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French Hegemony over Africa – The Case of African Nations’ Cup 2019. By Lambert Mbom.

There is an unmistakable “Africanness” with the French Soccer team and Trevor Noah, the South African comedian loudly proclaimed this after the French team won the 2018 World Cup. After France conquered parts of Africa since the Scramble for Africa in 1884, they have never left Africa. With the dawn of independence in the 1960’s, they moved to the background and simply propped up dictators to do their bidding.

There is no France without Africa. France continues to maintain a stranglehold over her former colonies politically and economically. There is an increasing backlash over the French imperialistic and anachronistic colonial pact that continues to impoverish 14 African countries. One other area the French have maintained this hegemony over Africa is in soccer. Africans love soccer and it is the most famous sports on the continent. It is a useful distraction.

The 32nd edition of the African Nations’ Cup is currently taking place in Egypt, the land of the Pharaohs and a distinctively African nation. Yet the soccer bonanza carries an unvarnished French flavor in particular and a European accent in general.

The main sponsor of the event is the French Oil and gas magnate, Total. This company is present in 42 countries in Africa, 21 of which are taking part in the 2019 African Nations’ Cup.  No wonder they are the main sponsors of the event.

Anyone who doubts the nefarious influence of France and its French companies, it suffices to listen to the Former Senegalese Minister of energy, Thierno Allasane Sall who resigned in protest over an oil deal with Total. In an interview he gave last January he remarked that:

“France is pressuring Senegal to obtain oil and gas exploitation. I cannot sign a document where the French company Total which was in 5th position to acquire the market according to the experts, suddenly becomes number 1 after pressure on President Macky Sall. What happens there is happening everywhere in Africa. ”

He described the French machinations as coup plotters and nation destabilizers when they don’t get their way. Thierno affirmed that “France is ready to wage war on you, a coup d’etat, or to raise a whole rebellion to impose a contract. They impose their deal and if you do not want you clear.” Oil has rightly been described as the resource curse of Africa.

Then we have the French Multinational telecommunications network: Orange also sponsoring the event. This giant is present across 20 countries of Africa 11 of which are currently taking part in the soccer jamboree. How about the South African behemoth, MTN with the largest number of mobile phone users in Africa?

Beyond sponsorship, we also find French domination with the technical staff of the different teams. Seven of the 24 coaches managing African teams at this competition are white French citizens namely Sebastien Desabre (Uganda), Nicholas Dupuis (Madagascar), Sebastien Magne (Kenya), Corentin Martins (Mauritania), Alain Giresse (Tunisia), Herve Renard (Morocco), Michel Dussuyer (Benin).

Five other teams are managed by Europeans German Gernot Rohr (Nigeria), Belgian Paul Put (Guinea), Serbian Srdjan Vasiljevic(Angola), Englishman Stuart Baxter (South Africa) and Dutchman Clarence Seedorf (Cameroon) and one by Mexican Javier Aguirre (Egypt).

We have 11 African coaches with Nigerian Emmanuel Amuneke the only one coaching a country other than his.

France has always been a favorite destination for African soccer players. According to Karim Farouk of Ahram Online,  “France is a second home for African players…Out of the 552 players who will feature in the tournament, 95 are playing in France — mostly in Ligue 1 and other lower divisions.”

Vestiges of European colonial domination loom large with the outfits of the different teams. The German giant PUMA has the highest number of contracts. It is supplier to Egypt, Senegal, Angola, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana. Meanwhile, the other German competitor Adidas has Algeria and Morocco.

The British outfit Umbro supplies Zimbabwe and the Irish O’Neills is supplying to the DRC while Italian Kappa is responsible for Tunisia and Macron, the other Italian Sportswear company is responsible for Guinea and Kenya. The French brand Airness is responsible for Mali while Le Coq Sportif is responsible for Cameroon’s outfits.

The non-European companies supplying are the American superstar Nike which is serving Nigeria, Burundi and South Africa whereas the Australian Gazman is supplying Madagascar.

The lone African company on this dais is Moroccan AB Sport availed of by Mauritania. Africans must learn to consume African products especially with the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Last February, the African Development Bank launched the Pan African Fashion Initiative to promote African textiles and garments. During the launch, Ethiopian President noted that “Globally, Africa’s cultural colours and clothing are increasingly being embraced.”

The biennial soccer event provides a great and unique opportunity for African countries especially the textile giants Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, South African and Tunisia to showcase their worth. If nothing else at least they should be able to take advantage during competitions like these to make the textile industry bloom.

Unless African nations shrug off their sentimental attachment to France, she will remain to paraphrase Shakespeare “Like flies to wanton boys are…They kill us for their sport.” Wake up Africa.

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Five Endearing Lessons from the Egyptian Revolution Indispensable to a Cameroonian styled liberation – Part II by Lambert Mbom.

The botched April 6, 1984 coup provides an essential key to unlock the mystery of a revolution in Cameroon. Cell phones were inexistent then in Cameroon. Even the common TV was a luxury very few could afford. Communication was mainly by radio and landlines (also a rare commodity).

Were any of those brutally executed 1984 coup plotters to rise up today, they would be shocked back into their graves by the sheer range of communications revolution that has occurred.

Let us return to the Egyptian paradigm. Many have pointed to the social media as a central piece of the revolution. Others have been quick to point out too that, these were tools put into effective use by change-hungry activists in Egypt. Facebook served as an enabling environment where months of planning on the virtual space empowered effective coordination necessary to transform national rage to national outrage, provide impetus and serve as a critical synergy point for strategy.

Even before Egypt, American politics was revolutionized by the 2008 Obama campaign with an aggressive online presence which translated into dollar amounts and votes – two crucial ingredients for the much trumpeted change.

Yet before we romanticize about the social media tools, one must repeat that Cameroon is not Egypt and in many ways Cameroonian exceptionalism is worth stressing even if ad nauseam. Egypt is quite a digitalized country with an impressive access to internet and the phone. Comparatively, Cameroon is still waking up to this reality. I was quite ecstatic, when a relation of mine, who is an attorney, sent me an email informing me that he was now “wired” as he was writing to me from the privacy of his living room, in Bambui – a village in the outskirts of Bamenda, the provincial capital of the North West.

There is no doubt that internet usage is popular in Cameroon in urban areas. One cannot fail to note that for a while now, young people have been very creative in their use of the internet, either to dupe unsuspecting westerners or amorous adventures: web dating. Some have found husbands and wives online.

The time has come for these personal gains to be transcended and translated into a national or if you prefer collective bonus.

One great communication asset is the cell phone. It is almost criminal, one could say, for anyone not to have a cell phone in Cameroon. If 60% of Cameroon’s population is youthful, what a bonus given the popularity of communication tools among this age bracket.

Having learnt the lessons from Egypt, any revolutionaries in Cameroon must be prepared to circumvent government’s Machiavellian style shut down of internet and cell phone communication in the event of an uprising.

Christophe Dongmo, in an article on The Army Wing of April 6, 1984 revealed that “The reason that was widely circulated to justify the failure of the coup in the public mindset was the failure of strategic telecommunications. In the early times of the coup, Major Benai Mpecke of the loyalist forces took control of the Mount Mbankolo radio transmission office. Though rebels managed to enter and seized the central office of Radio Cameroon and held its personnel hostage, their victory message to the nation did not go through the waves because a technician willingly disconnected transmission cables at the Soa highwaves station. As a result, the message was heard only in Yaounde. One wonders whether the outcome of the coup would have been different should the alleged message have gone through.”

One cannot fail to recognize that the recent move by the government of Cameroon to shut off twitter is a clear indicator of the challenges an Egyptian typed communication would face especially if you factor in the electricity quagmire with frequent power cuts the order of business. There is need for a social media formula for the Cameroonian equation.

The failure by social media enthusiasts to gain traction for their “Biya must go” campaign failed because of proper planning.

Planning: It must never be forgotten that the Egyptian revolution did not start in January but rather exploded it. January 2011 was rather a watershed moment.

One would agree that two extremes to be eschewed are represented in the sayings: Failing to plan is planning to fail and only fools rush where angels fear to tread; while one must with the same breath admit that it is by doing and daring that the Romans built Rome and not the cowardice some call caution. Many of us have become prophets after the event.

Wanting to ride on the coattails of the revolutions galore much in vogue is a smart move; yet one must figure the who, what, how to name but these. It is critical that with such a venture, the goal be clarified. In line with a celebrated saying, one must first of all determine where one is going to and then one will better determine the means.

One thing that is striking about the Egyptian Facebook experiment is that the administrators for this page were anonymous: Admin 1 & Admin 2. Even though largely to protect their identities, clearly in display was the selflessness of veritable leadership.

Some analysts have hinted that though not peculiar to the Cameroonian population, leadership or the want of it is the quintessential curse of many an African group. A primary issue worth pointing to is the mushrooming of different facebook for a similar cause. This in itself is not a bad idea given that if one is shut down then the others can continue. Yet this can only be so, if there is a proper coordination between the different fora which was clearly not the case. Unhealthy competition with each fighting to be in charge seems to have been an underlying craving.

Many more rulers than leaders suddenly emerge and given that many of us have not learnt to disagree without being disagreeable, schisms quickly emerge. It is either my way or the highway; Questions like who are you, what is your lineage? From which tribe are? What is your academic qualification? How much do you earn? Lie buried in our subconscious and play tricks with us or we consciously play them out and before we know it, such a salutary initiative dies even before it takes off.

One must admit that there are lots of challenges relative to the Cameroonian experiment. One which became annoyingly evident is that those at home look at those abroad with a lot of skepticism and I dare say envy. While those in the diaspora look at those back home at best condescendingly. Without the boots on the ground the project is sure to collapse. This applies also to the technological wherewithal and money from abroad. When we get these two to the drawing board, then the plan begins.

No one can deny that the failure of the April 6 coup hinged to a very large extent not on lack of planning but rather on poor planning. If history is anything to go by, then one has to look back at why other similar revolutions in Cameroon have failed. In the planning process, it becomes critical to seek answers to the questions: why did the April 6 coup fail? Why did the 1991 civil disobedience take off with so much steam and yet end in a fiasco? Or if you care, why has the vibrant SDF experiment lost its steam? One may want to borrow a leaf from the SCNC’s failed attempt to wean southern Cameroons from La Republique. Even just by limiting one’s self to the 2008 strikes, there would be enough to guide one to chart the course for a better action.

Or conversely, it is incumbent to “study” successful political ventures such as the bid for the GCE Board.
The value of such studies lies in the fact that it opens up vistas into the political maturity, peculiarities of the environment and affords one a rare insight into the political topography one needs to deal with. This is crucial in the development of a worthwhile strategy.

The point here is that any mindless attempt to replicate successful operations such as the Egyptian will not cut it. Political acculturation/inculturation is not only necessary but indispensable.

We must acknowledge that we are dealing with a very sophisticated opponent and need a lot of tact. Clearly, it is this failure to plan adequately that led to the lackluster performance last February. We can and must do better.

Daredevil Spirit:The spirit of commitment, courage and bravado led the Egyptians to success. The 30-year-old Ghonim, had a good job and a very promising future with two kids and a wife. He staked all these and was prepared to die to ensure the realization of the project. This spirit of sacrifice that has risen beyond personal ambitions and placed at the service of the common good is crucial. It is not enough to be disenchanted and enraged; unless this is translated into a sworn willingness to change the status quo which willingness is imbued with that sacrificial fervor it withers off as a pie in the sky. Given the recent outcome of the failed protests, it would be presumptuous to believe that Cameroonians truly want change. Cameroonians want change only if some other persons champion it or deliver it to them on a golden plate. It begs the question of whether Cameroonians are cowards or peace mongers.
Post Script:
On April 6, 1984, I was in primary school and hardly understood the meaning and the implications of this coup d’état. This coup changed the geopolitics of Cameroon in several ways. It is an unpardonable oversight to sweep this key event under the rug and fail to learn the lessons for future endeavors. Historical precedents serve as an entry point worth pondering. We cannot continue doing the same thing and expect different results.

The spirit of the Egyptian military in spite of its many drawbacks is one worth praising. The violence of the overzealous Egyptian police whose impunity and arrogance provided the impetus for the revolution was countered by a tempered Egyptian army which restrained itself even in the face of such provocation. This is a lesson for African armies.

The military in Cameroon are in the pockets of the commander-in-chief. This is why in spite of the general outcry by Cameroonians, they are comfortable. That a coup has not taken place in Cameroon is not the function of a disciplined military but rather because they are well catered for, you cannot bite the finger that feeds you.

The problems plaguing the military in Cameroon epitomize the Cameroonian pathology defined by indiscipline, celebrated tribalism, alcoholism and sycophancy. The Egyptian army for good reason broke its oath and instead of protecting one man against a nation, stood for the protection of national institutions and let the events run their course.

The daredevil spirit of the Egyptian revolutionaries was complemented by that of the Egyptian military. A Tiananmen Square-like bloodbath was averted thanks to the restraint of the military. The common good was protected against the whimsical and self-aggrandizing agenda of a despot. The Cameroonian military is not made up of some foreigners but our siblings.

Five Endearing Lessons from the Egyptian Revolution Indispensable to a Cameroonian styled liberation – Part 1. By Lambert Mbom

Cameroon is not Egypt in so many ways. One of these ways is evident in the history of Egypt vs. Cameroon soccer debacle which shows a dominance of the pharaohs over the now “domitable” lions. In 2006, the pharaohs of Egypt prevented the lions of Cameroon from clinching a berth at the World Cup. Then in 2008 they beat Cameroon at the African Nations’ Cup finals; a feat they repeated in 2010. The Lions must now ride on the shoulders of the Pharaohs.

Egypt’s recent classical epic in political change provides lessons that political pundits will be busy with for a long time. One could point to five pillars from Egypt’s newly constructed political pyramid, which one could loosely recommend as a recipe for any meaningful political change such as the momentous one that unfolded before our eyes. Propitious timing, Youthful exuberance, social media tools, planning and the daredevil cum resilient spirit are the hinges around which the revolution rotated.

Opportune Moment:
My supervisors have often asked me whether it is better just to get the work done or to get the work done on time. The concept of selling after the market, which translates, to coming to the market when it is closed, captures the point.

The ingredients for the Egyptian uprising include a crippling unemployment rate especially among the youth and a suffocating economy with a few rich growing richer and the majority of the poor scavenging and scouring for their daily bread. As someone once remarked, Egyptians no longer prayed for their daily bread but in fact prayed: Give us today. Bread became a luxury.

Political frustration loomed large with a brutal dictatorship that for 360 months repressed Egyptians to depressive levels. With no plans afoot to effect meaningful change and the stage rather being set for a Mubarakian dynasty with the son as heir to the throne, the time had come for Egyptians to take back their lives. These souped up the necessity for change. Egyptians had been stretched to breaking point.

In a recent interview with Cameroonian Presidential wannabe, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, he talked about the “tipping point” noting that many African countries often miss to take advantage of the tipping point.

Egypt had undoubtedly reached its tipping point. Egyptians had come to the point when they simply said enough is enough. It is the point that stokes love of change to levels of paroxysm. Their anger had morphed into rage. The engine had been gathering steam and like the space shuttle, countdown was already in session. The Tunisian revolt provided the example and requisite catalyst.

It is significantly revealing that Muslims with such huge doses of stoicism broke out of their cocoons and are making history with the revolutionary fervor.

Cameroon missed its opportunity in 1992 with the power to the people wave; again in 2008 with those strikes. Cameroon it would seem has another opportunity in 2011. Calls for “Biya must go” made the rounds online and failed to be translated into reality on the grounds. There are many reasons for this but one that I find compelling is in the following analysis a fellow alumnus made on one of our online fora:

Our families and friends back home are suffering but they are not yet desperate. They want political change but they can still eat, chase skirts at random, consume beer, whiskey, champagne and worst of all…Western Union and Moneygram transactions are helping to ease life back home. We all know that desperate situations call for desperate actions and to me, there is suffering in Cameroon but the people are not yet desperate because there are still too many distractions. If you take away some of those things that make them forget the “temporary” suffering, believe me they will react differently. In Cameroon it is all about instant gratification and people do NOT even want to think about the concrete stuff which will engender and perpetuate a better society.

Cameroon might share with Egypt hegemonic dictatorship of a ruthless despot 28 years and counting but with those bars, “circuits” still in business and thriving, change remains a pie in the sky. Anger, frustration and desperation have not reached boiling pots and the desired deluge is delusional at best.

Or could it rather be that Cameroonians are just simply peace mongers? I find it very hard to make this claim and would rather contend that we are bunch of cowards and toothless bull dogs ranting under our pillows and talking to ourselves.

Riding on the tidal waves of the Egyptian blitzkrieg is mandatory if meaningful change in Cameroon to cease being a dream Cameroonians only pay lip service to. The wind of change blowing from the North should not pass us by.

Should Cameroonians wait until elections when the seeds will be ripe or do we strike now with the raging tidal wave is a dilemma we need to consult the national witchdoctor to unravel. Cameroonians must read the signs of the times and join the train before it leaves the stations. Is this not the endearing lesson of the saying:let the dead bury the dead?

Youth in Transition:
That the Egyptian revolution was a skillful mastermind of the youth of Egypt is unquestionable. As to who a youth is, depends on whom you are talking to. I am reminded of my 59 years’ old friend who takes offence at me when I remind him, he will soon be a senior citizen at 60. “I’m young,” he charges back.

When in our teens, we often craved after the stentorian voice, hairy chin and chest as proof we are aging. We longed for the time we will be 30 and 40. Now in our “tees”, we do all in our power to look young from birth certificate mutations, through hair growing and hair darkening gels to name but these. Little wonder then that society constantly fights to push up the age of youthfulness. Some of us have aged and instead of leveraging childlikeness are painfully stuck on childish ways and so there is some truth to the fact that we have become a nation of “overgrown babies.”

No matter where you fall, one thing is clear: the bunch of old vanguards with the responsibility of managing state business have institutionalized lunacy and senility as the order of business. Fifty years post independence, Cameroonian politicians and leaders have successfully shut young people out. One will not be wrong to surmise there has been in place a systematic process of brainwashing.

Have we not heard that age is just a number and youthfulness is a quality of the mind? Ask any woman how old she is and if you get a straight answer then you are lucky.

From here, it became fashionable to hear eligible retirees shout that today’s youths are tomorrow’s leaders while at the same time maintaining that procrastination is the thief of time. How to reconcile this with the charge to “make hay while the sun shines” is just mind-boggling.

The third step in this massive fraud by fraudulent leaders is their of the magic formula of respect for elders. This culture so jealously guarded served as a smokescreen. Hence, any attempt to question the system is viewed as insubordination and such an individual tagged as disrespectful. It is an abomination for a young person to question the workings of the system given that the young are only to be seen and never heard.

Then the annoying issue of experience that has left many underemployed or unemployed. How often have we been told that what an old man can see seating down, a young man on top of the highest mountains cannot. Blindly, we have been led down one dark alley and today are on the cusp of a disaster.

Another sorry tale is in the “first come, first serve” principle which became standard practice at parties. One imagined that the old given their supposed measured appetites would think of those coming after them and eat with respect. This was not the case as they descended with rapacious and gluttonous appetites that by the time the young people get to the table, the waiters are already cleaning the dishes with no crumbs even.

Cameroonian youth rightfully respected their leaders keeping quiet and shying away from holding their feet to the fire. We have let them eat first and they have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they are “chop broke pot.” Sworn to depleting the treasury, these diaper-wearing politicians marked out politics as the exclusive turf for the old “retired or retiring.” Cameroon like most African countries is under the spell of the “cult of the old” bent on robbing the young of any future.

Many cringe at drawing examples especially in politics from Western democracies that are at the source of most of the woes of the African system. Current US Vice President, Joe Biden became Senator at the age of 29. This was in 1972. Imagine the gerontocrats in Africa at the beck and call of 45 years’ old David Cameron of the UK, 46 years’ old Medvedev of Russia, 50 years’ old President Barack Obama of the US, and 56 years’ old Sarkozy of France. How old is the youngest minister in Cameroon and how young is the oldest Cameroonian minister? The average age of Cameroonian ministers is sadly above the retirement age in Cameroon.

The revolution in Egypt was micromanaged by an exuberant youthful population under the inspiration aegis of Wael Ghonim, 30 years old Google exec and father of two children. The self-immolation by the 27 year old Tunisian Bouazizi, the graduate vegetable seller set off the revolution. In Fareed Zakaria’s words, “The central, underlying feature of the Middle East’s crisis is a massive youth bulge.” The question in the Cameroonian setting is then who is our own Ghonim? At 30, I must personally confess that I was so strung to my parents’ apron strings with no signs of being weaned in sight. Given the preceding circumstances, it is difficult to say any would rise up.

Permit me highlight here two other problems with Cameroonian youth. We live under the spell of the “bush falling syndrome.” The grass looks greener outside the fence and I am guilty of this myself. The reigning philosophy is that change can and will only come from outside. This is why the lines at European and US embassies continue to be long. We have become a bunch of cowards who have surrendered our destiny to a bunch of monsters.

It has not always been this way. The heydays of the famous “Parlement” of then University of Yaounde most of whose leaders are today crying wolf from Europe and America; the students’ union of the university of Buea that has been anathematized and in its place God knows what, a bunch of timid hand clappers and praise singers enthroned. Well with the history of recriminations and deaths in the university community, a true culture of education has finally been imbibed where graduation at all cost is supreme even with the soaring rate of unemployment.

The time has come when like the biblical prodigal son we the youth must wake up and make a demand of our own share of the inheritance. We must take the lead or perish.

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh’s Perspectives on a Host of Issues. By Lambert Mbom.

Where were you when news broke of the military takeover of Egypt and the ouster of Mubarak on Friday Feb 11, 2011? Or rather, where did you celebrate when the curtain closed over the Mubarak drama?

I had the rare privilege to get two hours of quality time with political guru – Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, of the National Democratic Institute. It took me at least two months to get this time given the busy nature of Dr Fomunyoh’s schedule. He is one heck of a busy man. If he is not training election observers, he is monitoring elections, or honoring speaking engagements and you can add your own item to the list. Yet he still had time to pick up his son from a basketball game after this conversation. “He who has been found worthy of little things can be entrusted greater treasures.”

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 24th President of Liberia is Harvard alum. Barack Obama, 44th President of the USA is Harvard alum. After five decades of lackluster leadership from an alum of ENA Paris, is it time for Africa in general and Cameroon in particular to savor the brilliance of another Harvard alum? Chris, by some accident or by some design happens to be from the same law school that gave America its first African American President. Will it give Cameroon, its first Anglophone President?

May I hasten to add here that the systemic collapse in Cameroon has in fact largely, been orchestrated by those eggheads who had the rare privilege of walking the academic groves of the best schools in Cameroon.

If time is money, then the time I spent with Dr. Fomunyoh is only measurable in terms of gold. It was more a conversation around the fireside during which time he broached a number of issues which I have divided into four sections namely on Egypt, on Cote D’Ivoire, Elections in Africa and Cameroon.
An Evening Chat with Presidential wannabe – Dr Christopher Fomunyoh Pt 1

Chia Innocent’s reveries and fairytales on forthcoming elections in Cameroon. By Lambert Mbom

Chicago based citizen journalist Innocent Chia lit up the blogosphere with two of his latest entries: “Paul Biya: I will not run for re-election in October 2011” and “Cleaning up after Biya’s mess.” The first reminded me of a replay of Ahidjo’s resignation speech during one of those rare episodes on the famous radio talk show program “Cameroon Calling.” J’ai demissionne – I have resigned which sent change-hungry mongers into celebration frenzy.

The coarse voice bellowed like Biya’s; after all, these Presidents are known to be perpetually in drunken stupor steeped in exotic French wines. How else can one explain their numbness or is it dumbness in the face of such despicable suffering.

The second made me chuckle to the point of near choking and led me to one conclusion: There is a way in which the comfort of advanced democracies blinds some of us to the realities of politics on the continent of Africa. If wishes were horses, French owned Paris Must Use Cameroon (PMUC) would sure be out of business by now.

For one thing, there is no denying it that were the author of these article in Cameroon, he would have been playing tennis with Mendouga(former Cameroon ambassador to USA), Zacchaeus Fonjindam(Chantier naval) to name but these in Kondengui. Embezzlement will not be his crime; rather it would be divulging state secrets but even more for engaging in salacious mind reading and vain speculations of the President’s plans.

Yet for another thing, I was just elated that I have a brother who is privy to Presidential secrets, or said otherwise one who has friends in high quarters. Only problem is we are starving to death under the plum tree.

One cannot deny the fact that in display here is a characteristic major trait of the Southern Cameroonian sellouts (Do not want to split hairs here with who is a Southern Cameroonian). A few have been brought to the master’s dining table awash with exotic dishes but there is no corn fufu, no eru, no achu, no kwakoko and banga soup. So overwhelmed by these dishes, they daze around and end up leaving the banquet very hungry. They eaves drop conversations in a language they do not master and are so fascinated just that they had dinner with the president. They forget that the real meal and the real conversations take place in the thick of the night while they are busy reveling in their daytime experience.

I do not doubt the author’s “unimpeachable sources” given his background in journalism. I rather contend that any such discussion would be a ploy to distract folks. Biya is reading from Mubarak’s playbook; after all, they are contemporaries having ascended to power almost at the same time.

The key to Biya’s tenacious grip on power is the fact that Biya is a roman catholic at least in public. As the son of a catechist, he knows his doctrine especially marriage doctrine very well. The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to divorce. His wedding formula would be something like this:
I, Paul Barthelemy Bi Mvondo Biya, take you, Presidency of Cameroon to be my wife, from this day November 6, 1982 forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. The last part “until death do us part” is central here. This is why according to the national rumor mill, he is said to have killed Jeanne Irene in order to get Chantal.
Faithful to his marital promise then, only death will deprive Biya of his spouse, the Presidency of Cameroon. Unfortunately, the spouse endures to perpetuity.

Chia’s second entry sounded more like a leaked script for a debate for presidential candidates, which he would love to manage. Unfortunately, he lost his microphone when he bolted out of CRTV Sports desk over a decade ago. Even if he were still there, he is not oblivious of the fact that only Eric Chinje, himself once threatened with a head butt by Biya or veteran Peter Essoka had the sublime task of interviewing Biya with questions screened or handed to them by management albeit.

The charade CRTV bandies of airtime for political parties which mirrors a Presidential debate during election years is disingenuous. Political parties talk at each other, across or over each other but never to each other and worse still never with each other. Chia presents a platform for Presidential “wannabes” to lay out their agenda. This is a laudable initiative.

Yet we seem to have forgotten too soon that politics is so much about vain promises. Promises to build seaports in deserts, draw blood from rocks and make human beings from laboratories are common enough. And with the uncritical masses ready to wear out their palms cheering the litany of promises, there certainly will be an avalanche of these promises.

As usual, these messianic-like claimants always cloak their real intents. The long and short if it is that politics is a path to self-aggrandizement. Cameroonians have become so inured to this deception that the greatest deceiver carries the day. Can anybody beat Biya in this game?

Bouba Bello Maigari and his Northern ilk played smart politics as through their regional victories became power brokers with the administration picking up a few ministries depleting the national treasury. How much is Fru Ndi worth today?

The CPDM candidate will surely not respond to Chia’s invitation not out of bad will which he has in abundance albeit but rather because he has it all laid out in Biya’s Communal liberalism. This blueprint which Biya himself is definitely oblivious of (and I suggest an audio recording be made of it in Chantal’s voice to lull him to sleep) is a master piece. Yet its realization is far from even getting off the ground.

This culture of “talkocracy” in the name of democracy is a sham. Cleaning 30 years of real mess is a herculean task. The entrenched culture of corruption, nepotism, embezzlement, reckless abandon are the hallmarks of Biya’s legacy.

What Cameroon needs now so badly is a culture of civic responsibility and accountability. It is not some cosmetic overhaul but one that changes the dynamic. Service of the commonweal is cardinal and the lynchpin of progress. We need to rediscover the true and real meaning of the “civis” and what it means to be a citizen. This is the litmus test for any potential Presidential candidate in Cameroon.

The game changer in Cameroonian politics, I believe strongly will not come through policies. All snakes lie prostrate and so you cannot tell which is suffering from belly ache.

While we are at it let us pause and reflect on the forthcoming elections. I believe very strongly that Cameroonians are not ready for any elections. With the last Parliamentary elections, Cameroon officially reverted to a one party system.

Two of my friends spent last Christmas in Cameroon. When they got back, interestingly enough, they professed rather glibly that Biya will win elections anytime. This, not through electoral fraud but rather because he has won the “hearts and minds” of the people. They pointed to the warm reception he received in the bastion of political opposition – Bamenda an indication of the national tenor.

For one thing, there is high level of fragmentation in Cameroon. This is why Biya would prefer to borrow from Mubarak “ If I leave there will be chaos” than “I will not stand for elections in October 2011” Think of the Northerners, the Betis who have enjoyed the reins of power, then the Sawas, the disgruntled business barons Bamilekes, and the self –determining nation seeking Southern Cameroonians. There is no denying it that it is on this French principle of divide and rule that Biya has been able to perform the outstanding feat of privatizing the presidency of Cameroon.

The opposition is in such disparate ranks that today Cameroon boasts of a large battery of political parties. It is easier to register a political party in Cameroon than to register a business. It has been impossible for opposition leaders to put their egos aside and unite to unseat the “lion man” in Yaounde. Clearly, they have ulterior motives and elections do not really matter in Cameroon within this climate.

In the face of such tantalizing reality, many Cameroonians are so disillusioned that they find it a waste of time to participate in the process. Voter apathy is aplenty. What would elections change? The results are in already.

The situation is further complicated by those sycophants who today profess that “it is better to deal with the devil you know than the angel you do not know.” They parade the streets and public airways chanting dimabola. How can he go away when he is insulated by this band?

The history of the recent past is a warning to all those cronies. They shall be held accountable for such despicable sycophancy in due time. Let them not forget that the old order changeth making way for the new lest one good culture corrupts the whole world.

Is it worthwhile then calling for a forum for potential presidential wannabes to define their platforms? What would it change?

I agree that rather than beg or borrow so much money to spend for elections in Cameroon, let Biya and his cronies share the booty or if they care distribute to the over two hundred political parties as recompense for their political smartness. To paraphrase Egypt’s Suleiman, Cameroon is not ready for elections. Do we lack the political sophistication.

Why is Biya against handing over to his son, Frank Biya? Having fulfilled one of the conditions for a monarchy which is ruling in perpetuity that is ruling for as long as your bones can carry, why not bring it to full circle by propping your own blood?

As Fon of Fons, Biya can be sure there will be no foul cries or rather should not be any from the grassfields. The institution of the Fon is one that is hereditary and there is no disputing that. This curse of inheritance has been heaped on the presidency of Cameroon and yet we cry for change? Whom are we kidding?

By the way, which political party has changed its leader since its formation? What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
I am still digesting Jeanne KirkPatrick’s theory that mankind be careful with unseating dictators for “Revolutions have overthrown dictators in the name of democracy only to see the political process hijacked by new autocrats who use violence, deception, and rigged elections to stay in power or to advance an agenda of extremism.” This notwithstanding, I hope the chickens come home to roost.

One of Mr. Chia’s concerns of all concerns is the Southern Cameroons case. Have we not heard that this hydra-headed monster for want of a better term is propagated more from abroad than at home? The average Southern Cameroonian at home cares more for the bread and butter issues which are more pressing or so they claim. Why should an issue pushed more by those “politically infantile” rabble-rousers of the North West be dignified on the national stage? Should a struggle whose major battleground is the internet with cyber “warfarism” the full employment of many enjoy such a high stage? Who really cares about this issue if it could even be so addressed?

For all its bashing and divisions, clearly, as Mr. Chia forcefully says, there is no wishing away the matter of Southern Cameroons.

It may be mere coincidence that Mubarak was forced out of office on Friday 11 February 2011 – feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the revisionist celebration of Youth day instead of that 1961 plebiscite. It was also two days short of Biya’s 78th birthday (though I look older than Biya) and it was 21 years since Mandela’s propitious release from prison. There is something foreboding about this day for Cameroon dedicated to Mary, patroness of peace. Egypt has so many lessons for Cameroon. There is a clear challenge to the youth of Cameroon to lead the charge.

All this whining will not help. For too long we have been complaint psalmists. Herewith our opportunity to initiate the change we need. We are the people we have been waiting for. I do not intend to be prescriptive. If necessity is the mother of invention, it is my belief that let our suffering necessitate a thoughtful trajectory towards a meaningful change.

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