Happy New Year 2013 – 2012 in review

It has been an eventful year and as we countdown the last few hours of 2012, I have just a few words:

“If you want to succeed in your life, remember this phrase: ‘The Past does not equal The Future.’ Because you failed yesterday; or all day today; or a moment ago; or for the last six months; the last 16 years; or the last fifty years of life, doesn’t mean anything…All that matters is: What are you going to do, RIGHT NOW!”

~ Anthony Robbins.

While thanking all who visited my blog this year, I am presenting this 2012 Annual report that WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon: Symptom of a Country in Travail

Introduction

There may be a relationship between good governance of a country and the performance of the national football team. Of course this is arguably a logic that may not hold true in most cases, but I do not want to simply sweep the possibility under the carpet. The dismal performance in the past few years, of the Cameroonian National Football team, fondly called the ‘Indomitable Lions’, may seem to the casual observer as one of the manifestations of the cyclic nature of history where institutions rise and fall. But to a person who takes a closer look at the last 3 decades, it is no isolated incident in the history of a country that seems to be marked for extinction.

The humiliating defeat on October, 14th, 2012, of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, a country of over 20 million, by the tiny Island of Cape Verde, a country of about 500,000 people, was not the first, but one of a series of manifestations of the imminent collapse of not just the national team but the country itself. The size of a country may not really matter in a game of football but the history of any institution does matter.

The Rise and Stagger of the Indomitable Lions

1990 - Oman Biyik lifts the team up
1990 – Oman Biyik lifts the team up

The entry of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon into the hall of Fame was in 1982 when they first played at the FIFA World Cup Finals. The team has made more appearances than any other African team for the FIFA World Cup, 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010, and are credited for being the first African team to reach the quarter-final of the World Cup, in 1990, losing to England in injury time. However, it would seem the team sustained an injury during that time that has become difficult to heal. This is because the injury was not sustained in the field but off-the field as the makers of the Cameroon Polity saw it as an opportunity to get the team entangled in its politics of corruption and underdevelopment.[1]

In 1994 Cameroonians united as never before and maybe, never again on a common goal – supporting the Indomitable Lions. The Opération coup de Coeur launched by the then Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu and the then Minister of Communication Augustin Kontchou Kouomegni, as a National Fundraiser to support the Indomitable Lions’ USA Campaign, came against the backdrop of the country’s refusal to disburse funds for the team that had made the Nation proud four years previously. [2] The operation was a resounding success as Cameroonians from all walks of life donated their widow’s mites that made up the 4 million that paradoxically, never reached the Indomitable Lions.  When asked of the whereabouts of the money, Kouomegni simply said: “l’argent s’est perdue quelque part dans le ciel entre Paris et New York[3] (Pigeaud, 2011, p 195). Kontchou’s crass remarks went unquestioned, while a journalist earned a suspension for daring to mention J. A. Bell[4]’s criticism of the infamous comments.

With such a gross act of broad daylight robbery against the Cameroonian people, little wonder the Lions had a terrible campaign in the USA suffering the worst defeat of recent memory to Russia, albeit with Roger Miller, scoring the lone goal and making history as the oldest player to have played and scored at the world cup.[5] One would have thought that this would be the end of the Indomitable Lions, but as their name signifies, they were not daunted. In 1998, they made another attempt on the World stage, which again failed to replicate the results of 1990, but two years later in the year 2000, the squad won the Nation’s first-ever gold at the Olympics in Sydney and it seemed to have signalled a new dawn for the team.

Squad of World Cup 1990
Squad of World Cup 1990

Reinvigorated, the team won the African Cup of Nations and came top of their group in the 2002 world cup qualifies but again, 1990 seemed to be a long time gone in to history as they produced yet another heartbreaking result for Cameroonian. However, the win of the African cup of Nations meant that in 2003, they were to participate in the FIFA Confederations Cup. The Lions put up their best performance in a competition outside of Africa but unfortunately, by the 72nd minute of the semi-final between Cameroon and Colombia, Marc-Vivien Foé collapsed and was pronounced dead a few hours later. Cameroon lost to France in the finals. This loss seemed to close the curtains on the Indomitable

2003 - Foe left the pitch never to return
2003 – Foe left the pitch never to return

Lions, as a team.

They failed to qualify for the 2006 world cup, (the first time since 1990 and the second since 1982), had their worst ever World Cup campaign in 2010 and have failed to qualify two consecutive times for the African Cup of Nations.[6]

The indomitable Lions and Biya’s Regime: The parallel

1982 is definitely an important year for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and Cameroon’s 2nd President, Paul Biya. While the Lions made their debut in the World Cup, Biya made his debut as president of the country. Both events however, could only have been possible through skilful planning of previous years – the former, because the Ahmadou Ahidjo regime had the largesse to host the 1972 African Nations Cup (the only tournament the country has hosted in the last 40 years), which ostensibly meant the provision of infrastructure of better training and preparation, and the latter because Ahidjo ‘loved’ Cameroon so much that he decided to resign and hand over power on grounds of ill-health. [7]

6 Terms for Biya - 6 Lions appearances at the World Cup
6 Terms for Biya – 6 Lions appearances at the World Cup

Diminishing returns seemed to have set in rather too early for both the team and the regime. One failed to qualify for the 1986 World Cup, and the other drove the economy to a crisis. The “Cameroon economic crises” resulted in rising prices in Cameroon, trade deficits, and loss of government revenue. The crisis was officially acknowledged by the Cameroon government in 1987. While external observers and critics blamed poor government stewardship of the economy, the government instead placed the blame on the fall of the prices of exports, particularly a steep drop in the price of petroleum. Cameroon balked at the condition to follow strict cost-cutting suggestions laid out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and took a seemingly wise decision to formulate her own plan, which turned out in principle, to be not much different from that proposed earlier.

As was to be expected these measures met with international approval, but violent crime rose as a result of the increase in unemployment. Cameroon’s plan failed to curb corruption. By October, 1988, the intended effect was less than had been hoped, and Cameroon was left with no other option than to agree to an IMF aid package worth $150 million and to accept a structural adjustment program (SAP) loan. The African Development Bank, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom loaned the government further funds (Delancey and Delancey, 2000). In the midst of this entire economic quagmire, the Lions bounced back and qualified for the 1990 World Cup finals.

The winds of change blowing across the world in 1990 did not leave out the Indomitable Lions and Biya’s government. On May, 26th 1990, the launching of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) meant the end of Biya’s one-party rule. The euphoria of the SDF launching was however, clouded by the success of the National team in the 1990 World Cup finals.

The 1992 presidential elections which the SDF allegedly won but was denied by the Biya government had been preceded in March of the same year with the appointment of Simon Achidi Achu[8], as the first Anglophone Prime Minister[9]. While the intention was to effectively orchestrate a dived-and-rule policy, Achu became the person to initiate and launch the 1994 Opération coup de Coeur. The outcome of the fundraiser clearly epitomises the level of Cameroonian politics and how festered it is by corruption. That both Achu and Kouomegni have never been called to answer for the disappearance of the said money, and given that upon leaving the Prime Ministry in 1996, the former has held many more positions of responsibility are only indications of how Biya’s government rewards corruption with better appointments. But corruption, like any dangerous virus, leaves a scar in its wake.

Thirty Years of ‘Undevelopment’

A trip I made across six of the ten regions of Cameroon, (Littoral, South West, Adamawa, North West, West and Centre) in September, 2011, revealed exactly what the country typifies. While it is fondly called ‘Africa in Miniature’ because of its diversity and richness, it also embodies the plight of the African continent. I was stunned to find this rich nation, an exporter of petroleum and many natural resources steeped in the morass of poverty and dilapidation. The effects of 30 years of rapacious political leadership, political patronage, large scale corruption, abject poverty, structural injustice, executive recklessness, total abuse of human rights and the widespread abuse of power were all too evident. [10]

Typical Cameroonian Road
Typical Cameroonian Road

 

The Cameroon polity and its National team both stand as the quintessence of the Marxian class society, the gargantuan disparity of privilege for a very tiny class, misery for the vast populace.[11] The sombre clouds of such a dismal reality, coupled with corruption across the government and governing body of FECAFOOT, to the failed promises made to Marc Vivien who died in the battlefield are reasons enough to destroy the fighting spirit of even the bravest lion.

When a child is born in a country, and grows up to realise that the only positive variable is their age, while everything else is held constant or diminishing; when a young person grows up to see roads and other transportation networks disappearing and becoming death-traps; when such a person, sees basic amenities like water and electricity supply drop in an age of increasing technological advancement in other parts of the world and all they hear from a stagnant political class are empty speeches about a ‘Cameroon of Great Ambitions’; when a young man grows in a country and believes that the only way to be successful is to travel to another; when the only thing that a country is known for is football and when this begins to dwindle into oblivion, then it is time to weep  for such a country.

Results of 30 Years of 'Great Ambitions'
Results of 30 Years of ‘Great Ambitions’

Conclusion

If anyone is wondering where I am going with this analysis, then, wonder no further than the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Index of African Governance which awards a $5 million Prize to a democratically elected former African head of state or government, who governed well, raised living standards, and then voluntarily left office.. This Index ranks African countries by progress across 88 indicators in four categories: safety and the rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development. While Cape Verde in 2012 came 2nd, Cameroon came 37th. [12]

Last year, in 2011, Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires won the prize while Paul Biya of Cameroon won another 7-year term in office, after 29 years. In 2012, it should not have been surprising then that Cape Verde beat the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon to qualify for the African Nations Cup. Hence, if one were attempting to look at the correlation between good governance and good performance in football, look no further than the case of Cameroon and Cape Verde.

Notes

[1][1] See Fanny Pigeaud, (2011) Au Cameroun de Paul Biya Paris: Editions Karthala, http://www.amazon.fr/cameroun-Paul-Biya-Fanny-Pigeaud/dp/2811105263#reader_2811105263

[2] Pambazuka News, “What makes Biya’s despotic regime tick” http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/77469

[3] Translation: “The money got missing somewhere in the sky between Paris and New York”.

[4] One of the goalkeepers of the Indomitable Lions

[5] FIFA.COM Roger Milla, the pride of the Indomitable Lions http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/player=79318/index.html

[6]APA News  Cameroon knocked out of CAN qualifiers http://www.apanews.net/photo/en/photo.php?id=185889

[7] Mark W. Delancey and Mark Dike Delancey, (2000) Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon, 3rd. ed., Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press

[8] from the same Bamenda where the SDF was launched

[10] See for example Banda, C. (2012) Much Needs To Be Done About Human Rights In Cameroon http://www.cameroonpostline.com/Content.aspx?ModuleID=1&ItemID=9326

[11] See allAfrica.com Cameroon: Fecafoot to Construct Ultra-modern Office http://allafrica.com/stories/201211141181.html

[12] Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2012 Summary http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/downloads/2012-IIAG-summary-report.pdf

Cameroon: Africa in Miniature – In what Sense?

During the past few weeks I have had occasion to introduce myself to many people and three out of these remarked when I mentioned I was from Cameroon “you guys have a great football team! What is that guy’s name again… Roger Milla’…. and that was it. They knew nothing else about Cameroon. In a way it is a relief that I did not get to be asked whether there is war in my country or some of those obnoxious questions. The reason for this lack of information is not far from the fact that today, the world thrives in reporting on negative things and leaving out the good ones. Hence, I was really intrigued by this beautiful piece written by Ekango Afoh Rhoda of the Royal Concept Travels which gives a person a reason to visit Cameroon other than as a NGO worker or a researcher.

REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT CAMEROON

Planning a trip to Africa anytime soon?   Guess what? You have the unique opportunity of visiting the whole of Africa just by planning a trip to one country- CAMEROON.  Sounds intriguing right? You most be asking yourself right now-how’s that possible? Let me tell how.

Map of Cameroon

First things first – English and French are official languages, a heritage of Cameroon’s colonial past as both a colony of the United Kingdom and France from 1916 to 1960. This means that two of the most popular languages in the world are spoken in Cameroon. Canada is the only other country that has these two languages.

– But more intriguing is that Cameroon is home to 230 languages. These include 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, two Nilo-Saharan languages, and 173 Niger-Congo languages. This latter group is divided into one West Atlantic language (Fulfulde), 32 Adamawa-Ubangui languages, and 142 Benue-Congo languages (130 of which are Bantu languages).

Now to the more interesting bit…

Tourist literature describes Cameroon as “Africa in miniature” because it exhibits all major climates and vegetation of the continent: coast, desert, mountains, rainforest, and savanna. The land is consisted of flat plains, mountains and coastal plain. It is a volcanic prone area as well. Therefore the soil is rich in minerals. The natural resources of the county are timber, gemstone, oil, gas, phosphate, iron ore, manganese etc.

Want to find out more, then plan a trip to Cameroon and you will not be short of things to do and places to visit. Below are but a few of the touristic attractions you should be looking forward to visiting:

South West Region

Buea:-Mount Cameroon (Mount Fako) , commonly called “the

Mount Fako
Mount Fako

he chariots of the gods’’ its an amazing tourist site,and one of Africa’s largest volcanoes, rising to 4,040 meters (13,255 ft) above the coast of west Cameroon. Every year, people travel from all around the world to participate in the mount Cameroon race, either as spectators or runners. The race is hosted by

Mount Fako (Mount Cameroon)
Mount Fako (Mount Cameroon)

the government and sponsored by Guinness Cameroon, attracting over 2000 participants from around the world.

Limbe (Victoria):- while in Limbe you get to see a Zoo, Sun and Beaches. Limbe beaches :(Black sand Beaches at Semme and Ngeme,Batoke), limbe Botanic Garden covers nearly 48 hectares area. Presently it is a perfect garden to meet the requirements of science, education, recreation and tourism. This garden remains open for all. Limbe Botanic Garden in Cameroon is an ideal spot for nature lovers. The peaceful atmosphere will refresh your soul in no time. The backdrop of Mount Cameroon enhance the beauty of the garden.

Limbe Botanical Gardens
Limbe Botanical Gardens
Black Sand Beach Limbe
Black Sand Beach Limbe

MUNDEMBA:-Korup is Africa’s oldest and most diverse rainforest. Established in 1986, Korup National Park covers an area of 1,260 km² between Mundemba and Eyumojock in the South West Province of Cameroon. More than 620 species of trees and shrubs and at least 480 species of herbs and climbers have so far been recorded. Korup is the single richest lowland site in Africa for birds (more than 400 species), herpetofauna (82 reptiles and 92 amphibians) and butterflies (around 1,000 species). There are in addition 130 different species of fish and more than 160 mammals. Many of them are endangered and some are found nowhere else on earth.

 Hanging Bridge at Korup National Park

Hanging Bridge at Korup National Park

 

 

North West Region

Woodcraft in Bamenda
Woodcraft in Bamenda

Bamenda :-Just on your way to the North West you see Amazing landscapes  that will blow your mind, and take you to another world. You will get to see its beautiful Palaces and Fondoms e.g the Bafut chiefdom one of the most beautiful palaces in the traditional Northwest region with particular organization architecture. You could see the ‘’Talking Drum’ ’visit the museum and the palace and attend the mask traditional dance (Juju).visit places like Mankon, Babanki Tungo with its famous Sabga Hill; the Babungo Palace one of the greatest kingdoms of the plain and Ndop famous for its rich museums.

A Section of Sabga Hill
A Section of Sabga Hill

 Awing: one of the small villages in the North West Region but leaving without visiting there will not be fair it has and amazing landscape beautiful sceneries and  a  mysterious lake ‘’Awing Lake’’. The touristic attraction to Cameroon lakes over many years has been phenomenal. People are attracted to their eerie appearance, and bizarre stories. Most of these lakes are found in the Northwest region in Cameroon, spread across different tribes. They are believed to harbor ancestors and spirits which are worshiped as gods. However, the entire experience in visiting the lake is completely fascinating.  Lake Awing is the most sacred place in the Northwest village Awing. The lake is exceptionally still

Lake Awing
Lake Awing

during the day and glitters under a bright sunlight. Only certain areas are open for swimming but the lake is generally kept sacred for yearly sacrifices to the gods of the village.Myths have it that the water travels at night and anyone passing by it at a certain hour in the night will see lighted houses in the place of the water. These houses are reputed to be the residence of the ancestral spirits. However, curiosity is not advised. The lake is easily accessible by road given that it is found in the heart of Awing, which is a village with car roads.

Far North  Region

Elephants
Elephants

Garoua:-you get to visit one of the most famous arks in the country known as the ‘’Waza Park’ ’Founded in 1934,covers a total of 1,700 sq km, was instituted as a National Park in 1968.The Waza park is home to Giraffes, Antelopes, Elephants ,lions, Over 379 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Lions have been celebrated throughout history for their courage and strength, dreaming to be in direct contact with the  big wild Cats of Africa? Visiting Waza turns your dreams to realities.

Waza Wild Cats
Waza Wild Cats

Rhumsiki:-  a village in the Far North Region of Cameroon. Rhumsiki is located in the Mandara Mountains 55 km (34 mi) from Mokolo and 3 km (2 mi) from the border with Nigeria. Surroundings are “one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.” The spectacular effect is created by surrounding volcanic plugs (the remnants of long-dormant volcanoes), basalt outcroppings, and the Mandara Mountains. Get the chance to see Hippopotamus ponds. Pursuit, visiting assistant crabs that will predict your future with amazing accuracy, visit potters and weavers to discover their wonderful work.

Rhumsiki peak
Rhumsiki peak

East Region

Untainted Cameroonians
Untainted Cameroonians

Here you meet a people still very in touch with its tradition. Historically, the peoples of the East have been settled in Cameroonian territory for longer than any other of the country’s many ethnic groups, the first inhabitants being the Baka (or Babinga) pygmies. Though traditionally  hunter-gatherers, in recent times, the Baka have established trade with their Bantu neighbors, exchanging wild game for crops or metal tools. Pygmies believe that a god named Tore created the world and is the supreme being. He is identified with the forest, since everything is dependent on it. They only call upon Tore during times of crisis. He is usually summoned by a trumpet blast, which is supposed to imitate his voice. Some groups believe that

Eastern Region
Eastern Region

after creating the first humans, Tore was no longer interested in the affairs of the world, and so he withdrew to the sky.Pygmies also believe that “forest spirits” influence the souls of the dead. The Efe, in particular, believe that after Pygmies die, their borupi, which means “rhythm” or “life,” is carried away from the body by a fly. They believe the fly takes them to Tore.

Center Region

Yaoundé
Yaoundé

Yaoundé:- founded in 1888 by German traders as a base for the ivory trade and as an agricultural research station. It was occupied by Belgian troops during World War I. After Germany’s defeat, France became the colonial power in eastern Cameroon. Yaoundé consequently became the capital of French Cameroon, and continued as the capital of the Republic of Cameroon at independence. With a pop of approximately 2.5 million, the second largest city in the country after the port city Douala. Visit the Mvog Betsi Zoo-botanic garden.

Kribi:- It has an estimated population of 55401. [1] It services sea traffic in the Gulf of Guinea and also lies near the terminus of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline. The Lobé Waterfalls are nearby and there is a road inland, through the Littoral Evergreen Forest, as far as Lolodorf.Visit of the cascade lobe(the only place where a waterfalls enters the Atlantic Ocean by a waterfall).Beautiful scenery of sea and beautiful sandy beach. You definitely will love  to eat fresh seafood. Visit the Museum of grand Batanga with varied and diversified objects.

Kribi Beautiful Beach
Kribi Beautiful Beach

The tourism industry is currently under going rapid growth of unsurpassed nature and Cameroon is moving along with that pace. Like most countries in Africa Cameroon remains still unknown to the world beyond negative reports of wars and famine. However it has lot to offer, we could go on and on just naming the varied touristic sites Cameroon has got to offer, but we will not be able to name it all. These are just few of the Beautiful sites you will be privileged to visit should you plan a trip to Cameroon. Thanks to its vast diversity, during a trip in Cameroon one is left with the impression of visiting the whole of Africa at the same time.

Pick up you Calendar and start scheduling for your next vacation to Cameroon you will be left breathless and you just might be planning a lifetime in Cameroon.