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« SONARA Vs APC: GM Says Ebong Ngolle Advised Him To Sue SGBC | Main | Biya Casts Doubts Over HIPC-I Completion Point »

Monday, 08 November 2004


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Janvier Tchouteu

In my October 11, 2004 reply to a compatriot over the SCNC issue, I wrote

My dear compatriot. I can understand your deep frustration. It is easy to blame others except ourselves. Self criticism is indispensable in any struggle. We failed in this third phase of the struggle because our leaders had not fully mastered the essence of the struggle, because they were not fully committed and because they lacked a national ideal or call it national ideology.

Now, over to Southern Cameroons. I was born and raised in the South West province and partly spent months every year in the North West since the age of eleven, was at the fore-front of implanting the SDF in the Southwest, worked for the party at all levels, and Akwanga Ebenezer (National president of SCYL) is my friend from the days when we started thinking political in secondary school. We were involved in a mission in 1991 and I spent two months in jail, to be released under the terms of the TRIPARTITE, and of course, I was no longer allowed back into the university. I blamed the system, and not Francophones for the mess that Kamerun is today and I consider all the different kamerunian peoples as victims of the system. Akwanga Derek Ebenezer, my friend, later believed the problem was francophones. I understood him after his hurt, but I do not accept his identification of the enemy. Most of SDF's supporters (70-80%) were francophones and the party was largely funded by francophones (more than 80%). Betrayals in the SDF over the essence of the struggle came mostly from Anglophones, leaving the SDF, the mess that it is today. In the SDF Anglophones in the leadership betrayed their francophone counterparts and not the other way round. I suggest you read "HOW COMMITTEED ARE WE IN THE STRUGGLE TO CHANGE THE PRESENT SYSTEM?" Check out Number 3. You will have a better insight from that.

Reunification was the right thing to do, but it has been badly managed because those who
fought (Francophone union nationalists) and those who worked (Anglophone union nationalists) never had power to manage it.
We have to work together as union nationalists to realize the total, complete and universal change for kamerun.
Have a nice day.

Janvier Tchouteu

--- Bamenda Women wrote:

> There is just one hope for southern
> cameroonians,are they prepare to fight for thier
> independece ,if so how prepare are they?.is there
> any ground work ready for that?i enjoyed your
> articles bye
> ---------------------------------
> ALL-NEW Yahoo! Messenger - all new features - even
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Che Sunday (Dr.)

Though not of the SCNC school of thought, the one thing they have said here is true, that is, Cameroon is not ready for an anglophone president. Along this line of reasoning, I will like to offer some advice to the SDF leadership, especially its chairperson, Ni John Fru Ndi.
The euphoria that swept you into the political limelight of the country has since subsided. Your followers and sypathizers have since become seasoned political students and now expects more from your party than rhetoric. Your refusal to join the opposition coalition was a mistake of colosal proportions. Let me take you through a chronology of some of the mistakes the party has made and their subsiquent fallouts, rounding out with the most recent.
When your party boycotted parliamentary elections, amongst some of the reasons given were that the elections were not going to be transparent, as such, it was a waste of time taking part in elections you believed the outcomes were already predetermined. That gave President Biya and his party the chance to fill the National Assembly with their men. He subsequently went on to implement all kinds of statutes with little or no opposition. The boycot accomplished nothing because elections in Cameroon continue to be found wanting both in conduct and outcome.
The dismissal of Muna from the party did more damage to the image of the party than you had imagined. Considering that Muna constituted part of the elite of the party, and the position his father held in Cameroon politics, his dismissal from the party caught the eyes of the international community in places you least expected. Both the Washington Post and the New York times ran front page articles on the incident and their take on the issue were, "if the party was incapable of amicably resolving its internal matters, will it be able to lead a nation with a larger sphere of disention?" What these papers were writing was the thinking of the Western Democracies. These are the governments to whom you were going to be looking up to for both financial and political support. They lost faith in your ability to respect disention. You painted yourself an image of intolerance and destroyed your reputation as a team player. This last point came back in the recent failure of trying to form an opposition coalition to re-inforce itself.
Your refusal to join the opposition coalition, eventhough it was half-harzardly organized defies rational thinking. I read your press release after the failure of the coalition and was sick to my stomach. As a seasoned politician, you should have figured out the following:-
1. That anglophone cameroon is still a minority in this union.
2 That France still has a vested interest in Cameroon and views an anglophone president as antagonistic. As such, France will continue to call the cards for a lengthy foreseable future when it comes to our political fortunes. Sir, if you would reason along with me, since the SDF is the party with the largest opposition following, why did it not take the innitiative to lead and get the coalition movement several years back? It waited until the dying minute to hurriedly try forming a coalition. With such disarray in decision making, how different is the opposition from the ruling party? Non!
Knowing that there is an anglophobic mentality in the Frenchman's perception, why has it been so difficult for the SDF to consider putting up a francophone candidate to head the party's ticket for president?
Your refusal to join the opposition, eventhough it was more of a window dressing since you were doing it at the last hour completely destroyed the faith of many Cameroonians whom have thought the party has the interest of the nation at heart.
It was rumoured in some circles that Ndam Njoya was a sell out. I don't know how true this is but you could have forestalled this if you have countered with a francophone candidate. I hate to tell you this but you were muscled out out of running because you are an anglophone. In turn, you acted out of spite and decided to run. You knew you stood no chance of winning, yet you ran.
Tell me how you will defend your reputation if accused of putting personal gains ahead of national interest? Had you joined the coalition, history will forever remember you as the person who gave Biya a run for his money both as a presidential candidate and the force behind an opposition coalition that could have ousted him from office, but for a flawed electoral process.
Since the elections, (if we call them as such )have come and gone, the challenge you face now is not so much joining in a coalition government, but taking the leadership role to rebuild the opposition coalition. You may hate President Biya, but in the words of an Isreali air force officer, "never underestimate the power of your adversary." You are dealing with a master politician. The olive branch he is offering is to get everyone disarmed. For the next seven years he will be grooming his sucessor while the opposition is fighting over the spoils of the system that have come their way. Before they know it, seven years would have come and gone. They will have little to offer the country. Make concessions within and without your party. Look at the big picture. Ask yourself the question, does going it alone have a minute chance of winning? If you can answer yes, then come out and tell the Cameroon people how you intend to do it. If you really believe the SDF can win the presidency, it must consider doing it on the shoulders of a francophone. Start planning for it now, not a month to President Biya's final term in office. He will, I know from past experience keep you all in the dark until the final minute and spring a surprise on all. Before you could find a suitable opponent to challenge his candidate,it will be too late.Cut down on the litany of mistakes that have plagued the SDF under your watch.This is not an attempt at disparaging your accomplishments, but an honest discussion with the hope that it will be accept in good faith.

Janvier Tchouteu


The union nationalists of Kamerun are pragmatic revolutionists, progressive reformers or radical evolutionists. These are men and women who grew up being what they are more as a confection of circumstance than of what was bestowed upon them by birth that gave them a social identity. These people greatly developed or did not suppress their human touch. Unlike most, they do not find it easy to live without the slightest spasm over the pains and suffering of their fellow compatriots. Unlike most, they have put their purposes far above personal considerations and even above their personal interest, an uncommon quality. By dwelling on their humanism, they consider the alleviation of the pains, turmoil and nightmares of their compatriots over the alleviation of their personal well-being. It is because of their all-embracing humanism and deep awareness of the Kamerunian reality that enables them to know that the demanding task of alleviation cannot be based on individuals who are so many and complex as separate entities. Kamerun’s union nationalists are acutely aware of the fact that the task of alleviation should be for the entire Kamerunian people. They know that Kamerunians have been dishonored, oppressed and traumatized en-masses and not separately.

Permit me to call Kamerun’s union nationalists, the advance Kamerunians. These exceptional groups of patriots, who have been shaped by circumstance and have a clear sense of the meaning of life, have never been allowed to the helm of power in the country’s political life. With legendary origins and a gruesome past, they are the best reflection of Kamerun itself. Kamerun’s union nationalists are aware of tribal, ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic sentiments, but they have not allowed these to blind and overwhelm their reasoning for a progressive Kamerun. They are aware of the fact that Kamerun’s chronic malady lies in its anachronistic institutions, complete dominance by France and a detached oligarchic leadership. It is the different sentiments and workings of the French-imposed system that has shaped individual Kamerunians to varying degrees and constrains them in their drive towards authentic change and progress. However, Kamerun’s union nationalists in their advance ideals are those exceptional compatriots who have detached themselves from the shortcomings of the system and the blinding sentiments of tribal, ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic and social ties. They stand as the epitome of the renewed Kamerunian.

Since becoming a distinctive entity under the Germans eleven decades ago, Kamerun has occasionally conceived of liberation movements, which would have advanced the nation into a better position if the nationalist forces had been successful in their cause. In 1910, Martin Paul Samba (Mebenga Mebono), the first Kamerunian nationalist leader realized that the progress and glory of the land rested more in a future that was devoid of colonial control and permeated by progressive Kamerunian concepts. He began one of the earliest liberation movements in Africa and the first in black Africa. However, time and fate caught him short in his campaign to rally the full support of Kamerunians. Cornered by the German colonial army near Ebolowa in 1914, he opted to surrender rather than face the massacre of his people. In August 8, 1914, Martin Paul Samba was executed, a day after the execution of his close partner in the name of Rudolf Duala Manga Bell. That was the first trauma to Kamerunian nationalism in the hands of the vengeful, cruel and suppressive German colonial army, causing its dormancy for years to come. It was such a deep trauma that even after the Germans were defeated in Kamerun by British and French forces, no nationalist force emerged to defend the territory from partition by the victorious European powers in 1916. This partition and the ensuing mandatory rule unfolded consequences of a disruption of past economic, political and cultural ties as well as their resultant usage. Moreover, it is the shortcomings of partition and the disruptions that is haunting Kamerun’s unity today. The imposition of separate English and French administrations in the land as agreed in the mandate formula only created systems, which had little in common with pre-colonial experiences and out of touch with Kamerunian reality at the time.

Yes, it was due to the regrettable partition that Kamerun’s nationalism was rekindled three decades after, assuming a union content in its quest to reunite British and French Kameruns. It began in French Kameruns in 1948 under the UPC (Union of the populations of Cameroon) and spread over into British Kameruns where it was championed by OK ((One Kamerun) and the KNDP (Kamerun National Democratic Party). The goals of the both the English and French speaking union nationalists were to reunite the two territories and pursue the ultimate Kamerunian dream. Then the new Kamerun was envisaged to; build a genuine bilingual ethos, bridge the gap in the development of the English and French speaking sectors and work for the evolution of a new Kamerunian people from the different breeds of thoughts and actions of its francophone and Anglophone children. Leading exponents of this dream were Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie, Albert Kingue, Enerst Ouangie, Leonard Bouli, Etienne Libai, Ossende, Nde Ntumazah and John Ngu Foncha. The majority of Kamerunians looked up to those legends of their times in the struggle to realize the Kamerunian dream propounded by Martin Paul Samba.

Imagine what Kamerun would have been today had its liberation fighters and union nationalists been allowed to their devices to build the post-independence Kamerun. That was never the case. France was determined never to let go of its control of Kamerun, its African pearl. The imposition of the present system and the Ahidjo regime concretized the French plot that preceded the ban of the UPC in 1956.
This was followed by a ruthless war to eliminate all aspects of UPC influence in the country, a genocidal campaign that saw the deaths of close to a million Kamerunians in the hands of French and Ahidjo forces. Um Nyobe, Moumie, Ossende, Ouangie and several others in the UPC leadership were eliminated and the rest were either hounded into exile or cowed into capitulation by the French puppet regime of Ahmadou Ahidjo. It was the death, exile and capitulation of the heads of the second phase of the Kamerun struggle and the smug complacency of the Kamerunian people that began Kamerun’s infantile malady, a malady that has replaced hopes from a dream with fear and despair instead.

Imagine what Kamerun would have become had Anglophone and francophone union nationalists realized its reunification, independence and governance. Then the
new Kamerun would have been born with an authentic and firm foundation. Kamerunians would have realized most of the union dreams and in no way would the pressing legacies of partition still be as glaring as they are today. The continuation of the UPC liberation war against the persistent French army in Kamerun and the post-independence Kamerunian army of Francophiles would have been avoided. Then the deaths of close to a million Kamerunians in the hands of Ahidjo and French troops would not happened, a nightmarish genocide that still haunts Kamerunians. Those deaths imbued Kamerunians with a sense of skepticism, cynicism, despondency, treachery, dishonesty and self-centeredness, and traumatized them into a state of
political lethargy.

Today, most Kamerunians would agree with me that the human obstacles to nation building lies more in the fact that reunification and independence were achieved by good-faith Anglophone union nationalists and a Francophile Ahidjo regime that had little respect and knowledge of Anglophone aspirations and the collective Kamerunian dream. Ahidjo was put in power to defend the interest of those in the French political
establishment, his collaborators and his ego. He was prepared to do that at all cost. Yes, it is this legacy of power retention, oppression, and division that the Biya regime inherited and is excessively, shamelessly and madly strengthening to maintain his hold onto power. Yes, the shameful Ahidjo regime betrayed the dream of reunification and independence and conceived of the virus of distrust, disintegration and dishonesty that the Biya regime has proliferated to suffocate the cherished Kamerunian nation. This is a virus that has almost eroded our dynamic spirit and progressive values, leaving us with the looming specter of despondence, which threatens to doom Kamerun.

The reunification spirit and its good-faith dream were the dominant factors in our political lives before independence. Nevertheless, it was the Anglophone community led by English speaking union nationalists who realized reunification. The role of Anglophone union nationalists is the most patriotic to have been realized and the entire force of Kamerun’s union nationalism holds them highly. Still the ultimate Kamerunian dream, which is the responsibility of both English and French speaking Kamerunians, has not been realized. The responsibility for that setback lies entirely with the French political establishment, Francophile regimes of Ahidjo and Biya and their Anglophone collaborators. The unfortunate thing is that the Anglophone community has been the most betrayed. However, we must be honest with ourselves by accepting that the entire Kamerunian people have been betrayed by the French-imposed system and that in our different ways, we contributed to the success of the French-imposed regimes.

Today, it is getting to five years since the resurgence of Kamerun’s union nationalism. However, the years of lethargy still haunt the Kamerunian people. The question now is: Must we allow the Kamerunian dream to die? Must we allow the realistic beliefs of the majority of Kamerunians for almost a century to end up as an illusion because France and its accomplices of unpatriotic and anti-nationalists Kamerunians do not cherish them? Must we allow Kamerun to disintegrate and fail the drive for reunification that was given a positive response in the 1960 plebiscite, and gallantly fought for by the majority of Francophones, just because a minority does not care?
Must we allow despair to overwhelm our century-old dream and us? Should we betray our fallen legends and heroes because the price for rejecting the French-imposed system is too high?

No, the union nationalists of Kamerun would not. They would not betray their ancestors, their dream, their heroes, their history of resistance and themselves.
Kamerunians would not surrender to despondence. They would continue the struggle against oppressive and exploitative French influence in Kamerun. They would continue relentlessly in the struggle to eliminate the destructive aspects of the years of partition and Ahidjo-Biya rules. Kamerunians would never surrender in the struggle against the anachronistic French-imposed system and the Biya regime. They are determined to continue in the struggle to eradicate the disheartening despair, division, cynicism, dishonesty and self-centeredness that have gripped the once noble Kamerunian soul. That is the will of the union nationalists. They are determined to continue hoisting the flag of the Kamerunian struggle to a logical conclusion. That commitment is not a matter of words. It is a difficult, demanding and selfless struggle, a task demanding actions, sacrifices and steadfastness. If we all get out of our lethargy and join the cause, all would soon be won, and we would not regret that we failed to save our nation from disintegration. That can be achieved only after we have discarded our self-centered attitudes and banish the negative legacies of partition and Ahidjo-Biya rules to the dustbin of history.

November 4, 1994

Tchouteu Janvier

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