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.

 

Who owns the Anglophone Problem?

Listening to Francophones talk about the so-called Anglophone crisis can be both distressing and refreshing, depending on where they are   coming from. It is common to hear stuff like, there is no Anglophone problem  only a Cameroonian problem. Peddlers of this fallacy fall in two categories. Both hold that infrastructural underdevelopment is not unique to the Southwest and North-west Regions. One group, generally of
“pays organisateur” origin, consider it sheer greed for Anglophones to protest so loudly about inequities which others have always borne and continue to bear with a patient shrug. Read more

Corruption, our national brand

President Biya once said he wanted to be remembered as the one who brought democracy to Cameroon. Realism or ‘Trumpism?’ Opinions are, and will stay as varied as interests.Meanwhile his regime has effortlessly secured it self a place in our annals for something else the opposite of the Midas touch. King Midas is remembered for turning everything he touched into gold. Even if, literally speaking, this is only a myth, it does convey the sense of changing things to their purest form. The opposite is called corruption and this is where the ‘Lion Man’s’ palmed’ or is sans dispute.

The latest trophy in his war chest is the GCE, which has been devalued to lower than Chironko. Like their boss, the Ministers of Education are only
now learning that things don’t just happen at the snap of their fingers.

The GCE practical exam last week toggled from the intended forceps delivery to a stillbirth. Now the rest of the GCE is on the stirrup and even
the surgeon-in-chief is all at sea, worried, not for the patient but for his job. So, as in the parable of the marriage feast, the servants have been sent out into the streets to bring the whoevers, lest the King’s banquet hall be seen to be empty.

Children who have not been taught are invited to sit for exams even if they did not register. Now, whether we declare a blank school year or not, an exam sanctioning an uncovered syllabus can only produce a mockery of
a certificate. You can call it a political certificate, because it is awarded for compliance with a political expedient and not in recognition of academic performance. After that, onehopes that all the talking heads on TV who
accuse Anglophones of politicizing their children’s education will shut up for shame, and for good. And even ‘Zero Mort II’ should be hard put to refuting that Government is officially and publicly diluting Anglophone education for a motive yet to be avowed. At that point the proponents and supporters of the school strike can conveniently rest their case because it has been made for them.

Another trophy is the celebration of the National Day. Away from  allegations that this day was chosen because it was Germaine Ahidjo’s birthday, and away from whatever you may make of West Cameroonian apathy to this day, there is more to a national day than a march-pass, a military parade and some televised speech on its eve. It is a day when nationals rally to showcase their pride in their nationality when they flaunt their sense of belonging to an entity that means the world to them. That sense of belonging goes far beyond party politics. Political parties are highly divisive, and a national day must in no way give expressions to those divisions.

You may never have thought this, but political parties are cultic in concept and practice. They are, therefore, understandably exclusive. The national day, in its concept and practice, is inclusive and must override the exclusiveness of the other 364 days of the year. In Cameroon, however, it is a day for displaying those divisions officially in the marketplace, with an institutionalized show of strength between the parties. The divide between party and state is so blurred that the ruling party confiscates the institutions, beginning with everything that concerns the President or his Government.
When he is leaving for, or returning from a foreign trip; when his ministers and governors go out to the field to do their normal work, it is party uniforms all over the place.

We make nonsense of the notion of the functional neutrality of the civil service. This is the malware that has attacked the national psyche, triggering the growing apathy towards celebrating the national day or even  participating in elections. Now the national day has become an activity in which people are bribed or blackmailed to participate. In Limbe, The Rambler learnt of chiefs who were threatened with deposal if they did not bring at least a hundred of their “subjects” to the march-pass. In the absence of patriots at heart, administrators (patriots by appointment) are busy creating a new brand patriots by simulation.

Finally, and as a signal of the critical viral load of this corruption bug in our national bloodstream, Etoudi has been gunning for the ultimate trophy the corruption of the Church. That is ominous. It means things are coming to a head. We have finally stuck our finger into God’s mouth to see if He still has teeth. That is a level of madness that will make a Sodom of this nation unless, like Nineveh, we take to sackcloth and ashes.