March 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
In Cameroon, the topic of homosexuality is no longer taboo. Both in Yaoundé and Douala, on the street, in taxis, restaurants, bars, offices and markets, on the radio and on television, it is difficult to spend a day or even an hour without the conversation reverting to this topic.
Opposition to homosexuality has become the focus of increasingly frequent conferences, panel discussions, sermons, religious campaigns, and interviews with politicians, bishops and other religious leaders in Cameroon, especially in the Cameroon Tribune, the government’s bilingual daily newspaper.
President Paul Biya suggests that people in Cameroon may be changing their minds about homosexuality, but the most obvious change is the frequency of discussions of the issue.
Increasingly, the issue of homosexuality comes up in day-to-day conversations. Most people agree: “With as much energy has we can muster, in the harshest terms possible, we must condemn this behavior, which is so harmful for Cameroon and its youth.”
Almost everyone “firmly” rejects the practice of homosexuality and its supposed corollaries, pederasty and prostitution, which together are called “deviance,” “moral decadence,” “true aberrations,” “amoral,” “unacceptable,” “satanic,” etc.
Conversations are fueled by the topic of homosexuality at home, in churches and in the press.
Consider how the Cameroon Tribune responded to the Amnesty International’s Jan. 24 report on human rights in Cameroon, which urged the repeal of Cameroonian laws against homosexuality and the release of LGBT prisoners.
For Amnesty International, those actions are a matter of human rights. But many in Cameroon see the issue differently.
Yves Atanga, the Tribune’s editor-in-chief, wrote a front-page article titled “Human rights in Cameroon: Amnesty’s false accusations. (Droits de l’homme au Cameroun: Le faux procès d’Amnesty).”
Editorial writer Makon ma Pondi wrote a column titled “Diversion: An anthem for homosexuals.” They took a stand against Amnesty International, calling it “an advocate of homosexuality” and a “finger-wagger,” and especially against homosexuality, “forbidden by Cameroonian laws.”
In his article, Atanga suggested that “in all honesty,” Amnesty should have entitled its report “Cameroon, leave the gays alone!” Pondi’s column complained about an “insidious and relentless campaign orchestrated for months through the media, seeking the repeal of the law [prohibiting sexual relations between persons of the same sex], to be achieved by any means necessary, including diplomatic pressure or withholding foreign aid.” The column asks, “Are we to believe that if we allow homosexuality and same-sex marriage we will achieve the economic growth we seek?”
Bishops say no, no, no!
Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church united in their opposition to homosexuality on Jan. 12 at the 36th annual gathering in Sangmelima of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon. In a statement published in its entirety on Feb. 7 in the Cameroon Tribune and later in other newspapers, they denounced homosexuality in strong terms.
They opposed “the multifaceted claims of human rights made by promoters of homosexuality — the right to marriage, to adopt children. to establish a family, to procreation with medical assistance, etc. — claims that are based on several concepts whose main ideology of gender … is opposed to classical ideas of family, gender and reproductive health.”
The bishops ignored examples of traditional African acceptance of same-sex relations. (See, for example, the article “What traditional African homosexuality learned from the West.”)
The bishops unanimously declared that homosexuality “falsifies human anthropology and trivializes sexuality, marriage and family as the foundation of society. In African culture, it is not part of the family and social values. It is a flagrant violation of the legacy left to use by our ancestors, who were faithful to heterosexuality and the family. In human history, homosexual practices have never led to societal evolution but have always been clear signs of civilization’s decay. In fact, homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it.”
They urged “all believers and people of good will to reject homosexuality and so-called ‘gay marriage’ to pray for homosexuals and those who are inclined toward homosexuality, watching over them and seeking compassionately to convert them.”
Even before their statement was published, Mgr. Victor Tonye Bakot, the archbishop of Yaoundé and a fervent fighter against homosexuality, said in a Jan. 28 interview: “We do not want” homosexuality in Africa.
“The West has its culture and Africans have ours,” he said. “Since we must respect the parallels between the two cultures, and since we are in dialogue with each other, let us propose polygamy to the West just as they propose homosexuality to us. Otherwise, let each of us remain set in their own culture.”
“I reject this new attempt at colonialization. They’re going too far,” he said.
On Feb. 24, the Association of Catholic Jurists of Cameroon condemned homosexuality during a meeting in Douala with Samuel Kléda, archbishop of Douala.
Although homosexual behavior has been observed in hundreds of species of animals, many people in Cameroon believe otherwise.
For example, in Archbishop Bakot’s sermons in the cathedral in Yaoundé and elsewhere, he condemned homosexuality as an “unnatural practice.”
In addition, attorney Pierre Robert Fojou told journalist Armand Essogo “not only is homosexuality punishable under Article 347 of the Cameroonian Penal Code, but it is also rejected by Cameroonians in general who, as good Africans, consider sexual relations between persons of the same sex against nature. “
Nico Halle preaching to the governor
“This is not negotiable,” stated the Christian Men’s Fellowship of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, as it launched a February campaign against homosexuality in the southwestern part of the country. “God made man and woman; animals, he made male and female. It is unacceptable that a man fall in love with another man, which is worse than animals, because animals only make love with the opposite sex. I’ve never seen a hen have sex with another hen, or two female dogs, or two male dogs. The rooster goes with the chicken, and so on. So, if the man will do what even the animal does not, then man becomes worse than an animal. … It is satanic,” reported the newspaper La Nouvelle Expression in an article on Feb. 27 headlined “Southwest: Crusade against homosexuality.”
Tumfor Nico Halle, a lawyer who is president of the Christian Men’s Fellowship of Cameroon, argued that “not only does our penal code condemn homosexuality with Article 347 providing for imprisonment of up to five years, but the Bible is also even harder on it. Leviticus 20 verse 13 says that if a man lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination. They shall surely be put to death: their blood will be on them.”
Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of the Southwest region, agreed with those statements, adding that “as a practicing Christian, he would not allow homosexuality in his region by any means.”
He accused human rights attorney Alice Nkom not only of repeatedly supporting the “homosexual cause” but also of being corrupt. He claimed that, when he was a prefect in Wouri, she urged him to release a homosexual defendant, saying that “a lot of euros are at stake.” Nkom has not yet responded to a request for comment on this accusation.
Rejection of ‘anus-ocracy’
Similar discussions fill the air waves. All day long the radio hosts of FM Yaoundé and their listeners decry the “immorality” of homosexuality. Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV), the national public television channel, focuses on the subject through debates, documentaries, short films (sometimes made by Cameroonians and other Africans who “reject this practice from the West”) and even in entertainment programs.
The best known of these programs is undoubtedly the show “Delire,” in which the now-graying master of ceremonies, Foly Dirane (the stage name of Adrian Tafen Veyreton), has not let a single show go by in over 20 years without warning youths aged 10 to 25 to watch out for homosexuals.
He boasts that in his 2001 song “Les Mouches,” he became the first singer to denounce homosexuality.
Although many LGBT people in Cameroon live in poverty — fired from their jobs and rejected by their families when their sexual preference becomes known — a widespread belief persists in Cameroon that homosexuals are rich, powerful and evil, even practicing black magic.
Foly Dirane claims that homosexuals are “sectarian pederasts who use money and employment as a bait to lure youths into their traps. By sodomizing their victims, they steal the youths’ power and good fortune,” he says.
“Homosexuality in Cameroon is not like homosexuality in Europe,” he says.
In Cameroon, homosexuals seek to impose an “anus-ocracy,” he says. “Homosexuality is a cult of pederasts who feed on youth.”
This cult’s sorcerers demand homosexuality as a condition sine qua non for young people to succeed in society, he says.
“The cult has chosen homosexuality as a means of domination,” he says. “This sect has money and power and wants to force all young Cameroonians to join them.”
“People without power are propelled into positions of great responsibility through their anus,” he claims.
With statements like those, it’s clear that the “debate” about homosexuality in Cameroon is far from over.
- Amnesty International wants Cameroon to grant Gay Rights. (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Another 3 men in Cameroon jail for homosexuality (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon Gay Rights Lawyer Michel Togue Seeks Refuge In United States (ontopmag.com)
- Anti-LGBT Remarks in Malawi and Cameroon a Warning Sign as Conclave Approaches (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
February 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
Several Cameroonians were interviewed and below are their individual opinions on Biya’s ‘Visit’ to Buea.
1. He Is Not Ready.
Biya is the Head of State and has the Cameroon programme in hand and so doesn’t need to give an account of his departure to anyone if he doesn’t deem it fit. If he hasn’t said anything about the date, then it could be that he is not ready and in such a case, he cannot give any precise date because he doesn’t want to disappoint the people again.
Sama, Administrator, Yaounde.
2. Biya Should Give A Specific Date.
I think the President should be able to give a specific date to enable the population to properly mobilise for his coming. We know that, as the supreme head of the country, he has the right to visit any region at any time without even seeking the opinions of the locals.
But with the destruction and frequent clean-up campaigns instituted by the council under the guise of presidential visit, which date is unknown, is greatly affecting not only businesses but also the inhabitants of Buea. For how long are we going to carry on with this activity?
Kenneth Ndze, Businessman, Buea.
3. Biya Is Scared.
Biya is scared. The Southern Cameroons issue has existed for long now and the people have a grudge, and this worsened when he didn’t keep to his promise of visiting the Southwest. I even heard the people once promised to burn him to death. This has scared him and even if he announces a date for his trip to Buea it is likely that he will send a representative. I think Biya is just deceiving the people just like before. He won’t go to Buea.
Kelly, Barber, Yaounde.
4. The President Is Not Supposed To Unveil Date.
Under normal circumstances, the President is not supposed to unveil the date of his visit for security reasons. We know that such a high profile personality like the President needs maximum protection, especially on very special State visits like the one he is about to make to Buea. When he must have been sure that the security network in Buea is in place, he can then give an exact date. Also, the President’s schedule is so tight that he needs time to actually give a date that will not clash with his personal programme.
Aaron Prosper Bias, Accountant, Buea.
5. Biya’s Visits Have Often Been A Mystery.
President Biya’s visits have always been a mystery. He has never disclosed his working or visiting calendar as most of his moves are usually a surprise to the citizens. I think this is not good when it comes to issues of the State.
He has ideas of what needs to be done but I suspect that the resources to get such wishes come to reality are not properly managed. His collaborators are not helping him especially in the work they need to do ahead of his visit to Buea. I wish he announces the visit to Buea for May 20, 2013, because that town is also part of Cameroon.
Rev. Richard Ngassa Kessou, Yaounde.
6. The President Isn’t Hiding Date.
I think the President is not hiding the date of his visit to Buea because he was supposed to have visited Buea since last year. But it seems as if the people he assigned to prepare the necessary logistics for his visit are not ready. Until Buea is ready to host the President before he will make public the date.
Eno Tanyi, Teacher, GTHS Buea.
7. The Secrecy Is Out Of Fear Or Contempt.
If Biya’s visit is shrouded in much secrecy, it could be out of two things; fear or contempt or simply the two. Biya promised the people earlier of his visit but never honoured his promise, and just like the other time he fears something might go wrong. Secondly, Biya might just despise the people of the Region and decide not to visit them at all.
Augustine Meh Zang, Director, Computer Institute, Yaounde.
8. He Wants To Get Things Ready.
I think he doesn’t want to be embarrassed because he has compared the level of the work done on the ground. Drawing lessons from what happened in the past, because you will recall that some time ago, he was told all was ready and he announced elections only to discover on election day that not everything was in place.
He was forced to postpone the elections. This is on account that he has given assignments to be done and he is monitoring the level of work and if it is not satisfactory, he would not announce the date.
Choves Loh, Regional Chief Cameroon Tribune, NW.
9. Only He And God Know What He Is Afraid Of.
Which date has Biya ever announced? Not even the date of Cameroon football finals are ever known ahead of time. It is announced a few hours to the day. Only he and God know what he is afraid of. This is one more proof if you needed any that his is a government by improvisation. We are used to it, but I think it is high time we got out of this mess.
Wilfred Tassang, Moderator Club2020, Bamenda.
10. Biya Knows What State Secrets Are.
I am very convinced that President Biya knows what State secrets are and until everything is in place his date to Buea remains a secret.
Tamnjong N., Chief of Personnel, Basic Education, Northwest.
11. Biya Is Unsure Of Event.
I am sure that the Head of State is not yet certain that the event will hold and as such no need announcing the date.
Christopher Akunchum, Carpenter, Mbingo.
12. Many Things Must Be Put In Place.
I do not think that President Biya is actually hiding his date of visit to Buea. Before coming to Buea, so many things must be put in place like the roads, hotels, and other infrastructural logistics. Until these factors are put in place he cannot actually give a date for his visit.
John Tendong Esegemu, Consultant, Buea.
13. Biya Needs Rest Like Pope Benedict XVI.
It is not a normal thing and some people may argue that the date is kept secret for security reasons. But Biya is seemingly afraid to move even within his own country. I have the feeling that he feels more at ease out of Cameroon than when he is here. If the date of the visit is announced well ahead of time, the committee members preparing for the visit will work better while contractors working on the development projects will be forced to also work within the time frame
By the way, development projects are supposed to be implemented across the country irrespective of the fact that Biya is visiting an area or not. I can tell you that many people are no longer interested in the visit because of the procrastinations. I think the President needs a deserved rest after working for all this while just like Pope Benedict XVI has done.
Mercy Bilem, Yaounde.
14. He Should Announce The Date.
I am disappointed with him for continuously hiding his visit to Buea. He should announce the date so that the population should prepare to welcome him. If you are the President for the people, elected by the people, you must not hide your visit. When we have an august guest, we must prepare for his visit.
Gwendoline Manka, Journalist Hot Cocoa, Bamenda.
15. Authorities Should Conceal Date.
Many people are anxious to know when the Head of State will be coming to Buea. But it is appropriate for the authorities to conceal the date for security reasons. Knowing how the society is; the President may not tell the people when he will actually come. But he can give them a period say three months or five months, but to give them the exact date will not be possible, for security reasons.
Alfred Meende, Civil Servant, Buea.
February 4, 2013 § 1 Comment
A senior translator, terminologist and researcher at the Yaounde University I, Soule Saidou Nchouat, says Cameroon’s bilingual policy is only based on a constitutional assumption.
He made the remark in an interview with The Post in Yaounde on January 28, as activities marking this year’s national bilingualism day came to a head. According to the translator, the country’s bilingualism is fraught with so many irregularities that Cameroon can only be referred to as “a French bilingual country”. To him, what is referred to as official bilingualism (giving equal status to French and English) is almost in existent.
The French language, he maintained, has been put on a higher pedestal in a way that it is virtually assimilating the English language, as far as official bilingualism is concerned in Cameroon. Further expressing his views, the researcher remarked: “policy is made up of instruments which give orientation to it. Bilingualism is a concept in Cameroon that is based on constitutional assumption.”
Quoting Article 1(3) of the Constitution of Cameroon, he said “English and French shall be the official languages of Cameroon. Both languages,” he stated, “are supposed to have equal status and that Government is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the promotion of bilingualism and its implementation and protection all over the country, as well as national languages.”
The Senior Translator said, so far, the Government has made a good attempt at promoting bilingualism in the country by creating pilot linguistic centers and bilingual Secondary and High Schools all over the country. Nevertheless, he said the implementation of the policy has been a mess.
“For one thing, the constitution does not say how it should be implemented. There is even no text that defines what bilingualism is all about. There is no law prescribing punishment for officials who issue official documents only in one language,” he observed. What obtains now, he went on, is that someone who ignores the other language (English), is not violating any law. Answering a question as to who is a bilingual person in Cameroon, he said anybody who speaks two or more languages is bilingual.
“These languages can be Ejagham, Mungaka, Lamnso and so on,” he said. He said the issue of English and French has to do with official bilingualism. To him, the problem of bilingualism in Cameroon is further compounded when some officials ignore professional translators and get quacks to translate official documents from French into approximate English.
“Whenever money is concerned, people prefer to bring their relatives (quacks) to do the work of translators,” he said. Soule said some of them have learned to develop linguistic shock absorbers for the ridiculous quality of the English language that they see in some of the billboards in town.
He added that hierarchy does not care about English. As far as unofficial bilingualism is concerned, Soule said the English language was sustaining an assault over French. Citing a recent study, he said a majority of Cameroonians in the Northern Regions who speak both official languages speak 60 percent of English.
He also said many Francophone parents are sending their children to Anglo-Saxon schools to learn English. Official bilingualism in Cameroon, he said, has failed. As a remedy, he said: “we need a law to govern bilingualism in Cameroon and its attendant decrees of application, otherwise, Cameroon will remain a French bilingual country”
- Bilingual From the Womb (scienceabstracts.wordpress.com)
- Mimboman,now a dead zone in Yaounde (lebs295.wordpress.com)
February 2, 2013 § 6 Comments
Amnesty International, AI, has stigmatized Cameroon as a country with a bloody record of human right abuses. This is the byword of the 2012 report the organisation published in January 24.
“People in Cameroon are being subjected to a raft of abuses including unlawful killing and torture as the authorities seek to use the criminal justice system to clamp down on political opponents, human right defenders and journalists and as a weapon to attack lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people,” partly reads the report of the global human rights organisation.
The report documents a series of cases where fear, intimidation and imprisonment have been used to clamp down on political opposition to President Biya. “For example, the case of Titus Edzoa, the former Health Minister who quit government to stand as a Presidential candidate on April 20, 1997. He was later arrested on charges of corruption and he is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence after completing a 15-year prison term,” says the report.
It quotes a melancholy-stricken Edzoa telling AI officials during a visit to his cell in Yaounde that, “I am living in virtual isolation and frightened people will forget me.” AI equally indicts the Cameroon for harassing and threatening human rights defenders and members of their families for doing work and failing to offer them protection.
“Over the years, dozens of prisoners attempting to escape have been shot, injured or killed by guards. Numerous prisoners are held in shackles and many have been detained for more than 20 months without trial,” the report points out. Going by the AI report, its officials visited Kondengui Prison in Yaounde and the Douala New Bell Prison and were appalled by the conditions and ill-treatment. At the time of their latest visit in December 2012, there were more than 7,000 prisoners in two prisons with a capacity of 1500.
“It’s close to a miracle,” the organisation observes, “that people actually survive their stay in prison. I was frightened when I visited. How worse can it be for the thousands of detainees who are abused and forgotten or ignored by the authorities?” one of the officials quipped.
“Inmates in Kondengui Prison,” says the report, “only eat one meal a day and malnutrition is rife.” Prison authorities informed AI that most of the detainees in one wing are mentally ill and researchers saw male inmates who were completely naked amidst a crowd of fellow prisoners.
Rights Of Homosexuals
The report also observes that “engaging in same sex relations is a criminal offence in Cameroon.”
It, however, gainsaid that the authorities for routine arrest, detention and torture of individual inmates because of their real or perceived sexual orientation. Such violations, it claims, have increased since the mid-2000s. It holds that same sex people in custody are also forced to undergo anal examination in mistaken belief by the authorities that the examinations can prove whether or not people are engaging in same-sex relations.
It says there is no justification, whatsoever, for this illegal, degrading treatment. To them, it represents a severe breach of medical ethics and has to end immediately. The report reveals that defence lawyers for same sex people have recently received death threats against themselves and their children for defending homosexuals.
“Amnesty International submitted a comprehensive memorandum on human right abuses to the Cameroonian Government in September 2012, along with recommendations. When delegates visited the country in December 2012, they concluded that human rights violation has continued unabated since their previous visit in August 2010,” the report narrates.
“It is time to put an end to such blatant violation of human rights. The Government needs to make it clear to security forces that human right violations will not be tolerated; that perpetrators will be brought to justice and reparation paid to victims,” says Godfrey Byaruhanga, AI Central Africa researcher, who visited Cameroon recently.
He further says in the report that, “the Government is adamant that it enforces the rule of law but has little to show for it on the ground. It has to prove it means what it claims.” In reaction, a recent edition of the Government-run bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune, dismissed the report as false. The paper equally published write-ups that seek to “white-wash” Cameroon’s human rights image.
- Jonas and Franky, freed but now in hiding (76crimes.com)
- Another 3 men in Cameroon jail for homosexuality (lebs295.wordpress.com)
January 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
While investigations continue to incarceration of all other accomplices of the gang, the populations of Mimboman and its surroundings have not hide their relief.
The news of the arrest of alleged perpetrators of a series of ritual murders that have hit the chronic Mimboman neighborhood (and vicinity) to Yaoundé , spread a few days ago, like a wildfire across the Capital City, to the delight of the people who had almost lost sleep. But the day before yesterday morning, in the early hours of the day, Yaoundéens have once again been frightened
by rumors of the arrest by the elements of the gendarmerie Nkoabang in a road checkpoint, a lady carrying a bag full of children’s heads. Despite the formal denial of the sub-prefect of the city, and details of the brigade commander who both spoke of false allegations, the spectrum of psychosis hovered throughout the said day in the city.
Fear over the city
This we are told is the reason which would have caused the reaction spokesman Issa Bakary Tchiroma government.
Indeed, according to our sources, the government might well have ignored the case of the arrest of criminals of Mimboman, not to strengthen the sense of fear among the population, but also and especially to not disturb the progress of the investigation.
According to eyewitness accounts, it was after a long investigation by the Commissioner Evina and elements of the 4th district police, supported by the police brigades of research and Emombo Nkolmesseng, the police and security would have fallen on 04 young Cameroonians: 03 men (the age varies between 18 and 23 years) and a girl named Martine, Virginia. At the end of the exploitation of suspects allegedly confessed complete, said forces would after raids, carried out the arrest of 20 other accomplices of the gang, who already meditate their fate to the central prison in Yaoundé, pending trial.
- Mimboman,now a dead zone in Yaounde (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- City panicked by wave of suspected ritual killings (cnn.com)
- Families keep daughters in after 18 young women mutilated and murdered in Yaounde, Cameroon (thisismoney.co.uk)
January 25, 2013 § 2 Comments
It has been reported by foreign that within the last one month 18 female deaths have occurred in Yaoundé, Cameroon. All the 18 bodies were mutilated. The victims were all between the ages of 17 and 26. Unlike in India where the rapping and consequent death of a female student made headlines and the Indian population took to the streets to call their government to action, the Cameroon citizenry are going about their normal businesses as if it’s nobody’s concern. Have we ever asked ourselves the question of “what if it was my daughter, a sister an aunt, a niece, a friend, a classmate, a wife or just a Cameroonian?” This has been weeks ago yet our media waited for those foreign media like CNN to report the incident before picking it up. Why are we Cameroonians having such a care free attitude? Can our population not organize a peaceful…
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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.