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    Features

    Unraveling the leadership conundrum in Cameroon

    Peter Wuteh Vakunta

    2012-11-01, Issue 604

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/85151

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    If Cameroon is to avoid catastrophes of possibly greater dimensions than so far witnessed, the citizens must take a hard and unsentimental look at the crucial question of leadership and the manner in which political power is exercised.

    INTRODUCTION

    Nations rise and fall due to a myriad of factors. The trouble with Cameroon is simply a failure of leadership. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Cameroonian character. There is nothing amiss with the land or climate of Cameroon. The Cameroonian problem is the unwillingness of its leaders to rise to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmark of true leadership. A constructivist approach to leadership might induce favourable change but in order to effect lasting change, it must be followed up with a well-conceived agenda of reform which Cameroon stands in dire need of today. We all know that before he fell from grace to grass, Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni had developed a reputation for ruthlessness sufficient to transform Cameroon from one of deontological demagoguery to one of civil service buoyancy. Inoni’s case is patent proof that the character of one man can trigger quantum change in a people’s social behavior.

    We know alas that Inoni’s transformation was short-lived because his modus operandi was outlandish to the unwritten law of the majority in Cameroon. In short, Inoni’s new agenda was perceived as a storm in the ethnocentric teapot that Cameroon has become in this day. Let me be clear on this: I am not prescribing ruthlessness as a qualification for leadership in Cameroon. Far from it! What I am saying is that Cameroon is not beyond repair. What I am hinting at is that Cameroon can change today if it discovers leaders who have the will, the ability and foresight to effect change. Such people are rare in our country where corruption and reckless abandon have become leadership qualifications. However, it is the duty of enlightened Cameroonians to lead the way to the discovery of those rare gems in a land bereft of exemplary leaders. If this conscious effort is not made, good leaders, like good money, will be driven out by the bad.

    Whenever two or three Cameroonians meet, their conversation soon slides into a litany of reasons why Cameroon is not functioning. The dysfunction of Cameroon has become the subject of daily small talk in taxis, on bendskins, in off-licenses, in matango clubs and circuits. Interestingly, there is a great danger in consigning a matter of life-and-death to the daily routine of small talk. No one can do much about bad weather; we have to accept and live with it. But national bad habits are a different matter altogether. We resign ourselves to them at our peril.

    DIRE NEED FOR ENLIGHTENED LEADERSHIP

    The intent of this article is to challenge resignation to bad governance. It calls on all thoughtful, patriotic Cameroonians to rise up and reject those habits that tend to cripple our aspiration and inhibit our opportunity to become a modern and attractive addition to the community of civilized nations. Cameroon has many thoughtful men and women of substance, a large pool of talented people. Why is it then that all these patriots make so little impact on the life of our nation? Why is it that corruption, gross inequities, shameless vulgarity, greed, and ineptitude seem so much stronger than the good influences at work in our country? Why does the good in us seem so frail in the face of forces of evil? I believe that Cameroon is a nation favored by Providence. Take a look at the extraordinary talents of our sportsmen, musicians and scholars. Look at the vast human and natural resources with which Cameroon is endowed. All these bestow on our country a role in Africa and the world at large. The malaise that should incessantly haunt our leaders (but does not) is that they have betrayed irretrievably Cameroon’s destiny in the community of nations. The countless billions that a generous Providence has poured into our national coffers in the last three decades (1982-2012) would have been enough to launch Cameroon into the middle rank of developed nations and transformed the lives of our needy compatriots. But what have our leaders done with the money? Stolen and salted it away in private bank accounts overseas! They have squandered it on uncontrolled importation of all kinds of useless consumer merchandize from all the nooks and crannies of the globe. They have embezzled it through inflated contracts to an increasing army of party loyalists who have neither the desire nor the competence to execute the contracts. A cursory look at all the unfinished buildings in the city of Yaoundé tells the whole story. Our national wealth has been wasted on bloated salaries awarded to the military whose primordial function is to prop up a moribund regime headed by a lame duck president. Our billions have been squandered on escalating salaries of a grossly overstaffed and unproductive public service. Billions more have been wasted on salaries paid to ghost workers. At the time of writing this piece, information divulged by the Minister of Finance and Economy indicates that an operation code-named ‘Mboma’ has uncovered 45,000 ghost workers on Cameroon’s civil service payroll whose salaries cost the government a whopping $10 million a month! Compatriots, we have lost the twentieth century and are now bent on ensuring that our children also lose the twenty-first? Many mantras account for this state of affairs but the mother of them all is the word tribalism.

    THE CANKER OF TRIBALISM IN CAMEROON

    Nothing in Cameroon’s politics captures her problem of aborted national integration more graphically than the mixed fortune of the word tribe. The lexeme tribe has been construed at one time as a boon, and rejected at another as a bane, and finally smuggled in through the backdoor as an accomplice. In Cameroon the word tribe has an ominous odor. Someday, when we shall have outgrown the canker of the politics of ethnicity, the import of what I am saying in this article will sit well in the minds of Cameroonians. In spite of our protestations, there is plenty of work for tribe. Our threatening gestures against it have been premature, half-hearted or plain ineffective. A Cameroonian child seeking admission into a state school, a student wishing to enter a university, a college graduate seeking employment in the public service, a businessman or woman tendering for a contract, a citizen applying for a national ID or passport, or seeking access to any of the avenues controlled by the state, will sooner or later fill out a form which requires him to confess his tribe (or less crudely and more hypocritically, his region of origin).

    Intelligent and profitable discourse on tribalism is often thwarted by hollowness. What is tribalism, you may ask? I will spare you the convoluted academic definition of the term and rather refer you to a trite one provided by Chinua Achebe in his seminal work titled An Image of Africa (1983). According to Achebe, tribalism could be defined as ‘discrimination against a citizen because of his place of birth’ (27). Everyone agrees that there are manifestations of tribal culture which we cannot deplore, for example, ethnic foods, peculiar dress codes, music, folklore and more. As a matter of fact, many of these cultural attributes are positive and desirable because they confer richness to our national identity. But to debar anyone from working anywhere in their country or from participating in the social, political and economic life of the community in which they choose to live on the basis of tribe is another matter altogether. Our constitution outlaws it. Yet prejudice against ‘outsiders’ or ‘strangers’ is an attitude one finds everywhere in Cameroon. The graffi people are seen as anathema in the South-West region of Cameroon. They are given all sorts of derogatory names including ‘come no go’! [1] Not long ago, the Bamileke were targeted for expulsion from Yaoundé because the Beti bought line, hook and sinker into this whole fallacy of Anglo-Bami conspiracy to overthrow one of theirs, President Paul Biya. As I write this piece, cries against undesirable Bamis are still echoing throughout the Center Region.

    But no nation can tolerate such prejudice without undermining its own progress and development. We are able to make laws that purge people’s minds of narrow-mindedness and prejudice but the state and all its institutions must not give leeway or condone unethical practices. Recently, I was writing a letter of recommendation for a student seeking admission into the California State University at Monterey Bay. The form had the following direction in bold print to recommenders: ‘Please make no statement which would indicate the applicant’s race, creed or national origin.’ Proponents of the Cameroonian system, if system it is, may point out that the United States of America is 200 years old while Cameroon is only 50.This notwithstanding, we must never lose sight of our declared ambition to become an advanced nation in the shortest possible time.

    One common feature of underdeveloped nations is the tendency among the ruling elite to live in a world of make-believe. This is what celebrated Nigerian fiction writer Chinua Achebe calls ‘the cult mentality’ (29) [2] that leads backward people to believe that someday, without any effort on their part, a fairy ship will dock in their harbour loaded with all the treasures they have always dreamed of possessing. Listen to Cameroon’s political leaders talk about their country as a great nation. Cameroon is not a great country by any stretch of the imagination! It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world; it is one of the most corrupt, inefficient and insensitive nations on the globe! It is dirty, callous, dishonest and vulgar. If wishes were horses Cameroonians would ride but there is no free ride in life. I believe that hopeless as we are today, Cameroon is not totally unredeemable. Our situation is critical but not hopeless. But we should not lose sight of the fact that every single day of neglect brings Cameroon closer to the brink of collapse. The task of pulling Cameroon back and turning it around is clearly beyond the contrivance of the mediocre leadership that we have today. It calls for greatness and selflessness, two qualities that our leaders sorely lack. Cameroonians are what they are today only because their leaders are not what they ought to be. Cameroon has been less than fortunate in its leadership. The young republic emerging out of a dual colonial contraption found Ahmadou Ahidjo, a benighted semi-illiterate, as their first president. The rest is history. Today, we have a sanctimonious megalomaniacal hypocrite, Paul Biya, as head of state. A basic element of this mishap is the conspicuous absence of intellectual rigor in the political thought of our leaders — a tendency to pious materialistic woolliness and self-centered pedestrianism.

    LOOSE TALK ABOUT PATRIOTISM

    The often adumbrated Cameroonian ideal is patriotism. So important is it to us that it stands inscribed on our coat-of-arms and so sacred that the blood of many nationalistic Cameroonians was shed (1955-1971) to uphold it. [3] But come to think of it, how valid is this notion of patriotism as an absolute good? Quite clearly it is malarkey [4]. Patriotism can only be as good as the purpose for which it is desired. Even more so, it can only be as good as the leaders of our nation lead by example. The generality of Cameroonian leaders, including the president himself, are French citizens first and then Cameroonian as an appendage. Therefore, we cannot extol the virtues of patriotism without first satisfying ourselves that the end to which it is directed is unquestionable. The point I am making is that ‘virtues’ like ‘patriotism’ and ‘unity’ are not absolute but conditional on their satisfaction of other purposes. As Achebe points out, ‘Their social validity depends on the willingness or the ability of citizens to ask the searching question’ (33) [5]. This calls for some degree of mental rigor, a quality for which Cameroonians, unfortunately, are not famous. In spite of much loose talk about patriotism from those at the helm there is no doubt that Cameroonians are among the world’s most unpatriotic people. This is not because Cameroonians are particularly evil. In fact, they are not. It is rather because patriotism, being part of an unwritten social contract between citizens and the state, cannot exist where the state or its leaders renege on the agreement (Achebe, 1983). It is indisputable that the ideal of patriotism is unattainable in a country as badly run as Cameroon is today.

    Spurious patriotism is the stock in trade of Cameroon’s privileged classes whose unearned positions of power and opulence seem unreal to compatriots. Let’s be mindful of the fact that patriotism is an emotion of love and trust directed by a critical intelligence. A genuine patriot demands from the leaders of their country the highest standard of comportment and allegiance to national ideals and will accept nothing short of the best from these people. They will be outspoken in the denunciation of governmental shortcomings without sinking to smug superiority or cynicism. That’s how I perceive the concept of patriotism. One sterling act of selfless leadership at the top, such as a firm refusal to be corrupt or tolerate corruption, will not only send positive signals to the citizenry but would also arouse sensations of wellbeing and national pride throughout the nation. An example of such selfless leadership occurred in Tanzania in the 1960s when news broke out that President Julius Nyerere after paying his children’s school fees had begged his bank to give him a few months’ grace on the repayment of the mortgage on his personal house (Achebe, 1983). Upon hearing this news, Tanzanians walked around six feet tall. They did not need someone to give them lectures on patriotism. When talk about patriotism is spurious, the end result is the reign of mediocrity and mutual distrust nationwide.

    TRIBALISM AS REQUIEM FOR MERITOCRACY

    Favoritism based on tribal affiliations is damaging to social morality on account of the harm it does to meritocracy. There is no better summation of what prevails in Cameroon than Father Eugene’s lament. He points out that in Cameroon ‘peace and stability are seriously threatened by the cancer of tribalism that has eaten deep into every fabric of the society’ (Effort Camerounais, 2012). [6] He further notes that the obsessive feeling of loyalty to one’s own tribe, party or group to the exclusion of others continues to fuel disdain, scorn, mutual suspicion and distrust among Cameroonians and is fast destroying the fragile strings that hold the nation together. He grieves over the fact that Cameroon is a country where tribalism has been raised to the pedestal of a national culture that pervades every discourse, controls the way people think and defines what they oppose or support. The most aggrieved is the nation itself which has to contain the legitimate grievances of wronged citizens; accommodate the incompetence of a godfathered citizen and endure a generalized decline in morale and subversion of efficiency engendered by an erratic system. Social justice is not only a matter of morality but also an issue of systemic efficacy and effectiveness. Cameroon is a country where it would be difficult to point to one key position that is held by the most competent technocrat the nation can find. I stand to be corrected! Post-independence Cameroon has displayed a compulsive tendency to opt for mediocrity and compromise, to pick second or even third rate individuals to handle our national affairs. And the end result? We have always failed and will always fail until we muster the guts to put merit back on the national agenda. There is nowhere better to locate the failings of our government than in our national soccer team, the Indomitable Lions, where indiscipline, mismanagement and impunity have reduced them to the status of tamable lions! The nation’s public utilities constitute another sore point.

    COLLAPSE OF CAMEROON’S PUBLIC UTILITIES

    Look at our collapsing public utilities. Our national airport in Douala is an eyesore. The building is in a state of decrepitude. Sections of it are in total darkness, the light bulbs having blown out ages ago. The water system is dysfunctional. There is no toilet tissue anywhere in sight. Yet, the head of state and his gang of Ali Baba thieves spend the nation’s revenue from the sale of oil, forest products and more on personal investments abroad! The Yaoundé-Nsimalen International airport is in a worse state of disrepair. Where is our SOTUC, [7] the urban transportation system that catered to the needs of the indigent? Ponder the state of our roads, the so-called axes lourds. [8] Are they roads or alleys of death? Mr. Dakole Daïssala [9] killed it and went scot free! Obtaining potable drinking water in Cameroon could be likened to the myth of Sisyphus [10]. The distribution of water nationwide is the responsibility of the National Water Company of Cameroon (SNEC). Despite its efforts to provide water to the population, the supply remains grossly lower than demand. The coverage of big urban centers needs major improvement. Rampant corruption, myopia and plain imbecility have hindered the search for long-term solutions. Many of us who travel only to Europe and America may be deluded into believing that our inability to provide and maintain basic infrastructures and utilities is a common feature of African countries. This not true at all! I spent five years of my life working for the South African government in Pretoria. To my utter astonishment there was no power failure throughout my entire sojourn in South Africa. The OR Tambo International Airport and others are world-class airports. During my recent stint in Burkina Faso, a country often touted as the poorest in the world, I noticed to my dismay that there was no power failure throughout my stay in the capital city Ouagadougou; the taps in the hotel room ran all the time with the kind of pressure one sees in Western hotels. My hotel room was modest but impeccably clean.

    On the contrary, I am still recovering from the diseases I contracted after spending a few nights in hotels in Douala, Yaoundé, Mbanga and Bamenda during my recent visit to Cameroon in July of 2012. In the preceding paragraph, I have attempted to drive home the point that the denial of merit in the national system could have wide-ranging ramifications that impact the manner in which goods and services are doled out to citizens. Worse still, it may even occasion the total collapse of the public utilities system as is the case in Cameroon today. We refuse to see what we do not want to see. That is the reason why we have not brought about the changes which our country must undergo in a bid to avoid being written off by the international community. The rank and file that our leaders take for granted are not amused; they do not enjoy their perpetual state of servitude and indigence. We often say mindlessly that politics is a game of numbers. So it is. Power belongs to the masses because they have the numbers. When they can no longer bear the brunt of governmental ineptitude, they will rebel. When they rebel they will do it knowing that God loves them otherwise He would not have made them that many! The file and rank hardly tolerates indiscipline from their leaders.

    UNBRIDLED INDISCIPLINE AND IMPUNITY NATIONWIDE

    Indiscipline and the attitude of Je m’en foutisme [11] pervade our national and personal lives so thoroughly that one may be justified in qualifying the condition as the second identity of Cameroonians. We see and hear of impunity and misconduct in our homes, on school premises, in the public service, in the private sector, in top government positions, at the Presidency of the Republic, in the judicial branch of government and at the National Assembly. The malady takes so many different forms that a comprehensive definition would be hard to come by. Achebe defines indiscipline as ‘a failure or refusal to submit to one’s desires and actions to the restraints of orderly social conduct in recognition of the rights and desires of others’(45). [12] The motive for indiscipline is self-interest. The outcome is the abandonment of self-restraint in pursuit of the goal. The risk of indiscipline degenerating into lawlessness is particularly acute when large numbers of people are involved as is the case in Cameroon. This tends to engender a cult of misconduct, a situation where people who nurse a sense of fair-play are derided and ostracized. Cameroon is a country with an eccentric minority who can restrain themselves and an overwhelming majority who just cannot. This leaves the minority of reasonable Cameroonian citizens feeling like a bunch of sane people trapped in a dangerously rowdy mental asylum. This conundrum is compounded by corrupt practices.

    The Bane of Corruption

    It would be impossible to quantify the amount of money that is squandered in Cameroon everyday through corrupt practices, underhand deals and white collar thievery. Corruption has grown enormously in variety, magnitude and brazenness since the ascension of Mr Paul Biya to the helm in Cameroon because the Beti oligarchy in Yaounde perpetrates budgetary abuse and political patronage. Mr Biya condones corruption because his tribesmen are the biggest looters. Cameroonians have grown accustomed to his silly interrogation où sont les preuves? [13] This is the way the president dismisses cases of wanton looting of the national coffers brought to his attention. Public funds are routinely doled out to political allies and personal friends in the guise of contracts to execute public works of one kind or another. Generally, these political contractors have no expertise whatsoever or even the intention to perform the job. They simply sell the contracts to third parties and pocket the commissions running into millions of francs. Although Cameroon is arguably one of the most corrupt nations in the world, it is only lately that Mr Biya has begun to make top-ranking public officers to face the music for official corruption. The imprisonment of Marafa Hamidou Yaya, Jean-Marie Atangana Mebara, Ephraim Inoni and Yves Fostso thanks to Mr Biya’s Operation Sparrow Hawk have set tongues wagging as many Cameroonians question the frankness of the president’s on-going war on corruption and embezzlement of public funds when he cannot lead by example. Had Biya started his 30-plus rule in Cameroon this way, we wouldn’t be where we are today saddled with elephantine debts to service year in year out. From fairly timid manifestations in 1982, corruption has grown bold and ravenous. Cameroonian civil servants have become more reckless and blatant in their pursuit of ill-gotten wealth through corrupt practices.

    We are living witnesses to the failure of the executive branch of government to stem the tide of rampant corruption that now threatens to paralyze our nation in every sinew and limb. There is no question that it will take some time to correct this irksome situation that has built up over the years, assuming we want to correct it. But to initiate change the president of the Republic must take and be seen to take a decisive first step toward ridding his administration of all persons on whom the slightest whistle of corruption and scandal has been blown. If he would summon the courage to do that then it will dawn on him that he ought to be Cameroon’s leader; not just its president. More importantly, Biya must learn to deal fairly with all citizens, including the troublesome Anglophones.

    THE ANGLOPHONE PROBLEM

    The cohabitation between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians has been likened to a marriage of convenience by scholars and students of post-colonial Africa. Existential antagonism between the two linguistic communities breeds prejudice and confuses Cameroonians. American literary guru, Maya Angelou, once said: ‘Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible’ (5). [14] This is so true of the Cameroonian conundrum. Some critics have compared the frictional co-habitation between the two distinct linguistic communities in Cameroon to the attitude of two travelers who met by chance in a roadside shelter and are merely waiting for the rain to cease before they continue their separate journeys in different directions. This metaphor captures the mutual distrust and animosity that distance Anglophone Cameroonians from their Francophone compatriots. All too often, the perpetrators of this malicious game of divide and conquer are the political leaders on the French-speaking side of the national divide who take delight in fishing in troubled waters. Francophone politicians love to stoke the flames of animosity, thereby whipping up sentiments of mutual hatred on both sides of the Mungo River at the expense of nation-building. Many Francophones make statements intended either to cow Anglophones into submission or incite them into open rebellion.

    The Anglophone Question is not the figment of anyone’s imagination. It is the outcry of a disenchanted people condemned to live on the periphery in their land of birth. The truth of the matter is that there is a palpable feeling of malaise amongst Anglophones in Cameroon. Questions that remain unanswered by the powers-that-be include: are Anglophone Cameroonians enjoying equal treatment with their Francophone counterparts in the workplace? Are Anglophone Cameroonians having their fair share of the national cake? Do they feel at home in Cameroon? Are they an endangered linguistic minority or not? These and more unanswered questions constitute what has been code-named the Cameroon Anglophone Problem. This problem manifests itself in the form of complaints from English-speaking Cameroonians about the absence of transparency and accountability with regard to appointments in the civil service, the military, police force, gendarmerie and the judiciary.

    The Anglophone Problem raises questions about the participation of Anglophone Cameroonians in the decision-making and power-sharing processes in the country. Thus, the Anglophone Problem is the cry of an oppressed people, lamenting over the ultra-centralization of political power in the hands of a rapacious oligarchy based in Yaoundé where Anglophones with limited proficiency in the French language are made to go through all kinds of humiliation in the hands of cocky Francophone bureaucrats who look down on anyone speaking English.

    CONCLUSION

    The Cameroonian crisis is real and gargantuan. It is not a figment of my imagination. Our inaction or cynical action constitute a serious betrayal of our education, of our historic mission and of succeeding generations who will have no future unless we do battle now to preserve it for them. To be educated is, after all, to develop a questioning habit, to have an inquisitive mind, to be skeptical of cheap promises and to use past experience sagaciously. Sadly enough, we have been wrong on every count. The only thing that we learn from experience is that we learn nothing from experience. Cameroonians have turned out to be like a bunch of stage clowns who bump their heads into the same obtrusive obstacles again and again because they are too dumb to remember what hit them only a short while ago.

    I have the conviction that if Cameroon is to avoid catastrophes of possibly greater dimensions, we must take a hard and unsentimental look at the crucial question of leadership and the manner in which political power is wielded in our country. There is no doubt in my mind that the continued dominance of the Cameroonian political scene by the same people is of negative value, not because they are old men now, but because their political agenda which constitutes the mainspring of political action has been defective at the best of times. A bigger tragedy looms over us: the crop of newcomers that emerged in Cameroonian politics in the 1990s has chosen to become revivalists of a bankrupt and totally unacceptable tradition of political maneuvering, tribal expediency and consummate selfishness. Rather than inaugurate a new philosophy and feasible political modus operandi, they have chosen to foster a diseased tradition among the masses of their followers by a soft-headed and patently dishonest laudation of a bunch of tired old men who see the Cameroonian presidency as a pension and gratuity for certain services they believe they rendered Cameroonians twenty-two years ago by forming opposition political parties. The electorate must find the courage to tell them that in as much as they have a right to dream their dreams of the past, they must not be allowed to block our vision of the present, or mortgage our children’s chances of success in the twenty-first century.

    Bad as our country is, I do not believe that our condition is totally bereft of hope. Our citizens are not too dimwitted to appreciate the explosive potentialities of the ethno-centric politics practiced in Cameroon. There are simply too many political actors on stage in Cameroon right now whose prime purpose in grabbing power seems to be no higher than a desire to free themselves from every form of civilized restraint in their private and public lives. At the same time, there is in today’s Cameroonian social consciousness a powerful impulse toward a new politics of fair play. The impulse may be held temporarily in check by the dead grip of the patriarchs of an obsolescent dispensation but the moment Cameroonians can free their minds from the unwholesome spell, a powerful groundswell which is gathering even now as I write will launch forth a generation of politicians able to respond appropriately to the challenges of our critical times.

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    * Dr. Peter Wuteh Vakunta is professor at the United States Department of Defense Language Institute

    END NOTES


    [1] Derogatory expression used by indigenes of the Southwest region to describe settlers from the Northwest Region of Cameroon

    [2] Chinua, Achebe. An Image of Africa and the Trouble with Nigeria. Penguin Books, 1983.

    [3] Rebellion broke out in the French Cameroon in 1955. The rebellion was championed by the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), and it ultimately degenerated into a bloody guerrilla war that spilled over into the postcolonial era. Instead of implementing the provisions of the trusteeship system in Cameroon, France preferred to treat Cameroon like an ordinary overseas colony. Article 76(b) of the United Nations (UN) Charter set forth the political objectives of the trusteeship system, which was to promote the evolution of trust territories like Cameroon and Togo toward self-government and independence. France ignored this procedure and proceeded to integrate Cameroon into the French Union in line with its colonial policy of creating a "Greater France."

    The UPC was formed on April 10, 1948, and under the leadership of its secretary general, Reuben Um Nyobe, the party adopted a radical nationalist pro­gram that envisaged immediate independence and reunification with the British Cameroons. Such a program aroused the wrath of the French because it ran contrary to their postwar integrationist colonial policy. The UPC further infuriated the French by es­tablishing ties with the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, an affiliate of the French Communist Party. The stage for a tug-of-war between France and the UPC was set. The UPC was therefore subjected to systematic harassment and discrimination ranging from the arrest and intimidation of its leaders to the obstruction of its members from winning any election organized in the territory(Nicodemus Fru Awasom, http://patachu.com/cameroon-rebellion-independence-unification-1960-1961)

    [4] Irish-American word for “nonsense”

    [5] Chinua, Achebe. An Image of Africa and The Trouble with Nigeria. Penguin Books, 1983.

    [6] Eugene, Song. “Cameroon: A Cancer-of–Tribalism-Threatened Nation” retrieved on October 23, 2012 from http://www.leffortcamerounais.com/2012/09/cameroon-a-cancer-of-tribalism-threatened-nation-.html

    [7] Société de Transports Urbains du Cameroun or Cameroon Urban Transport Authority.

    [8] Reference to the following supposedly tarred roads: Douala-Yaoundé, Yaoundé-Bafoussam, Belabo-Bertoua, Edéa-Kribi, Mbalmayo-Ebolowa, Eséka-Boumnyebel-Ngok-Mapubi, Ebolowa-Nkoemvon, Ebolowa-Akak, Messassi-Nkometou, Sangmélima, Maroua-Yagoua, Maltam-Kousseri, Maroua-Kaelé-Guidiguis-Yagoua, Maroua-Mokolo-Mora, Banganté-Bafang, Bamougoum-Dschang, Kumba-Mamfé, Yaoundé-Ayos, Yaoundé-Mfou, Ezezang-Sa’a, Emana-Monatélé, etc.

    [9]Dakole Daïssala (born April 15, 1943) is a Cameroonian politician and the President of the Movement for the Defense of the Republic (MDR), a political party based in Cameroon's Far North Region. He served in the government of Cameroon as Minister of State for Posts and Telecommunications from 1992 to 1997; subsequently he was a Deputy in the National Assembly from 1997 to 2002 and then Minister of Transport from 2004 to 2007. Before then, he had served as Deputy Director-General of the Cameroon Urban Transport Authority (Société de Transports Urbains du Cameroun, SOTUC) from 1973 to 1975, and then as Director-General of SOTUC from 1975 until 1984.

    [10]The Myth of Sisyphus (translated from the French Le mythe de Sisyphe,1942) is a story written by French novelist, Albert Camus, in which the gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

    [11] Couldn’t give a damn attitude

    [12] Chinua, Achebe. An Image of Africa and the Trouble with Nigeria. Penguin Books, 1983.

    [13] Where is the proof?

    [14] Angelou, Maya. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes. New York: Random House, 1986.


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