Cameroon Crisis and the Normalisation of Death

I can remember vividly the day I first saw a corpse. I was about 8 or 9 years old at the time, and heard that someone had died. I left, ran with my friends and went in to see. It was a police officer and he was dressed in his official uniform. When we got back, we were told to wash our faces with water to avoid seeing the corpse in our dreams. It was a rare occurence to learn that someone had died, but over the years all that has changed drastically.

Watching the above video, I was shocked at how casually, the young persons therein, were carrying corpses, some of which were their friends. This video is a clear depiction of how far Cameroon has degenerated during the reign of 86 year-old Dictator Paul Biya.

Over the last couple of years, English-Speaking Cameroon has seem so much death, that it is no surprise that kids now carry corpses around in the back of a pick-up truck as if they were some sort of fancy toys.

My heart bleeds for my country. My heart bleeds for the country that was once known as “Africa in Miniature” because of its amazing riches. My heart bleeds as I watch helplessly and see my country slump into the morass of conflict that has engulfed most of Africa.

Death has been normalised in Cameroon, in the same way corruption, nepotism and lack of governance and development. I fear for the future of these children, I fear for the future of Cameroon.

[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.

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!

Anguish of a Wife and Mother: Mrs Lilian Ayuk Tabe Speaks Out

He has been called many names – ranging from the President of Ambazonia to separatist leader. What many seem to forget is that Sisiku Tabe Ayuk was first and foremost, a father, husband, IT technician and Activist. When he stood up to demand for the freedom of English-Speaking Cameroonians from the enslavement they have been subjected to, Sisiku did not count on putting anyone in harm’s way, not least his own family.

Yet, Sisiku, through his quest for freedom, has sacrificed his job, family, and freedom. Reading from his family, one can only imagine what they are going through. What will Lilian tell their children, when they constantly ask – WHERE IS DADDY?

A vague idea of the anguish she and her family are going through and by extension, the families of all those who were abducted and have disappeared, are captured in this first statement she has issued since the disappearance of her husband.

Statement from the family of Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe

I need to start by thanking God for all good things come from Him, even difficult moments too.

With every passing day we are becoming more and more worried about the whereabouts of Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe. The last three weeks have been a nightmare, for all his family and friends and the people of former British territory Southern Cameroons (hereafter referred to Federal Republic of Ambazonia), not knowing where he is.

I issue this statement because we have reason to be worried for my husband’s life and safety and we know that the media, public, governments and organizations will pay attention.
Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe is a loving, caring, humble, and honest husband and father of my children. A trained and experienced computer engineer, he is calm and always desire to serve others and seek solutions toward improving human prosperity. These are the qualities that earned the confidence of Ambazonians who trusted him to lead legal and diplomatic efforts toward the independence restoration and international recognition of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia as a democratic and sovereign state.

My husband Julius is not a terrorist. He is not a criminal. Julius is an activist fighting for freedom, equality and justice in the land of our birth Ambazonia.

Julius and I last discussed on 5th January 2018, when he flew to Abuja ahead of a scheduled meeting with close members of the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia. The meeting, he told me, was to focus on the rising humanitarian need of Ambazonia refugees in Nigeria and indiscriminate killing, arrest, and destruction of property and businesses of unarmed citizens in our homeland by armed soldiers and paramilitary forces of La Republique du Cameroun and appointed government officials of President Paul Biya regime in Yaounde.

In the evening of 5th January 2018, Julius had not returned home and was unreachable via phone. On the of 6th January 2018, after several inquiries and consultations, we received information that my husband Julius and eleven other leadership members of Ambazonia Interim Government were abducted by Nigerian Security Service during their meeting at Nera Hotel in Abuja. For three weeks, no single person, including Nigerian human rights lawyers Femi Falana and Abdul Oroh and family members of the abducted leaders including myself have neither seen nor heard from one of the abductees.

On 28th January 2018, the two lawyers defending my husband and 11 others issued a statement indicating that the Government of Nigeria extradited the 12 leaders to Cameroon. On 29 January 2018, Cameroon government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma Bakary announced to Cameroun’s public and international community that 47 abductees in Nigeria including my husband Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe are in Cameroun’s territory and under custody. Until the announcement, my children and I still had no information of Julius’ whereabouts. Today is 31 January 2018, we have no proof that Julius and the 11 others are alive. And if they are alive, what are the charges against them and why have they not been allowed to talk to their families and to access legal due process under international law?

I did not choose to be born in Southern Cameroons. Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and other 11 leaders did not choose to be born in Southern Cameroons either. Our children and grandchildren did not choose to be descendants of Southern Cameroons. More than 8 million of us within Ambazonia territory and worldwide did not choose to originate from Southern Cameroons. It is our land of birth and our ways of life are shaped by our common culture and values. We will all die Southern Cameroonians.

Hear my cry and that of my children. Hear the cry of thousands of spouses, children and family members of those who have been killed, injured, kidnapped, detained and are missing. We appeal to the international community and governments to urge Mr. Paul Biya to produce video footages of Julius Ayuk Tabe and 11 others, grant access to lawyers and family members to meet them, and free them because they are not criminals. Our appeal equally applies to all other activists illegally detained in prisons and unknown locations across Cameroun territory.

I call on fellow women, Amnesty International, the United Nations, Commonwealth, and African Union to act swiftly and decisively by offering to mediate on finding a political solution to the independence restoration struggle of Southern Cameroons.

Hear our voices. We are not terrorists. We are Ambazonians. We are fighting for freedom, sovereignty, and human dignity for millions of Southern Cameroonians. Our birth rights have been suppressed, our liberties erased, our political, cultural and economic freedoms denied for more than half a century by the Governments of La Republique du Cameroun.

By Mrs Lilian Ayuk Tabe

Open Letter To Mr. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon. RE: US Troops in Cameroon!

Dear Mr. President!

For the past few days, Cameroon has been trending on social media. Unfortunately, it is not because we achieved something wonderful. Rather it is because your request for US assistance in fighting Boko Haram was granted. Hence, Cameroon was trending alongside a word like Boko Haram. Imagine that!

US Troops to Cameroon

I do not know the nitty-gritty of what transpired between you and President Obama, but I do know that on Wednesday he notified the US Congress that he intends to deploy 300 troops to Cameroon to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. I also saw a letter released by the White House, stating that APPROXIMATELY 90 personnel had already been deployed, and would be armed for self-defense. Now two things worried me about this letter – first, Obama is talking of troops and yet he cannot say exactly how many have already been deployed. Only 90 and it is a matter for approximation??? I hope some of them will not be forgotten behind. Oh! and that brings me to the second worrying thing – there is no time frame for this mission  because the troops will be there – “until their support is no longer needed”! If we are looking at other cases the US has been involved in as a guide, then we should be thinking of at least 10 years??? Remember they are not yet out of Afghanistan!

Also, I know it is none of my business but when an American president starts talking about self-defense, I really get worried. I know you are oblivious of anything that goes on around you (given that you have not done anything to change the deplorable situation of Cameroon for over 33 years) but I am sure you must have seen on the news that the US is one of the countries in the world with the highest number of people who shoot each other for no reason whatsoever! In fact, in 2015 alone, according to the Gun violence archives, the total number of gun-related incidents in the US was 41,433 and the number of deaths from guns was 10,448.

So permit me to ask some questions:

BUT WHY THE USA?

The statistics I just presented above are for the deaths caused by Americans on their fellow citizens and nothing has been done about it. Do you really think that if Americans do not care when fellow Americans are needlessly killed, they will care what happens to someone in Northern Cameroon? Just imagine that! You have forgotten about Northern Cameroon since you took over power, yet you want Obama who has not visited Cameroon before, to send troops to help you fight to terrorists?

Also, if I were to employ someone for a job, I will look at their CV. There is something employers talk about called ‘track record’! The US has a track record of starting wars, making existing conflicts grow worse, and looking at their CV, I don’t see any time they successfully stopped terrorists – check it out – from Afghanistan, to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Uganda (Obama sent 100 troops in 2011 to catch Joseph Kony but they are yet to find him; and as a matter of fact, by 2014, Obama was sending in more troops)! What makes you think that Cameroon will be any different?

And by the way, Boko Haram started in Nigeria, why did Obama not agree to help Nigeria fight them? We all know that the best way to solve a problem is to go to the source! How do you think fighting Boko Haram only in Cameroon and its environs will stop them completely?

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL THIS WHILE?

Now enough about what the US can or cannot do, let us focus on you! What have you been doing for 33 years that you cannot even protect the territorial integrity of your country? As I was growing up, the image I had of you was that of a man who had a lion by his face depicting courage. In fact I remember you presented yourself during the 1992 presidential elections as l’homme Lion, (Lion Man) imbued with the power, courage and ability to protect Cameroon. What happened to that courage? I vividly remember that I was just a young child, when you were able to declare a state of emergency over the North West Province and deployed troops to throw teargas at Cameroonians.

L’homme courage! What happened to the Battalion d’Intervention Rapide (BIR) that you have been building over the years? I thought you said they were an elite force capable of fighting terrorism within the Northern regions? Now if such an elite force that you have spent billions of CFA Francs training and equipping cannot fight Boko Haram, what is the guarantee that 300 US troops will do anything to make a difference?

NOW LET’S GET SERIOUS!

In 2011, I conducted a research in Ngaoundéré and my focus was on Regional Inequality and the role of religion in Cameroon politics. It was my working hypothesis then that if nothing was done to change the state of development of the Northern Regions of Cameroon, the religious violence (including Boko Haram insurgencies) that was already plaguing Northern Nigeria will spill over to Cameroon. So you see, I already knew that something needed to be done as early as 2011 to stop Boko Haram but you did not know. And yet, you are the Commander in chief of the Armed Forces and have the responsibility to protect the nation!

I know you must be wondering how I knew. I will try to be as brief as possible. I will take you back to Huntington (1993) who makes the strong argument that the “Clash of Civilizations” was going to be the result of the growing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between cultures and countries, especially those that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. Categorising the civilisations. Huntington (1993, p.26) suggested that the world is returning to a civilisation-dominated world where future conflicts would come from clashes between “civilisations”.

The question that could be worth asking is why conflict arises? Aristotle had already opined that: “The lesser engage in factional conflict in order to be equal; those who are equal, in order to be greater” (Politics: 1302a29). And that  “as for the things over which they engage in factional conflict, these are profit and honour and their opposites….They are stirred up further by arrogance, by fear, by pre-eminence, by contempt, by disproportionate growth, by electioneering, by underestimation, by (neglect of) small things, and by dissimilarity” (Politics: 1302a33). This Aristotelian passage could be a huge pointer to the causes of conflict in Northern Cameroon given that there already are great dissimilarities in development within different regions of the country and there is disproportionate growth of Cameroon compared to other countries. This argument gains more credence because Huntington, in presenting the nature of Islam and Christianity lists five factors that have exacerbated conflict between the two religions in the late twentieth century:

  • The Muslim population growth has generated large numbers of unemployed and dissatisfied youth that become recruits to Islamic causes.
  • The recent resurgence of Islam has given Muslims a reaffirmation of the relevance of Islam compared to other religions
  • The West’s attempt to universalise values and institutions, and maintain military superiority has generated intense resentment within Muslim communities; this is a fact not limited to religion or culture but common to human nature.
  • Without the common threat of communism, the West and Islam now perceive each other as enemies.
  • Increased communication and interaction between Islam and the West has exaggerated the perceived differences between the two societies (1996, p.211).

Now as you can see Mr. President, the Boko Haram problem is has its roots more in the lack of development and employment opportunities than by an innate desire for violence or even by religion on its own. There are many other factors to consider when thinking of insurgencies like Boko Haram!

THE WAY FORWARD

I know you must already be wondering if I will suggest a way forward! Of course I am going to do just that. The first thing to do now is for you to call you buddy Obama and tell him that you are withdrawing your request for troops, because US military intervention cannot solve the terrorist crisis in Cameroon. Ask him that if he has taken over 4 years with hundreds of troops and cannot catch one man – Joseph Kony – what is the guarantee that he can deliver on Boko Haram.

Secondly, since you and I both know that you lack both the political will and ability to change the situation in Cameroon, you should step down quietly and hand over power to someone with a vision who can engineer change.

Finally, I will suggest that after your resignation, if the new president is kind enough to let you go free, take a holiday, go somewhere quiet and read some of the blog posts I have written before about your terrible lack of vision and horrible governance. At least by the time you finish, you will realise that I had no ill will towards you as a person.

OH! And one last thing, Obama will be completing his second term in office soon so you can actually ask him for an invitation to visit him. As two former presidents, you might have something in common to talk about – but please let it not be about troops to Cameroon!

I wish you the best as you think of these suggestions!

Long Live the Republic of Cameroon

REFERENCES

Aristotle, (1998) The Politics; Translated by C.D.C. Reeve, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing,

Huntington, S. (1993). “The clash of civilizations” Foreign Affairs, 72(3):22-49.

Huntington, S. (1996).  The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster

Cameroon Teetering on the Brink as Soldiers Demand Back Pay

If nothing touches the palm-leaves they do not rustle.

African Proverb

They have been very silent as civil servants go without pay! They have been called upon to clamp down on civilians during protests for better living conditions! They have been the one segment of the Cameroon public service that contributes very little to the economy but always gets the best chunk of the budget. They are the Cameroon standing military!!!Cameroon Soldiers

For a country that has not had a civil war and has had a relatively peaceful coexistence with its neighbours (with the exception of the Bakassi Peninsular skirmish with Nigeria and the recent challenges by Boko Haram), the constant recruitment and steady pay within the Cameroon military has made it one of the most sought-after jobs in the country.

Paul Biya and his cohorts will certainly not sleep tonight as some members of this pampered military have been angered. It started with over 200 soldiers marching through the streets of Yaounde on Wednesday, demanding eight months of back pay for their service with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic.

People gather on November 17, 2013 at the Sica-Benzvi square in Bangui (Photo credit: PACOME PABANDJI/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather on November 17, 2013 at the Sica-Benzvi square in Bangui (Photo credit: PACOME PABANDJI/AFP/Getty Images)

While this is the first time the soldiers, who were a part of the 1,260 Cameroonian battalion with the U.N. mission (MINUSCA) are coming public with their demands, it is a worrying situation as  the Cameroonian dictatorship in its characteristic manner has deployed heavily armed troops to block off streets and inhibit their progress.

It is not unusual for the Cameroon government to use brute force to quell peaceful protests. As early as 2008 anti-government protests in Yaounde and Douala over high fuel and food prices and a bid by Paul Biya to extend his 25-year rule, exploded into violence when Biya’s troops fired tear gas at protesters in both cities, sometimes using helicopters to drop gas canisters from the air. While Biya may have succeeded then to bully the unarmed protesters in 2008 and extend his hold on power, the situation this time is quite different.

cameroon Soliders in DRCFirst because the current situation is one with a straightforward solution in that money for the demanded salaries is supposed to have been provided by the United Nations and the African Union under an agreement. Which explains why Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary speaking on behalf of his Master Paul Biya has assured the troops that they would be paid on Thursday arrears amounting to 6 billion CFA francs (US$10.2 million).

And secondly because any other strategy might rock an already shaky boat. Biya has already witnessed many dictators overthrown in recent years, (the latest of which was Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, who was forced to step down and flee after 27 years) hence, is more than aware that he is sitting on a ticking time-bomb which will explode with the slightest provocation.

While many a Cameroonian will pray and hope that the situation is resolved amicably, it is a clear sign of the cracks that are widening on the hold Biya has had on the country. Biya’s inability to use his elite Battalion d’Intervention Rapide (B.I.R.) to stop Boko Haram insurgents in the North of Cameroon has already raised serious questions as to the usefulness of the force; a situation which further exacerbates the tensions existing between the elite force and the regular military. Central African Republic-1

While we watch this space, we hope that the same contingent that helped to bring peace to the Central African Republic will not be the ones to start the mayhem that will engulf Cameroon.

Buhari’s Historic Victory: The Real Dawn of Nigerian Democracy?

After over three decades since seizing and losing power in military coups; after three attempts at getting in through a democratic process; after three days of a tension-filled election, Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian opposition leader to oust an incumbent president through the ballot box. This puts him in charge of Africa’s biggest economy and one of Africa’s most challenging democracies.

Buhari31

Ousted President Goodluck Jonathan in an unprecedented move, called Buhari to congratulate him even before the result had been officially announced. According to Lai Mohammed, a spokesman for Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC),”At about 5 minutes to 5, President Jonathan called General Muhammadu Buhari, the winner of the elections, to congratulate him,

Buhari-and-Jonathan

This smooth concession of victory by Goodluck Jonathan would surely come as a surprise to millions of his supporters especially given that former Minister of Niger Delta, Peter Godsday Orubebe had earlier in a public show of shamelessness and stupidity, attacked the Independent Electoral Commission chairman [INEC], Professor Attahiru Jega, alleging that the result of the elections have been falsified and accusing Jega of bias and partisanship.

Buhari’s victory therefore calls for cautious optimism especially if one where to take a glance at the years since the acclaimed 1999 transition to democratic rule.

With the coming to power of the Obasanjo regime in 1999 as a democratically elected government following several years of military dictatorships, it seemed a new dawn had come for Nigeria. In his opening address to Nigerians, Olusegun Obasanjo raised people’s hopes when he said:

I shall end this address by stressing again that we must change our ways of governance and of doing business on this eve of the new millennium. This we must do to ensure progress, justice, harmony and unity and above all to rekindle confidence amongst our people. Confidence that their conditions will rapidly improve and that Nigeria will be great and will become a major world power in the near future. (The NEWS, June 14, 1999)

But as events later turned out, Nigeria was in for the greatest economic, political and social nightmare. The “democracy” under Obasanjo was one in which one man who called himself the “President” ruled the nation as a personal estate, made mockery of the constitution, controlled the nation’s coffers and dished out money to other nations as if it were his personal account. After eight years in power, the social ills of the Obasanjo regime had clearly held Nigerians to ransom. Poverty was ravaging the land, many people died of curable diseases simply because they could not afford to pay hospital bills. There was even the uncomfortable admission of the fact that the lives and properties of Nigerians were more secure under General Sani Abacha than they were under the so-called democratic regime of Obasanjo. Unemployment and attendant hopelessness rose, the standards of education fell, there was a marked increase in the number of destitute and beggars on the streets. The skyrocketing of the prices of petroleum products, with an increment made on the eve of Obasanjo’s departure form office, was a clear indication of the level of decay the country had been plunged into. Worse still, it was under this regime which claimed to be able to sweep away corruption that Nigeria bagged the highest award in corruption, coming first in the world. To crown it all, the level of election malpractice was one that also deserved an award.. In the end, it was clear that military dictatorship and democratic tyranny are two sides of the same coin.

Obasanjo Yar'Adua and JonathanThe late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and his Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, therefore, inherited an ant-infested firewood. In a few months they gave much hope to the people with the proposed 7-Point Agenda . But the questions of whether the fulfilment of those new ideas and reforms they were introducing could be considered a visionary hope, was never answered due to the untimely death of Yar’Adua.  It became obvious that the interests which those new reforms were going to thwart were much stronger and more obvious than those they were to serve when Goodluck completely ignored the 7 point Agenda both during his completion of Yar’Adua’s term and the term which he contested and won.

It is therefore not surprising that Nigeria continued to slump further into the morass of hopelessness that characterised the Obasanjo regime. To make matters worse, despite unrelenting economic forces driving Nigeria to become Africa’s biggest economy, the onslaught of the Boko Haram insurgency exposed the ill-preparedness and inability of Jonathan to lead Nigeria.

It is therefore not very surprising that a majority of Nigerians decided that it was time to give Buhari another chance to redeem himself. His perseverance has finally paid off, and with Goodluck Jonathan showing maturity in conceding defeat, Buhari has a huge challenge ahead. He has the experience, and hopefully, with the determination to set the records straight, Buhari might finally usher in the real dawn of an era where the ordinary Nigerian can begin to feel and experience the real dividends of a true democracy!

Paul Biya Dies: What Difference Would it Make?

It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog as I have been trying to sort out some personal issues that did not allow me much time to write. However, since the beginning of March, I have received lots of messages with questions regarding current happenings in Cameroon. The most recent has been the hoax announcement of the passing away of Cameroon strongman and dictator Paul Biya. After some reflection, I started to ask myself the question: would it really make a difference if Paul Biya truly died?

Paul Biya

For those who care to remember, this is not the first time that there has been a fake announcement that Paul Biya was dead.

In June of 2004 it was rumoured that Paul Biya had died following an undisclosed illness at some undisclosed location. As no reporting or discussion of anything related to the president is allowed the late Journalist, Pius NJAWE incurred the full wrath of the President and his institutions for daring to ponder about the state of the President’s health. Njawe was to spend 10 months in prison.

In October of 2008, similar rumours began making the rounds and there were widespread celebrations on the streets of Cameroon. To many people’s chagrin and surprise, Paul Biya returned the country on November 01, 2008 exactly 43 days after abandoning the country, just two days short of him being constitutionally replaced. This time the rumor had it that the absentee president had died at the exclusive “Clinique Générale-Beaulieu” in East Geneva. Given that news of an ailment Biya was said to be suffering had leaked out fueling the speculation of his death, some members of his entourage were fired for violating the code of secrecy.

At the beginning of March, 2015, The Commander in Chief of the Cameroon Armed Forces, Paul Biya again left Cameroon for Switzeroland while soldiers where being killed by Boko Haram insurgents. The conclusion many arrived at was that it must have been nothing short of an emergency to make a president abandon his country and travel abroad at a time when there was a crisis involving terrorists. As the African adage says: “A man whose house is on Fire does not chase rats”. Hence, in line with another axiom which states that “a toad does not run in the daylight for nothing: either it is after something or something is after it”, it was easily surmised that nothing short of an emergency could have pushed Biya to leave the country. By a process of elimination and taking into consideration the man’s age, the most logical conclusion arrived at was another death announcement.

The rumours of  Biya’s death gained momentum on Thursday the 26th of March, 2015 on  Facebook and other social media outlets like Twitter and WhatsApp!

While no official announcement has been made to refute the rumours two days after they started, one is apt to wonder what it would mean for Cameroon if Biya truly was dead!

To the ordinary Cameroonian, it would actually mean very little because as far as they are concerned, The Man Already Died!

Since “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” (Wole Soyinka), it is safe to conclude that Biya died a long time ago. Biya has been dead for most of the 33 years that he has been Cameroon’s president. Biya died when he let the country slump into an economic crisis from 1986 and did little to salvage the situation; Biya died in 1990 when in attempting to stop the rise of Multiparty politics in the country, he ordered the killing of many innocent Cameroonians; Biya remained dead from thence as he was focused only on maintaining his hold on power while the country slumped into a morass of poverty, corruption, greed and hopelessness. So in principle, to many Cameroonians; Biya actually went stone cold when he cracked down on public protests, changed the constitution that made him stay in power; Yes for a the tyranny visited on Cameroonians PAUL BIYA IS DEAD!

However, if Biya was to leave the scene, it would be a make or break situation for Cameroon. Given that most of his cabinet members and close allies are now languishing in prison, a smooth transition after his dead remains a matter of speculation. Perhaps like some of his ‘friends’ his son Frank Biya will take over. Given that Frank is not much in the picture, one therefore wonders what type of president he would make. The most likely and constitutional choice would be the President of the National Assembly Cavayé Yéguié Djibril. But as someone who has been the ruling party – CPDM Political Bureau, one wonders if he will offer anything different from what Biya has been offering!

One thing is certain though, as Caiaphas, once said, ‘You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish.’There is no situation which is more appropriate for this statement.

Biya’s dead would be a blessing to Cameroon but let me be quick to add that it would not be in the same sense as Christ’s death was to Christendom but would be exactly in the manner in which Caiaphas meant it!

US-Africa Summit: The Apogee of African Distress

To say that Africa is a continent in distress will be an understatement.

Ebola is threatening the very fabric of life within the West African region; there are endless wars in the DRC, South Sudan, CAR amongst others; Boko Haram has made Africa’s biggest economy a security nightmare. In the midst of all these travails, African demagogues, strongmen and clueless leaders have been flocking to Washington to hold a summit? What do they really think can come from the USA that will solve any one of Africa’s woes?

Obama in 2009 in Ghana was bold enough to say “we don’t need strong men, we need strong institutions”. His Secretary of State John Kerry followed up with that line of argument with he met with Joseph Kabila few months ago and spoke on the importance of not changing the constitution.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, and Mrs. Chantal Biya, in the Blue Room during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Paul Biya, Strongman of Cameroon, and Mrs. Chantal Biya, in the Blue Room during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. (Photo Credit: State Department Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

During this summit, Obama has met with almost all the strongmen of Africa and there has been little talk of strengthening institutions. One would have thought that with some like Paul Biya of Cameroon (who changed the constitution in 2008 amidst violent crackdown of protesters) being booed, some sense of decency will make Obama think about his words in Ghana a few years ago. Unfortunately, this was not the case as John Kerry went as far as praising Kabila during a press conference.

Far from being surprising, this should have been expected. No country in the world today can compare with the US when it comes to double standards and hypocrisy.

My heart bleeds rather for the blindness of those who call themselves African leaders. It is evident to any discerning person  that the US called this summit not because it is intrinsically interested in African development but because it serves her purpose perfectly. The main focus is clearly to curb China’s influence and gain access to Africa’s resources. With 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies in Africa, a new scramble for the continent is underway.

The US started its anti-China campaign since the early 2000 when The Heritage Foundation hatched a plan to militarise the continent, a plan which Obama has been executing… Having drones hovering over African countries and ensuring the rapid spread of AFRICOM despite an initial rejection by 14 African countries is just another phase of this wider plan. The US is therefore doing the one thing it knows best, create disorder and wars!

If one were stupid enough to think for a moment that the US was seriously considering a viable strategic trade alliance with African countries, let that person ask the one question, WHY WAS AFRICA SO CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT FROM ANY DISCUSSIONS DURING THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES ON FOREIGN POLICY?

The answer is simple – Africa is not considered important in its own right, but is only useful as part of a wider strategy to ‘go after China’. So at the end of the day, Africa will be the battleground for the imperialist power play.

 

Boko Haram Edges Closer to ‘Home’ While Chibok Girls Gradually Become Invisible Children!

A hundred days following the abduction of over 270 young girls by the militant terrorist group, Boko Haram, came and passed a few days ago with very little mention by the major news outlets. After what seemed like an eternity, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan finally met the families of the abducted girls and some who had escaped.  The day itself was actually celebrated by Boko Haram by detonating two bombs in quick succession, killing over 75 people and narrowly missing the ex-military president and the country’s topmost opposition leader Mohammadu Buhari.

Boko Haram

Of course, as expected, this is the news that made the headlines as everything regarding the missing girls is gradually dwindling into oblivion. Skeptics like me who had already questioned the social media hype – comparing it to a similar situation in the quest to catch Joseph Kony – are not in the least surprised.

It happened that international media outlets were initially very slow in reporting the news of the kidnapping of the girls, which even led to some questioning the veracity of the scanty early reports that emerged. When social media took up the campaign, the tempo was upped but the objective seemed to be one thing only – portray Nigeria as incapable of handling the situation and ask foreign intervention. Under pressure, international help was enlisted.

According to State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki the US was “providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support“. Military and law-enforcement teams on the ground were “digging in on the search and co-ordinating closely with the Nigerian government as well as international partners and allies”. These allies were Britain, France and China, with Israel promising to join the team! Strangely, Boko Haram seemed to have become bolder and are hitting closer and closer to ‘home’ despite the massive international presence.

The recent targeting of prominent figures and the news that emerged today of the abduction of the wife of Cameroon’s Vice Prime Minister only makes the case harder to fathom. Does it mean that Boko Haram has over just a few years become so sophisticated that the ‘best’ intelligence agencies in the world cannot take them out? Or could it be that the efforts are just not significant to counter the threat?

ChibokGirls1
Have they been ‘sold’, forced into marriage? Their fate hangs on a balance as weeks have turned into months!!!

Worse, there is little news about what is happening on the ground in the search efforts to bring the girls home. Gradually, therefore, this case is becoming a cold one and the Chibok girls are gradually becoming like the child soldiers that the US charity Invisible Children sought to free from Joseph Kony. Each day that passes, the issue seems to be buried deeper and deeper under the radar but what will simply not disappear is that the world could not save over 270 young vibrant girls from ragtags such as Boko Haram.

Maybe hope should be rekindled now that some prominent people have become targets of bombings and kidnappings. Maybe the Cameroon elite force, (the Battalion D’Intervention Rapide, which is said to be well trained to counter insurgencies of this type,) will step up and prove that they are not only good at cracking down on civilians to keep Paul Biya in power!

Whatever the case, we pray that the girls can still be found! After over a hundred days, one is scared to imagine what the girls might have been subjected to!