Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What does Ash Wednesday mean to you?

One of our family friends had Malaise some time ago. Thank God, things didn’t get worst. However, when we paid him a family visit at the Hospital, my father jokingly said, “Man, you almost kicked the bucket”. Adding, “If you did, how we would have transported your remains to the village in this economic destitution? “Easy,” he replied. “I would have been cremated”, he yarned in response.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

These actually triggered a chain of other jokes and lungs opening discussions. Well, the issue here is not to talk about our family friend but the fact that cremation at death is becoming more popular.
For various reasons people are opting to have their remains burned to ash rather than buried for posterity in a casket. Some people take flight ashes of dead relatives, though i believe in many cases such a practice is forbidden by law. Some keep the ashes in a memorial garden while others situate the urn of ashes in a special place at home.
Some people opt for cremation because it is cheaper than burial. But i like to think many people opt for cremation because it helps family members to face the reality of life and death. Cremation really does return the deceased to the substance from which we all come: dust.
This acknowledgment that God made us out of nothing can be a terrific jiffy of grace and thanksgiving when looked at through the eyes of faith.
Our lives are more than just flesh and bone. It is by faith that we live and die. Ashes remind us of that truth. Cremation enables us to focus on our spiritual existence with God and our call to eternal life. Ash Wednesday is not unlike a funeral in the sense that we recognize where we come from and remember what is important: faith in Christ which brings eternal life. Receiving ashes reminds us that everything else must pass away.
For your reflection:
Would you prefer burial to cremation and why? What does Ash Wednesday mean to you? Will you attend Mass this coming Ash Wednesday?

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Cameroon: The Anglophone Problem is real, very important and urgent – says opposition leader.

Chief A.S. Ngwana, Chairman of Cameroon's opposition political party – Cardinal Democratic Party (CDP), has reiterated the fact that the Anglophone problem in the country, is not only real but very important and urgent. Ngwana in a recent article xrayed the genesis of the anglophone problem and call for an immediate solution to spare Cameroon from chaos. The out spoken opposition leader made it clear that Cameroon must revert to the 1961 Federal Constitution, for the Anglophone problem to stop.

Below is the article written by Chief A.S. Ngwana

The Anglophone Problem is real, very important and urgent because it borders on the corporate existence of Cameroon as one country.
The German claim to Cameroon was recognized in the Berlin Conference of November 1884, but when Germany lost the First World War it also lost sovereignty over its African colonies, which by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles came under the ambit of the League of Nations as “Mandated Territories”

By this arrangement Cameroon was divided between France and Britain. The Eastern side went to the French and the Western side to the British. French Cameroon and British Cameroon were separated for nearly 40 years and each absorbed the culture of its colonial master.
East Cameroon became independent on 1st January 1960 and Nigeria to which Southern and Northern Cameroon were attached also gained independence from Britain on 1st October 1960. On 11 February 1961 the UN conducted a plebiscite in Northern and Southern Cameroon to determined whether Cameroonians wanted to be independent by joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the Republic of Cameroon.
The results of the plebiscite which should have been counted as one for the whole British territory, were split and counted separately between North and South Cameroon. The north voted to join Nigeria and the South voted to join the Republic of Cameroon. In June 1961, all the leaders of the political parties in Southern Cameroon met in Bamenda to discuss the terms and conditions of reunification.

There were disagreements on several issues, but all agreed unanimously that unification was to be based on Federalism and that Southern Cameroons was to retain all its organs and institutions, its culture and legal systems and its parliamentary system of government. In July 1961 the famous , “Foumban Constitutional Conference met in Foumban to draw up a Constitution for the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

After protracted talks it was finally agreed that reunification would be based on federalism, that the State of Cameroon would promote and strengthen the bi-cultural identity of Cameroon without the French or English culture absorbing the other, and that Southern Cameroon would retain all its organs and institutions.
These terms were then incorporated into the 1961 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon with a proviso in Article 47 making it impossible to unilaterally amend certain Articles of the Constitution without the risk of breaking up the Union. On the 1st of October 1961 the Federal Republic of Cameroon was born. It consisted of two Equal States – the State of East Cameroon (formerly French Cameroon or Republic of Cameroon) and the state of West Cameroon ( formerly British Southern Cameroon or Southern Cameroon.)

From 1961 to 1972 when the Federal Republic of Cameroon existed, there was no ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM. Let us not forget that it was Anglophones who voted to join the Union, and to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, it was not the Francophones who voted, so the referendum to abolish the Federation should have only been voted by the Anglophones, but the Francophones with their majority in the Union “voted” and dissolved the Federation, the basis of Unification.
In so doing the Ahidjo government unconstitutionally and in breach of the Foumban Accord, abolished the Federal Government and introduced the present Unitary Government. This has created a new problem, a Constitutional problem called the ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM.
The Anglophone problem then started with the abolition of the Federation.

Anglophones who were used to the multiparty system of government suddenly found themselves in a one-party system of government (the “CNU monster ) with its dictatorship and suppression of human rights. East Cameroon-Francophone, oppressive laws and immanency laws, were extended and applied in West Cameroon.
West Cameroonians-Anglophones, were forced to carry “piece”(tax receipts, identity cards, voting cards, driving license etc) victims were arrested and tortured in the newly constructed BMM cells.
West Cameroonians who did not know fear before began to experience fear. Those who did not support the regime or criticize it were arrested, tortured or imprisoned.
By their legal system, a person is presumed guilty until he proves himself not guilty. Civil Servants were summarily dismissed businessmen lost their contracts or import licenses or were crippled by the imposition of unjustifiable taxes. Students were dismissed or had their scholarships withdrawn, journalists arrested and their papers seized or banned.

The whole exercise was planned and implemented by Youande to instill fear into the hearts and minds of West Cameroonians.
At the end Youande succeeded. West Cameroonian Judges, who had always been independent and fearless, began to accept dictation from Yaounde. They compromised their consciences, dignity and integrity and miscarried justice. Military Tribunals headed by West Cameroonians jailed innocent persons.
Members of Parliament were appointed and dismissed by Yaounde. Civil servants, Judges, the military and security forces were appointed, promoted, demoted or dismissed according to the whims and caprices of Yaounde. In the absence of justice, fear reigned. Those who suffered most were politicians and journalist.
By 1982 when Ahidjo resigned and appointed Paul Biya, his regime had succeeded in subjecting the whole Cameroon to Fear. East and West Cameroonians, Francophones and Angolphones lived in absolute fear. Democracy was dead.

In 1983, we (Anglophones) launched the Cameroon Democratic Party, our aims were to eradicate fear in the minds of Cameroonians, restore fundamental human rights and the rule of law, fight against corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, and above all, return Cameroon to multiparty democracy.
The ultimate goal was to build a buoyant and prosperous nation. Unfortunately the Biya government which inherited the atrocities of the CNU government of Ahidjo, kept me in exile for six years. Francophones must be told and the world must know that the Anglophone problem is not dying down but is gaining momentum every year.
In 1985, Fon gorji Dinka, a former president of the Cameroon Bar, unilaterally declared autonomy for Southern Cameroon. He named the new State Ambasonia.
Dinka is president of Ambasonia in exile.
The All Anglophone Conference (AAC1) held in Buea January 3-6, 1993 endorsed a return to the Federal System of government, While the Social Democratic Front (SDF) in its 1994 convention also accepted the Federal System.

On the 29th April to 3rd May 1994, AAC2, met in Bamenda, to discuss the “the road to peaceful self-determination and demand for zero hour” The AAC was transformed into “The Southern Cameroons People’s Conference” (SCPC) and then into the present SCNC “the Southern Cameroon National Conference”
In 1996, Dr. J. N. Foncha and S.T. Mona both of blessed memories, and once Vice-Presidents of Cameroon and retired Anglophone politicians, gave their full support to this struggle and led a delegation to the UN, accompanied by the Chairman of the SCNC, Mr. E.Elad, and prominent men from both North West and South West namely: Ambassadoe Epie of blessed memories, Ambassador Fossung, Mr. Litumbe, Dr. Youngbang, Justice Mbu and Dr. Munzo.
This was a clear indication of a united front and showed the gravity of the situation. In December 1999 Justice Ebong, a Judge of the Cameroon High Court, declared autonomy for Southern Cameroon, named the State “The Republic of Southern Cameroon”.

He was detained without trial for two years and then released Last year, 2008, Mr. Carlson Anyangwe, proclaimed the “Restoration Government of southern Cameroon”, he made himself president and appointed his ministers within and without the country All these people and movements in the Anglophone territory, are only trying to redress a situation which should never have arisen if our Francophone brothers have managed unification in the true spirit of brotherhood.
Instead we have been betrayed by the CNU/CPDM governments headed by our francophone brothers ADHIDJO/BIYA. In bad faith, they have betrayed our trust and confidence, our faith and aspirations for unification.
They have destroyed the basis of unification which is Federalism, they have, using their crooked control of political power marginalized Anglophones to second class citizens and are bent on destroying the Anglophone culture and tradition.

There are many Anglophones who have full mastery of the French language, more than many Fracophones and vice versa. But how can any one in good faith, explain the diabolic maneuvers to make sure that an Anglophone can never be president of Cameroon.
How can any one explain the fact that for 49 years, since independence an Anglophone has never held the important ministry of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Minister of Territorial Administration, defense or Chief Justice of Cameroon? Look at the disproportions, in numbers of Anglophone Generals, Governors, SDOs, Secretary Generals, Chief Executives of Government Corporations and parastatalls
In most of these places Anglophones occupy a second position How can you explain the fact that there is “regional balancing” in schools and universities only when it comes to admissions of francophone students. We did not unify to become second class citizens.
Unification was based on Federalism and Equality of Status, on Unity in Diversity, on equality of all Cameroonians.
A Federation is the only way by which any multinational and culturally divers communion, has the opportunity for variation in laws, existences, dispensations, that take account of the motley sensibilities and accordingly concede reasonable autonomy to the constituting units. Cameroon is a multicultural, multiethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious State.

That is why the United Nations gave Southern Cameroon independence on the basis of Federalism. We unified on the understanding that we would operate a Federal System, in which we will live in a mighty, united, economically strong Cameroon Nation; guaranteeing all citizens of every race and religion, inalienable fundamental and civic rights, equal opportunities and respect for the bicultural character of our people.

We therefore condemn any attempts to abolish or absorb, destroy or assimilate, promote or ignore, favor or submerge one culture, as inimical to the unity of Cameroon.
Therefore any person or party or government, who or which condones the marginalization, discrimination or the treatment of Anglophones as second class citizens, is an enemy of our unification.
Anglophones’ interest can only be protected and enhanced in a Federal Government. Our fight, our struggle is not against Francophones as such, but against the oppressive CNU/CPDM governments of AHIDJO/BIYA, governments which have denied us our fundamental rights and frustrated our political, economic and social aspirations;Governments which reduced us to second class citizens, and are hell-bent on keeping us there.

For any democratic dispensation to be successful, there must be an independent body to conduct elections so that the people can choose their rulers or leaders through free, fair and transparent elections by the ballot box.
For the first time when the most important organ of our democracy, (ELECAM), is to be set up, President Paul Biya, knowing fully well that this ELECAM was doomed to fail, because he would not respect the laws setting up ELECAM, he appointed an Anglophone to head it.

The failure of ELECAM would then be blamed on the Anglophones.
Well ELECAM has failed before it starts, Cameroonians as a whole and the International Community have rejected it, as not being a neutral body to conduct free and fair elections. Stop using Anglophones to do the dirty jobs.
For the Anglophone Problem to stop, Cameroon must revert to the 1961 Federal Constitution, or a modified Federal Constitution, which gives the Anglophones autonomy in their own Territory. May God spare Cameroon from chaos.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lent – a time of hope and of dreaming

The Mount Cameroon race of Hope is over. As losers, and especially “The landlord” bend their heads in shame and disbelieve over their poor performances the winners are looking forward to the next event with courage and hope.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

They are now looking at the post race prospect - of building local race clubs as they ready themselves for effective training. Even with their hills and valleys they start looking forward to victory in a mountain where locals take for grated. Instead of using their energy for practice they (locals) prefare doing so for what is called “Mbambe”

In just a few days we as Christians will begin our own training. Call it our mountain race training of sorts – the season of Lent. We begin Lent with a day that marks the beginning of new possibilities and a sense of hope, even as it reveals to us our own weakness, failings and lack of passion for the Gospel. That day is Ash Wednesday. Besides Christmas and Easter, Ash Wednesday seems to be the day when many return, if anything, to feel connected to God and to their community. They may not feel connected other ways, even at Sunday Eucharist, but there is a definite draw and oftentimes a sense of urgency to receive ashes on that day. “It is a time when they feel that they can return home”.

If Lent is our mountain race training then just like our “favorite winners”, we cannot do it alone. Oh, did I say “favorite winners”? Our Lenten journey, our spiritual Mountain race training, is a time of reconnecting to God and one another… all for the sake of the Kingdom. It’s amazing how a smudge on the forehead has such a power in the life of those who call themselves Catholics. The ashes are received by the community as a community. The scripture reading for Ash Wednesday are packed with images of a community: a community prayer – together; a community repenting - together; a community as ambassador – together. We receive many things at different levels during Lent.

As we see, welcoming and welcoming back are important in our celebration of Lent. Maybe that attitude of hospitality can be the hallmark of our Lent this year. Certainly we must fast, pray and give alms, but let’s fast from fear of the stranger and judgment towards the ones who struggle; let’s pray for those who are returning (maybe even fearfully) and let’s give the alms of our hands and our hearts in a spirit of “welcome home” and “welcome back”.

Lent – a time of hope and of dreaming. Lent - a time of reconnecting to God and one another. Lent – a time of coming home. Lent – our training.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Cameroon: The case against anti-corruption activist is a clear case of contradiction within the regime.

“We think the honourable way is to drop it, no matter how embarrassed the authorities are”

Those who observe how governments function once ventured the conclusion that every regime sows the seeds of its own overthrow. It might be a little far-fetched to talk of the overthrow of a well-entrenched regime as that of Yaounde. Yet recent developments force the onlooker to stop and wonder where the regime is headed for.
Imagine Paul Biya staying abroad continuously for forty-five days as if he was tired of being president of Cameroon. Can you imagine Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown or Barack Obama disappearing abroad to an officially unknown destination for so long a time? Someone would surely be sworn in to avoid a power vacuum.
Such a government leader elsewhere would almost for sure face a no-confidence vote or an impeachment procedure vote. For Biya, no one, not even the SDF, dared to ask a question. Yet that is beside the point. The law of self overthrow does not require any action by the opposition.
Let’s come back closer in time. The ELECAM board appointments that raised a hue and cry across the nation because Paul Biya violated the law demanding neutrality and appointed an all-CPDM membership is another. As it stands, the swearing-in of the board took place recently. Well, that is no good for the image of ELECAM.
The court case against Bernard Njonga is yet another decision of the regime that makes its observers wander what the government is actually up to. The man uncovered corruption at the highest sphere of the regime involving some of its most important pillars.
When the national anti-corruption commission waded into the matter as if to prove Njonga wrong what it then discovered appeared to be vastly more than Njonga had seen!
No doubt the government is very embarrassed with the whole affair. But the answer is not to vent its anger on Njonga. Faking a charge just to rope in Njonga only further messes up the regime. Njonga’s report is since out of the country with his NGO’s sponsors in Europe.
Paul Biya is supposed to be the moderator of his regime. He should be the first to assess the damage that the trial will do the regime. He should order a stop to the messy affair.
He vows everyday to fight corruption to the end and not be discouraged by anything. He would put his own credibility to doubt if he allowed this trial to continue. The president is surely wise enough.

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Cameroon:Justice in short supply

75 percent of the Country is not covered by the judiciary – Justice Minister

There are only 25 magistrate’s courts in Cameroon instead of 300 and high courts are 12 shy of the required number, Amadou Ali, Justice minister, has disclosed.
He explained during a ceremony to wish a happy New Year to Justice ministry personnel that government policy requires that there is a magistrate’s court in each subdivision and each division should have at least one high court.
But these targets are far from being met. Out of the 58 divisions, only 46 have high courts and out of the over 300 subdivisions, magistrate’s courts are found in only 25, he regretted.
Amadou Ali, however, did not mention the problem of insufficient human resources in the justice system, which is widely believed to be responsible for the sluggishness of the judicial process and one of the major obstacles to the effectiveness and efficiency of the judiciary here.
Amadou Ali said it will take at least five years before some of these problems are solved.
Like President Paul Biya in his end of year speech, Amadou Ali reiterated that the fight against corruption will continue in 2009. He said it will even constitute one of the main actions of his ministry which is responsible for the dossier.
He condemned rumours circulating that the arrests were selective. To him the arrests are done according to the law as only those who go against and with sufficient evidence of corruption are picked up.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cameroon’s cowardly intellectuals: They fall over one another telling the story of Obama but stop just short of drawing appropriate lessons for Biya..

Barack Obama the new US president is in more than just a few respects an extraordinary person. His charisma and brilliance were very much in evidence during the nearly two-year campaign that took him to the White House.

During that time the American media were replete with discussion on the man. Four books were published on Obama, he himself having written two. So far there is hardly any aspects of the new president, his wife and two daughters that have not been sufficiently exposed.
Obama and his electoral campaign were rousing not only to Americans but also to the rest of the world where the new president continues to enjoy much popularity.
It is also understandable that the enthusiasm of Cameroonians also found expression in the media where journalists and academics have had a field day commenting on the Obama phenomenon.
They have equally shared with their listeners the lessons they draw from the phenomenal rise of an African American, a minority American, to the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world.
One fact that has not been given sufficient enough attention is the political and social system that permits a gifted minority person like Barack Obama to find easy upward mobility.
Unrelenting hard work, natural brilliance, high academic success and excellent character would not have taken Barack Obama very far had the American society not allowed equal opportunity for all of its citizens.
Equal opportunity for all is in the end the great lesson for Cameroon deriving from the Obama rise, with all due respect to the admirable personal qualities of the new president.
We all know that in Cameroon there is still tribalism, nepotism, favouritism, rigged elections and many more social ills which combine to deny the Obamas of Cameroon the opportunity to put their extraordinary gifts at the service of the nation.
This is the clear and unmistakable lesson that the noisy academics who eagerly assume the rostrum of the public media stop short of drawing. Yet it is the only lesson there is to tell anybody by a Cameroonian commentator on Obama.
It is in the same spirit that Jean Emmanuel Pondi beat all the others to write a book on Obama. Missing the point altogether Pondi tells his readers to work hard and lift themselves like Obama!
Why would the brilliant professor make such a monumental error of avoiding the real lesson of Obama for Cameroon which lies not so much in the person of Obama but in the society that opens the way for the likes of Obama from minority groups and race to rise to the top.
We dare to say that intellectuals have failed the most in contributing to resolve the hugely unbalanced political equation of Cameroon. Each time they come out they are either validating the political blunders of the Biya-regime or being cowardly prudent enough to steer clear of addressing the regime.
That posture, no doubt, is also a choice. But then comes the question: why should a Cameroonian read a Cameroonian writer instead of an American on Obama if the Cameroonian is not going all the way to draw the truly instructive lesson for Cameroon from the Obama story?
The lesson stares us all in the face. Let the cowardly intellectuals keep pretending they do not see. They will see when the time comes.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Death-row prisoners drag Nigerian gov’t to court

The plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of keeping them on death row for long years, while asking to be executed without further delay or have their punishment converted to prison terms

Twenty-seven prisoners at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons, Apapa, Lagos, in neighbouring Nigeria have engaged a legal battle against the federal and Lagos state governments over what they call impropriety of their prolonged stay in prison detention on death row, reports say.
In a suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos recently, according to The Guardian, the condemned prisoners are questioning «a miscarriage of justice inherent in their delayed execution». They are also seeking to challenge the constitutionality of keeping them on death row for periods ranging from six through 10 to 24 years, during which they have allegedly been subjected to untold mental and psychological trauma.
Jeune Afrique newspaper has reported that the plaintiffs are demanding to be executed as soon as possible.
Those who are following the case keenly have expressed sympathy for the condemned prisoners. Some argue that the excruciating mental, physical and psychological agonies that a criminal on death row experiences every other moment, as he awaits the executioner’s noose, could be better imagined than described: Every knock on his door brings the hangman. Every moment, from when the judge read out the terminal judgement; «The sentence of death of the court upon you is that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul,» he dies, as it were, but lives on.
The agony with which the condemned prisoners have lived is even more excruciating when viewed against the cruel treatment of inmates in Nigerian prison cells. Jeune Afrique observes that if the authority do not even execute them, it is probable that the majority of them will die of malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other forms of diseases, and horrible prison conditions.
Meantime, The Guardian reports that the prisoners are also asking the court to convert their death sentences to terms of imprisonment, presuming that the governments have under the influence of time lost the power to execute them.
More so, in 2008 the European parliament adopted a resolution calling on Nigerian authorities to abolish the death penalty and confirmed that since 2002, even without an official agreement, the federal government has not carried out any execution. But then, prisoners are shedding tears.
Of the 53 African countries, 13 have already abolished the death penalty as punishment; meanwhile 22 do not apply it. And on the global scene, 137 of the 192 members of the United Nations no longer execute their citizens.

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Mother sells baby for 40,000 FCFA

The mother of seven children with seven different fathers explains that her intention was to give out the baby to a person who would afford to cater for it and give it a better future

Eyinga Carine maintains and appears so certain that she has not done anything wrong with her newborn baby. But, that she sold the two-day-old kid is causing a huge stir than she is aware. What is even more shocking is that she sold it at only 40,000 FCFA.
She told police that her intention was to guarantee the innocent baby a better future. According to her, she only gave out the baby to someone who could better cater for it since she could not afford even the basic needs for the seven children that she now has with seven different fathers.
But the police have insisted that such an act cannot be justified easily.
Meantime, the matter has been moved from the local police station where she was arrested alongside her “customer” to the Yaounde Court of First Instance for legal proceedings.
A local newspaper, Météo Hébdo reported that the baby was discovered with one Micheline Domoué still at the Mimboman quarter after the mother's arrest. The report says the baby had cried for so long when Domoué’s neighbour named only as Olga decided to knock her door and verify what was happening to the baby, but Domoué would not open her door when she alerted other neighbours. Now faced with mounting pressure from the increasingly anxious neighbours outside her door, Domoué decided to open the door.
According to the report Domoué had insisted that the baby belonged to her until the quarter head of Mimboman called the police who interrogated her to admit that she bought the baby at 40,000 FCFA from Eyinga Carine.
As legal proceedings continued it was not yet clear why the 37-year-old-woman decided to buy a child when she already had two children of her own.

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One-third of medicines in Africa are fake – WHO

Critics blame the life-threatening phenomenon on governments that have demonstrated lack of commitment to tackle the issue

The circulation of counterfeited medicines in Africa in particular and developing countries in general has attained alarming highs, according to the WHO.
Records indicate that in Africa a third of all available drugs are fake while in all developing countries combined, the figure stands at one-quarter. The statistics sharply contrast the situation in the developed world with a rather bearable one-percent circulation of bogus medicines.
The situation appears so troubling that the WHO convened experts at a meeting in Geneva from 19 to 27 January. The intention was to chart new ways of combating the current global boom in counterfeited drugs.
However, skeptics here say they expect little from the meeting that sought to seek an international treaty against the phenomenon. They say the absence of a real political will on the part of the government only encourages the influx of fake drugs sold naively or deliberately at hospital dispensaries, pharmacies and in the streets alike.
It is believed that 75 percent of these medicines are manufactured in India with about half destined for developing countries and especially Africa, transiting via Dubai to camouflage the origin. Curiously, parts of the consignments pass through customs to flood local markets.
Experts say to significantly curb the phenomenon that is linked to strange reactions and even sudden deaths among ailing Africans, the government must demonstrate a strong commitment. In the past, the government has promised and never really implemented severe sanctions, inter-alia.
And so the phenomenon has only flourished and expanded. In Cameroon, for example, thousands still sell drugs of dubious origins and quality around the streets or at roadside stores.
Reasons advanced to justify the booming fake medicines business in Cameroon include the high and prohibitive costs of authentic medicines, high import duties and taxes, complex regulations, lapses in the protection of trademarks and consumer ignorance and weak legislation.
WHO statistics reveal that customs duties and taxes put together weigh at least 20 percent in the final of authentic drugs on local markets. Adding to the cutthroat competition from the generally cheap-selling fake medicines, authentic dealers are left with little choice than pull out altogether.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

President Paul BIYA speaks to the Youths. Says there is no other way out than to acquire the best possible qualification.

President Paul BIYA of Cameroon speaks to the Youths on the occasion of the 43rd Youth Day Celebration on 11 February 2009. In his traditional message to the youths whose future seem uncertain in a country plague by corruption, human rights abuse , embezzlement, and bad governance, the president noted for his unfulfilled promises and uncaring attitude says there is no other way out for the youths than to acquire the best possible qualification. Although the world is going through harsh economic crises, President Biya, whose country of about 18m people, and purportedly one of the poorest on earth says “we are affected only moderately”.

Read full text of the President’s message below

My dear young compatriots,

Last year at the same time, I urged you to wake up to the fundamental changes taking place in the world, changes which will shape the 21st century, and I encouraged you to prepare yourselves for them, in order to seize the opportunities that were bound to arise.
I however added that the complexity of the phenomenon made it difficult to analyze its trend and predict its effects. I did not realize how right I was.
In fact, a few months later, the crisis rocked the global financial system and soon after affected the real economy all over the world.

As I pointed out recently, although we are affected only moderately, it is obvious that we will not be completely spared. Should we for this reason scale down our development objectives and particularly those concerning our youth?
I do not believe so. Indeed, I think that we should transcend the crisis and prepare ourselves for the recovery which will inevitably follow. For you, dear young compatriots, there is no other way out, I repeat, than to acquire the best possible qualification in order to compete.

To meet such demand for education, the State pursued and accelerated the reform of our educational system.
Regarding basic education, the resources made available to the ministry have increased significantly. The latter is ranked fourth in terms of budgetary allocations. It can also be noticed that enrolment rates in nursery and primary schools are rising sharply thanks notably to free education. Also, 5 525 new teachers were recruited, raising the number of teachers on contract to nearly 25 000. Some 1 458 new classrooms were built during the 2008 financial year.

Pedagogically, the quality of education has been enhanced through, among others, the development of information and communication technology programmes. These efforts have resulted in an increase in the rate of success in graduation examination to about 80% while the school repeater rate has dropped significantly.
It should also be underscored that private education reform has been completed. It is therefore hoped that more opportunities will henceforth be open to promoters of this sector of education.

Concerning secondary education, the remarkable effort already made was pursued. Let us recall that with CFAF 204 billion, this sector of education has the highest State budget allocation.
One of the priorities in this sector was to expand the school map by setting up 155 new schools in all regions, building many classrooms and transforming 46 existing schools in order to increase the number of technical and bilingual high schools.
To improve the educational service quality, 2 000 new teachers from Advanced Teacher Training Colleges were recruited. Ten thousand other teachers benefited from continuing training programmes and 4 000 were inspected. Multimedia resource centres were installed in six new schools while five others voluntarily experimented with the teaching of national languages and cultures.

At the same time, initiatives were taken to develop partnerships with the private sector. Thus, more than 500 teachers were able to undergo internship in enterprises and nearly 500 private schools received subsidies amounting to about CFAF one billion.
It should be noted that, in general, results in official examinations are improving.
For this year, plans have been made to implement a vast construction and rehabilitation programme particularly in the Bakassi area. Several thousands of teachers and cadres will also be recruited.
Higher education for its part pursued its great transformation methodically. Let me give you a few examples.
At the academic level, as planned, lectures effectively started at the Advanced Teacher Training College of the University of Maroua as well as in the faculties of medicine, pharmacy and bio-medical sciences of the Universities of Dschang and Ngaoundere. Furthermore, studies are under way to open the Higher Institute of the Sahel in the Far North Region.

Also noteworthy is the opening of the technology centre of the National Advanced Polytechnic School of Yaoundé I University to provide students from our various universities with professional training in business creation and management. A free trade zone has been launched in the same school.
Similarly, the university authorities pursued the consolidation of the Bachelor’s-Master’s-Doctorate system.
It is also important to mention the installation of satellite equipment and servers of two virtual universities at Yaoundé 1, one national and the other sub-regional. Prior to that, the activities of the Information Technology University Centre had been launched.
It should also be pointed out that during the year just ended, 16 private higher education institutions were opened, bringing to 73, the number of institutions in this category operating in Cameroon. Very soon, the Fine Arts Institutes will be opened in the Universities of Douala and Dschang and the Institute of Fisheries Sciences in the economic capital.

Regarding infrastructure, it would be tedious to list the numerous facilities that have been completed or under construction in our universities. These include administrative buildings, laboratories, libraries, amphitheatres, lecture halls.
Similarly, important measures have been taken to improve the living conditions of students. Two University halls of residence are nearing completion at Yaounde 1. Sports complexes are under construction in Douala and Yaounde II as well as University restaurants in several universities.
Within the framework of university corporate governance, an agreement was recently signed with a local insurance company. Over a thousand lecturers and their families are already covered by this health insurance, which includes evacuation abroad where necessary.
Lastly, several appointments were recently made at the helm of some universities to consolidate the new university governance.
This groundwork in the general domain of education which seeks to ensure equal opportunity for our youth and train various levels of cadre for our country must not make us forget that it is also our duty to prepare them for working and social life and to provide them with moral and civic education as well.

To that end, we need a veritable national youth policy that defines programmes to enable youth to acquire patriotic and democratic values and enter the production system. The Youth Plan on which there was extensive consultation in 2008 is in line with these objectives. It is now finalized and should be implemented once approved by the government.
Mention should also be made of the National Action Plan for Youth Employment which outlines actions to be undertaken to promote youth employment specifically. Prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Employment, it will require financing of about CFA F 165 billion. Its implementation should start during the 2009 fiscal year.

Concerning precisely the socio-economic integration of the youth, several major actions were undertaken last year. The rural and urban youth support programme, which is intended mostly for youth who are not attending or who have dropped out of school, helped to train over a thousand of them in 17 branches of activity, provided a good number with gainful employment and financed several hundreds of micro-businesses and junior enterprises. In the long term, these projects should generate thousands of direct or indirect jobs. Similarly, the youth socio-economic integration through the manufacture of sport equipment project has enabled the creation of 16 cooperatives for the production of this type of equipment.

Strategically, it was deemed necessary to study mechanisms likely to mobilize our youth for the development of our country. In this light, the organic instruments of the National Youth Council have been prepared. They should enable the putting in place of this body during the year.
Similarly, the instruments to set up and organize the National civic service for participation in Development have been finalized. I attach the utmost importance to this structure which seeks the moral rearmament and social integration of youth. I want to hope that it will see the light of day as soon as possible.

To improve youth guidance for its full participation in development activities, collective brainstorming was undertaken on the role that could be played by associations. In this spirit, there are plans to put in place in 2009, the National Youth and Mass Education

Committee which will be responsible for coordinating activities in these two domains.
Extra-curricular training has not been sidelined. The implementation of the programme to construct Multi-purpose Youth Promotion Centres is ongoing. Such centres offer the youth leisure and social integration activities and prepare them to enter working life. The Government’s intention is to provide a centre in each administrative unit. There are plans to build thirty of them over the next three years.

My dear young compatriots,

As you can see, the State is making an enormous effort for the youth, be it in the domain of education in the broadest sense or socio- professional integration. The figures are there to testify. It devotes nearly one-fifth of the national budget to youth-oriented activities in all sectors. That is necessary. That is normal.
It would only be normal also that in return for the sacrifices thus made by the Nation, you should be strongly committed to the development of our country.
Beyond your personal ambitions, which by the way are legitimate, you should be asking yourselves what you can do for your country. In this respect, the knowledge and skills you have acquired will be significant contributions to the implementation of strategic projects that will secure Cameroon’s future.
I want to believe that every one of you will make a point of contributing to the success of this great national endeavour.

Happy Youth Day to all!
Long live Cameroonian Youth!
Long live

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Monday, February 9, 2009

The Light of Christ has come into the World.

I am hearing from a lot of people around the world, and especially in the US, who have lost their jobs or have had their hours cut at work.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

It is a difficult time. Many have families to feed and mortgage to pay. Few have the luxury of not having to worry about money.
These very real hardships affect our spiritual life and our prayer.
Prayer often gets replaced by worry. Hope is replaced by fear.
I want to remind you that we just celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord last Monday. Its message is an echo of the Christmas message: the Light of Christ has come into the World.
Where there is light there is no darkness.
So what does this mean? Does this mean that Jesus is going to pay your electricity bill? Well no, not necessarily. What it does mean is that if we stay in the light, everything will be okay and will work out.
If you stay with Christ and do not neglect your spiritual needs, you will be able to address more effectively the material needs like paying bills and keeping a roof over your head.
On a practical note, I want to propose that if anyone hears of job openings lets post them here on Princereport.blogspot.com. To share this information, simply forward job opening to our email address : Princereport@gmail.com

For your reflection:
How is the economic crisis impacting your life and how are you dealing with it in prayer?
Is someone in greater need right now that you could help?
Is Jesus present in your life, or not?

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The German claim to Cameroon was recognized in the Berlin Conference of November 1884. When Germany lost the First World War, it also lost sovereignty over its African colonies, which by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles came under the ambit of the League of Nations as “ Mandated Territories ”
By Chief A.S. Ngwana.

By this arrangement, Cameroon was divided between Britain and France . The Eastern part of the country went to France while the Western part went to Britain . The latter further divided its own territory into two, North and South, ostensibly, for administrative convenience and the northern part, known as Northern Cameroon, was administered as part of Northern Nigeria while Southern Cameroon was administered as part of Eastern Nigeria.
In 1956 the French promulgated a new law , “the loi-cadre.” Under this law 70 parliamentary seats were provided for the new East Cameroon Legislative Assembly (ALCAM).
The same year on 23rd December elections were conducted. On the 9th of May, 1957, The French appointed Andre Mbida who won only 20 seats, the first Prime Minister of Eastern Cameroon, while Ahidjo with 30 seats, was appointed Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
In 1949 the British introduced the Macpherson Constitution in Nigeria , The New Constitution recognized the right to representation for Southern Cameroon- a clear reversal of the policy of taxation without representation enshrined in the Richards Constitution. This was a result of the agitation by Southern Cameroonians in Nigeria and else where.
Prominent among them were P.M. Kale, P.E.N Malafa, DR. E.L.M.
Endeley, Dr. Victor Anoma Ngu, and Dr. J.N. Foncha.

In 1951 the first ever elections were organized in Southern Cameroons and Dr. E.L.M.Edeley, the Leader of the KNC, was elected ‘Leader of Government Business” and prominent among his members were, Dr. J.N. Foncha, S.T, Muna and A.N. Jua.
Nonetheless for most Southern Cameroonian leaders the 1951 elections and whatever they were worth represented only a test-run. The ultimate political objective was a lot more ambitious than mere representation in the Nigerian Legislature. It was regional autonomy first and secession from Nigeria next.

On January 1 1960, the French gave Independence to East Cameroon and appointed Amadou Ahidjo the first President of the Republic of Cameroon. (no Elections)
On October 1, 1960, the British gave Independence to Nigeria . British North and South Cameroons ceased to be part of Nigeria administratively.
However the wind of change was blowing through Africa and every country wanted Independence . The United Nations was under pressure from many groups to terminate the Trusteeship Agreement and grant the Trust Territory of the Cameroons under United Kingdom Administration, independence.

The General Assembly: Recalling:

its resolution 1352 (X1V) of 16 October 1959 whereby it decided, inter alia, that a plebiscite in the Southern Cameroons be held between 30 September 1960 and March 1961, on the basis of the two alternatives set forth in operative paragraph 2 of the said resolution;” the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, conducted a plebiscite on February 11, in Northern and Southern Cameroons.

The two alternatives were:

Do you want to become independent by joining the Republic of Cameroon or by joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria ?.”
On 11 February 1961, Southern Cameroonians voted massively to join the Republic of Cameroon . Thus on 11 February 1961, The Anglophone Cameroon , voted overwhelmingly to re-unify with the Francophone Cameroon
The U.N. then resoled that a union of Southern Cameroon with the Republic of Cameroon, should be implemented into a “ Federal United Cameroon Republic .
Cameroon is what it is today because of February 11, the most important date in our modern Cameroon ,

Cameroonians highly appreciate and congratulate the Anglophone founding fathers who made this union possible.
We therefore condemn very strongly any person or party or Government, who or which does not appreciate this great achievement by Anglophone Cameroonians, and tries to marginalize or discriminate or treat Anglophones as second class citizens, as an enemy of our Unity.

May God continue to bless Cameroon .

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

ELECAM Appointments: Wrong Questions and Wrong Answers!

It is usually said that there are several types of bad scientists, including those that provide the right answers to the wrong question and those that provide the wrong answers to the right question. Much of the debate that followed the appointment of members of the Board of ELECAM has identified many such scientists!
By Tazoacha Asonganyi

Section 8 (2) of law N°2006/011 of 29 December 2006 creating Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) states that: "Members of the Electoral Board shall be designated from the midst of independent personalities of Cameroonian nationality, reputed for their stature, moral uprightness, intellectual honesty, patriotism, neutrality and impartiality" .
Therefore the right question under debate is whether Paul Biya violated the spirit and letter of this article, around which the whole law hinges.

A reputed Magistrate like Hon. Paul Ayah has already clarified the question thus: "the term reputed [in section 8(2) of the law] is of the family of reputation; ... reputation is the opinion the public holds of some person; ... such opinion springs from past and not future perceptions ... resignation from one’s party after appointment cannot retrospectively confer the prerequisite of reputed neutrality that was lacking at the time of appointment. ..".

Following the appointments, an activist like Hilaire Kamga and many others hurried into the fray, providing answers to the wrong question! Using section 11 of the law which only reiterates section 8(2) by stating incompatibilities, they argued that Paul Biya was within the law in his appointments, since the appointed persons have resigned from their partisan positions!
Others like Gregoire Owona of the Secretariat of the CPDM and a University don, Mouelle Kombi went into recalling the fact that most opposition leaders of today are former members of the CPDM. Whereas the assertion is correct, it had no relevance to the central question under debate!

Further, following the ridiculous ruling of the Administrative Bench of the Supreme Court on the grievances related to the appointments into ELECAM board, another University don Pius Ondoa (in an essay in a local newspaper) used the Colegrove vs Green (1946) and the Baker vs Carr (1962) rulings of the Supreme Court of the USA to sustain the Administrative Bench’s very disturbing argument that the appointment of members of ELECAM is a "political question" and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the judiciary! Bad science indeed! The question is not the authority of Paul Biya to appoint members of the board of ELECAM; it is whether he respected the law in making the appointments!

The "political question" the University don refers to in the USA was about the unfairness and the unconstitutionality of the legislation on the demarcation of electoral boundaries because they unfairly favoured some people or groups at the expense of others; therefore they violated the 14th Amendment principle of the citizen’s "equal voice in his government". In the USA, the court was asked to say whether the law violated the spirit of the constitution; in our case, the court was asked to say whether Paul Biya violated the ELECAM law by appointing certain persons into the Board.

In Colegrove vs Green, the Supreme Court of the USA invoked the "political question" doctrine in a 4-3 decision to dismiss a suit challenging the demarcation of Illinois congressional districts. The ruling ignited a debate on the "political question" in the court system in the USA. In using Justice William J. Brennan to buttress his claims, Ondoa does not seem to know that the Justice held the view that a court cannot promote justice and freedom if the victims of injustice and oppression cannot get into it; that rights explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution have to be judicially enforced; and that there is no guarantee that power at the polls would be made real without Constitutional guarantees of equal participation fully enforced by the courts. For these reasons, he devoted much of his career to making the federal courts of the USA more accessible to ordinary people seeking justice for their grievances.

Ondoa also presents the facts of Baker vs Carr (1962) incorrectly! The 6-2 decision on the case was a reversal of the 1946 Colegrove vs Green decision; it put an end to the judicial passivity that the "political question" represented. Indeed, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that the decision (Carr vs Baker) authorising the federal court to decide challenges to the unfair apportionment legislation "was the most important case of my tenure on the Court". Ondoa does not seem to know that the decision referred to here was written by Justice Brennan! He and fellow sophists have to look for justification for the so-called "political question" somewhere else.

If our courts cannot say what the law is, then we have a naked court system. The question whether Paul Biya violated section 8 (2) of law N°2006/011 of 29 December 2006 creating Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) is still begging for a scientific answer. As famously put by Vaclav Havel, democracy is not a matter of faith, but of guarantees. Our Judiciary has to show that it can guarantee democracy in Cameroon by upholding the rule of law!

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Monday, February 2, 2009

We take so much for granted in our life

It just dawned on me today, that without the gift of breathing, I would not be alive.

Yemti Harry Ndienla

It may seem obvious, but as we take so much for granted in our life, it is quite possible that we even forget to thank God for the gift of the air that fills our lungs and allows us to live.
When the risen Lord appeared to the apostles, he breathed on them and said “Receive the gift of the Spirit. For those sins you forgive, they are forgiven”

Breath not only signifies physical life. It means Spiritual life that can be passed on to other by acts of compassion. We have all heard the expression that describes someone as a “breath of fresh air” meaning “this person has brought new life into a given situation”.
Our life here on earth is intended that we be just the same.
As we learn to recognize the preciousness of the air that we breathe and know that it can only come from a loving God, so our own interaction with others is life giving. We become the fresh air for others. For me this is a reminder that we not only depend on God’s life giving breath, we depend on each other for that new life to be communicated.

For your reflection:
In what way have you brought new life to others today?
Do you thank God for the gift of life?
Do you thank others for communicating God’s love to you?

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