I am a child of the Dark Continent. I am a child of a land where you will find the most genuine happiness and the most genuine suffering. I am a child of a land whose soul is in conflict. I am a child of Africa.
Africa is a continent caught between child-like innocence and evil disposition. Africa’s child-like innocence is what gives the continent its beauty, its hospitality, its incredible retention of hope and the richness of its soul. It is what makes the cradle of civilization so human despite its horrific past. Even though the continent is the most afflicted in the history of humanity, it never despairs. That is the side of Africa I love. That is the side of Africa that should be nurtured. That is the Africa for the future.
Even as we hope and weep for that human side of Africa, we can not close our eyes to its evil disposition. Africa is still a haunted continent; haunted by the legacies of misrule, wars, slavery, imperialism, colonialism, cold war, neo-imperialism, racism, genocide and ethno-centrism. It is the different mix of those negative legacies that is haunting the continent today and that is preventing it from shaking off its underdevelopment to become an integral part of the global economy and the democratic world civilization. Why is Africa’s evil disposition dominant? Outsiders to Africa may think the answer lies with the African people, that the African people have an innate inferiority complex. Even some Africans intellectuals also blame the African people for the plight of the continent.
The liberation generation that was against colonialism rejected that notion of an innate inferiority complex in the African and convinced the world in the 1950s and 1960s that Africa was a place of optimism, the coming continent of the second half of the twentieth century and the torch of the new millennium. After all Asia was a basket case at the time; plague by famine, wars, religious strife, repression and oppression. And Latin America was gripped by dictatorships, and gross social and economic inequalities.
I have been trying to understand how Africa and my country in particular derailed from the noble vision on which the quest for independence was founded; to the suffering, poverty and violence that has made life more miserable for its people? It is difficult to understand why in the 1990s, most of Africa failed to change while the rest of the world took advantage of the end of the cold war. The collapse of the Berlin Wall; Mandela’s release following close to three decades of imprisonment and the end of Apartheid; the demise of the Soviet Union; the collapse of radical war communism (Stalinism) as an economic and political system; the signing of the Oslo peace accords that heralded peace between Israel and the Arab states in the Middle East; and the rise of new regional economic organizations and the strengthening of old ones, brought peace, prosperity , freedom, liberty and democracy to other parts of the world but failed to do so in Africa.
Historians claimed that the 1990s heralded the end of history as we had known it over the centuries, and predicted a new world order where liberal democracy and free markets would regulate relations between nations and people. And since democratic societies do not go to war against one another and are insusceptible to internal conflict, the optimists believed that the destinies of peoples and continents that embraced liberal democracy and the free market would become intertwined.
I too do not believe in the innate inferiority complex of the African. I believe in the noble visions of the fathers of African liberation. I believe in Africa’s child-like innocence whose advanced humanism could produce heroes like Martin Paul Samba (Mebenga Mebono) Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Nkwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba. That is why I grew up haunted by these questions about Africa and the country of my birth:
· Why is there so much poverty?
· Why has the continent remained so underdeveloped while the rest of the world is moving forward?
· Why is Africa not using its immense natural resources to become developed?
· What ideas, form of organization and degree of cooperation does the continent need in order to develop?
· Why has the continent failed to be a part of the globalization and democratization trend that unleashed the developmental and progressive forces that leaped other less developed parts of the world like Asia and Latin America?
To understand the African problem, one has to get into the African soul. And to get into the African soul, one has to get through one of the doors into Africa. What are the doors? That’s the simple questioned I was asked decades ago. Simply, the doors are the African states.
The fact that I was born to a state that is at the centre of the African soul is a privilege I shall cherish until my last days. Kamerun, Cameroon or Cameroun is an embodiment of Africa, its complexity, its hopes, its dreams and its sufferings. Called Africa in miniature, the country too is haunted by the legacies of misrule, wars, slavery, imperialism, colonialism, cold war, neo-imperialism, racism, genocide and ethno-centrism, just like the rest of Africa as a whole. Through my involvement in the struggle to effect change in Cameroon, I came to terms with the Cameroonian and African malady.
Africa is trapped in poverty, underdevelopment, division, conflicts, tyranny; and lack of liberty, freedom and democracy because it has been hijacked by the minority with the evil disposition. These retarding African elements are backed by elements in powerful foreign nations who also have the evil disposition over Africa. Any effort to shake Cameroon and Africa out of the malady would require dismantling that system that protects the interest of those with the evil disposition; it would involve replacing the system with one guarantees the empowerment of the majority of the people, who without an iota of doubt posses the enthusiasm and commitment to develop the land and make freedom, liberty and democracy a reality.
Over the past five decades, Cameroon, like the rest of Africa has been caught in a power game by a world where those who call the shots are not those who love the continent; but are instead those who need it. The power brokers who control the retrogressive African States have set aside packs of rules for these states that are solely meant to defend their interests and not to promote progressive values. Those policies have been successful because collaborators were found amongst those Africans dominated by its evil disposition. Unfortunately for Cameroon and Africa, most of the African states have been hijacked by the alliance between Africans with the evil disposition and external power brokers who do not share the continent’s interest and have no empathy for the plight of Africa’ majority- those with the child-like innocence and faith in the future of the continent.
By identifying with the silent majority who are blessed with Africa’s child-like innocence, I am trying through this book to portray their efforts to shrug off the negative legacies of their history, and build a new, prosperous, free and liberal Cameroon and Africa. By finding an answer to Cameroon’s problems, one finds most of the answers to Africa’s problems. This book is a miniature portrayal of Africa’s struggle to embrace its diversity while harnessing progressive values that binds its people together. The book is also a rejection of the rule of those with the evil disposition who justify cruelty and mass deprivation as a means to retain power against the interest of the majority of their people.
The price has been high for steadfast and dedicated advocates of change who made the effort to understand the desperation, hopes and dreams of the powerless with the child-like innocence.
I made it a point of piercing the thinking, motivations and limits of the powerful with the evil disposition; who are determined to maintain power, influence, control and wealth; even as they drag the land and its people into abyss in the process.
It is easy to empathize with the despondent section of the majority with the child-like innocence whose lines are hardening and who are retreating into religious, regional, ethnic and tribal niches; and in so doing are losing faith over the revival of their countries and Africa as a whole.
I have a great deal of compassion for the hopeful majority and powerless who have the rich African soul and who though in political lethargy are waiting for a new direction, effective organization and committed leadership that can lead them to develop the land and realize liberty, freedom and democracy.
Nevertheless, it is easy to relate to the dedicated minority with the child-like innocence that share the noble visions for the land and committed themselves to realizing the new dawn. Though victimized, estranged and suffering because of their unwavering commitment to the struggle to realize a new dawn for their people, these “NEW AFRICANS” are prepared to pay any price to realize change. I understand them because I too got involved in the struggle with a virginal mind only to discover that what many know as the problem of our land is only the tip of the iceberg of our problems. The custodians of the system and those who benefit from it will never let go of power so easily. By challenging this retarding group in a do-or die struggle, we are opening a broader public debate, which will not only change our lives and the lives of our children for many years to come; but will also change world political thinking and the way Africa, its problems and its future are viewed.
The broader vision for Africa is a topic for another book. For now, I shall look at our problem from a limited perspective or at a micro level. I shall talk about the Cameroonian struggle and our involvement in it since the 1990s. By understanding the huddles it went through;
· we shall have a better insight into this country which is Africa in miniature;
· we shall understand the importance of a free, liberal, democratic and prosperous future for this land that is at the heart of Africa;
· we might come out of it with a better idea of how to find a solution to the country’s socio-economic and political impasse
· And we shall be better provided with broad outlines to the solutions of Africa’s problems.
The characters in this book are real and most of them are people in my life who in their different ways helped me to come to terms with the realities of my land. My heroes in this book are those who shared the dream for a better future for Cameroon and its children and who put their personal interests below the noble objectives of the struggle and the Cameroonian dream. I say so because I understand how lonely the path is for those at the forefront of a struggle to realize a dream. Apparently, the dream has not been realized even though a heavy price has been paid by those who genuinely believed in it, those who selflessly gave most or all that they had, and who were at the forefront of the struggle. Should we consider them as heroes or victims?
I think it is essential for us to treat with respect the legacies of those who sacrificed enormously for a selfless, progressive and unifying dream. It is only by emulating the positive legacies of those heroes that we can retain our hopes, harness our potentials and realize our dreams as a peaceful, united and progressive people. Emulation of the positive legacies of heroes and legends is particularly important for a people whose effort at liberation or redemption has been thwarted by those with the evil dispositions that are in power or that are also seeking power. For without the emulation of the positive aspects of a struggle whose objectives have not been realized, and of the visions of its heroes, we risk being doomed forever in despair and incomprehension.
This book is for you to judge. It is a journey into the paths of some of those who believed in the advanced dream of a prosperous nation where peace, unity, freedom, liberty and democracy would be part of the every day life of its citizens. It is a dream longed by its citizens, but one which has not been realized despite the high price paid for it.
· Who are the players?
· Who are the victims?
· Who are the heroes?
· What is to be learnt?
· What is to be done?
These are some of the questions you might be able to answer at the end of this book. The book is nothing more than the recollections from a person who fell from innocence and tried to learn from the fall. The learning was a process and it came about from being hurt, from hurting, from being betrayed, from trusting, from personal failings, from confronting harsh realities and from being humbled by reality. Yet it was a process that reinvigorated my faith in the struggle to realize a new and desirable society, a process that cemented the determination not to allow those with the evil disposition to prevail over the noble Cameroonian and African souls. I say so because even though the African people have been left behind in the race to freedom, liberty, democracy and prosperity; the African soul still leads the world with the human touch and the joy and happiness that come with being humane. With the liberation of that inner strength that is the African soul, the continent and its people shall catch up and play a prominent role in world development...