DIASPORAN CRITICS AND THE NEEDED CHANGE


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

 Eric Njungwe wrote in CAMNETWORK:

“International law recognizes the right of a people to have recourse to rebellion against dictatorship and oppression. If the people of Cameroon were to rise-up against the dictatorship of Paul Biya, it would be perfectly legal and be recognized by the international community as a legitimate act by an oppressed people to free themselves from tyranny”.

 

 BELOW IS MY REPLY TO ERIC AND OTHER LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE.

1.   EMPTY TALK AND NOTHING ELSE

That`s true. But the problem is that we have a lot of people who do very much talking and no action. Who will leave talk, rise up courageously and bell the cat? No one. We talk today as we did twenty five years ago and will do 25 years from now.

2.   THE UNSONG HEROES

Yet there are other Cameroonians on the ground, on the spot, in the field, doing it their own way. They may not satisfy us but at least they are there and doing something about it. That is why I feel Diasporan critics show render to Caesar what is Caesar`s by acknowledging the significant role of people like Fru Ndi and more recently, Ayah and Kah Walla. There is a saying that the man who says it can`t be done should not stop the man who is doing it. The rest of us have chosen to be absentee landlords. We have abdicated and ceded our rights. We are toothless dogs and dogs whose bark is not might, but fright.Yet someone once said: “Les absents ont toujours tort” (Absentees are always the wrong ones).

 

3.     LACK OF UNITY FROM WITHIN

 

Strictly speaking, Cameroon does not need the over two hundred political parties and over fifty bidding for president of the Republic. Why did the opposition not unite and presnet a single candidate? They instead did so only later to sign a joint statement. From the moment they accepted to run, they should have known the decison of the Supreme Court was final. Now, what purpose will protests serve?

 

4.     LACK OF UNITY FROM WITHOUT

 

The Diaspora critics must ask themselves some tough questions: To wha extent did they prepare the opposition for thew change they wan? Election campaigns cost a lot of money. You remember that from wht Obama spent. How much of it did yousend to the candidate of your choice? Did you take time out and come here to help? Did you campaign for them in your host country? Also, if you have taken foreign nationality which implies that at least for now, you are no longer a Cameroon, do still have a voice?

 

5.     THE GAPING GAP OF THE DIASPORA

 

The Diaspora is not impacting well here at home. There are a lot of concrete actions the Diaspora could take for the benefit of the country. Unfortunately, it has become obsessed with one man: Paul Biya. How many scholarships has the Diaspora offered young Cameroonians since the school year began? How many schools has the Diaspora built? How many potable water points has it provided? How many health facilities have they provided? When we had an outbreak of cholera, where were they? Why are they not investing heavily back at home? Property is a very lucrative domain in Cameroon. Whether you build for a family or a business, you will have tenants. So why not cash in on opportunities such as the newly created University of Bamenda and build houses for students ad lecturers? In that way you make some money and help Cameronians with muc needed low cost housing. The opportunities are limitles.

 

6.   TAKING AIM AT THE WRONG TARGET

 

I talked about the obsession with the removal of Paul Biya? But Biya is only one Cameroonian. Street protests did not remove him in 1990-1992. So what has changed so dramatically that we think it will work this time. Political success needs patience and planning. The opposition should note that and start preparing for the next presiddntial election today. Seven years is a short period politically. Even Ni John Fru Ndi, the incontestable leader of the opposition will still be politically young enough to become president in 2018. But he must look forward and not backwards, and start preparing now. Cameroon is more important than Paul Biya. That`s why people come and go but the nation remains.

 

7.  DO NOT COUNT ON THE WEST

 

Some Cameroonians said hey were going to demonstrate in Wshington. I do not know if they did it. But what would be the message to Americans who see a bunch of Black peole, not even looking like ther own , African American brothers , blocking their streets with placards on some distant president and country? Won`t your hosts simply turn round and wonder loudly : “Why on earth don`t they take it back to their own contry and leave us in peace?” And concretely, what do you expect Obama to do? March into Yaounde with a big stick and beat Biya out of Etoudi? Since when? In other words, yopu are asking someone else to come and tidy up your own dirty backyard for you.

 

8. INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS

 

Diasporans have been quick to quote the American ambassador saying the election here was flawed. But the observers from the African Union, the Commonwelath, and La Francophonie, after making some observations, concluded that the results were acceptable. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon issued a statement of appreciation. We can`t ignore that. Besides, we have not seen any Western countries recalling their ambassadors as a sign of protest. Remember that when a couple of years ago, the American embassy staff quit their rented property and moved into the purpose-built embassy on the way to Mont Febe and the Etoudi Palace  – just next to what is widely regarded as Paul Biya`s reirement home – the ambassador said this shift from renting to ownership indicated that ‘we are here to stay”.

 

9.                       THERE ARE NO PERFECT ELECTIONS

 

Regular observers know that there is no such thing as a perfect election anywhere, even in the West, including America. An example is the September 2011 election held in Zambia. Observers preferred to conclude by using the expression: “Zambian Election Not Perfect But 100% Better”. This decision was reached even after some irregularities were noticed: “These were just some of the observations made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network who were also invited to observe,  and who concluded that Zambia had a number of good practices, but had to improve on fair and balanced coverage of all political parties in the media, lack of gender parity in Zambia’s electoral processes, and lack of a clear framework on political parties financing, so that smaller political parties are not disadvantaged.”

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