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« ELECAM Masterminding Electoral Gerrymandering and Fraud in the UK | Main | Chantal Biya: Wife of the World's 19th Most Evil Dictator »

Thursday, 01 September 2011


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I'm devoting the space to calling out my 10 favorite restaurant meals of last year, because I feel like sharing the love, not the hate.

J. S. Dinga

Nothing provides a better illustration of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. Over the years, Cameroon’s presidential elections have illustrated just that. At some point in time I too believed that Mr. President was the problem of Cameroon. I had since changed my mind and decided that Paul Biya is a lesser issue than Cameroonians themselves! Now that the necessary magical presidential decree has been signed, putting in motion the gymnastics of electioneering, the weeks and months ahead will illustrate this insanity. It is true that the Arab Spring will not take a foothold in Cameroon any time soon, most certainly not because of what Mr. Minister of Communications and his other homologues have pompously put forth - the so-called advanced democracy.

Intellectuals of all colorations, drafted into the system ostensibly to offer their services in their different areas of expertise - education, engineering, agriculture, finance, management - soon find themselves on the RDPC bandwagon, returning to the once forgotten homestead or village to coax or coerce their people into voting the one and only natural ruler that ever was, the providential president of the nation. And wads of CFA notes will fly in the air like confetti. And people will then sell their consciences and vote away their most powerful right. Down the road, the gates of Kondengui open wide to receive some of these very powerful sons-of-the-soil-turned-campaign gurus and we all begin to wonder…..…Look no farther than the Forjindams, Michel Fotsos, and many more.

Let us look closely at ourselves – all of us without exception. Intellectuals and the many professors of the system have acted as modern day Goebbels and legitimizers of what would otherwise belong to the rubbish heap of history. Pick any intellectual from the famous one who claimed that a good player never lacked a team through those who lent their intellectual garments to underpin what in their heart of hearts they knew was untenable right up to those who used the pulpit or the bench of the court to uphold the most preposterous propositions associated with the loathsome regime. Some times I wonder if the Cameroonian intellectual is an asset or a liability, pursuing privileges to the exclusion of principles. Having run out of steam, the intellectuals then succumbed to a weird type of inertia where some say not what they think while others think not what they say, making it doubly tragic for the troubled triangular nation, one time Africa’s success story in the hands of a semiliterate leader. Why would an intellectual in 2011 apply to run for the office of president under the CPDM and SDF at the same time, knowing as we all do, that both parties hardly share any common ground? Why would our intellectuals spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy vilifying colonialism, the colonial master, colonial education or unlettered forebears for everything wrong with contemporary Cameroon, fifty years into independence? Wasn’t it the very colonial education that made it possible to earn a PhD and other academic honorariums? Did they so soon forget an important lesson imparted by those very unlettered forebears – that whenever the index finger points forward, three others point directly at the one doing the pointing?

Why would the modern intellectual don his party’s regalia and move into town, scheming to deprive the laity of their votes? Imagine how many debates, preachings, proposed and passed legislations, demonstrations, blood shed and other tribulations that over the years, paved the way for human beings to be able to vote. And yet after all of these sacrifices, educated sons and daughters of the nation actually go around doing everything possible to stymie the possibility of people casting their votes, depriving them of this most powerful weapon of the Republic! The right to vote is the highest right of our civilization in this twenty-first century! This right is priceless and yet intellectuals are prepared to peddle it away for peanuts! How on earth could a ten thousand franc note offset all the sufferings of a peasant farmer unable either to transport his crops to the market or bring home his children home for holidays?

This then leaves only the street vendors to do the job. Street vendors! The mention sounds so good and yet…so elusive on our shores. Cameroon may have lots of street vendors, some of them called Mohammed or even Mohammed Bouazizi. But how many can turn vision into venture by emulating what the Tunisian Bouazizi did? How many are prepared to lead or to follow? A running joke enunciated by an astute observer and one of our compatriots goes that Cameroon’s challenge is not only the lack good of leaders, but good followers as well. And so the million dollar question remains this: Who is prepared to lead and who can actually follow? Would it be the faceless cowards peddling half-baked ideas and blatant lies online, or Facebook or the pathetic Gollums who thrive on gossipy nastiness but shrivel when called upon to say their real names.

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