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« Cameroon: Government Lacks Position to Make Radical Changes in a Positive Direction | Main | Our Age of Reason »

Monday, 21 February 2011


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J. S. Dinga

It's always a pleasure to read your ruminations, Mr. Ndifor. All those with "crude nationalist instincts" are mere opportunists taking advantage of a situation that exists with a coterie of accomplices. Obviously the game of governance, like all other games, is only good when played by the rules. But when the rules are made as the game progresses, what else does any sane individual expect? If Bill Clinton were an African leader, guess where he would still be!!!!!!!!! At the White House. But the rules are different out here. No matter how good a player you are, when the time comes, you have to go and leave the rest to history. That is where our "Nationalists" have failed.

Be that as it may, even among the worst ones, some are still realistic. Hosni Mubarak took the barometric readings and saw clearly that his time was up. Unlike some earlier predecessor of his(Pharoah?), who waited for the plagues before letting the people get their freedom to go on the Exodus, Mubarak understood that things were really against him and he left. I wish I could say the same of Laurent Gbagbo or His Excellecy Gabriel Mugabe.
But some of the blame must go to the surrounding Goebbels who refuse to tell the King the truth - that he is naked- Mubarak's Camel and Horse riders, Ghadaffi's Clando drivers, Mugabe's matchet-wielding thugs and those others who, under other skies, sing praises or script motions of support to give the ruling dictator the wrong impression that all is fine. The saddest thing is that such persons are used and when the time comes, are tossed away like used toilet paper. Cameroon is loaded with them.

Divide-and-rule as a tool of governance is bad for the nation because it does not make room for collective action or for growth. Hard-working men and women who should be made to combine their efforts and talents to serve the nation are dispersed around, under-cutting each other instead of toiling for the common good. Power that should be devolved to the regions is concentrated at the center for fear of losing control. In the process, some absurdities rear their ugly heads, such as appointment of dead persons over some out-of-the-way administrative units.

Why can't these nationalists learn a bit from Nelson Rohlilah Mandela? Here is man who spent about a third of his life behind bars and when he came to the helm, he put priciple ahead of privilege and said one term was enough. How many of our nationalists can rise up and be counted on this score? And yet these are the ones who beat their chests to their rivals, claiming they shook hands with President Mandela! What a qualification for continued governance!

Va Boy

Not to forget Julius Nyerere, who left and did not interfere with his successor.

The Ghanaians since Rawlings seem to be on the right track. Nobody nearly as charismatic as Rawlings, but that is not what is important. Charisma is overrated and could be dangerous. Truly deranged figures like Sarah Palin and Bachmann in the US are charismatic, but dangerous. Hopefully common sense prevails and they never come anywhere close to real power.

The Nigerians have been lucky and courageous and are inching slowly towards a stable democracy. They were courageous to block Obasanjo when he tried to renege on their new constitution and take an extra term. Then there was the absentee sick president. They weathered him. Now, they need to make sure that nothing spoils the next civilian transition. They are truly tired of military government and transition by coups d'etat.

The Mancho

It is particulary interesting to read the summations put forward by Mr Ndifor to describe the Castros, Mugabe and Gbagbo as "crude nationalists". The concept of nationalism has been one that even in academics is interpreted differently and more so in politics. It is greatly flawed to compare the Tunisian and Egytian revolution to the political deadlock in the Ivory Coast. There are a great number of societal, traditional and institutional factors that make the northern african countries greatly different from their southern African counterparts.

Apart from the religious and almost ethnic homogeinity that characterise the Arab states, their constitutions and institutions are fully functioning. The judiciary and the military are very professional and there are still some honest and decent politiicians practicing. The military in Cote d'Ivoire is structured along tribal lines, as it is in most of Africa south of the Sahara: Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Kenya etc. So to is the politics. The political modus operandi is divide and rule. Cities are pitched against cities, tribes against tribes, ethnic groups against ethnic groups. The is no coordinated civil society or oppostion that can harness the energies and put forward a clear agenda. Hence there is room for chaos if the path of transition is not clear. Within this climate of chaos and disorder, to advice that Gbagbo should resign and hand over to Ouatara because America and France are supportive of a rebel leader and some weapon wielding rebels is unfair. There is the potential for more bloodshed between the rebel soldiers and the nationalist army. Staying put is the more nationalist thing to do to strengthen the part of succession.

To argue that Gbagbo's refusal to step aside qualifies him to be "crude nationalist" is to dismiss the very tactics and role played by the US and French Ambassadors in the declaration of the second round of the presidential elections. Gbagbo's stance is one of a nationalist defiance in the face of interfering foreigners and power hungry citizens. Ouatara has no greater claim to the leadership of Ivory Coast and no more legitimacy than Gbagbo. Ouatara and Soro are no more nationalistic than Gbagbo. Therefore it is utterly wrong to suggest that if Gbagbo were are nationlist he should step down and hand over power to who? The fact that he sought political refuge in France does not make him pro France. Under international Law France had the obligation to protect him. There are people living in England today who have outrightly preached hatred and incited acts of terrorism on English citizens yet they live and are protected by England; their bills paid for by the English tax payers. But that does not make them friends of England.

Tamoh Edward

But then what would Cameroonians say, if France or America tomorrow decide that they are no longer "supporting" Paul Biya, and then Biya cries foul that these foreigners are intervening in Cameroon?
Would Cameroonians then accept that Biya should stay as president, because he is defending Cameroon's sovereignty against invaders? . Or are Cameroonians now just united that Biya must go, regardless of whether he defends Cameroon or not?


I`m happy this article didn`t go unnoticed, as it holds some home truths. I particularly loved this bit. "... there comes a time when these leaders must realize that the world is a marketplace, open for them to compete and haggle over the necessities for their citizens...". This should apply not only to leaders, but also to ordinary citizens. People must realize the politics of protectionism and containment is no longer a realistic option.

I`ve been particularly disappointed with the pronouncements of some of our "intellectuals" (Calixte Beyala, Achille Mbembe, Gaston Kelman, Celestin Monga, amongst others) on the Cote d`Ivoire issue. They`ve taken a stance based on an avowed aversion for France, while avoiding the fundamental question: Who won the recent elections?

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