Saturday, November 20, 2010

The SDF seems to have reduced its struggle to an elite pastime of memoranda, ultimatums, and court actions – without the people!

In other circumstances, one would let sleeping dogs lie. But the present circumstances are so central to our political life that it is difficult to let them just lie by. There are conflicting signals all around us, like: there will be no elections organised by ELECAM; the SDF is in the Supreme Court to nullify the activities of ELECAM; the SDF is calling on the people not to register to vote; the SDF has forced Paul Biya to legalise ELECAM; the SDF is going to Geneva...the SDF is calling “on Cameroonians to take their responsibilities.... and do what others have done under similar circumstances...”!

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

All this is cacophony that confuses the people more than it empowers them! The SDF seems to have reduced its struggle to an elite pastime of memoranda, ultimatums, and court actions – without the people! They are going to court with elite lawyers to argue for the legalisation of a structure they tell the people they do not want. They are giving instructions to the people not to put their names in electoral registers, and punishing those who call on the people to do the contrary, instead of descending to the people to convince them about the wisdom of their instructions, and the folly of the counter call. After all, politics has always been a competitive endeavour in an arena where the people are the sole judge.

Since 1990 the National executive committee of the SDF has always been composed of different categories of people, including elected and co-opted members. They enjoyed the same honours and prerogatives, except when it came to voting on issues in NEC. Of course, co-opted members could always lose their status of member of NEC through the same process by which they were co-opted – that is, by decision of NEC. Until that was done, NEC members were never at the mercy of lower structures of the party on issues of discipline!

Since 2006, NEC members are only handpicked by an all powerful Chairman of the party, not elected. It is difficult to understand that co-opted NEC members like Kah Walla suddenly became so unequal to handpicked members that they are left at the mercy of an Electoral District, in spite of precedence, and the existence of other regulations in the party that protected her from such ridicule. Bringing up cases that have been lying silent since 2007 just when she expressed a different opinion in 2010 on the need for the people to enter their names in electoral registers, smells of the type of settlement of political scores we are witnessing with “Epervier”. For the hierarchy of the party to have watched silently while a lower structure ridiculed her within the party and in the press only added salt to injury. The rule of law is the rule of law, whether it is within political parties or in the country as a whole. Those who cannot respect and enforce the rule of law within a political party cannot convincingly promise to enforce and respect it in the society as a whole.

In 20 years, the SDF has failed to come to terms with the complexity of human nature, and so has failed to develop the humility to deal with strong human egos, to be tolerant of divergent views; and the intelligence to understand the varying motives and desires of their members, so as to overcome personal vendetta, humiliation, and bitterness.

Like the rest of the opposition in Cameroon, the SDF has since become an instrument for the validation of oppressive state power, since they have been reduced to the impotence of barking while the caravan of the dictatorial power we sought to overthrow trudges on. They have ended up becoming managers of the image of a repressive regime because the more they are heard and seen trading repartees with the regime while it calls one bluff after the other, the more the regime is thought to be...“democratic”, since everybody seems to be doing and saying what they want to.

Repressive regimes always want to give the impression that they are in power because of the ballot box. However, every school boy knows that such regimes are in power because of tanks, guns, truncheons, water canons, and sometimes the courts, not because of the ballot box. Interestingly, most repressive regimes that are usually overthrown by the people, are overthrown because the opposition engaged them around the ballot box on the terms of the regime. The core strategy of such opposition groupings has always been to turn election fraud – which the regime always engages in – into an advantage; to turn it into a trigger for protests to humble the weapons that keep the regimes in power!

The opposition in Cameroon should mobilise the people to deal with the ballot box as it is, because the regime is not ready to change the substance of its game plan around the ballot box. The people should be taught their own strategy to use the ballot box as it is, to gain their power. It is foolhardy to indulge in the endless distraction of enumerating the obstacles the regime has consciously put around the ballot box. The ballot box is an inanimate thing; it is only as powerful as the people want it to be. Since people’s power has overcome tanks, guns, truncheons, and water canons, it can overcome any obstacle put on the way to the recapture of their power.

The SDF should encourage the people to register massively in electoral registers, in order to be able to exercise their ballot box power when the time comes!

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Of Police Harassment, Arrest, Detention and the Law

The state of Arizona in the united state of America, has signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration. The bill aimed to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants went into law July, 29, 2010. But with some restrictions, following a ruling by a judge, whose pen watered some critical segments (which is under debate) of the law.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The segments under debate makes failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. It equally makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. On the other hand, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.

No doubt the bill has unleashed protests, debate and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform in the country with millions of illegal immigrant. In so doing, opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against minority groups particularly Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

Even before the bill was signed many including president Obama, strongly criticized it. Like the president, many are those who argue, the Arizona law, threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness cherish by Americans, as well as the trust between police and the communities. Both proponents and critics of the bill describe it as the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations,

Today, the Obama, administration is suing to throw the bill out and possibly deter other states who are nursing the hopes of going the Arizona way. The act by the administration signify a firm condemnation of the bill, which according to the Justice Department will "cause the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants and citizens who do not have or carry identification documents while ignoring "humanitarian concerns" and harming diplomatic relations’.

Yes, there comes my concern. Being it in Arizona or Cameroon, my worry is strictly “humanitarian” because I know what law enforcement officers can do to innocent law abiding civilians. Without undermining the job of these people (Police) who risk their lives in protecting those of others, permit me say here that in some cases their excesses are awful and worrisome. Yes, and hey behave similarly world wide.

Stating that a law enforcement officer can arrest based on “reasonable suspicion” then allow people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced, is in my opinion akin to giving somebody a “blank check” then blame him for collecting too much money from your bank account.

We know police demands of documents are common and problem free in some countries around the world. And worst in many others especially were something is a stake – like in Arizona, where the focus is on illegal immigrants and Cameroon as well where the focus is on Anglophones (who most often than not are considered as Biafras) and the ability of uniform officers to “raise funds”

The identity law in Cameroon requires a citizen to provide his/her ID card upon request by a law enforcement officer. Without which the person concern will have to provide somebody to identify him/her. Not until these prove futile then the officer can think of arrest and detention.

Hardly are these law(s) respected. On the contrary, police in Cameroon use this as an “income generating activity” and a veritable tool for human rights violation. Quite often than not, they would arrest and detain innocent law abiding citizens.

The Arizona issue is making headlines and gaining support worldwide not because Arizona is in America. It’s because of those who feel threaten by it. What is feared in Arizona is just a tip of what is going on in Cameroon. Yes, we need a bit of that support and fighting spirit too!

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The Cameroon’s minister of communication has declared in essence that the Government of Cameroon will not have dialogue with SCNC/SCAPO not just because the two organizations “want to divide the country” but because they have not been transformed into political parties as a condition precedent following the 2009 ruling of the African Commission on Human and the People Rights. The minister’s outing, far from lowering the SCNC case, has only greatly helped to expose the characteristic lawlessness of the government he ever paints as infallible. The reality is starkly staring everyone in the face.


As charity begins at home, the domestic front should naturally be our
starting point. Several are judgments of the Supreme Court that are
not worth the paper on which they are written. The minister is
certainly not unaware that his counterpart in charge of culture is
sitting on one of such judgments. Nor has he no knowledge that the
Prime Minister’s Office is sitting on a judgment given in favour of
some civil servants of the Ministry of Finance since 2003. And that is
the court having
final jurisdiction in the land. Also are several ministerial
circulars precluding the enforcement of judgments against bodies in
which the State has interest.

The minister has stopped short of telling the world whether the
interested parties in those judgments too need to be transformed into
political parties. He may also have judged it superfluous to include
in his verbal crusade that the interested parties here too “want to
divide the country”.

Let the minister organize a press conference to brief the national and international communities on the ruling given several years ago by the very Commission he is banking on today in the matter between the Bakweri Lands Committee and the Government of Cameroon. Mr. Minister would avail himself of the occasion to cleanse the image of Cameroon with an explanation that the government has refused, failed or neglected to comply with the ruling because the Bakweri Lands Committee has not been transformed into a political party, and/or that the said committee too wants to “divide the country”.

With his first class knowledge of the business of government as the
spokesman, the minister is certainly in the know that our government
has not as much as reacted to the ruling of the Commission in favour
of some individuals whose rights were violated during the state of
emergency in Bamenda. Is he waiting for each of those individuals too
to be transformed into a political party? Do those individuals too
“want to divide the country”?

And knowing at all material time that dialogue with SCNC/SCAPO was
impossible, why did the government apply for an additional period of
six months in order to comply with the Commission’s
time-frame for dialogue? Was the additional time needed in order to
legalize the two organizations and to talk them out of their wanting
“to divide the country”? Was the government in that event applying as
of counsel for the two organizations?
We strongly hold that patriotism requires that we learn from history
in order to maintain social cohesion today and tomorrow. Arrogance in
the treatment of Anglophones will not augur well for future peace.
President Ahidjo had such a posture in the past and that has resulted
in the present ripples between the two peoples. Were Mr. Minister a patriot, he would refrain from exposing similar arrogance today. He would in the event have been guided by foreign histories.
The white minority rule declared that majority rule in Southern
Rhodesia was impossible in a thousand years. But majority rule was
attained within three years. Hostilities against innocent white
farmers are ongoing decades since the advent of majority rule.
Preventive diplomacy in humility even in illegality would have kept in
check the growth of hatred.

Nigeria only next door had Ken Sera Wiwa executed when he argued the
case for the survival of the Ogoni People. Mighty Nigeria dismissed
lightly the might of a tribal uprising. Mighty Nigeria is
today leaning over backwards to appease the weaklings with offers of
amnesty. Right back home have we fresh memory of how the fathers of
independence obtained independence fighting with crude weapons as
against sophisticated European weaponry. In similar haughtiness did
European generals underestimate the determination of the people to be free!
The praiseworthy plank of SCNC/SCAPO as per the slogan “the force of
argument and not the argument of force” is peace-building moderation.
That God-fearing spirit is not in juxtaposition with Cameroon’s
approach to the “Green Tree Accord” over Bakassi: it is equally
preventive of human sufferings, and is therefore in line with the UN
contemporary policy of conflict prevention. Every patriot should
encourage it with humble and submissive dedication. If standing by
strict legal status is liable to disrupt social cohesion with
unforeseeable consequences, insistence on it is dangerous

One’s compassion for the Mr. Minister is that he may not have fully
grasped the import of the Commission holding that the people of
British Southern Cameroons are “a people”. The meaning is that
Southern Cameroonians, as “a people”, have internationally recognized
inalienable rights. The fulcrum of those rights is the right to
self-determination. That right is inviolate. Only the people enjoying
such right may surrender part of it to some other people by
association or integration. Any relative constitutional fashioning by
alien imposition cannot produce lasting peaceable effects.

The indefeasible argument of SCNC/SWAPO is that there is no document
anywhere attesting that the people of Southern Cameroons have ever
been part of the Republic of Cameroon by integration or association.
This was confirmed a year ago by the very minister and later by the
President of the Republic in public statements. That they did because
they were conscious that the so-called “Federal Constitution” was a
law adopted by the assembly of the Republic of Cameroon which had no
sovereignty over Southern Cameroons.

It would be held in favour of association or integration if the
assembly of Southern Cameroons ratified the said law. Whoever
therefore holds that any such ratification took place has the light
burden of simply brandishing it before the national and international

In the absence of such documentary evidence, de facto “reunification”
is of no legal consequence. In the circumstance, the best option is to
organize constitutional arrangement with Southern Cameroonian leaders.
It is immaterial that the African Commission recommended the
transformation of SCNC/SCAPO into politic parties. No reasonable man
would expect “a people” who are not legally citizens of some country
to form political parties in that country to which they do not belong?
Rational reasoning should then prompt everyone, even laymen, to impugn
the Commission on this point.

Aside from the foregoing, one is at a complete loss that the
Commission sought to dissuade SCNC/SCAPO from “secessionism”.
Secession presupposes that there has been or there is a whole. In the
absence of documentary evidence that Southern Cameroons has ever
legally been or is part of the Republic of Cameroon, any application
of the term “secession” flows from unsound reasoning; or is it the
absence of intellectual integrity?

Most Cameroonians in authority today do seem to fall short of the
virtue of patriotism. Cameroon was there before them and will so be
after them. They have no right to toy with the future of the country;
no right to hold that they are final! They are under a duty to invite
the State of Southern Cameroons to constitutional talks for an
association or integration. That should be now and not tomorrow!
Nothing after all stops any Anglophone radicals from departing from the force of argument tomorrow!

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 7, 2010


During the tripartite conference of 1991, one of the agreements upheld by all participants was that there should be a constitutional provision that a presidential mandate would be 5 years, renewable once, giving a maximum of ten consecutive years at the helm of state, if the people wanted. A single-handed-modified version of this agreement was inscribed in the 1996 constitution in article 6(2) which provided that each elected president of the republic would serve a term of seven years renewable once.

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

In doing this, Cameroonians were aware that by nature, human beings are vain, self-seeking and easily corruptible, making them victims of the allures of power and honours, or of the material benefits bestowed on them by those in power. They were also confident that 10 years were largely enough for any good intentioned individual to serve the people in the capacity of president of the republic.

By the time of the tripartite conference and the eventual publication of the “new” constitution in 1996, Paul Biya had already served the country as president for well over 10 years. But since laws are never retrospective, he was still allowed to face the new constitution as if he was starting with a clean slate, on the proviso that he would go after at most two new terms of seven years each. This is why there was much talk about the first seven years, and then the second seven years, until... ops – the clock seemed to be racing faster than he thought!

Long before this seven-years-renewable-once clause was changed, Cameroonians had started contemplating what the future reserved for us, and I wrote as follows in an essay titled Cameroon after Biya: Prospects for Change and Continuity “...speculating about the day after a leader in Africa is usually considered in bad taste ... whether it is in terms of age or health, there is very little that one can accurately speculate about for the advent of the “new” day. After all, Wade just got re-elected at age over 80; and Lansana Konte could not even walk to a polling station to vote for himself because of ill health, and yet he was re-elected into office...Therefore no speculations on health and age as facilitators of the emergence of a new day in 2011 can hold much water. Nor can one be sure that the 7-year clause in the Constitution will bring the “new” era. Aging leaders are usually very reluctant to give up office; and any excuse is usually good enough...”

Excuse(s) they found, and the term limits clause was removed to allow Paul Biya to reign... for ever! On the heels of 6th November 2010, a third volume of what the regime people describe as “the people’s call” for Paul Biya to be candidate in 2011 was launched. In doing so, they want us to capitulate to the lie that such motions of support on the people’s back reflect popular sentiments in Cameroon .

The “people’s call” is the umpteenth fraud of some CPDM militants on the people. The call is nothing short of different versions of texts written in offices in Yaounde by party zealots from various corners of the country. With these gesticulations, the regime people seem to be affirming their belief in Hitler’s line that no matter how big the lie, repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as truth.

One of the trademarks of Paul Biya in 28 years has been his failure to respect the terms of political deals struck with other stakeholders. He has repeatedly trumped opponents with his single card of reneging on political deals on term limits, NEO, ELECAM, and others, over which he has always behaved like a man of second thoughts. Thus, symbolic victories usually thought to be won by his opponents with the striking of deals and the clinching of promises, sooner or later, turned into defeat. This is because much attention is not usually paid to the practical politics of the new deal of exploiting the gullibility of opponents and friends alike, to further the single, obstinate goal of the life presidency of the prince.

There is something really surreal about what the CPDM is presently involved in. They are involved in abstractions about the people and their problems, and promising that if Paul Biya remains in the presidency come 2011, they will find solutions to the problems that have been around for the past 28 years, staring all of them in the face! To show the lack of seriousness in these abstractions, they are making long-range promises that will mature by 2035, long after most of the long-range planners and many of us would be dead!
As CPDM militants celebrate 6th November, they should keep in mind that the people have changed a lot over 28 years. The media revolution has broadened and deepened the people’s thinking, and reinforced their insistence on taking control of their destiny. The people have learned a lot from some of the powerful symbols and symbolic acts about change communicated to them from all corners of the globe during the better part of 28 years, right in their bedrooms. 2011 will neither be like 2004, 1997, nor 1992!

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, November 5, 2010

Open letter to Ebenezer Akwanga reveals aversion within the SCNC. Still to be determined leader’s conference aggravate rancor

“Granted that Ebenezer Akwanga suffered in prison, but for him to argue vehemently and not to see and be sensible to the fact that some people paid the ultimate price of life is something that any rational mind cannot understand.”

By Martin AYABA

As the debate on how best to organize and canalize the efforts of Southern Cameroonians towards achieving emancipation and statehood rages on, various opinions and positions are being advanced mostly through the internet as to what is the best way to move on. One of these calls has been for the convening of a leader’s conference that will be aimed at closing the ranks and helping to forge a common platform in this faltering process.
In a heated and acrimonious argument that this author had with Ebenezer Akwanga, a bitter argument during which incident he threatened to ‘bring out a knife’ against my person, The SCYL chairman tried to dictate and impose his position as to who is to attend and not attend the still to be determined leader’s conference.

Upon my insistence that such a conference can be productive only if it is inclusive and broad based, Ebenezer Akwanga singled out two persons as an example and tried to bamboozled me on why Chief Charles Taku and Mola Njoh Litumbe should not attend such a conference. According to Akwanga, a lot of these leaders do not represent anybody and went on that, ‘I can hold Muea as my constituency, but these other leaders do not represent anybody’. He went on explaining that he had sent a proposal to Prof. Carlson Anyangwe proposing how the conference should be designed and who should be invited to attend.

In the ensuing exchanges, I told an enraged Ebenezer Akwanga that over 50 years today after a handful of supposed leaders were cowed into mortgaging our future as a people and nation; we will never accept or allow another group of unrepresented individuals to lead us into any form of independence arrangement whatsoever. If at the dawn of independence in the late 1950’s our leaders then made momentous errors due to lack of sharp, pointed, intellectual and legal counseling, today, I reasoned, the people of Southern Cameroons have come of age and the presence of legal luminaries like Charles Taku and seasoned and articulate political leaders like Mola Njoh Litumbe must be on the table for their views to be head on how and what we expect for a future country.

I told him that until further actions are carried out to know who represents what, no group can claim representation or legitimacy, and therefore all those who have been visible, and who have always stood by the side of the concerns of Southern Cameroonians cannot be left out of such a conference for lack of representation or for not being part of a movement following a similar logic and talking point

Another sharp point of disagreement with Ebenezer Akwanga was on an issue that he has made his principal bragging right and welcome song of sorts, which is that ‘I have sacrificed so much for this course by going to prison, what have you done?. For all those who have had any discussions with Ebenezer, they will agree that he has made the issue of his incarceration as a veritable weapon to use to intimidate and disarm even people who shared and sacrificed in the suffering that he and many other patriotic Southern Cameroonians suffered in the dungeons of the colonizer. Granted that Ebenezer Akwanga suffered in prison, but for him to argue vehemently and not to see and be sensible to the fact that some people paid the ultimate price of life is something that any rational mind cannot understand.
Apart from the hundreds of people who have died in one way or the other because of the injustices of colonization, and their strong belief in a free and independent state of Southern Cameroons, there are many out there who are silent, but who have paid a far higher price in terms of sacrifice than some parochial minds can want us to believe During my many years of work as a journalist, I have seen and counted my heroes in this struggle.

During a visit to Kumbo in 2005 while I and Ulrike Kobach a German journalist were doing a documentary on the horrors and atrocities of colonization in the Southern Cameroons I came first hand in contact with the high price that many have paid in this struggle. Standing in tears in front of the bare grave of his late husband, and holding the had of her 4 year old daughter who also was in tear, I developed ghost pimples and shed tears as she narrated how his husband Mr. Konyuy was tortured and killed by gendarmes. ‘They were beating him several times a day and he was shouting in the gendarme cell and we could hear how he was shouting saying that ‘I am going to die, they are killing me’. For well over one week, they refused him food, water and even any visits as he tried to refuse the accusations that he was involved in killing a gendarme’ Mrs Konyuy narrated her husband’s ordeal in tears. ‘After one week, we didn’t hear him shouting again,
that is when news went out that he had died of the torture. Somebody who saw the corpse of the late man said most of his teeth had been removed, deep wounds and cuts were all over his body, and burns of electric use were visible on him.
In another separate interview, Pah Kongso, a once prosperous business man and a very successful secondary school proprietor sat with red bloodstained eyes, and shed tears as he narrated and took the two of us around the carcass of what was once a big and bustling school and explained how the school and his businesses were targeted and burnt down because of his involvement in the Southern Cameroons struggle.

The above cases to me are those of the unsung heroes in this struggle, and only a king who has no clothes can try to compare and berate the price the Konyuy’s have paid and will continue to pay to that of somebody who is trying to make as much personal benefits from his incarceration as possible.
As to his famous question of ‘I have gone to prison, what have you done for this course? I want to remind Ebenezer Akwanga that his very limited notion that only those who have gone to jail have done something for this course is completely fallacious and unacceptable. As a participant at AAC 1 in Buea in April of 2003, I cannot waste my precious time to defend my record as a strong advocate for the Southern Cameroons course to somebody who thinks only of his own contributions. In my writings, and my actions I stand by my contributions. Even while Akwanga was in exile in Nigeria, my Newspaper was the first to grant him an exclusive front page interview in which the headlines read ‘We shall be in the bush until the Southern Cameroons is free’. I cannot recount the number of anonymous phone threats, and dejection from powerful advertisers for taking this editorial line

When I came to the US, I spent over one month to single-handedly write a book called ‘LIONGO’ on behalf of the SCYL. This book was done in the perspective of using it to look and sell our problem to a Washington lobbyist. When we met the lobbyist and he accepted to work for us by first beginning to work to organize the Southern Cameroonian community here towards what he said would lead to ‘a blanket amnesty towards all Southern Cameroonians seeking asylum in the US like what happened to Ethiopians’, I thought this was a big deal, not until the idea was torpedoed because Akwanga was against ungrateful Southern Cameroonians gaining a blanket amnesty. Today he has the guts to venture ask me what contributions I have made in the struggle.

On a more trivial note during this argument that almost degenerated into fight in Akwanga’s residence, he accused ‘you and your brother (Cho Ayaba) for having chopped SCYL money’. This is a line that Akwanga has used to blackmail me and my junior brother, a gentleman who has made un-pararelled sacrifices in this struggle. During a visit to Europe sometimes early this year Akwanga, unable to look Cho Ayaba in the face planted his people to chastise my brother.

For those who are interested in this saga, the issue is about a taxi cab that Cho Ayaba insisted against my advice to purchase. Knowing the state of the bad roads then in Cameroon, and having in the past owned a cab, I had warned my brother about investing in cabs. He insisted, and when the cab was bought, it turned out that the deal was a bad one because the vehicle had issues that could not be determined at the time of buying.
Equally, before going into this business, I held no position in the SCYL and I was doing the service because of my family lien with Cho Ayaba.
So in this regard, I refuse to answer any charge from whosoever that I don’t have any obligation towards.

On the contrary, despite his attacks on genuine citizens of Southern Cameroons, it is a well circulated open secret in the DC metro area that Mr. Akwanga has reaped a well known La Republique citizen of over $10.000 to try to force the immigration system here accept an asylum claim in the name of the Southern Cameroons.

Until our people started looking at this struggle as a serious issue of national sovereignty where people have to make various kinds of sacrifices and where all hands need to be onboard and not a trivial matter of self aggrandizement, chest beating and political points scoring, it will take a much longer period for us to move our common suffering to the higher stage

Sphere: Related Content

Of Reigning and Ruling

Of the various forms of leaders in the world, some reign and some rule. When a leader reigns, it means he is just a figure head of the collectivity over which he presides. The one who rules is the one who puts his stamp on the collectivity over which he presides and has total control of the daily business of such. In Cameroon and Africa, except for Morocco and Lesotho where there are constitutional monarchies, ascension to power, is supposed to be through elections, during which the people choose those to rule them and preside over their destiny.

By Christopher Fon Achobang

Unfortunately, this is not always the case as most of those pretenders to the throne have arrived the helm not through the ballot box. Whatever fate projected them to the highest level is not my concern here but what they eventually do at the top. Some people have hurried to call these leaders who are just wall papers or window dressing, absentee presidents. I wish to call them Off Topic Presidents. This is because in all their actions they betray their lack of knowledge of the people they reign over. In fact, when they tinker the constitutions of their countries to give themselves Life Presidencies, there is no other way to consider them other than little monarchs.

In Britain, where there is a constitutional monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who reigns since 1952, the British have always elected a Prime Minister (PM) who rules. The elected PM takes responsibility for all what goes on in the British polity. When the PM fails to deliver, the people have the right to pass a no confidence vote on him, in which case he resigns calling fresh elections. In most African countries like Cameroon, nobody takes responsibility for leadership failure.

Recently, like most patriotic Cameroonians, I was shocked when the reigning life president missed a golden opportunity at the United Nations General Assembly where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were discussed to press for UN support. Cameroon has been going through a cholera pandemic with hundreds of deaths. The palpable causes are lack of sanitation and potable water. As sordid as that might sound, a country which hopes to be an emerging nation in 25 years is unable to harness the huge water resources available for its thirsty populations to drink.

At the 2010 UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Cameroon’s for life reigning monarch presented a speech calling for more representation of Africa in the power broking organs of the UN. Mr. President went off topic and mentioned nothing about the cholera in Cameroon. This Presidential OFFTOPICKSM confused me and I went ahead to ask whether the Cameroonian delegation was representing the African Union. Even African union meetings have always been snubbed by the reigning monarch of Etoudi. He has never cared to attend regional meetings where regional leaders meet to brainstorm on issues pertaining to their people.

The Lake Chad Basin Commission has been meeting next door in Ndjamena to brainstorm on how to put back water into Lake Chad and prevent it from drying up. The meeting brought sympathizers from as far as Senegal, which is not even watered by Lake Chad basin. Libyan leader, Khadafy and his Senegalese counterpart, Abdoulaye Wade attended the meeting and made important inputs because Lake Chad has become a global issue. Yet the reigning off topic president in Cameroon was absent.

If the reigning regime in Yaounde ruled Cameroon, they should be able to bring an end to most of the ills plaguing the country. Corruption, embezzlement, human rights abuses, bad governance, and lack of democracy preoccupy the leadership of Cameroon. It takes just one executive action of a ruler to fix the mess. But the life president has been at a loss for more than seven years as to how to get out of these dire straits. He once asked a rhetorical question, “Why is it that a country (Cameroon) blessed with huge natural and human resources is unable to have its economic takeoff?” I was ready to volunteer the answer and the solution. A prerequisite to my addressing the issue was for him to tender his resignation. Unpredictably, the captain who had lost his bearings went ahead a few months later to stage a constitutional coup and awarded himself a life presidency.

Some observers posit that bad leaders only appear to have control over their people when they are about to violate their fundamental rights. They excel in dictatorship, oligarchy, divide and rule, and bad governance.

Mr. Life president should be able to order the improvement of so many basic things in this country. His predecessor, the benevolent despot, Ahmdou Babatoura Ahidjo built presidential palaces in all regions of the country. He took time to take the heartbeat of the country by paying visits to all parts of his country. He went by road some of the time and could gauge the bad roads. For very long, the reigning monarch does not know what is happening in parts of Cameroon. The last time he came to Buea was during the 1999 Mount Cameroon volcanic eruption. Since then, the road between Bonaberi and Bekoko had degraded beyond human dignity. PMs Peter Musonge and Inoni Ephraim used this horrible road to go back to their village every weekend. If Cameroon had a ruler, he would have ruled that the road be fixed. The last time Mr. President was blocked by the River Mfoundi on his way to the airport, he immediately ordered FCFA 23 billion work to widen and stabilize the Mfoundi bed. At least he could gauge where the shoes was pinching him.

Before I go, let me share an anecdote about what happened to an absentee leader with you. Sometime in the 1980s I lived in a small community called Esse, 75 kilometers Northeast of Yaounde. Ateba worked there as the sub delegate of agriculture. He usually spent 80 percent of his time out of home. The family knew his habits and took maximum advantage of his prolonged absence. The 20 percent of his time he spent at home was just for breakfast, dinner and sleep. The wife soon started feeling free and the daughter got pregnant. For nine months the daughter lived in the same house without the absentee father knowing. The wife had told her husband their first daughter had travelled to Yaounde to live with the aunt. After the ninth month of pregnancy, the girl gave birth to a set of twins at the Esse District hospital. One morning, Ateba was going to the hospital to visit a colleague who had an accident. When he reached the hospital, those who saw him asked if he came to visit the daughter who had delivered. He was surprised saying none of his daughters was pregnant. He was led by the hand to the ward where the daughter and her twins was admitted. Ateba collapsed on seeing the daughter breastfeeding a set of twins. This is what happens to absentee leaders.

African leaders should become rulers. They should know their countries like a captain knows his ship. Because the captain knows his ship he does not wait for it to lisp before piloting it to a safe port. African problems cannot become global problems, because if all Africans perished, the other races will rejoice and troop in to occupy and reap its resources. Of course, the other races, if given the chance will come in and also transform King Solomon’s Mines (Africa) into a Garden of Eden.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 1, 2010

Political Moseses and Liberation of Cameroon in 2011

The children of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for many years. Then their creator gave them Moses as the one to take them to the Promised Land. He gave them a covenant and laws to guide them in their long arduous walk to freedom. Many a time did the slaves see no wisdom in this uncharted journey to an unknown Promised Land. Not even the commandment on Mount Sinai kept them together. For forty years they were punished in the wilderness for their disobedience to Moses. Finally, they reached the Promised Land without Moses.
By Christopher Fon Achobang

Cameroon has been walking along a long tortuous road to its freedom from the snares of the ruling destroyers for 20 years. This started with the launching of the Social Democratic Front, SDF on 25 May 1990. Many Cameroonians have lost their existence and life in the process of walking behind Ni John Fru Ndi to the change the SDF preached. Yet every time supporters of the SDF have stood up to ask for change from within, they have been shown the now infamous article 8.2.

Many opponents of the main opposition party in Cameroon have been dismissed with article 8.2 even as they believed they were trying to salvage the party from derailing. Dr. Siga Asanga, pioneer Secretary General of the SDF was shown the door with Article 8.2. His death followed after. Many other dissenting members of the SDF have met the same fate. But Ni John Fru Ndi remains stubborn to his dream that he was the Moses to free the peoples of Cameroon from slavery. He came very close to liberating Cameroon in 1992 when he won the Presidential election but his victory was denied because the hands of the President of the Supreme Court were tied.

Forty years wandering in the wilderness during the times of Moses, the Biblical times, was quite long. Twenty years wandering in a political wilderness today is exceptionally long. Understandably, Cameroonians, sympathizers and detractors of the opposition are fed up with the prolonged political bickering amongst its self-ordained Moseses.

As in the days of Israel, Moses was not the one that finally reached the Promised Land with the children of Israel. It will seem Cameroonians are getting to understand that they all have to walk the extra-miles alone without their disappointing Moseses.

The opposition parties are flying into shambles like broken China, wounding and bleeding the morale of their followers. Today, there is no single opposition party in Cameroon which can claim to be representing the various shades of opinion of its followers and sympathizers. Resignations from the opposition parties have become an everyday occurrence and nonevent. Those who cross the carpet to the Cameroon Peoples Demolition Movement, CPDM, do so, not because they see any hope from that angle. They are just tired with the long bruising walk to freedom. Mandela did the walk for over 27 years, unscathed, should Cameroonians persevere and endure the privations of bread and butter that characterize the opposition of a ruling junta? Some Cameroonians are still ready to go the extra mile but not within the ranks of partisan politicking.

Quite a horde of political observers will accuse me of exaggeration, if I stated that no single opposition party in Cameroon enjoyed unity. They will cite the UDC (Cameroon Democratic Union) of Adamou Ndam Njoya as a symbol of partisan unity. Of course, they will realize that the UDC is cemented by a tribal bond, which some observers do not hesitate to name family bond. Most Cameroonians have surely forgotten that the UDC is a national party preferring to call it a Bamoun party. By the true sense of nationalism, the Bamoun are the only nation in Cameroon as they share the same history, language and aspirations. Therefore, embracing the party created by a descendant of their ruling dynasty is an expression of Bamoum national unity.

The other side of the opposition silver platter is quite attractive, as a majority of Cameroonians are seen to be steadily breaking from the traditional yoke of tribal political trappings. 2011 will see an offset in the political landscape of Cameroon. As the wandering flock of Moses strayed in the wilderness and finally reached the Promised Land without Moses, Cameroonians, disenchanted with the unsure strides of their Moseses are ready to walk the remaining miles to their freedom without unreliable leaders. As the whole country is posturing to ride even on a ‘snake’ to cross the biblical Red Sea, even those rejected by their Anglophone constituency like Ben Muna, will become the sure transition bridge over the hurdle. For the defined transition period, Cameroonians will be challenged to blacksmith a special cream of leadership for this robust Promised Land.

Revelations point to the liberation of Cameroon which had started since 2004. The schism between PM Inoni Ephraim and President Paul Biya on a burning Mountain solemnized this breaking away from the feuding Pharaohs. The people of Cameroon are about to enter their Promised Land fleeing away from the Biya Honourable Crooks. Their saviour has already caused confusion among the Biya men, who like crabs are all fighting to jump out of the burning can in which they have been trapped.

Cameroon will be freed in 2011 by the collective will of all to free themselves from 29 years of slavery under Biya. Ni John Fru Ndi, Adamou Ndam Njoya, Bello Bouba Maigari, etc have lost the way to the Promised Land. 20 million Cameroonians, each in his commitment will march to freedom, by registering themselves for the elections, so as to be counted on the D-day. Not even tying the hands of the Supreme Court President will rob them of popular victory. Whoever is going the same direction with them will have quite a nation behind him. This nameless savior will not be followed because of tribe or party but because he stands the best chance to deliver the people from the wilderness and the claws of the lion and its cubs.

Sphere: Related Content