya, despite this declaration, dreads a repeat of last February’s strike action.
One aspect of last February’s strike, which few persons are aware of, is the claim of a certain Rev. X. Kisob, leader of a group called the MATIS whose avowed goal is the liberation of the youth. He told The Post in Bamenda that his movement was responsible for the success of the February strike, boasting that his followers mounted roadblocks close to gendarme posts and even at the entrance to the Presidency.
The “Liberator” claims that Biya was referring not to Fru Ndi and Mboua Massock, but to him when the President said the February strike was the handiwork of “apprentice sorcerers”
His boast has been dismissed by a school of thought, which maintains that the Biya regime masterminded the strike action in order to arrest and jail opponents of the Constitution revision.
But whether the Biya regime masterminded the strike action or not, one thing is clear; last February’s strike action enabled Cameroonians to realise that they were indeed a force to reckon with. The fact that the whole of the country’s military was employed to combat it demonstrates just how formidable people power is.
It should, however, be noted that if Biya cancelled a trip to Geneva last Saturday for fear of another strike action, then there is no gainsaying that far from being the fearless fang, which he wanted the world to see him as, he is indeed a white livered politician and a fugitive in power.
Injecting Section 53(3) of the recently passed Constitution amendment bill in which he is trying to secure immunity for himself, emphasises that Biya is anything but confident of himself. It should be recalled that the former Chilean dictator, Augustu Pinochet, made a similar provision to secure him from future reckoning, but was still tried after he fell from power.
August 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
By Innocent Chia
It is a rat race within the highest echelon of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) as to who succeeds Paul Biya as party leader and candidate at the upcoming Presidential elections. Unimpeachable sources close to the President confirm that Biya called a secret meeting at the Unity Palace in which he literally threw in the towel, citing uprisings in the Mideast that have seen the ousting of Tunisia’s Ben Ali and the fall of Egypt’s Mubarak. “La salle etait comme un tombeau” (there was graveyard silence in the room) our source said.
Who will fill the void?
His closest collaborators in recent years are either languishing in jail or have fled the country for their dear lives – Titus Edzoa, Atangana Mebara, … explaining the confounding silence and lack of excitement at the president’s disclosure. Close to three decades in power the President’s “inner circle” was unable to turn their heads in the direction of one among them that would be said to have been groomed for succession. While demanding complete and unquestioning loyalty from his collaborators, Biya’s treatment of them, however, indicates how expendable his collaborators are, always casting them into his den of Lions just to save his own skin.
Leave Frank Biya Alone!
There is always a tug of war in Cameroon on whether rumor springs from the peasantry or from corridors of power. Often times, the regime tests the popularity of an unpopular move by tossing out tit bits of it in rumor form. A most persistent rumor that flourishes on the eve of Presidential elections or whenever the issue of succession surfaces is that Frank Biya, the President Biya’s son with his late wife, has been in training camp in Canada and France waiting for a nudge from the father.
But according to our sources, the Frank Biya stock may have suffered a setback. A Biya loyalist, after clearing his throat to call the President’s attention, is said to have mustered the courage to mention the name… “Mon Excellence, le President de la Republique…” The President, without as much as lifting his eyes to look in the direction from which the voice came, is said to have motioned for the voice to speak up.
“Mon Excellence, Frank…” Our sources say the President became livid at the mention of Frank Biya’s name, cutting off the speaker before he could hear any more of it. “Laissez Frank en dehors de ceci” the President warned, asking for his son to be left out of it. In the opinion of one source, this is a sign that President Biya is watching very closely what is happening to autocrats from Jordan to Yemen. They are joining Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in reneging plans and constitutional maneuvers that had been set in motion for their sons to become successors.
If not Frank, Who?
It is a most pathetic question that the proponents of perpetrating a dictatorship such as Biya’s have been mindlessly repeating ad nauseum. And it is the same question that was raised by the pretentiously self-effacing egomaniacs who are known cheerleaders and organizers of “Motion of Support” letters and pro-Biya marches. Knowing how their colleagues who whispered such aspirations to the mirror have ended, it is no news that there were deflections away from self to avoid any recriminations. The self-deprecation is not sufficient in and of itself. Loyalists to Biya have to be consumed by and project his invincibility, his omnipresence, omniscience and yes, omnipotence.
These projections have been bought wholesale and megaphoned by democrat, independent and republican talking heads on TV alike; a situation largely created by the retrenching within the press corps when international bureaus were closed off as part of cost-cutting measures in sour economic times. We readily understand why the big question with regards to the unfolding of Mubarak’s Egypt has been that of knowing who else will fill his shoes. Certainly he has been a formidable US and Israeli ally and equalizer in the Middle East.
But do his accomplishments diminish or take away from the ability of any other qualified Egyptian to deliver, not only to the international community but to the dreams of young, unemployed Egyptian graduates? Can the peace, security and interests of the US and Israel not be met concurrently with the peace, security and interests of the Egyptian people? There is much talk about how educated the Egyptian society is; is it not antithetical to be unable to find any other Egyptian that can better achieve what Hosni Mubarak has brought to the table in his three decades in power?
The quintessential benevolent despot that he is, Mubarak defiantly told the world and Egyptians that he had to finish the work that he has started!What work is it that only one man can finish? Even more important, who gives the mandate for the work? Is it not the people?
President Biya and his coterie of self-serving kleptomans justify their hijacking of the people’s power by literally stating that their populace is too stupid, too ignorant, inexperienced and unworthy to attain such echelons of power. I don’t happen to agree with any of such characterizations.
After the aborted coup d’Etat in 1984 President Paul Biya not only rooted off the large contingent of Northerners and other suspected groups from the Presidential Guard squad, he quickly understood that his longevity in power was a function of how well he treated the military. A happy military is a happy Biya. The military became the pillar of his administration, solidifying its position in his heart during the ghost town operations initiated by the opposition following the stolen victory at the polls on October 11, 1992.
Since then, President Biya has multiplied by several-fold the number of military Generals from the two – Semengue and Tataw, who, at over 80, are still in active service today. When the CFA currency was devalued and salaries halved, the military may as well have got a pay raise. Many recall that Biya and Mubarak came to power within a year of each other – Mubarak having an edge in seniority. The similarities between both men apparently do not stop there. The way they have put their military to use is not going unnoticed to the avid observer.
Taking advantage of the credibility of their military, both men have deployed the military as “agents provocateurs”. How unconscionable is it for the Egyptian army to stand by and watch civilians butcher fellow civilians with machetes? Some pundits have said the army is acting with restraint. I beg to differ.
The Egyptian Army has clearly sided in this matter with Mubarak and pro-Mubarak forces. By not pushing away the pro-Mubarak (pro-government forces) that aggressed the unarmed anti-Mubarak forces, who have been peaceful over the last week and half, the Army basically acted as accomplices to the fact.
These are tactics that Biya has deployed successfully in Cameroon. A most recent show of force was in preparation for the President’s visit to the Northwest Regional capital, Bamenda. The military besieged the region and a State of emergency reigned in Bamenda. Businesses were crippled. The official media sang praise songs on the wonders of the regime. No one dared talk about the rising unemployment among the young college graduates. No one dared link the pervasive banditry to the skyrocketing unemployment. A town under siege was impressively painted as living through its best moments of security.
More to Come from Africa
Facts are stubborn. The Western media and pundits must do a better job reading in-between the tealeaves. There is more unwinding to come from Africa as job prospects continue dwindling especially for young people who are forced to graduate from college and go right back to the high school bedrooms in the family house. I will go on a limb to predict that the generation of Africans that were handed power by colonialists, who are still very intimately aligned with traditional authority and customs, will either die out or get pushed out of power before Africa takes a turn for leaders that respect term limits and the will of the people.
Until then, the refrain from the people is that “Biya must go”. All they want to hear from him in a televised address is that “I will not run for re-election in October 2011.” It will be the best legacy that he could ever give Cameroonians. Such a decision will open wide the field for free and fair elections. His presence alone thwarts the game. Even more important, such a decision not to run in October, 2011 will save a bloodbath that will ensue if he goes down any other way. He has the power to do it now and go out on his terms with dignity. It’s his choice. Until then, the clock is ticking…tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock….
It is true a dictator is nothing but an obedient puppet. They are either obedient to the master in Europe, America or obedient to self-created circumstances that they have become prisoners of – Biya killing all the Northerners in 1984 and imprisoning his close collaborators has closed the doors for him and the prospect of going to Kondengui and facing his demons is nothing he wants to face in this lifetime. Hence, he will rather die in power than live it.
The only way out is a la Ben Ali. It entails more than sending text messages saying “Biya must go”. There needs to be more thought to it, better organization, purpose and leadership – otherwise it will Peter out like the February 2008 demonstrations in Douala.
Source: The Chia Report
- I go tok!! New Biya Regime ‘scams’ emerge as Elections loom ahead. (prgoretti.wordpress.com)
- Paul Biya pulling Cameroon slowly into civil war (juliusche.com)
- “Is Mubarak’s trial shame or fame for Africa?” by Nkwazi Mhango (afrospear.com)
May 20, 2011 § 3 Comments
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.
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
- Fru Ndi dissociates Self from anti-Biya Protests (ntemfacofege.wordpress.com)
- The Cameroonian Conundrum: Autopsy of a Moribund Nation (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon and “Motions of Support” (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon opposition vows to disrupt election (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- [Biya Must Go] Paul Biya Degage (juliusche.com)
May 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
By Dr. Peter Wuteh Vakunta
The ailing polity code-named Cameroon seems to be afflicted with a medley of ailments that have earned it a myriad of sobriquets:Clando Republic, Mimboland, Animal Farm, Gaullist Africa, Ghost Nation, and more. The purport of this write-up is to diagnose the illnesses with which our nation is afflicted. The end game is to be able to prescribe some dependable medicaments efficacious enough to resuscitate a nation from its death throes.
Alcohol is the opium of the Cameroonian people. In other climes, people drink alcohol on very special occasions, if at all. In Cameroon, booze is our national drug of choice. A meeting without itemeleven[i] is considered an abortive meeting. Little wonder, some of the talk shops [ii]that pass for meetings in Mimboland often result in drunken revelries. I was brainstorming the fate of Cameroon with a friend lately and here is what he said: “Try to get two or three Cameroonians at a round table to brainstorm about some matter of substance and you will come away disappointed, but get them to put on their traditional regalia and come for alcohol or to dance ndombolo and you will be humbled by their vibrancy!” [iii] With this irresistible penchant for alcohol, does it surprise anyone that we have become numbskulls, bereft of cognitive ability? The brain that is filled with bubbles of alcohol cannot think. Bacchus[iv] must be rubbing his hands in mock glee wherever he is lurking in Cameroon. Come to think of it, what are we really celebrating? The uncertain fate of thousands of University graduates who have been driven byChomencan[v] to become sauveteurs[vi], taxi drivers,bendskinneurs[vii] and wolowoss[viii]? Or is it our once beautiful roads that have degenerated into death traps that we are celebrating? The question begs to be asked again: what are Cameroonians actually celebrating on a daily basis in circuits[ix]and off-licenses? The sale of our fatherland to foreigners? When Longue Longue oralizes the auctioning of our natural resources, including crude-oil and forest products to the French, we simply scoff at him and scurry back to our booze as promptly as possible. Some sagacious man once observed that Paul Biya is governing a nation of nineteen million drunkards! Is there a dissenting voice? I urge my fellow countrymen and women to stay sober at all times. You snooze you lose, an expression which insinuates that we will miss out on a great many opportunities if we don’t remain aware or open to the goings-on in our country. How can we afford to numb our brains with alcohol when this nation is on the brink of an abyss? There is a vendetta around the corner. We cannot afford to snooze or booze!
Fear has crippled Cameroonians. Behind the semblance of bravado that punctuates our daily discourse, Cameroonians are inwardly compulsive cowards. Despite all the brouhaha: catcham! beat’am! catcham! killam! If Mr. Paul Biya were to walk down the streets of any Cameroonian city today without a bodyguard, you would be surprised to see how many people would simply take to their heels after identifying the nation’s ennemi numéro 1[x] This explains why the man is unfazed by the raving and ranting of his many detractors. Internally, he knows Cameroonians are a bunch of paranoid big babies. Who would have believed that Mr. Biya would go to Bamenda in 2011 and be hailed as Fon of Fons after all the trauma to which he has subjected the people of Abakwa? Our Ntarikon landlord even granted him audience! The legendary Bamenda man known for his tenacity and alacrity to chop fire has suddenly became melo. What is the genesis of this paralysis? Or dare I say hypnotizing fear? What become of the likes of Fon Mbinglo of Nso who, we are told, once declined to shake the hand of the Queen of England because in Nsoland, women do not shake hands with men. As we brace ourselves for the pending battle ahead, it is critical that we kill fear, like the Egyptians who buried their fear at Tahrir Square.[xi]We must bury own fear here and now. The 32nd president of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is reputed to have said: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”[xii] We cannot subject ourselves to slow death each day on account of fear. That is what William Shakespeare meant when he observed that “Cowards die many times before their deaths.”(Julius Caesar, Act 1, Sc1). This quote suggests rationally that man should not fear death but instead confront it boldly. To fear death is to die already.
One of the cankers eating deep into the Cameroonian social fabric is ethnocentrism, alternatively labeled tribalism. Tribalism engenders corruption, influence peddling, self-interest, abuse of power and dereliction of duty. This hydra has killed meritocracy in our country! Our nation has been reduced to ethnocentric concaves locked in lethal battles. The Beti want to fend for the Beti; the Bamileke attend to the needs of the Bamileke; the Bassa would do everything necessary to look after the Bassa, even if this means flouting the laws of the land and hurting other tribes. Politics has been given an ethnic bent across the board. And that is why nothing seems to work in Cameroon. Until we begin to see ourselves as Cameroonians first this quagmire will persist for a very long time. Ethnocentrism permeates all the nooks and crannies of Cameroon, including academic circles. William Ndi fictionalizes this predicament in his play Gods in the Ivory Tower (2009). Gods in the Ivory Towerdepicts the University of Ngoa as a glorified secondary school where the credo of ethnicity determines who succeeds and who drops out as evident in the caustic remarks of Professor Guignol: “This is a place for smart civilized people! Not primitive non-natives like you!”(44) Clearly, ethnophobia and xenophobia are cankerworms that eat deep into the very fabric of what the protagonist christens “the village college” (2) where meritocracy has been put on the back burner. Professor Guignol does not veil his preference for students from his own ethnic group as his question illustrates: “Did I not ask you from the very first day whether he was from your neighborhood, Mvog-Akum? Again, whether his parents were friends of some kind?”(40) Professor Guignol is openly spiteful of Anglophone students: “These English speakers…! Do you think it is for nothing that we label them in our tongue, I mean French as ‘les gauchers?’”(40) As it were, Ndi barely scratches the surface of the now well-known Anglophone question in Cameroon. The cohabitation between Anglos andFrogs[xiii] is depicted in Gods in the Ivory Tower as a marriage of convenience. This play is a lampoon on the notorious Francophone-Anglophone animosity in Cameroon.
The Anglophone Question
You may remember Animal Farm, the 1945 classic written by George Orwell. Many in my generation had to read this book in order to pass the London General Certificate of Education (GCE) ordinary level examination. Over the years I have come to see the relevance of the message contained in this novel even more as I ponder the Cameroon Anglophone Question. The plot of Orwell’s book is centered on the dissatisfaction of farm animals who felt they’re being mistreated by Farmer Jones. Led by the pigs, the animals revolted against their oppressive master, and after their victory, they decided to run the farm themselves on egalitarian principles. However, the pigs became corrupted by power and a new tyranny took root. The famous line: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (92) still rings true to date. The novel is a replica of what has come to be branded the Cameroon Anglophone Problem.
After fighting together to decolonize Cameroon, French-speaking Cameroonians now tend to lord it over their English-speaking compatriots. There exists a generation of English-speaking Cameroonians who now find themselves at a crossroads and would like to know where they really belong. Many Anglophone Cameroonians are now asking themselves why they are condemned to play second fiddle in the land of their birth. The unfair treatment meted out to English-speaking Cameroonians by cocky, condescending Francophone compatriots in positions of power is a time bomb that needs to be defused before it explodes to do irreparable damage. As Alfred Matumamboh puts it, “Anglophone Cameroonians still feel themselves a colonized people trapped in the clutches of horizontal colonization. Francophone Cameroonians keep on reminding them by their political word and deed that they are the masters while the deprived Anglophone is the trapped helpless servant to be maltreated and molested”(Online article). Unfair discrimination against Anglophones sows seeds of discord. The cohabitation between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians has been likened to a marriage of convenience by scholars and students of post-colonial Africa. In fact, some critics have compared the uneasy co-existence between these two distinct linguistic communities in Cameroon to the attitude of two travelers who met by chance in a roadside shelter and are merely waiting for the rain to cease before they continue their separate journeys in different directions. No other metaphor better depicts the frictional coexistence between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians.
More often than not, the perpetrators of this macabre game of divide and rule are French-speaking political leaders who take delight in fishing in troubled waters. In doing so, Francophone leaders indulge in stoking the flames of animosity and whipping up sentiments of mutual suspicion on both sides of the Mungo River at the expense of nation-building. Many of them have been heard making abrasive statements intended not only to cow Anglophones into submission but also to make them feel unwanted at home. Yet these self-styled leaders would mount the podium to chant to the entire world that there is no Anglophone Problem in Cameroon. This is utter hogwash, it seems to me. The plain truth is that there is a palpable feeling of discontent and unease among Anglophone Cameroonians. Questions that remain unanswered are numerous: Are Anglophone Cameroonians enjoying equal treatment with their Francophone counterparts in the workplace? Are Anglophone Cameroonians having their fair share of the national cake? Do they feel at home in Cameroon? These and many other unanswered questions constitute what has been dubbed the Cameroon Anglophone Question.
The Cameroon Anglophone Problem manifests itself in the form of complaints from English-speaking Cameroonians about the absence of transparency and accountability in matters relating to appointments in the civil service, the military, the police force, thegendarmerie[xiv][i] and the judiciary. In short, the AnglophoneQuestion raises interrogations about participation in decision-making and power-sharing in the country. This is not a figment of anyone’s imagination! It is real and tangible. The Anglophone Problem is the cry of an oppressed people, lamenting over the ultra-centralization of political power in the hands of a rapacious oligarchy based in Yaoundé, the nation’s capital, where Anglophones with limited proficiency in the French language are made to go through all kinds of odds in the hands of gloating Francophone bureaucrats who see English-speakers as anathema. The Anglophone Problem stems from the obnoxious attitude of French-speaking Cameroonians who believe that their Anglophone compatriots are unpatriotic, and therefore, should be asked to seek refuge in another country. This bigotry compounded by conceit has given rise to the rampant use of derogatory slurs such as “les Anglophones sont gauches” [xv][ii], “c’est des ennemis dans la maison” [xvi][iii], “ce sont les biafrais [xvii][iv] and so on.
The consequence of this anti-Anglophone sentiment is the birth of the misconception that Anglophone Cameroonians are unreliable, untrustworthy, and therefore, undeserving of positions of leadership in the country. This explains why key ministerial positions in Cameroon are the exclusive preserve of French-speaking Cameroonians. Anglophobia has also led to the appointment of Francophones with no working knowledge of the English language to ambassadorial positions in strategic countries like the United States of America, Great Britain, Germany, Nigeria and South Africa where they wind up making a complete fool of themselves linguistically and culturally speaking.
The corollary of this frictional co-existence is mutual distrust, a phenomenon that has been exploited maximally by Cameroonian politicians, including the Head of State himself. One only needs to ponder the manner in which the president has used the position of Prime Minister as an effective tool to play North-westerners against South-westerners beginning from Simon Achidi Achu to date. Who says nurturing ethnocentrism is not politically expedient? Undoubtedly, avaricious self-interest is at the root of all this rigmarole. We are not asking anyone to repudiate his ethnic origin. We can choose our friends; we cannot choose our parents. At the same time, Cameroonians must guard against balkanizing the nation along tribal lines.
In this essay, I have attempted to lay bare the anatomy of a malignant Nation-State. Cameroon is sick, very sick indeed. In 29 years we have gone from the posture of a buoyant Africa in miniature to that of a skeletal nation in decrepitude. Yet, our leaders continue to wine, dine and tango at the expense of the proverbial man in the street. The call is ours to halt this dementia by all means necessary. This task is ours. No outsider can do it on our behalf.
© Vakunta 2011
[i] Drinks served at the end of a meeting
[ii] Meetings characterized by futile deliberations that engender no action plan
[iii] John Dinga, email communication, May 6, 2011.
[iv] Bacchus was the Roman god of partying and wine.
[v] Chronic employment in Cameroon
[vii] Bendskin drivers
[ix] Beer parlors
[x] Number one enemy
[xi] Liberation Square) is a major public town square in Downtown Cairo.
- Pual Biya pulling Cameroon slowly into civil war (scylinfo.wordpress.com)
- Quick Item on Cameroon’s Protests (sahelblog.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon bans mobile Twitter service (textually.org)
- Samuel Eto’o infuriated by Cameroonian journalist (goal.com)