The demanding task confronting union-nationalists today is the realization of the New Cameroon, which entails the effective utilization of new, modern and progressive ideas and technology to build a modern economic, political and social system. The initial stage of realizing the New Cameroon involves the all-colossal task of overcoming the conservative, reactionary, corrupt, discriminatory, repressive and oppressive forces that constitute the system that has the lever of power. This anachronistic alien system is determined not to allow the change that the majority of Cameroonians are craving for. The system I am talking about is made up of the imperialistic lords in the French powerhouse and their puppets and collaborators in Cameroon. The image of that anachronistic system today is the Biya regime.
Most, if not all union-nationalists have a clear notion of what to expect out of a New Cameroon that would have to emerge from the current system. But many Cameroonians are incoherent when it comes to:
· The path to take to overcome the initial obstacles of the system and the Biya regime.
· And the extent to go to build the New Cameroon of our dreams.
In building the New Cameroon after getting rid of the legacy of the forces of oppression and suppression against the people, Cameroonian union-nationalists would be confronted by the all colossal task of molding a New Cameroonian mentality devoid of docility, corruption, discrimination and pessimism. That new mentality, which is an indispensable component of Cameroonian union-nationalism, would then resurface the best of our creative, dynamic and progressive potentials; and then harness and drive our strengths for an effective utilization of our resources and the great opportunities that abound in building the New Cameroon.
In the initial stage of ridding ourselves of the obstacles of the anachronistic French-imposed system under the Biya regime today, union-nationalists risk finding themselves derailed from their original ideals and dreams from divisions that might arise from their ranks and differences in the degree of commitment to the cause.
The fact that the obstacles union-nationalists would encounter in the various stages of the cause are so colossal, some union-nationalists may be tempted to react in two negative ways:
· Carry out makeshift changes and console themselves that they have done the job.
· Or exert too great a force in their over zealousness, which even though would destroy the obstacles to the New Cameroon, may also leave us on our knees, and perhaps render us incapable of building the New Cameroon of our dreams.
We should avoid these partial and blind commitments in our union-nationalism. Instead, rationalism should prevail in any action that we are taking or are about to take for the interest of Cameroon. That way, mistakes would be avoided.
Basically, the Cameroonian dream embodied in the ideals of its Union-Nationalism is the best rallying force for all Cameroonians. However, despite the genuine intentions and goodness of this ideal, its possible pervasion by mistakes or errors in the course of its application risks distorting the essence of the struggle, derailing the cause and discrediting the noble intentions of the century old Cameroonian dream by taking out the humanity from its fabrics and leaving it as any other dry-as-dust political ideology that humanity has rejected. The thought of the possible rejection of our Union-Nationalism because it has lost its humaneness is something we cannot afford, since that would mean the rejection of the Cameroonian dream and our collective hopes that have sustained us for close to a century. In order to avoid such a rejection, Cameroonian union-nationalists should avoid mistakes in the determining domains of the lives of the people.
1) Firstly, the fact that we are in a pathetic level of economic underdevelopment despite our enormous material and human resources may have created a complex based on despondence, something that many Cameroonians would have to overcome at the early stage of the task of building the New Cameroon by union-nationalists. The new union-nationalist government would have to come up with an immediate solution to erase that complex of despondence, an immediate solution that would require using our material and human resources that despite being in abundance are so disorganized, inefficient and disillusioned. Only through the path of a rapid improvisation and effective utilization of this underperforming human force for the optimal use of our material resources, shall we obtain an initial boost and solution that would do much to overcome the difficult initial period of fear and uncertainty. In its first step to overcome the initial obstacle caused by fear and uncertainty emanating from decades of division, corruption, repression, inefficiency and incompetence, the new union-nationalists government would have to instill administrative efficiency into the transforming system and provide competent and sufficient managers at all or most of the strategic and potentially cumulative sectors of the economy. This would ensure a quick initial boost to the economy and restore confidence in its management and direction. Such a positive step would direct the Cameroonian economy forward towards efficiency in the management and utilization of our human and material resources, drawing strength from the spread effects of the initial actions and direction.
2) This economic readjustment must be immediately and closely followed by political liberalization through the establishment of a truly progressive democratic tradition. The progressive democratic tradition should be one that would ensure the total, complete and universal human rights of its citizens and accept their rational freedom, liberty and equality. It should be compatible with the complex Cameroonian reality and should be capable of ensuring the harmonious cooperation of all the Cameroonian forces and entities in the development of the land. Then, through the natural checks and balances of nature, the new and rational democratic tradition shall ensure the complete and irreversible burial of the dictatorship that resulted to bureaucracy and incompetence, the bureaucracy and incompetence that nurtured a culture of corruption and discrimination which we know are the vices that eroded morality, trust and cooperation between the different forces in Cameroon. The positive outcome of this democratic tradition would be our break with underdevelopment. Simply, it is only after the realization of this clean democratic atmosphere to buttress the new economic drive shall there be a clear prospect of sustainable prosperity looming ahead.
3) The New Cameroon would also need a new culture in order to advance into the modern age through a new economic policy and a new democratic tradition. This new culture does not presuppose the destruction of the old ones or the implementation of uniformity, but rather advocates a metamorphosis based on the lessons of the past and today, to a new freedom and creativity that is compatible with modern civilization. The new culture would set the pace for progress by making the best out of our recent and distant pasts. It would not imitate the past with all its constraints and irreconcilable diversity. The new culture would create uniformity out of diversity rather than propagate diversity to maintain differences. The propagation of differences that does not enhance the wellbeing of the nation is static diversity or conservatism in its worst forms. It stands as an obstacle to progress and a death-embrace with the past. This avoidable static diversity rejects technological civilization, something that the New Cameroon cannot afford to do without. The result of accepting static diversity would be that the traditional concepts of a family, a tribe, an ethnic group, a social organization, social norms, religious views, economic life, a linguistic entity and even a race, would prevent us from moving along with the changing times. Some of the consequences of accepting static diversity would be:
· We would not manage birth rates to match our potentials.
· We would not soberly review or revise our anachronistic traditional and religious beliefs to accommodate the demands of our times and the challenges of the future.
· And finally, we would not be able to accept the advantages of technological progress that are indispensable in our drive to attain great economic heights, which is a major prerequisite in the realization of the Cameroonian dream.
Abraham Lincoln railed against conservatism or static diversity when he said that:
“What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried”
The quest for the New Cameroon is a rejection of our horrible past and an embrace of a future that would guarantee progress, freedom, liberty, development, harmony, peace, unity, integrity and democracy for all Cameroonians. It is our bargain to become a cherished part of the future economically united and politically integrated Africa. And above all, it is our manifestation to have a place among the community of civilized nations.
Even Karl Marx rejected the dead weight of the past in his writings when he pointed out that:
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly given and transmitted from the past. The traditions of all the dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the living. And just when they seemed engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something entirely new, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis, they conjure up the spirits of the past to their services and borrow from them names, battle slogans and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in time honored disguise and this borrowed language.
Yes, Cameroonian Union-Nationalism was born from the shortcomings of the past nine decades of our past. It has been tragic. Nevertheless, great lights were revealed, enlightening figures that as leaders of our civic-nationalism sustained the spirit of the Cameroonian dream. However, despite their tremendous role, Cameroonian union-nationalists should be sober enough and avoid living and thinking behind the times, as if they are still haunted by the defeats suffered over the century. We should not conjure or imitate the past in our efforts to reorganize our lives and build the New Cameroon. Our cultures and traditions should be invoked only to help in providing guidelines in bringing progress and in bringing forth to life individuals who through modern technological uniformity would contribute to new cultures that would accommodate modern demands and reality. These new cultures should be capable of burying the inherent traits of despotism in our pasts while promoting freedom of choice, openness and creativity.
4) Another mistake to be avoided by the New Cameroon would be blind nationalism. This may sound intriguing since the force to lead the realization of the New Cameroon would be led by union-nationalists. Yes, Cameroon’s union-nationalists are modernists and unifiers in their civic-nationalism, based on an ideal to bring diverse people together by harnessing their compatibilities. Cameroon's union-nationalists are opposed to fundamental nationalists, ethnic nationalists, assimilative nationalists and ultra-nationalists with ideologies that exclude and stress on differences. The prefix “Union” attached to our nationalism indicates that we are out to include in the furthest extent of the word, rather than exclude, but in a manner that recognizes the legitimate interests of the constituent peoples that make the Cameroonian state and their rights to their freedom, prosperity and destiny in cooperation with other forces of the world, but not in subjugation to any. Nevertheless, this spirit of our Union-Nationalism should not be overstretched to exceed rational bounds through exaltation because the regressive outcome of such blinding emotions would be xenophobia and internal discrimination. The repercussions from such an overstretched nationalism would be the loss of its union character. Such a distortion of our Union-Nationalism would impede our development and would give rise to a new political tradition that is not democratic and representative. Furthermore, any retrogression into blind nationalism from that shortfall would breed a new culture that would be out of touch with global civilization and technological uniformity. The mistake of transcending our Union-Nationalism is that we would be taking the humanity out of its fabrics, thereby leaving it as barren as a desert. The outcome of such a mistake would be the rejection of our advanced form of civic-nationalism and an eternal doubt in the noble intentions of the ideals of Cameroonian Union-nationalism. Such a rejection is something the forward-looking Cameroon cannot afford because it would mean the rejection of the idea that has guided and guarded Cameroonians in their century-old dream, a dream that sustained their hopes through tragic and turbulent times. In a nutshell, no blind form of nationalism should be allowed to distort the genuine and progressive purpose of Cameroonian Union-nationalism, the only advanced ideal that can realize our collective dreams. Union-nationalists should accept criticism and self-criticism as measures to prevent the derailment of the century-old ideal.
5) Should the forward-looking Cameroon look back at all? Yes it should.
· However, the forward-looking Cameroon should not look back to the past to make it an integral part of the future; but rather it should regard the past as a guide, a lesson to learn from, but not a lesson to copy. The only aspect the forward-looking Cameroon must always look back at is the progress of the people. The forward moving Cameroon should always give a helping hand to those who fall or are being left behind in the forward drive of prosperity. The leadership of the New Cameroonian ideal would have to bear in mind all the time that the land they are leading has been borrowed from the younger generation(s) after them. With such a responsible mindset, the leadership would always jealously protect the land and ensure that our children are adequately educated, prepared, and are competitive and protected enough to take over and carry on with the virtues of the New Cameroon in order to secure a better future for their own children. That way, union-nationalists would be playing the roles of guarantors of continuity.
· Socially, the New Cameroon would have to equate the drive of prosperity with a rise in the standards of living of the struggling masses. Housing, schools, hospitals, electricity, water, roads, and other social and public infrastructures should never be allowed to lag behind our true progress and the changing times. Rational provisions should be put in place to take care of the handicapped, the old, the unfortunate and the underprivileged.
Colossal as the task may seem, it is realizable and it is our only bargain with our future. The New Cameroon would easily be realized after Cameroonians develop the sense of commitment and start feeling or considering themselves a part of the process of nation-building, development and prosperity. That would be at a time that our collective mentality and psychology would be capable of accommodating the new demands of the New Cameroon; that would be when union-nationalists and their advanced representatives would have become humanized enough to put the general purpose of our land above personal considerations. By so doing, we shall then consider the plight of our land and the Cameroonian people as issues that also concern us fundamentally. Then that way, Cameroonians shall have that sense of purpose, convinced that they have an appreciable role to play in building, protecting and sustaining the New Cameroon. With the realization of that collective progress, we shall be able to boast with certainty that we have built a new mentality that is collective, and that would greatly reduce or even eliminate corruption, racism, favoritism, tribalism, ethnocentrism, absolutism, inefficiency and bureaucracy. A sense of belonging and commitment is something union-nationalists must build in order to sustain the New Cameroon and its advanced ideals.
It may seem difficult if not impossible to realize a New Cameroon without going through all or some of the possible mistakes that might be committed as a result of inherent human weaknesses and a possible over-commitment or over-zealousness from union-nationalists. Nevertheless, if mistakes are likely to be made, we are expected to allow criticism as a norm in society and be self-critical ourselves. That entails being modest enough to ask ourselves whether we are wrong in each action we take, and if so, to admit the error(s) in our action(s) for correction. And after correcting the error(s), we should make the maximum effort to ensure that no more errors or mistakes are made.
Janvier Tchouteu May 1995