Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Notice of Training Opportunity for Secondary Teachers, Closes 3/8/2020

The Embassy of the United States in Cameroon is seeking highly qualified Cameroonian secondary school teachers to participate in the 2020-21 Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (Fulbright TEA), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Program Components

Teachers who are selected to participate in the Fulbright TEA Program will:

1) Participate in advanced undergraduate or graduate level classes at a U.S. host university;

2) Observe classes, co-teach, and share their expertise with U.S. colleagues in U.S. secondary schools;

3) Participate in an online professional learning community with other participants to share best practices and other elements of host and home country educational systems; and

4) Take part in other educational and cultural activities while in the United States.

Upon returning home, teachers will be expected to share the knowledge and experience gained on the program with teachers and students in their home schools and within their communities.

University Coursework

Weekly Seminars:   Teachers will participate in weekly seminars at their host university featuring presentations and discussions led by university staff, faculty members, and invited educational experts.  The academic seminars will focus on new teaching methodologies, content-based instruction, project-based learning, infusing thematic topics into curriculum, lesson planning, and instructional technology training for teachers.

U.S. School Placements: Teachers will be placed in a U.S. secondary school during the program, where they will observe classes, co-teach, and share information about their home countries and schools.  Each Fulbright teacher will be paired with a U.S. partner educator at his/her assigned school to facilitate sharing of best practices between the teachers.  Host university staff will identify schools and partner teachers near the university campus that are appropriate to each grantee’s teaching discipline(s).

Online Professional Learning Community:   Each Fulbright teacher will participate in a virtual community with other international educators to collaborate and share best practices about education and leadership in the participating countries.

Eligibility Criteria

1) Current secondary-level, full-time teachers of English, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), math, science, or social studies, including special education teachers in those subjects at institutions serving primarily a local population are eligible for the program.

2) Applicants must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and have completed at least five years of full-time teaching by the start of the program.

3) Secondary-level teachers include both middle and high school teachers serving students between approximately 12 and 18 years of age.

4) Applicants must reside in the country of citizenship at the time of application and of program participation.

Please note that this is an upper level university or graduate level academic program for practicing teachers.  Educational administrators (such as representatives or officials of the Ministry of Education) and school administrators who do not teach at least fifty percent of their time, full-time teacher trainers, university faculty, private English Language tutors, and teachers from schools primarily serving expatriates are not eligible.

Applicants who have in the past five to eight years traveled to the U.S. for exchange programs such as Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI) or International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) or to other Western countries for professional development must provide strong justification as to why they should be selected to go to the U.S. for the Fulbright TEA program.

How to Apply

Application deadline: March 8, 2020

The online application is available at: https://www.fulbrightteacherexchanges.org/ and https://www.irex.org/fulbright-tea.

A paper application is available by contacting the Public Affairs Section at ExchangesYaounde@state.gov.

[Video] Chinese Nationals Beat Zambian Student to Death

As Africans across the world and lamenting the new wave of Chinese colonial expeditions across Africa and the Caribbean, it appears as if Africans are not even welcome to live freely in China. Amidst many reports of everyday racism faced by Africans who live, study or work in China, a Zambian student has allegedly been beaten to death for dating a Chinese woman.

Twenty-Five years old Chrispine Mwale, a Civil engineering student was beaten to death after he was found in a Chinese woman’s apartment. It is said alleged that Mr. Mwale spent the night at his girlfriend’s place after clubbing on a Sunday night.

As he was relaxing and enjoying his day with his girlfriend, four Chinese men stormed the apartment and dragged Mr. Mwale out and started beating him with iron bars. Video evidence taken at the scene can clearly see the thugs thumping on the helpless Chrispine Mwale, as he screamed and writhed in agony.

An eyewitness, who also happens to be a close friend to Mr. Mwale, gives his own account of the events thus: “We went out drinking on a Sunday night as a group. After our drinks we got on a taxi heading to our apartment. On the way Mr. Mwale’s girlfriend said she wanted to spend a night with him. That’s how they left and I was only called by the girlfriend in the morning to come and save my friend”.

This same friend explains that upon arriving at the scene, he saw a badly beaten and bruised Chrispine. The Chinese men continued to beat him, despite their pleadings. In addition to the beating, they rained insults and stated that they could not allow a poor African to have a child in their country. According to the Chinese thugs, no African or Black man was allowed to date a Chinese woman.

When their victim stopped moving and screaming, the eyewitness reports, the thugs stopped and only then did they try to help Chrispine. They found out that he had already died.

Why I Can’t Be Silent about School Boycott in English-speaking Cameroon

When I talk about schools in d North West and South West Regions  of Cameroon, It is not as if I stand to personally gain or lose if schools remain closed.

Malala

When I speak out against school boycott, I am thinking of the child who did NOT choose any of these.

I am thinking of the child who sits and wonders why they cannot go to school but their rich  neighbour’s kids have either gone to school in other towns or the expensive ones where there is security.

I am thinking of that child whose dream to read and write is being taken away, yet they have no say.

I am thinking of that child who, because of school boycott, is now subjected to child labour in the farms.

I am thinking of that child who will be forced into marriage because they have no reason to stay around.

I am thinking of that child who will want to understand why there is a war, but will have to rely on oral history, because they cannot research and read for themselves

I am thinking of that child who will not understand why both factions in the conflict claim to be fighting for their future yet neglect their present.

That child who wonders why it is that despite insecurity, other businesses function but schools do not.

YES.. I don’t own a school and I have no kids of my own who have to go to school.

I could keep quite because of the insults and threats to my life… but if I do, how will I sleep at night knowing that these children will one day accuse me of doing nothing.

If I keep quiet because I am afraid to use my education to speak out, then I don’t deserve to extoll the virtues I have acquired from my learning.

Malala  Yousafzai, a little girl from an obscure town in Pakistan, spoke out when a Taliban gun was held to her head. She believed it was better to die than remain uneducated.

She took a bullet from the Taliban but the education acquired by the medics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham UK, saved her.

She inspires me today. Because of her, as much as I dread the insults, threats to my life and that of my family, it is nothing compared to what Malala had to endure because she wanted to go to school.

So as much as I will want to, I am SORRY, I cannot keep silent on the issue.

When I talk about schools in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, It is not as if I stand to personally gain or lose if schools remain closed.

When I speak out against school boycott, I am thinking of the child who did NOT choose any of these.

I am thinking of the child who sits and wonders why they cannot go to school but their rich neighbour’s kids have either gone to school in other towns or the expensive ones where there is security.

I am thinking of that child whose dream to read and write is being taken away, yet they have no say.

I am thinking of that child who, because of school boycott, is now subjected to child labour in the farms.

I am thinking of that child who will be forced into marriage because they have no reason to stay around.

I am thinking of that child who will want to understand why there is a war, but will have to rely on oral history, because they cannot research and read for themselves

I am thinking of that child who will not understand why both factions in the conflict claim to be fighting for their future yet neglect their present.

That child who wonders why it is that despite insecurity, other businesses function but schools do not.

YES.. I don’t own a school and I have no kids of my own who have to go to school.

I could keep quite because of the insults and threats to my life… but if I do, how will I sleep at night knowing that these children will one day accuse me of doing nothing.

If I keep quiet because I am afraid to use my education to speak out, then I don’t deserve to extoll the virtues I have acquired from my learning.

Malala Yusuf, a little girl from an obscure town in Pakistan, spoke out when a Taliban gun was held to her head. She believed it was better to die than remain uneducated.

She took a bullet from the Taliban but the education acquired by the medics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham UK, saved her.

She inspires me today. Because of her, as much as I dread the insults, threats to my life and that of my family, it is nothing compared to what Malala had to endure because she wanted to go to school.

So as much as I will want to, I am SORRY, I cannot keep silent on the issue.

As much as I want to avoid the threats and insults, I think I should rather be glad they are not as bad as a Taliban gun placed to the head of a little child who wanted nothing but to go to school.

For that reason, I continue to plead with both sides of the conflict in Cameroon especially the Regime of Biya… do something, any thing, that will allow kids to go to school without fear of being kidnapped or attacked.

Nigeria’s Apostle Johnson Sulaiman Forced by Ambazonians to Make Clarifications on Prophecy

Apostle Johnson Sulaiman is one of Nigeria’s modern-day preachers, who has never been far from controversy.  Beginning with the 2016 controversial anti-preaching bill in Kaduna State the founder of Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, prophesied the death of Governor El-Rufai. Challenged by the Governor to say the exact date, the Apostle failed to do so.

Other controversies have been unrelated to prophecies. These have revolved around issues of the preacher’s alleged sexual exploits with women spanning from Nigeria to Canada.

 

Recently, the Apostle has dabbled into prophecies about the on-going crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. As the killings have intensified between the Cameroon military and separatist fighters, the number of refugees flocking into Nigeria and the number of internally displaced people have quadrupled. In Sulaiman’s prophecy, which was being translated into French, the preacher explained that while there were two camps fighting – the Government and the Freedom fighters – there was a third camp of rebels who were carrying out heinous crimes against the population. This third group is constantly referred to by the preacher as ‘rebels’, whom he prophesies, will be crushed by the Cameroon Military within 7 days.

For some unknown reason, Ambazonians construed the message to mean that the prophet was calling them rebels and that his prophesy implied they will be crushed within 7 days. This made them go on the rampage on social media, calling out the prophet on the many prophecies he had made in the past that did not materialise.

Despite claiming that he had been called by God to pass on a message specifically to Cameroon by making him a ‘Prophet to Cameroon’ and stating that he felt Cameroon was his second country after Nigeria, the man of God was not spared by the Ambazonia social media warriors.

This has forced the Apostle to go on air to clarify what he meant in his prophecy. While he calls it a prophecy, his message is clearly a logical conclusion from the actual events unfolding on the ground. As the hostilities have intensified between the Cameroonian military and separatist groups, there have been increasing reports of kidnappings for ransom, killings of civilians, some of whom have been branded ‘traitors’ and arson on the properties of persons considered to be pro-Biya or his regime. The recent mayhem has been unleashed on schools and school children, as the debate rages on whether schools should resume or not. Despite the statement by the Ambazonia interim government calling for school resumption, other separatist leaders such as Ayaba Cho Lucas of the Ambazonia Governing Council have contrary views about school resumption. This has therefore led to a security situation where everyone is a victim.

While both sides blame each other for the atrocities, what has been left unsaid is that the security vacuum has led to criminals stepping into also commit atrocities and benefit from the situation. This probably is the group that Apostle Souleman refers to. Whatever the case, the question remains as to whether his prophecy of 7 days will come to pass. Given the situation in Cameroon, it might be difficult to say if that should happen.

It is, however, worth mentioning that the Apostle has been known to make predictions that never came to pass. A case in point is the Ekiti governorship election, where the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) standard bearer, Dr. Kayode Fayemi defeated the PDP’s candidate, Prof. Olusola Eleka, to emerge as governor-elect, despite the fact that Sulaiman had prophesied a PDP win.  It will, therefore, come as no surprise, should it turn out that this is just another prophecy that takes advantage of an unfolding situation, but claims to have been a message directly from God.

 

Francophone Activists Turn on the Heat on the Biya Regime & France: Demonstrate in Paris

In times of uncertainty, it has long been argued, the most potent weapon to guarantee victory is building alliances. The seventh suggestion I made to the Anglophone leaders who met in Washington DC last weekend, was the need to form alliances with other oppressed people – especially Francophones.

The logic is simple, we may have different visions of what we want, but we have common enemies. For the Francophone in Cameroon, it is the dysfunctional regime of Dictator Paul Biya, while to those from other countries, it is the imperialism of France.

Whether the Anglophone leaders considered doing anything of this nature is left to be seen. However, the idea has clearly been piloted both by Emmanuel Kemta, who during last Sunday’s attack on Biya, constantly referred to the killing of Anglophones; and today, but Francophones both from Cameroon and other countries such as Gabon and Congo, who demonstrated in front of the Cameroon Embassy in Paris.

The demonstrators where unanimous in the condemnation of the brutal massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians. They were also very vocal in condemning the other atrocities perpetrated by the Biya regime among women and children in other parts of the country.

Talking to one of the organisers, he confirmed that they are guided by the principle that by working with others, all oppressed people can easily win against oppression than if they were working on their own. He said this was the beginning of a movement that was hoped will spread across all French-Speaking African countries. Their broad objective is not only to condemn the dictatorships that seem to be more rampant in Francophone Africa, but also to ensure the destruction of the Francs CFA.

It should be noted that Fourteen Countries in Africa currently subjected to the use of the French currency. There are four fundamental principles guiding France’s relationship with the CFA countries. These are captured succinctly by Pierre Canac and Rogelio Garcia-Contreras in an article in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (February 2011).

  1. The French Treasury guarantees without limits, the convertibility of the two CFA francs.
  2. The two CFA francs are convertible at a fixed exchange into French francs [now euros],”. So France abandoned the French Francs but we are stuck with the CFA Franc. Also, the fixed exchange rate can change, but only when France approves.
  3. Despite plenty of restrictions, there are no de jure controls on the movements of capital within the [CFA] zone.”
  4. The CFA zone members must “pool together a minimum of 65% of their international reserves, corresponding to 20% of the monetary base of each central bank, into an operations account at the French Treasury”.

There is therefore hope not only for Cameroonians – Anglophones and Francophones alike – but also for the whole of French Africa, should this movement gain momentum, and lead to the true liberation of French-Africa from the clutches of imperialism.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win: A New Dawn or Continuation of a Legacy?

As the dust settles on the confirmation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win in last month’s polls by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court, one begins to wonder what exactly the future is for the country.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and its candidate, Nelson Chamisa had brought a legal challenge saying the vote was impaired by “mammoth theft and fraud”. The rejection of this claim by the court has left Mr. Chamisa, with no alternative than to concede defeat.

It is alleged that despite accepting defeat, Nelson Chamisa has maintained that he will

Zimbabwe's President-Elect: Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe’s President-Elect: Emmerson Mnangagwa

not refer to Emmerson Mnangagwa as president, but simply as ‘Mr’. Whatever the case, this confirmation of the election results means that 75-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa remains as the 3rd President of Zimbabwe.

This election is Zimbabwe’s first since long-time President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power last year, in what can best be described as a ‘bloodless coup d’etat’. The question now remains as to whether this win marks a new dawn for Zimbabwean politics or it is simply a continuation of the last dispensation.

Sometime in 2011, I wrote a piece analysing the case of Zimbabwe. One of my conclusions then was that  “‘the central and dominant variable determining…developmental success or failure’ is politics. If there is any reason there is widespread poverty in Zimbabwe today, it is the poverty of its politics. This means that the solution cannot come from the same failed politics but from a “…more explicit…  integrated theory of political and economic development” which will take into account the different nuances that make up the complex and unique political entity called Zimbabwe”.

I think that my view today is not much different. People have been under the misguided impression that merely ousting Mugabe from power will usher in a new dawn for the development of the country. I felt and still feel that Mugabe’s exit, was a well-orchestrated plan to ensure that his successor is someone who will continue his legacy, without actually appearing to do so. I may be wrong, but if the current president has, throughout his political life, supported the same ideals as Mugabe, what is the guarantee that a mere change in his title will create a different vision. But, perhaps, by being voted in, he may well start bringing about policies that are aimed at improving the overall wellbeing of the masses, rather than just the political class. There is, however, no guarantee that this will happen, as has often been the case in most young African democracies.

Paul Collier has argued that the lack of checks and balances can lead democracies to make even more of a mess of a political situation than autocracies, for “…  it turns out that democracy is a little bit more complicated… Because there are two distinct aspects of democracy. There’s electoral competition, which determines how you acquire power, and there are checks and balances, which determine how you use power. It turns out that electoral competition is the thing that’s doing the damage with democracy… And so, what the countries of the bottom billion need is very strong checks and balances. They haven’t got them. They got instant democracy in the 1990s: elections without checks and balances.’

If Collier’s view is anything to go by, the current election of Emmerson Mnangagwa through electoral competition is just the first stage, and in fact, the less important one. The determining factor will be whether Zimbabwe has got the right checks and balances to ensure that the current president does not end up living a similar legacy of sitting tight when everything else around them is crumbling.

Julius Sello Malema, the leader of the South African far-left, Economic Freedom Fighters, has in one of his videos been heard to proclaim that Zimbabweans, will be the only African country in the next 10 years which will be truly independent. If this turns out to be the case, then one might agree that Mugabe might not have had a bad outcome after all. But this outcome is largely dependent on what Mugabe’s successor does. If there is true economic independence for Zimbabwe, then its current president has no excuse not to take the country into a new phase of its history.

7 Things that the All Ambazonia Consultative Council (AACC) – Holding in Washington DC, Need to Address

In the invitations sent out for the AACC, the objectives for both days were stated as follows:

First Day August 18th. Will be a global telecast for thousands of Southern Cameroonian/Ambazonian Stakeholders and Friends of Ambazonia worldwide, who cannot travel to the US but are invited to make their voices heard, focusing on The Modalities of Separation of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia from The Republic of Cameroun. Leaders will recommend and vote on a Final Communique based on global inputs. 

Second Day August 19th. Will be highly restricted to Leaders of Liberation Groups, Civil Society, Episcopal Communities, and Human Rights Activists. They will talk about Unity and Collaboration, sign a Unity Declaration, and present a Joint Statement concerning our proposed Terms of Separation after the declaration of the restoration of our statehood of the former British Southern Cameroons /Federal Republic of Ambazonia.” 

I must admit that I clearly do not understand what the two days will achieve in the light of current events happening on the ground in Cameroon. If I am not mistaken, the first day will simply be a day when people across the world will repeat to each other, the same things that have been said from the beginning of time. I will therefore not be surprised if it turns out to be a day of history lessons of what happened and did not happen in 1961. As for the second day, there is some sort of contradiction. It states that a Unity Declaration will be signed and at the same time presentation of a joint statement about the proposed terms of ‘separation’.

If I understand from the invitation and from the confirmation that Dr. Simon Munzu sent out confirming his participation, this event will be both for Federalists and Separatists. Hence, how can a Unity of purpose be achieved? That said, I am going to propose Five Things that should be achieved at the Conference to make it a success.

1. Declare a Ceasefire:

I know that many people will immediately argue that as Biya is the one who declared war, he is the one who should call for a cease-fire. However, I will want to point out that the only reason Biya declared war over dialogue was that he was certain it will be one avenue in which he might have the upper hand. With superior weapons and training, and with support from the US, the Cameroon military has been using spy technology to locate the camps of Separatist fighters, leading to casualties that can be avoided. Let me just point out though, that calling for a ceasefire is NOT the same as surrendering. It is simply that Ambazonian leaders are taking the high ground to show Biya that they care about the lives of their citizens and will be willing to look for other ways of addressing the situation.

2. Announce School Resumption:

It is common knowledge that Anglophone kids have been going to school in many parts of the North West and South West, especially in the urban areas. However, given that there is no official declaration from the revolutionary leaders that schools should resume, everytime a child goes out, they are at risk.

However, some children, especially those from poorer backgrounds, have lost two years of studies. Children from affluent families have been sent over to cities East of the Mungo or sent abroad, where they are studying in peace. The paradox of this situation is that the kids making the most sacrifice – by not going to school – will be the ones who will have no place in a new dispensation. Be it a Federation or a New State, no one is going to employ kids who never went to school. Hence, those who made the sacrifices will remain slaves to the educated ones who made no sacrifices. This approach runs the risk of replicating the South African situation, whereby Freedom arrived but the critical mass of the population was incapable of taking leadership and control of their country, thereby effectively handing it back to the oppressors.

Also, depriving children of education has no impact on Biya’s Regime, as they do not care about the education of children in the first place. Finally, it is only the Taliban or Boko Haram that use the deprivation of children from schooling as a political tool.

3. Denounce in Strong Terms, the Killing of Civilians by Ambazonian Fighters:

I am sure some will again be quick to argue that Ambazonian fighters have not killed civilians. However, video and photographic evidence exist to prove the contrary. On several social media platforms, manned by Ambazonian activists, justification has been provided that the killing of civilians is usually because they are ‘traitors’. One of the key reasons for this struggle was that Anglophones claimed that they wanted to restore their Anglo-Saxon Heritage.

There is, therefore, no place in Anglo-Saxon culture whereby individuals arrogate to themselves the roles of judge, jury, and executioner. If anyone is truly a traitor, then evidence should be gathered for them to be tried in a competent Ambazonian court, whenever they have their independence. Killing people simply because they disagreed with an opinion or position, is exactly the things Biya did that made people stand up against him.

4. Denounce the Scapegoating of Francophones or Members of Political Parties:

Similar to the above, there have been attacks on Francophones, which were necessitated by the utterances of Tapang Ivo, Eric Tataw, and Chris Anu, who started asking that Francophones should leave. There is no mechanism to ensure that such will happen, and there is no tactical benefit from chasing out people who are also victims of the Biya monarchy of corruption and bad governance. However, such utterances, from people who are seen as leaders, have given room for the abduction of Francophones for ransom and for many to flee their homes in fear. Similarly, audios and posters asking that anyone wearing an SDF or CPDM T-short be shot at sight, have been making their rounds on social media. We know that as a result of poverty, many people wear those things simply as forms of dressing, rather than because they support those parties. Putting a target on them is, therefore, a dangerous move, that could lead to many unfortunate civilian deaths. Furthermore, we may not agree with elections, but we cannot force people to accept our views by killing them.

5. Call for an End to Ghost Towns:

I still struggle to see how forcing our people out of work or business on Mondays, has an impact on Biya’s regime. If anything, it hurts our people, and recently, has become an avenue for power-play. A case in point is that of Buea, whereby a few weeks ago, Ekema Patrick went out with thugs are were puncturing the car tyres of taxis that were not working. If the taxi men went out to work, they would have been attacked for violating ghost towns, however, they stayed at home and became easy targets of the monstrous gangster called Mayor of Buea. This struggle is about helping our people break free from bondage, we cannot continue to impose unnecessary ones on them.

6. Call for a Referendum:

That is the only way the voice of the people can truly be heard. I am not a fan of referendums, given the type of results that the Scottish Referendum and Brexit brought up, but in our situation, it seems the most viable option. Should calls for a referendum, however, lead to a negotiated outcome that does not involve the polls, but one which ends the bloodshed and gives Anglophones autonomy, then it will be applaudable. However, constantly talking of declaration of independence, without having any allies among the Fifteen members of the UN Security Council and perhaps none among the five permanent members with veto powers makes it a non-starter. I wrote a few days ago showing why gunning for independence through the UN was something that we might never achieve. The current trends of violence might only lead to UN involvement, which as we know, might only work in favour of the status-quo.

7. Link Up with Other Oppressed People across the World – Especially in Africa:

I made this suggestion during a march on Downing Street on the 2nd January 2017. We need to know that our strongest allies are other oppressed people across the world. We need to start by looking close to home. Francophones in other countries such around us who are also suffering from the shackles of French imperialism, might not have the same objective as us but will have the same goals, – breaking free. Reaching out and building coalitions with these groups will be a sure way of strengthening our bases.

It is my most fervent wish that some of these issues are considered during these two days so that some sanity might come back to our land.

Carrying the Cameroon Flag: Patriotism or Self-Preservation?

Growing up in Cameroon, the one thing I knew for sure about the Cameroon Flag, is th.at if one were passing by a police or military base while it was being hoisted and failed to stop and show respect, they will be in trouble.

I never understood the rationale behind being forced to show respect to the flag-actually, I still do not understand. Some will argue that it is a sign of patriotism, but I will content that patriotism should be something that comes from a deep sense of love for one’s country. On the other hand, I know for sure that the one reason I did stop for the flag, was always the fear of what would be done to me if I didn’t.

Looking, therefore, at the images of these Cameroonians holding the flag, with armed personnel standing nearby, I had to wonder what could be the motivation behind the “patriotic” act.

Could it be that these people, who clearly are living in a rundown, poverty-stricken neighbourhood, have suddenly discovered an upsurge of love for a country that takes away everything from them and gives back nothing in return? Or Could it be that they know that it is either they feign respect for the flag or run the risk of being killed and their villages burnt down by the military?

Anyone familiar with the Cameroon military’s recent record of killing unarmed women and children or killing young men and burning down their villages will surely decipher what the real situation is.

It does not require a rocket scientist to decode that these people are carrying that flag just to avoid being riddled with bullets and having their village burnt. It is a survival mechanism that some of us learned when we were youngsters, but which seems to be gaining relevance in a more ominous situation. Either respect the Cameroon Flag or face dire consequences.

Activism Beyond Borders, Defying The Biya Intimidation Tactic

Dictator Biya of Cameroon has only one remedy to every problem – silence. This silence operates in two ways, the first is that he is silent over anything that matters in the country, such as the current civil war which he declared. The second is that Biya silences anyone who tries to oppose his remarkable ineptitude in the area of governance and statecraft.

From the start of the current crisis in the Anglophone Regions, Biya has not in any way directly addressed the issues. It has been dealt with only by his surrogates, who paradoxically have no power to implement any outcome to resolve the problem. Biya has addressed ‘The Nation’ many times throughout the crisis but has said nothing concrete relating to the actual situation. In fact, the one time that Biya has directly dealt with the Anglophone crisis, was at the airport when he declared war on those fighting for freedom. When Patricia Scotland QC visited Cameroon, it would have been thought that Biya will engage with the situation. During a lavish dinner which he threw in honour of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Biya rather reiterated his threats of dealing with anyone who dared challenge his bad governance.

In the area of silencing opposition, Biya has used lengthy prison sentences, having civilians tried in military courts and sending many to jail without trial. In a shocking twist of events, Biya’s tactics extended to Nigeria in January 2018, when colluding with some Nigerian authorities, activists were abducted from Nera Hotel and taken to Cameroon in violation of their convention rights as political refugees.

If Biya expected that the abduction of Sisiku and others will frighten other activists across the world, he was grossly mistaken. Like a hydra, as he cuts one head, two others spring up in its place. As such, despite trying to intimidate activists by holding Sisiku and Co incommunicado and branding them terrorists, many more voices have sprung up in the diaspora, speaking ever so loudly against the carnage that has been unleashed on Anglophones. In a desperate move, the charlatan he appointed as his Minister of Territorial Administration has been making baseless threats about activists in the USA.

First of all, Biya and his sycophant, Atanga Nji Paul, ought to know by now, that Nera Atanga Nji PaulHotel was a one-off unfortunate blip in the radar of the Anglophone quest for freedom. It only happened because those involved had trusted that meeting with Cameroon authorities in good faith could lead to a resolution of the crisis. As it has been proven that Biya and his regime always operate in bad faith, there is no activist who will again agree to meet with a representative of Biya’s government without the necessary guarantees of their freedom.

Secondly, the Nigerian incident was only possible because Nigeria is currently ruled by a man whose only knowledge of governance is in the 80s. Hence, I will not be surprised if Muhammadou Buhari was unaware of what happened in his own country, or was oblivious that accepting Biya’s request to abduct and take refugees out of Nigeria was a gross violation of international law. Either way, the myopia that pervaded the Nigerian saga is one which no sane government will want to replicate.

Donald Trump and his regime may appear to be clueless about a number of things and harsh when it comes to immigration, but they are certainly not stupid enough to realise that conspiring with Biya to deprive the freedom of any activist within their shores, will be political suicide.

Instead of wasting precious time and oxygen on the rants of Atanga Nji, all Cameroonian activists, anywhere in the diaspora should realise that they have one thing that Biya’s regime does not have – the ability to speak out when it matters. This is the time for every activist to speak out the loudest. Whether French-speaking or English-Speaking, there is enough to say these days, and no room for mediocrity or fear. With war raging in the Anglophone regions and many families living in forests, there is no shortage of things to scream about. With a useless election organised in the Francophone regions, while young people stand at the sidelines and watch helplessly as Biya attempts to hold the country hostage for another 7 years, no activist can afford to be silent.

Lurther King

If there is one thing we can promise Biya, it is the fact that activism is something to goes beyond borders and his tactic of silencing those who challenge him, is unfortunately stale. His regime is running out of time and ideas, and before long, their intimidation tactics will be as useless as any words spoken by Atanga Nji Paul.

CASSAVA – Serving All Masters! BUT At What Pay Package?

During a presentation a friend and I made at Ducklington in Oxfordshire during the celebration of Africa Week 2012, we had little difficulty explaining to the kids that chocolate comes from cocoa and sugar from sugarcane, which are African cash crops. Not surprisingly,  cassava drew a lot of attention, not because it was popular among the kids but rather because we had so much to say about it but paradoxically, most of them were hearing it for the first time.

The question I could not stop asking myself was what made cassava such a household name in almost all African and Latin American countries but is barely known in most parts of the world.

I will not go through the drudgery of stating that cassava is a major source of carbohydrates, is consumed by more than 500 million people in the world; can simply be boiled and eaten on its own or with a wide variety of sauces; or that it can be used to prepare Water fufu, miondo, bobolo and nkunkum in Cameroon, eba and akpu in Nigeria, that the leaves of the crop are used to prepare the famous cassava-leaf soup of Sierra Leone; that the famous garri produced from cassava can be soaked in cold water (spiced with peanuts, sliced coconuts or palm kernels) or that garri can be poured into hot water to make a simple meal that can be eaten with an array of sauces.

Neither am I going to go through the mantra of stating that starch from cassava, when treated appropriately makes a good natural adhesive; or that in the textile industry, starches occupy an important place in such operations as warp sizing, cloth finishing and printing: or that alcohol production from cassava has an overall efficiency of 32%, or that cassava could become an industrial crop by developing cultivars with different starch compositions or more importantly that Bio-ethanol production is already making its way into world records as Brazil has already started producing bio-ethanol from cassava and many African countries are also becoming major producers of bio-ethanol.

After all the tossing, I guess you will agree it is time to get back to my initial question: What makes cassava so ‘popular’ yet never entering the hall of fame? Many may not agree but the simple answer is that it is because unlike other tropical crops that can be transported over long distance, any attempt to carry cassava across the ocean will in Mallam Sanusi’s words ‘be tantamount to transporting water’. This is because cassava disintegrates not too long after harvesting and hence cannot do with long-distance travel.

This is, therefore, the tricky part. Africans have never stopped accusing the west for plundering the continent’s natural resources. By crook or by design, one crop is such that no one can effectively exploit outside the area of cultivation, – and what is the result… it is languishing in obscurity. Nigeria for example which is the world’s largest producer of cassava is also a great importer of starch. Transformation of cassava beyond local consumable forms into exportable components is by and large left for a future yet unknown generation. The few factories that attempt to convert cassava into other marketable components are mostly located far from the areas of production.  This is the plight of cassava – so good a crop, grows in some extreme conditions, provides different forms of local consumption but a crop which completely hates travelling in its natural form and unfortunate to belong to a people who seem to hate transforming anything beyond the point of local consumption.

Yes! Cassava typifies the African plight. A continent so richly blessed but yet thinks that her successful transformation only lies beyond her shores. When this transformation fails to come, she becomes the sleeping giant. Mighty in herself yet ineffective in creating any influence beyond her shores. Full of potential, yet without the ability to market herself beyond her immediate surroundings.

This is the plight of cassava! Serving all masters but receiving pittances in the form of wages. Enough for subsistence but never enough to save for a rainy day. Enough to satisfy current wants but never thought of as a form of long-term investment. But like any other plight, there is a remedy! Cassava can get her rightful place in the world if and only if Africans begin to invest in the transformation of the crop both for longterm domestic consumption and for foreign markets. If foreign markets will not eat eba or drink garri, they will certainly need starch, ethanol, paper. adhesives, corrugated boards, gums, wallpaper,  textile, wood furniture, particle board, biofuels, dusting powders, drugs, plastic, packaging, stain remover, and moisture sequester, which are all produced from cassava.

If this is done, there is no way cassava will not receive a fair wage for her services. After all, a labourer deserves her wages!