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« 6 Members of Cameroon Ô'Bosso Still in Detention | Main | Disband the African Union without further ado! »

Friday, 25 February 2011

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Va Boy

Cameroon government is not merely accused of corruption. It is guilty of corruption at a gargantuan scale and for banishing shame and guilt. They do not deserve any excuse or "out".

That said, I appreciate your delving into the social, cultural and psychological sources of corruption. Without understanding these, it would be impossible to come up with effective remedies. Some Nigerian scholars have done similar analyses.

It would be useful to study the comparisons of Northern Italy, where corruption is minimal and Southern Italy where corruption is on the Nigerian scale or worse. It would also be beneficial to study the Scandinavian and other Nordic countries where corruption is minimal.

Botswana is another African country and former British protectorate, not officially a colony, like West Cameroon, which has really manageable levels of corruption, but has a robust traditional society with chiefs and everything that we have.

It is worth studying Singapore, a country with a large Chinese population, but with much lower levels of corruption than found in most ethnically Chinese population. It is attributed to Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of that Island state, who set up the structures that led to a prosperous and clean society.

There are some ideas about how that could be done even in the Cameroons.

J. S. Dinga

Thanks Professor Konde, for a very wonderful insight into a national malaise. It is so refreshing to read about something based on actual research findings rather than half-baked ideas from beer parlors. It is gratifying that our university actually has the latitude to carry out this type of research and to publish it.

However, the question that comes to mind is how such useful finding can be exploited for national development. The main difference between Cameroon and some western societies is that we fail to make research and research findings the cornerstone of our planning and development. Yes indeed, corruption and the "big man syndrome" have always existed in Cameroon. Yet it cannot be denied that the current leadership took it to the skies. Before Mr Biya came to the helm, people were always appointed to posts of responsibility. But there were criteria for those appointments!!!!! It was unthinkable to appoint a raw university graduate to lord it over professional seniors either in academia or in industry. It was unthinkable to appoint persons without giving them the resources to do the job for which the appointment was made and no tribe looked at its son or daughter the way they do today. A civil servant was to serve the state, not the region, local community or extended family!

I would like to volunteer a remark about those in the diaspora. The impression is often given that this category of nationals knows almost nothing about the realities in Cameroon. This is untrue. Let us not lose sight of the fact that there are Cameroonians out in the Diaspora who had returned home from their various studies, tried to set up shop but got overwhelmed by local realities. And then they made the U-turn and went back. There are also those who had served in various capacities but failed to get professional or other satisfaction and so had to move to other lands.Need I mention names? The system in Cameroon obviously does not make room for growth as long as there is little or no vertical mobility. How else can one expalin the observation that a citizen is recruited into the public service by the minister in charge of the public service, works an entire career and then is retired by the very minister?

If I had a contribution to make, it would be to encourage the president's advisers to draw inspiration from such research-related findings when they make their subsequent recommendations for appointments to positions of responsibility.
It is very demeaning to have university cadres promoted not based on academic or professional work output, but on praise-singing and motions of support to the Head of State.

Thanks again Professor Konde, for a step in the right direction. One can only hope that our congeners pick up the cue and move ahead from this.

J. Ndang

While Konde's article might be good intentioned, the details and assertions he makes are rather baffling for a social scientist.

(1) "Corruption is endemic in all Cameroonian cultures" - a declaratory statement rather than a proposition. Declaratory statements need evidence. To examine the endemic nature of corruption in all cultures in a country would be too huge a qualitative and quantitative task. These kinds of statements do not make for good science. What's your definition or meaning of a "culture"?

(2) The topic for the short reflective essays you required from your students to complete your history graduate course is flawed. You cannot determine the answer to a question a-priori and then hand it out for examination. The topic “The Burden of Kinship, African Family Structure, and the Perpetuation of Poverty..." already assumes that kinship and the African family structure perpetuate poverty. So what you were looking for was simply evidence to underline your perspective, not research, insight, or debate.

I would understand it if a journalist, not specialized in the social sciences put forward such analysis. But this makes for very shoddy scholarship. And then you mention elements of the diaspora as being unaware of what happens back in Cameroon. Since the beginning of devaluation in the nineties, most Cameroonian university students and graduates who left the country have good knowledge and experience of the endemic nature of corruption in the country. Not all gave in to corruption. Some actually left because they did not want to give into corruption. The one distinction any Southern Cameroonian would readily make between the State of West Cameroon and that of La Republique is the high absence of corruption in one and the prevalence of corruption, violence, and nepotism in the other. To trace the genesis and endemicity of corruption in Cameroon would require very systematic study and a good knowledge of anthropology and political science theory. In fact, your analysis leaves me deeply worried about the fate of the students you have taught or may still "teach".

For want of time, I have limited myself to just two instances in your argument.

limbekid

@ J. Ndang,

You accuse Dr Konde of shoddy scholarship and presumptious statements, while you come up with one of your own: "The one distinction any Southern Cameroonian would readily make between the State of West Cameroon and that of La Republique is the high absence of corruption in one and the prevalence of corruption, violence and nepotism in the other".

Corruption is a human frailty dependent on circumstances. If we impute Anglophone integrity as resultant from our colonial legacy, how does one account for the fact that neighbouring Anglophone Nigeria, is no less corrupt? I am currently embroiled in a legal issue pertaining to my late father`s estate. All the actors are Anglophone, the drama is being conducted in Anglophone Common Law jurisdiction. One would expect justice to prevail, but every lawyer I speak to insists I cough out millions of fcfa so they can go and "see" so and so at the High Court. So much for Anglophone integrity.

J. Ndang

I mention the State of West Cameroon and La Republique from a historical perspective. Hypothetically, if the system that West Cameroon had in the sixties was maintained, your late father's estates would have been in tact. The West Cameroonian government was NOT known for corruption. Certainly there was high brow politics and some favoritism. Archives of the West Cameroonian government can attest to the assertions I'm making. Mola Litumbe and other living dignitaries can attest to everyday life and the running of the government. The chieftaincy system in West Cameroon was not as dislocated and corrupted as that of East Cameroon. The spread of corruption in West Cameroon originated from across East Cameroon, and it is one of the cancer worms now in our midst that drives the call for a restoration of the state of Southern Cameroons. So I do not buy the blanket assertions made by Konde. As for the case of your father's estates, I would strongly urge you not to cough out a cent to any lawyer but to use the media and every means possible to sensitize the public and drag out the case until there's a change in the system of governance. So long as the estates legally belong to your family, they will never be lost. To uproot corruption in Cameroon, we have to return to the systemic roots of it, and when we talk of system, what I see is the failure of governance and the rule of law. Governance as it stands in Anglophone Cameroon is largely driven and influenced by what obtains in La Republique. And the hope of many Southern Cameroonians is to see an end to this pervasive influence and the institution of the rule of law. The very fact that we have a past that was rooted in law, and which we aspire to, is an asset. The citizens of La Republique have no concept of any other possible society except for the corrupt system they inherited. This is what constitutes a nightmare for many of us who grew up hearing our parents harking back to a past where they knew no corruption, where the police were draconian in their enforcement of the law, where "sanitaries" made the rounds in villages and neighborhoods to ascertain that pit toilets and compounds were clean and hygienic and where urban planning was thorough. Societies can only build on ideals they inherited. Konde;s intentions are well-taken, but it is the blanket assertions, that I find problematic. Besides, as far as Southern Cameroons is concerned, our bane is not ending corruption in Cameroon. We've had enough. It is time that the two entities part ways and sort out their burden differently.

Davis

Well explained. We should first of all identify the common concerns and differences of the various groups involve in the liberation of Englophones, search for common grounds and then make strategic plan and action, the trategic capabilities, monotoring and ealuation systems. We should be able to measure successes and failures and be able to make improvements.

Va Boy

Not everything is a work of scholarship or research. There are many perfectly good opinion pieces. Lighten up, people.

Konde goes to the toilet to pee. He stands up for the deed. Ndang and limbekid opine, why do you stand up to pee. Where is your research that the standing posture is superior to sitting down on a commode or the posture we used to call boottoo in pidgin.

Gan Charles

The fact that corruption existed before Cameroon had a government does not give the any administration the license to continue the practice. Government was established to put together a legal structure to thwart such practices not to promote them.
Our societies are froth with nepotism, favoritism, "scratch my back" etc. The goal must be to conquer these deviant behaviours and work toward an all inclusive society. I know it is said that those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat it. It seems we not only remember our past but we are stuck in it.

Igwacho, Peter Ph.D

Dear Emmanuel,

Thanks a great deal for your postings on this network that continue to be informative. I have carefully inferred from most of these postings an inner tendency of yours, which lacks compassion and empathy.

We are practicing hospitality when we welcome guests, including strangers and enemies into our lives with graciousness. This is something that has characterized African civilizations over centuries ago. An open house reveals certain things about us: We are well disposed towards others, we focus on the positive.Sometimes hospitality requires that we step across our limits and dismantle some of the barriers erected in our society to keep "the other" out. It is this concept typical of collective African societies that has made us to cope and be able to compete in this hostile world. We should seek for ways to improve on it as a strength rather than castigate it as impediments towards "demo-crazy". Our strengths and emotional intelligence are unique.Arguably, your name Emmanuel, " God with us", is a pledge for help. You have not demonstrated this, however, I will like you to grow spiritually and practice hospitality and get back to me with your feelings about it.

-Write a memory of time when you Emmanuel were welcomed into some body's home.What did you host do to make you feel at ease? Then reflect on how you can be hospitable in other settings such as in your community.

-Write another memory of time when a group to which you belong excluded someone from membership because they were different and how you felt about that action.

-Also reflect on some of these words( trouble, anger, strange, dictate, guilt, adamant, burden, corrupt, premature, craziness, greedy) that recurred on your text and how these contrast with a nurturing of our openness and ability to connect. African democracies will grow and sustain depending on how we include and evolve with some of these values that are so much part of us.




limbekid

@ Dr Igwacho,

I wouldn`t want to second guess Emmanuel Konde, but having read the first three parts of his essay I can identify two hypotheses:

- a correlation between the burden of kinship and the incidence of corruption in Africa

- the relationship between individualism and entrepreneurship

I think it is an attempt to examine development from a socio-cultural perspective, as opposed to a value judgment of African solidarity.

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