Letter of love to President Biya

Your Excellency,

Welcome back to our skies, even as you have elected to spend more time on other shores than ours. I am sure that you have taken note of the drastic deficit in enthusiasm to welcome you from your numerous trips abroad. If you have not, be informed that the situation is so bad that sycophant elite from your South Region and other lazybones have had to rise up to the occasion and be drafted in to cajole public attention that people are still interested in your going out and coming in.

Mr. President, we are really worried about your eternal love for puerile indulgence in the luxury of rooms in European and American hotels. This does not only impinge on our lean purse that has been attracting the peering eyes of Bretton Woods  institutions, but more disparagingly, you seem not to be making any distinction between private and official visits. While admitting that representing our country at international diplomatic arenas had since graduated into contemporary statecraft requiring every sovereign nation to have representations in as many countries as possible, and why not international organizations, such emissaries, including you, not surprisingly, represent your interests instead of Cameroon’s. Mr. President, our concern here is the seeming lack of direct involvement you have brought to bear on Governance in Cameroon via your one too many foreign escapades.

Which is why, you, as the number one of everything Cameroonian; from Head of state to Head of lives, you appoint ambassadors to countries you deem friendly enough to perpetrate your  visceral inclination to power even when prevailing circumstances, indubitably, indicate disavowal by the citizenry? This ordinarily offensive disposition has, unfortunately, been heightened by a peculiar feature in your statesmanship that impels almost permanent incursions into the jurisdiction of diplomatic appointees. This way, you do not only render them uncomfortable, but make governance back at home pernicious and invariably, unproductive. Just imagine your last over 35-day stay in America and Switzerland! Imagine the heebie-jeebies that must have gripped Cameroon’s Ambassador to Switzerland, from being in the knowledge that you, with all your dictatorial proclivities had been in Hotel Continental breathing down his neck daily. That could have been next to hell.

Even more, important decisions that require presidential fiats are being ceaselessly directed to other quarters in the knowledge that you are perpetually not available. What is even more derisive in your demeanor is not just the fact that you spend much time abroad, but that such marathon sojourns have hardly borne useful fruits for the commonwealth. Framed in exorbitant hotel bills that your hirelings inflate to line their pockets and hired praise singers at home and abroad, your foreign trips constitute inexcusable drain on Cameroon’s economy whose insolvency is causing sleepless nights to financial experts locally and internationally. Since the centerpiece of your diplomacy is to be seen and heard even when what you say has nothing to inspire in relation to contemporary world power play, you carry your delirious self about oblivious of your frail physique barely supporting your 84 years.

In the event, it had to take the planned stop-over of the UN Secretary General on Cameroonian soil to chase you out of Switzerland. This puerile affinity for the ephemeral instead of awe-inspiring accomplishments like the Bakassi “Green Tree Accord,” unequivocally lends credence to hues from badmouths associating you with occult practices that immunize against concern for humanity. To this effect, while you were on the podium addressing a visibly empty auditorium at the United Nations Plaza in New York, Anglophone Cameroonians in the most spontaneous, simultaneous and intensified display of discomfiture over a system that had raised bestiality to sainthood, exposed your anachronistic, nay, sadistic statecraft to the world via peaceful protests back at home last September 22. As peaceful as the demonstrators had endeavoured to carry out their enterprise, regime toadies with atrophied notions of peace keeping still snuffed lives out of many. As counterpoise and in retaliation against what they had seen as betrayal of their long guarded secret employed to extort security budgets from state coffers, your apologists pounced on the opportunity to steal from, kill maim and rape with glee on October 1. On a Sunday for that matter! Yes, the September 22 riots had exposed unscrupulous administrators to you and the world that agitations from Anglophones have not been a matter of a few misguided elements. They are emanations from pent-up frustrations.

For 35 days you enjoyed the comfort of hotels in foreign lands while your country was boiling and heading for Armageddon. Yes, after the despicable carnage of October 1, massive arrests, looting, maiming, and unwarranted public provocations have been the lot of Anglophone Cameroonians. To this moment, many inhabitants particularly the youths of many towns in Anglophone Cameroon still endure the pangs of life in virgin forests occasioned by fear of being victims of programmed arrests and slaughter. Indeed, no fewer than 1000 youths are in detention in various parts of the Northwest and Southwest Regions. Apart from the atrocious conditions of detention, magistrates, both civilian and military have struck a gold mine in detainees from whom they extort money ranging from FCFA 25,000 to one million. Indeed, the issue of irregular detention has become favourite pastime for law enforcement agents who swindle each other just so that control over victims remains within their jurisdictions. Police, like magistrates, like prosecutors are all in the fray. Yet neither you nor any of the elected or appointed political elite from the Anglophone Regions has been bold enough to deprecate such carnage as had been unleashed on their kith and kin.

However, in their moronic acquiescence to anything you incarnate, they have found themselves saddled with the ungodly task of having to carry so called goodwill messages from you, who all along, have been making derisive utterances to their persons and shown no concern for their plight. The messengers themselves had since been disavowed, consequent upon overtly displayed repudiation of the Anglophone cause.  Who then had they been intending to address? As naïve as they are, they had forgotten about the African wise saying that counsels us to be nice to people along the road because we might one day be in need of their assistance. Surprisingly, Senator Pa Achidi Achu had not reminded them of his famous “scratch my back I scratch your own” political scam. These are very unpromising moments. While Musonge was preaching the indivisibility of Cameroon on the slopes of Mount Fako, Philemon Yang was telling whoever had cared to listen that you could not have been stampeded out of the comfort of Unity Palace in Yaounde to personally come to Buea and Bamenda and soothe the gaping wounds of Anglophone wretchedness. Musonge even proclaimed from his house in Buea that Southwesters are against secession! If he were to really mean what he said, his advice to you ought to be directed to a referendum that would allow the voice of the majority to prevail.

Whether you pretend not to know the truth, or not, one thing is certain and it is the fact that current occurrences in the country have exposed the depth of Anglophone despondence in a system that reserves no hope for them. The teams sent out with your so called goodwill message of peace, by their composition mandate and scornful reaction to their presence in the various localities visited are very telling of the abysmal illegitimacy that surrounds you and the remnant of what can be termed governing class in Cameroon. However, being essentially progenies of a species with integrity and humanity, we are still willing to give you benefit of doubt opportunity to redeem your erstwhile iniquities and this can only be done by sober reflection, devoid of any triumphalist posturing. It is obvious that the likes of Okalia Biali, Rene Sadi and Beti Asomo will be telling you that the situation is under control. No way! Mr. President, what they have planted is a ticking bomb that has no specified time to explode. And when this happens, there will be no Cameroon to run to because all what the current generation has worked for would have gone into ruins.

Considering the above scenario, which to all intents and purposes is very unpromising, you are hereby called upon to heed to this clarion call of convening a nation-wide meeting of all Cameroonians. This means that participation has to be as inclusive as there are interest groups. This exercise ought to have preceded the buffoonery that has just ended in the name of carrying goodwill message of peace to the various sub Divisions. Representations should be based not only on population but on it and the principle of contribution to the state budget. This way, the form of state and resource allocation based on derivation will come on board and a compromise reached on how to determine the form of state. Do not forget that the discussion ought to be between aggrieved Anglophones and a recalcitrant Government and not Anglophones and Francophones. This way we can begin envisioning the advent of a new Cameroon where fear and suspicion would have been consigned to dustbins. But before this, you must have ensured that all those responsible for the carnage of September 22 and October 1 are brought to book to face retribution. Over to you Mr. Biya!!!

By Ngoko Monyadowa

The depth of generosity

Like monstrous apes, drunkards reel by, chattering to themselves and cursing. The day is moving towards the twilight. Two green-and–white butterflies flutter past them. A graceful young man watches with a look of fear in his eyes such as people have when they are suddenly awakened.

“Some people take love as if it is a business transaction…” The bigger drunk muttered.

 “… You will hear a girl question when talked to about a man, has he got money?”

The smaller drunk who had been gathering phlegm in his throat while staggering towards the gutter dumped his mucus which was carried away by the running water. “Some men say they’re not like other men…,” he said, putting his thumb to his forefinger and raising his hand to emphasize the point he was making. “…that they would never bring misery upon anyone, that their nature is too fine for that.”

 “The only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.”

Bystanders were well-entertained by the two who were zig-zagging their way, jaywalking nearby the kerb. Their pronouncements point to their profound knowledge of Oscar Wilde’s book The Picture Of Dorian Gray. Passers-by did a double take especially those who recognized any of the drunk-as-a-lord men of high learning.

Come to think of it, nowadays in Bamenda, many are in need of escaping from the reality of an agonizing existence. Some try to drown their sorrows, but sorrows have seemingly found a life jacket. From one man to two men, civilians and military people appear to fraternize in several watering holes where it is not forbidden to exchange punches and throw oneself into a free-for-all fight. So, at any moment of our sorry existence, we are either drunk and disorderly, drunk with power, drunk and raucous, or drunk as a lord.

Many observe the current events with amused bewilderment. There is the look of contempt in the steady searching gaze that the populace turns on the uniform men. “Na war?”  Someone questioned loudly. No response.

“Man go die oh!” He concluded and then quaffed two big bottles of the legendary beverage from St. James Gate in Dublin, before leaving with a bouncy gait: an unmistakable confident swagger.

Oscar Wilde says when a woman finds out about her husband, she either becomes dreadfully dowdy or wears very smart bonnets that some other woman’s husband has to pay for. What about the woman whose philandering husband is remorseless, yet not willing to let go of the lady?  He would neglect her, at times testing his fist on her face, paying attention to a new conquest, but would not let her go. Take this wife beater for example.  He gave his spouse regular snake beatings in the presence of the children. When his son had come of age and was about to get married, his piece of advice was this; “Son, if you want this marriage to work, treat your woman with loving care and never raise your voice nor your hand…” There are people who are getting tough with their requests and are refusing to listen to any voice of dissuasion, arguing that it’s a little too late. Their response to any piece of advice is back to sender.

So, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people, along the shores of the Atlantic this day declare; my considered opinion with regard to those who are always eager to give good advice is that people are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. This is what I call the depth of generosity.

By Winston Lebga

Infusing realism into governance

Finally, it is dawning on Government that brute force as means of securing acquiescence from those, whose sovereign will had, in the first place, brought into being its existence is anachronistic and redundant in civilized skies. Adjunctive to the above assertion, is uplifting elixir from watching images and news commentaries pertaining to last Friday’s multiple and well-coordinated protest marches in Anglophone Cameroon. This reassurance is not so much from the fact that aggrieved citizens were demonstrating as to the surprising reaction from erstwhile trigger-happy security forces. Concordant reports bespeak general orderliness and little or no provocation, be they from protesters or security forces dispatched to ensure the events had smooth sail. Barring a few unfortunate incidents perpetrated by some overzealous administrators and protesters leading to deaths, we can say congratulations to President Paul Biya, alleged to have personally instructed erratic hirelings to refrain from confrontational inducements.

Be that as it may, there are some dark clouds that need to be highlighted. The commendable reaction of security forces has been tainted by some occurrences that unfortunately, portray invidious posturing of some elected and appointed officials in the polity. Uncontroverted reports have ascribed the murder of one of the demonstrating youths in Buea to the maverick Mayor, Ekema Patrick Esunge. For the avoidance of doubt, no one free of lunacy tag would subscribe to the damage allegedly inflicted on the fleet of cars pompously displayed in the courtyard of his Molyko abode. However, the fact that the victim was shot out of his gate and his inability to rely first on frightening the irate youths with gun shots in the air instead of shooting directly smacks of unmistakable intention to kill. The same gaffe is alleged to have been perpetrated in Mamfe by its now fugitive Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, and yet another in Santa in the Northwest Region. Whatever the circumstance of this killing in cold blood, the fact that these acts of coldness to human lives usually perpetrated by the forces of law and order have now reverted to administrators and elected officials who ought to be more sensitive to sacredness of God’s creation, raises the spectre of descent into governance abyss.

On the other hand, even as the events of last Friday can be said to have been spontaneous in character and execution, and by that token, difficult to pin down excesses on particular individuals, there is need for caution to be preached to Anglophone youths. It is difficult to see the nexus between a peaceful protest march and ripping of the gate of the National Social Insurance Fund edifice in Mile 17, ostensibly to deprive vehicles from accessing the junction. The entry into Government Bilingual Grammar School Molyko and subjecting unwary students to despicable whipping, also, conjures the image of a bunch of insensitive and depraved zealots on the rampage. In some areas the excesses attained the level of the nation’s flag being pulled down and replaced by that of a yet to be recognized ‘Ambazonia’ state. Such incivility does not portray the imprimatur inherent in Anglophones; a people imbued with respect for the rule of law and reputed to be each other’s keeper. Let our social media generals rise up to the challenge of educating youths on the need to tread softly and avoid unnecessary provocations that engineer undue loss of lives. Peaceful demonstrations, yes but no to anarchy!

Unfortunately, the portentous events of last Friday had been unfolding when President Biya was on the podium of the United Nations in New York, where he had gone to pontificate on compelling urgency for security against terrorist outfits like Boko Haram, ISIS and of course, other little known insurrections occasioned by disaffection of citizens over obtuse mismanagement of their patrimony by imprudent cabals. Another issue that caught the president’s attention, or is it that of his speech writers is climate change, even as timber is being illegally and unconventionally exploited behind his house. Setting aside the fact that he was addressing an almost empty auditorium, which in itself speaks volumes relating to treatment accorded our Head of State by his peers in other skies, there is the issue of keeping one’s house in order before worrying about the fire about to engulf that of a neighbour.

To add salt to injury, hired hand clappers and destitute foreigners were brought in to cushion disgrace emergent from apathy to our Head of State’s presence in the United States of America. This was done with the colossal sum of 750 dollars per person daily; the equivalent of about FCFA 500,000, from a treasury under suffocating pressure from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to embark on structural adjustment niceties that will heighten pauperization of citizens. Such ego pampering would have been comprehensible from the likes of Ali Bongo of Gabon or his Central African Republic colleague in their 50s and not a man in his 80s, whose concern ought to be the mathematics of bequeathing a strong and stable country to posterity.

Lest it escaped his memory, Biya, should be reminded that charity begins at home. While conceding it is true that in terms of diplomatic rating, his presence in New York and the rare privilege of addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations are alluring to any Head of State, the number of years he has been officiating as Cameroon’s President ought to have been uppermost in his mind and dissuade him from such an ego pampering jamboree meant to further deplete his country’s already lean purse. Such grandstanding should be for much younger leaders who still yearn for stardom that President Biya’s twilight age can no longer give. If at all he needed this, he ought to have worked for same much earlier in his current Methuselah sojourn.

Back at home, the hope is that this aberrant departure from “autorite del’etat” (inviolability of state authority) has come to stay and will henceforth canalize government actions such that its current characteristic of AK-47 democracy ceases to adorn the minds of discerning Cameroonians, accredited diplomats and foreigners. Thinking of the current Government volte-face from its notoriety in employment of brute force to repress protesters, inexorably, compels us to imagine the number of lives wasted during previous commandeered expeditions that led to avoidable killings and destruction of property. The oddity of “Bepanda nine,” readily comes to mind. The discovery of mass burials in its wake reveals the extent to which Government can go in its desperation to foist President Biya on Cameroonians. Another episode of the sordid narrative of “kakhistocracy” as statecraft in Cameroon is the February2008 generalized strikes. Here, too, no fewer than 100 lives were lost in Yaounde, Douala Bamenda and Kumba to repression that materialized in gunning down unarmed youths protesting against mismanagement of the commonwealth. Had the Government applied the same tact that underpinned last Friday’s protest marches, we would certainly not be haunted by the ghosts of innocent Cameroonians who became sacrificial lambs for the perpetration of atrocious governance in our polity.

Prevailing times are very unpromising and call for above average attention to details. Such details include adherence to the principle of classlessness in dispensation of justice, resource allocation and legislation. Our country has lost too much to palpable negligence by implacable sycophants who hide incompetence under the yoke of loyalty to moribund party machinery and courtesan buffoonery. The breadth, spontaneity and organizational dexterity of last Friday’s peaceful protest, per force, allude to one thing; that is, Government has been taken completely off-guard. Having been caught napping, the solution is not resort to bravado. Such blustering, in the event that Government adopts it as option, would only lead to confrontation and loss of lives which is not what is needed at this very dreadful moment.

The solution lies in dialogue. For how long will Mr. Biya turn his face and give the impression that all is well when in reality, minutes are ticking off for a time bomb to explode. Can a genuine father allow his children to wallow in perpetual fear of sanguinary confrontation?  The signs are very clear. Government has lost legitimacy in Anglophone Cameroon. The solution is an all stakeholders’ conference to canalize an architectural prototype for a new Cameroon. This should be tailored to suit the yearnings of currently disgruntled Anglophones, and why not, our complacent Francophone brothers seemingly under a spell that causes them to endure suffering while smiling (apologies to late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti). This conference is more urgent and mandatory than hosting of AFCON 2019 or safari trips to the UN that have no bearing with local reality that require much savvy that only perceptible enormous drive and commitment to purpose from Government can provide.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

 

Important tourist attractions

She was the rock to which my life was moored. With her around me, it was pretty hard to think there is much wrong with the world. Sometimes I would be wayward and probably insane but her quiet manner would compel me to never give up on her and in spite of my weaknesses, I remained much attached.

This lady remained true to her word and always supported my efforts at being a better person. On several occasions I woke up to a blur of swollen eyes, cobwebbed thoughts, a seared mouth, an arid tongue, bitter breath and the great daily question of “why did I do it?” I’ve vomited in the shower, sometimes inducing it myself to get it over with “…I am not one of those who are too proud to argue and too strong to beg…” I would tell her while requesting for her comprehension and forgiveness.

My woman was smart, petite, good in the kitchen, the living and matrimonial executive rooms, with her beautifully sculptured features, as well as a razor sharp wit bursting forth a refined intellect. Now, my woman is gone, yes, she is gone…

She has left behind several drafts mapping out plans to achieve her ambitions. She was not one of those who spent time sloganeering, mouthing empty nothings, stupid enough to steal billions from the public till with outright arrogance. People who are so unremorseful as to feel morally superior to those who vandalize public and private property and burn the flag.

Whenever I go astray she would scream, “Get back into the saddle, that’s what you did when you’d fallen off a horse.”

Then her health suffered a blow, whose devastating impact has given me that type of drubbing that awakens a man to the bitter fact that life doesn’t always turn out as you expected it to be. She died after months writhing in excruciating pain. Doctors couldn’t save her from the ailment. I still remember her agonizing struggle to hold on, from dawn to dusk and from dusk to dawn.

She used to indulge my passion for enlightenment through conversation, dwelling on people who have no sense of public service. Sometimes, we wondered why competitive exams to elite institutes of higher learning, limited candidates to competitors in a game called WHO IS MORE CONNECTED. We talked about the white collar murderers who brought the economy to its knees, and ruining development plans by their greed and addiction to ill-gotten wealth. They flaunt their booty without remorse so, why are they afraid to get medical attention from the country’s hospitals, they who have the power and means to fix the broken healthcare system.

So, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people this day declare; if you see me crying, it is because my woman is gone and if you need advice for your proud arrogant brother tell him to take time off his show- show schedule and visit places that remind one that he is nothing but one of the creatures living on earth. Visit the hospital and the mortuaries, for they are important touristic attractions.

By Winston Lebga

Previewing Mamfe Common Law lawyers’ confab

Inspiration for today’s commentary draws heavily on the imminent Common Law lawyers confab, slated for Mamfe, come September 23. To this effect, reliable but unconfirmed sources hold that the Divisional Officer, DO, in charge of Mamfe Central Sub division has, submissively, granted approval for the much awaited and anxiety-raising event on high instructions of the powers that be. Furthermore, information increasingly gaining currency is that the main item on its agenda is suspension of smothering strike action that has padlocked Law Chambers and brought routine business in Courts and Legal Departments of the Ministry of Justice to standstill in Anglophone Cameroon. In the event, even as there is yet to be incontrovertible evidence relating to thrust of the meeting there is need to thread softly.

This admonition is adjunctive to the impression being bandied around regarding suspicious coziness between managers of Common Law Lawyers syndicate and Government; hence the gratuitous manner in which permission for the meeting has been obtained in a system that has persistently ascribed enemy stigma to anything Anglophone.

As counterpoise to accusations of treachery, a very livid Barrister spoken to by this chronicler on grounds of anonymity rebuffed any insinuation of collusion between lawyers and Government and set records straight that the meeting had all along been delayed by successive DOs who would not kowtow to the verbal authority of the Governor of Southwest Region who, too, had tactfully, avoided committing himself in writing. He, nevertheless, derided those who do not see sacrifice in what lawyers have endured in terms of material and psychological loss in the last 11 months of their decision to embark on indefinite strike. However, he did not rule out the possibility of calling off the strike temporarily, as this had been the position of Southwest Region Common Law lawyers in unanimity before one of them scuttled the scheme via unholy association with Bar Council President, Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga. In the event a decision intended to spotlight how they are amenable to dialogue and compromise was appropriated by Ngnie Kamga, through inadvertence of their colleague.

As correlation, it will be unfair therefore for anyone to think that lawyers do not deserve respite after sacrificing all this while. Indeed, the ignominy suffered in the hands of a cabal masterminded by the State Counsel in the Southwest Court of Appeal (Procureur General) is unprecedented and it is the prayer of all well-meaning Cameroonians such dent on our corporate image never has occasion to be replicated. That, men of law, some in robes were subjected to such dishonour as materialized in public trashing and invasion of privacy of chambers and carting away valuables including wigs, gowns and even books, reflects the nadir governance in Cameroon has relapsed. Even worse is to think that this atrocious conduct was perpetrated by juvenile conscripts from Mutengene Police College and other Precincts in Douala, to foil recognition and possible retribution.

With regards to the decision to resume regular presence in Courts of Law, that is an issue that can only be handled by lawyers themselves and requires no external intervention. Late Robert (Bob) Nester Marley, sang in one of his hit songs that ″who feels it knows it,” and so only 11- month absence from courtrooms can tell them whether the material and ancillary costs incurred owing to boycott are worth being sustained or it is time to call for temporary or permanent truce. If, temporary, for how long? What is the conditionality to be met and what happens in the event of Government failure to act upon expiration of deadline?  These are some of the issues the Anglophone public would expect to engage the minds their legal luminaries.  No one, in any case, is expecting that there would not be issues of leadership, especially, in this circumstance of incarceration and eventual release of Barrister Agbor Felix Nkongho and the stigma of treachery hanging on one of his close collaborators in the Fako lawyers’ league where he is President.

Whatever the nature of the meeting, in other skies, lawyers, apart from representing interest of the ordinary citizen in terms of solicitude and advocacy, especially, in litigation, they are the conscience of the nation; calling the governing class to order whenever its actions are seen to have run counter to prevailing statutes. They are indeed the soul of every polity. Do not mind what obtains in our peculiar circumstance wherein the Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals is emissary of the Presidency of the Republic to foster emasculation and pauperization of citizens instead of facilitator of the rule of law. By this token, legal practice, that ordinarily should be independent of fetters, is subjected to severe Government control. No doubt, this is permissible in Civil Law tradition with its inquisitorial undergirding, limiting the maneuverability at the disposal of the accused. Common Law on the contrary, eschews unsubstantiated incursion into its essence, given its adversarial physiology that accords much freedom to the accused, on the principle that onus of proof resides in the defence.

It is in the quintessence of Common Law that the Mamfe meeting is embedded. Outside evaluation of the path treaded this far and the way forward, there are other issues of capital importance to the existential wellbeing of Cameroon as a polity. This is even more urgent in this time of clamour for clear-cut definition of a form of state that reflects the mindset of average Anglophone Cameroonians. This assignment to dissect and proffer the most relevant counsel based on current circumstances cannot be entrusted to any other body than lawyers, imbued with requisite interpretative skills by training. The method of representation for Anglophones in the event Paul Biya moves from unyieldingness to dialogue should also be uppermost in their minds, just like the mode and extent of devolution of power from the centre to peripheries. To this too, must be added the principle of resource allocation based on derivation. This way communities endowed by nature will not feel estranged or cursed if their endowment is not reflected in their wellbeing as is currently the case.

Unfortunately, this is where the cookie crumbles. There is a replication of the Biblical narrative of Tower of Babel, featuring a cacophony of voices, in different languages. The trajectory of two-state federation akin to what the much discredited Foumban Conference spewed was en vogue among Anglophone Lawyers before current upheavals that date back as recently as October 2016.

However, owing to influence peddling, inordinate ambition and unbridled treachery, many splinter views have surfaced threatening to screw-up unity among Common Law lawyers. The new variants include those with Government who see no harm in the status quo, those who want a ten state federation, those who want a two state federation with possibility of creating more states within the Anglophone section and secessionists who want nothing to do with La Republique henceforth.

With our lawyers divided by inclination to particular form of state, ordinary mortals would definitely find it difficult to articulate their stand. It therefore behooves them to use Mamfe confab as avenue for consensus, not to say, unanimous opinion on the form of state that will advance the course of Anglophone emancipation in Cameroon. While not wanting to infringe on their deliberations, they should, nevertheless, be guided by the fact that undue radicalism espoused by juvenile minds that see life from the portals of social media must be avoided like a plague. We have come a long way as Cameroonians to be bordered by thoughts of escaping from our shadows. This, in any case, does not mean that if our eventual proposition is stonewalled by Government, we would not have recourse to secession as last resort. Which is why, it may come up for discussion as precautionary move, but should not be the locomotive force of reflection on this issue of form of state.

We wish them well in their deliberation in the hope that whatever decision emergent theretofore, we, as legal neophytes, will have no reason to regret given we were just accompanying them in a pilgrimage whose destination could be discerned best by lawyers alone.  We cannot be seen to be intervening, full force, in the position they are to adopt regarding suspension or calling off the strike action outright.  That is, principally, an arena that public opinion cannot determine. But we will be very apprehensive of any inclination to undue coziness with Government.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

Sleepless slumber

On both sides of the political spectrum, it will be appropriate to call the attitude of the key actors as a churlish piece of hypocrisy. We seem to be quarrelling like market women, and the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. Promises are so cheap nowadays; self-styled revolutionaries are talking about collective sacrifice, assuring sympathizers of a sun whose scorching heat shall hang above a new nation, in the morning announcing the dawn of a new day, “we are winning the war…” They say. On the other side, announcements are made with regard to projects requiring exorbitant sums of money. Road construction works here, medical facilities there. The truth is, arguing whether “this or that” can be done, it seems, will achieve as much as debating how many devils can dance on the head of a pin.

Some say do not be afraid, but have moved their children to more stable villages, others enquire what are you scared of, and move with a brigade of bodyguards. The teachers are in school ready to teach, but their own kids are left at home. The poor man was very hardworking, producing goods and services, now he has become a beggar because of the crushing weight of the ghost town phenomenon. God, help us, we are praying.

The poor people are now feeling like a locked grey bag that is still going round the carousel while the other passengers had long left the airport. Many people now legendarily quaff numerous litres of various potent brews and it is clear, such a person’s liver is bound to rebel. Push is rapidly approaching shove and many bear grudges against the news media outlets, each insulting any newspaper, radio or TV station that does not see things through his or her eyes. To me, if you consider a news outlet to be a propaganda machine, churning out lies and fabricated stories, then stop getting the latest from that channel.

How many can stand up and be counted among the brethren who have kept the faith? Sam Nuvalla Fonkem says “… error and crime against humanity are wholly the fault of man’s social, political and economic environment. And no worthy journalist can give mere verbal homage to human dignity.”

I agree with General De Gaulle who said, “What separates the men from the boys in politics is that the boys want high offices to be somebody, the men want high offices to do something.” Now, if I ask you why people want appointments in to what some call juicy positions in this country, what would your reply be? Look at our elected officials, they seem well aware of their image of being overpaid and underworked and are taking public relations very seriously.

So, I, the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people, by the shores of the Atlantic, this day declare; it is time for us to dare to invent the future, as Sankara once said. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. We have to be one of those madmen. Not by being arsonists, anarchists or assassins. No. Sankara says this madness comes from non conformity and the courage to turn your back on old formulae. I know he who feeds you controls you and painfully, I wake up from my sleepless slumber.

By Winston Lebga

Gambling debts

I see a man going through his pastoral duties with the listlessness of a lost dog; on the streets people are making deafening noise to demand justice for those who are mostly rendered voiceless. In the bar, an innocent looking man with a sad dog face passes lewd comments on a snobbish woman’s anatomic details with embarrassing accuracy and the night bird is wearing ridiculously thick make-up. The chattering classes are speaking of a feeling of moral and spiritual malaise, the lack of the will to do anything.

I watch with disguised anger, filled with disgust and I hang on listening to whispers of scandalous deals in high places, sometimes involving sums of money that I for one didn’t believe existed in this country. The conclusive report from the grapevine indicates that many politicians get away with anything because many men are swayed by their hearts and stomachs and not their heads. Truth is, promises are exceedingly cheap in this country, especially, if they fall from the mouth of a politician. They tell me strange tales about goring experiences- I listen with undivided attention, while fingering my harp and I don’t mean a musical instrument, for I am in a watering hole full of people who combine stubbornness and stupidity and are capable of taking the law into their hands.

The band is striking up strains of Toto Guillaume; I go to get some drinks. It’s a mob scene at the bar, I squeeze my way in and order two drinks as a dark girl sashays by, hair dyed blue, long to the shoulders, first name Relindis, but it’s all I can pull. Then, this guy is stumbling, vomiting and falling all over the place, smashing bottles, messing up his breeches and cursing bitterly. He is a compulsive gambler who has lost it all and has decided to part with the change by, ceaselessly, bombarding his liver.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that we are all gamblers; either at the roulette table, playing poker, at the pinball machines, doubling the stakes at horse races or football games and gambling even with the future of this land to which we’ve pledged our deep endearment forever more.

We gamble with the future of our children and gamble with their education. No school until this or that is achieved; anyone who goes against this shall be punished. We are just gambling. Even with football, the sport that put Cameroon on the world map and made Roger Milla an inter-planetary star, as the Ivoirians would say. We are gambling.

So, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month, in the land of proud people this day declare; the urge to gamble is so universal, so deeply embedded in unregenerate human nature that from the earliest days the philosophers and moralists assumed it to be evil.

It is the cause perhaps of all our troubles. Yet how easy it remains to understand the burning envy, felt by those possessing little for those endowed with goods aplenty. And gambling-why? Well, gambling offers to the poor, the shinning chance of something got for nothing.

Now, we need to wake-up and live; we should be fed up with the education that doesn’t prepare children to see wisdom in the freedom of their land, but prepares them to seek admission into Masonic lodges, drinking clubs, gambling rooms and other dubious centres. In fact, we shall have to borrow billions of dollars from God-knows-where, to be able to pay off our gambling debts.

By Winston Lebga

What’s next for Jonah?

We all need to take a reality pill and focus on important issues now. What has been happening in this country, especially, in the English speaking regions has been unsettling to the populace. Peasants are seen shuffling, hopelessly, with vacant faces and empty hearts. Like the sun rising from the east, a look of incredulity climbs their faces. It reaches their eyes opening them wide.

I tell you, the chief might be a citadel of the old order but, he can be happily converted to move with the changing times. Sometimes, you can stoop to condescend, but please don’t heckle the public performer, so much that he is almost in tears. Caution warrants us to be a bit chary about highly opinionated people, those with an extremely exaggerated idea of their own importance, gifted with extraordinary mendacity. It is my considered opinion that such people are grave danger to the community they live, a tragedy to the cause of education in the country and a curse to the entire human race.

There are people pointing accusing fingers to the elite, especially, those of the private sector; victims of an old elite stuck in time-worn ways but whose grip is corrupt but strong, chaotic and brittle. And, they refer to the elite as rapacious, holding them responsible for the condition, they describe as unsatisfactory.

Many have been shell shocked by the longstanding impasse born out of the current crisis that has made life unbearable for the citizenry; ghost town calls, school boycott operations, violence, arrests accusations and counter accusations. And, then President Biya, orders the discontinuance of proceedings against those detained in connection with the unrest that sprung out of the Anglophone protest actions masterminded by common law lawyers and teachers trade unions of the English sub system of education.

This presidential move has been saluted by many people some of whom say it is worthy of a motion of support, yet, others find it belated act that is welcome and others still, have fears for the unknown. Among parents of school going age children, there is feeling heart-warming strides are being made to thaw the ice of discord. It is now time for the Government and protesters to sit around negotiating table and engage in a constructive dialogue.

The President wields lots of power in this country and careful look unveils the Government is built around him. His move indicates that he is capable of ignoring those who are quick to treat the complaining cries of genuinely disgruntled people as simple noise coming forth from a barn where thousands of cows are mooing. His supporters say old man is full of punchy wisdom, his critics hold that he has many tricks up his sleeves than any magician can conjure, and there are those strongly in the belief his taciturn approach to burning issues is effective means of presidential communication.

So, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people, by the shores of the Atlantic, after hearing these things wonder aloud, can schools now effectively resume in Cameroon’s English speaking regions? I see people exhibiting a cock-of-the-castle assertiveness, others proving to have gifts such as vitality, courage, leadership and a great sense of duty, as well as of honour. What about back-to-school plans, if I may enquire?

While the musician says after the reggae play the blues; I ask, after the whale vomits Jonah out of its belly what’s next for Jonah?

By Wiston Lebga

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

Willful self-deception

“What is going on?” One is tempted to ask. The threat of disaster begins to loom very large in my mind. News of strange happenings hitherto considered by many in these parts to be meant for faraway places, seem likely to be happening here, anytime soon. That is, if the body politic does not stop playing the game of accusations and counter-accusations.

The truth might offend some, but speaking the truth can never be a sin. We seem at times, to be a ‘dog eat dog society’ and at other times, we appear to be a ‘man eat nothing society.’ The questions keep pouring in, ‘who are we?’ or ‘where are we?’ as Patrick Tataw Obenson a.k.a Ako-Aya would have asked.

I was reading about a man called John Pombe Magufuli, who was elected Tanzania’s president in 2015. I never cease to marvel at his moves towards righting the wrongs that have crept into that East African country’s body politic. I wonder whether those moves could make sense in our fatherland.

This is a man who, as member Government, tended to keep a low profile, eschewing acclaim for successful projects, shunning foreign visits, unlike most of his peers and on occasion, speaking out clearly and bluntly. Here are some of his moves:

  • Cancelled Independence Day celebrations and all the extravagant expenses Government traditionally splurged out. Instead, he wanted the day spent on street cleaning and enthusiastically participated.

 

  • Slashed the budget for the usually opulent opening of parliament by almost 90% and demanded that the money saved be spent on purchasing hospital beds and road works.
  • Cancelled foreign travel for Government officials and put a stop to the purchase of first class tickets. He decreed that henceforth, Government meetings would be held in state buildings rather than in expensive hotels.
  • Trimmed down a delegation of 50 set to tour commonwealth countries to four.
  • Rooted out 10 thousand ‘ghost workers’ from various Government departments and fired more than 10 thousand civil servants, after an investigation into the use of forged certificates among Government employees.

 

  • He appointed a 19 ministry cabinet and publicly warned those selected as ministers and other Government functionaries that he would not tolerate corruption, laziness or excessive bureaucracy. He told them to expect nothing more than to work tirelessly to serve the people of the country alongside him.

 

So, I, the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in land of proud people, after hearing about these things, this day declare, if it becomes clear in this our fatherland that the gravy train has come to an end – that Government posting no longer means a life of ease, privilege and the opportunity to make money, would that not be a wonderful prospect. Government posting should mean hard work, motivated by nothing more than a fierce desire to serve the public. That could move the country a notch or two, but, I know what you are thinking; that I am either guilty of wishful thinking or willful self-deception.

By Winston Lebga