AFTER ‘AMBAZONIA’ LEADERS’ CAPTURE: Will Gov’t dialogue or crush Anglophone agitation?

About two years ago, the word dialogue, stealthily crept into the political lexicon of Cameroon. President Paul Biya intoned it. His appointees sang it like parrots even if many of them did not buy into the concept.

Dialogue was said to be the panacea that should put paid to the Anglophone crisis. But from all indications a principal party to the dialogue was either stone deaf or simply imagined that it was better carried out with both the stick and the carrot. Better still, that the gendarme and the gun were better instruments of dialogue than the round table.

Certain compatriots were named and tagged. Arrests were perpetrated, certain members of the opposing side were chased into exile and some even summarily killed. The situation got out of hand and dialogue transformed to hard times for the “terrorists and secessionists” so tagged.

About two weeks ago, Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma, like the Physicist, Archimedes of the Eureka fame, ran out of his bath stark naked more or less, to announce that “terrorists and secessionists earlier arrested in Nigeria had been handed over to Cameroonian judicial authorities.”

The Rambler was prompted by Tchiroma’s announcement to ask its respondents if this action on its own would put paid to the festering crisis or reignite the much parroted dialogue.

What they state could be very instructive to whether this dialogue and not outright military bravado is the true answer to Cameroon’s awful socio-political plight.

 

The solution is dialogue

I strongly propose that now that the Government of Cameroon has hunted down and is keeping the secessionist leaders, it is time they sit at a table together and open the so called dialogue that they have been propagating. This will even be advantageous because it shall be a litmus test to Cameroon’s democracy.

Nancy Fuma, Teacher Bamenda

Anglophones should constitute new leaders to carry on the struggle

I do not even know whether the said leaders are dead or alive. Despite the fact Government media has been singing their capture and extradition to Cameroon, we have not even seen their pictures. I propose that the Anglophones should constitute themselves again and let new leaders emerge and carry on the struggle.

Gwendolyn, Nsang Trader Bamenda

Gov’t should immediately announce dialogue

Now that the Government has them, it should immediately announce dialogue and call for an immediate ceasefire so that all these brutal killings that have gained notoriety these days can end.

Christopher Agu, IT specialist Bamenda

There’s no way forward as long as those leaders remain in custody

They should at least make a public presentation of these leaders, interview them on why they will want to separate and even find out from them what needs to be done to maintain the status quo.

I will tell you there is no way forward to solving this problem as long as those leaders remain under custody. See the abduction of those leaders, permit me use the word abduction because if they were arrested they would have at least shown us images. By doing what they are doing, Government is radicalizing supporters of this course more than ever. Maybe the Government thought that keeping those leaders will render followers weak, but you have seen and heard of attacks here and there. It only tells us that Ambazonians are determined in death or life to have their freedom. If there will be any way forward then let them release those leaders in their keeping.

Joseph Ntui, History Teacher Bamenda

Gov’t should bring them to dialogue table

Talking about way forward of the crisis because leaders are in Government custody is a broad situation to analyze. Why do I say so? Firstly, you must have understood by now that this crisis is far more than what Government thinks is in the hands of Mr. Julius Ayuk Tabe and others. If the situation were so, then since after their arrest there would have been peace in the country but contrarily the number of attacks has instead increased with both sides suffering. Yet their being in custody without gainsaying can only be one step solution to the crisis by bringing them to dialogue table. But think of those who lost loved ones, farmlands and even villages. How will Government compensate them because if they are ignored the crisis will never end.

Ngasi Jacob, farmer Kumba

Let powers that be call for dialogue

The only way forward now is dialogue. The Government has always talked of dialogue. International organisations and even Presidents of neighboring countries have cautioned on dialogue. Even the President in his end of year speech talked of dialogue.  It’s going to be a month by Monday since the leaders were arrested in Nigeria but nothing is being said about dialogue again. I wonder how much time we are they going to take when soldiers and innocent civilians keep dying. I heard the Government’s spokesman the other day talking about them facing justice for their crimes. I bet you if they go to that direction, I smell Rwandan experience of genocide in Cameroon. Let the powers that be call for dialogue.

Williams Mbohteh, Kumba

Gov’t should release those in detention and then dialogue

The way forward now is that Government should first release those in detention before bringing about dialogue. Because if they talk dialogue now when the leaders are still jailed it will be as though they are forcing options on Southern Cameroonians. Besides, if those leaders are not released no one will even be interested in talking. All the killings on both sides should stop.

Celia Ebako student, Kumba

We need a national dialogue

The Anglophone crisis has never been about secessionists or the secessionist movement. This thing started in November 2016 with teachers and lawyers and the general population. There was a dialogue put in place before Government arrested all the genuine leaders. I think Government should go back to the negotiation table back with those they started the dialogue and bring all the other leaders, for a national dialogue. People are dying in the (Anglophone) Regions because we want to solve this crisis through war.

Emmanuel Achanyi, Agricultural Engineer, Douala

Let us review the terms of our coexistence

There is nothing Government can do to stop the movement whether they arrest all Anglophones or not. The message is clear and has been sent to Yaoundé, no form of arrests will intimidate Anglophones. The arrest of consortium leaders did not change anything so the arrest of the secessionist leaders will not change the situation on ground. I think some Government forces just want to see the situation on the ground continue because some of them are benefiting from it. The only way a solution can be found to this crisis is an international mediation supervised by the United Nations to review the terms of our coexistence. Anything short of that will be a failure because no form of arrests, intimidation, violence or torture will ever suppress the Anglophone feeling.

Charles Mafeh, photographer

Proper and genuine dialogue

I don’t know if the arrest of the secessionist leaders can solve anything in this crisis. We see that fighting has been ongoing; people continue to die every day in the Southwest and Northwest Regions despite the arrests. Arresting people is not the only solution, but if Government thinks it is a solution, then let us wait and see how it will bring peace in our Regions in the weeks ahead. I will propose for Government to first start by demilitarizing the Anglophone Regions; the massive presence of soldiers keeps creating tension and panic. The Government should put a mechanism in place for proper dialogue to take place. Even with those they are calling secessionists or terrorists who are in prison, I think Government will still have to look for a means to dialogue with them.

Nquiaka Viviane, Teacher Douala

An all-inclusive dialogue

I suggest that the President opens frank dialogue will all persons involved; that must include Ayuk Julius and his band because dialogue is never a one man show. Before now, they arrested some Anglophones like Agbor Balla and Ayah Paul, thinking it would solve the problem but it only aggravated it. We need frank dialogue and action. The people concerned should come together with equal status and discuss the way forward. It should not be like the dictatorship we witnessed last time in Bamenda in the name of dialogue. Without this, I am afraid that Cameroon will witness something worse than Rwanda.

Mekumba Dieudonne, Yaounde

A referendum to establish what Anglophones want

I think a referendum to establish what Anglophones really want is the best way to end this civil war that is a breath away. The Government knows this but has been pretending to want to resolve this crisis. A referendum will not cost them even a tiny bit of what they have wasted so far. But, they are riding a very high horse. Once the limping horse stops automatically, then they will fall to the ground. They should not say we did not tell them. Without a referendum, trust me, the crisis is still beginning.

Ashu Ndemalia, Actor

Yaounde has the solution to this crisis

Yaounde has the solution to this crisis. I think the dictatorial Government should now force the guys to the dialogue table now that the Minister of Communication claims that they are in Yaounde. The dialogue that will solve the Anglophone crisis should focus on the opinions of all parties. It should take into account the opinion of unionists, federalists and separatists. Then, they should organize a referendum so the people of Southern Cameroons can choose which one they want for themselves. I insist that the dialogue must be supervised by the African Union and the United Nations Organisation. Sentencing those people (if at all there is any ground on which they can be sentenced) will lead to more havoc than imaginable.

Bonvemock Cedric, Unemployed

Free, fair and frank dialogue

Now that leaders of both parties are in the same town, I think all that is left is a free, fair and frank dialogue.  By free, I mean each man should be given the chance to air their thoughts, not a talk at gunpoint. For the dialogue to be fair each party must recognize the other as a leader of a people and each constituency well defined. It goes without saying that frank dialogue would mean putting all cards on the table as they are: black or white. However, I know that this will be very difficult because no Government is willing to negotiate with people it calls terrorists,worse of all, in the eyes of international bodies. Now, let us face the facts. It is needless to think of dialogue with people who are bent and fixed on their ideas of a one and indivisible country. It is clear that with that mentality; even a referendum will not change a thing except it is in their favour. Let the Government do what it does best. Bribe them and release them. They have got a people to lead out there,even though I do not buy this method.

Ransome Nganjo, Engineer

Compiled by Jean Marie Ngong Song, Ngende Esther, Francis Ajumane & Nsono Claudia

 

 

 

 

Between ‘Frogs’ and ‘Anglos’2018 presidential candidatures

Elimbi Lobe is a maverick politician par excellence. As one time Municipal Councillor and Littoral Regional Executive Member of the SDF, his outings on TV panels have conjured the image of a rabble-rouser, maladjusted rebel, perpetually at war with himself. Not even the SDF wherein he is supposed to be an active member has been free of his diatribes that reflect bigotry from a mind-set that sees everything wrong in Bamilekes and Anglophones, who by his reckoning, have deprived ‘Sawa’ flourish within the leading opposition party in Cameroon.

He was recently in the news again on account of another swipe at Anglophones when he insinuated that “No Anglophone can defeat President Paul Biya in an election.” Ordinarily, this ought to have attracted no attention given that Elimbi is not a political force even in the Littoral where his bravado has been silenced by the perspicacity of Joshua Osih and Jean Michel Nintcheu, representatives of the clime of Cameroonians who have subjected him to political nightmares within the SDF.

However,  the fact that his gobbledygook deriding Anglophones reminisces average Francophone perception of leadership as an issue of majority, even if such majority has to all intents and purposes floated the impression that governance is synonymous to opportunity for a privileged few to ride roughshod their compatriots, makes his conjecture to deserve a revisit. The contention here is that contrary to Francophone glib perception of governance, Anglophones see it as a veritable opportunity to be at the service of electorates who deserve adequate attention in compensation for the votes that catapult leaders to positions of authority. This means that leadership straddles responsibility and integrity. It is not a master/servant relationship akin to feudalism in medieval Europe like the current regime is wont to exhibit. It is therefore unlikely, that there can be a better person than an Anglophone to enable us gravitates to Eldorado from our current political dungeon.

The essence of this narrative is that Anglophones see politics as a matter of compromises and consensus while Francophones see unanimity as the artery of politics. Compromises and consensus are outcomes of dialogue and negotiations while unanimity conjures autocracy and dictatorship. This can be seen in the articulations of CPDM headship. Of course, the CPDM is just an elongation of the CNU. It is customary to sense deification of ordinary mortals with calls for a natural presidential candidate who is leader of a party that is “the way, the truth and the light.” Oh yes, the natural candidate overseas a well-oiled system of prebendal relationships that ensures his perpetuity at the helm of state. His stay at the helm is the outgrowth of unanimity that in itself is borne out of perceived need to cling to the helmsman in order to continue benefiting from undue advantages. Such a system glorifies mediocrity with competence desecrated upon to usher in a flourish of nepotism and cronyism. Because unanimity is the order of the day, everything reposes on the whims of the grand master. There is no room for initiative and by extension innovation.

It is this stymied governance that Anglophones have come to grips with from hindsight garnered from what obtained in the few years of self-government in Southern Cameroons and, decided that enough is enough. No society can make any meaningful progress with the kind of leadership that expects serfs to slug it out on a daily basis just so that manor lords sit in the comfort of their castles and revel in wine drinking and licentiousness. Oh no! This is not our credo of governance-governance underpinned by the lurid notion that because by some twist of fate a cabal has constituted itself into Government, every foul means must be employed to bring about its permanence. Elections are rigged with the aid of soldiers paid with tax money contributed by the very people who are alienated from power and this has all along meant nothing to some who still see buccaneering in Anglophone recrimination for improved governance in Cameroon.

Judging by the above, who then is better placed to replace Biya? Cowardly people like Elimbi or conscientious Anglophones who have stood up several times to unequivocally proclaim the rottenness of the current system that has thwarted development in the country in the last 35 years. By the way, apart from Professor Maurice Kamto, who for reasons bordering more on vote hunt than conviction has embraced federalism, which other Francophone political headship has diagnosed Cameroon’s problem as too much centralisation and in the event prescribed federalism as antidote in the manner Anglophones have been articulating in the aftermath of democracy’s murder by the 1972 political coup d’etat, euphemistically called national unity referendum. While admitting that no one is born a saint and that integrity in mortal beings cannot be vouched for until such a time that recourse to irresponsible conduct has been ruled out by persistent indulgence in acts adjudged to be emanations of altruism, governance by participation and by extension devolution of power from the centre to the periphery is the best solution to credible, accountable and transparent governance. The essence here is that governance ought to be institutional, not personified.

From our current experience, most Francophone leaders are merely out to satisfy their bloated egos. They are not out for the good of ordinary Cameroonians. As President Biya once said, “they don’t have any credible manifesto: they are just interested in my position.” This is very true for most Cameroonians who have this far indicated their desire to be President. Make no mistake! It is the right of every Cameroonian to accede to the presidency of the republic provided such individuals fulfil the eligibility criteria. However, with the current political stand-off in the country, there is need to flush out the present system that believes that valiant youths should be pitted against each other for mutual annihilation while regime barons and military commanders sit in the luxury of their homes built with money extorted from the public till revel in profligacy. Oh yes! Shine your eyes! We have come to the point where the issues ought not to be Anglophone or Francophone but who replaces Biya.

The common denominator of Cameroon’s woes is putrid governance perpetrated by Biya and his CPDM coterie of criminally insensitive adherents and sympathisers. What should be of interest to Cameroonians at our current political trajectory is how to flush out Biya and his hangers-on. If politicians indeed, care about the wellbeing of ordinary Cameroonians then their focus ought to be on how to eject the Biya virus from our political system. Since unanimity can only obtain in systems like the CPDM. What is required now is consensus among the opposition. What this means is that discussions and negotiations that should be underlined by true dialogue ought to begin in the direction of coming up with a single candidate to face Biya and his political offensive. Francophone or Anglophone is not an issue here even as preference in terms of philosophy of governance should lean on the latter.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

Letter to Unknown Soldier

Dear Unknown Soldier,

This letter is addressed to you because it is rightly assumed that you are the product of refinement through training and continuous mentoring. Unlike the ragtag terrorist agitators you are fighting, order is supposed to be ingrained in your personae. However, your recent presence in Manyu and Meme Divisions tend to invoke a rather sombre picture of your clairvoyance capacity, or its complete absence. Whatever the circumstance, tread softly, my compatriot.

Furthermore, judging from the way you prosecute assignments, certainly, on the instructions of your superior officers, there is the definite impression that you mistake all Anglophones for terrorists. More so, your indiscriminate shooting and killing of unarmed, hapless civilians, especially, on the occasion of the death of your colleague(s) allegedly killed by some faceless individuals who call themselves ‘Ambazonia Forces,’ is not a solution to the present face-off between Government and Anglophones.

The guerilla warfare launched against you by the “terrorists” has no doubt been slaying many of your peers. It is understandable that such situations might be difficult for you to accept because it presents a kind of defeat picture, but it is not true.

You might be the terrorists’ target but Ah! Mr. Soldier, mind you, hapless civilians are no substitute for the faceless individuals attacking you. You have the duty to locate, defeat and conquer them. Even if you kill all Anglophones civilians, you are not declared victorious or should I say, you are not safe yet-you will have no peace because your enemy still lives and intimidates.

Please Mr. Soldier; in the event where you are attacked in a particular locality by faceless individuals, do not in anger or in the spirit of revenge react by shooting indiscriminately at every living being on sight; razing down homes and rendering hundreds of fellow Cameroonians refugees in their own homeland.

You did this in Manyu and then in Meme. Have the “terrorists” stopped their activities? Of course not, so logical reasoning should tell you that, the guys perpetrating these inhumane acts on you are probably not from those localities and, so, would have little or nothing to regret after you raid in revenge. Mr. Soldier, by doing what you are doing to the local population, you only give them ideas that negatively change their impression of you.

By burning down entire villages, you immediately turn those people into your enemies because you treated them as such and that scare will take generations to heal. The point is, by doing what you do, you become as inhumane as the extremists. Remember, it is not in your place to inflict greater pain, loses and burden on your camp; when the people are shot, killed, maimed, rendered homeless, it is not the inhuman radical who will come to their rescue afterwards, but the Government.

In a sense, it is Cameroon that loses its human resources and not the terrorists, and this has tremendous impact on the country’s development. Analytically, if we continue on this lane, Mr. Soldier, “Vision 2035” would be a farce because the resources supposed to be put together for national development is being irrationally wasted.

If one puts together houses and properties torched in Manyu and now Meme, as well as the number of people rendered homeless, one can only begin to imagine the difficulties these people will go through in managing to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

Please Mr. Soldier, you are out to protect civilians as opposed to killing and exposing them to danger. Remember that all lives matter and we are all Cameroonians before being civilian, military, Anglophone or Francophone. Please, shoot no more, and kill not innocent civilians in Anglophone localities.

Graduate from being destructive to protective soldiers!

By Nester Asonganyi

Calling on opposition parties and the electorate

Another election year has come upon us, even as those who were elected five years ago for Senators, Parliamentarians and Mayors   and, seven for the President of the Republic seem to be in wondering contemplation whether these past years have any basis in reality.

The element of surprise emanates from a clear avowal of incapacity to deliver according to schedule and unfulfilled promises made during campaigns for the ebbing mandate. The only signs of representation of the people’s mandate are cars and houses built for personal comfort with nothing to show in the communities whose votes had catapulted them to positions of authority, even if, without responsibility.

This uninviting circumstance in any case, is not limited to the ruling CPDM. Even in Councils administered by opposition political parties, the story may just be different in negligible degrees. The common denominator is unmitigated disregard for the welfare of their electorates. After all, there is nobody to call them to order. This worrisome outcome is derivable from administrators who pass off as supervisory authorities despite the oddity of such circumstance that is not supposed to have obtained in the first place.They hardly strain their minds in relation to whether elected Mayors work in accordance with statutes. It suffices for mayors to oil the mouths of epicurean administrators and concern for the welfare of communities will in a jiffy be thrown to the dogs. In the event, the electorate has become lethargic to issues of political bearing. Even registering as prelude to acquitting themselves of a civic responsibility like voting has become anathema, to the point where in a country of more than 20 million people, it has been persistently impossible to have up to 10 million voters on the electoral roll.

The current disposition of potential voters notwithstanding, Mr. Biya who has vested himself with the prerogative of, solely, deciding when and how elections hold in Cameroon, has already set the bells chiming for a series of invitations to the electorate in the course of the year. What this portends is that there is no letting up either by his CPDM surrogates or him in terms or an invidious quest to cling to power even as they have been clearly disavowed by most Cameroonians. The CPDM is determined to foist itself on Cameroonians no matter the prevailing political turmoil whose origin is rooted clearly in its inability to pilot the country to safe anchor, despite all the available material and human resources, just like Mr. Biya unabashedly, makes no bones about another run at the presidency. To that end, nobody can deny them their right to savour political power. After all, Mr. President had made it clear that the constitution is a toy that can be deployed according to his whims as long as it exudes the satisfaction it was intended to provide.

However, the issue currently at stake is not whether the CPDM wants to maintain itself in power or that the party and its national president had since lost legitimacy. What should concern Cameroonians is how to eject President Paul Biya and the CPDM from Etoudi, the National Assembly and various municipalities in the country.  This is of capital importance because it is the first step towards reinstating the rule of law, accountability and transparency in governance. For this to happen there is only one possible solution. The opposition must stand as one. While conceding that this is certainly a Herculean task given the antecedents in the quest for a single candidate to stand against the ubiquitous CPDM rigging machinery, the project can nevertheless, be carried to safe anchor if concern for the nation is given precedence instead of pampering of individual egos.

Granted that the CPDM has the advantage of omnipresence nationwide owing to the fact that no distinction is made between the much vaunted ruling party and the state, there is still room for opposition victory in the presidential given the putrid stigma that the “Government party” has attracted to itself. The fact that it has mismanaged the economy, too, is not news to discerning Cameroonians apart from hangers on who want the state cow to be milked to dryness.  Even worse is the fact that the country is in political turmoil, no thanks to Mr. Biya’s aversion to frank and inclusive dialogue.

Another pole of attraction is the success the opposition Union for Change brought to bear against Biya in the 1992 presidential election. If only personality conflicts can for once be swept under the carpet and the good of Cameroon projected, then there will certainly be room for ultimate victory.

These are issues that cannot be undermined by any wary Cameroonian. They certainly cast aspersions against the ruling oligarchy in the minds of potential voters. This is, also, where political maturity comes in. In the current circumstance wherein Anglophones worry who to be called villain and who to glorify between federalists and separatists, it is becoming increasingly difficult to adopt a common strategy. The illusion of an Ambazonian state seems to have infested the minds of Anglophones to the point where any contrary view is considered anathema. Those who have attained maturity in terms of voting eligibility have refused to register. How then do we hope to come up with an alternative to the Biya political onslaught? The situation is not different within Francophone population even as here, there is an issue of bloated egos of politicians rather than real dichotomy emergent from political choices.

If we are earnestly concerned with bequeathing a better Cameroon to our offspring, we must begin to think of our collective good and imbue in ourselves and communities with the spirit of sacrifice that will permit us to forgo some things today for the good of our children’s tomorrow. It is only with mind-sets cast in such a perspective that we can begin fathoming a better tomorrow, devoid of the current bloodletting and economic woes inflicted on us by a clique that believes in here and now, instead of planning for a better tomorrow. A group that has planted their children in strategic positions to perpetuate pauperisation in a country where there would have been enough for everyone’s need even though not for their greed is riding roughshod on us, the time is now to weed them off the political landscape. The time is now to register and vote.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

 

 

SOS (distress call) to armistice

We are currently in the throes of very off-putting moments in the history of Cameroon. This is because what started just over one year ago as benign recrimination against the Biya regime, relating to perceived marginalization and alienation of Anglophones by teachers and lawyers, has wittingly or unwittingly morphed into mutual savagery!

This criminal disregard for the sacrosanctity of human lives has begun reaching very dreadful proportions. To that extent, Cameroon has lost its allure of peaceful oasis in a Central African desert that has been perpetually at war with itself, ever since negotiations collapsed between Government and aggrieved Anglophones on account of surreptitious supplanting of leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium to Yaounde and their eventual incarceration for seven months, which circumstance forced some of them to flee into exile.

In their absence, therefore, the lack of effective and efficient coordination of the Anglophone vision for a more transparent and accountable governance that ensued has disposed inhabitants of the Southwest and Northwest Regions to reliance on a utopian elixir derivable from a yet to be established Ambazonia Republic.  This rather puerile attraction to propaganda spewed by exuberant Diaspora youths has, in any case, been fuelled by the regime’s espousal of the delusion that lousy proclamation of state authority and ruthlessness in quelling protests is what is needed in these trying times.  The lacklustre disposition of elected and appointed high-ranking Anglophones, who in any case, have been disavowed by their kinsfolk and, by that token, lost legitimacy to represent their interest, has not been helpful in charting a conciliatory course for the now incensed youths.

In the event, unwary observers could not have conjectured that we would find ourselves in circumstances akin to the early 1960’s in East Cameroon wherein traveling to certain areas of the country was analogous to executing a project with its sidekick of carrying on board design and feasibility studies right up to monitoring and evaluation. The horrors that used to adorn Bamileke and Bassa land are still with us. From the killing of gendarmes in the Northwest Region in the wake of the September 22 and October 1, 2017 clashes between soldiers and protesting youths during which many civilians are alleged to have been felled by live bullets, to the vengeful and gruesome murder of soldiers and policemen in Manyu Division, we have been witnessing a gradual descent into callousness, and  to that extent, implantation of a hate culture that must be halted at all cost and by all means, if we are to avoid the Rwandan experience of 1994. We, at least, have the advantage of hindsight that can be effortlessly gleaned from the Nigeria/Biafra experience and more recently Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Central African Republic.

Indeed, it is unfathomable that travelling to Mbonge Sub-Division and, eventually, Ndian Division has become nightmarish for a people known to be among, if not, the most hospitable Cameroonians. Penultimate Friday, it was the Chief of Ngongo-Bakundu, Ekebe Johannes who was lured by his own subjects out of a colleague’s funeral in Kwakwa, where he was officiating as coordinator, into a gruesome murder actualized by bullets being sprayed into his stomach at close range. Barely a week before that horrendous occurrence, a policeman had been decapitated with only skin holding his neck at a checkpoint in Kombone Bakundu.  As if such savagery and despicable decline into psychosis were not mindboggling enough, a soldier driving his family from Mundemba to Kumba was only two days following the murder of Ngongo Chief, pulled out of his car and rough-handled to death in the full glare of his wife and children, by irate youths said to be exhibiting retribution against the destruction and paranoia inflicted on their kinsfolk by marauding soldiers who had invaded their village in the immediate aftermath of the murder of a policeman.

Prior to this obtuse display of superior force and vengeance along the Mbonge/Kumba road, the battlefield had been Manyu Division. Apart from the gruesome murder of soldiers, retaliatory expeditions of the forces of law and order had also, wreaked despicable havoc on mostly innocent and harmless villagers, causing many of the able-bodied persons to flee into the bushes, leaving the dead without indulgence of even a token burial. The same overdrive reaction has been noticed along the Mbonge/Kumba road where no fewer than 10 houses have been burnt – some with the unfortunate repercussion of loss of lives of unwary inhabitants. One is forced to question the correlation between the action of irate youths and the incineration of the abodes of mostly innocent villagers.

Be that as it may, this is not the time to apportion blames. On the contrary, such deleterious circumstances as we are currently experiencing call for very profound introspection. We should search ourselves very, very deeply, and be asking if this were to be the pattern of governance we are anticipating as legacy for our unborn children, how would posterity evaluate us? With this character as guiding principle, we will definitely come to the realization that all what we are killing ourselves for amounts to emptiness. From the Head of State, Paul Biya to the local villager in his native Mvomeka or Erat in heart of Korup Rainforest in Ndian Division, all of us are sojourners on this earth and one day we shall die, and thereafter, be subjected to the inescapable ritual of account rendering to our creator, the Almighty God. If we would have only given some time to this incontrovertible essence of life, no matter the side of the dichotomous divide of Anglophones and regime goons we happen to find ourselves, we would certainly have come to grips with the necessity to tread softly and, invariably spare families the irritant represented in premature deaths.

We are Cameroonians for crying out loud! What has been the stumbling block in having recourse to our customary gathering under shade trees to discuss whatever palaver is affecting the commonwealth? It can, indeed be very ‘pleasurable’ to sit back and watch how the tragedy that has sprung from indiscretion of regime headship and blinkered youths has been wasting the lives of valiant Cameroonians- that is if your close relative has not been hit and killed by a bullet or the coarseness of summary execution by knife cuts. Oh yes, that is the level to which we have degenerated. Regime apologists are so encrusted in their quest to ingratiate themselves to their masters in Yaounde that they forget that some of their actions are not only detrimental to the collective security of the people they are supposed to protect as representatives of the state but more significantly, they run counter to the aspirations of citizens they owe the responsibility of ensuring prevalence of peace and tranquillity that are necessary ingredients for self-actualization.

We are certainly above the lunacy that seems to pervade the national territory. Whether from the aggrieved party or the Government, the killings are getting to a point where a ceasefire has become imperative. Let the powers that be, too, seek the face of God and realize that nobody wins a war against their own people. We are Cameroonians. That is a fact! On the flip side, we cannot side-track the quintessence of our existence because of the myopic view of potential new era to be ushered by some obscure force or organization, notwithstanding the zeal and correctness of our recriminations. As a parting note, too, let those promoting the idea that some inhabitants of this geopolitical expression are more Cameroonian than others rethink their current stance and wear a different mind-set that will conduce to a new Cameroon where peace with justice and progress with stability reign supreme.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

Revisiting Paris climate change summit

In the aftermath of Rio de Janerio, Brazil Earth Summit in 1992, concern for mother earth began assuming fever pitch as many countries prodded by conservationists, Community Based Organizations, CBOs, International Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs and the academia began sounding warnings of a possible nosedive into Armageddon, judging by the unguarded manner in which the world’s natural resources were being depleted.

From Rio to Kyoto, Durban and now Paris, fretfulness about the future of a world in which the winner seems to take all has been haunting many world leaders to the point of even assuming an apocalyptic allure, with some exhibiting genuine concern and others paying lip service.

However, what has come to be an incontrovertible verdict is that we are all condemned to a very rough deal if the issues inherent in climate change are not given the calibre of attention they rightly deserve. Do not mind the distraction emanating from some academia naysayers who are wont to ascribe paranoia to warnings of an impending retribution from mismanagement of the earth’s resources.

Be that as it may, the youthful French President Emmanuel Macron must be accorded the necessary accolades and support in his contemporary bid to ensure the world’s natural resources are managed in such a manner as to conduce to a global reduction in avoidable crises. His decision to convene and host the immediate past climate change summit in Paris is much acclaimed and puts him in the pantheon of visionary world leaders who ascribe much importance to what our generation is indebted to posterity. For, it is obvious that most crises in the world have been caused by divergence in perceptions of resource allocation mechanisms – be they nationally or internationally.

Even so, what seems to be raising a snag is the manner in which this newfound love for preserving nature’s endowment to humankind has been carried out. Nobody can gainsay the interconnectedness of a world that has today been reduced to a global village by technology. By this token therefore, our generation’s legacy to posterity has to reflect goodwill, as well as being the brainchild of all and sundry. There should be no big country and small country or developed and underdeveloped country.

On the contrary, the idea of developed and underdeveloped countries should be visible in the complementarity that ought to be inherent in steps geared at curbing the current insecurity relating to gas emissions the world over.  To him that more has been given, so too, would much be expected. What this easily translates into is that the developed nations of the world must be prepared to make the requisite sacrifices to usher into a healthier global environment with regards to ecological sanity. We cannot begrudge the advanced economies of the world for being where they are. However, if they have made commendable strides, it has been thanks to depletion of resources that would have been useful as buffers to the ozone layer.

In this regard, developing countries that by some twist of fate still have their natural resources, particularly, forests, intact must be accorded some compensatory mechanisms to cushion the adversity derivable from sacrifices that they must now make to ensure that the advanced countries do not reach the point where everybody would have been condemned to be permanently wearing gas masks.This must be the epicentre of further discussions in the realm of climate change.

The Amazon Basin, Congo Basin and parts of Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries must be seen as ecological hotspots that require global attention in terms of financial assistance in the implementation of programmes whose conceptualization ought to be the result of specialist inputs from all over the world. This way, the complementarity necessary for a world devoid of permanent fear of annihilation by poisonous gases would have been floated for good. When this would have been done, leaders of the world shall then be au fait with the essence of governing for posterity – nothing akin to the present here-and-now mentality that seems to drive many world leaders.

Whatever the trajectory from which it is perceived, climate change ought to be of utmost concern to all. While admitting that there might have been elements of exaggeration in the approach conservationists and other apostles of doomsday- being- around-the-corner have treaded this far, the fact that urbanization that is inherent in population growth and technological advancement materializes in more and more pressure being exerted on resources, impels world leaders to see the need to immerse themselves into the global quest for a more sane approach to managing the earth’s resources.

This can only be achieved through consensus and not the dispersed pattern that is currently en vogue, particularly, the posturing of the United States of America where ironically, consumerism is at its peak. America’s current big brother swagger that makes her feel she can bully her way through any situation in the world does not, certainly, augur well for a world in quest of stability- ecologically, economically or in the realm of politics.

As a cautionary dispensation, local measures too, have to be conceived as deterrents to unscrupulous granting of concessions to logging companies and agri-business corporations. Admitted that in our skies, the ground rules are charming at the level of the Ministries of Forestry and Wildlife, what obtains at field level leaves much to be desired.

The appalling complicity between administrators -sometimes including Government ministers and forestry officials is such that calls for immediate truce. Not only are the logging companies indulged in unorthodox methods that do not make for reforestation as felling ignores safety of other trees, more vexing is the fact that some of the harvested tress have been abandoned in the forests. Reforestation projects have been hardly respected while sizes of logs are left to the discretion of the logging companies.  Indeed, agri-business corporations are sometimes even accorded the luxury of logging in their concessions contrary to existing statutes.

In the Amazon basin, the internecine war between alienated natives and large-scale plantation promoters has meant that more and more forests have had to be erased. While clamouring for assistance from the developed world, we should sit back and think globally while acting locally. This way, the essence of Paris climate change summit would have had its intended impact and, the minds of the likes of French President Macron-arrowhead of a world devoid of ecological disasters would have been put to rest.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

POET’S DELIGHT Don’t just read, weigh each line and give it a weight. Oke Akombi

 

THE KINGDOM OF THE REPUBLIC

 

When a republic’s got a king for a ruler

and the ruler kills the forest for its leather

who’s the fool? The people or their leader?

The people – they don’t taste he’s king

they don’t smell he’s king

they don’t hear he’s king

they don’t feel he’s king

they don’t see he’s king.

Yet he’s their king in wishes, time and number

These people – they need a sixth sense to stop being fools.

Dialogue, war and inviolability of state authority

Mr. Biya has finally proclaimed what had all along been expected of him –he has, upon return from the European Union/African Union, EU/AU Summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, declared an unremitting war against those he has persistently characterized as terrorists operating under the aegis secessionist Cameroonians. This atavistic posturing, in any case, is the outgrowth of feigned concern for four soldiers who recently lost their lives in the vicinity of Agbokim Waterfall under Manyu Division.

Whether the lost lives had been represented in unarmed civilians or soldiers out to defend the national territory, the opprobrium raised by such conduct has remained untainted. Human lives are sacred and must not be toyed with for any reason whatsoever. In all fairness, nobody still in possession of mental balance would support such grisly termination of human lives.

However, while appreciating the fact that as President of the Republic it behooves him to come out strongly and decry such barbaric conduct, the prevailing circumstance in the country is such that induces every cautious observer to wonder if Paul Biya, is not shedding crocodile tears or selling after the market. This is so because opportunities to divest Cameroon of the ingredients that have been fueling disaffection between the state and Anglophones had been served to him on a platter of gold, but he opted to ignore same with provocative callousness. Moreso, the president had been too emotional in his approach to the issue. Coming from a journey that had required him, considering his age, to have a good rest before immersing himself into such demanding state assignment, the President’s outburst reflected a badly rehearsed drama-and a bad drama it has been.

Are those who write speeches for the President telling the world that he cannot, extemporaneously, comment on a simple national issue? Did he have to read such a short declaration from a prepared communiqué? By the way are wars declared from airports or terse announcements from addresses to the nation and unusual appearances on the floor of the National Assembly?

By the way, President Biya’s outpouring was immediately accompanied by a security meeting in Yaounde alleged to have had in attendance only militarysector Commanders and Gendarmerie Legion Commanders subsequent upon which the Minister of Defence, and Chair of the event, Beti Assomo purportedly proclaimed that the Head of State’s edict of all-out war will be implemented to the letter. No way, Mr. Minister! War is not an issue that ought to have attracted such boastfulness. Does the minister need to be reminded that without American and French support Boko Haram would have laid siege on Yaounde? Must he be told that there is danger looming from renegade soldiers of the Central African Republic in East and Adamawa Regions? Or is he unaware of the fact that no belligerent comes out of a war unscathed, be they victor or vanquished.

Mr. President, ignore any inclination to war. Come out of your bloated ego cocoon and initiate inclusive national dialogue, instead of your current grandstanding that reflects fatuousness unfathomable from the patriarch represented in your current age.

Moreover, what your declaration of war has inadvertently or advertently exposed to the world at large is the fact that some lives are more important than others. This is so on account of the roaring silence that accompanied the carnage perpetrated on peace-flower carrying protesters in Anglophone Cameroon on September 22 and October 1. In the aftermath of these insalubrious acts, the country had been treated to an immeasurable level of callousness emergent from the now customarily provocative outings of Communication Minister Isa Tchiroma Bakary, denying loss of lives during this near–pogrom. There is however, incontrovertible evidence that these sad occurrences had wasted the lives of no fewer than 100 valiant Anglophone youths. Indeed, the same spectacle was visited on the unsuspecting fringe of Cameroonians after soldiers were killed in Jakiri, Bafut and Nkwen in the Northwest Region. Tchiroma in his archetypal buffoonery had been highly unguarded in his declaration that Anglophone “secessionists” had been responsible for the killings.

Being ever so carried away by his penchant for errant twaddle, our all-knowing Communication Minister cum Government Spokesperson allowed himself to be marooned by a BBC journalist who was at a loss to appreciate his unthinking inclination to the conclusion that the killings in the Northwest had been perpetrated by Anglophone irredentists even before investigations had been carried out. This cavalier approach to serious matters of sovereignty raises the spectre of a dangerous nosedive into a precipice. Indeed, governance or statecraft has been reduced to comedy in Cameroon. The impression being floated is that given the shortcomings that usually attend advancement in age, our President has reached the frontiers of mental menopause; by this token, some war mongers have taken control of the country, if only to continue to benefit from extra-budgetary security allocations to line their pockets.

This is why in the current circumstance wherein the President is being told only what he would like to hear, anything goes. Nobody is inclined to tell him that majority of Anglophones are not in support of the killings and incendiary crimes that have gained currency in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The disdain for such barbaric deeds is not limited to civilian deaths but extends to all other Cameroonians who in one way or the other have fallen victims to the vagaries of Government intransigence to dialogue with aggrieved Anglophones. Nobody as well, has been honest enough to tell him that in normal circumstances, all Anglophone children of school ages would have been in classrooms unlike what currently obtains, particularly, in rural settings.

On the contrary, Philemon Yang, Prime Minister and Head of Government had been so insensitive to the plight of Anglophones to the point of telling his kith and kin of the Northwest Region that President Paul Biya has his already laid out agenda and so cannot be stampeded into visiting the Anglophone Regions, even if this were to be the most rudimentary move expected of him as father of the nation in furtherance of appeasement to an aggrieved portion of the Cameroon commonwealth.

By the way, is it not shameful that armed security goons have been constantly exposed to premature deaths in the hands of seemingly unarmed “terrorists?” Is this not an indication that such victims are outcomes of a moribund command that has occasioned loss of loyalty?  The temptation to ask these questions is very high and underlined by the much bandied conspiracy theory that ascribes unscrupulousness to our military commands and civilian administrators who would stop at nothing to ensure ceaseless flow of state budget into schemes to combat imaginary danger.

The Secretary of State for Defence in charge of the National Gendarmerie is on record to have mooted that no fewer than 360 million will be needed as emergency funds to counter “terrorism” perpetrated by “secessionists.” This is certainly extraneous of what would have been put at the disposal of Governors, and by extension, Senior Divisional Officers and Sub Divisional Officers for the same purpose.

Imagine the number of water points and boreholes or health centres and rural electrification projects that have been sidelined because money has been directed to a pointless cause? This is really shameful and parodies a country that ventilates schemes for emergence by the year 2035. We should concentrate on making Cameroon the Eldorado it ought to have been 57 years after independence.This cannot be possible under circumstances of criminal disregard for humanity, in terms of wellbeing, through livelihood improvement and ensuring security of lives. It cannot also, be possible in a country held hostage by warmongers!

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

 

Adjusting to the Anglophone crisis realities

The protracted Anglophone crisis has taken its toll on high-profile personalities in ministries and other state institutions in the country’s political capital as far as bilingualism goes. Most Ministers, Directors, and other high-ranking state functionaries now devise various strategies to adapt to the trending dispensation. They are ready to make utterances in English language, but not without serious preparation.

If one must conduct an interview with any of them, the one is beseeched to first submit a questionnaire to their secretariat at least 24 hours before the appointed time to be translated and mastered. This explains why hitherto uncommon phrases such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ ‘distinguished guests’ ‘long live the president of the republic’ ‘Long live Cameroon’ etc, now punctuate official speeches.

The other day, this reporter decided to seek the opinion of an ICT expert, a Director in the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. My French speaking colleague had just finished interviewing this official and I was about doing same in English.

Guess what? The Director held my hand firmly, manipulated the recorder’s stop button, pleading that he wasn’t ready to grant an interview in English just yet. All attempts to persuade this official that I imperatively needed the interview without which I could not compile my reports met with a brick wall. Interview postponed, I went home that day, still puzzled, and unable to figure out why he was unable even to utter a word or two in English, and what magic he was going to employ overnight to be able to smatter off in some rare English.

I was in his office the next day to conduct the interview. And to my greatest consternation, he told me to pose my questions, as he sat bossily on a sumptuous office sofa, with shining eye-glasses blinking through the screen of a laptop. It was at this point that it dawned on me that his insistence for interview for that day was for him to instruct his collaborators to translate the answer of the question which he had turned down the previous day, into English. Whether by chance or by design, after his ‘’excellent answer’’ to the ‘’premeditated answer’’, I pressed on with a series of other questions, which needed some reflection before any response. At this point, my interlocutor started fumbling in an attempt to have an appropriate word in English, sweating as he could not make a phrase or sentence in English. Unable to bear the brunt of this inadvertent embarrassment, the Director declared that he had given me enough answers, and that I should stop asking him ‘’boggling questions.’’

This incident mirrors the disquietude witnessed in most public offices these days in Cameroon, in the desperate attempt to overcome the new dispensation; that of ‘’being a bilingual Cameroonian,’’ “a one and indivisible Cameroon,’’ that of ‘’being an Anglophone – je suis Anglophone, j’ai les enfants Anglophones,’’ and above all, that of ‘’proving my bilingual administrative ability to my bosses.’’

All of which is occasioned by the ongoing Anglophone crisis that has been a bête noire to the present administration for slightly over one year now. One might be tempted to ask: is this feeble effort by our Francophone brethren to speak English against their consciences, egos and capability, really what the ‘’separatists,’’ ‘’federalists’’, ‘’secessionists’’, “terrorists’’ as Anglophone advocates are often derogatorily tagged want? Is it only today that they can understand the necessity to be bilingual, when the calling of being bilingual was enshrined in the federal constitution since 1961?

If anyone feels today that the much talked about Anglophone problem or crisis is all about bilingualism, then they all got it wrong. They should be informed that “bilingualism” in itself is just one out of a number of justifiable and legitimate demands/grievances that Anglophones are clamouring for. That the Anglophone problem or crisis is a socio-political issue rooted in Cameroon’s colonial legacies from the Germans, the British and the French. That Anglophone nationalism is the result of state policies of the francophone-dominated Government in post-colonial Cameroon, and persistent stratagem to limit discourse on Anglophone nationalism by post-colonial administration.  And that Anglophone resentment today is about resources and representations and not necessarily about Francophones speaking English.

I once engaged in an exchange with a francophone taxi driver. He vowed to me, including other passengers in the taxi that Anglophones are fighting a lost battle/war because most Francophones tend to bring up their children in the Anglo-Saxon education, and that in the nearest future, Cameroon will entirely belong to Francophones. This pushed me to start finding out the true meaning of the word “Anglophone” especially in the Cameroonian context.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines an Anglophone as ‘…consisting of or belonging to an English-speaking population especially in a country where two or more languages are spoken.’ Collins Dictionary further adds that ‘Anglophone communities are English-speaking communities in areas where more than one language is commonly spoken,’ citing the example of Anglophone Canada and Anglophone Africa. It adds that ‘Anglophones are people whose native language is English, or who speak English because they live in a country where English is one of the official languages.’

The same school of thought defines Francophones as using French as a lingua franca-or someone who speaks French as their first language

In the light of the above definitions, isn’t it proper to question whether the strategy by our francophone brethren to “indoctrinate” their children with Anglo-Saxon education is out of “Anglomania” – an exaggerated liking for an imitation of English customs, manners, institutions, et al, thereby rendering them anglophiles rather than Anglophones in the strict sense, or on the contrary, if their inclination to Anglo-Saxon education is out of Anglophobia (hatred or fear of England or its people, culture, customs and influence)?, and consequently, the hidden agenda to cheat Anglophones of their dues?

However complex the jigsaw puzzle may be, what is clear historically and culturally speaking, is the fact that British Southern Cameroons still constitutes an “Anglosphere” – a group of English-speaking countries that share common roots in British culture and history, usually the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In the same breath, La Republique should constitute the “Francophere” – permit me use that neologism.

In Cameroon, some define ‘Anglophone’ as an English-speaking person while others define it as “a person who speaks English.” Can anyone bring out the nuance between the two?

Conversely, in Canada, ‘Anglophone’ is commonly used in areas where French is spoken, to refer to English-speaking populations. Likewise, ‘francophone’ is used in English-speaking area to refer to the French-speaking population. Thus, you won’t commonly hear an English-speaker referred to as an Anglophone in parts of Canada where there isn’t a significant French-speaking population. Meaning, therefore that the word “Anglophone” is not interchangeable with the word “English-speaker” in Canada unlike what obtains in Cameroon. Furthermore, in Quebec, (the main French-speaking area of Canada), a person whose mother tongue is something other than English or French is called an “allophone.”

Conclusively, the term ‘Anglophone’ implies a certain culture; probably because an Anglophone country is one whose primary language is English- and which outside the British Isles, usually means one originally colonized by English when she was an imperial power. Anglophones are therefore representatives of whole linguistic communities.

Back to our context, no matter how we might pretend to be either a francophone or and Anglophone, the natural intonation will always be there to disprove our hypocrisy. For, inasmuch as most Francophones will continue to murder the Queen’s language by saying for instance “revandicate your right” instead of “claim your right,” Anglophones for their part will continue in their own way to murder Moliere’s language by saying for instance ‘’tum’avoir?’’ instead of ‘’tum’a vu?’’, even as national languages have their own axes to grind with these Western languages. For, it is very easy to identify a typical “Eton”, “Beti” speaking the French language saying for instance ‘’cravailler’’ instead of “travailler” the same way a typical “Mankon” or “Bakwerian” would pronounce English words with intonations influenced by their dialects.

This write-up is not in anyway intended to incite Anglophobia or Francophobia. Rather, it is an objective demarcation in the interchangeability between an Anglophone and an English-speaker in the midst of the ongoing Anglophone crisis. In fact, it is out to send the message that the concept ‘Anglophone’ implies fluency and not merely survival-level language ability incarnated by most Francophones today. And that falsely adopting the Anglophone posture today merely by appellation and not through their plight cannot help much in the present context. Urgent and deep rooted grievances warrant urgent responses.

By Nalova Akua Mambeh

Lessons from Addis Ababa

What had begun like an innocuous incursion into the sphere of community support sometime in 2010 has since metamorphosed into full time advocacy against spiteful land grabbing and unscrupulous Government concessions to large- scale plantation promoters and lugging companies. In this regard, from being an ordinary participant in a workshop relating to the quest for free, prior and informed consent of communities faced with agri-business promoters and lugging companies, last March, I have found myself being part of a select team designated to meet the Chinese ambassador to Cameroon to make known our discomfiture regarding the exploitative and sharp practices that have become trendy among his compatriots. From this pedestal, I have automatically become an influential member of the Network of Traditional Rulers for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Cameroon, under whose auspices I have also, been accorded the rare privilege of traveling to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as one of the participants to the African Conference on Land policy that held from November 14- 17, 2017.

The thrust of the conference is, The Africa we want: ‘Achieving socioeconomic transformations through inclusive and equitable access to land by the youths,’ with high premium on creating avenues for youths and women to access land for development. This perception of the conference organizers is premised on the realization that most African governments do not have well thought-out and implemented policies that specifically take on board the interest of women and youths. This, to them, is calamitous, given that farming that is mostly on a subsistence scale in most countries is driven by this category of persons who form no less than 80 percent of the work force needed to sustain Africa’s teeming population. As therapy, the African Land Policy Initiative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA that has now been transformed into the African Land Policy Centre, organizers of the Conference, had thought it wise to bring together no fewer than 500 persons to brainstorm and by extension, exchange notes and learn from variegated experiences through engagement of the academia, civil society, Governments represented at very high levels and, of course, traditional rulers on whom land is supposed to have been vested by tradition, prior to the advent of colonialism .

Even so, the journey to Addis Ababa had not raised any particular expectation given that, Ethiopia had to my hazy imagination, been engaged in drawn- out civil war against Eritrea, its current western neighbor – the longest in Africa barring that between North and South Sudan. Images of the drought that had caused the whole world to be submerged in sympathy with victims consequent upon millions of deaths and had also, given rise to Bob Geldorf’s groundbreaking initiative to raise money through the famous ‘We are the World’ star-studded musical recording resonated in my sub consciousness.

However, this was not to be the case as the classy Addis Ababa International Airport that has nothing to envy from many European Airports dispelled any misgivings that I might have had about the development strides that have been in motion in the country of Ras Tafari Makonen (aka) Emperor Haile Selasie. From the more than 50 airplanes, mostly carriers with capacity of at least 200 passengers that adorned the hangers, to the meticulously constructed infrastructure and mouthwatering services offered by efficient ground staff, Addis Ababa is owe inspiring right from the airport.

Eilily International Hotel where most of the 50 and counting Traditional Rulers were lodged is barely fifteen minutes from the airport. From its aesthetic configuration to the services provided, our overvalued Yaounde Hilton- the only five-star hotel Cameroon boasts of would in all honesty be relegated to backwater. Granted that Addis Ababa is a 10 million inhabitant city in a 100 million inhabitant country, there is still need for the splendour of the city and its infrastructure, particularly, roads to be fore grounded. The sizes and cleanliness of the streets float the impression that work on them had been carried out by extra –terrestrial beings. Juxtaposed with the UNECA Conference Centre which in itself is a modern architecture marvel and other must-see sights like the palace of the legendary Emperor Haile Selasie, in the heart of the city,  the awesomeness of the city takes a different allure to be likened only to some well constructed and planned European cities.

As for take-away from the conference proper, trading ideas with traditional leaders from other parts of Africa left one with the regrettable realization that Francophone sub Saharan Africa and Cameroon in particular, have the least attractive conditions to fulfill the vision of ‘the Africa we want’ in terms of access to land by youths and women. The example from Ghana was shortlisted and eventually proposed as the ideal that other countries must strive to emulate even as its government has been enjoined to scale up existing progress. The commendable example from Ghana materialized in 78 percent of all land being vested in traditional and community custody. This way, Government can only come in to request for land when the need arises, while income accruing from land transactions are shared into three parts- one to the local stool (the chieftaincy institution) part to government and another to the community. This way investors deal directly with local communities instead of the government. Can we contrast this with the land grabbing perpetrated by unscrupulous administrators and complicit chiefs in Cameroon?

Of much interest too, is the fact that Ethiopia is a federation, floating a pronounced devolution of power from the centre to the periphery. While paying allegiance to the Prime Minister in Addis Ababa, the Regional Governors have ample discretional powers that permit them to envision and implement development agendas that require no vetting from the central administration. Patriotism has been elevated to a pedestal where even the pauperized fringe still sees hope in a better tomorrow. The citizens have faith in their country and this must be the result of credible governance emergent from transparency and accountability despite military incursions on two to three occasions to infuse greater stringency in managing the commonwealth by some erring leaders. Unfortunately, in our skies, federation has been disrobed of its glittering qualities and ascribed anathema status by the current regime.

Whether we like it or not, the world is on the move. We will either have to join them as a response to inevitability of change or be constrained to experience the Zimbabwean or Burkinabe patterns and kowtow to prevailing trends.

By the way, could someone remind Aeroports du Cameroun, ADC that the Douala International Airport is an eyesore and greatly needs attention in terms of clearing surroundings of the tar mark and providing air conditioning!

By Chief Ekue John Epimba