Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nation and Identity: Post-Colonial Aspects of the Cameroonian Novel : by Emily Thompson

I am very impressed by a foreigner's curiosity if not deep interest in Cameroonian literature and her insight into the state of the nation, when we Cameroonians barely make an attempt to put the hijack of our nation in context. No struggle  can succeed if  it lacks a galvanizing literature that the different segments of society can relate to.

Her introduction and subsequent chapters are very revealing. Chapter VI summaries everything and pages 53-57provides unique insights. Conclusion (page 63) is very touching.

The story is in the link below;


 At the bottom is the PDF file that says   (MA_thesis_Emily_Thompson_1_.doc)


Monday, April 18, 2011


1.     Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin
When a group of Russian nobles decided to get rid of the mystic Grigori Rasputin, they thought they were ridding the Russian tsarina of the influence of the “Mad Monk” whose calming effect on the Czar’s sick heir Alexei had been extended into political affairs that were putting the Russian Empire in danger. When these conspirators lured Rasputin to Prince Felix Yusupov's Moika Palace and served him food and wine laced with large doses of cyanide, they thought he would kick the bucket in no time. However, it is alleged that Rasputin didn’t die from the poison strong enough to kill 10 men. So, Yusupov shot him in the back.  But Rasputin did not die and tried to strangle Yusupov when he came close to check on the body. Yusupov was saved by the other nobles who shot Rasputin three more times, until he fell to the ground. That that was not all about the Siberian monk. In his attempts to get up again, the conspirators finished him off with clubs before wrapping him in a blanket which thy bundled off into the half frozen Neva River. When the St Petersburg authorities recovered the body three days later and did an autopsy on it, drowning was pronounced as the cause of death.

2.     Félix-Roland Moumié
Dr. Felix-Roland Moumie was the head of the UPC (Union of the Populations of the Cameroons), a political party advocating the reunification of French Cameroun and British Cameroons, Trust Territories from the former German Kamerun whose independence the UPC demanded under the auspices of the United Nations. He was the successor of the party’s first leader, Ruben Um Nyobe, massacred by French forces in September 1958; two years after the French banned the UPC, a party that enjoyed the overwhelming support of Cameroonians. Dr. Felix-Roland Moumie, the exiled leader of the Cameroonian nationalist movement, was in Europe visiting in October 1960, when William Bechtel invited him to dinner in a hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, posing as a journalist.  In reality, he was a member of the "Main Rouge," an offshoot of a special unit in the French secret service charged with killing anti-French and pro-independent African nationalists and their supporters in Europe. Distracted by a summon to the phone by a restaurant staff, Moumie left his unfinished drink  that Bechtel  contaminated by pouring  a lethal does of thallium into it.  But Moumie did not drink it upon his return. So Bechtel created another distraction, during which he poured another dose of thallium into Moumie's wine. Moumie ended up gulping both drinks and died in a Geneva hospital on Nov. 3, 1960, days before his return to Guinea, and much earlier than his killers had planned. Taking an overdose of the poison thwarted the plot of blaming his death on Guinean president Sekou Toure, who was hosting Moumie in the Guinean capital of Conakry.
Fifty years after, Cameroon is still in the control of the anti-UPC forces and has never experienced rule under a head of state that is the choice of the people.  The mafia continues. The country that embodies Africa's daring spirit is still in the grips of those who betrayed its noble intentions and spat on its dream.
…To be continued

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Often times, the most complicated peace is better than the simplest war. Both Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara are losers and both led the Ivorian people towards a losing path. I pity them both, because I think there is a nucleus of goodness in their souls.

There are tons of lessons to learn from the decade old Ivorian quagmire that ultimately led to the humiliation of a naïve Gbagbo and the crippled ascension to power of Ouattara; one of which is that the arena of African power play or politics is a battle ground of ancient Greek classic proportions, like "The Iliad", where the warriors reel in their bravado, unconscious of the external influences of the greater powers (the gods) in their victories, defeats, survivals or escapes. The Parlement generation of Cameroon, especially those of the later years, suffer deeply from that incomprehension.

France's detrimental involvement in African local politics has been done with impunity, usually masqueraded as French efforts to save lives in areas they controlled in the past and ensured peace and prosperity during their colonial rule. In a nutshell, France and the squabbling successors of Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Konan Bedie, Ouattara, and General Gei etc) saw Gbagbo’s 2000 electoral victory as an unacceptable mistake on their part that needed correction. Developments in the country after that, whether directly or indirectly, stemmed from that conception.

Countries like Cameroon will never be free unless France accepts the error of its ways one way or the other. And some Africans are not helping the process of growth when we come out blindly against those Africans who in their amateurish and short-sighted ways confronted the full machinery of the conspiratorial powers (or god-like powers when analogizing from ancient Greek mythology).

I won't comment deeply on this Ivorian problem. We will face it again in Cameroon; and the rest of Central Africa will be gripped by similar deceptions in the next couple of years. But one thing for sure is that this French pattern has been in application for close to a century in Africa.

The job of the post-independence advocates of change is to study the methods keeping Africans under perpetual helplessness and chaos to the point where the organizers of the chaos end up looking like the saviors. Africans should understand their history, master the levers of power and understand that their salvation rests only in them sticking together and accepting one another as indispensable contributors in a future, prosperous and free country and continent.

I say so with sadness because two days ago, I talked with ex-Zairois who blamed Lumumba for the  deplorable state of The Democratic Republic of Congo today; accusing him of taking Congo to independence when they were not ready, of bringing Mobuto to power and for not sharing his vision with the other politicians. It is like blaming Jesus Christ for his betrayal by Judas. And Congo, the sick heart of Africa will find itself trapped for eternity in incomprehension if it does not reconcile itself to its paralyzing history inflicted on the infant nation by the powers that plotted Lumumba's ouster and death.

Equally, in a three way discourse with a Dutch professor in Amsterdam in 2003, a fellow compatriot argued forcefully that there has never been a war in Cameroon, that no massacres were carried out by French and Ahidjo forces, that Biya is a great leader and that Cameroon was doing great, which is why it is better off than most African countries. A fool’s paradise I called it. Or was he gripped by the Potemkin syndrome at the time? Not until the young man read Triple Agent, Double Cross afterwards, not until after having had his curiosity aroused, and after doing some research of his own did he lament the degree of brainwashing he and most Cameroonians had been subjected to. He was still brainwashed while studying and living in Europe’s most liberal country.

Africans need to emancipate themselves from the mental slavery that still has most of Africa trapped in incomprehension and suffering from a lack of sense of direction. The lucky ones, especially those in the Diaspora, should be leading the effort of emancipation.

                                                                                                     April 13, 2011


My observation in a generalized form is that the Cameroonian soul is subconsciously nationalistic in the civic sense of the word, but the mindset is impulsively divisive. We love our different dishes, wriggle to our numerous music, cheer and grief for the national team, pride over our bilingualism and ethnic diversity and collectively hope for a change and a better future New Cameroon.

When confronted by a challenge that is not easy to overcome, we impulsively become divisive, dwelling on differences instead of compatibilities, and falling back on our ethnic groups, tribes, provinces, regions and villages; all depending on the severity of the challenge. This mindset enables us to escape from self-blame and pushes us to limit collective blame to a point where we tend to exclude ourselves as a people (region, province, ethnic group, tribe, village or religion) from the Cameroonian malady.

It is this malady of an impulsively divisive mindset that makes us, the commentators in various fora( a microcosm of present day society as a whole), who before identified themselves as members of the opposition and advocates of change fighting for a New Cameroon,  but  who yesterday constrained  themselves  from the national goals  by advocating for  the objectives of  different interest groups---the numerous Southern Cameroons  factions, the various religious groups, the thousands collaborating with the outdated and corrupt system; to portray ourselves today as propagators of NW/SW divide, anti-Anglophone, anti-Francophone and as ethno-centrists or tribalists.

As exponents of change, we shall never move forward in any direction unless we mitigate or suppress those divisive impulses.

I weep for that Cameroonian soul that began the march to the New Cameroon (1946-1966), the Cameroon that united the people in their total and complete rejection of the anachronistic system and the Biya regime (1990-1993)

Cameroonians should regard with skepticism those political figures that use the regional or tribal cards for personal reasons.

It shouldn't be strange to anyone that Biya and the leaders of the so-called opposition are intrinsically ethnocentric, having little experience outside of their ancestral lands or provinces. In a curious way, they don't have a deep empathy for other Cameroonians. It takes a great deal to try to understand how others who are not from the group we come from, think or feel in the collective framework of Cameroon. Being  advanced psychosocially, which involves the ability to relate to other Cameroonians in an in-depth manner,  is a major prerequisite for being a true union nationalist, and it is a quality we should be looking for in our leaders in the next phase of the struggle.