Wednesday, February 8, 2012

HEROES FROM STRANGE QUARTERS—my unknown Kumba friend (the Tabenyang/Ndoki Mukete drama)

Following the SDF/Fru Ndi-won 1992 presidential elections that the Biya regime and the French-imposed system stole; and with Bamenda in a state of emergency and Fru Ndi put under house arrest, the system saw Limbe  or Victoria  ( that orchestrated the resignation of CPDM parliamentarian to the SDF—Victoria Ndando, that orchestrated the resignation of the CPDM Youth-wing president to the SDF—Ebai Namme, that brought the kingmaker of influential Bandjoun into the SDF—Evariste Foupoussi, that  led in the  implantation of  the SDF in the Southwest province against the system’s propaganda of it being a Graffi party, and that led the  machinations that created the bridge  for Cameroonian nationalists East of the Mungo to move into the SDF) as the ideological nerve of the party, thinking it could use it as its safety valve in surviving an uncertain future. After all, the nation was in disarray or partial paralysis and the cost of moving it forward was too high (for the French in particular). France and the Biya regime did not believe Paul Biya could survive the electoral fraud of 1992.

The system made tentative moves for dialogue, using Chemfor as the person to make contact with Dr. Samuel F. Tchwenko (the SDF ideologue at the time and the chief orchestrator of the above achievements), who himself was on the run. Fru Ndi told him to go ahead and represent the party.  Tchwenko left with his delegation made up of Charles Nkwanyuo, Evaristus Foupoussi and Louis Shalo, and met with the CPDM delegation led by Sadou Hayatou and Omgba Damase.

In a nutshell, the system offered him the post of prime minister in a union government with the the CPDM to choose his ministers except for certain ministries. Biya would stay as president and "not be touched". And Sadou Hayatou and OMfba Damase pledged to compensate him—Tchwenko for his clinic that the ruling party's thugs burnt down in 1991, apologizing about their agents not following instructions.  Sadou Hayatou said those proposals were the package deal he had been told to present and that he had no powers to negotiate on SDF’s demands presented by Tchwenko that spelt a way forward without Paul Biya and the CPDM being the primary authority. Hayatou said he would get back with his boss; and that was how the talks ended.

Tchwenko, returned, submitted his report to the party, warning that the cause espoused by the SDF was on a collusion course with the system whose inner machinations made it so anti-people that it would be suicidal to conciliate with it. It turned out that there were many in the SDF (the non-revolutionary) who saw Tchwenko’s rejection of the regime’s offer of a union government as a missed opportunity that could be gained through political machinations. There were many in the SDF whose ambitions  to hold  ministerial and other top-rewarding administrative positions in the system superseded the far-reaching goals of change and the New Cameroon that the vast majority of Cameroonians wanted. That was the beginning of the infighting that has gripped the SDF ever since, which saw its leadership spending more time fighting among themselves than against the system; and which gradually saw it moving away from the revolutionary path to the pathetic position it is today.

In 1993/1994, a faction in the SDF that advocated a union-government with the system started making itself felt. It was led by Siga Asanga (the secretary General), Kamdoum, ( the Centre provincial chairman etc). In the Southwest province, they were led by Ndoki Mukete (the new provincial chairman). When their activities were uncovered, the SDF leadership decided to act. Siga Asanga, Kamdoum etc lost their positions following voting at NEC’s disciplinary committee. A decision was also  made at NEC to reorganize some of the party’s structures that had been greatly infiltrated by this group, including the provincial executive of the Southwest province that Ndoki Mukete headed. Ndoki Mukete did a good job of concealing the reason for the reorganization, convincing many in areas like Kupe-Manengouba, Ndian, Meme etc, that those opposing him (Tabenyang was the one leading the opposition backed by the anti-union-government faction in Limbe) were the ones who wanted to join the Biya government. His campaign was effective until the last hour(s) when last-minute sensitization of the delegates opened the eyes of many to the drama. Ndoki Mukete and his group lost the elections in the Southwest province to a team with Tabenyang at its head.

Limbe was held the most responsible for Ndoki Mukete’s loss. Many in his team thought I had a great deal to answer for Ndoki’s defeat to the point of attacking me physically in an assault led by a 6.6 foot (2 metres) guy from Kumba who virtually had muscles popping out everywhere on his body. But many people rushed to my defence and I walked away unharmed that day. The utterances of the detractors that day were serious eye-openers.

A couple of months later, I found myself visiting Kumba and walking the street when a voice kept calling “Grand, grand...grand, grand!” I finally turned around to find that the fellow seeking the attention of my ears was the 2-meter Ndoki Mukete bodyguard, or aide, or whatever; and he was getting up on his feet on the verandah of what  I supposed was his home . I stopped, bracing myself for the worst.

This gentleman, who could have been of my age or even older, walked over to me with a smile spread across his face, and then extended his hand and greeted me.

I was taken aback all right by his gesture, but it was his words that moved me the most.

“Grand, I am sorry about what happened last December,” he said, “We didn’t know about it, but you were right. Ndoki let us down. hey bought him. He is with Biya, them...”

I was touched by this gentleman's serenity, a fellow whose name I cannot remember. I was touched by his sense of humility, of accepting errors. When two years later, Tabenyang betrayed us like Ndoki did, or perhaps even worse by switching to the CPDM, claiming that decisions by the SDF's National Executive Commite and the chairman robbed him of his right to become the SDF parliamentary representative for Many Division; I wish until this day that I had another opportunity to meet with this gentleman from Kumba and say to him with utmost sincerity that, “Grand, grand, I was wrong too. My man Tabenyang was not different from your man Ndoki.”

That is a debt I owe my Bafou friend. If most of us Cameroonians accept that we owe one another that debt because we or someone we held highly betrayed our trust and the collective trust of the Cameroonian people, then we can practically say that we are on the same side—the camp of the genuine advocates of change because we, or people we hold highly sided with the camp of the enemies of the people. The acceptance of such shortcomings will make the fight easier following the launch of the fourth phase of the Cameroonian struggle to get rid of the anachronistic and retarding French-imposed system, and then found the "New Cameroon" in its place.

Janvier Tchouteu-Chando                                                                February 07, 2012