The vast majority of the Cameroonian people are aware of the historical revelation that change is inevitable in Cameroon. Still this craving for change since 1910 has not brought about the realization of the New Cameroon. We have all been victims in this difficult, tortuous, traitorous and unsuccessful drive for change. The execution of our first nationalist leaders (Martin Paul Samba and Rudolf Duala Manga Bell) by the German colonial army in 1914, our indifference over that loss, our quiet acceptance of the partition of German Kamerun by Britain and France into British Cameroons and French Cameroun, and the methodical suppression and brainwashing of our nationalism were all indications of the difficulties ahead for the Cameroonian struggle.
Yes, we were in a state of lethargy for three decades after partition, a lethargy that left us without the enthusiasm and an organized force to repudiate the imposed partition of our land and realize our resurgent nationalism in both British Cameroons and French Cameroun. This nationalism assumed a union character by advocating for reunification, independence, freedom, liberty, development of both territories. Yet, it was a popular desire for change fraught with division, the self-centeredness of uncommitted leaders and external maneuvers by the colonial powers. The outcome of that second phase of the Cameroonian struggle was a partially reunited and quasi-independent Cameroon, where its French-speaking union-nationalist leaders got eliminated, exiled or subjugated; where its English-speaking union-nationalists became excluded and cowed into timidity; and where a Neo-colonialists French-imposed system was put in place managed in Cameroon by the regimes of puppets Ahmadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya.
The first Cameroonian president, his collaborators and French masters had little or no knowledge of and regard for the true aspirations of the Cameroonian people. Therefore, in no way could we have expected the Ahidjo regime and its successor the Biya regime to deliver Cameroonians to the change that they have been craving for since 1910. It is clear that the foundation of the quasi-independent and reunited Cameroon was defective even before the nation was born in 1961. Cameroon’s independence was defective because it was realized under the usurper Ahidjo regime and France without the consent of the majority of Cameroonians who constitute the force of our union-nationalism.
If the usurper leaders could not kill in themselves all the values, thought patterns and habits imbued by their French overlords, then how could we have expected them to lead Cameroonians to live the values and pattern of change that would lead to the new and desirable society of our dreams. This land has never had its destiny in its own hands since it became a consolidated entity. Imperialistic French designs in the guise of the French-imposed system, the complicity of the Ahidjo and Biya regimes, and the unpatriotic, unscrupulous and smug complacent nature of some Cameroonians have all contributed to cloud the Cameroonian dream for an authentic change (the creation of the desirable society) and the realization of the New Cameroon. The demanding task of freeing ourselves from the shackles of the Biya dictatorship, the retarding French-imposed system and the suffocation of the people with the evil disposition is not going to be easy. That task requires the best combination of reasoning, enthusiasm and rational desire. It is our shortcomings in our concerted efforts at interpreting, manifesting and applying those forces that are affecting the wind of change in Cameroon today.
May 26, 1990 marked a turning point in the history of the reunified Cameroon. The corrupt, oppressive, discriminatory, nonchalant, unpatriotic and incompetent rule of the Ahidjo-Biya regimes under the French-imposed oligarchic system became opposed across the national territory. Cameroonians were determined to become a part of the worldwide wind of change generated by Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of Glasnost and Perestroika in the Soviet Union.
“Enough is enough”, “We want democracy, freedom, and liberty”, were some of the chants that illuminated the protest marches across the national territory. Cameroonians were no longer prepared to continue allowing a nepotistic, ethnocentric, oligarchic, corrupt and neo-colonialist system under the Biya regime and its French backers to determine the course of our destiny. We were vocal in our determination to stop allowing the weight of decades of oppression, misinformation and misguided policies to drain us of our dynamism and deprive us from realizing our century-old dream of a progressive Cameroon. Our expressed desire for change was a popular aspiration, which called on Cameroonians to discard the wrong aspects of our past and build a new, totally and completely positive Cameroon. Our vocal determination not to be left behind in the worldwide wind of change that promised to realize a free society of nations was understood across Africa and the rest of the world. Five years after we took that historic step in the third phase of the Cameroon struggle, we are nowhere close to the change or the power that is the lever to realize it .Our potentially great nation is being left behind in the race to technological civilization and the trappings of human and material progress due to the steadfastness of the anti-people system. However, what is most worrying is that, at this early stage of the struggle, the forces for change are more divided than they were before 1990. What went wrong?
Five years after, it has become clear for all to see that we have betrayed the drive towards change. We wanted change without ensuring a fundamental change of our mentalities, which had been badly infected during the years of political lethargy. Yes, we wanted change when we had not humanized our dehumanized selves. The change we wanted was only in words. We failed to react, respond and feel to the new demands of change as a renewed and reinvigorated people. That is why we could not detach ourselves from the more blinding aspects of our irrational desires, in order to conform to reasoning and enthusiasm. We have not fully braced ourselves to throw away the influences of the past years of colonialism, political lethargy, despondence, dishonesty, cynicism and distrust that had gripped the noble Cameroonian soul. Our desire for change has almost been defeated by the open and hidden enemies of change because of our empty phrases, feeble actions and divided ranks. The enemies of the people have pervaded our midst, ebbed away our energy and actions, denigrated our objectives and poisoned our minds. The enemies of the people have left Cameroonians, even those who are instinctively union-nationalist, in disarray
But then, who are these enemies of the people?
Simply, they are the criminals to the progressive Cameroonian spirit, the obstacles to the realization of the century old Cameroonian dream for a desirable society. Amongst the enemies of the people are the anti-union-nationalists, the pseudo-intellectuals, the unscrupulous politicians, the verminous businesspersons, the oblivious functionaries, neurotic leaders and even we the struggling masses.
1) The anti-union-nationalists, also made up of pseudo-nationalists, can be found in and out of the government of Paul Biya. These anti-union-nationalists are against the century old Cameroonian dream― an advanced ideal permeated by progressive Cameroonian concepts that is aimed at:
· Creating a genuine bilingual character for the nation.
· Bridging the gap in the development of both the English and French-speaking territories.
· Realizing a new, desirable and humanized Cameroonian mentality from the different breeds of thoughts and actions of its Anglophone and Francophone children.
2) The pseudo-intellectuals are anti-union-nationalist with the extra cloak of advanced learning. The fact that they are detached from the Cameroonian dream subjects their high learning to misuse. These pseudo-intellectuals defend the shortcomings of their personal, family, clique, ethnic, linguistic and cultural attachments to the system through unjustifiable lies that defame the cause. Found at all levels in the Cameroonian society, they easily ally with both the internal and external forces against the people. They dominate the present regime, and are noted for their failure to make their high learning compatible with the Cameroonian reality and to contribute to Cameroon’s socio-economic progress. They have never interpreted ideas, conveyed opinions and worked for the true aspirations of the people during the past four decades. These pseudo-intellectuals led by Paul-Biya are the greatest junks to the practical progress of this nation. They have distinguished themselves as those who have been spectacular in one field, but who for the sake of publicity and self-interest, expound beyond the limits of their talents and knowledge, and seek to educate, convince and win over the uninformed and undecided on subjects far beyond their scope. While engaging in this deception, these pseudo-intellectuals are aware of the fact that some people believe and respect them as intellectuals due to their academic achievements and ratings in their true fields. The fact that they go ahead to expound on the fields much beyond their scope and grasp, while knowing that they know little, and while also knowing that the people do not know that they know little beyond their true fields, makes them criminals to the progressive Cameroonian spirit. During the past four decades, the anti-union-nationalists have been working with the pseudo-intellectuals and the French powerhouse to give Cameroonians a false concept of themselves and to derail and delay the fundamental changes that we have been craving for.
3) Cameroonian politicians manifest the inner contradictions that have gripped our political scene during the past five decades. It has been observed with clarity that our politics is mostly a juxtaposition of anti-francophone practices, anti-Anglophone tendencies, ethnocentrism, regionalism, elitism, demagoguery and self-interest. Few of our political leaders are union-nationalists at heart even though the Cameroonian spirit is instinctively proud of the Cameroonian identity and upholds the dream of a desirable Cameroonian society. The different politicians and political groupings are very much a reflection of the extent of their embracement of these contradictory values. All the same, few of our politicians have indicated their true positions over the different concepts. Many insincerely identify themselves with popular political groupings whose ideologies they do not share. A look at these politicians can give us insights into the dilemma union-nationalists are facing in the struggle.
· The Francophiles or Anglophobes are those politicians who have an excessive fondness of French values, customs, people, institutions and/or manners. In their over-zealousness, they jealously or regretfully defend their fondness for anything French by being Anglophobes in rhetoric and actions. Besides being Francophiles, these politicians are openly ethnocentric, nepotistic and self-centered. It is clear for all to see that Francophiles have overwhelming dominated the system through the Ahidjo and Biya regimes.
· The counterparts of the Francophiles are the Anglophiles or Francophobes. They also share the ethnocentric, nepotistic and self-centeredness of the Francophiles. They have been very much excluded from the country’s political life just as much as the union-nationalists have. But many of them hide or have hidden their anti-French tendencies for the benefits and opportunities offered by the French-imposed system. The fact that these Francophiles and Anglophiles have snuggled themselves into all the major political groupings makes it difficult for the realization of change because they pose as the major dividing force in the country. In the most unfortunate accident in our history, Cameroon has been dominated by the minority regimes of Francophiles and their Anglophone collaborators. Time has proven that this nightmarish alliance and governance led to the ruination of our country to the pathetic state that it is today. All true union-nationalists need to take upon themselves the responsibilities to mitigate the effects of the bitterness and the distrust that exists between some in our English and French-speaking communities.
· An insult to the progressive minds of Cameroonians are the group of politicians whose political parties are out to secure individual, tribal or group interest― politicians who openly flaunt their disregard for the collective Cameroonian interest. The MDR of Diakolle Diasalla, the renegade UPC of Augustine Kodock, the PDC, etc dominate this group.
· Cameroonians are also aware of another ambiguous group of politicians who have also snuggled themselves into popular political groups that have a national character and are regarded as the true guarantors of change. These so-called friends of the people are the most heinous of Judases who have concealed their vast selfish designs and traits of Francophilism, Anglophilism, tribalism, ethnocentrism and regionalism behind the general phrase of working for the interest of the people. Scratch them and you will find the enemies of the people, their true selves, staring back at you. However, their impatience and the goodwill of nature shall soon force them out of the mainstream of the struggle.
The people whose dreams have been betrayed and whose enthusiasm and dignity have been undermined should know that unless these pillars of reaction, conservatism and deceit are overthrown or rendered impotent, we would always find ourselves held back in our genuine efforts for change. It should be understood that these forces against change would persist in their deceptive ways in order to maintain their selfish interests and biased motives. Their steadfastness is making it difficult for the struggling Cameroonian masses to overcome their oppression and trauma, forcing them to make only desperate, unintelligent and futile protests and resistances. The interest of Cameroonians would be guaranteed only in a situation where they stay totally committed in their support for the authentic union-nationalists who are the true friends of the people.
4) Another enemies of the people are the unscrupulous businesspersons whose game plan is to prevail economically through unlawful means. They make excessive profits through tax evasion, extortion, defrauding, profiteering, racketeering, double-dealing and complicity in the wanton destruction and sale of the country’s resources. These unscrupulous businesspersons are indifferent to the fact that they are running the country down. The fact that they are in alliance with the unscrupulous Biya regime and that they dread any change that would require them to do clean business makes them enemies of the cause for a New Cameroon. Most of their cash is stashed in foreign banks because they fear the inevitable change would lead to confiscation. A critical look at the activities of the unscrupulous businesspersons reveals that they drain rather than contribute to the economy of Cameroon. They should be discouraged or legally disabled if they reject doing business in a clean manner in the New Cameroon. They are scum to the progressive business spirit, and pose as a major obstacle to change and modernization. It should be noted that they are setting a bad precedence to the humanized and progressive businesspersons who would emerge from the new system that would emerge from change, businesspersons whose economic activities would also be out to alleviate the standards of the Cameroonian people.
5) No less a powerful obstacle to change is the functionary. For forty years, it has been so easy for radical nationalists, intellectuals, honest managers and competent administrators to be transformed into government functionaries who console themselves with the thought that they are working for the people and doing well within the framework of office routine in the corrupt system. They are using this professed goodness to justify their political inertia and compliance with the policies of the Biya-regime. The fact that these functionaries have given their unconditional allegiance to the French-imposed system and the Biya regime makes it difficult for them to wrestle their much-deserved interest from the government. This self-created difficulty emanates from the simple fact that these functionaries always believed that a holy alliance exists between them and the regimes, an alliance where they would have to defend the system even though it had become irredeemably bad. Even though it is obvious that the Biya regime has unilaterally broken the alliance, these functionaries are still in political inertia. Because they too have been enemies of the people in their actions and opponents of change in their bygone interests, they now find it difficult to heed the general call for change and join the people from whose ranks they come from. This timidity and foolish pride from the functionaries only helps to stall the wind of change, despite the fact that reality calls for an alliance between them and the people.
6) Leadership problems have been Cameroon’s infantile malady since reunification and independence. The fact that its genuine leaders who had the support of its people were massacred, exiled, sidelined and cowed into submission by the French and the puppet Ahidjo and Biya regimes left us with the curse of false leaders. Yes, the past four decades have indicated that. The leadership spectrum in Cameroon is a conflict of four types of leaders:
· We have the bad leaders whose leaderships have done much to destroy the way of life and the progressive values of the Cameroonian people. The usurper Paul Biya who presides as the president of Cameroon is a bad leader in the classic sense of the word, and rivals his predecessor in that domain. Lesser bad leaders are comic Cameroonian political figures like Augustine Kodock, Gustav Esaka, Diakolle Diasala, Achidi Achu and Bello Bouba Miagari.
· Also dominant in Cameroon’s political scene are the brilliant leaders. These leaders made themselves appealing to the people even despite their true intentions and convictions. They are the demagogues and renegades to the ideals they associate with. Towering in this group are figures like Ahidjo, Solomon Tandeng Muna, Mayi Matip, Hogbe Nleng, Musonge Peter , Woungly Masaga and other noisy but insignificant political figures around. Less conspicuous are the renegades of the people’s parties who are posing as union-nationalists.
· Not absent in the political game are the intelligent political figures. They get over the people and their values, and defy their beliefs through political maneuvers that only serve their interest. The intelligent leaders make the people to think, look and work in the direction that is to his interest, ego and conviction, sometimes combining his efforts with handouts and other inauthentic benevolent gestures. It is unfortunate that many Cameroonians have been brainwashed to cherish these handouts. Ahidjo and his disciples led by Bello Bouba Maigari are the masters of this deception.
· What Cameroon has been deprived of the most are the wise leaders. These are leaders who are realistic in their dealings with the people. They understand the people’s plights, hopes, fears, strengths, weaknesses, and try to help them to realize their dreams. These are the true friends of the people, the true union-nationalists from the times of Martin Paul Samba to the generations of the historic UPC leaders and over to our contemporary times. Unfortunately, for the Cameroonian struggle, none of the wise leaders have ever been allowed to harness the support of the majority of Cameroonians to lead the country. We hold the French puppeteers and the puppet regimes of Ahidjo and Biya responsible for that.
7) Depressing as it may sound, another set of enemies of the people is the self-centered flag bearers. These are the Cameroonian artists, players, writers, scientists and representatives of the country abroad who in the quest for glory conceal the plight of the Cameroonian people behind the façade of success. They would not stand by the people if it means working against their interests at home and abroad.
8) To be honest with ourselves, we the struggling masses are also posing as an obstacle to change. We have desired for the destruction of the corrupt, degrading, oppressive and inhuman French-imposed system without ridding ourselves of the recognized wrong habits, values and mentalities that we picked up from the system. We have not even begun to live, think and work in the patterns that are required of us by the new society that we intend to build. It is possible that even if we get rid of the present system, we may find ourselves incapable of instituting the complete change that we need because most of us may continue to think, act and live in the ways that the puppet regimes have deformed our minds into doing. In many ways, our words alone have changed without a corresponding change in ourselves. For us to realize our dreams, we are expected to match our change in words with a change in thought patterns and actions. Or else, we would remain our own worst enemies.
A sincere review of the political activities in Cameroon since May 26, 1990 reveals that the movement for change has encountered temporary setbacks in the third phase of the Cameroonian struggle. These setbacks are due to the actions of the anti-nationalists, the pseudo-intellectuals, the unscrupulous politicians, the verminous businesspersons, the oblivious functionaries, the neurotic leaders with a fair degree of intelligence, brilliancy and ruthlessness, as well as the struggling masses suffering from incomprehension. Without clearing our ranks, without being conscious of discipline and enforcing it all the more, without reassessing our commitments and objectives, and without humanizing our dehumanized selves, we may be compelled to wander a little longer in the wilderness of aimlessness, futility and incomprehension. An even when we get to the inevitable change, we may be surprised to find that we are incapable of harnessing our potentials to the fullest because of our old ties to the dehumanizing post-independence mentality and system.
NOVEMBER 24, 1994 Tchouteu Janvier