May 20 is Cameroon’s National Day. The day was begotten of a 1972 referendum. Then, the nation’s identity changed from ‘Federal Republic of Cameroon’ to ‘United Republic of Cameroon.’ Controversially, on February 4, 1984, “United” was abruptly peeled from the name. It was seen by most people of English speaking expression as a socio-cultural yarn and political short circuit.
Many felt that having stripped the corporate entity of its “United” garment, it was but logical and prudent to bury May 20, whose symbolism had contentiously fallen on all fours and rather adopt a legalistic, nay, realistic National Day acceptable to all and sundry. Like it or not, this political stunt, considered by most English speaking Cameroonians to have been surreptitiously executed was bad news hiding in the shadows, biding its time, waiting and watching. The bubble had to burst at one point or the other.
For decades, sweet smooth propaganda, propped by a political balancing act ensured that the boat wasn’t rocked. Today, however, lullabies and pacifiers don’t seem to be a la mode in governance any longer. Teeming masses across the board, but especially of English speaking expression are saying that for far too long, those purporting to govern Cameroon have all along been preying on the flock rather than feeding the flock as it were. This is reflected in the current gruesome war in the Northwest and Southwest Regions and the incarceration of Professor Maurice Kamto and others in the Kondengui maximum security prison.
Lest we forget, the dumb resort to shooting with the intent of instantly killing every little ‘uprising’ was a dastardly act that ought not to have been even contemplated. The dictates of common sense and prudence have proven in most circumstance that dialoguing with a view to solving problems is far easier, less costly, and less primitive than screaming at and shelling each other. Though they be guarded and protected by sharpshooters, those who have the power to declare war still end up living like rat moles, sleeping with one eye closed and having bigger nightmares than the wretched of the earth that often constitute the cannon fodder and collateral damage especially in avoidable situations.
The de jure National Day, aka May 20, is once more around the corner. As often, millions of man hours are being frittered preparing to celebrate the Day in question. The security situation in the country is spiraling down, with billions being poured into shooting at each other, into killing, building enmity and suffering as opposed to talking and laughing as one people with a common destiny. While the ordinary Cameroonian, especially of English speaking expression is pining away, scurrying like squirrels in the bushes and losing any hope of living, big money and ideas are thrown into a security contraption. The regular army is drawing Cameroonian blood, burning, looting and extorting. Separatist militias are maiming, kidnapping for ransom, burning and generally terrorizing. The common man is crumbling under the cruel weight of these two monstrous forces, with each one of them purporting to be out to “protect the people.”
Elsewhere, both solicited and unsolicited do-gooders are pouring more volatile fuel on the inferno. A Regional governor is pompously ordering traditional chiefs, some of who rank higher than him on the administrative ladder to march with placards on May 20 or be dethroned with ignominy. He actually ordered a mayor to commit public funds to this folly of a project.
On the other hand, there has been a “serve you right” conspiratorial silence on the destruction, especially of the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC. This agro-industrial giant has more or less, been allowed to crumble, the plaintive cry and entreaties from its management notwithstanding. Its over 20,000 workers are marooned, some of them with amputated limbs to show for a war that they did not declare. The gun and the bullet, threats and tough talk from members of the ruling cabal continue to rule the roost. Take note that elsewhere in Edea, media reports of government’s chivalrous acts of hastening to pour billions of tax money to cushion the effects of a reckless train accident makes headline news in state controlled media.
One would have imagined that with the aura surrounding products of ENAM, most of who sit atop the civil service, “Yaounde would not just be breathing for the rest of Cameroon to live.” Under their super watch, the civil service should have been a viable institution of policy formulation and effective implementation. That they would work assiduously to bring back the CDC from the brink of the precipice, boost the hope and productivity of the workers of this corporation and PAMOL instead of constituting a cacophony of cheerleaders to sing the nation’s leader to slumber.
While feasting and showing off fire power on May 20, it would also be prudent for those in charge to pause and ponder; to ask themselves if they have truly fulfilled the fundamental responsibility of governance, which is to protect the life and property of the citizen. Does this government place any more than convenient premium on human life and property? If so, what has it done concretely, to protect the CDC from the madness of separatist militias? What has it done by way of silencing the guns and effectively inviting everyone else to the round table of dialogue?