PAMOL PLANTATION: ‘Nile’ of Ndian Division, heartbeat of agric research

The Nile and PAMOL Plantations share many similarities.

The Nile is the longest River in the world. The common belief is that there would be no Egypt if there was no Nile. Egypt, a Northern African nation, with extremely rich historical and religious antecedents, derives most of its economic potentials, viz; touristic, agricultural and navigational from this river.

Similarly, Ndian, the second biggest Division in terms of land mass in the Southwest Region of Cameroon has, for about a century, almost solely depended on PAMOL Plantations for its very sustainability. That is not all. If countries like Malaysia and Indonesia rank today as the world’s largest producers of oil palm, it is, thanks largely to modern research inputs that PAMOL scientists generated and put at the disposal of these Asian Tigers.

Plus, besides providing crucial schooling and healthcare delivery needs to teeming masses, PAMOL has, of recent, been playing another crucial determining, nay, pivotal nation building role, by investing massively in the Bakassi Peninsula, light years after the disputed territory was ceded back to Cameroon, courtesy of a United Nations intervention.

The Rambler was in Ndian last week, and was marveled at what contribution PAMOL is making to the national economy, the many daunting odds notwithstanding. We talked to three key members of that establishment, namely, Agbortoko Baye, Plantations Manager, Nkiambou Charles M., Technical Manager and Kamadje Albert, Secretary General.

How is the pet Ekondo Nene Palm Extension Project faring? How many hectares are under cultivation here?

We took off with the project in 2009 and started development project in Ekondo Nene with the intension of operating some 3000 hectares of land there. We so far have done 1000 hectares in Ekondo Nene where some 555 hectares are developed by PAMOL and the rest of it is being developed by a scheme called PAMOL Small Holders Venture. Of these 555 hectares which PAMOL started with, so far 180 of them are in production. That production capacity is over eight tons of Fresh Fruits Bunches, FFB, which means that by the close of the year, we are supposed to have about 180 tons of FFB. There are prospects that Ekondo Nene will do quite well because the tons produced per hectare is very high; it is a fertile area. Ekondo Nene alone has about 160 workers there who are living in social houses constructed by PAMOL. PAMOL has been able to provide them with water and a good school for their children.

You just mentioned a Small Holder Venture. How does it integrate with PAMOL’s main stream production?

The PAMOL Small Holder’s Scheme is a joint venture between a small holder and PAMOL, where PAMOL has decided to give part of their land in Ekondo Nene for small holders to open their plantations there. Eventually the area was felled and prepared by PAMOL and given out to small holders who are now working on it. PAMOL provides seedlings, while the small holders plant and maintain their small plantations which are divided into 10 hectares each, until they come to production stage. It is done with the agreement that all the fresh fruits bunches produced in such land will be sold to the company at the current prices of FFB. The agreement also stipulates that the company will allow the smallholder farm on the land for 25 years and thereafter they can decide to renew the contract. When the smallholder fails to supply its fruits to the company or in case of any deviation from the contract by the holder, PAMOL may decide to recover her land and property.

At one point PAMOL went all out to make its impact felt on the Bakassi Peninsular. The company was, by and large also creating Government’s impact here. Has it been a worthy investment, do you think?

PAMOL decided in 2015 to begin a project in Bakassi. This project was started with the sole intension of populating the Bakassi Peninsular, given that it was a war torn area and many people had gone away but for some few Nigerians who were still living there. And since agriculture and particularly plantation is labour intensive, the state saw it as one of the ways by which it could better populate the area. That is why the state instructed PAMOL to establish a plantation there, so that it could bring back indigenous people to the area.

                So far, the object of the Government to populate the place is being met, though not at a hundred percent rate. So far, PAMOL has done already some 345 hectares there in Mussongi Selle and in Etiba- Nyanga and the area is gradually being populated. When we started the project in 2015 in Mussongi Selle and moved to Ediba–Nyanga, in 2016, we were counting about 300 workers present and working for the company. But now, the working population has dropped to about 75, given that the company had to slow down operations since Government funding was not coming. The project was sponsored by the Government… one billion was made available for its take off.

          Honestly, the life of the people in Bakassi where PAMOL is found, has greatly changed; it is changing and will continue to change for the better. Initially, the place was just a bush area with no social amenities. But since 2015, PAMOL has succeeded in building houses there and we have accommodated our workers who now work for us and earn enough money for their upkeep.

Trade is fast developing there and the council is building the market structure where a frontier market between Cameroon and Nigeria is taking place. The most important thing I want to tell you is that with the presence of PAMOL there, the Cameroonian population is fast growing. Consequently, the naira is being gradually replaced by the Cameroon FCFA. That tells you that we are into effective occupation of the area. We already have more than 180 rooms here, in which our workers live. These workers are not only coming from afar but some of them are villagers who have moved from their homes and have settled in the area and are working for PAMOL.

What has become of the rubber component of PAMOL? The company operated an estate in Bai…

Bai Estate runs what is known as dual culture; which means that it produces both rubber and oil palm fruits. Before now, Bai Estate was all into rubber production. When rubber prices fell in the market and the crop was no longer cost effective in production, the company decided to replace part of the rubber plantations with palms which is ever cost generating. This was in 1995 and 1986. But so far now we still have 580 hectares which produces 1000 tones of rubber annually and which we sell to the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, as a smallholder. In fact, we are a small holder to CDC because they run very large rubber plantations and they equally have a factory where they process it. So, when we produce our rubber from the 580 hectares of land that we have in Bai Estate, we sell to the CDC.

Have you not considered setting up your own rubber factory?

We can do that, but it will not be very productive because it will be very expensive for us to run a factory with a small amount of rubber. Now that we are beginning to cut the old palms in Bai Estate, we wish to regenerate it by planting rubber. In due course, if our production increases, we may then decide to put up a rubber factory so that it won’t be more expensive to run than selling the crop to the CDC.

Is PAMOL, like other related companies facing the problem of crop theft? If so, how are you grappling with the menace?

Generally, we incur quite some losses from theft from our neighbouring villages and that is why in our company we have a security unit known as the fruits guards, who run around to ensure and prevent our crops, be it rubber or palm from being stolen. Also, we do that with the assistance of “anti gangs” which have been constituted by villages. We pay the villages some compensation every month for helping us to fight crop theft. We also use the administration and law enforcement officers a lot to fight the thieves.

Regarding working with villagers as security, they are very sincere in handing over to us villagers who steal company crops and we have registered lots of successes from that and that is why we are continually using and paying them. In fact, what we are interested in is taking preventive measures that are stopping the fruits from reaching the villages in the first place. That is why the villages have set up vigilate groups to question every crop that gets into the villages and with that only those who harvest from their farms move it to the village. Any crop of doubtful nature, the village will intercept it and ask us to come verify if it belongs to us. Though this has not stopped the theft, it has greatly and considerably reduced palm theft.

Given that our seedlings are sold to other farmers, we differentiate our bunches from them during production; that is, especially during harvesting. We do this in two ways. When we harvest our bunches, you would notice that they are nudgedV, that identifies that it is coming from PAMOL while those of smallholders have a long stuck. One thing we discovered is that when people steal our crop they don’t carry it with bunches, so, it even makes it difficult to identify when it is taken out of the farms. That is why we place our security at the periphery of our farms to ensure that they don’t steal and carry the crops into the villages.

What is the work force of PAMOL? What advantages are available to your workers that may not be enjoyed at other agro industrial enterprises?

PAMOL has a work force of about 3000 employees, ranging from Category 2 to 12. They include nurses, mill workers, harvesters, drivers, managers and supervisors. In fact, our agro industry is the only one that does not discriminate when it comes to employment. As far as I am concerned, the advantages PAMOL workers enjoy are many. Firstly, they don’t pay for their accommodation. It is given to them free of charge, including water and light bills. Plus, PAMOL houses are more modernized than others elsewhere. Also, hospital bills in the hospital to workers are almost free. They consult free of charge and do not pay for hospital bills because the presence of the hospital there is to make sure that workers are healthy for better productivity. The only thing they do is to buy their own drugs.

How did your company welcome the imminent tarring of the Kumba Ekondo-Titi road?

It fact, the news was greatly relieling to us, knowing as it were how we suffer on that road. We are very happy with Government decision to tar the road. It’s going to ease transportation of our produce. Because before now, especially during the rainy season, we had problems sending our produce to the market and that made us not to be competitive enough as compared to others like CDC and SOCAPALM that are in areas where the roads are more pliable. Secondly, we had difficulty of transporting our spares from Douala down to our base where we have to carry out maintenance activities given that it is usually during the rainy season that we have little production, hence, the best time to do maintenances of equipment. When the roads are so bad and equipment become difficult to transport because of bad roads, we end up not doing the best maintenance and this only makes the factory not to function in its most appropriate form when the peak season arrives.

On the account of extremely bad roads, has PAMOL often considered resorting to using river craft for transporting materials and produce as obtained in yesteryears?

The roads now are bad but we are not cut off. When they are cut off and we have no way to operate, we refer to river transport. River transport is extremely expensive to manage and that is why we think the road coming to us is going to solve and reduce our cost of production to ways such that we can be competitive.

Unlike other sister corporations, PAMOL runs a full fledged hospital which benefits not only her workers. How has the company been able to sustain this component over the decades?

Truly, the hospital is the biggest in this Division with the best services. Initially, the hospital was created in 1956 to cater for the welfare of the workers but today it’s a normal hospital open to everyone. The hospital is run by the company and it has a good work team with well and professionally trained medical doctors. But apart of that the hospital has some challenges like infrastructure. Firstly, it was created when the work force of the company was very small. Today the work force of the company has grown in geometric proportions. Consequently, the hospital requires radical upgrading. It requires apparatuses like incubators for babies born prematurely. It requires oxygen and other relevant innovations. The lack of these components has caused a lot of deaths, especially to new born babies who hardly survive even when transferred to Kumba because of bad roads and long distance.

Is your company still relying on the old, almost anachronistic milling or PAMOL has acquired modern oil mills?

Actually, PAMOL has two functional mills for now, which were all commissioned in 1967 and 1968 in Lobe and Ndain respectively. These mills at the time of commissioning had an operating capacity of 15 metric tons and you will agree with me that from 1967 to date is 50 years, and that anything 50 is totally obsolete. Trying to survive with old equipment in a modern world is some of the challenges that PAMOL is facing. We have just gone through a process of rehabilitation where we have done a lot of work by expanding the plantations, replanting and applying fertilizers which had been abandoned for some time and encouraging the smallholders to expand and produce more crops and the objective of all this work was to ensure that we produce more crops and to transport it into oil. At the tail end, there was also a plan to acquire a new mill which would assist in the transformation of these expected crops. But unfortunately, the procedure of getting the funds for the new mill has been a big battle. Up to now, we are still sourcing for the funds to acquire the new mill. To meet up production with a mill processing more than its initial capacity created to handle, means that the machines and the labourers at the mill are overworked. The current factories cannot cope with current production of available crop. Consequently, you call on workers to put in extra hours and be more committed to ensuring that the old machines keep performing.

From your stock of palm kernels has PAMOL has, considered producing palm kernel cooking oil? Or you lack the competence?

From the kernels we have, what PAMOL produces now is kernel oil and not palm kernel cooking oil. The competence to produce kernel cooking oil is there, but actually, it is our wish that we can diversify… like have a soap factory, a refinery, margarine factory and all those related down stream operations which are associated with the palm oil industry. But as I earlier mentioned, the only problem is at the level of our finances to get the mother company operational which is the palm oil mill itself.

PAMOL was once into the manufacturing of soap. Is it still the case? If so, what economic gain could the company be deriving from this component?

Yes, PAMOL acquired a small unit to transform an average amount of 1000 kg of soap, which we contracted to a distributor because one of the major problems in the soap industry is to actually get the market. So we contracted it to a distributor who is running it on our behalf. Economical gain of these soap production is just an additional source of income to the company.

How about producing bleached palm oil?

Producing bleached oil is a good idea because people bleach the oil they buy from us but like I earlier said, this goes back to what I called downstream operations associated with the palm oil factory. The machines to produce all these needed things are not there but some day we will get there.

How is PAMOL coping with massive importation of cheaper palm oil from other oil production countries like Malaysia, Indonesia…?

PAMOL has three main companies they supply oil to [AZUR, MAYA and CCA] and the quantity and prices of oil supplied to any of them is determined by the Government. Naturally, the tones of oil needed to satisfy the country’s demand cannot be produced by PAMOL, therefore, there is need for some importation, but our worry is the manner in which such oils are imported. Because most often they are imported duty free and often land here in cheaper prices than current prices in Cameroon. Hence, the importers are temped to import excessively because it is cheaper, thereby hindering the sales of locally produced palm oil. To fight the massive importation of oil, especially refined oil, we were compelled to reduce our prices. This happened two to three years ago when there was massive importation of very cheap oil. There was a lot of refined oil in the country; consequently our local buyers of crude oil who further refine it, could not buy because they too did not have the market. Therefore, we too could not sell. The effect was such that all our storage facilities were full and we had to stop some factory production, with the only option being to reduce the price. Consequently, we incurred huge losses.

  What role has the Government been playing in keeping the company afloat in the face of very intervening competitive international interests and other variables?

Actually, there is a great burden at the level of the Ministry of Commerce, which is mandated to regulate all of this. But I want to believe that at times, there is some bad faith from those executing those policies. Of course, when there is excessive oil in the market, we find it difficult to sell; meanwhile we are not allowed to export. After the Government noticed the disaster caused some three years ago, they took some measures to ensure that the company stayed afloat. Firstly, they immediately stopped the excess importation of oil, because there were still some consignments to arrive. Also, there are controls in the market to check illegal sale of palm oil; so all this is helping us maintain our place in the national market.

Have the declared ghost towns in Anglophone Cameroon affected Ndian, PAMOL in any way?

No, it has not. Not at all. In fact, in this company, we don’t know of any thing like that. All of our workers answer present at their job sites every working day except those who are sick or those on leave. At times we are surprised to hear that there is “kontri Sunday” say in kumba and that places are closed. Here, we don’t feel any of such things but for schools which were somehow destabilized.

How are schools in this area preparing for this new academic year?

Normally the last school year was blank by this somewhat Anglophone crisis. But this year, some kind of machinery has been put in place to have a smooth start to end of academic year. We carried out a sensitization campaign and I saw some parents crying. They have all assured us that their children won’t be left at home. We have learned a very bitter lesson, so we have talked with parents and all stakeholders involved. PAMOL schools are ready to open their doors come September 4. The consequences of a blank school year have been disastrous; I mean, it was criminal to have even let that happen.

Dr. Etta Culbertson Enow,

Agronomist and genetist at PAMOL research department

Is PAMOL rejuvenating its palm plantations?

Yes, PAMOL is doing that because the company has majority of her plantations that are old and we have to rejuvenate them by felling palm trees that have gone through their youthful life span to replace them with new generations with better yields. Agronomically, 25 years life span for a palm tree is enough for us to reap all economic benefits from a tree. After that you can fell and replant.

Before now, PAMOL used to generate research findings and from which foreign partners benefitted. Is it still the case now? How many countries still depend on PAMOL for post research achievements?

Yes research in PAMOL is continuing. It has never stopped and it is continuing, following the methods put in place by the former owners of PAMOL, UNILEVER. In fact, it is so serious and important that in our research, we have two schools; French and English. Presently, we are continuing with the material and we are able to multiply our seeds production palms by selecting the top percent, crossing them to produce progenies of high yielding materials to be used for seed production. These high yielding materials are used to produce between 17 and 21 fresh fruits bunches per year in a single palm. PAMOL before and even now, is exporting seeds. PAMOL in the days of UNILEVER had their base in the UK and then seeds were exported to many countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ghana, Nigeria amongst many other African nations.

Even Brazil has some of our materials. It was because the materials were high yielding that they were solicited by so many countries. The potentials of yesteryears high yielding materials is still here and presently we have a lot of demand for our seeds not only from commercial plantations but from research units in Indonesia and Malaysia and even India requesting to have our seeds so they can open their own research departments to produce seeds. In fact, we have even signed a convention with one multi national company in Indonesia for genetic material transfer between the two countries and for testing our materials in Indonesia. This will help us capture the materials in Indonesia for seeds sales. We have others to dispatch to Nigeria and Gabon.

Talking about research, even before the African Union started propagating biological as opposed to chemical pests control, PAMOL had successfully researched on the leaf miner beetle, adapting in the process, biological as opposed to toxic chemical methods of fighting pests destructive to oil palm…

Some two major pests exist. That is insects that are pest to the palms and insects that are beneficial to the palms trees. In fact, the principle of pollination in Malaysia was found here in Pamol where the pollination weevil was founded. This is what has revitalized the high production in Indonesia and made them to even become the main leaders in palm oil production in the world. The study of the pollination weevils was conducted here in PAMOL and the weevils later taken to Indonesia. They were inundated in the field and they started multiplying pollination and Malaysia started having fruits with good bunches. Before then, the weevils were not there and the bunches in Malaysia had very little seeds and the only way to improve on the seed situation was to do an assisted pollination. This assisted pollination is a type of pollination whereby, human beings pollinate the flowers of the trees themselves.

As concerns insect pests, you mention the leaf miner beetle and this is the type of pest that mines into the palm trees and renders the leaves dry such that they look like they have been burnt by fire. It is a very serious pest that can cost up to 70 percent damage in oil palm plantations. Studies were initiated here in Cameroon by some researchers in the 80s and they realized that at that time PAMOL was using biological ways to control the leaf miner and other area spray on the plantations to control the leaf miner pest. From studies carried out, we found out that leaf miner has a natural enemy which is an ant called cramastogasta ants. These ants feed on the lava of the leaf miner and destroy them. So whenever we have leaf miner mounds on the leaves, the ants come and feed on the lava, thereby eradicating them naturally. This study was carried out and we have a systematic procedure that we are still following. We have succeeded because we have inundated the ants on our palms and we have them living on the palms, so the problem of leaf miner has been dealt with. But we have not stopped at that level as we continue to do census of leaf miners in our fields to see where they have built up so that we can do manual eradication or spontaneous chemical eradication. So far, we have had no cases of the leaf miner to worry about. There are two common pests you will find in a mature palm plantation the leaf miner which we are already eradicating and the meagle caterpillar which in our plantation is beyond economic injury level. We are lucky we don’t have others like the Rhinoceros beetles which are also very dangerous.

Interviewed by Ngende Esther Boh & Charlie Ndi Chia



‘No school’ campaign slumbering Northwest economy

By Jean Marie Ngong Song

The consensus for schools resumption in Anglophone Cameroon has been, surprisingly, gathering steam and is set to spring up unprecedented adherence come September 4, official reopening date for the 2017/2918 academic year, even as prophets of doom still encumber the minds of fickle minded parents with fear.

Many have frowned at Government’s intransigence and the lukewarm attitude it has adopted so far in solving the Anglophone crisis. The biggest weapon that has been used in the struggle has been the shutting down of schools, predominantly denominational and lay private, with only urban Government schools operational in the last academic year across West Cameroon. With less than 10 days to another school year official opening, there seems to be much danger to the Anglophone community than good, if schools do not reopen.

The Northwest has remained the Region with the highest concentration of schools which operate in pure Anglo Saxon tradition from primary to the university level. This has served as a major osmotic pressure that for decades has continued to pull students from across the country and neighboring countries who troop into the Northwest Region to sip from the fountain of knowledge.

Barren of industries, education is the only thing that has kept the economy of the Region in general and Bamenda in particular, ticking and has remained its livewire. Money flows in for school fees and parts of it are used to purchase foodstuffs and part paid as salaries and the Regional economy revolves.

Come Monday September 4, if schools fail to resume across the Northwest after a total blackout in the sector last academic year, millions will be washed away into the French sub system of education and more Anglophone children would have to study in Francophone schools, hence the collapse of the English sub system of education the strike action initially set out to protect.

Year in and out, hundreds of millions are wired in from the Diaspora as remittances to pay fees of junior brothers and sisters in the various schools in the Region. Students from Nigeria, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea always troop in each academic year to school in the several Bamenda Polytechnics.They pay rents, buy food and keep the economy buoyant.This serves as a major injection that keeps the economy of Bamenda and the rest of the Region ticking all year round and should schools here not open their doors for this new academic year, this constant flow in of remittances might be diverted with the economy witnessing a downturn.

Salaries have not been paid to teachers of denominational and lay private schools for some nine months and this has widened the poverty gap enormously, with most teachers converting into hawkers of second handed clothes, house utensils, commercial biking and vending illicit fuel, commonly called funge.

Following the disgraceful performance recorded by the Region in the just ended school year (the Northwest Region recorded 5.3, percent) it is clear that many students shall be re-sitting the Ordinary and Advanced levels GCE exams, entailing that schools like Saint Bedes, Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Lourdes, which often desperately sought after Francophones, if schools do not resume come September 4, the majority spaces often reserved for Anglophones shall be completely taken over by the French speaking candidates. They often have the ready cash to pay as tuition as well as splash on many other trivialities and many a school administrator shall only be too ready to collect. Should this happen, Anglophones shall wake up one day just to be strangers in their own schools.

The 35 percent scored at the advanced level points to the fact that this year, most competitive entrance examinations like entrance examinations into the higher teachers training colleges, public works and others, shall witness a major drop in participation by Anglophones. This will lessen their bargaining power in the union and at the end what the Anglophone struggle sought to achieve shall be the very trench it shall collapse in if schools do not resume.

School resumption campaign gaining grounds in Kumba

Incensed by persistence of the now notorious ghost school campaign, some opinion leaders in Kumba have joined the queue to proclaim support for Government credo of smooth reopening of schools come September 4, 2017.

One of such adherents the Chief Atem Ebako of Talangayi Village in Kupe Muanenguba Division assessed that, education is the only instrument that can bring out God’s potential in youth. “Education is the only thing that will take you anywhere and not family background. What a disaster that someone tells you not to send your child to school! Imagine a child who can be trained as a doctor to save life but is about to be destroyed because someone says don’t send your child to school.

“Let’s train children to be doers–productive professional training so that the population can benefit. Creative and innovative education is the right of all and so it should be respected by everyone. The Government is investing much on youths so let’s educate them so we can also benefit. Let’s preserve our economic strength by not destroying the children’s future,” counseled the traditional ruler.


According to Epie Paul, Chief of Cabinet Kumba City Council, education is necessary in all aspects of life, else you find yourself a misfit. “Be considered a fool for education. How can one stop his born child from going to school? Parents should not watch others frustrate their children. Instead, they should stand firm for the people to kill them but let their children go to school because they know the impact of schooling. Social media cannot stop my children from   going to school. If you are not educated you can’t use it.

“My own children will go to school. I know what education is, so parents should not follow noise makers. Where are our consciences? Let us not frustrate the children. Let’s leave all the doubts and fear of what will happen. People who don’t want to send their children to school should stay but don’t scare others. Let’s change the situation.”

To Nasako Molondo Daniel, Deputy SWELA SG for Meme, those who say children should not go to school are the ones brandishing pictures of their children’s graduation abroad on social media. The “internet generals” saying schools should not go operational in Anglophone Regions like Tapang Ivo is the very person who happily published on Facebook, celebrating his thesis. Parents, let’s see that these people are deceiving us, so that our own children remain ignorant while they educate theirs; so that when opportunities present themselves, they will be ones at ease while these children we are frustrating will be their domestic servants.

“We are saying that our Anglophone children are being marginalized yet, instead of re-enforcing education, especially, professional education to meet up where we are lacking, we are aggravating the situation with self-afflicted wounds from no school campaign.

“We instead want to make it worst by leaving children blind.

They say youths are leaders of tomorrow. How do you lead without knowledge? Parents should and must send children to schools if they want their children to progress. People keep preaching secession; if it succeeds who are the people who will be policy makers when they are not going to school? We are complaining of unbalanced development, yet we burn the few we have while others will be adding new ones. Parents, please, protect you children’s future. No medals will be given for destruction but children will be rewarded for being educated.”

By Ngende Esther Boh

We’re driving towards conscientious stupidity – Educationist

By Nester Asonganyi

Corporate responsibility for the non-schools resumption mantra seems to be at the door steps of Diaspora and renegade Anglophone agitators who have found solace to sooth their deflated egos in the campaign to instill fear in parents, pupils and students. However, increasingly, these naysayers are losing adherents by the day and the consensus for unfettered schools resumption has begun witnessing meteoric rise at the same time as the appeal for non-schools resumption has taken a nose dive.

Kimeng Waindim Rudolf, Principal of Summerset Bilingual College, SUBICOL, Buea

This new twist in the tug of war between Government and Anglophone parents is succinctly captured by the following quote from Kimeng Waindim Rudolf, Principal of Summerset Bilingual College, SUBICOL, Buea, who posits that “The children should not be vulnerable because, the truth is, whether, they (parents) believe it or not, let them take it from me; the thing is going too personal. It is now more of personal interests. Even those who are sending information, if we want to give you details, you will discover that they are fighting for their personal interest and not from a corporate perspective any longer. Parents should be wise.”

Kimeng was speaking to this reporter on Thursday, August 24 in his office. Read on:

People are making gains out of a bad situation

“In as much as we are fighting for something, let parents send children to school. Let them reflect on the South African story. I guess most of them know that education is very vital for a better and brighter future. Let them remember that even the popular Nelson Mandela; when he was even in prison, he kept on telling black parents ‘please send your children to school.’

I remember he almost went on hunger strike just because his people were not following up. He saw the vision, it was a dream. If I can give parents details, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki is related to Nelson Mandela who insisted that the father should send him to school; the father hesitated, but when he finally did, who didThabo Mbeki become in South Africa? President! When Nelson Mandela came back from prison and they were to constitute the Government, there weren’t enough qualified blacks. And at a certain moment, if you followed up the xenophobia thing that happened in South Africa not long ago, the blacks became jealous and envious of foreigners who were making money in their country because they were not qualified to do the jobs. They were not there even to do the businesses, go to school and be the professors. So, they became jealous and were trying to hate others, which is poor for a nation.

Parents should be very careful, if they resist, we may fall into a similar or same situation. We are driving towards a situation of conscientious stupidity. At the end of the day, we should not miss sight of the issue. Our economy is not booming, children are not going to school, we prefer schools the other way; it’s outright stupidity.

Why fear must be defeated

“From last year’s experience, parents normally are supposed to be scared. On the other hand, if parents can follow the events from the level of other stakeholders, like the Government, some effort has been made in order to beat out this aspect of fear. In most of the meetings held, we addressed the issue of fear. The authorities have always assured of security, and since then, it has been progressing. Parents did not send their children to school last year simply because of fear. If externally, there is that assurance, I am telling parents that, they should make some effort, beat out fear and adopt faith; faith in the efforts Government has put in place to ensure security, faith in the various educational institutions. It is true we, the lay private were not operating too because of fear. We were afraid too that our structures would be burnt. There were even some parents who were courageous and came with their children at that time but we told them we were afraid.

We have gone through several consultative meetings and have discovered that, it is no longer necessary for us to fear; we need to stand against it. At this juncture, it is not somebody who will come and say ‘you do this or try to overcome it; you start developing it and with the efforts that have been put in place… for example we used to have just one security guard but have recruited three; two for the night and one as gateman. We are also trying to put the aspect of a vigilante group in place. We believe that, putting all this in place now, the message will go to the parents.

If I am encouraging them to send their children to school, it is because I am sure of the security measures that have already been put in place and I will be there 24/24 together with the security people.

If we aren’t careful, we are going to be losers

It is true that we expect much from the Government but Government has its own calendar. At some point, if you look at it so well, you will discover that we need to ask ourselves ‘who are we afraid of?’ is it the information that comes from abroad? This is due to the fact that, information comes but some people misconstrue it and get into action. In the end, who does it benefit? There is something we need to drive into parents; they should understand that the game of education is their sole responsibility, and for the children, it is an inalienable right. They should not take advantage of whoever is sending information and instructing them not to send their children to school. When they adhere to such information, in the end, the impact is more on the parents. Take it that this problem is settled which must be settled, it’s just a matter of time, and things become somewhat favourable but your child cannot benefit because he didn’t go to school, who will you blame?

If we are not careful at this moment, we are going to be the losers. Some parents, especially the rich and middle class, have already started looking for schools in the French speaking Regions with the very rich already talking of sending their children abroad. What becomes of the institutions that already existed here? The popular schools like Sasse, even Summerset that have brought up intellectuals? You finally discover that school is like a mother industries and booms the economy.

Grounded economy

“The economy too has been grounded. Should we allow it? You know our schools here are really cherished by Francophones… majority of our students don’t come from this our neighbourhood; they come from Kribi, Douala. We have opened our doors. If Anglophone parents keep their children at home, the Francophones will take their places. So let us look at the combined effect; you discover that after everything, they will still have that advantage. So, parents should think twice, we the lay private have thought it wise; it is the same thing with mission schools and that is why they have opened their doors. I got information from some media that the rate at which schools from Douala and Yaounde are coming to advertise was never like that formerly. So what is the trend? If we just allow this for this year, we will never get any student schooling here again and we will become the losers.

The economic and social life here will be affected. Even the educational system we are complaining about it being tainted will be non-existent. The question is; why are we fighting against something we are indirectly adhering to? We have made a point and already have the force to do it.

How Biya can intervene

“The truth is, Government is already doing something; as of now, it is not enough. Our general cry is; ‘release those who started negotiations with Government and were later picked and locked up and let’s continue to see how we can make things work.’

Even the Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission has not started working. We have so many inputs to make. I don’t want to say the Government but ‘Our Father’ of the nation, the President, let him even make a statement and release those guys so that we have peace and forge ahead. I believe and know by faith that he will one day respond to it. Let us start putting in place some of those measures to show that at least, we obey some of the instructions. Maybe with that, it will entice them now to do more.

If you look at it, you will discover that it is God who put them there. In Romans: 13 or so, God puts them there as authorities so, we cannot say we can work on persistent disobedience and achieve easily. Two wrongs cannot make a right; if they are refusing to act, God is in control, but I know that the Holy Spirit will convince them one day to see into our plight and make Cameroon united as we wish.

Let parents respect their children and send them to school. Let them respect the responsibility given to them by God, while other measures are being carried out. Let parents think out of the box a little; if taxi men, bikers and other people in other walks of life are carrying on with their activities, why should they pin everything only to the children?

We are set for the school year

Taking into consideration the crisis we actually went through, whereby for about eight months, we were not able to have classes, (though we tried and prepared students who registered for the GCE), we started preparing immediately for this academic year as far back as late June. We called an enlarged PTA General Assembly, discussed with parents and agreed that it was not wise to get into a situation where children stay at home this year again. Generally, they accepted with some, expressing the wish that they will like us to move ahead.

They made mention of the fact that they were already tired of having children at home and were also afraid of their children adopting deviant attitudes. They encouraged us to first of all begin with catch-up classes from Form One to Upper Sixth.We made it in a way to satisfy parents since they expressed the wish that they will not want their children repeating. We agreed and students maintained their classes and after the catch-up classes, they will write their exams and can now be promoted to the next class.

At the level of Regional, Divisional Delegations, even at the level of the Governor, we have held several meetings and have been appealing even to the Minister of Secondary Education that, there should be some one or two hours extension in the required time for a normal school calendar to see how we can meet up with the syllabuses which he has already yielded.

Education, a child’s inalienable right

The unceasing and calamitous showdown between Government and Anglophones has had corollaries in many facets of life that range from deviant behaviour of children to comatose economies in the two affected Regions. However, the most afflicted have been students and pupils compelled to cushion the pangs of stabs from the no-school campaign embarked upon since November 21, 2016, when Anglophone teachers joined Common Law lawyers in solidarity against what they consider the despicable alienation of Anglophones in Cameroon.

Having stayed for almost a whole academic year without going to school, children in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon have become very vulnerable, especially the females who, out of idleness and hardship have become young and tender mothers, unable to care for themselves, talk less of the babies they are about grooming up. Juvenile delinquency is on a rise and politicians from the ruling party have taken it as opportunity in a bid to seek solution to the crisis, to offer themselves Safari trips in and out of the country, squandering money meant for the development of the nation. It is in this light that many have thought that, though we are fighting for a just course, jeopardizing children’s education is not the best measure as they may rise up against their very parents in the future, if care is not taken and it is the Northwest and Southwest Regions suffering the most.

In the following write up, Mr. ApahItor Johnson, the current Northwest Regional Delegate for Secondary Education before his transfer from the Southwest explains why children should go back to school.

Apah Itor Johnson

 Education is biggest gift to a child

If I have any message to parents or the general public, it is the message to remind them that there is no bigger gift they can give to their children, apart from education. It is a child’s inalienable right to good and sound education. You will accept with me that the first husband of a lady is her education. Hence, we cannot and should not compromise a child’s education for whatever cause it is.

I am calling on all the parents to come up with a different mindset. We shouldn’t hear from rumors and compromise children’s education. The education of the children is paramount. I supervised the writing phase of the GCE and I can best tell you what happened in the field. Most students who were not registered cried foul. Consequently, if parents are not careful, there will come a time when the very children they are prohibiting from going to school will turn against them. So, let parents be careful, because the children shall come to the consciousness that they are being sacrificed for a cause they do not know. What we are fighting for may one day destroy us.

 Not everyone has the means to send children to French speaking zones

Those in the Diaspora, including, those living within the country, promoting the strike, arson on property and the not going to school are doing the wrong thing. A good number of students in the Southwest Region have been sent to French speaking Regions because for some parents they consider it safer. Let the public know that parents who have the means to send their children to Francophone zones, are lucky. But what of the majority who are home? Will their own future be sacrificed? Or will everyone have the means to send their own children to Francophone zones for school? What of those going out of the country? I hear in Mamfe, most parents are crossing their children to Nigeria for schools. They will start learning different cultures and consequently come out with different cultures.

 Teenage pregnancy on the rise

Let’s look at the rise in teenage pregnancies this year as a result of no schooling. Parents are promoting such vulnerability by not sending their children to school. Parents should come to a certain level of consciousness that we should not continue in the strike so that we grant the children their rights to go to school. If there is a revolution, why must the revolution target student? Some of us would not have been where we are now if this opportunity [education] was not given to us.

I know that the president is a nice man and is listening to our cry; let children go back to school and you will see how he will step in and do something. At least he has done something by solving more than half of what was demanded.

 Measures for effective reopening already in place

Notwithstanding that, I will tell the public that The Southwest education sector is set for the reopening on September 4, 2017. Most of the measures for effective reopening have been put in place already. You will realize that from the time we got finished with the ordinary, advanced levels, and every other exams, on July 3, 2017, an enlarged meeting was held, involving all educational stakeholders in the Region to see how we can start preparing for the next school academic year. A certain number of measures were taken. Since we were in a zone where there were a lot of intermediate students who could not gain access into the next class we put commissions that are going to stand in front. And as of now, too much has been done, which I will not want to take you to a long story.

 The security of children is guaranteed

The first thing is that on the ministerial text of  August 4, a number of things have been talked and at the level of the Region, meetings have been held with inspector coordinators, sub directors and all other Regional inspectors to make sure that a framework has been done for a smooth take off. At the level of the Division, the Divisional delegates have been asked to organized meetings in their areas so that they could together bring traditional rulers, the principals, other educational stakeholders and Government main professions that could influence children going back to school and see how together they can work as a team, first to sensitize and see how to make children go to school and also more importantly, how they can ensure the security of the children.

Presently, even though granting this interview, I have just been transferred to the Northwest in same capacity, but the background for school resumption here in the Southwest has been made by me. The calendar of activities for the 2017/2018 school year has already been placed in all our schools. The lists of public text books have also been put in all the notice boards in our schools, and the available places in our schools have been placed on the various school notice boards. The teaching boards have been put. Board meetings have been held, including the school PTA, and school management or school councils have met in order to see that school takes off effectively. The permanent commission in charge of recruitment and employment of teachers has been instructed to make sure that these boards take and select teachers so that by the September 4, schools effectively take off.

At the level of the Regions too, the inspectors coordinators and Regional inspectors and have already been sensitized. Meetings have been held and all he action plans in the field, for monitoring and control of classrooms sides have been done. Principals have been instructed to provide enough didactic materials like chalk. Principals have been instructed to clean their schools, procure their registers.

At the Regional delegation, instructions have been given to the unit of the production of didactic materials to ensure that the syllabuses are available in every school. I can say that for now, we are ready. Presently there are civil administrators, political and general elites, the educational stakeholders and the commission charged with sensitizing students to come back to school all working in the field to ensure that students are aware of the fact that education is their inalienable sole right. These commissions are working well as registration is ongoing, though somehow timid.

By Relindise Ebune

Catholic educators genuflect to school resumption pressure

The tangled tale of schools resumption being rehearsed by Government for denouement on September 4, has set confusion within Catholic Christians in the Northwest Region subsequent to a meeting on August 24, chaired by the Education Secretary for Bamenda Arch diocese, Reverend Father Augustine Nkwain and attended by all managers of catholic schools to plan schools reopening, ostensibly, under pressure from Government and some parents.

The meeting was hosted at the Auto Data Resource Center of the St Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Bamenda. In the opinion of Father Nkwain, the response from parents has been very timid owing to the current political climate in the Region, even as their responsibility to God and to children pushed them to the decision of formally opening their doors for schools to resume.

It is customary for Prelates to converge before the start of every school year but that of August 24 was paramount because it came out with decisive resolution regarding the education of children which has been highly politicized by many.

Though the convention wasn’t open to the press, The Rambler later caught up with Father Nkwain who said that the Catholic Church was under much pressure from voices militating against schools resumption but that in response to social responsibility and to God “whom we are answerable to, our doors are open and we want to educate children.

“There is a silent majority of parents who want their children to go back to school and we must be there for them. For those who don’t want children not to go back to school, we would say enough sacrifices have already been made, but we cannot continue to sacrifice children for political reasons because there is seemingly no short term end to what is happening. If parents were to stake the education of their children on actually resolving all political reasons before sending their children to school, then children would never go back to school. So we are doing our part to make sure that children receive their education while the social problems continue to be confronted for viable solutions.”

On if structures have been put in place to purge timidity in parents and kids, he said:

“For the moment, we are still at the level of education. We are just an agency. The Government is there, the private sector is there; so we are only doing what is possible within our means. But parents should know that we are ready to educate their children so they should think of the good of their children and send them to us. Anybody who thinks that the Church is not being responsible by asking for schools to reopen is very wrong, because we have always been responsible for children.”

On the issue of many parents demanding compensation for the lost school year he harangued that people talk because they are ignorant of how Catholic schools operate. According to the clergyman, so many things are bought in bulk at the start of the school year, including didactic material, food stuff and salaries are also paid to teachers. “When you begin to calculate all that was done you see that we have found ourselves in a serious deficit because of what happened. So for parents to think that we are sitting on money, it is very wrong. That being the case, we can only move forward so they cannot say we should compensate,”

Relating to criticisms that teachers are not being paid the Priest averred that “We took measures to ensure that teachers were paid up to January. Right now we cannot pay teachers because we don’t have the money and that’s the simple fact. We even ran into a deficit because we made sacrifices to pay them for December and January even though they did not work. You would want to know that we have more than one thousand teachers at the level of primary schools not to talk of secondary schools; so, if anybody thinks that we are sitting on money, that person is wrong. Right now, we are still struggling to pay for books we took from book suppliers when children left with books without having paid.” On the level of registration as of now, he divulged that registration is very timid, because of the atmosphere but that doors remain open and they are prepared to start.

By Mildred Ndum Wung Kum

Zombie mentality

My initial contact with the word Zombie was sometime in the 70s when Fela Ransome-later Anikulapo-Kuti, was a deity in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, where his peculiar but ingenious genre of music, Afro beat, had taken the airwaves and night crawlers by storm and rendered them inseparable hostages right into his dying days in the mid-90s. Of course, After Shakara, Lady and Confusion, hit titles that were depictions of everyday occurrences, Zombie came under uncharacteristic circumstances. Brigadier and later on General Murtala Ramat Muhammad, had just overthrown another General, Yakubu Gowon, and set about proving to Nigerians that the decision of the military junta he led was justifiable.

As corollary, massive dismissals and a near reign of terror took hold of the entire Nigerian nation with the military virtually terrifying the “bloody civilian” populations with “orders from above.” And such “orders” were executed pronto, without any recourse to sifting, to ascertain if they made sense or were designed to enhance the livelihoods and, in that case, welfare of the citizenry. It was in an attempt to parody this uncanny knack of acquiescence to orders as is customary with military outfits that Fela, composed Zombie with orders like about turn, forward march, put it on reverse, go and die, go and quench and Zombie will not come unless you tell’am to come, forming its lyrics.

Whatever be the context of my coming into contact with the expression, Zombie, according to standard dictionaries signifies robot, android, automation; it lays no claim to affinity with animate or sentient beings. However, when guided properly, it can even outperform humans, given that issues like fatigue and other natural occurrences that limit human capacity to exert boundless energy on particular tasks come into play. It is the reason why our current and now ubiquitous smart phones bear the epitaph ‘Android,’ which simply means that with very insignificant prodding, they can perform just any task under the sun that requires use of thinking faculty.

It is in the light of such automatic response to circumstances that in the last two weeks, there have been strident calls by chieftains of the CPDM party relating to the necessity for schools to resume as scheduled by Government. To say the least, in its most intrinsic essence, the schools resumption lobby is not in any way magnetic to contempt and to be seen to be a major player with such a league, by extension, should not attract any public scorn. However, the fact that the CPDM meetings came on the heels of another tour of the Northwest and Southwest Regions  by the Minister of Secondary Education, to ensure that schools resume, smacks of inadmissible dread to take initiative or act on their own, except after receiving orders from their master.

Furthermore, a laughable irony emerges from the fact that the minister was running around, urging parents to send their children to school and in the process, putting to task traditional rulers and CPDM elite, without first instilling some order in his ministry to facilitate what he is advocating. To wit, Regional and Divisional Delegates were appointed only last week. Principals and other school administrators are yet to know their fate. Yet, the minister and Government are more concerned with having children in classrooms. In the appointments done this far, that of the two Regional Delegates of the Anglophone Regions invoke the spirit of vengeance on teachers in these Regions suspected to have masterminded or being in sympathy with the strike movement. In this direction, the issue of conviviality stemming from ethnic or tribal solidarity would have been completely deracinated by the decision to send the Southwest Regional Delegate of Secondary Education, to Bamenda, and vice versa.

Furthermore, and in line with our Zombie mentality, our version of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, Isa Tchiroma Bakary, was recently inundating air waves with his customary raving about enemies of President Paul Biya’s magnanimity-driven Government. This time around, he was at pains coming to terms with enemies of the ‘New Deal’ who would never see anything good in the actions of President Biya. Miffed by the recent showdown between Government officials ferried to some European capitals, ostensibly to douse the flames of Anglophone irredentism, Tchiroma announced to whoever cared to listen that investigations have been opened to determine the circumstances surrounding the ignominious confrontations between Government officials and Cameroonians of the Diaspora.

What Tchiroma did is typical of Government officials. After all, the master thinks and decides while the subordinates execute without attempting to display any sense of initiative. Nobody is worried about the fact that those who are now being seen as having been subjected to unfair spectacle were not supposed to be in those European capitals in the first place. While the country is almost ablaze from Anglophone agitation, Government, probably in the mistaken view that proving tough to Anglophones at home who have been yearning for dialogue would yield dividends by some abracadabra, opted to instead send emissaries abroad to confront avowed secessionists.  Of course, the result could not have been otherwise. You cannot pick coconuts under a mango tree! They got what they deserved, even as the conduct of our compatriots too left much to be desired, given that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Indeed, our tendency to react to circumstances instead of preparing for opportunities knows no bounds. It is this mindset that certainly informed the cacophony that emerged from the sting inflicted on Cameroon by CAF president, Ahmad Ahmad. We had all along been deluding ourselves with being in possession of requisite infrastructure to host AFCON 2019. And when the diminutive Madagascan jolted us with the possibility of transferring hosting rights to ever-ready Morocco and Algeria, hell broke loose to the point where Mr. president was swearing like an infant caught stealing but who will not plead guilty. Yes, we have been forced, at least, to realize that there is still much work to be done. And, the work to be done now includes tidying our Augean [football] Stables.

Oh, yes! We wasted time paying Joseph Owona and his band of tricksters hundreds of millions all in the name of normalizing football management in Cameroon. The few, who dared to rise against what was clearly a process to institutionalize banditry in football management in Cameroon, were stigmatized as naysayers who would stop at nothing to ensure that President Biya’s magnanimous governance is dragged into mud. But Abdoulraman and his clique have been vindicated by the same FIFA that had earlier sent a team to come and supervise the enthronement of a crook-led FECAAFOOT management. Who says corruption is limited to Cameroon and African countries? Even at the local ‘MTN Elite One’ level octogenarians like General Semengue, do not see any reason why Cameroonians with more vitality deriving from age ought to be in charge. No! Having been discharged from active duty in the army, he must look for a place to cling to, so as to continue making it impossible for younger generations to materialize on the country’s sports arena.

As if the above examples that shine a light on the ugliness of governance in the country are not damaging enough to our corporate image, the recent experience by ELECAM staff relating to payment of their July salaries on August 25, comes to reveal the abysmal twist that governance has assumed in Cameroon. How else can one explain the fact that a hyper sensitive institution like ELECAM, whose role is to ensure legitimacy of the sovereign will is being toyed with like a personal plantation that depends on the caprices of its owner? The excuse given for this insalubrious occurrence is that the Ministry of Finance has been delaying the disbursement of ELECAM funds. Foul! From where did all the money made available to Board members for allowances and tours come? Why did money appear immediately the information about non-payment of staff went viral on social media? The integrity of an institution reposes on field staff and not on top management. ELECAM is too sensitive an institution to be exposed to such imprudence.

A country, they say is as good as its leaders and citizens put together. This is so because bad leaders are chosen by bad people. Good people cannot choose a bad leader. However, Cameroon is a world exception in the sense that bad leaders have foisted themselves on citizens in the lurch, through a governance mechanism buoyed by occultist maneuvres and mendacity.

By Ngoko Monyadowa




Books, boots and bonfires

Days pass by, the flood of tears and blood swell on, the groans get more deafening. And the question remains: is there a captain on board? Why does one get the impression that by some form of levitation the boatswain has removed himself from the boat and does not feel all the tossing and turning as the breakers buffet the bark, fore and aft? Is he looking at the scenario through some telescope as if it were happening on another planet?
Is he truly in charge, or has he abdicated the reins to tribal cabal of Trumpian paranoiacs who harvest orgasms from the chaos? Is he so out-of-touch that he can’t see the absurdity of massing all these troops in West Cameroon under the delusion of securing children as they return to school? What kind of psychology would make a true parent imagine that children would relax and study with the sound of boots and the sight of ‘AK47s’?
It is hard to see all those boots purported to secure children in school, without recalling that these are the same boots we saw kicking children in UB last year; that men in uniform who raided student residences, raped some of the girls and made the others roll themselves in sewage have, to this day, not been seen to answer for their crimes. It should therefore, be easy to understand why parents can no longer entrust their children’s security to the same men in uniform. When a little schoolgirl looks out the classroom window and beholds a man with an AK47, two words come racing immediately through her mind – RAPE and RUN, not READ.
If those who committed these atrocities last year had been seen to answer for them, the children and their parents could have been expected to look past them and see a Government that respects and protects their rights. Now, their perceived impunity can rightly be interpreted as license for more abuse, and that is a scary consolidation of distrust – the same distrust that has come to characterize general West Cameroonian relations with Yaounde.
In a most disconcerting twist of the saga, Yaounde now seems to be succeeding in driving the wedge between West Cameroonians and their most potent ally. The Churches, which, only months ago, stood as the last rampart in their quest for redress, now seem to equivocate in the matter of school resumption, with the upshot that their moral authority over many of their followers is taking a huge hit. In some of them, the pews barely stop short of heckling clerics whom they see as traitors. Now you hear people voicing suspicions that Church leaders have either been cowed into condoning injustice or, worse still, cajoled into eating their own vomit. Others conclude that they have been blackmailed with the possible withholding of Government subventions for their schools.
Founded or not, these suspicions leave the climate between Church leaders and their followers far from serene. And when people can no longer trust their security forces, their Government and finally their Churches, what are they left with?
And the crisis can be seen as only a step to undermining the people’s faith in God through their relationship with the Church. We may thus be on the way to becoming a Godless society, and would not that be a victory for demonic forces that are wrestling for control over this country? We can hear you say, “God forbid!” But clerics at all levels who compromise with injustice for whatever expedient, must know they are advancing the kingdom of darkness, despite all prayer and fasting.
It must also be said that the spate of arsons that has hit Church schools lately does not help matters. It is not known to what extent it has antagonized the Churches to the West Cameroon cause.  If the protesting party had viewed the Churches as allies in the defense of their rights, they should understand that in torching Confessional schools, they replaced partnership with hostility. That amounts to a house divided. Plus, the irate militants of the cause who choose to vent their justified anger through arson and violence must be told that it works against their very cause. It misrepresents the Anglophones as terrorists in the eyes of the international community. These groups must therefore be reined in by whoever is empowered to do so, and educated on the counter-productiveness of these acts. If on the other hand it were to be true, as alleged, that Yaounde covertly sponsors these acts in order to frame the Anglophones and justify a planned crackdown, what a shame that would be! There would then be a crying need for a neutral third eye to determine who the terrorist really is.


Sometimes I cry

There was a time, when I used to fall asleep, to a pleasant, dreamless, dark depth, totally at peace, but not anymore. Nowadays, I feel an intense bitterness welling up in my mouth; I am a grief-stricken man. Cries of caution and shouts of discomfort with the current socio-political crisis rocking the English-speaking parts of the country seem to be like water off a duck’s back.

Some people appear to be snaffling the peace and their attitude has snagged Cameroon’s much advertised unity in diversity.This nation has become a black hole where any lunacy can thrive and there is a black smudge on the national sense of wellbeing. One is tempted to wonder aloud, when all the chaos will come to an end. Schools in the country are to be reopened on Monday, September 4, after the long holidays and in the Northwest, the burning question is: “shall they effectively resume?”

Many have joined the fracas over the school resumption issue in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon. Some parents shudder at the thought of their progeny being maimed, kidnapped or killed, following threats from self–styled revolutionaries, who have dubbed the school boycott operation a collective sacrifice.

Who indeed is making the sacrifice? It appears to me that the school attending children and students are taking the brunt of this so-called Anglophone struggle. The ghost town situations increase the number of sacrificial lambs with business people and petty traders losing a lot of money, and what about teachers of the private sector?

Where is the love, peace and unity? On both sides of the political spectrum, everyone is in favour of dialogue, but no one appears to be willing to take a seat at the negotiating table. There is need to thrash out this Anglophone problem as I hear it being called, to wipe the slate clean, to start afresh. The burning, threats and chaos have to stop, the children are innocent and even ignorant about what has made hell to break lose.

Nelson Mandela preached love and forgiveness and taught by example.

Do these words mean anything to those vested with the power to preside over the destiny of this nation-amnesty, pardon, good faith, dialogue? And to those advocating a spilt; what have the children done to you? Honestly, there are many preposterous vicissitudes in this life than any philosophy can conjure.

So, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the people, this day declare: when I hear that the football in the country of the African champions needs to be made normal, and the children in some parts are running the risk of missing out on yet another school year; I cry. Some times I agree with who says big boys don’t, but I tell you, sometimes I cry.

By Winston Lebga

School is a good thing, failure is a bad thing

By Charlie Ndi Chia

“School is a good thing, learning is a good thing.  I come to school to learn…” Every Anglophone kid that has as much as passed through Kindergarten can chant this well known rhyme. The mentally deranged boko haram sect members in their opium dream of taking this country back to the pristine era are aware of this fact. At least, when they do experience some tantrums of sanity, these social dregs accept and actually employ the end product of schooling in perpetrating their primitive, wicked Empire. One is talking here of the firearms, vehicular technology and Improvised Explosive Devises, IEDs, which these lunatics have been employing in dastardly assaults in the north of Cameroon.

The boko haram idiocy could be traced to and blamed on monotonous or outright failed governance. This would also hold true for social media poachers and information traffickers. I understand that boko haram rattle-heads also rely so much on social media facilities in perpetrating their evil empire. One sees the late Chinua Achebe’s clairvoyance in what is playing out in today’s Cameroon. He had written, inter alia, in one of his epic novels: “…he who brings home ant infested faggots, should not complain when lizards start paying him visits.”

Cameroon’s oligarchic leadership has been rather presumptuous and complacent for far too long. By the simple law of reciprocity, the lid had to go off at one point or the other. The bubble was bound to burst.

And those organizing ‘ghost towns’ and schools boycott have, unwittingly, gone beyond demanding for just democratic constitutionality, equity and fairness. They want out! They have fought the oligarchic leadership to a standstill; asserting their rights to what they say should be an independent statehood alternative. Truth be told; the head of state’s approach to addressing the earth-shaking agitations and placating the agitators, or why not, the people of the Southwest and Northwest Regions one way or the other, has been indolent. He has opted for both denial and palliatives. And none is working, so far. Most of the age-long structural imbalances are yet to be earnestly addressed, especially the geo-political imbalance.

Hence, the resort to rather deviant methods, including ‘ghost towns’, arson, school boycott and other forms of civil disobedience. The resounding noises from the exercise are however, discordant. One is hard put to understand how puppeteers got to the point in which they are today and how they are able to employ ‘ghost marionettes and call the shots from God knows where, without as much as firing a single shot.


Particularly touchy is the option, the tactic if you will, of stopping kids from going to school and torching private and public property. But this is where the banality of evil has been courted over the years, by an inept governance system, until it festered.

To this extent, both the Government and those that oppose it easily give ridiculous reasons for committing gaffe after gaffe; for taking the generality of the masses for granted. Both hirelings of the regime and common folk are only too quick to rationalize, to justify contemptible actions. They commit the most evil, horrendous things if, and when they believe or are persuaded by a higher authority that their acts are either justified or part of their duty. Consequently, security goons shoot and kill, loot and rape with relish, while frustrated, faceless protesters, acting on instructions from “leaders” burn and organize boycotts.

Note the useless [“explaining”] Safari trips by Government Man Fridays and “Chop Dies” to Europe and the US and the burning of schools and business premises by rented hoodlums! Actions such as these diminish our consciousness or understanding of the ominous issues they mask.

Yet, when the chips are down, common sense dictates that you cannot be together without negotiating the terms of your existence. It goes for husband and wife, employer and employee, friend and friend, landlord and tenant, Anglophone and Francophone, governors and governed, player and coach, and I dare say owner and thief, Saddam Hussein and George Bush. They must negotiate!

Whatever, the line between anger and hate, between affection and disaffection is what accounts for tension in the land today.

Tough talk from the president, I can assure you, is tantamount to the puny fart a dog breaks to put out a fire. Biya, the head servant of Cameroon needs to eat humble pie and save this country from wolves in every camp. The twaddle from Tchiroma and other regime slaves and jesters; the language of hatred from renegade generals in retreat; the childlike hope in the United Nations and other Western contraptions will never solve the problems of Cameroonians. Only genuine dialogue will. And Biya holds the key to it.

One more word…

I can only trust that Biya is aware of the fact that one man’s hate is another man’s love. History is beckoning on him to save human life! School is definitely good. Yes! But failure in politicking and economic husbandry is bad… worse, if you don’t mind!