Democratic Ideals or Complacent Politics of Disappointment
By Frank Oben
Greetings, Fellow Cameroonians,
Dear parents, elders, brothers and sisters, fellow readers, recently most of us are aware of the 2011 presidential elections coming up in October. Everyone is captivated by the riots in North Africa and the Middle East, from Tunisia to Jordan and beyond. There is a speculation that there would be an uprising in countries governed by dictators – eyeing countries like Libya and Cameroon, just to name a few. Tunisia’s few days of demonstrations led to the immediate fled of their president and his family. Egypt’s 18 days of relentless strife witnessed the resignation of a dictator. The question in the minds of most people is: Is Africa finally waking up from its slumber? In Cameroon, elections are just around the corner. We have a dictator in power, for now. Media reports and exposure of the scenes of struggle in some Arab countries afore-mentioned influence the picture in our heads. There are a lot of issues at hand, a lot of worries, questions, anxiety, and ambitions swirling in our minds, at least for those who are exposed to the unfolding of this event or for those who have considerable interests in its outcomes. Some Cameroonians are already advocating for taking into the streets, hoping to re-make the Egyptian victory – Cameroon’s victory. Others are worried, if by remixing Arab protests would produce the same desirable outcome in Cameroon. The state, political parties, press and media, voters and the on-looking international community each have an agenda. It is scary. But no matter what, October 2011 is definitely the D-Month.
The intention of this article is not to put the cat among the pigeons, but to call on all Cameroonians to think again; why is it necessary to put the horse before the cart, to question ourselves about which horse is to be put in front of the cart, when should the horse be put in front of the cart, what are the conditions of the horse and the cart, and finally who is the coachman? To those seeking for an early revolt, weigh the consequences. You might think this is unnecessary, time-consuming, or boring. You might be right. You can never know the taste of ice-cream unless you take a lick. I plead with you to kindly read what I have written. Do not judge but let perception override memory. Everyone has an opinion, this is mine and I know you are reading my own mind: I hope yours becomes stretched, not by what I have written, but by the uprising of your own deep-seated thoughts, an individual insight different from the collective opinions you are subjected to.
Democracy or ‘Demo-crazy’?
We all have our definitions about democracy: political equality, protecting minorities or the absence of power to control and influence. An attempt to balance these tensions posed by the various representative democratic schools of thoughts have often led to some societies becoming restrained in this process and its outcomes.
Democracy is not the fight of good vs. evil, or angels vs. demons. It is a persistent struggle for individual and societal harmony. It is an optimistic understanding of societal relationships and charitable gestures between citizens of a country. These benevolent sense and sensibilities are extended to other persons from different destinations. Democracy is a continuous process whereby the rich, poor, people with different socio-economic status and societal stratifications, openly debate to look for plausible solutions to common societal problems and work hand-in-hand to eradicate issues which keep them apart. It is a collective effort for individual and societal progression, not a collective hatred or mob psychology to divide, control and manipulate citizens of a country. Cameroonians have often been used to ‘demo-crazy’ leading to ‘dem-go-crazy.’ It is a society whereby the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ has been consciously or unconsciously influenced. Equality and liberty are mirages on the road to freedom and liberty.
While passively putting aside the intimidating effect of colonialism which, in my opinion is still questionable, Cameroon’s greatest problems are tribalism, nepotism and religious fundamentalism (fanaticism). It is a country viewed by most of its citizens and the international community as being corrupt. It is an irony but almost too real to be true that most Cameroonians continuously blame their government and other officials as being intensively corrupt to the bone, corruption is injected into the very fabrics of the society. Can you name a society which is free from corruption at any level? Can you name a society which is not exposed to errors of any kind? What we do is, we rank mistakes, misdeeds, offenses and crimes from bad, worse, worst. A crime is a crime. Its intensity varies across those affected or afflicted. It is the same like pain, there is toothache and stomach-ache. We cannot generally say, toothache is more painful than stomach-ache or vice versa. It all depends on who is feeling the pain.
Corruption starts in the mind of the individual. It is one of the tools a human being uses as a means for growth, development, progression and survival. It is a selfish thought which results in the individual becoming highly egocentric and greedy in thoughts and dealings. Corruption does not start from the top but from the bottom. We often make the big mistake of thinking that the state should be blamed, government officials and other business men should be held accountable for their corrupt activities. But we fail to understand that they, like us, are just machines of corruption. The source, cradle, or birth of corruption is in the mind of each and every individual. It is then fueled by family, friends, peers, societal and other external influences. It blooms very fast when it is overlooked or treated as irrelevant, making the individual to have total control of it – a state commonly known as manipulation.
Question 1: How many of us Cameroonians, parents, relatives, youths: from children to adults, pupils to professors, doctors, business men, taxi drivers, men of law and order, lawyers, government officials, clerks, cashiers, accountants, how many Cameroonians have gone through the back door to obtain something or be what they are? How many decisions and deals were signed behind the curtains? How many of our parents and relatives still occupy directorship or managerial positions in government offices, public institutions or private institutions until now? How many of them sing the praises of their bosses just because the want to have their daily bread? How many of them bribed their kids’ way into school or a job?
When some of us were back in Cameroon, and even the present youths in Cameroon, where and how did we get money to organize end-of-year school parties, ex-student parties, buying expensive suits and shoes that some of our parents could not even afford and yet most of us were not even of the working class? How many of us spent cash nonstop? How many Cameroonians made their way through primary school, secondary school, high school and university, even getting into holiday classes through shadowy deals or just one phone call, or ‘generous’ offering of ‘gifts’ or meals – given our parents and us knew about the system? How many girls with university education or currently at the University have/had GPAs due to sexually based marks? For the boys, how much money, how many bottles of wine or beer did you have to give that lecturer to validate his course or have a good standing GPA? How many students had to lick the shoes of the administration so as to butter their bread and sleep on beds of roses? Let us think back then, in primary, secondary and high schools, how many of us wanted to be class and school prefects just because we wanted to obtain all privileges given with such positions? And yet we all have eagles’ eyes on the president, state and those one step ahead of us? For those who are religious, isn’t it written, why do you bother about the splint in your brother’s eye when there is a log in yours? Indeed, there is a lot of dirt to dig. How many of us are ready to take the bullet by holding the mirror up to mistakes, offenses and crimes in the society? Let he who has never committed a crime, an error or mistake be the first to leave the room or throw a stone? Is there anyone?
Think of corruption and any other virtue or vice as a tree. A tree gains support from its roots. A tree or plant also grows from bottom to top. Now if you cut or destroy the canopy of a tree, you do not kill the entire tree. But when you destroy the roots of the tree, that tree ceases to exist because the roots require minerals and food from the soil to its other parts. Air, water, sunlight and other agents of pollination are supplements for growth or destruction of the tree. Now expand on this thought by relating it to the society; the canopy is the state, business men and even us, when we occupy positions out of corruption and other influences or privileges, the sun, water, air and other agents of pollinations are our parents, friends, peers and other external influences fueling or killing our desires, the tree trunk and branches are our body, the roots in this case, are our vices and the soil (earth) is our mind. This description is the making of a corrupt man.
Do you now understand how sometimes we make a fool of ourselves? When and how we let some crimes, offenses and errors go unnoticed, or noticed but no spontaneous actions taken? I am not worried about action; I am much more concerned about inaction. Most of us are very quick in labeling Mr. A or family ‘Z’ as being corrupt or bad and yet our own families are exposed to such shortcomings or ordeals. A democratic society would permit constant whistle blowing whenever any misdeed is brought to light and proven to be bad after thorough investigations. Charity begins at home, democracy starts from the mind of each individual. And let no one fool you by professing freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is of no importance to a person with a loose tongue or ‘dumb.’
Is there a solution? Yes, there is a solution. Whenever you identify a problem, there is a solution. The solution can be found or developed where the problem is. So, what should we do? Why should we do it? How should we do it? Where should it be done? Simple, charity begins at home by arising from the mind of the individual. Start from yourself; change yourself, then your homes. Start by eradicating all tribalistic, nepotic and other wrongs which obscure the proper upbringing in the family hood. When you change yourself and your home, then it spreads to the neighborhood, and then to the society at large. You might think it is an easy task. Do not label it as easy or stupid until you have set yourself on doing it. Stop looking at the big picture. Look at its foundations. Hold the mirror up to anyone who performs an inappropriate act or gives an incorrect suggestion. Stand firm and upright to the truth, restrain from doing anything bad or evil to yourself, the family, friends and the society. Start small, but do however start.
It all boils down to self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-realization and hence self-actualization. Man know thyself; then thou shalt know the Universe and God. When you know who you are, then you would know more of yourself when you relate with others and your environment. This is no philosophy lecture. There is no recipe for living that suits everyone. The growth of the mind is stimulated by the widening of alertness, awareness and consciousness. There is no coming to consciousness of our own being without pain. Even a happy life cannot be without some ingredients of ‘darkness’ and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by some scenes of sadness. It does not matter how many times we rise from when we fall but how we rise from when we fall. How we rise would determine if we would fall again, so if you forget about what made you fall, why and how you fell, you would always fall.
Politics and Presidential Campaigns: Rough and Ready
Politicians have the tendency of using politics during presidential campaigns to demonstrate their political politesse over their rivals and to the voters. It has become more of a competition between the good men trying to kick out the bad men off the system – sort of Pharisees vs. Sadducees. The constant worshipping of such fetish of war between good vs. evil discourages the citizens. Everyone spends time grouping others into the good and evil camp. If politics is not about honesty and dishonesty, then what is it all about?
If we have been very observant, we would realize that electoral campaigns in any country, Cameroon not left out, is a theatrical act. The difference to that performed on stage is, some citizens actually lose their lives while in the latter, the audience gives a keen eye and ear to the actors performing on stage. In electoral campaigns, though everyone has an agenda, the press and media’s agenda is very dominating. They do not only tell us what to think about, but also how to think about it. Remember the wise saying, if you give them food, they would eat. A lot of information is injected into our minds. Campaign ads are attractive, appealing or misleading. Headlines in the press are very scary. It is a period filled with continuous ‘bad’ news and rumors. When we read the press, watch the media and listen to some opinion leaders’ talk, we realized that they are filled with soft, frightening and uncompromising words, contented to their own course of actions and party affiliations. Most appeal to the one aspect in the versatility of most Cameroonians, which is that irrational and spontaneous attitude to instill fear, hope and revolt for change. Yet we forget that this usefulness in each Cameroonian and the attractiveness of his combination of a wide variety of characteristics match the very beliefs of a democratic society.
As a result, some Cameroonians become more talkative than good listeners, more excited than thoughtful and swiftly assume radical behaviors over petty sensational information. A degree of observation, reflective thinking and logic should be applied when stripping off information to get a glimpse of what is under its skirts. Political communication and information knitted about concerns on national issues such as elections should be viewed as a hydra. The more you try to cut of the head of the hydra, the more it buds. For those who did not know, a cruel story even from a genius’ mind runs on wheels, and every hand oils the wheels as they run. Meaning, the more you attempt to eradicate a rumor, the more it gets amplified because somebody, anybody and everybody have their own understanding and interpretation of a rumor. It was also thought that nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules. There is an unwise saying that since news is news, therefore bad news is also good news and vice versa. But it should be noted that bad news is good news only when the villain or evil intention gets killed. Till now, we know that the only way to kill a hydra is by using Medusa’s head to freeze it to a stone, simple. That ‘Medusa’s head’ cannot yet, as for now, be located at any loci or person in Cameroon, be it the ruling party or opposition as yet, who are acting like nervous girls in a rock band trying to win an award.
I think there are more local and national issues to think about than trying to draw a line between Mr.Biya and his opponents or always putting the finger of suspicion at the web of ideas of the ‘lion man’ and his ‘lion team.’ There are more pertinent issues at stake than the president’s not running for elections, or his faking his death or whatever mumbo jumbo the ruling party, the opposition or press would put forward to make some Cameroonians go wet in thoughts.
Presidential Candidates & Promises: Different Pipers, Different Tunes
The first error delaying the Cameroonian democratic process for years is that Cameroon’s political system is predominantly monolithic. Cameroon’s political system is authoritarian and cannot boast of an influential opposition. There are numerous mushrooms opposition parties, each trying to obtain a tiny piece of the national cake, while their leaders seek for favors from the ruling party. This is a sad situation because the opposition themselves, to a greater extent, permitted the suppression of their political views. This ongoing suppression has abated the voice and actions of the opposition, relegating them to kids on the block. This is why electoral campaigns are spiced with a lot of assurances with no securities.
Think of the opposition parties in Cameroon as high school prefects from different schools (catholic vs Presbyterian vs. protestant) set on fire against each other. The opposition parties have consistently portrayed themselves as ‘lame ducks,’ opportunist, late majorities, late adopters or laggards who wait for the ruling party to bark and they comment on their barks by howling back, or any third party or media to speak or act before they act immediately and tagging the hardcore information as demeaning, ‘Uncameroonian,’ undemocratic and not humanitarian.
We all knew that 2011 would be an electoral year. I still do not understand why it was, till the end of last year 2010, that some people realized that actually there was fire on the mountain, especially when Mr. Ayah, one of the presidential hopefuls, went ‘rogue’ on his party. Lately, Mrs. Wallah dissociates from SDF and declares her candidacy for president and people think it is a SMART move? What is smart and courageous in that? Since when did dissociation from the typical value been declared as smart and courageous…Please think again and ask yourself these questions: Where were these current presidential candidates five years ago? What did they do? What were they then? How did they do it? Did they fulfill their promises as they promised? Why the silence or lukewarm attitudes from then till the end of last year, 2010? Did the ‘stubbornness’ of Honorable Ayah Paul rekindle the flame of transition amongst the opposition parties and even threatened the ruling party? Cameroonians should carefully diagnose (not judge) their personalities and careers tracks. This is what it is all about. Know your candidates, not what they are telling you to know about them, not because they are from the same family or part of an extended family, not because they are from the same tribe or you speak the same language, not because they are good orators and show some degree of radical behavior on the ruling party, not because they talk and promise change, economic overhauling and uprooting corruption in the society, issues of normal appeal to all Cameroonians.
The second mistake is our leaders are not groomed. There is no evolution of their leadership skills and tactics, which is why we do not know them very well. What we know about them is what they and other peers tell us to know about them. Think again fellow Cameroonians. Becoming a doctor requires a serious educational commitment. It takes from 07 to 16 years to complete your education and training in a desired specialty, and it takes about 7 years or above to become a priest and more to become a bishop, cardinal or pope, after diehard lessons of philosophy and theology, 2 years to become a pilot, 5 years and above to become a geologist, archeologist, anthropologist, professor or even a lecturer at the university. Even a captain commanding a ship has undergone years of training and put in a lot of work effort to be efficient and assume such a position. Obviously, a bad captain would sink the ship or a poorly trained pilot would not fly the plane well. Even when a couple decides to have a baby, there is much more of family planning to do, though we know that some persons are pretty much not aware of the importance of planning to have children. I am not citing these as important careers in life and others are not. All fields of work are important, all require a high degree of specialty and professionalism and the presidency is a case in point. When we look at the Cameroon scene presently, what we are witnessing is that we have discarded the afore-mentioned above and decided to elect people who would go for a month or two driving lessons in order to get permission to be our driver. This is not time for impromptu. This is no safari trip. Neither is it about taking school kids on a field trip. This is about directing a country towards progress, development and sustainability.
Presidential candidates themselves are still politicians who play their cards well. They present themselves as newcomers or old crusaders fighting for the right cause; they look dynamic and are always eager to change the current system. Their normal vision is to make justifiable the social welfare of the society and root out corruption, posing as agents of change. They assure us in their speeches that we, the voters can expect manna from heaven even though we can still bake bread on earth. Their electoral campaigns are political carnivals filled with food and music called promises. This food and music is free of charge. It is the bait they use to fish for our votes.
Ladies and gentlemen, do you, in the cold light of the day, profoundly observe and reflect on the nature, form, blueprints, missions, visions, objectives and goals of these presidential candidates? These and other determinants are the ground level building blocks which determine the rigidity and posture of the building, in this case, the political parties. Let us push away any philosophy or ‘Harvard’ studies we might know about politics, media and electoral campaigns wanting to be the ‘commander-in-chief.’ Look at what is presented in front of you, who is presenting himself/herself in front of you? Are you supporting them out of an accrued frustration and a nagging desire for change, or you are already crowning them as kings and queens even before the trumpet is blown? Why should they be trusted? How should they be trusted? Why do they need my vote? Who are they? Where do they come from? What did they give up to obtain what they want? Are they disciplined? What is their agenda? How do they present their agendas? Cameroonians are chancing their arms by placing their frustrations, hopes and fears into the hands of candidates whom they are not closely acquainted to; the very opposition which has been in slumber for the past years, mixed in their own internal disputes which dwelled on nepotism and tribalism, and not on ideas, suggestions, convincing decisions and policies? And where is their entourage? With whom are they going to lead the country? It is teamwork not team war, fellow Cameroonians. This is not I-robot. Given the time frame, don’t you think it is time they give us a complete comprehensive profile of those with whom they are willing to work, why and how?
Fellow Cameroonians haven’t passed elections in Cameroon and around the world taught us some important lessons? Are we saying that we spent our time taking notes, as information was dumped on us rather than trying to understand and reflect on the information we paid for in studying? Haven’t we realized that, as these candidates make promises, they automatically outrun their performances? Picture it like this. Making a promise is like giving a loan. It is an unpaid debt. Campaigns and their lectures are marinated with promises to make it soluble for digestion by the public. Promises are given when they have little to say. Think of promises like babies. Sweet and exciting to conceive, some through harsh means, others through luck, but they (the babies) are hard to deliver. It takes nine months for complete development, some are born premature. There is no guarantee that a baby would survive until he/she is born, cries, breathes the air we breathe and shows other signs of liveliness. Those who come out safe are first exposed to parenting. Secondly they are influenced by societal patterns and other internal and external influences. This of course would be anything ranging from good to bad, fair to unfair, tricks and twist, what they observe, what and how they hear, see, think and touch – how they act and re-act. Meaning an accomplished promise is an accomplished baby.
Question 2: Do you know the time frame for accomplishment? In this life we live, between birth and death, there are only graves and between promises and their fulfillments, there are just cracked openings. God’s promises only shine on our problems. Most of them promise out of hopes for now and yet perform according to the fears that they would break those promises. For it is by these very loans (promises) to the voters that they (presidential candidates) buy our frustration, anxieties and hopes (debts) in a bid to increase their own (candidates) wealth and influence. Let us not also forget the flower-talk about political, socio-economic, socio-cultural and environmental change. What about the change of the intellect? Do we ask ourselves if the mind-set of the Cameroonian has changed? What about the evolution of the ‘Cameroonian mind’? I would leave each and every one to answer individually, and later on collectively, this question.
If opposition party leaders are going out with the one idea of defeating Mr. Biya and his ruling party, then their sole motives would be wired about that deep-seated idea. Think again. If you say you are stupid and you want to become intelligent, the effort you put into become intelligent is only a greater form of your stupidity because you fail to realize that what is important is, first of all, for you to understand what stupidity is. However much you try to become intelligent, your stupidity would always have its guaranteed place in you. I would bet that nothing constructive would be said than just the anger and frustration of these candidates, boiling for a challenge? Is this what democracy is all about? Challenge? Is that how politics was defined? By challenge? It is difficult for a frustrated mind to bring order out of chaos.
Less we forget, enemies could be friends of enemies, meaning, even if there is an opposition, there can also be a definite organization of the opposition because now is the time in which the ‘wind of change’ (if at all it won’t transform into a tornado) might be sweeping across Africa…
These candidates think change. They do not ‘make’ change. The citizens of Cameroon (the voters) are those who would effectuate these changes. So instead of listening to the flower talk about change and its implementations, Cameroonians should, instead, start calculating as soon as elections are over, how much devoted hours, they, the voters, would give up for these changes to take place. By now we should know that the only thing that does not change is that things changes at all times. This is a fact and not a hypothesis. The Cameroon of today is growing fast. There is population and information explosion. Frustration borne out of the nagging desire for change and the inadequate self-discipline expressed by the citizens of a country are two concepts which do not correlate. They cannot co-exist in a society constantly in a ‘shortage’ for change such as Cameroon. Therefore, one or the other must be neglected. We all know what happens when these candidates get the position they’ve been yearning to have. After thanking the citizens for putting them there, the story is very much different. Their slogans are transformed into memories, proven to be easy to be smart after the fact. The fear in their eyes betrays the lies on their tongues. They devise better methods to appease their once submissive and trusted audience, the audience who prefer not to err on the side of caution but rather cast their votes to the candidates whose promises seem more soluble. All the voters do is give these candidates a leg up and receive a crack-down on their heads late on.
North Africa: Nod Africa
Egypt’s victory has become an impetus to the eradication of dictatorship. The world was watching as it took 18 days to cause a dictatorship to abandon his favorite sit. We all applaud the trials and tribulations of Egypt. There is a heightened concerned that this effect might trigger a domino effect or geometrically leap into countries governed by dictators, or oppressed by an authoritarian ruler. Indeed, while Tunisia lit the torch light, Egypt blew Africa’s trumpet to the rise for democracy. This bold step in Egypt has stimulated some Cameroonians, especially the youths and other ‘democratic fanatics,’ to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to send messages for riots even before the elections take place in October, just because of the Egyptian victory. Others are advocating for a post-riot in case a fraud is declared. The day and locations have already been selected. Online discussions are going on, some youths say they are ready to spill blood, sighting the University of Buea riots which to them proved functional in delivering some results, the recent one which took place on the 11th of February in Buea, South-West province of Cameroon. We should not forget that, practically all silliness of conduct ascends from the imitation of those who we cannot resemble. Imitation can be viewed as a serious form of flattery. However there are no two snowmen that are identically similar. But every snowman is a unique design on its own from its creator
Let me make some points clear, and if you are interested, you can carry out your own investigative research. Firstly, the demonstrations in Egypt were triggered months ago in 2010, due to complaints about the 29-year government-imposed state of emergency which has been used to curb protests and freedom of expression, knowing fully well that 2011 was an electoral year and also calling for political reform. The other riot was around President Mubarak’s birthday, May 3-4, this time by political activists and members of parliament who were more roughly treated than the protesters in April 2010. The Western media just ignored these demonstrations, and the plea from Amnesty International was futile.
Secondly, Egyptians were not affected by what happened in Tunisia. Tunisia is the country which carried the torch light in that region. The reason for the Tunisian uprising was primarily corrupt government and deeply rooted nepotism, which was gradually eliminating the middle social class in that country. Egyptians were rioting against Western imperialism to which the government deemed more necessary than the basic needs of the Egyptians themselves, and yet all progressing businesses were seized by the government or asked to pay high dividends. Issues such as the Egypt’s Nile water rights, the persistent housing crisis, unemployment, injustice and poverty were always brought to the table and ignored by a government which preferred trading in billions with America over military and war- related products and services. Both Tunisia and Egyptian riots were fueled by provocative postings on social media sites, not in Arabic, but in English and French.
While Tunisia is ruled by the sirens of a police regime, Egyptians are under the boots of the army. The Egyptian army is more valuable, well trained, well-funded and better paid than the Tunisian army. This is just to name a few. Cameroon has a ‘soft’ presence in the international scene, not ruled by a General, and it has witnessed almost similar riots which resulted in a decrease in food and beverage prices – the carrots the government uses to appease its citizens. We have never heard of Cameroonian parliamentarians rioting, the national assembly is a dead as the graveyard. Cameroonians should not forget that Arabs and Muslims have different motives and aspirations. We might have slippery mouths in declaring that it all boils down to democracy. True, but since democracy is not possessive but reflective of the society in which it seeks to operate, different cultural societies have different demands to prompt a ‘democratic supply.’ You can be happy for Egyptians but tell yourself this; their struggles have just begun. Their country is still ruled by the military, military officers who have no abilities or capabilities of state administration. Administering the affairs of a country is not similar to fighting war. It is similar to asking the best taxi driver to fly a plane because he has a good command of the wheel. There is a great difference between driving a taxi and piloting. There is a difference between controlling the military and governing a country.
The Way Forward – Definitely not the road that leads to Rome
We all know that to win, to become a meritorious champion, you must train. Look at heavyweight champion lifters, successful tennis players, football players, and athletes. There is constant training and training, determination, dedication, motivation and DISCIPLINE. Yes, discipline. Every champion has a coach and a supporting team. This is a fact, not a fable. Candidates should earn their stripes
Fellow Cameroonians, we live in society where it can be proven that working together is different from working with each other. We should understand that the only thing that supports our reality and constant struggle is our belief in it. We are experiencing a transitional period where change should reflect a substantial effect as to the quality of the transformation. This quality of the transformation would primarily be determined by our ways of lives, then our relations with others and our environments. But where will the ideas and knowledge come from? Certainly not from the same architects, congress, men or parliamentarians, public relations officers or journalists, doctors, professors, scientists and priests of the old system. Not from the same strategies and implementations copied from neighboring countries, and neither from the good talks from developed countries. It is the poor, the people tagged as debtors in this democratic process, who are demanding more for excellence, not the rich nor the ‘better-offs.’ The money-makers are bent on their business, wanting to live in luxury, sometimes becoming physically or mentally idle, suppressing their ability to be exposed to pain while they welcome pleasure. They are much more concerned about making money, not for excellence.
Designs, knowledge, ideas and creativity and hence understanding will originate wherever creative and critical thinking flourish within the mind of the Cameroonian individual, societal relationships, the common place, the platform for constructive debate – wherever common people strike a balance between who says what, where, when and why, its ramifications, implications and consequences to them as individuals and to their society in general. Change shall be effective where Cameroonians struggle to discover and exploit their individuality and surroundings, their ability to assimilate and articulate ideas that are already of conscious times, embedded in everyday life. Thus, the form of change implied should be one whose outcome should maintain the functioning of active systems of communities, and at the same time sustaining continuous changes in it. Educate people from villages to cities. Educate people on the necessity of change rather than on its obligations. Education must not necessarily come from the classroom but from common places of acquaintances; village meetings, gatherings, symposiums, rural conference, family meetings and socialization, ex-student associations, conventions, church announcements and support groups. Yes, all the pieces of the pizza put together would form the whole.
What do I think the new president should do? Gradually revamp the old systems. I would suggest two methods for guidance and gradual progression: clear and concise action planning and communal motivation. We should collectively diagnosed the mistakes of yesterday, plan for today and prepare for the joys and odds of tomorrow. Communal participation stimulates the growth of trust. It ensures that everyone is involved from villages to cities, and willing to execute the missions. Other issues worth considering and acting upon are:
- Cultural values should be preserved and respected. There is no culture which is more dominant that the other.
- People should merit their jobs. An effective analysis of performance should be established in all industrial sectors. Decentralization of job-tasks should be encouraged.
- Boost the private sector by encouraging investments and entrepreneurship.
- The banking sector should be regulated. Client savings should be a priority. Banks should set up supervisory and executive bodies, committees for constitution and laws, to control monetary policy, local and foreign investments, financial stability of institutions, payment transactions, and banknotes and coins.
- Business partnerships should be re-evaluated.
- Syndicates, think-tanks, brain trust teams should be formed in every community, even the least. There should an osmosis effect, where the strong, hardworking, intelligent and creative minds pull the least of such. The diffusion of knowledge should be encouraged through communal participatory methods.
- Encourage economic, sociology and scientific research in universities. Problematic topics should be carefully studied. National issues should be prioritized; economic issues should be listed in scale of preferences.
There should be no rush in trying to clean the old systems. No need to draw hasty conclusions out of unusual situations.
Dear Cameroonians let us open our eyes and fall short from being excited about October 2011. Do not forget. We might talk of a wind of change, but you must ask yourself how many winds of change were actually winds? Most swiftly became whirlwinds, and tornadoes, and guess what, many did not survive. Only the strong survived and only the lonely died slowly.
With the radical emergence of Honorable Ayah Paul, and the current ‘bold’ leap into the ‘Change Camp’ of the other presidential hopefuls, some Cameroonians think at last their cries in the wilderness have been heard. And who knows if upcoming cries in the wilderness might be the coming of a sand storm? It could be our ruin.
We are not looking for a truck or tractor driver to show us his expertise in commanding the wheels of these heavy automobiles, nor are we looking for a ship captain who does not know what nautical miles are, neither are we looking for the best Formula 1 speed racer nor a straight 5 A’s A-level genius, or the good doctor who is always ready to prescribe medicine to his patients. No. Cameroon like any country needs an ear which listens to the people, a mind which thinks about and alongside with the people and their societal relations, a man who is not by the people, nor who is there for the people but the leader who is WITH those citizens who think and bleed for the betterment of their country.
Think again, Dear Cameroonians:
Remember Benjamin Franklin, who said, he that cannot obey cannot command.
a) We are not looking for a leader who would spend time listening to our wants and needs. Nor are we looking for those who would promise to build bridges where there are no rivers, because no matter the intensity of the rain, it cannot change the spots on a leopard. If you want to change the spots on a leopard, cross breed it. Easy. So we need a leader who can cross-breed ideas and take us to where we have not been. Leaders do not promise. The only way to keep your word is, don’t give it up. Change comes in small doses, but we expect the wind of change to sweep across the territory.
b) We are not looking for leaders who would follow a path for guidance but those who can go where there are no paths and leave a trail.
Methinks, this is the time whereby the opposition should sit down, design strategies to gradually restore confidence to the people that as soon the presidency is changed, Cameroon would be back on track for gradual democratic development and progression.
Indeed, fellow readers, it is a long way to go, and we have to start small. It is not a matter of time; it is a matter of alertness, awareness – heightened consciousness. It is a matter of pre-preparation, organization, of momentary ideas and decisions, of looking forward while acting on feedback. It is not a moment for lamenting about problems and finger-pointing, not a moment to curse, neither cry nor being rash in behavior. We all should think together. There is no stupid proposition. The only stupid proposition is the one which was not proposed. During this journey, we shall make mistakes. Making mistakes should not be automatically viewed as a guarantee for failure. Immediate steps should be taken to correct our mistakes and transform them into successful experiences. Given certain time-frames, issues should be ranked and taken into consideration. Not family issues but issues which hinder the propping up of the society in which we live.
We live in a world where everybody wants something. No one wants to be the last to know…so, do not be the last man standing. I do hope our aspiring leaders do not become much ado about nothing persons, but persons who are serious, focused, tactical, dynamic, dedicated, disciplined and smart.
And please do not say God is in control, because I would ask you where he was when the last elections were taking place. We can pray to God and trust in God yet we would always pay cash. You can trust in God but you have to lock your car.
We do not need to imitate any other society; nor do our leaders imitate any other leader. We need to be supportive to ourselves and our leaders and uphold our cultural values as we internally cleanse ourselves. Methods, strategies, decisions and policies placed on the table and ready for implementation after considerable thinking would determine our direction. We cannot see a leaf falling and know which direction the wind is blowing. This is not about liberalization; this is about waking up from slumber and taking each horse by the reins.
Every dog has its day. Unfortunately we are not dogs. We just want to be like dogs with no tails.
Our visions of a democratic society would become clearer when we search the memory of our minds. When we spend time looking outside and expecting any form of external aid, we are dreaming, but when we look inside, we would awaken. We would grow and advance when we desire sleep in the absence of dreams.
We all hope and would be willing to participate for the development of a better Cameroon
May passion and not pedigree triumph.
Notes: I am sorry for taking off much of your time. I deemed it necessary that we know the actual issues of our Country and our own conditioning as Cameroonians. Not the big talk or big words going on in the press or from intellectuals or from the international community.
I stand reasonably corrected and very open-minded to debate and questions.
To all those who have the same thinking of ‘another Cameroonian babbling from abroad’; I very much respect your opinion. If you need to know what I have done, what I am doing and what I am planning to do for Cameroon, please mail me.
We are human beings who can think and act. Such childish thoughts should be eradicated. We should be mature.
My e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org