Esaus or Vicars of Christ?

Our editorial today is inspired by the following excerpt from Monday morning’s meditation by a Catholic cleric in Kumba.

“A prophet has no use if he does not speak – not about foretelling prosperity for people, but speaking out against evil in society. A prophet or a priest whose mouth has been closed by money, fear or the quest for power is no prophet at all. …. The church itself is a prophet and must speak out against the evil of society. That is why the people look up to the Church as the voice of the voiceless and defender of the poor and oppressed. Once the Church stays silent, it is considered a partner of the social ills. Julius Nyerere, former President of Tanzania, says, “When the Church stays silent in the face of oppression, the church has participated in political action. Such a church has to die, and indeed has already died.”

Is the Church West of the Mungo dead or dying?  Did the fate of Bishop Balla of Bafia finally have the effect of deterring the Body of Christ from telling it as it is, no matter whose ass is gored? What happened to those articulate pastoral letters which diagnosed the current malaise in the country and laid out a highly acclaimed blueprint for a lasting solution?

Over the past week or two, one has heard from pulpits across denominational lines a number of spirited sermons advocating school resumption, and only tagging the release of detainees as an after-thought. Now the Churches can own the release of some of the detainees as Heaven’s answer to their prayer and fasting. If that is what it is, how can anyone deny Jesus a clap offering for such responsiveness? We know, however, that God is thorough in whatever He does. He knows that the detentions were the outcome, not the cause, of the strike action by lawyers and teachers. God knows that the selective release of some, and not all of the detainees cannot resolve the logjam, because it is now believed that any let-up in the strike action might mean those still being held have been betrayed and sacrificed by the population for whom they put their heads on the block. God knows the stakes and cannot pretend that the release would solve the problem the detentions did not create.

God knows the core issues at stake, and His Spirit – the Spirit of truth – can definitely not lead the Church in the superficiality we now see. What is it that obscures the Church’s discernment in respect of school resumption? How can our pulpits become echo-chambers of the fallacy that parents who are keeping their children at home are doing so ignorantly, or only because they are being blindfolded and blackmailed by some group out there in the Diaspora? The reason many parents prefer sending their children to mission schools where fees are  four or five times higher than in public schools, is that they care about the quality of education their children get, and trust the Church to procure it for them. It is said that the heart of all education is the education of the heart. Education is worth nothing if it does not nurture in us what is good. And every passing day reveals the insensitivity, the corruption and bestiality that pervade the conduct of public affairs in our country, even in the handling of this crisis itself. And the children are seeing it, and wondering if this is what life and governance are all about. In the midst of this tug-of-war over their going back to school this week or not, who really cares about nurturing in them what is good. Does the Government, or is it just a matter of proving that it is still capable of imposing its will on the people? Does the Church – or is it a matter of keeping the schools open as a source of income?

Of course, one dare not ask the other question –  for fear, not of any reprisal, but of the abominable likelihood that the Body of Christ may have been compromised – that because of “money, fear or the quest for power” our Church leadership may have elected to ignore  Romans 12:2. Is it possible (God forbid), that one or a combination of these three factors could have reduced our Shepherds – the vicars of Christ – to Esaus in clerical robes?

 

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.

 

The storm and the whirlwind

What really lies behind the crescendo of violent voices and the spiraling of barbarities that characterize the Anglophone standoff with the Republic of Cameroon? One word the foreign listener hears bandied about is dialogue. The bellicose rhetoric from both sides is fraught with mutual accusations of refusal to dialogue. In fairness, the Yaounde Government did initiate some form of dialogue for starters, but the moment that seemed to stall, it victimized the same leaders it had been parleying with. To give a dog a bad name and hang it, the Government branded them as terrorists, and now lacks the moral courage to admit that it has not found substance to make that stigma stick. The plight of those leaders has today become the stumbling block in any further attempt at dialogue. And so in the absence of logic and mutual respect, the two sides continue to clamour for dialogue, knowing however, that it is a shouting match – everyone talking and no one listening.

It is conventional wisdom that when you want to stop a couple fighting, you get hold of the woman, because you assume that the man, conscious of his relative strength compared to the woman, can rein himself in once the woman can be restrained. It would be a shame for him to hit a woman who cannot hit him back. The Government cannot pretend to not know that disproportionate force and humiliating means have been employed in the attempt to quash the Anglophone uprising.  Today, the air is thick with rumours about an impending state of emergency, another internet cut, and even … (God forbid!) genocide. Even if these rumours were to prove unfounded, the very fact that they crossed anybody’s mind is evidence that the spirit of the nation Cameroon is mortally wounded – that oneness and indivisibility is ringing hollower by the day.

It behooves the Government to stop the escalation of hostility, and the only effective tool is appeasement. In Ahidjo’s days Cameroonians used to describe their President as the Father of the Nation. When one of President Biya’s children gave him the embarrassment of his life not long ago, he took it in his stride as a father.  How come he is unable to see all the vitriol coming from the Anglophones today as the tantrums of a child who feels unloved? How come his conscience does not tell him he has been neglecting them for too long and that it is only normal for them to cry out as they have done? Why does it seem to be an ego joust between him and them? If this is a democracy, and if Anglophones are part of the governed whose consent is the bedrock of his power, then what became of his obligation to listen to them and accede to their request? Who would that hurt?

Or does he believe, like one of his ministers, that the “two cubes of sugar have dissolved in the large basin of water and … what can they do”? That would be a most unfortunate misconception, and in any case, that would be water nobody can drink.

September is soon here, with the resumption of school as the new front in the ongoing battle of wills between the Government and Anglophone parents. It needs to be said that victory in this matter will not be whether the Government succeeded in bringing the children back to school, or the parents in keeping them home. In the short and long term, which of the two parties really cares for these children? Are they really the sacrificial lambs whose right to education is being violated by their very parents, or is it about ensuring that they get a holistic education in a system that cares about what they become tomorrow? Wake up, Mr. President, and look at the bigger picture. If the concerns being articulated today are not appropriately addressed, you will simply be postponing the crisis. Today’s parents could afford to ignore the abuses they are now protesting about, because most of them have their lives behind them and there’s little left to lose. But what now looks like a small storm in the teacup may become a full-blown whirlwind when these children, who seem to be the object of all this pseudo solicitude, eventually come to grips with the marginalization their parents are today complaining about. At that time, they are not likely to pull their punches or to be disposed to any dialogue. And Government will have itself to blame for failing to dialogue today with parents who, for the most part, are exhibiting a great capacity for self-restraint.  Brutality and bloodletting may silence a generation but it renders the spirit of resistance indestructible. The memory of history is like the womb of the earth. The gorgon eggs will always hatch.

 

 

 

 

Facing ‘General September’

A lot has been said for and against the resumption of schools in West Cameroon – the pros indicting the cons for sacrificing the children on the altar of political expediency, while the cons fire back that what the regime offers our children in the name of education is nothing to write home about.

As if to say, “le chien aboie, mais la caravanned passé,” (the dog may bark but the wagon rolls past) the Government brushed off all parents’ concerns about the quality of education and organized what the public has in turn written off as a political GCE.  Part of the result of that charade has just been made public, and bears the hallmarks of the massive boycott that the public media were so much at pains to hide. You can cover up a pregnancy with loose clothing, but delivery time eventually comes.  Are you looking for a showpiece of the academic ruin involved in the conduct of that exam? Please, be our guest and feast your eyes on how one of the “successful” candidates – a likely UB student come September, exults in a social media forum:

“Good news! Good news! I am now a graduet. The GCE result have come out and I has past three pepers. I want to tank all my teachers who tought me, my perents who ped my fees, my frends that gived me Kourage and my class coleags that we red togeda and espeshally God for blassing me. Plees prey for me as I now inter the yuniversity. Tank u pipole particularly dis grup mambas.”

For a laugh, if you belong to that chat group, now you know you are a snake (mamba) but, please, don’t prey on our friend.

Come to think of it, in this explosion of joy, this person innocently states our case more succinctly than all the protest letters ever written by Anglophone parents or teachers’ unions. He/she lays bare, in unmistakable terms, the dilution of Anglo-Saxon education in this country.  Evidently this Advanced Level ‘graduet’ is someone who should not get anywhere near a GCE O/Level exam hall in the next three years. This is the result of the public auction that Government turned that exam into. And anyone with a smattering of socio-linguistic knowledge, and especially of cross-interferences in our diction, can tell that this person is most probably a Francophone. And that would anything but invalidate the muted allegations that Francophones were recruited to sit for this exam in the name of non-existent Anglophone candidates.

Now we learn that the O/L results are being withheld because the global pass percentage is a disgraceful 18 or less, and the Minister of Secondary Education is trying to arm-twist the GCE Board to lower the pass threshold and accept a D grade as a pass. Humphrey and co, dig your heels in and write your names in gold.

Does the Government not realize that by so sacrificing Anglophone educational standards, it is vindicating apologists of separation on grounds of bad faith on its part? Who is the real enemy of the children – the one who lowers educational standards or the one who keeps the children at home in protest of low standards?

Well ‘General September’ is coming – the one that fought and beat Napoleon Bonaparte on the deserted streets of Moscow. They met no Russians to match the fire power of their tanks and canons, but they were no match for the winter.

As history likes repeating itself, this coming September could well be the ‘ides of March’ in Cameroon, especially when it comes to the resumption of school. The air is thick with foreboding – with threats both overt and unvoiced. Who will September meet in the classrooms?

The Churches, Government’s biggest educational partners, have been reduced to ‘Pontius Pilating’ their way through the conundrum by saying their schools remain open and it’s up to the parents to send their children or not. And there is no law to force parents to send their children to school if they are convinced the kind of education they are getting is not a worthwhile investment.

In the schools, one sees none of the habitual rush to register children. In the book and stationery stalls, it is nothing close to business as usual.

Etoudi simply has to come to terms with an undeniable surge of disenchantment among Anglophone parents about the new school year. The torching of a few schools by groups of irate youths is, to all ends and purposes, unconscionable. The tendency to express their anger in this way has gained traction because the Consortium which was trusted to coordinate the protests, and which would never have sanctioned violence, was outlawed and its leaders jailed. This not only fanned the flames of fury, it left these irate youths on free range. Still, it is dishonest to chalk the parents’ disregard for Government’s back-to-school call to mere intimidation by these youths. There is a community conscience which sees the resumption of school as a return to business as usual and hence a betrayal of those who are in detention for the general cause, some of whom, we learn, are now on hunger strike.

Sending delegations to Brussels, Ottawa, London or Washington DC will not change that. It only exposes the Government’s intransigence and disinclination to appeasement through frank dialogue. Free Ayah, Agbor-Balla, Fontem and the others – for the sake of peace and serenity, and see if that does not do the trick.

 

 

 

 

Acquired Creativity Deficiency Syndrome, ACDS

Emmanuel is not always “God with us.” France’s Emmanuel Macron has obviously awakened Africans to this reality with his recent barrage of disparaging declarations about our continent. So much has his arrogance raised the hackles of ordinary proud Africans that they have been tearing him to pieces in the social media in the past few weeks. In fact, if this vitriolic outpouring of popular outrage were to translate into African foreign policy, the whole sordid enterprise called FranceAfrique would already have crumbled like a deck of cards, and God alone knows what would be left of France.

Unfortunately policy in Africa is determined not by what the people feel, but by the personal interests of the coteries of diaper-wearing colonial she-males we call politicians.

Macron just about echoed Pieter Botha’s infamous hate speech that was recently attributed, not altogether erroneously, to another racist, Donald Trump. That speech sought to lampoon Africa’s backwardness, chalking it up to inferiority from creation, to congenital stupidity, insatiable greed, incurable laziness, shame-proof corruption, bestial appetites – deprecations without end.

Paradoxically, it is these same low, bestial instincts that colonialism taps into, and thrives on. It is exactly the breed of Africans who incarnate these same vices that Western nations, especially France, have imposed on us as leaders, and continue to use as marionettes to pillage our economies and permanently stunt our growth.

They know that absolute power corrupts absolutely, so they choose the congenitally corrupt amongst us and build regimes around them that, like some political centrifuges, enrich the uranium of corruption in their personal DNA to produce weapons of mass destruction that could blast our countries into smithereens whenever we dare to step out of line.  And to prevent our awakening from the same stupor for which they deride us, they shield these lackeys with treaties that commit France to defending them in case of internal uprisings.

In the particular case of Cameroon, we owe our stagnation, indeed our regression despite hackneyed songs about emergence, to leadership blighted by two deficiency syndromes. The first is the Induced Guts Deficiency Syndrome, IGDS.  You may also call in the no-liver syndrome. The men who lead us, however depraved they may be, should be given credit for a modicum of good sense – of the ability to tell good from evil. They cannot pretend not to know when the people they lead have had enough of being raped. What stifles all their good will and eventually deadens their consciences is the lack of guts. It takes guts to tell the French that Cameroonians can no longer tolerate being crudely exploited. But President Biya cannot think of taking such a bold step without considering the likelihood – nay the certainty – of being “Sankaraed” by the French. For Cameroon to break free from the French stranglehold, therefore, it will take a kamikaze leader – one who is ready to listen to the voice of his people and stand up for them. It must be someone who can say, “even if you kill me, I have lived my life. Let my people live.” We need a Moses who is willing to sacrifice his personal comfort to give his people a good life.

Also undermining our evolution as a country is the fact that, even within the limits of the political and economic tether allowed us by France; our leadership is handicapped by a second syndrome – which we shall call the Acquired Creativity Deficiency Syndrome, ACDS.  Our leaders have been so used to doing nothing without prior clearance from the Elysee that they have ended up losing any capacity they ever had for innovation. They are resigned to letting the French do all the thinking for us and to our swallowing whatever they ram down our throats.  They reign, but France rules.

One of the colonial policies they have been implementing masterfully since what we call independence is “divide-and-rule. And the choice guinea pig for this experiment has been Anglophone Cameroon. For over five decades Yaounde has been consistent in using administrative fragmentation and political gerrymandering to drive the wedge between the northern and southern zones of that territory. There have been laborious attempts to forge some form of union across the grain between the Southwest and Littoral Regions, all in a bid to dismember and undermine the Anglophone sense of belonging, which is getting stronger and stronger, thanks to recent developments.

In the last few months Yaounde has taken this divide-and-rule to a brave new level. Their new approach borrows from the colonial strategy of using the Christian faith to uproot Africans culturally, so as to make them easier to manipulate. The ongoing strikes have shown that the regime has pushed West Cameroonians to the wall, making them defiant beyond remedy. The regime seems to be left with no option but to attack their spiritual roots. First it drags their leaders to court in a bid to intimidate them, knowing that you can scatter the sheep if you strike the shepherd.

Now, could the shifting positions of the Presbyterian and Catholic churches in the past two weeks be a sign that the intimidation has worked as far as the church leadership is concerned? Some even suggest, God forbid, that the Churches have either been bought with direct bribes, or blackmailed with the withdrawal of state subventions.  In any case, this shift in the position of the Churches is producing another worrying facet of the divide and rule – putting the leadership at variance with the membership.

In celebrating what it may see as success on this front, however, is the regime looking at the bigger picture? In undermining the social, moral and spiritual fabric that gives character to Cameroon as a nation of great diversity and power, are they aware that they are implementing the colonial master plan for that nation’s disintegration? What will be left of Cameroon after all its component communities have lost all character? It is about time this country was governed in the interest of its citizens, not in that of some colonial leach. Mr. Biya, and your Government, choose ye today: Are you for us or against us

Who’s lying on Social Media?

No speech is complete these days, be it by President Biya himself, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister of Communication or indeed any top brass of the regime, without a swipe at the social media – the new culprit to blame for the centre not holding anymore.

This is what, in the eyes of the government, justified the democratic sacrilege of cutting off internet from West Cameroon for over three months – a violation they  will have to answer for, when the chips are down.

Well, to deny that the social media have come to facilitate the propagation of half-truths and outright lies is to take dishonesty to brave new level.  Who has not seen those adroitly done pictures of a furious, pistol-toting President Biya with a bare torso, grinding his teeth in fury, with his axe aloft, spoiling for a fight with Boko Haram?  Seeing the video of the Pope smacking Donald Trump’s hand in reproach for naughtily trying pinch the Pontiff’s hand, one is lost as to whether this was reality or just another instance of deftness in multimedia manipulation.

Sometime this week somebody circulated a most alarming video of so-called breaking news purported to come from the BBC, with well edited footage of very alarming hostilities between NATO and Russia. NATO had shot down a Russian plane, prompting immediate retaliation. According to the video there was panic all over Europe and the Queen of England had to be evacuated from Buckingham palace to a safe place. Those who did not have the facility to recoup this information had every reason to panic. Here is someone who creates a third-world-war psychosis just for the kick they get out it.

One must say that the development of the social media has actually opened Pandora’s Box. You don’t have to be a journalist to shoot and edit videos of anything with your phone, tablet or laptop, and distribute them without limitation in time and space. That puts a lethal weapon in the hands of too many people not restrained by any ethical training.

While autocratic regimes are wrestling with the temptation, but also the practicality, of muzzling the social media, more realistic leaders are learning to be part of the revolution and Donald Trump is virtually running America with tweets.

One thing these autocrats will have to learn from Trump is to recognize that the social media are a reflection of the society that produced them – a society that blurs the line between use and abuse, between liberty and libertinism and, in what concerns journalism, between creativity and fidelity in reporting – between truth and outright lies.

It is amusing to hear the Cameroon government whimpering about what they call lies in the social media. We are dealing here with a society where such cardinal values as decency and integrity are all trodden underfoot; a society where everybody lies – parents and teachers lie to their children, pastors to their flocks and magistrates to themselves and the courts. Now Cameroonians tend to not even believe their president – one who should incarnate the values that hold this country together. Yes, it’s that bad. This is a country where the Government spokesman was derided as “zero mort” – an allusion to an instance of him making what virtually the whole country considered a mendacious declaration – one too many.

Even when it comes to lying with the social media, the government hunts with the hounds and runs with the hares. When the Anglophone problem began to look like coming to a head in November last year, government was widely believed to have circulated fake information on Whatsapp about an imminent attack by some secessionist army masterminded by mercenaries. Anglophones saw it as not only creating some distraction from their genuine concerns but an attempt to justify a military crackdown on them. Words like genocide and pogrom effectively became part of daily linguistic menu. Is that less damaging to the image of the country than true videos of identifiable soldiers, gendarmes and policemen in uniform beating and torturing unarmed Anglophone youths in Buea, Bamenda and elsewhere?

Have we not seen, and don’t we continue to see, messages purportedly coming out of some fake parents’ consortium other social media posts from faceless, nameless apologists of the regime’s stances on the Anglophone conundrum?

Many believe that the case against the bishops and the Moderator of the PCC will just keep getting adjourned because of the actual nonexistence of the consortium of parents that is purported to have filed the suit – that government is the face behind the mask.

Most embarrassing of all, the death of the Bishop of Bafia has come to pit the Church against the government – the two institutions in the country whose word no one ought to ever doubt. The Bishops insist that they have incontrovertible evidence that their colleague was murdered, while government says he drowned.  And if the clerics were to adduce such evidence it would mean the government lied. And as filth always rubs off on whatever it touches, it would mean INTERPOL and the so-called forensic experts commissioned by the State colluded in a cover-up. Such collusion would either have been inadvertent, as in Government giving them the wrong corpse to examine, or criminally intentional as in their being bribed to issue a false report.

Just look at the moral depths to which we have sunken as a nation! If our government cannot be trusted, who will teach our children about integrity? If their head of State, their senators, their MPs, their ministers, magistrates etc… cannot stand as their ultimate role models, is it any surprise we are fast becoming a nation of scammers and thieves – a nation where the end justifies the means?

Wake up, folks. Stop making empty noises about emergence and youth empowerment. Remember they are the android generation. That means the social media generation. If you keep lying to them they will find in the social media the resources to lie to you in ways you never imagined.  And they will be unstoppable.

Where we differ

“One and indivisible” is a status every worthy citizen would wish for his country. That it became a war cry of sorts for the Head of state, was an acknowledgment that the integrity – indeed the very survival – of the state of Cameroon was on the line. For this to happen, the threat must come either from a strong, external force that stands to benefit from our disintegration as a nation, or from home-grown disenchantment with the health of our commonwealth. By all indications the dominoes had begun falling one by one and the main political players were not paying attention. So, did the cry come too late? And is the state rushing to put out the fire with fuel rather than water in the fire engines? Are the alleged night visits to influential West Cameroonian monarchs a sign that we are beginning to understand that “one-and –indivisible” cannot be achieved by decree or by blood and iron? Are we finally ready to come down from our high horses and acknowledge that no head is ever bigger than the shoulders that carry it? Is it finally hitting home that millions of CFA that have gone in smoke trying to corrupt people against their own aspirations have been nothing but a shameful waste of scarce resources?

If this be the case, we dare hope that the people who are in detention for no ostensible reason other than an attempt to break their will – that these will be released forthwith. Justice for them has been long delayed and thereby denied, but the people are big enough in their minds to let that pass, if the government can do the right thing while it is still time.

September is approaching, and West Cameroonian children hope to return to school. Many of them don’t know why they have been out of school in the first place. Government has been busy giving the impression that their parents are just being irresponsible, without considering that many of them had already paid fees for the time they did not go to school. In painting this kind of picture of parents, the government seems unaware that it is sowing seeds of family disintegration, thereby eroding the very foundation of the state. If the government wants to be seen as caring for the children more than their own parents, one hopes that when this whole conundrum gets sorted out, the burden of their fees will be alleviated by a substantial subsidy.

But we know that that the sticking point is that government would not been seen to lose face, and the teachers and parents are convinced that if they let up now, all their suffering and that of their children will have been in vain.

In this log jam, it is imperative to ask what it is that would satisfy the striking teachers and lawyers, as well as the masses who continue to ground their own businesses in protest. The government in his own social media outreach emphasizes the children’s right to education. West Cameroon parents are demanding, not just education – but quality education – which they are convinced this government is unwilling or unable to provide. For them therefore, “one-and-indivisible” is a figment, as far as education is concerned. And education is everything. So it looks like returning to the drawing board is Hobson’s choice for this nation.

Politically we are one country, by the marriage contracted in 1961, and we still believe that our interest is best served if we stay one, and rigorously respect the terms of our coming together. However, because of the lore and mores we imbibed from our colonial past, we are so fundamentally different that the molecules of our make-up keep repelling rather than bonding.  A few examples will help.

  1. There is no corruption-free society, but combating corruption part of the business of governing. However, while in one of our two entities there was zero tolerance for corruption, in the other corruption and graft are the rule rather than the exception. In the course of the current crisis the media have been awash with reports of government’s sustained attempts to bribe West Cameroonian it deems influential. Fortunately, and according to the same reports, many of them have stood rock-solid in their integrity. So it seems government’s attempts to forge the “one-and-indivisible” have instead exposed the fissures between our two sub-cultures.
  2. Of our two sub-cultures, one is given to flamboyance, superficiality and an expansive lifestyle where the end justifies the means, and this leads inevitably to living beyond one’s means which is the bedrock of corruption and graft. The other is given to frugality, reserve and self-censure and restraint with people cutting their coat according to their size.
  3. With regard to the rule of law, the one subculture believes that rules are meant to be bent and broken, as long as you can get away with it. This is responsible for the near-normalisation of examination fraud for instance. In the other sub-culture those who bend rules or indulge in any form of fraud know they cannot expect mercy from the law.
  4. The one places principles above interests and so has a hard time bonding with an anything-goes culture where you are considered a failure for sacrificing your personal convenience on the altar of moral values and general interest.
  5. Both subcultures believe in the need for strong, dependable leadership but while the one fears and virtually deifies its leaders, the other respects every leader but considers him/her merely as primus inter pares, and is violently averse to leaders who expect to be feared.
  6. The one recognizes the people’s right to differ openly even with those in authority, while the other stifles all contrary opinions and reduces people to impotent grumblers in the face of abuse – thus sentencing them to perpetual drunkenness to drown their sorrows.
  7. In the one, public servants are what their name implies, while the other elevates them to the status of masters with the taxpayers at their mercy.
  8. The one believes in holding all elected officials to account at all times while the other allows social accountability to be swept under the rug of unquestionable power.
  9. The one believes in a strong sense of personal honour and reliability, while in the other institutionalized deceit is condoned, and nobody can be put beyond falsehood, not even those who incarnate the state.
  10. In education, the one celebrated knowledge for its own sake, allowing for personal efforts to complement what the teacher has to offer; while the other  is certificate-driven and thrives on rote – on reproducing what is taught. Additional research is construed as challenging the teacher.
  11. The one believes in a code of social decency that respects people’s personal space while the other tolerates hustling and huddling even across gender lines, which raises the level of promiscuity and puts sexual behaviour on a very low moral ebb.
  12. In one the law is supreme and draws its strength from natural justice, while in the other it can be manipulated and even waived by those in power. That’s why even the head of the judiciary could confess his hands were tied (understandably by his loyalty to the president. And that is why the President can, with total impunity, tinker with the Supreme law.
  13. In the application of criminal law, the one holds accused persons innocent until they are proven guilty, while the other assumes they are guilty until they can prove otherwise.
  14. It is all these differences put together, aggravated by the arrogance of those in power, that have driven some West Cameroonians to the conclusion that the two entities are incompatible and should be sundered. It is The Rambler’s reasoned position, however, that these differences can be contained in a federal structure which allows each segment to practice the lifestyle it is used to, and to emulate whatever they like in the other’s way of life.
  15. This brings us to the ultimate difference, namely that West Cameroonians now know with, documented proof, that in joining their brothers in 1961 they actually walked into joint slavery under the French. While they are revolted by age-old French impositions on our country, they see themselves as being further subjugated by their own brothers. Unwilling to brook this anymore, they now seek to break away from the French stranglehold. This means that for even federation to work, the entire Republic must commit to independence with a new meaning. Does Biya dare?

 

 

All dead wood must go

What’s it with this bloke called Wirba? Whence did he derive this gumption to embark on the dangerous path of resistance in the face of a steamroller regime, when the mere thought of being even remotely associated with it makes his peers cower and pee? And after barely saving his skin, having been “chased through the bushes” (his own words) by a squad sent to arrest him – or perhaps worse; what inspired the daredevilry to consciously walk straight back into the lair? Did he suddenly become suicidal? Or is he gone past the threshold of fear? Questions like these are giving sleepless nights to all kinds of people in Cameroon: first to West Cameroonians wrestling with the challenge to even stand by this fellow who is standing up for them, and wondering what extra-terrestrial pedigree he must be.  Is it some special trace element in the potatoes of Wai Nama or in the beans on the Mbve hills? Few of us can help feeling dwarfed by the sheer moral stature of this man.

The Second group is Caesar’s vassals and centurions who are all at sea over this resistance from a most unexpected source. Back in secondary school, we learnt that all bullies are cowards. They never touched a junior student unless they were sure he was safe, i.e. too weak or timid to fight back, or that he had no friend or relative who could get back at them. Etoudi may assume one of two things – either that Wirba is bluffing, in which case they may try to reach for him, at the risk of opening Pandora’s Box, or that he may be coming back with a Trojan Horse, in which case it would be safer to let him be. Not used to that level of emasculation, Etoudi must be, to use their favourite expression, “dans tous ses etats.”

The third group is the rest of the so-called Anglophone parliamentarians and senators. What are they doing outside of lining up “small things” at the Hotel des Deputes or Mont Febe? Wirba alone is left to do their collective duty – and they are all too chickenhearted to support him.

Clearly they don’t even take their parody of parliamentary immunity seriously, except, perhaps, when some of them invoke it to cover their own wrongdoings. And if they don’t have the back of their colleague who is putting his life on the line for the sake of the same constituencies they claim to represent, then does that not disqualify them as parliamentarians? In this case, don’t they deserve being recalled by their respective constituents?

In fact, in a country where people have a sense of honour, they should all tender their resignations and head home, bowed in utter shame. But knowing they can’t, The Rambler, in an earlier editorial, called for a no-confidence vote on all of them. And developments since then have further laid bare their irrelevance, and continue to vindicate our call.  Now we know they all place greater premium on their party which   gives them bonuses and a lucrative sinecure in parliament, than on the nation of which they have hopelessly fuzzy notion. They confuse a country – which is a geographical expression, and a nation which thrives on the pride of belonging.

Now that we know we have nobody representing us in parliament, we can only sink to our knees and pray, “our father who art in Etoudi, thy will be done in the West Cameroon as it is in the East.” (No heresy intended here of course!) In the meantime they continue to draw a comfortable living from our taxes.

Listen, folks, we may not all be made of the same stern stuff as Wirba. We may not all have been radicalized to the point of resolutely turning our backs on a union that’s gone rickety over time; we may not all favour a return to the “Atara” (two-lobe cola) arrangement of 1961. Whatever our inclinations may be, we all claim to be functioning under a contraption which prefers to call itself a democracy. That puts in our hands the tools to dismantle a parliament that does not represent us.  So, short of the dramatic no-confidence vote right now, we have the coming election to say our last word. Those who still believe in this union must take the broom in their hand and clean out that Augean Stable we call parliament, come next year. Tell your neighbour, “all dead wood must go!”

 

 

France – friend or foe?

In holding Teodorin Obiang Nguema to book for alleged ill-gotten wealth, did France expect the streets of Bata to erupt with shouts of “a Daniel come to judgment?” That would have been a legitimate expectation anywhere else – not in countries where people have gotten used to half-heartedly crying rape, while wiggling to give the rapist his orgasm, and even hoping to have one of their own in the process.

The strident “back-off-Macron” calls now coming out of Equatorial Guinea, and being echoed from its Francophone neighbours, are an indication of how African populations are beginning to wrestle with the split personality syndrome born mostly of France’s duplicitous colonial policy.

These countries have been, and continue to be, led by a breed of dictators who gag their people, precisely to keep them from demanding an end to France’s choke-hold on their economic and political lives. And because they are guaranteed French support against any domestic uprising, they can, with careless abandon, pillage what is left of their countries’ economies, and stash their ill-gotten wealth in the same France and elsewhere in the West.

Their families, whether it be a first son in Malabo or a first daughter in Yaounde, are raised in the same squandermania, drawing from the same seemingly bottomless coffers, with royal scorn for the misery of common citizens.

Then, as if by a pang of conscience, France wakes up one morning and confiscates Teodorin’s hyper-expensive toys, and is dragging him to court on charges of corruption, money-laundering and embezzlement of public funds.

Teodorin Obiang Nguema has already had $71 million worth of assets seized by the US, including a $30 million Malibu mansion, a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet, a Ferrari worth more than $500,000 and Michael Jackson memorabilia worth almost $2 million.

Back home in Malabo, people who should be thoroughly revolted by the enormity of the Nguemas thievery, are instead leaping to his defense, accusing the US and France of being accessory to the crime by accepting the assets in their territory in the first place. They condone the crime itself on the frivolous premise that international law does not give France locus standi to try a foreign citizen for crimes committed in his own country.

By the way, what if we were to learn at some point that Obiang even has French nationality, considering that most Africans in power easily avail themselves of western citizenship as a safety net?

But, to complicate matters further for France, we learn that, with effect from early this year, Teodorin is his country’s Vice President, appointed by his Father. We shall not go into whether the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea provides for the VP to be appointed rather than elected. In any case we don’t recall hearing of any elections in that country this year. Which means that the appointment could well have been a father’s attempt to shield the son from litigation by giving him immunity.

And so with immunity abroad and impunity at home, the scene is set for the perpetuation of the Obiang Nguema dynasty in Equatorial Guinea, unless someone else can do something to stop it. And who can do what? The Americans have seized Nguema’s property but are still known to be his dictator father’s current backers. Do they intend to restitute the stolen wealth to the people of Equatorial Guinea, to be managed by the same regime who stole it?

And what does France really want, and how far is she willing and able to go? Short of convicting and physically putting Nguema away in jail, what can France achieve? Is regime change part of the mid-to-long-term agenda?

Presidential dynasties seem to be the new fad in Africa, especially in France’s former colonies. In Gabon, Ali has comfortably replaced his father with French aid. In Cameroon we hear of a Baongla posturing to replace the man he proclaims to be his father.

It remains to be seen if France intends to go all the way with its on-going Malabo experiment, and to replicate it in its own African “pre-carre”

With what is happening in most African countries, the time seems to have come for Western powers, especially France, to choose between their puppets and the people.

Notwithstanding the official media’s drumbeating in support of thieving regimes, there is no doubt that the masses have had enough of being ripped off by France and robbed by their own so-called leaders.

It would be suicidal, considering the current wind of radicalization, to ignore their expressions of outrage, however muted they may now seem to be.

In Cameroon, for instance, the days are long gone when nationalists were branded terrorists by the French, and hunted down by the army, with popular support. Today the Cameroonian masses know better and, in the drive to restore our sovereignty, whoever is not with us, is against us.

France must be told to seek first the friendship of the people, and access to all other goodies, including oil, will be added. If they choose to back their old lackeys they will deserve whatever they get. Old, exploitative deals that enslaved African countries to France cannot, must not, shall not be part of the new deal.

Ceasefire

Somebody, please, help us to cry out loud, “Cease fire!!!” Arson is a cowardly tool, unworthy of noble causes and of dignified people such as West Cameroonians consider themselves to be. The gutting of public and private buildings and other property is little more than a primitive statement of our lack of restraint in the face of provocation.

It inflicts pain and loss on the object of our fury, but it does not redress its cause, does it? And it makes even less sense if it’s public (meaning our own) property such as schools or roads that we destroy. It is counter-productive to vent our anger against some bloke in Yaounde by burning schools in Limbe or Bamenda.

For one thing that bugger in Yaounde may appear to fume about it – for the cameras – whereas, deep down he really does not give a hoot, as long as it is not a school in Essos. He may, indeed, be smirking at how dumb we are proving to be, given that we are helping to aggravate the same damage we are complaining against, i.e. the systematic degradation of the our infrastructure which Yaounde started decades ago.

So you can reasonably expect Yaounde or its agents to ramp up actions and rhetoric that will fire you to destroy more of your own infrastructure, while they sit back and chuckle at your “anglofoolness”.

There are two phases to the degradation of our infrastructure. The first, which started with Cameroon Bank, the National Produce Marketing Board, the Tiko Airport, the Victoria wharf, to name but these, was pre-emptive, in that it was meant to render the prospect of eventual separation most unattractive. And the fly on the wall in high places seems to hint that there is further and more comprehensive degradation in the works. This second phase, says the fly, is part of Yaounde’s scorched-earth reaction if separation were to become inevitable.

To further demonstrate the counter-productiveness of the burning, it contradicts the non-violent rhetoric which is the hallmark of the West Cameroon struggle to get justice, and the disarming legacy of the Consortium that set the ongoing protests in motion.

The burning, therefore, risks sending the wrong message to the world – that Anglophones are an a cephalous rabble without a compass. Such a message would attract more laughter than compassion or respect.

Now, we must recognize that the sporadic burning of schools is the had-enough reaction of irate youths whom provocation has pushed beyond self-restraint. That is the smaller of two fires consuming this country. In fact it is nothing but the smoke from a bigger fire that has been consuming, not cars, not buildings, but the very fabric of which this country is made, and that for over half a century. The small fires are the occasional,  involuntary work of youths who are angry because hungry- hungry for        understanding, hungry for daily bread, hungry for assurances of a secure  future, hungry for a sense of belonging and, above all, hungry for justice. To bring these fires under control all it takes is a few words of reassurance from Government with positive actions to match.

The bigger fire, which smoulders unreported, is the work of arsonists beyond all suspicion. Like careless smokers who enjoy flipping away their burning cigarette stubs, not caring if they start a fire that could raze farmlands and entire villages, those who run the affairs of this country take great delight in servicing their inordinate appetites, not caring if they tread on the toes of the citizen, and hence imperil the integrity of the state. They do this by mindless corruption and graft, tribalism, patronage and all forms of injustice and human rights abuses – all of which are pushing citizens to the wall. The Anglophone problem in particular is a fire that has been smouldering since 1961 and instead of continuing to stoke its embers with insensitivity and bad faith, and instead of clamouring about the smaller fires which are more an effect than a cause Etoudi must reign in the arsonists in its own house, and deploy genuine fire fighters now. Without genuine dialogue, things could only get worse.