278 Pages
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Cameroon's Predicaments


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278 Pages


This book deals with a variety of socio-cultural, economic and political problems facing Cameroon and the rest of Africa, with particular reference to unemployment, corruption, poverty, criminality, violence, insecurity, and moral decadence. It presents a critical analysis of government policies from the colonial era to the present time; arguing that most of these policies have been stalled by an uncommitted leadership. The regime in Cameroon has drifted away from basic managerial and democratic principles in in favour of the ethnicisation of politics, sterile consumption, clientelism and patronage. The book contends that corruption has become the main instrument of governance whereby the political and economic elites control the wealth of the nation at the expense of a majority who wallow in abject poverty and misery. Faced with the difficult economic and political situation, most youth and the intelligentsia have adopted ‘official and ‘unofficial’ means to circumvent all immigration rules to travel to affluent Western countries, the consequences notwithstanding. Brain drain is often the outcome. Further, it examines issues of social exclusion, political representation and marginalization with special focus on the predicament of Anglophone Cameroonians as a socio-cultural community. The inclusion of examples and case studies based on empirical and secondary data from Africa is intended to foreground the importance of comparison, and attract the interest of both academic and non-academic readership.



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Published 23 August 2014
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EAN13 9789956792412
Language English
Document size 2 MB

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Peter Tse Angwafo
PeterTse Angwafo
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective ISBN: 9956-792-38-1 ©Peter Tse Angwafo 2014
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
Table of Contents Introduction:……………...................................................... V Chapter1: In the Beginning...................................................... 1 Chapter 2: Leadership: Where the Problem Lies.................. 31 Chapter 3: Unemployment and the Cameroon Public Service Quagmire................................................................... 65 Chapter 4: Poverty, Corruption and Bribery......................... 85 Chapter 5: Crime and Violence................................................101 Chapter 6: The Bush Faller Syndrome................................... 121 Chapter 7: The ‘Anglophone Problem’ and Cameroon Bilingualism.............................................................145 Chapter 8: Insecurity, Disorder and Moral Decadence....... 171 Chapter 9: ‘As the English say, better late than Never’: The Waithood Syndrome......................................................... 191 Chapter 10: Cameroon in search of Nationhood................. 209 Chapter 11: Concluding Reflections....................................... 221 Bibliography................................................................................239
Introduction th It was Saturday 24 March 2007 and the time was about 5 O’clock when I arrived at the Texaco petrol station, Ngomgham Mankon to refuel my vehicle. I had spent almost the whole day on the farm and by the time I arrived at the station, I was completely exhausted and very hungry. In addition to the work that I did in the farm, my exhaustion was caused by the bumpy and dusty road that rattles through the hills and valleys from Alabukam to the petrol point. I decided to get some for food and then rest for a while before heading home. Adjacent the Petrol station is the popular ‘Mushroom’ Bar that I am very familiar with. I moved there to buy food for myself. In front of the bar was the make-shift food kiosk owned by one Patricia. Patricia was about 52 years old and sold assorted food items. I will talk a bit about this lady later. I ordered a dish of rice and stew from Patricia. I had just started eating when a young man of about 30 years and about 1.76 meters tall, and dressed in the uniform of the Cameroon People Democratic Movement (henceforth CPDM) party, hurried in and also orderedCorn Fufu andJama jama500 for Frs. This guy gobbled all the food in gulps and within the next 5 minutes his plate was completely empty. Ngang, as I later on got his name pulled out 450 Frs instead of 500 Frs from his pocket and handed the money to Patricia. Noticing that the money was less by 50 Frs, Patricia frowned at Ngang and told him to complete the money or else he could not leave the premises. Ngang pleaded to no avail saying that he had no money on him. In what was to be a protracted quarrel and drama, Patricia insisted that Ngang must pay the money to the last Franc because he was a member of the CPDM-the party with lots of money, the party that has siphoned the state coffers, and the
party that has ruined the Cameroonian economy. ‘Are you not the people who have rendered me poor?’ she asked. Ngang told her that despite his support for the CPDM, there is nothing that he gains from the party. In a rhetorical manner Patricia asked to know where Ngang has kept his own share of the money that the CPDM ministers have ‘stolen’. ‘You must give me the 50 Frs, I did not spend all night burning myself with fire only for CPDM people to come and eat for nothing’, Patricia insisted. Again, Ngang informed Patricia that it is the President and the Beti that have money not the Anglophones. Interestingly, Patricia wondered aloud why Ngang, an Anglophone, could militate in the CPDM. ‘The leaders, those people, Paul Biya and you people have killed this contri!!!’ she lamented. ‘Look at that boy he is a graduate and he cannot have a job (pointing at a passer-by), are you not a member of the CPDM gang? Why are you also complaining? I beg give me my 50 Frs’. As the drama unfolded my hunger vanished and I had forgotten that there was food placed in front of me. I was in no hurry to go home any more. I became interested and followed the discussion with keen interest. Noticing that Patricia would not allow Ngang to go, I decided to intervene and paid the 50 Frs which Patricia graciously received before releasing Ngang. For about thirty minutes no customer visited Patricia’s kiosk and the food was still there gazing at her. Considering that it was already a few minutes to six PM, I wondered if she sold all the food before it was dusk. Could this also be the source of her frustration? That is the question I could not find an answer to. th Each year on March 24 , the CPDM party commemorates 1 the anniversary of the party. The anniversary is always an
1 th  March 24 1985 is the day the Cameroon National Union (CNU) party was transformed into the CPDM at the Ordinary Congress of the party in Bamenda. vi
opportunity for the party to ‘take stock and recount their “achievements” and also to strengthen party structures at the 2 grass roots’. However, such anniversaries have also been known for their lavish, extravagances and conspicuous consumptions and ostentatious displays of wealth. Because the CPDM offers political and economic leverage, non members and militants of the party alike often use the arena to enjoy the booty and spoils of the party in the form of gifts and money. It is common knowledge that during such events, money, gifts and food are distributed to so-called ‘militants’. Informed by such ideas, Patricia found it difficult to understand why Ngang was unable to buy food for 500 Frs. Back to the lady, Patricia was a very popular lady in town and I knew her as a vocal and staunch supporter of one of the 3 prominent football clubs in town-PWD Bamenda for decades. Patricia was not associated with a job of any sort and seemed to have taken supporting PWD as a job. Her close association with players and coaches earned her the nickname of the ‘wife of PWD’. Others called her ‘Mrs. PWD,’ after all, Patricia was not married and hadn’t a child. It was after Patricia retired from her job as a supporter that she started the food business. One could infer from her utterances that she was not a supporter of the CPDM though it was difficult to cipher to which party she belonged. She hadn’t a home of her own and had returned to occupy her father’s house at Alakuma after he died in 1978. I learnt that Patricia also died in November 2012, unexpectedly. Mushroom bar on the other hand was (and still is) a popular bar in the Ngomgham neighbourhood in Mankon
2  Speech delivered by Cletus Anye Matoya, Vice President of the CPDM for Mezam 1 Section during the 2012 party anniversary celebrations at the Bamenda Congress Hall 3  The team is owned by the Public Works Department, an institution which is in charge of road construction hence the name PWD Bamenda Social Club vii
known for selling bush meat and roasted fish, considered as delicacies by most people. Apart from selling drinks, the bar is also an information pool where news or the latest gossips in town are always available. It is here that programmed and impromptu datings take place and the bar also offers an opportunity for businessmen to exhibit wealth especially in the evenings and during week-ends. So the bar attracts people of all walks of life and even idling ladies go there to shop for men. The availability of a television room at Mushroom bar also attracts sport fans interested in watching local and European football matches. The bar also creates an arena of social autonomy and opportunity that relieve the lives of people deeply affected by the drudgery of unemployment, poverty and the painful constraints of an ethnically and politicized country. This bar also serves as a thermometer and constitutes a meeting point where the political temperature in the country is measured. Visitors of Mushroom bar appear to be very knowledgeable and informed about what is happening around them and even around the country. Whatever information one gets from Mushroom bar is always confirmed by politicians and newspaper reports. The rise to prominence of this bar is also linked to its proprietor- a retired school teacher and a quarter head known for his politeness and good services. Mushroom bar has remained a social node around which people revolve. Going back to Patricia, I noticed that in less than 20 minutes, she shifted a simple matter of 50 Frs, to talk about her life and frustrations, but also about the predicaments of the country. It was like Ngang simply gave her an opportunity to regurgitate what she had been stomaching for a long time. Otherwise, one would not understand why an issue of 50 Frs could degenerate and take such unexpected and unprecedented proportions. The problems of Cameroon seemed to be embedded in the 50 Frs saga which Patricia used to express her
frustrations and feelings about the state of the nation. I realised that Patricia’s encounter with Ngang reflects the daily lives and occurrences that one finds everywhere in town. Patricia’s story also constitutes the collective experiences, discourses and memories of many Cameroonians that are (re)narrated everywhere and at anytime in towns, cities, villages, at work places, in buses, at funerals, in churches and where there are gatherings. Informed by previous encounters and experiences with other Cameroonians, I became intrigued by Patricia’s yearning for relief and decided to investigate this phenomenon of complaining. Although the constitution of Cameroon allows for freedom of expression, Cameroonians seem to have, instead, opted to adopt the freedom of complaining. With such attitudes, everyone including the President of the republic complains 4 about everything in the country. Though seemingly a non-event, the narrative on Patricia and Ngang is loaded and embedded with lots of problems which I set out to investigate. Some of the key problems raised by Patricia include; leadership crisis, embezzlement, unemployment, poverty, politics of belonging, and especially the feeling of marginalisation by Anglophones. Just as I observed in the pronouncements of Patricia, these issues are interrelated and interdependent and the effect of one predicates the cause of the other. In the course of organising the work for this book, I decided to include other problems which are directly related and interconnected. The decision to write this book entitled Cameroon’s Predicamentsbeen inspired by this culture of has complaining and my personal experiences, conversations and interactions with Cameroonians.
4 st In his end of year message to the nation on the 31 of December 2013, more than presenting his program or vision for 2014, President Biya raised lots of complaints even against his own ministers. ix