Tuesday, March 31, 2009

World Cup 2010: Cameroon gets rough start

The road to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is open. Last Saturday, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon drawn in group A began their campaign with a 0 - 1 defeat against the Hawks of Togo in Accra. Though the defeat was no surprise to book makers, it however re-ignites the mounting problems that plague Cameroon football and calls for a cross examination of the role of the different actors in order to seek long lasting solutions.

The first of these actors is the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, where it is imperative for constant consultation between the Ministry and the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), with regards to the day-to-day management of football affairs in the country. It is also important to cut down the huge delegation that usually accompanies the Lions during matches. This would not only reduce expenditure, but will create some serenity within the environment of the squad. Experience has shown that during matches, some officials accompany the Lions for safari trips. The administrative directors of the national team should play thier roles as stipulated by the text appointing them and not mingle in the selection and publication of list of players. To avoid situations where some journalists especially those from foreign media move freely into the players hotel rooms, when they are supposed to be resting, it is necessary for the Minister to appoint a bilingual press officer for the Lions.
In the same light, the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), should be more professional in handling issues concerning the Indomitable Lions. At the start of a deceive phase of qualifiers like the 2010 World cup Campaign, it is absolutely necessary for the team officials to spell-out the different match bonuses. What will each player take home in case of victory, draw and defeat. This is to motivate the players and create a high spirit of competition amongst them. Furthermore, test matches with viable partners are indispensable.
After the 2008 African Nations cup, it was clear (even though the Lions played finals) that because of numerous lapses in the selection and training of players, the present technical staff can’t take the Lions to the World Cup in South Africa. Thus, a commission was put in place under legendry striker Roger Milla. Though the final proposals of the commission ended in the drawers of some officials, it is now time to get them out and start implementing. Without any fast action, the hand pick of players on monetary, tribal and bases of nepotism will continue to destroy football in the country.
Players called up to the national team should know which role is theirs. It is not because they have played for long in the national team or are star players that they should be allowed to intrude in the selection of their team mates. The national team belongs to each and every Cameroonian. The system of network selection installed within the national team by some coaches, players and administrative officials should be dismantled. Selection should be on merit and nothing else. Once in the national team, players must put in their best. Players who feature regularly in their clubs should be selected and not those who warm reserve benches. These are just some of the major challenges that needs to be examine and action taken if the Lions wish to be in South Africa next year for the 2010 World Cup.

Source: Cameroon Tribune

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Religion and Politics: Cardinal Tumi encouraged to move forward in relations with Paul Biya

Boniface Forbine, publisher/editor of the herald newspaper has encouraged Christian Cardinal Tumi – Cameroon’s lone Cardinal, to move forward in relationship with the country's president, Paul Biya. While emphasizing the need for this new relationship Forbine in an open letter to the man of God urged him to have sympathy for Biya to avoid throwing away the baby with the bath.

“One of the little known but significant points of the Pope’s recent visit to Cameroon was the Pontiff’s encouragement of closer relations between Paul Biya and Christian Tumi”, Forbin argued, adding, “no doubt, a working relationship between the president and the highest moral and spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in Cameroon can only be for the benefit of the country”. The publisher in his latter advanced pertinent points spiced with strong arguments to support the need for this new relationship between the lone Cardinal in the Christian dominated Country and president Biya.
It should be noted here that relationship between both men had been strained due to the Cardinal's open criticism of the Biya regime noted for corruption, human rights abuse, and bad governance. On this score Tumi, who doubles as Bishop of the arch diocese of
Douala, is highly favored by many Cameroonians to be the country’s next president.
Full text of Forbin’s letter below

Dear Cardinal Christian Tumi

We of the herald newspaper are much delighted to write you this letter at this time and to wish you well. Since we raise a wide number of issues of interest to the general public we have chosen to keep it open for our readers as well.
We have also timed our letter now, shortly after the visit of the Pope, because the issues raised are related to the visit, while it is still fresh in our thoughts.
The visit was an overall success and made our early fears unfounded. The government deserves much praise for the success even though it went about it as to give the impression of wanting to politicize the visit. Happily it did not.
On the contrary, it was the Pope that did not conceal his awareness of the doubtful governance in Cameroon that had resulted in suffering and hardship for Cameroonians. He even surprised his hearers right on arrival by urging them (Christians) “never to remain silent” in the face of their suffering.
You will agree with us, Cardinal, that with that statement, the Pope provided an unequivocal response to the Yaounde authorities that have often painted you black and tried to give the impression that you do not love your country.
The Pope actually meant that you are on the right track with your critical outspokenness about the many errors of the regime.
We note furthermore that in that same arrival address the Pope placed your good self in the lofty position that is rightfully yours. It was you he called right after the president and his government on his protocol list.
The Pope thereby conveyed the fact that, as cardinal, you are the highest moral and spiritual authority of the Catholic Church in Cameroon. This has not always been clear to the public. In a Church that is so hierarchically structured it was a good thing to have that clarification. Congratulations.

Regrettably, the Cameroonian society is still heavily dominated by the state. It is not surprising that those who do not agree with the government tend to be under-esteemed.
Cardinal, after giving you that unqualified backing at the airport, we have had cause to believe that the Pope was nevertheless concerned about the fact that you and Paul Biya are so wide apart that you do not even meet to exchange views on public affairs.
We understand that it was the Pope’s greatest desire to reconcile the two of you and get you both working together for the betterment of Cameroon. We believe he raised the issue at his private meeting with Paul Biya and must also have spoken to you on the matter.
Who are we after the Pope has done it? You know only too well that Cameroonians also would prefer some working relationship between you and the president. Having turned down popular demand to stand for president Cameroonians do not think your complete disconnection with the government is in anyway helpful.
Paul Biya has never hidden the fact that he would like to consult you on certain issues. But, as you know, he has been unable to do so. He is so scared of you! We thank the Pope for taking the initiative of encouraging you both to rethink your relations and forge a working relationship.
We want to urge you, Cardinal, in honour of the Pope’s desire and also for the rightness of it, to take the initiative and ask for audience with the president, to get the ball rolling.
As a long-serving priest you surely are close enough to human nature, how frail and fragile it is, more so than it appears. Even the most important people are often very much in need of understanding; emotional support and spiritual help.
Observe Paul Biya, for instance, how shifty and untrustworthy he has been. He affirms or promises a thing today and by tomorrow he has changed his mind! He even finds it strange that anyone should question him over the promise he made! Don’t we learn right in primary school that a promise is a debt and that we should think twice in making any?
Take the question of justice which the Pope dwelt repeatedly on. Again, we all learn from infancy at home and at primary school how to share sweets, macara beans, puff-puff etc equally among ourselves, making sure that no one is cheated.
Isn’t that the same lesson of respecting other people and conceding their rights as a matter of course that we carry into adulthood – in business and all other transactions?
Yet these two basic qualities of justice in sharing public goods, and making and keeping promises Paul Biya is still grossly wanting. It would be correct to say that we are ruled by an emotionally, or spiritually immature adult.

Prayerful assistance
Cardinal, wouldn’t you consider that Paul Biya is actually in great need of help, your help, and your prayerful assistance? Wouldn’t the Cardinal agree with us that the president is in great need of spiritual support? That in no way absolves him of his spiritual responsibility.
All this is just a long hand way of making our point, like the Pope, that it is time to move your relations with the president forward towards a more productive arrangement. We think Paul Biya would only be happy to receive you and also move away from the past that is sometimes nastier than some of your admirers would prefer.
Indeed some of the Cardinal’s bashing of the president is so thoroughgoing and unsparing that it evokes the feeling of the baby having been thrown away with the bath!
New Year’s Day homily was particularly stern and unpardoning. It was an expression of hopelessness for Cameroon. "God is gravely upset with Cameroon’s leaders," was the sad conclusion. In morality, don’t we condemn but the sin and redeem the sinner?
Who knows whether instead of waiting for so long for the Pope, Paul Biya wouldn’t have turned but to the Cardinal for his confession and revival? Shouldn’t that be the new goal – to develop a relationship of such high trust that it is to the Cardinal that Paul Biya, a born-again Catholic, goes for confession?
Dear Cardinal, the Pope’s visit announced a period of discussion with a view to revising the church in Africa and its problems. We think it is an opportunity to take seriously. The Church in Cameroon has many problems that will require addressing boldly, if it will help its members face their daily lives more confidently and find spiritual fulfillment.
Priestly training, to begin with, seems very much in want of programmes of leadership and business management. Extensive academic studies in philosophy and theology may be intellectually stimulating but hardly lend themselves to practical use. Instruction in virtuous and exemplary living is, surprisingly, taken for granted, whereas it ought to receive overwhelming emphasis. There is absolute need for training in fundamental human values.
The problem of celibacy is in urgent need of drastic review. Cameroonian priests cannot keep that law. That seems also to be applicable to Africans elsewhere. There seems to be a good case for making an exception for the Church in Africa.
The Church’s hostility to the use of condoms as a means of preventing AIDS definitely needs to be reviewed, if for no where else, for Africa where the pandemic has taken a heavy toll. First, it is scientifically inaccurate to say as the Church does that condoms leak and do not prevent AIDS. It is scientifically proven that condoms when properly used are an effective check to sexually transmitted diseases.

Abstinence campaigns
On the contrary, the Church’s position in favour of abstinence is defendable when applied to youngsters who have not begun their sex life. Surveys by faith-based groups in the US show abstinence campaigns to work.
But a British government campaign of condom distribution among secondary school girls with the intention of checking teenage pregnancy did not help. The problem only exploded!
Part of the Church’s problem with its moral teaching is in trying to manage the lives of its members instead of keeping to moral principles and letting individuals apply them in a living manner in their varying circumstances. This would appear to be closer to Christ when you read the Sermon on the Mount. This approach also frees people’s consciences.
As we write this letter Italians across the nation are outraged by a Catholic bishop who excommunicated a doctor for terminating the pregnancy of a nine-year old girl. She was pregnant with twins after being abused by her stepfather. She didn’t even know she was pregnant when she began feeling abdominal discomfort.
The doctor believes sincerely that he did the right thing by acting to save the baby-mother’s life after she had been raped. The bishop’s authority as a moral leader is, of course, gone forever!
The Church would do a lot better to focus on general moral principles and let individuals apply them as their consciences guide them. That way people are truly and freely responsible for their own spiritual salvation. We believe this is the direction the revamped African church should take.
The issue of the new Pentecostal Churches that focus on making religion directly relevant to the churchgoer is not to be taken lightly. They do this by focusing on miracles and the power of prayer. Church session are lively, participatory and refreshing, a welcome departure from the drabness of the older religions. That is what is drawing the crowds from the older traditional churches.
The idea is not for the Catholics to run after the Pentecostals but to draw useful lessons from them in order to adapt the Church to be more helpful to the Christian in quest of a life ever more abundant.
We already made observations above about priestly training. We want to note further that Christ did not teach a theology or a philosophy; he taught practical principles of a truly happy, peaceful and productive life (I have come to give you life, and life in abundance).
The telling experience of Thomas Aquinas, a highly respected Father of the Church, makes one wonder if in fact intellectual learnedness in theology and philosophy renders one anymore godly.
The great medieval philosopher and Catholic theologian had a profound spiritual experience one day while in church for his evening prayers. Shaken by what occurred to him he told his personal assistant afterwards that his experience had made his life’s work look like «a reed in the wind.»

Summa Theologica
He stopped all writing forthwith and went into contemplation. He died shortly afterwards in his 49th/50th year. Aquinas was a neo-Aristotelian who had written a seven-volume work on Catholic thought, the «Summa Theologica.» To his credit was also a multi-volume «Summa contra Gentiles,» a work he did to defend the Church and his country, Spain from the Islamic teachings which were creeping in.
Why would all that steeply intellectual work still is of value to the Church when its own author dismissed it as nothing following an experience that made him perceive spirituality much better and differently?
At a much later age the Prussian philosopher, Imanuel Kant, came to the same conclusion, which provoked his monumental work, «A Critique of Pure Reason» in which he argues for the limitation of the intellect in approaching spiritual knowledge and values.
Kant thus courted the anger of the Church and especially the wrath of King Frederick of Prussia. The point remains: can a human being approach a divine God with intellectual knowledge, a product of the brains? Aquinas, Kant and a long chain of spiritual thinkers say no.
Cardinal, would it be too much, to ask the Church to reduce its intellectualism and focus on how to render religion a practical experience for daily living? The argument against religious intellectualism holds true for the very complex liturgy of the Catholic Church. Did Christ teach any of that?
To close this letter, we urge the Church to redefine itself in the sense of limiting the scope of its involvement. Last year the current Pope was forced to apologise over Galileo who was condemned by the Church in the middle ages because he used a crude telescope and made observations about the universe that challenged the views of the Church on the matter.
Time was when the Catholic Church was the only church. The Pope had both spiritual and temporal powers. The world has since very much evolved and human thinking has changed very much. Since the 16th century reformation, religion has undergone several more reformations.
The human being of today wants to be independent and to be free of all constraints. The classical values of only fifty years or less ago have been rendered obsolete. Freedom in dressing, dancing, sex, manners, religious worship, etc is the new world order. But that new freedom is coming with a crisis. (See «The coming Crisis of humanity» by Alvin Tofler)
Regrettably, humanity is overwhelmed by more of every evil and disease. There are also previously unimaginable evils and diseases that have compounded the unhappy fate of mankind.
The Pentecostal Churches can only afford quick fixes. It is doubtful that they will substantially address the present human crisis. But it seems that far more than the other churches they are the ones that come closer to providing the band aid that grants temporary satisfaction.
Their strengths lie in being devoid of a theology, a liturgy and an ecclesiastical hierarchy. They focus on the word of Christ, and no more. We think the Catholic Church must summon the courage to drop much of the ballast it drags along which renders it less and less relevant and attractive to the spiritual seeker.

Thank you Cardinal. The Herald wishes you well.
Yours truly
Boniface Forbin

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

After an important confession:Pope Benedict XVI forgives Paul Biya to «go and sin no more»

Secretive Paul Biya, he had to wait for the Pope to visit Cameroon in order to confide his intention to no longer seek office again in 2011. That was the high-water mark of the Pope’s visit that was successful in all other respects. The challenge now is for Biya to go public with that decision and better still adopt measures to start implementing it. Cameroonians and the Pope want a credible election to permit them freely chose Biya’s successor in 2011. Unless so the president might slip back on his decision as it already happened before. He must now take the right steps in order to benefit fully from the blessings that he received from the Pope.

With the Pope’s visit now over we are much delighted to note that it was a great success. The Herald already hailed the four-day visit as such. Much of the success of the visit, we generously acknowledge, was thanks to Paul Biya.
We may never know how much money went into it, but it was clear to every onlooker that the government had spared no penny in assuring the material comfort of the Pope and his entourage.

There was so much more that went into the visit to make it the success we hail but we cannot go into it here.
Perhaps it would only be fair here to say that The Herald had the sympathy of the many who wondered why the Pope should have given Paul Biya and his regime the honour of making Cameroon his first stop on this first journey to Africa.
The point of that debate was an indictment of the Yaounde regime for failing to embrace necessary democratic reforms and being responsible for the economic hardship of Cameroonians, given the rich natural resources of Cameroon.
The debate was strengthened by the participation of Catholic Church prelates who take every opportunity to express their disagreement with the regime for the same reasons. These views were also echoed abroad.

Yet that did not change the Pope’s decision to come to Cameroon. Indeed there were further fears raised as to whether the Pontiff’s visit wasn’t going to be used for the political ends of the regime.
Now, with the visit successfully behind us, we can confidently say that those fears were unfounded. Instead the Pope took sides with critics of the government when in reply to Paul Biya’s welcome address right at the airport he called upon Christians «never to remain silent» in the face of poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of office.

Regime’s errors

Those words gave much comfort to those, like The Herald, who often tell the regime’s errors to its face. We have no doubt that the President learnt from those words what the Pope understood about his regime, even though the pontiff was gentle and non-confrontational.
Again at the airport on his departure on Friday, the august visitor returned to his criticism of governance in Cameroon in a more forthright manner.
«People of Cameroon, I urge you to seize the moment the Lord has given you! Answer his call to bring reconciliation, healing and peace to your communities and your society! Work to eliminate injustice, poverty and hunger wherever you encounter it! …»

The Pope who had come on a pastoral visit and had absolutely no reason to meddle in Cameroon’s politics nor desire to keep his generous and respectful host uncomfortable, was nevertheless able to be so forthright, thanks to what had transpired between him and his host during their hour-long meeting on Tuesday morning.
The in-camera meeting was a profound spiritual experience and turning point (hopefully) for Paul Biya’s personal transformation. The president made his confessions in exchange for the Pope’s forgiveness and special blessings. No doubt Paul Biya was so contrite and penitent from that point. A bond of friendship became established from that moment between the sinner and his saviour.

The most significant bit that might interest Cameroonians from the in-camera meeting is the president’s vow to the Pope that he will not stand for office again in 2011!
For the great moral authority and counselor that he is, the Pope condemned the sin but not the sinner. Go and sin no more, he admonished his charge.
We congratulate Paul Biya for taking this decision. We trust that true to its spirit he will proceed without delay to begin to implement it. Public processes are by their nature open and transparent. It was completely unnecessary to wait for so long to confide such a decision to the Pope.

What he owes the Cameroonian public is to make that decision known and immediately followed up with other decisions to demonstrate his commitment to the vow he made privately to the Pope.
This is absolutely important partly because that is the right thing to do and also to protect the president from changing his mind and falling back on his vow. The president knows why we say this. In March 2003 during his reception at the White House in Washington, Paul Biya volunteered a similar promise to George Bush.
In 2004 he also volunteered the same promise to Tony Blair at his No 10 Downing Street office. He told the two leaders he would retire at the end of his second seven-year term in 2011. Then somehow the president changed his mind and began taking steps that negated his own pledge.

Worthy partners

Who will trust a man who tells a lie and is unable to heed his own word? Isn’t that the image Paul Biya has cut abroad of himself? Imagine a man holding such high office and wants to be trusted. He announces he will create a truly independent electoral organ. At the critical point of action he reneges, and still wants to be taken for serious?
Paul Biya has taken himself to a point at which he is losing worthy partners as fewer and fewer of them trust him. The president’s inability to get Nicolas Sarkozy to visit Cameroon, even to make a one-hour stopover at Nsimalen, is damning evidence of how far distrust for him has become.

For now Sarkozy can still affirm France’s historical relations with Cameroon and provide financial and economic aid, and even invite Biya to Paris. But international politics is changing rapidly. The global economic downturn is dictating joint solutions jointly taken.
That may very soon oblige common aid policies to be conditioned on good governance, and Cameroon could suddenly be isolated and treated as unfit, given Paul Biya’s untrustworthiness. Then France will also toe the line jointly drawn!

Those who doubt this prospect must learn soberly from what an old reliable friend like Canada has just done to Cameroon. It cut Cameroon from its aid list after nearly fifty years of being taken for granted! This prospect might therefore not be as far-fetched as it appears.
Distrust is not the only image that the president has painstaking carved for himself. The president has also faltered too long on justice, which is a theme that the Pope dwelt upon insistently. Injustice is deeply rooted in the president’s inability to give an equal opportunity to all Cameroonians.

The consistently lob-sided manner in which public positions and advantages are shared is the best proof of the regime’s injustice. Cameroonians are actually taught and forced to accept and live in injustice. What a shame that sections of the country keep crying marginalisation and the President is completely indifferent!
We rejoice with Paul Biya over the peace that exists in Cameroon. We need it and should do everything in our powers to avoid a war. But the president must admit that he cannot preach peace and at the same time uphold and practice injustice so glaringly and for as long as he has done. Paul Biya is in fact actively working towards social conflict or war. Never mind the time it takes to build up and explode.
Once again, having decided as Paul Biya has done to voluntarily taken a vow before the Pope to review his policies, we urge him to get to work without delay. There is an awful amount of work to accomplish.

Transparent election

What Paul Biya owes Cameroonians is to prepare the nation for a thoroughly free, fair and transparent election in 2011 that will allow for the choice of another president to succeed him. That, we have no doubt about, is the way indicated by the many blessings of the Pope.
The other thing that the Pope’s visit achieved was to reconcile Paul Biya and Christian Tumi, the cardinal. The Pope is not an easily excitable person but he was unusually alive, even clapping, when Biya and Tumi shook hands at the presidency on Tuesday morning.

He talked separately to both of them, we learnt. Cameroonians know that the wall separating the two men is hardly in the best interest of the country. Paul Biya is incontestably the political leader of the country while Tumi is the highest moral and spiritual authority of the Catholic Church in Cameroon.
The president sometimes wishes he could get the cardinal’s advice or opinion on issues, but the wall separating the two makes it impossible for him to consult him.
The cardinal on his part says that if it were possible to meet the president for an occasional meeting he wouldn’t be so vocal in criticizing him and his regime as he does. We know that Biya detests that profoundly and would do anything to stop the cardinal’s attacks.

What that means is that the two men need each other, not so much for themselves as for the higher interests of the state. In any case the animosity between the two serves nobody, no purpose, and is counterproductive.
We think it is high time for Paul Biya to invite the cardinal and talk with him and establish a working relationship with him. But this is not a one-way matter. We equally suggest a formal request for audience by Tumi.
Since they know themselves and their differences well enough it is now a matter of defining some common working ground. Many ordinary people do this, why not such very high personalities? The sooner the better.

In the end, we can say again that the Pope’s visit was successful, a lot more than our earlier skepticism allowed us to see. We thank Paul Biya for the unremitting commitment of the government. Still the full significance of the visit will depend on what the president makes of his pledge to the Pope.
Like the Christ that he serves, the Pope’s forgiveness and blessings on Paul Biya will only work and gain full and lasting value, for him and Cameroonians, if the president will «go and sin no more.»

Source: The Herald

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Michelle Obama nee Robinson:The unconventional yet admirable US First Lady!

Born on 17 January 1964 and raised in a one-bedroom apartment on Chicago’s South Shore, the African American has gained enormous popularity as a sweet mom and a caring and supportive wife to a widely acclaimed commander-in-chief

By Eric Venyui

Michelle Robinson Obama, 45, is arguably irresistible by every measure! In fact, hardly would a woman not envy this African American US First Lady from South Shore, Chicago.
Firstly, she may not be the conventional type of a US first lady; raised in a one-bedroom apartment in the less privileged Chicago South Shore by a family that had just enough for basic survival. But, as the wife of a widely acclaimed US president, she is admirable.

Secondly, a graduate from the prestigious Harvard Law school, Michelle has an impressive resume: Former associate dean at the University of Chicago; a member of six boards of directors including the prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Tree House Foods; and Vice President of Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

After graduating from Harvard in 1988 - one year ahead of her husband-to-be, President Barack Obama, whom she had not met yet, even though but they attended the same law school-Michelle accepted a position at a downtown Chicago law firm. Then in the summer of 1989 she accepted to mentor an intern from Harvard who would later become her husband.

Amusingly, it is reported that Barack did not have much interest in corporate law, but did have a lot of interest in Michelle who initially brushed off his advances because they were working at same firm...and he was an intern and she a higher up the law firm’s foodchain as an associate. But love prevailed.

When asked about what made her fall in love with him, she replied «for the same reason many other people respect him; his connection with people.»
But there’s more to it. «Barack didn’t pledge riches,» Michelle separately explains to Newsweek. «Only a life that would be interesting. On that promise, he’s delivered,» she confesses
Interestingly Barack and Michelle waited almost seven years before having children. Their first daughter named Malia Ann Obama was born in 1999 with Natasha aka Sasha following two years later in 2001.

Michelle Obama is said to have been very influential in the political career of her husband. In 2004 senate elections, Barack Obama is said to have had the support of influential black business leaders, some of whom had closer ties to his wife than they did to him.
As a mom and wife, she believes in unity of the family and the need to allow their children, as first daughters, do their things by themselves so they can learn the challenges of real life.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Gabon: where a first lady is buried in 'another' country

The mortal remains of Gabonese first lady, Edith Lucie Bongo, have been buried in Congo. The first lady was buried in her native village of Edou, located some 400 km (250 miles) north of Congo's capital Brazzaville, over the weekend rather than Gabon, where she was first lady for closed to two decades.

The corps of Edith Mbongo, who died in a clinic in Rabat Morocco, early this month were transported to Gabon, Wednesday 18 March, on board a 747 Royal Air Maroc, plane.
She died after spending several weeks in the hospital for an undisclosed ailment.
Amongst those present at the airport to receive the corps were thousand of sympathizers including Edith’s father, Denise Sassou Nguesso. Nguesso, who doubles as president of Congo, was often seen crying cried uncontrollably.

The remains were then taken to the state house for funeral, national honors and without doubt a night vigi before taken to her native Congo for burial.
Sources say she was buried in Congo, in respect of her “Mbochis” tradition and upon request by the Nguesso family.
Some African presidents who attended the burial ceremony including Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Francois Bozize of Central African Republic, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo, each performed the traditional laying of wreath of flowers before the coffin which was decorated by the Gabonese flag.

Born on March 10, 1964, in Congo – Brazaville, Edith, got married to Omar Bongo Ondimba – Africa’s longest serving president in 1990. A medical doctor by profession, the late First Lady, played a prominent role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Gabon in particular and Africa in general through the African First Ladies Organisation.
Though the actual cause of her death is still unknown, Edith was rumored of suffering from Pakingson and witchcraft when she fell sick and was admitted in a hospital in Pais – France, a couple of years ago. It was widely believed Edith fell sick after torching some of her husband’s fetiche items accidentally.
She leaves behind two children – Yasmine and Jr.

Her husband Omar Bongo Ondimba, became president in 1967, when he was 31. At this time Bongo was Africa's fourth youngest president after. Presently he is said to be world's longest serving ruler, excluding monarchies.
Gabon is a country in west central Africa. Its size is almost 270,000 km² with an estimated population of 1,500,000. The capital and largest city is Libreville. Since its independence from France, in 1960, the country has been ruled by two presidents.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

How do you see things?

There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his gate was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scrapes that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. (Lk 16:19-31)

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

It’s the angle. For example, a football game on TV. You’d swear, watching the replay from one angle that the player stepped out of bounds. But then the camera shows two more replays from different angles and it’s clear as can be that he stayed in bounds. In this parable, the rich man and the poor man are looking at life from two different angles. The rich man is on the inside looking out, at the top looking down. Lazarus is on the outside looking in, at the bottom looking up. Which angle gives the truer picture? Jesus doesn’t leave us without an answer. Both men died and the rich man realized he had a distorted picture. The angle made all the difference. So much so that the rich man wants to return to earth and tell his brothers.

How do I try to make sure that I see things the way they really are? One way is, in every situation, to ask myself, “How does God see this?” Pick a situation or two in your life right now, and ask the Lord how he sees it. He has the best angle of all.
Jesus told this parable: “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and praye. ‘O God be merciful to me a sinner.” Lk18:9 – 14.

The problem with the Pharisee is not that fasting and giving tithes are themselves wrong. The problem is that he’s righteous. There’s difference between being right and being righteous. To be righteous (even when I’m right) is to think that the correctness is all my own doing – to forget how I got there (by God’s grace) – and to have a better-than-thou attitude toward those who are not “correct”.
There’s also a difference between being right and being good. I can use my rightness in a mean-spirited way toward others. There is a simple formula that can be very helpful: Truth + Love. You have to have both. Truth without love can be mean. Love without truth can take you in wrong directions.

Truth + Love. I need to give that some thought.

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Son of the soil syndrome – the ugly side

The appointment of government delegates in some of our cities is drawing much commentary, like most appointments in our management fabric. However, unlike or similar to other appointments, the appointed government delegates seem to be origins of the related areas. This brings about the question of what gives rise to an appointment – competence, area of origin, bribery or some other form of loyalty?

By Enyih Paul Atogho

We know that the President of the Republic, as the First Man of the Law, is supposed to be the best respecter of the law. In fact, he swears and takes an oath to do this. Whether that law is conceived and enacted to serve the interest of all and sundry is another story of the Principles and Practice of Governance. If competence commutated in appointments and with the ability to perform, there would be no paradoxes of having the knife and unable to cut the yam.

Co-ordinated service is like sowing and reaping. We are told that one reaps exactly what one sows. This suggests that if one is interested in a rich harvest, one ought to be interested also in where to sow; that is, on which soil. The sowing of a good seed on good soil brings-about a good harvest. The reverse brings-about problems of varied cataclysms. This seems to be the case in some appointments where the chief executive’s hands are tied by the exigency of the law.

This has extended to several other areas of governance where the rule of the ability to perform is often sacrificed and made the Sloven’s slave.
Take for an example, the most-talked-about person in the world now – Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States of America. Tracing his background from Kenya, his late father’s tribe and how the Kenyan Preisdent Arap Moi viewed and used it, we see how God’s invisible Hand often liaises with our actions to show the good plans He has for us. Father Obama emigrated to the United States where son Barack was born of mixed white and black parents. Then, the saga begins – Indonesia, Hawaii and then Chicago from where he emerged from Senator to President of the Most Powerful Nation on Earth.

Many others have succeeded in like manner where the hands of the law are free, not tied by some bigoted or short-sighted legislation. Still in America, Hilary Clinton is married to Bill Clinton, a native of Arkansas but who turned up as Senator for the State of New York. Today, she is Secretary of State for the United States of America and serving the American people.
The obnoxious notion of the Son of the Soil is very destructive in our development fabric. How would the people of the areas have reacted if the President of the Republic had taken competence and appointed a non-native to the post of government delegate? The point is to do the right thing to allow God, the source of all life and survival to do what he plans for us.

On the grounds that God has good plans for us, He requires of us obedience in doing His will to allow him use His Grace to help us. «A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how» – Mark 4:26-27 (NIV). Life is supposed to be lived as in a relay race or parts of the body which must not act selfishly but in collaboration to make the Whole a homeostasis; that is, a whole where if one part suffers, all the rest suffer and if all the parts enjoy, all the parts enjoy with it and God is glorified – 1 Corinthians 12:26.

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Cameroon: Newspaper publisher detained for criticizing government official

Though the law of the republic of Cameroon provides for freedom of speech and of the press, government however continues to restrict these rights in practice.

Government sometimes arbitrarily arrest journalists and most often reminds them about libel laws in an effort to warn them against printing false information or defaming individuals. In effect those who are chicken hearted sometimes practice self‑censorship while others prefer to bell the cat.
One of the country’s firebrand journalists, Eric Motumu, is currently in pre-trial detention at the judicial police of the North West region.
Reports say Eric Motumu, who doubles as publisher of the Chronicle newspaper, was arrested recently by agents of the judicial police noted for arresting journalist on government’s instructions.
Motumu, is being held on libel-related charges following an article titled “Scandal at presidency: Philemon Yang ‘pockets’ micro-grants, car loan, salary of Oku MP” published by his newspaper, early last month.

Touched by the power of the article and probably by the truth it contains, Philemon Yang, assistant secretary general at the presidency, claimed the said article injured his reputation. Consequently, Yang, who is being rumored to be the next prime mister and head of government of the republic of Cameroon, noted for human rights violation reportedly filed the suit that led to Motumu’s arrest and subsequent detention.
His arrest came a couple of weeks after continuous search by elements of the judicial police following an arrest warrant issued by the state counsel in Bamenda

Eric Motumu, who was out of town, was immediately picked up as soon as the police got wind that he had returned.
When the police presented him to the state counsel after his arrest they were asked to grille him for preliminary investigations on the matter.
Though colleagues and human rights activists are said to be mounting pressure on the judicial authorities to release the detained journalist, charges against him were far to be dropped.
Cameroon, a country noted for bad governance and all what it takes to describe a bad regime, is noted for arresting, torturing and jailing of journalists under life threatening conditions.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where is your ark?

When you are in trouble, when you are scared and feeling a little bit lost, where do you go? Where is your refuge? When a flood swept the earth Noah and those with faith, sought refuge in an ark. Where is your ark?

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Maybe your refuge is your partner or spouse or a solitary spot where you feel secure. Maybe your refuge is your Church building: God’s house.
Floods happen in our own personal lives: Things go wrong, sometimes through our own bad choices, sometimes not.
There are days when the rain never seems to stop pouring in our hearts. And if there is no refuge, if there is no place to feel safe, it is quite possible we might just drown.
The story of Noah’s Ark was intended to show us that God is our refuge and stronghold and that the floods that come our way are God’s way of cleansing us and drawing us closer to him.

Noah’s Ark: that big wooden boat was a prefiguring of Jesus. The Ark was a symbol of the Jesus that is to come. Well Jesus has come and He is here.
During this period of Lent in some ways we take ourselves out into the desert. But we are not taking ourselves away from Jesus. On the contrary we are taking time to ask ourselves “where is my refuge?”

All the Lenten penances you might take on, like giving up candy or alcohol or eating less, you do it so that you may find your refuge and find it in Christ.
Our cleansing during Lent involves taking ourselves away from the clutter of our life and dwell for a while in that ark which brings us protection, strength and hope, Jesus is that ark.

For your reflection:
Do you feel the need to retreat a little from your life?
When you need to find Jesus, where do you go?
After you have prayed do you feel peaceful or anxious?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What is stopping you from coming closer to Jesus this Lent?

Lent has arrived. Or rather, we have arrived at Lent. We are toward the inside of a very sacred time and space. During the next six weeks we are invited to immense ourselves slowly in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. Its culmination is Holy Week: the most important week of the year. The question is: Are you ready?

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

How you approach Lent spiritually will establish the profundity of your spiritual experience this year. I sense among us a greater spiritual need than ever this year. The world is in hysteria and this is now impacting the personal lives of many. Where can you find hope? Where is the consolation?
The Catholic Church directs us towards Jesus: He is the only way, the true way. It is time to connect with Jesus this Lent. It is time to plug into His experience. He knows all our sufferings. He has survived the desert and the cross. Jesus ultimately rose to new life. Let Jesus be your guide during Lent. Here are a few ways you may allow Him to guide you this Lent:
- Attend daily Mass - Pray the Station of the Cross - Visit your Adoration Chapel - Attend Holy Half Hours - Participate in Bible study sessions with your priest - Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Employing any of the tools suggested above will guarantee a spiritual boost to your life this Lent. Lent is God’s gift to those who believe. It would be a pity not to take advantage of this gift.

For your reflection:
What Lenten activities will you do this year?
What is stopping you from coming closer to Jesus this Lent?

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Friday, March 6, 2009

You can’t miss the difference

“How awesome are you, Elojah! Whose glory is equal to yours? …You were taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses”. (Sir 48:1-4, 9-11)

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The book of Sirach was written by a wise teacher who lived 200 years before Christ. Sirach ran a school for young people in Jerusalem. His intent was to teach them true wisdom so that it would shape their lives. Do you remember the reading which is part of a poem acclaiming the time honored heroes of Israel: Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb, the Judges, Nathan, David, Solomon, Elijah.

Think about how we and especially Americans venerate our heroes of the past in painting and sculpture: Washington crossing the Delaware River with his army, Abe Lincoln sitting majestically on a great chair, the GIs planting the flag at Iwo Jima.
However, heroic images like these are quite a contrast to the images of Jesus we use in our churches, homes and religious settings around the world: the crucifix, the Last Supper table, the Good Shepherd, the Sacred Heart, the Child Jesus lying in a manger.
You can’t miss the difference. We’ve got a “king” but it’s a different kind of king, and his reign is a different kind of reign. The path to true greatness is going to be different than the one marked out by the world around us. We’re called to act in ways that often don’t make sense in this world’s terms.

If someone did a statue of me after I die, would it reflect the standards of this world? … or the standards of the one best remembered by a crucifix, a meal, a heart full of love, a kind shepherd… and a manger?

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Roland Fube and Human Rights in Cameroon

Paul Biya has been around as head of state for the last 27 years. Since presidents are usually overexposed by the press, it is certain that Cameroonians have since lost interest in him because such exposure brings boredom after 5, 10, not to talk of 27 years! The people have since tuned out and can only be reawakened by a new show, a new leader...

By Tazoacha Asonganyi
As head of state, his cronies usually say that all that is done in Cameroon is done under his authority; therefore all bad and good happenings are attributable to him. Joblessness, unchecked corruption, embezzlement of public funds, impunity of public servants, electoral fraud, lack of transparency and accountability, inefficiency, and generalized indiscipline are all attributable to him.

In addition, as president, he is too aloof and does not behave like somebody who knows that "The People" are the boss for whom he works! He is perceived as one who invokes one set of conduct for those who oppose him and another for his friends and cronies; as one who pretends to impose discipline on his subordinates without accepting and working to the same discipline himself. He is supposed to be the national arbiter and be seen not to have a partisan spirit, but he has.
From this perspective, Cameroonians have a reason to be angry with him, and are likely to lose their nerves at the least provocation. Waiting for a presidential convoy for hours in heavy traffic, under the scorching sun is enough provocation!

Roland Fube, a school teacher in Yaounde is languishing in Kondengui prison "awaiting trial" for having made an "anti-Biya" statement when he lost his nerve in a traffic jam caused by the convoy of the president. The Forchive years are forcefully brought back to us by the news that he was arrested instantly by a plainclothes policeman! That era was supposed to have officially ended with the advent of the Criminal Procedure Code! How many such mad plainclothes men are going around the country unknown to us?
It is interesting that we recently read in a local newspaper that a whiteman, in frustration against anti-Obama statements being made by some white persons in the United States wrote that "I am going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying in seriousness or in jest anything of a threatening nature about President Obama". The white persons who say such threatening things are racists who do not think that a black man should be the president of the US.

In any case, this is only mentioned here to highlight the fact that where freedom of speech is a human value, a serious security force carries out investigations to determine to what extent "a threat" can go beyond "talking the talk". After all, during the colonial days, we are told that when an old African threatened to kill a whiteman if he had the opportunity, and was arrested for it, he asked his interrogators: "my mouth na gun?" If as some version puts it, the statement Roland Fube made in anger was "a threat", it is proper to ask the same question on his behalf...
Fube’s case indicates clearly that the Fochive era is still with us! Indeed, it is common knowledge that to settle a score with your "neigbour", you can pay a freak in a police station to cause him/her to be invited to the police station on a Friday...to be arrested and thrown into a police cell to spend the weekend there until Monday! Some of the extra-judicial killings that occur often in Cameroon, occur during such senseless and shameful operations!

Of recent there has been much talk about the human rights situation in Cameroon. This was ignited by the damning report of Amnesty International on the human rights situation in the country, published in January 2009. Many defenders of the Yaounde regime have made frantic efforts to give the impression that the report is an exaggeration. In the process, we have had confirmation that the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms in Yaounde is nothing short of window dressing. Roland Fube’s case tells us that the situation of human rights in Cameroon could even be worse than the one painted by Amnesty International!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Pope Benedict’s visit to Cameroon criticized

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to begin his first official visit to Africa, on 7th March 2009, in YaoundeCameroon. The Holy Father is expected to continue his visit to the continent since he became pope in April 2005, to Angola, from March 20th where he would solemnly celebrate the 500th anniversary of the evangelisation of that country.

The pope, who is visiting Cameroon on the invitation of President Paul Biya, is expected to meet with Cameroonian Bishops, leaders of the Muslim community, and vulnerable persons in the country.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, Eliseo Ariotti, once said the pope’s visit to Cameroon "is a gift to Cameroon because the Catholic Church has demonstrated that they are very dynamic in the country. It will also be a moment when the Holy Father will be holding the Episcopal Conference of Africa to begin the struggle for justice, peace and reconciliation in the continent,"
Like the Nuncio, other men of God of the Catholic faith say Cameroonians should take the visit as a special favour from the successor of St. Peter on earth. “We look forward to that maiden visit with great excitement, joy and continuous prayers," intimated a priest.
But Lambert Mbom, a Southern Cameroon Activist has criticized the Pope’s visit describing it as a great yet undeserved honor to the country. Who are we, Holy Father and what is our lineage for you to afford us such grace?, questioned the activist who is living in exile in Washington DC. Amongst other reasons advanced by the activist on why Cameroon was unfit for the papal visit is the fact that the country is plagued by bad governance and human rights abuse promoted by a leader he portrayed as one of the greatest dictators of modern History.

Full text of the letter below.

An Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of the Aggrieved People of Southern Cameroons on the occasion of his maiden visit to La Republique du Cameroun March 17th – March 20th 2009

Your Holiness,

It is a great yet undeserved honor that your premier visit to Africa as Supreme Pontiff is to Cameroon - the third papal visit to Cameroon, with the first two by your predecessor John Paul II. Your visit catapults Cameroon to the enviable ranks of African countries most visited by a Pope along side Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Like David in the Old Testament we are wont to exclaiming: Who are we, Holy Father and what is our lineage for you to afford us such grace? (cf. 2 Samuel 7:18) Or more properly, like Elizabeth at the visitation: who are we to be honored with a visit by the Supreme Pontiff. (cf. Lk. 2:42) We acknowledge that this is a moment of grace, an invaluable opportunity especially for the six million people of the North West and South West Provinces historically known as the people of the British Southern Cameroons about whom this appeal is being made.

Your visit to this ‘vale of tears’ comes at a very crucial and decisive hour in the political history of this entity. Cameroon harbors one of the greatest dictators of modern history having been in power for over a quarter of a century (exclusive of the years he served as Prime Minister). He has iron-fistedly enthroned himself with a life term presidential mandate, instituted tribalism as modus operandi and afforded the nation golden medals for endemic bribery and corruption - its modus vivendi. His adroit notoriety for recruiting a sophisticated band of thieves who after marauding the national treasury declared the nation in economic crises and unashamedly celebrated Cameroon’s eligibility for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) – more funds for embezzlement and capital flight, is a classic epic in kleptocracy. As a Catholic or so he claims to be at least in public while in private he is said to militate in the occult Rosicrucian order, he has afforded us all Catholics a very bad press. He has besmirched Catholics in an annoying variety of ways. Your visit to Cameroon invariably gives him not only political clout – a rare political capital for him to use to spotlight his regime as peaceful, but also the opportunity for him and his band of thieves to swindle – further impoverishing the country. Despondency is written everywhere in Cameroon but even more so with the minority peoples of Southern Cameroons for whom your visit has momentous political overtures.

Your predecessor John Paul II in his post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (EA) -which by the way was by no accident launched in Cameroon in 1995 especially because it reflected the reality of the following quote: For many synod Fathers contemporary Africa can be compared to the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho: he fell among robbers who stripped him, beat him and departed, leaving him half dead (cf. Lk. 10:30 – 37) Africa is a continent where countless human beings, men and women, children and young people are lying as it were on the edge of the road, sick, injured, disabled, marginalized and abandoned” (EA 41) If what is true of the whole is also true of the parts, then the foregoing sobering description fits the bill of the reality of the people of Southern Cameroons. We the people of Southern Cameroons are rightly epitomized in the man beaten and abandoned by thieves. A cursory glance at our history and current plight ostensibly ascertains this reality.

Coaxed to the hoax of a United Nations’ plebiscite of February 1961, in which Southern Cameroons – a trust territory of the UN administered by the British – voted to “achieve independence by joining’ La Republique du Cameroun(which gained its independence on January 1st 1960) in a federal union of two states both equal in status – Southern Cameroons is today an annexed territory of La Republique du Cameroon. Taking advantage of the affirmative vote to join La Republique du Cameroun, the latter egregiously masterminded the actualization of this vote in contravention of United Nations’ General Assembly resolution 1608 (XV) of 21st April 1961 which demanded a union treaty stipulating the terms of the union that was to be effected. There is therefore no legal instrument modulating the union and hence one would not be wrong to surmise that the union was illegal ab initio. Arbitrariness has been the guiding principle and this whole process is a classical recipe for bungled decolonization. Abandoned by the United Nations at such a crucial stage and exacerbated by the sudden and complete withdrawal of the British, the spurious federation of two equal states was born.

On the heels of this illegality, la Republique surreptitiously multiplied other acts of illegality by imposing her constitution on Southern Cameroons as the Federal Constitution in September 1961; then in abrogation of the same Constitution, she dissolved the Federation through a fraudulent referendum in 1972 which was in fact a political ruse to accomplish the hidden agenda of complete annexation. Having come full circle in 1984, Biya and his cronies declared Cameroon as La Republique du Cameroun, a clear indication that the union no longer existed. Holy Father, this by all standards, is not your regular minority problem. This is fraught with historical and legal overtones.

Even if one were to grant the foregoing as mere historical accidents, the malice of La Republique is confirmed in the cruel treatment of the Southern Cameroons people which at best has been ruthless subjugation. Southern Cameroonians have only played second fiddle. Politically, we have consistently been disenfranchised and marginalized, robbed of our land, statehood and independence; economically bereft of our once buoyant economy as state bandits have descended with voracious and insatiable appetites and systematically raped and recklessly plundered our resources and left us paupers. Even though Southern Cameroons accounts for over 50% of the economic prowess of Cameroon, today she lies in ruins like the milking calf slaughtered for the master’s table after milking it dry. Socially, there is an alarming deprivation of basic amenities. Wanton abuse of rights has been our lot. In short, La Republique’s totalitarianism has stripped the Southern Cameroonian of inalienable rights and denigrated him to an impersonal cog in the revolving state wheel.

In the wake of this catalogue of illegalities but even more so the outrageous third class citizen treatment, Southern Cameroonians called for a return to the drawing board. Barbarism of stupendous proportions has been La Republique’s preferred response. Many of our compatriots have met untimely death while many have suffered wanton abuse both physical and emotional. Illegal arrests, unlawful detentions under inhumane conditions and savagery torture have been the characteristic repressive deterrents of La Republique. This intransigence and arrogance of La Republique has forced Southern Cameroonians to move from a demand of a return to federation, illegal albeit, to zero option, that is, restoration of our independence and statehood. This is non-negotiable. Attempts at bringing reason to bear have failed and but for the internal squabbles of the different liberation movements which have torpedoed the cause, the reality in Cameroon would have been different. The Southern Cameroons problem is a “simmering pot of magma” akin to a dormant volcano which gets lethal by the day and soon the eruption which, I bet you, Holy Father, will turn out to be the bloodiest in recent history.

In the face of this reality, one must acknowledge in your words Holy Father, that “the topical relevance of the parable of the Good Samaritan is evident. When we transpose it into the dimensions of the Southern Cameroons struggle, we see how the people of Southern Cameroons lying robbed and plundered by La Republique and abandoned by the United Nations and the British, matter to us: then we see how they are our neighbors, that our lifestyle, the history in which we are involved has plundered them and continues to do so. (cf. Jesus of Nazareth, p.198) And as your venerable predecessor so rightly exhorted: They (Southern Cameroonians) are in dire need of Good Samaritans who will come to their aid. (EA 41) Your visit to Cameroon presents you with this opportunity. On the lips of children and of babes, and of men and women, the antiphonal chant of the messianic refrain: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord will resound.

Your visit to Cameroon is apostolic and hence essentially spiritual. This is immediately preceded by your annual Lenten retreat which will run from March 1stMarch 7th 2009. Permit me suggest that during this retreat you pray in a very special way for the people of Southern Cameroons. In your message for Lent 2009 where you underscored the importance of the Lenten discipline of fasting you quote the sagacious words of St. Peter Chrysologus who writes thus: Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself’ (Sermo 43: PL 52,320,322) Listen then to the petition of Southern Cameroonians suffering under the hegemonic claws of La Republique. Holy Father, storm the gates of heaven during this retreat but especially while in Cameroon for and on behalf of the people of Southern Cameroons and their liberation struggle.
Your Holiness, with the whole world focusing on Cameroon because of your presence there, what would it be like to call on the people of Southern Cameroons to heed to your Lenten challenge and fast for their cause? Exhort them to reread in the light of their present plight, the experience of Ezra who in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land called upon the assembled people to fast “so that they might humble themselves before God (cf. 8:27) Or be like the Prophet Jonah sent to the Ninevites and call upon the people of Southern Cameroons to repent. Amplify the hushed and crushed voices of Southern Cameroonians through a direct invitation to fast and certainly this will poke and prick the consciences especially of the International community.

How I wish it were as easy as it sounds. At face value, it would sound preposterous to add your muscle to this struggle. In the first instance you would be accused of fanning the flames of division which goes against the grain especially in this age of globalization. Holy Father, you know better. Unity for the sake of unity that engenders a Hegelian “slave-master” paradigm is clearly an aberration. In your message for World peace day 2009 you said inter alia: Globalization eliminates certain barriers, but is still able to build new ones; it brings peoples together, but spatial and temporal proximity does not of itself create the conditions of true communion and authentic peace. Effective means to redress the marginalization of the world’s poor through globalization will only be found if people everywhere feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant violations of human rights. This is so true of the current Southern Cameroons dispensation. Too often we know the truth and shy away from it for the sake of political correctness or fear of embarrassing one’s host. May we never lose sight of the fact that the Cross was both a sign of contradiction to the Jews and a scandal to the Gentiles. It would be nice to err on the side of the truth and in this case on the side of the innocent victims of Southern Cameroons.

Permit me remind you of one of the greatest political victories of Pope John Paul II - the collapse of communism especially in his home country Poland. His first home-coming trip of 1979 after his meteoric ascension to the papacy has been characterized as the “fulcrum of the revolution” that led to the demise of communism. This he achieved not through arms but rather through a revolution of conscience by telling his own countrymen “You are not who you say you are…” This set the ball rolling, crystallizing into the movement that later presided over the funeral of communism. This movement has been described as “a forest planed by aroused consciences”

Dear Holy Father, during your four days’ sojourn in Cameroon, it would be fitting to remind Cameroonians: You are not who you say you are. You are living a lie. Bring them to the school of conscience and conscientize them to wake up and rediscover truly who they are. I am confident that you can take this challenge given that last year in your homily during the third anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death you prayed that from heaven he (John Paul II) will continue to intercede for each one of us and in a special way for you, whom providence has called to harvest his invaluable spiritual heritage. There is no denying it that this victory over communism is a central part of this heritage. John Paul II did it for his people. Holy Father, do it for the people of Southern Cameroons. After all, we are proud to claim a political German ancestry whose perpetuity is visible in the structures dotting our land till this date. We therefore share more in common than you would imagine.

Let it be known that the United Nations which is at the “fons et origo” of this problem has turned a deaf ear to the persistent pleas of redress by the people of Southern Cameroons. Even our British colonial masters have washed their hands off like Pilate and abandoned us to the whims and caprices of the annexationist regime. After all these international organizations have become clubs where the might gather to strangle the weak, where dictators assemble to pat each other on the back and share the booty. The world sits aloof watching and hoping that the Southern Cameroons’ issue would resolve itself for as they say “time heals” or it is hoped it will simply disappear or worse still that the dearth of a strong leader around whom the people of Southern Cameroons can rally and match on to victory will last their life time. Clearly we the people of Southern Cameroons are political orphans on exile. The world passes us by, watching and waiting for gunshots, for bloodshed so that talks “ad nauseam” can begin and then “blue helmets” are sent in after the fact to maintain peace. Now is the time. Your Holiness, do not pass us by like the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Use your good offices for and on our behalf of the people of Southern Cameroons.

Recently during your visit to the United Nations, you stressed the importance of preemptive diplomacy and called on the United Nations to eschew delay tactics for fear of interventionism. In that magnificent address, you noted: On the contrary, it is indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage. What is needed is a deeper search for ways of preempting and managing conflicts by exploring every possible diplomatic avenue and giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation. You can avert a future disaster. The Southern Cameroons’ motto: The force of argument and not the argument of force is a clear expression of the philosophy of peace under girding the struggle. The United Nations has closed its eyes to avenues of dialogue we have created. With the Permanent Observer status at the UN, the Vatican could take up the Southern Cameroons problem. The Vatican has the leverage to do so if she so desires. Navigating the UN system is its forte and with all the diplomatic artillery she has garnered, there can be a peaceful resolution of this problem. Make hay while the sun shines.

Holy Father, in your aforementioned message for the celebration of the world day of peace 2009, you draw an inner intrinsic link between poverty and peace. You affirm that we know other non-material forms of poverty exist which are not the direct and automatic consequence of material deprivation. We the people of Southern Cameroons have been pauperized and made to fight for crumbs falling off the annexationist’s table and you can imagine how sparingly these fall off. Hence we are really starving. Yet our poverty is not just physical. It is even worse than this and so poignantly defined by Mother Teresa of happy memories thus: Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” We are unmistakably unwanted by La Republique, uncared for by the UN and forgotten by our German and British colonial masters. Like Jeremiah we are wont to crying: Is there no balm in Gilead? Or like Peter to Christ: to whom shall we go? You have the good offices to avail of and avert a potential phenomenal genocide. You definitely have the wherewithal. Denial only further delays the explosion. The schizophrenic historical revisionism fomented by the spin doctors spewing out the gibberish that Cameroon is one and indivisible will invariably boomerang. This window dressing, whitewashing and brainwashing can only last that long. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

The larger context of your visit is to release the Instrumentum Laboris of the forthcoming Synod of African Bishops scheduled to hold in October 2009. You have chosen as theme for this synod: "The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace 'You are the Salt of the Earth... You are the Light of the World'" (Mt 5:13, 14). The Lineamenta that defined the tenor of deliberations which have produced the above mentioned Instrumentum laboris dedicated its third chapter to the Church, Sacrament of Reconciliation of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace in Africa. If charity begins at home, it is just fitting that one of the first issues for the august assembly in Cameroon to consider is that of the Southern Cameroons. Peace in Cameroon hangs on a thread. And in the words of the lineamenta (no.12), Peace is often confused with a kind of unanimity or tranquility imposed by force and keeping power in the hands of a single group to the detriment of the people. In such situations, citizens are unable to take part in public life and popular opinion cannot make a difference. As a result, people tend to withdraw and become disinterested. Until legally constituted States are created in Africa, ones governed by truly democratic Africans, there is a great risk that the fore-mentioned situation will endure.
If there is any source of potential grave threat to the “apparent” peace in Cameroon, it is unquestionably the Southern Cameroons’ problem. May it never be forgotten that there comes a time in the life of a people when pushed to the wall, the only necessary thing to do is to fight back. Current efforts to ensure a peaceful resolution of the Southern Cameroons puzzle do not seem to be yielding any fruits. Instead it looks like the more efforts are made, the greater the mockery and repression and the more the delay. And as the saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.” If justice is correctly defined as giving each his due, then by any stretch, the Southern Cameroons problem is a miscarriage in justice – miscarriage “midwifed” by the UN and the British and masterminded by La Republique.

There could therefore be no better place to flesh out the recommendation of the Lineamenta than in addressing the Southern Cameroons problem especially on Cameroonian soil. Again in outlining some aspects requiring particular attention in this project of Justice and Peace, the Lineamenta hits the mark when it makes the clarion call for the recognition of minorities. In its recommendation, the document very beautifully expresses the fact that: when relations have broken off between groups in a nation, dialogue and reconciliation are the obligatory paths to peace. Only a sincere dialogue, open to the legitimate claims of all parties involved, can create an environment of real justice, where everyone is able to work for the true good of their homeland and people. Reconciliation based on justice, and respect for the legitimate aspirations of all segments of society, must be the rule… (no. 79) This speaks directly to the Southern Cameroons problem and suggests the way out. The Roman Catholic Church whose chief shepherd you are can make this happen in Cameroon “hinc et nunc.” Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord and blessed are those who receive he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Holy Father, failure to broach the Southern Cameroons problem during your historic visit to Cameroon, would be a monumental oversight. In its vision and thematic structure the forthcoming synod captures the urgent needs of the continent. The Holy Spirit’s promptings bring you to Cameroon and present to you the Southern Cameroons riddle to unlock. Avoiding the question of the relevancy of the Catholic Church to the Southern Cameroons issue would ipso facto cast a shadow over the forthcoming synod relegating its conclusions to the shelves, for gathering of the proverbial dust. Holy Father, do not let the church succumb to the temptation of “cerebrality” but in fact get real. You would be turning the non-violent resolution of conflicts into a utopian ideal, if you do not set the pace while in Yaounde. In fact, the Southern Cameroons problem is a litmus test to the church’s commitment to engage the conflict ridden continent of Africa. It will stand out as a point in the examination of conscience when ten years from today we evaluate the fruits of the forthcoming synod.

Lockwood’s prefatory remarks in his review of Phayer’s book: The Catholic Church and Holocaust contains in nuce the path I suggest should guide you as you choose to engage or not the Southern Cameroons’ problem: Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), as Secretary of State to Pius XI and as pope, faced Nazi Germany with a remarkable consistency. The Nazis considered him an implacable foe,1 and he was hailed both during and after World War II as the strongest voice – often the only voice – speaking out in Europe against the Nazi terror.2 The Church under his leadership is credited with saving more Jewish lives in the face of the Holocaust than any other agency, government or entity at the time.3 Pius’ combination of diplomatic pressure, careful but sustained criticism while maintaining an essential Vatican neutrality in war-torn Europe, as well as direct action through his nuncios and the local Church where possible, saved what some have estimated as 860,000 Jewish lives.4 If that estimate is accurate by only half, it remains a historic effort for a Church fighting without weapons against the most horrific campaign of genocide the world had yet seen. (Emphases mine) In the wake of this trail blazed already by your predecessor, permit me humbly suggest that you be the voice of Southern Cameroonians during your visit especially during your private audience with Paul Biya and in the speeches and homilies you will deliver in La Republique du Cameroun.
May St Patrick, on whose feast you shall touchdown in Cameroon on March 17th 2009, “inspire you by his heroic life” and intercede for you for a safe trip to and from Cameroon. And may St. Joseph, husband of Mary, patron of the Universal Church whose feast, Cameroonians shall be privileged to celebrate with you on Thursday March 19th 2009, help you to be like him “that just man” promoting justice and peace especially in Cameroon with the Southern Cameroons problem looming large, “that wise and loyal servant, providence has placed at the head of God’s family. Through the maternal intercession of Our Lady, Queen of Africa and Patroness of Cameroon may your historic visit to Cameroon bring true and lasting peace to the people of Cameroon. May she comforter of the afflicted, bring comfort through you to the people of Southern Cameroons. May she, mirror of justice, afford justice for the people of Southern Cameroons

Your humble servant, Lambert Mbom

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