Cameroon: Anglophone Elites Raise Funds to Prop Up Biya

In the heart of the worst massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians by the Biya regime; in a period which will go down in history as the bloodiest and saddest moments for all Anglophone Cameroonians, one would expect that their elites would stand up to the regime and ask some questions.

Unfortunately, this is not to be. Starting with Atanga Nji Paul, an ex-convict who believes that everything he does or says must have been inspired by Paul Biya, to Philemon Yang,  a Prime Minister whose role is a good as that of a statue in an unpopular museum, the Anglophone elites have completely let their people down.

As war rages across the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, as Biyas soldiers kill, rape, maim civilians and burn their villages, and restoration forces, under the banner of self-defense carry out counter-attacks both on the military and anyone whom they class as a ‘traitor’ or ‘blackleg’, the ordinary person is left at the mercy of the warring factions. The collapse of government and failure of the security apparatus spells doom for the country once known as ‘Africa in Miniature‘.

As if operating in a vacuum, Biya has gone ahead to announce presidential elections for which he is a candidate, seeking another 7 years in addition to the wasted 36 years during which the country has known nothing but misery.

As young Cameroonian activists from across the Francophone and Anglophone spectrum denounce either the holding of elections or Biya’s candidature during this time of chaos, the elites have again decided to add salt to the already festering wound.

As one of them was being taken out of a Church and killed on Sunday 12 August, others, particularly from the North West Region were gathering in Yaounde to fundraise for Biya’s campaign. Led by Philemon Yang, the North West Permanent delegate for the CPDM central committee, is purported to have raised a total of FCFA 154.589.000 million. Baba Danpullo, who is renowned for stating, at the start of the crisis that there was no way the regime will heed to the demands of civil society (which at the time, were very basic) came out on top as the highest donor, giving FCFA 30 million.

Praising the success of the fundraiser, Yang is quoted to have said that the North West elite are extraordinary people who are known for doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

Philemon Yang - Cameroon Prime Minister

Philemon Yang – Cameroon Prime Minister

Unbeknownst to Yang, he was spot on. Only extraordinary people will be silent while their people are being killed daily. Only extraordinary people will be supporting an 86 year old man to be president when available evidence indicates that he has neither the political will nor ability to govern. Only an extraordinary people, will continue to support a regime that has done nothing to ensure that kids go back to school despite being out for two years.

Such extraordinary persons, such as the Anglophone elites, will do ordinary things such as the need for standing up for their people, in an extraordinary way – supporting the very machinery that is oppressing their people.

As they go ahead to plan for their campaigns, the question worth asking is whether these elections are going to take place only within the Eight Regions of Cameroon where there is no conflict. It is worth asking whether should elections actually take place, anyone with a conscience will be able to acknowledge that Biya has the mandate of the Anglophones living in the forests, afraid for their lives, or those living as refugees in Nigeria, begging for crumbs to survive.

When the dust settles on this era of Cameroon’s history, some names will not be worth writing on sand. The names of the current Anglophone elites will be best forgotten. These will be the names that will be used as curse words, in remembrance of a time, when people, meant to look out for their own, decided to support a dictator, whose only quest, is the extermination of those people.

The UN and Ambazonia: The Case of Missing Files or Misfiling?

Many citizens of the self-proclaimed state of Ambazonia would have been taken aback upon reading a short piece purportedly written by Professor Martin Ayim. Ayim in his write-up claims that all documents sent to the United Nations (UN) by Ambazonians since the 1990s have been shredded, without being looked at. Anyim presents this as a discovery that appears to have been a victory achieved by the Ambazonian Interim Government (IG). He therefore quickly goes on to state that the same IG will soon be reaching out to the UN Secretary General.
La-Republique-and-Ambazonia

As this short write-up made its rounds on social media, I read with fascination as many latched on to the optimistic parts, which provided them with a reason to cling to their hope of having a new nation. The truth is that Prof. Anyim, like many erudite persons from Cameroon, West of the Mungo, have for a long time, excelled in the art of deception. This deception paradoxically has been of their own people.

Let us be clear about something, the UN has no legal obligation to a state called Ambazonia. As far as the UN is concerned, Southern Cameroons voted in 1961 in a plebiscite to join The Republic of Cameroon in a Federation. Resolution 1608 of April 1961 confirmed the results of this plebiscite and in the Foumban Conference, the representatives of both Southern Cameroons and the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon agreed on the form of state they wanted.  On October 1, 1961, Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon.

The contention today, which has some legal basis, is how West Cameroon disappeared in 1972, as the state mutated to the United Republic of Cameroon and what happened to the supposed ‘unity’, when Paul Biya in 1984 changed the country’s name back to The Republic of Cameroon.

Maybe, taking the issues regarding the disappearance of West Cameroon to the UN for discussion might have given them something to talk about. However approaching the UN with the quest for the recognition of a new state, was a nonstarter.

The UN clearly has NO MANDATE to recognise a new state. It makes this clear when it states that:

The recognition of a new State or Government is an act that only other States and Governments may grant or withhold. It generally implies readiness to assume diplomatic relations. The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government. As an organization of independent States, it may admit a new State to its membership or accept the credentials of the representatives of a new Government.

The procedure is briefly as follows:

  1. The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and a letter formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.
  2. The Security Council considers the application. Any recommendation for admission must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Council, provided that none of its five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America — have voted against the application.
  3. If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State.
  4. Membership becomes effective the date the resolution for admission is adopted.

So contrary to what Prof. Anyim and many claim, the UN did not grant independence to Southern Cameroons in 1961, it merely recognised the outcome of a public vote. In the same manner, the UN has no mandate to grant independence to Ambazonia.

So instead of sending papers and petitions to the UN asking for the recognition of a new state, Ambazonians might think of courting at least 9 out of the 15 members of the Security Council, while making sure that the Five Permanent members are among these.

This, of course, would be a herculean task given that, with the apparent exception of the Russian Federation, the other permanent members have been instrumental in different ways in propping up the Biya Regime’s 36 years in power.

Ambazonians have also been known to tender petitions to the Commonwealth, of which Cameroon is a member. Under the same rules of engagement that the UN has with its members, the Commonwealth is under no obligation to respond to Ambazonia, as it is not one of her members.

It is my view that the best way for English-Speaking Cameroonians to get any form of freedom or respect within their country, is to challenge the system from within. It is obvious that elections will never guarantee this, as the rigging machinery is effectively controlled by Biya. Making the case for the Restoration of the State of West Cameroon, which has a legal argument starting with the violation of the constitution in 1972, remains the best option.

A return to a Two-State Federation within Cameroon will give Anglophones, the autonomy to build the right institutions that can attract diplomatic relations with other states. Such can be the start of any talk of independence. Within a federal structure, the people of the English-speaking regions can effectively talk with the UN or Commonwealth, as sections of a Country that is their member.

In a nutshell, English-Speaking Cameroonians will need to gain some degree of autonomy before they can think of approaching the UN. As an organisation of independent states, the UN deals with independent entities, not help them gain independence.

Justice Ayah Paul Abine Speaks Out: Provides Logical Justification on why AACIII is absolutely Necessary

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Anyone with the remotest interest in the wellbeing of Anglophone Cameroonians (West Cameroonians, Southern Cameroonians, English-speaking Cameroonians or Ambazonians), would have been utterly dismayed by the wanton loss of lives and destruction of property that has engulfed the region over the last 24 months.

With Biya’s regime seeming the favour violence over dialogue, it should be obvious that the reason behind this could be because, like many dictators and bullies, they can only win using brute force. The way to defeat Biya’s tyranny therefore is to adopt an approach he is not comfortable with.

When it was announced that a fierce Biya critic, Chrisitan Cardinal Tumi and other Religious leaders were calling for an All Anglophone Conference, one would have expected dismay from the Biya camp and relief from the oppressed camp. Unfortunately, for some unexplained reason, some Anglophone activists have joined Biya’s camp in denouncing the conference.

I personally, was shocked that people will turn down any initiative that might provide a step forward in resolving the ongoing conflict.

It has been with a huge sigh of relief that I have seen many Anglophones of high-Standing expressing their support for the Conference and promising to attend.

Ayah Paul Abine, someone who understands the legal implications of all that is happening, someone who has every reason to be angry at the system; someone who was unjustly deprived of his liberty for many months, for simply speaking the truth; someone who is part of a foundation currently at the heart of humanitarian efforts to mitigate suffering of the people,; YES, someone who has worn the shoes, still wears it, and knows where it pinches, has just written in support of AACIII.

Below is his full statement. As usual, if you ag44 with him or not, feel free to express your views in the comment section below.

“One would have thought that the contention would have been where to meet rather than whether to meet”…

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For reasons impossible to explain naturally, I chose yesterday, July 31, 2018, to state my stance on AAC III. Just as I began writing the date, distress calls came from St Valentine Centre (Orphanage), Buea. I gathered on the spot that armed soldiers had come to the centre menacingly because the inmates were playing in front of their dormitory, shouting… As I sat down to write on my return, sad news was broken to us about the death of my only brother-in-law… I do hope the good Lord will allow me to write to the end this time around.

Since my release from captivity, I have published at least two posts on the absolute need for an AAC III to hold. Both received substantial positive endorsement as gleaned from the hundreds of comments. Before my captivity, I had published several articles in the same direction. It was when it received little attention that I went on to propose the English Cameroon Authority. Records show that the proposal received tremendous support!

The overwhelming opposition to AAC III championed by Cardinal Tumi of recent now is a huge embarrassment. I was convinced that it was understood the objective of the English Cameroon Authority was to create a forum for concertation among Anglophones; and to provide a team for prospective dialogue at the time. If the idea has caught up with the cardinal today whereby he craves that Anglophones come together to chart the way forward, one is at a loss as to the raison d’etre of hostilities.

There is no doubt that one may not agree entirely with the cardinal’s plan of action. Only during the AAC III would Anglophones, by unanimity or in their majority, chart the way forward: whether to trust Mr. President this time around to give him another chance., given his disdain for the Anglophones previously. But is it not only democratic for us to meet and make our points or opinions heard? If not, why does anyone believe that their own opinions are infallible and must be accepted by the others?

That’s why I consider the cardinal’s initiative invaluable, and that it comes at a propitious moment and opportune time! As a matter of fact, we, Anglophones, appear to have lost sight of certain indisputable facts. Anglophones are in two groups in location and in circumstance: those in the diaspora and those at home; those at room temperature and those taking the heat of hostilities. The one group cannot do without the other, lest we favour fragility at the expense of durability; dictatorship instead of democracy.

I am of the considered opinion that there can NEVER be unity of purpose until we have met to agree on the common purpose/goals. Such agreement can only stand the test of time if it emanates from reason rather than from emotion. Reason requires proposal, face to face arguments/debates and consensus or the majority vote. I am at a loss how this can come about otherwise than when we meet.

One would have thought that the contention would have been where to meet rather than whether to meet. At the moment, the diaspora has assumed leadership in monopoly for obvious reason. They have incurred the hostilities of the current dispensation. Obviously, their entry and safety cannot be guaranteed until there has been amnesty. Which is to say the Buea venue or any other within Southern Cameroon/Ambazonia is inappropriate. Nor can the diaspora organize a forum that the internal representatives would freely attend. It is in that light that the cardinal has put forward pre-conditions. Our standing united behind the acceptance of those pre-conditions ought to be the reasonable goal instead of bickering…

If the argument is that the term “Anglophones” is nugatory, what can we say we are? Whether independent or not, we remain Anglohones by definition or by description. Independence or no independence, is it not only normal that, as a people, Anglophones reserve the right to meet as a people to review their wellbeing as a people from time to time? To paraphrase William Shakespeare, what is in a name? Methinks, then, that invoking the point to defeat the search for peace seems utterly facetious…

There is no gainsaying that, during war, there are negotiations for truces, cease-fires, cessations of hostilities… And no war has ever ended without parties sitting at the table. How would we seriously contend that, in our case, it has to be otherwise? If, as the cardinal did suggest, there was the release of those in prison/detention; together with the downing of arms (and the necessary end of bloodshed, even just momentarily); would that alone not be a welcome relief? Do we, in the comfort of our homes, contemplate the inhuman living conditions of our people in refugee camps; in the bushes (forests); in dungeons?… We of the Ayah Foundation feel/live it daily, and we do appreciate what our people are going through…

Above all, no initiative aimed at restoring peace and normalcy ought lightly to be dismissed from emotional inner drives. Our guiding principle should be democratic flexibility: the readiness to accept that the other person has a right to a different opinion. We may never forget that democracy is, in fact, the dissenting voice. Lest we defeat the right to argue that we are different and/or want to be different!

To my mind, AAC III is inevitable! Let us lend Cardinal Tumi our support!

AND SO DO WE HEREBY SUBMIT

By Ayah Paul Abine…

The Return of Hon Wirba: Changing the Dynamics of the Anglophone Crisis?

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The government of Cameroon has taken a high-handed approach towards English-Speaking Cameroonians. The only response to the ongoing crisis has been the arbitrary arrests and detention of all those challenging the abuse of Anglophones. Things have however been different the time the corrupt regime decided to go after one of the Members of Parliament. The MP from the Jakiri constituency in the Northwest Region was chased around the region while the internet had been shut down and he was eventually reported to have escaped to Nigeria where he spent a few months planning his return. His reappearance at the House of Assembly took everyone by surprise. This was unexpected given that all the others who had fled the country had not dared return for fear of being arrested. Wirba did not only abruptly appeared in parliament; he seized the rostrum and addressed the house in the exact forceful manner he last did before going under months back. A visibly confused House Speaker, Cavaye

Joseph Wirba did not only throw caution to the wind and abruptly make an appearance in parliament; he took the moment to address the house in the exact forceful manner he had done before and was declared a persona non grata. A visibly shaken and confused Speaker of the House of Assembly, Cavaye Yegue Djibril, failed to stop Hon Wirba from putting across his message.  With the same eloquence he has come to be known for, with the same logical arguments for the government to pay serious attention to the plight of West Cameroonians, a determined Wirba made his arguments for justice for Anglophones.

Below are some excerpts:

“Where else should we say these things? If we belong to the National Assembly then Mr Speaker, you must hear me out. Mr Speaker, you will hear me out. With all due respect Mr Speaker, I have been chased through the bushes for the past three months. I cannot come here and you are discussing…
“Our children are out of school, our lawyers in jail and all that is happening in West Cameroon means nothing to you. Where is your standing order to suspend for us to discuss issues that have to do with the people of West Cameroon? You tell me because you don’t seem to have an agenda for us…
“Mr Speaker, I am now telling you that the person who ordered for my arrest… tell him I am here; he can come and take me out of this National Assembly and the people of West Cameroon will know that they don’t belong here…

“The representatives of the people have the power to say it as it is at any time. I mean, we come here and you shut us down… what should we do? I should have waited for them to bring my head to you. That’s what you would have wanted. I simply say NO!
Mr Speaker, can you now on this floor, give us where this National Assembly can discuss the issues that have to do with the people of West Cameroon? Because it is more important than anything you have discussed in this Assembly from independence. Can you tell us? Because if we cannot talk about these things here, where are we supposed to talk about them for God’s sake? “You keep humiliating us like this, every time, it is the same thing. Get to the church leaders, we are humiliated, get to the lawyers, we are humiliated. We come here to represent our people and you tell me that I cannot talk about my people then, you will need to shut my mouth with death.

Can I have the time when we will talk about the problems of our people? If you have no space here for that it means that the country completely excludes us from its programme and I do not want that to be. You are supposed to make sure that we come here and represent the people, talk about their problems so that you understand the problems.
“I am happy that I am coming here when the Minister of Territorial Administration is here and I am wondering because Mr Minister I said here on the 2nd of December that the reign of terror over in West Cameroon is bringing down the country and nobody seems to listen and then I come here and we are told that we cannot talk on behalf of those people? It is the right of the MP to represent his people, Mr Speaker.

“I am not bringing any disorder. If you let us talk about our problems, nobody will be wasting this time because I have a full file here to discuss the problems of my people, so can you give me space to talk about it? If I don’t have it, then you are saying and with the order on my head that I should be arrested for representing my people. You are saying that the last remnants of anything we call democracy has died in this country. If an MP cannot talk, who else? And if an MP for the country is not safe, who else is safe in this country…?”

The question now being asked by all remains: is there something Wirba knows that others do not know? What is the position of his party the Social Democratic Front (SDF) which seems to have abandoned him when he needed them most? Why did the government not go ahead and arrest Wirba?

One scenario is possible. Hon Wirba might be someone who clearly understands how the government of Cameroon operates and knowing that their hands are tied with regards to the prosecution of the other Anglophone leaders, chose the right moment to reappear.

If this is the case, he surely has exposed the government’s weakness and given a new lease on life to the Anglophone crisis. The renewed energy across the country and diaspora is a testament to the fact that Hon. Wirba could not have chosen a better time to return.

My Opposition To The Foley Hoag Law Firm Retainer By Innocent Chia

 

I have come across several questions regarding the lawsuit being brought by SCACUF against the Cameroon government. I sincerely pray and hope it is a success. However, several questions have been raised about its feasibility and the manner in which the firm was recruited, and the seemingly large fee that has to be paid.

While I have refrained from raising my personal concerns in public, coming across this piece from Innocent Chia has given me reason to think it is good if SCACUF can present a clarification or a rebuttal to this. It does not inspire confidence and the sooner open clarifications are made, the better for this struggle.

Please read with an open mind and make your own conclusions and if you have any rebuttals, feel free to present them.

When the dust settles on the retainer agreement that was signed yesterday – 5/7/14 between the Foley Hoag LLP Law Firm and SCACUF (Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front), represented at the signing in Boston, MA by the Southern Cameroons Public Affairs Committee (SCAPAC), I hope to my God that there is nothing to write home about regarding my misgivings vis-à-vis the agreement and the manner in which it went down. It is important, nonetheless, that I speak my mind as a matter of public record because there is a cautionary tale to what many perceive as a giant landmark in our collective march towards the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.

Lawyers For Eritrean Liberation Give Counsel

Sometime between November and December 2016, I started hearing rumors of a Law Firm that was interested in representing Southern Cameroons amidst the heightened, rampant and systematic torture, rape, killings, abductions, disappearances and other dehumanizing acts against our brothers, sisters, children and parents by the paramilitary forces of La Republique du Cameroun. It was not long thereafter that I was fortunate enough to talk with a concerned group that had been researching the option and stumbled upon a couple of the lawyers who represented Eritrea in its protracted fight against annexation by Ethiopia. What these lawyers for Eritrea shared is not only instructive for decisions and choices that have since been made, culminating in the retainer that was signed yesterday but also very instructive of the challenges that we face if we do not detach and rid ourselves of some emotionally charged decision-making processes and those who not only embody but promote the processes and decisions.When asked to take the case for Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons Versus La Republique du Cameroun, the guys who litigated and won a similar case of Eritrea Versus Ethiopia, had responded that although a clearly WINNABLE case, they would not take it because they did not have the political connections in the current white house to go the distance.

Meaning: if you have to sign up with a law firm that will represent you in this matter, make sure they have the goodwill of this Whitehouse to show.
Translation: if Trump and his surrogates don’t have an African policy that favors intervention on the continent, it is a waste of time and your hard earned dollars because you need their backing in whatever court you drag La Republique to. You need their backing to make sure La Republique implement the verdict of whatever court, otherwise it will be another decision, just like that of the AU, that La Republique kicks like a can down the highway.

These same lawyers who won the case for Eritrea against Ethiopia further cautioned that whatever firm eventually offers to take up our case should not do so for the money. We need to be sure that they are doing it because they love the journey, they love and believe in the cause as much as we do and are passionate about the cause. A measure of that love, passion and believe means being willing to do it for free, they said.They then narrated how they had taken the case of Eritrea and worked on it pro bono (without pay) for a very long time. They had been burning with and fueled by the desire to right the injustice that had been perpetrated by Ethiopia on Eritrea. It is after they had done this free work for quite a while that the Eritrean community came together and insisted on compensating them in acknowledgment of all the hard work that the Firm had been doing on behalf of the people of Eritrea.

Meaning: Whoever is taking our WINNABLE case has to do it because of the love of justice, because they share in our affliction, and want to bring an end to our predicament.

As stated at the top, I can reliably state that when the idea of this lawsuit was but a rumor, many people who were in the know expressed varying concerns about it. There was consensus, even in the opposing voices, for those involved to continue looking for other firms or clinics that would provide competing quotes and then a decision be made. We cannot deny that it is in our blood as Ambazonians to look around for or “beat prices” for the best bargain. Is it not? We de beat even price for okrika shoes for market. We de beat price for store even when the price be marked on the item.

Manipulation, lack of Transparency or Due Diligence

So, why did we not talk with other law firms or put out a proposal for bids from other firms? We know that some small law firms, even some big ones, make their names by taking and championing causes like these. In fact, this is exactly what Ben Muna is doing in Cameroon with Agbor Balla, Neba Fontem, Mancho Bibixi and the other Southern Cameroonians who have been abducted, imprisoned and are getting judged in a foreign land by the colonial La Republique du Cameroun. His services, and those of the hundreds of lawyers that are working with him are free of charge. Was there no such firm, clinic, or school in the diaspora that could be interested in taking up what the lawyers that defended Eritrea against Ethiopia have called a “clear case”? I will tell you that those who have been pushing the idea of Foley Hoag as “the” only firm to represent us left no stone unturned in making sure that we had the outcome that materialized yesterday. Under the aegis of a certain Dr. Tata and Barrister George Awazi (one-time campaign manager for Muna to the Presidency of the Bar Association of Cameroon), each time the idea was rejected by one group, they took it with the next group and sold Foley Hoag LLP. Indeed, reliable sources allege that at one point they put in $5,000 of their own money into the SCAPAC account to sustain the effort. An investment?

Lurking around from one group to another, and with intensity in the struggle growing, the retainer fee grew from $20,000.00 to $25,000.00. By the time SCACUF and Wilfred Tassang came on board and endorsed it, the price tag had skyrocketed to a down payment of $35,000.00 and a minimum of $70,000 to be held in the account at any given time. You may recall that even when MoRISC endorsed SCACUF, it expressed reservations on two matters: The first was that it was not consenting in any way, shape or form, to any lawsuit representation by Foley Hoag, until it had been appropriately reviewed and approved by the MoRISC legal team. (The second reservation was that it would not endorse any group that preached or embraced violence as part of the struggle).
Be that as it may, the retainer terms of reference are open ended as to how much time or how many hours Foley Hoag LLP are projecting to bill for and what it will show as achievements along the way.

Retainer Fee or Vulture Fund

Remember, there’s no way of ever verifying how many hours a lawyer has actually spent “working” on your case. It is a very subjective process where they absolutely control every facet of the billing. They only tell you that they are billing for X number of hours. And that is where the rubber really hits the road in this matter as I see it. This is where I consider the 56th African nation-to-be as having been dealt the the short end of the stick in a 419 scam where we are already mortgaging the future of our unborn kids with an unnecessary and avoidable debt. Let us use numbers to examine how much of a raw deal we are into, and then we can determine whether we are into another “Hewitt is too late” situation or whether we can and should sever this umbilical cord before it chokes and kills the child. Here are the hourly rates for the average and above law firms:

Senior Partner – $1,000.00 per hour
Junior Partner – $750.00 per hour
Senior Associate – $500.00 per hour
Midlevel Associate – $400.00 per hour
Junior Associate – $250.00 per hour
Paralegal – $100.00 per hour

Each one of these legal professionals have very distinct roles to play in this process and journey – from research to secretariat functions, to cross checking of facts, to submitting the file where necessary, to making the case against La République du Cameroun. So what would happen if each one of them worked on this case only one (1) hour a week? Here is the math:

$1000 + $750 + $500 + $400 + $250 + $100 × 1hr = $3,000.00

What if they had to each work 3 hrs on the case? Well, we would simply multiply $3,000.00 × 3 hrs = $9,000.00 for each one of these professionals to work on our case for three hours on any given day. So, how long would it take for $35,000.00 to be depleted? Well, based on all six professionals working/billing for three 3 hours of work every day, here is the breakdown:

$1000 + $750 + $500 + $400 + $250 + $100 × 3 hrs × 4 days = $36,000.00

Yes, people, for 18 hours of work, less than half of a US working week, SCACUF / SCAPAC are committing Southern Cameroons to $36,000,000 (18,000,000.00 AMB money?) even before blinking their eyes. And there is no telling that even after a week of work this firm would have anything or be anywhere close to taking the case to any court of law. Yet, someone is on the hook to be replenishing that account so that there is a minimum of $70,000 in it at every given moment!

For the record, can we tell how much time it has taken SCACUF / SCAPAC to raise the $35,000.00 that it signed away yesterday to Foley Hoag? It wasn’t a week. It has taken more than two months to raise the said sum of money. Which begs the next set of questions.

If Southern Cameroonians are able to cough up this money day in and day out, is this the most judicious, the most efficient use of their hard earned money with a certain outcome of victory? Were there less expensive options with the same guaranteed outcome? If so, did we check them out and why did we not go with them? Finally, why are we stuck, or are we indeed stuck, with this particular law firm? It is an open secret that MoRISC opposed this deal all the way. Still, it reached out to SCACUF when it was confirmed that SCACUF was intractable in embracing the Law firm to represent the people’s case against La Republique du Cameroun. Among other things, MoRISC, even as recently as at the second conclave in Nigeria, proposed to have its US based legal team, go and review the retainer agreement before any decision was finally made. This was only after SCAPAC walked back on earlier statements that the agreement had already been signed and all that was left was the disbursement of the money for Foley Hoag to commence the process. When they walked back on that lie, SCAPAC loosely committed to the idea of having a team comprising of Professor Carlson Anyangwe and the renown Barrister Charles Taku review the documents. Almost two weeks after the second conclave, Wilfred Tassang revealed on air in an interview with SCTV that SCACUF was expediting Professor Carlson Anyangwe from South Africa to the United States to review and sign the retainer agreement. The suggestions of the MoRISC legal team, which had been considered only after serious stonewalling, to review the retainer draft agreement were tossed aside.

The team had complained, among other things, about the deliverables and the bottomless pit nature of an account. They had also pointed out the lack of SCACUF oversight of the SCAPAC account, absence of a clear distinction as to which of the two entities was in control. Who would manage the account, issue checks, countersign checks? Were checks to be t jointly signed by SCACUF and SCAPAC? How about the money that Southern Cameroonians were donating for other causes besides the lawsuit? How would they ascertain that the money was indeed being disbursed per the provisions of the retainer agreement? Equally of great interest, are the questions spiraling around Dr. Tata and Barrister George Awazi? Are they getting any kickbacks for pushing this law firm arrangement through as much as they have done? If they are getting kickbacks, how much are they making? Is there anything wrong with them making a quick buck at the expense of the martyrs and people of Southern Cameroons? Remember the $5000 that they allegedly put into the SCAPAC account? Was it to be repaid? How much interest are they making on it? Is it tax deductible?

We may not have time here to delve into matters regarding the jurisdiction where the human rights violations case might be brought against La Republique du Cameroun. But if it is filed in Cameroun, it most certainly will mean that Foley Hoag will be entering into a partnership agreement with a local firm. Given the ties between Barrister George Awazi and the Muna family, there is every indication that the Muna Law Secretariat will be tapped to handle “secretarial duties” given that Barrister Muna is already volunteering his pro bono services to the political prisoners of Southern Cameroons in La Republique du Cameroun. How much will that bill be? I can project that the light bill will be CFA 500,000; the water bill will be CFA 250,000; the salary for the secretary will be CFA 750,000…then miscellaneous will be a whopping CFA 2,000,000M frs. In the meantime, Wilfred Tassang, now enjoying an undisclosed salary in Nigeria as SCACUF Secretary General, is challenging the diaspora to pour money into a bottomless pit, allegedly controlled by his confidante, while his colleagues wallow in misery in Cameroon. The diaspora has to be steadfast and remain very vigilant or the worst of con men, some dressed in cloaks and getting called Prophets, others with PhDs, Professors, Lawyers…all wearing beautiful suits, dresses and handbags dash away into the night with our fight for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.

In Conclusion…

We have come too far to be conned by anyone that is not ready to answer serious questions and be held accountable. At the signing of the retainer yesterday in Boston, oddly on a Sabbath day, one could not escape the rookie mistake of the lady who issued the check – while the numerical value said $35,000.00, she wrote it out for “thirty-five 00/100” dollars. It certainly can be corrected, but it does not bode well for the quality of people that are representing us at SCACUF / SCAPAC. We have been blaming Foncha and Muna for dragging us into the doodoo, but it seems as if we could be regrettably poised for a repeat of the mistakes of the past by investing our emotions and not our brains into this fight.

It is one more reason why we need to fight against any forces that are stonewalling the logical step of an Interim Government in Exile that the roadmap, birthed by MoRISC and adopted by SCACUF, calls for. It is strange that SCACUF has recently pulled down the roadmap page from the website. It may be reasonable to wonder whether it is a clear indication of an intention to derail the restoration agenda. The reasons keep on piling why we need a qualified, visionary leader. We must continue to source for our Moses, possibly one who is voted into office by universal suffrage and with a clear mandate and resources to carry out the task at hand. This fight needs a leader, not charlatans or position fillers with some scars to show, that will understand the fierce urgency not now towards the countdown to the restoration of our independence

The Kingmakers Are Unhappy: Biya’s Hold on Power Threatened?

In most countries, democracy loosely translates to a system of government whereby a majority of the populace choose or elect their leaders or representatives. The nascent democracies of Nigeria and Ghana may be among the few one could look at in Africa, but the picture is very bleak when one looks at any country that has French roots. It is time

Anyone with a fresh memory will remember that in 2011, the French Special Forces decided on who became Ivory Coast’s president after Laurent Gbagbo fell out of favour with them. In the same 2011, the French where leaders in deciding that Libya’s Gaddafi had lost legitimacy, and led a bombing campaign that reduced the country to ruins, setting its developmental clock back to about 200 years and leaving it a failed state.

It is therefore interesting that recent reports state that a French parliamentary report says Paul Biya of Cameroon’s continued stay in power has become “illegitimate”. It is stated that it is Elisabeth Guigou, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, presented the report to the the French parliament.

Biya Sakorzy CompIf these reports are credible, it would raise mixed-feelings from Cameroonians and Africans in general. The first feeling would be a sigh of relief that finally the kingmaker has decided it is time for another dictator to leave power. There is no gainsaying the fact that many would be glad to see Biya kicked out of power, by all means possible.

However, if Africans have anything to learn from history, then it is that the French have not been involved in anything in Africa that actually benefited the African. “Former’ French colonies remain the most undeveloped in Africa as a clear testament to the fact that the French never left. Their continuous meddling in African affairs is a real problem and the case of Libya and Ivory Coast makes it more scary. Biya Hollande

It is therefore good news that the Kingmakers have finally lost patience with Biya which might translate in him leaving power, but how the this is done is a cause for further concern for any Cameroonian or African.

Examining the Logic of the Obama ‘RED LINE’ and the Case for Military Intervention in Syria

Even if one were tempted to discard everything Plato wrote, his argument that in Hypocrisy or Diplomacy?the Ideal State, Reason should rule over Courage and Appetite, cannot be overlooked. This has been proven beyond measure over the past few days as the clouds of foreign invasion hangs over Syria, drowning the throes of the inglorious civil war that has engulfed the nation for over 2 years. Beating the drums and sounding the gongs of this war have been Western leaders, notably those of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The high level of irrationality exhibited by some of the statements of these leaders, challenges the folly of the dark ages.

For example, how could David Cameron so boldly tell the world that there is evidence that the Syrian government has used Chemical weapons against its own people over 10 times already, presents a motion to be debated in parliament with the support of his Deputy, which claims of ‘at least 14 times’, yet fails to back this with any evidence other than what they call ‘highly sensitive intelligence’? How could Francoise Hollande make the rather strong and obviously naïve statement that France will ‘punish’ all those responsible for the attack, when he was in no way capable of telling who did it and the work of the UN Inspectors was yet to determine what substances were used and by whom and clearly oblivious of the fact that punitive action has no place in international law?

If anyone was to wonder who was playing the music to which these two stooges were dancing, then look no further than the United States of America. But the question that should be asked ab initio is: why all the flurry all of a sudden? Who is playing the music to which the USA itself is dancing?

Syrian women

At other times, it would be easy to point to Israel. This time, paradoxically, it is no other than what Paul Flynn says is a ‘foolishly drawn red line’ by

President Obama that needed to be crossed in Syria to become a catalyst for action. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West goes on to argue that the real reason “…is not because of the horror of these weapons and the horror exists – but because the American president foolishly drew a red line and because of his position now, he’s going to attack or face humiliation. That’s why we’re being drawn into war”. Why then is this ‘Red Line’ statement a catalyst for invasion?

The Obama ‘RED LINE’

At the beginning of the Syrian conflict, there was only one message from the West which they claimed was the panacea to the crises… Assad had to leave power. In fact, during the last US presidential debate, President Obama firmly asserted that “Syrians are going to have to determine their own future” and Mitt Romney twice made the point that he did not ” want to have our military involved in Syria.” Both Candidates however agreed that the US needed to “make sure they [the Syrian opposition] have the arms necessary to defend themselves [though] We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the wrong hands” said Mr. Romney and President Obama concurred “For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step, and we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping; that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region.”

So arming the rebels was not debatable hence it will  be anyone’s guess how the rebels have been able to sustain their offensive till date.

The point of the Obama ‘red line’ became an area of agreement between the Vice Presidential Candidates. When Raddatz asked Paul Ryan “What happens if Assad does not fall, Congressman Ryan? What happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What happens if he does?”
The response was ” Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He’s a sponsor of terrorism. He’ll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this.” And then again Raddatz quizzed “So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?” And came the obvious answer “Well, we agree with the same RED LINE, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. They’re right about that.”

From the onset therefore, it has never been about the Syrian people who would die because of a chemical weapons attack, but because it will be a blow to the image of the United States and a plus for Iran if Assad did not go in the end.

President Obama in his characteristic cautious nature when it comes to interventions, had therefore laid the precedence by making the infamous statement that the only time an intervention in Syria will be indubitable would be if ‘a red line was crossed’. While many at the time questioned what the red line could signify in real terms or how it could be measured, very few, if any, questioned the possibility that the line could be crossed by the rebels.

While Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria had already told Swiss TV that there was strong, though inconclusive evidence that the rebels rather than the Syrian government were using Sarin nerve gas, it was not surprising that no one felt a ‘red line’ had been crossed

Out of the blue that ‘red line’ has now been crossed because a few hundred people had joined the hundreds of thousand others who had met unprecedented death because of the civil war. Before UN inspectors had even begun their investigations, a conclusion had been drawn in Washington that it MUST have been the Syrian Regime.

While this may have come as a surprise to many, it would have been expected by those who have been following the Syrian conflict closely. 

The Syrian Conflict – How Far, So far?

One major outcome of the so-called Arab Spring, was the testing of the concept of humanitarian wars, enshrined in the notion of ‘responsibility to Protect’. Libya was the first laboratory, the rhetoric of ‘Gaddafi killing his own people’ was amplified and sold to the world. Everyone was tricked, including the United Nations which sat by and watched NATO use ‘all necessary means’ to ‘protect’ Libyans from Gaddafi. ‘All necessary means’ as ambiguous as it sounded, proved just that – equivocal at best, obscenely abstruse at worse. Libyans and their country was bombed indiscriminately, killed and maimed to ‘protect’ them from being killed by Gaddafi. After the murder of Gaddafi, Libyans were left at the mercy of armed rebels. America failed to protect her own diplomats in a Libya which had returned to the ‘state of nature’. There is no question then that they could not protect a singly Libyan. As irresponsible as the neglect of Libya was, it was not questioned by many. Emboldened by the Libyan experiment, Syria became the next in line.

The euphoria of erecting western-style democracies albeit through the use of mass revolution caught a few Syrians who were naïve enough to believe that democracy, rather than being a process, was something that could simply be uprooted and replanted. The seeds of a civil war had been planted. While Western countries quickly took to providing logistic support to rebel factions and arming them, Russia was busy fortifying the Syrian Regime. As the proxy wars were being fought, Syrians were dying in thousands and many more were becoming refugees.Syrian Children

As disunited as the rebels were, they soon made quick advance, capturing many cities including key ones like, Homs, Aleppo and Qusayr. As the rebels made rapid progress, all talk of using diplomatic means to end the conflict were quickly squashed. Many UN missions to Syria to negotiate peace ended in fiascos. As each successful mission was botched, the Syrian regime was blamed for refusing to negotiate.

By the second quarter of 2013 however, the tides began to change. The Syrian government began to gain an upper hand in the conflict, presumably with the help of Hezbollah. In the first week of June, the Syrian government gained control of Qusayr  and July, government forces had regained control of Aleppo and only the old City of Homs and a few other districts were held by the opposition.

It was becoming obvious that the government had greater chances of winning. As already discussed, An Assad victory would have serious implications:

  • First, it would be a slap to the face of the USA and a huge setback to its hegemony.
  • Secondly, It would mean another lost investment by Western powers and there will be no returns from all the arms and logistic support given to the rebels.
  • Thirdly, it would mean a major victory for Russia and China, and especially the former who would have made huge financial gains from supplying arms to the Syrian goverment
  • Fourthly, it would mean the emboldenment of Iran and the consolidation of their power in the region.

This therefore meant, Assad had to be stopped from winning at all costs. Helping the rebels had proven abortive, and another direct intervention would certainly be frowned at not only in the Middle East but also within Western countries where citizens have become war-weary.

The only remaining option was therefore for the Syrian regime to do that which they had been warned not to do – cross the red line. It therefore seemed only too convenient that Syrian forces, which were already having an upper hand in the civil war, should carry out an act which they knew would inevitably bring the biggest military in the world against them.

Simple logic would tell that the Syrian regime had no reason whatsoever to use chemical weapons, whereas, the rebels, desperate for Western intervention and banking on the Obama threat, had every motivation to use it.

English: US President Barack Obama and British...
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama therefore, like Herod who made a promise to Herodias’ daughter and realized too late he could not back out, had to do something. Since he cannot act on his own, he needed to recruit heralds.  Remembering the gullibility of Tony Blair during the Iraqi invasion of 2003 and the role David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy played in Libya, Obama knew exactly who to recruit.

The British Connection and the Triumph of Reason

Obama... You deceived me!
Obama… You deceived me!

A 40-minute call to David Cameron did the trick. Mr. Cameron abandoned his holiday, rushed back and convened parliament, also cutting short their holidays. A motion was hurriedly put together, but like sweet palm wine, it was sweet to the mouth but void of substance. The British House of Commons came out on the 29th of August 2013 and showed the world that they were not only going to avoid being sucked into the folly of 2003, but that they had enough information to ask the questions that needed asking.

With a complete deconstruction of the government’s motion for a military intervention into Syria, Reason triumphed over Courage and Appetite. The historic defeat of the British government in parliament on an issue of foreign policy certainly marks a new dawn for imperialistic wars.

Conclusion

Whether the US will decide to go into Syria without the UK or not is left to be seen within the next few days. What this is going to mean for UK-US relations is still a matter of conjecture. These notwithstanding, it will go down in history that the world stood by and watched innocent children, women and men, being murdered in Syria while power-politics and proxy wars took centre stage. The UN Security Council will certainly not provide a solution as the divide that has existed over Syria will not dissolve into thin air. Of the 165 nations that signed the convention on Chemical weapons, Syria is not among (contrary to David Cameron’s postulations) meaning that the signatories of the convention do not even have the legitimacy to call Syria to order for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

While Libya has been the white elephant in the room throughout this debate, as clearly evidenced in the British Parliament where it was completely ignored and Iraq became the reference point, the failure of the Libyan intervention certainly writes a memorandum for us all.

Boston Bombings: Any Unanswered Questions?

The question I have been toying with since the Boston tragedy is: How on earth could such an event have been organised, with the recent public shootings that have taken place in the US, and the event venue was not scanned for explosives?

Terrorism
I cannot ascertain the veracity of these claims by the Citizen’s Action Network, but they are certainly thought-provoking

The fact that the explosions took place near the finish line where obviously there will be cameras to capture them makes it all the more curious. As I scanned all news channels last night and the gory images from the explosions kept surfacing, I had one feeling that dominated, FEAR!

I found myself wondering each time where on earth a person could be safe, if at the heart of a US event, something like that could happen. The force of the emotions I felt could have been instigated in no small measure by the contrast of the scenario – ONE MOMENT, PEOPLE WERE CELEBRATING THE ARRIVAL OF THE FIRST ATHLETES, THE NEXT MOMENT THEY WERE SCREAMING IN PAIN. The thin line that exists between life and death, happiness and sorrow was amplified by those footages.

If there is anything that can control the human mind effectively, that is fear. Thomas Hobbes writing in the Leviathan (supported by Machiavelli) states that the fear of death, especially violent death is the main reason why people created civil society. The events surrounding 9/11 and now this Boston event seems to illustrate the primacy of fear, and how it connects with a need for security. This was at the centre of Obama’s reaction to the news: TIGHTER SECURITY, RETALIATION!

NOT A NEW PHENOMENON…

Plato had a long time ago rightly pointed out that “this and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector” . So the question arises – could there be an outside chance that terror is being used to control the American people – as obviously they now keep seeing the state as a great protector?

Should that be the case then erstwhile US President James Madison’s prophesy about the USA would have come true. He held that “if Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

If by any chance, this is the case, where does that place the USA today, given that Hitler had earlier opined that “terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”. Would the USA today therefore be using the same weapon that Hitler used to control Nazi Germany and the European leaders of his time?

If one were to doubt this, Hitler’s own henchman Goering clears any cobwebs from the mind with this mind-blowing explanation “why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

It did work after 9/11 perfectly, whether there was an external threat or not, whether conspiracy theorists are to be believed or not… Americans bought the propaganda to attack foreign nations because of the logic of protection. So to a large extent Goering was right. IT WORKED IN THE USA – THE WORLD’S NO. 1 DEMOCRACY.

MY TWO CENTS

My heart goes to the families of those who lost their lives in this latest act of violence, but reason beckons on me to question if we should continue to be used by the political elite for selfish ends. As Assed Baig of the Huff Post rightly captures

On the same day as the Boston bombings at least 33 were killed and 160 wounded in a string of bomb attacks across Iraq. Attacks which did not take place before the US led invasion of the country. The same media coverage was not afforded to the dead in Iraq, nor did Obama seek to comment on the issue.

I will will not want to comment on this since it has been the norm, but I dare question that call it conspiracy theory or whatever, is it not really uncanny that this attack comes just at a time when the USA has been facing serious provocations from North Korea and a day before the BBC were to air a controversial documentary from North Korea?

Should these attacks be linked to external terror and a call for retaliation arises, I will therefore not be too surprised. But before anyone hastily goes calling for another person’s head in response to what happened, let us not forget what another ‘strongman’ of the last century Josef Stalin said:

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamour for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.

The Passionate Plea of a Patriotic Kenyan

As Kenyans head to the polls on Monday 4th March, 2013, it is not unusual for minds to go back to the happenings of 2007. True to his nature Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng does not sit back and watch events unfold but proactively contributes in shaping the process. Here is a plea he has for all Kenyans to vote and make a difference in the country. If we cannot vote, we can get those who can vote to do so and make the much needed difference.

PLEASE ASK KENYANS TO GET OUT AND VOTE ON Monday March 4th 2013

Hi
My name is Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng. Also Known As Okwaroh Ja’Paprombe on face book. I blog at Okwarohztake. I have a thousand plus friends on facebook, I follow many noble and interesting people on twitter and they follow me as well. I have over 300 connections on linked in, and have close to a thousand people in my circles on Google plus. I have travelled the world and met awesome people, made friends, classmates, workmates …

Folks am afraid but I have to do this. It is the least I can do to my country right now. My country Kenya is at cross roads. We are less than 24 hours into an extremely important general election. An election that demands of us to deal with a problematic past and juggle the promises and challenges that the future holds. It boils down to folks getting out as many a possible to VOTE. To vote enough to enable us distinguish a clear winner. Going by opinion polls that have run in the past 3 months – the race pits two arch rivals with strong personal and emotive opposing opinions that is cannon fodder for violence and ethnic animosity. Or people are reeling from the aftermath of the 2007 general election when unfortunate events led to peace-loving citizens taking arms against one another, killing over 1000 innocent people, displacing over half a million from their homes, destroying property worth trillions and crippling an economy that was in the path towards double digit growth.

I am writing to ask you that PLEASE. if you know a Kenyan, if you have any one of them in your networks (facebook, twitter, linkedin, Google+, foursquare, badoo, etc) – PLEASE ask them to get out on Monday 4th March and VOTE. If they are out there in the Diaspora, kindly ask them to spread this message to their constituencies.

Africa must indeed live up to its true potential. It begins with having civilised political transitions. We need Kenyans to get out and VOTE because if they don’t, we are headed into a RUN-OFF that is bound to be too costly in terms of resources and in terms of undermining the progress we have made in the difficult past 5 years reforming our institutions, working to reengineer our nationhood and building a responsive 21st century state.

We have already expended way above our means as a nation in real investment towards reforming the electoral process, the judiciary and internal security regime. The campaigns alone have been perversely expensive and have had significant impact on the economy already.

A run-off puts Kenya in a one month limbo when everything and anything could happen. It is appreciably an uneasy calm and we are doing our best to preach peace – but the run-off will sure ignite emotions, tension and will polarise Kenya in unprecedented measures.

As a nation we have brokered peace around the world – in South Sudan, spearheaded the renaissance of Somalia and are a beacon of regional stability, political tranquillity and economic prosperity in the East African region. Kenya calls on you to at least return a favour at this moment of need.

If you love Kenya – 1) Our beautiful sceneries – the great Mount Kenya, our cosy beaches in Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi; 2) Our rich heritage – the lion daring Maasai; 3) Our beautiful city in the Sun Nairobi where life never stops; 4) Our thrilller rugby 7s team, 5) our resillient athletes. If you love Peace, If you want prosperity and stability in East Africa, Africa and the world.

PLEASE ASK KENYANS TO GET OUT AND VOTE ON Monday March 4th 2012.

Thank you. Yours truly
Okwaroh Ja’ paprombe —–>http://bit.ly/YeTkwz

And please if you do not like my message, be the gentleman or lady and just overlook it

 

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