ECHOES OF TWO PRIME MINISTERS


BY TIKUM MBAH AZONGA

What is in a name?

Surely, we have all known prime ministers. However, when it comes to pairing them according to our own criteria, I put Former French Prime, Minister Pierre Mauroy and Cameroon’s Former Prime Minister, Peter Mafany Musonge in the same camp.

Both men have name initials that are alike, “P.M.”, standing respectively for Pierre Mauroy and Peter Musonge. Interestingly, as prime ministers, one could also add the initial, “P.M.” (Premier Ministre or Prime Minister) after their names. So, Mauroy and Musonge were and still are P.M.

 

Standing together in Lille

As it happens, I know both PMs to a certain extent. I had met Pierre Mauroy when he was Mayor of Lille, the fourth largest city of France. I studied in Lille and was actually still there when the Lord Mayor of the city was appointed Prime Minister (PM) by President Francois Mitterrand. Sometimes we saw the P.M. at work at the Mairie de Lille. I quite remember when after having been appointed PM, Mauroy returned to Lille to celebrate France’s national day, July 14. He stood at the grand stand to honour the city and the nation, with those his thick glasses. Mauroy is a tall and stout man who cannot be missed in a crowd.

Standing tall and together

Although Mauroy wrote several books, the one that strikes me most is entitled “C’est ici le chemin” (This is the way). It is a frank and honest reexamination of the French Socialist party as well as an indictment of the establishment. Physically, Musonge is as tall and as huge as Mauroy. I just imagine what a meeting between the two of them when still PMs would have looked like. Sadly, while I was researching on this piece today, I learned that Mauroy died earlier this year, in the month of June, at the age of 84.

 

The star of Star Building

However, we thank God that the other P.M., Peter Musonge is still alive and kicking. After serving as P.M. for eight record years under President Paul BIYA, Musonge was appointed Grand Chancellor of the National Orders, and later a member of Cameroon’s newly created senate.

Musonge remains one of the most efficient prime ministers the country has ever had, if not simply the most efficient. He did not soil himself while there. He rendered a good service to the Republic. Each time I came across him, he gave me the assistance I required. I call him, “my father”, not just “Pa”. His late wife used to call me, “my husband’s son”. I feel very close to him, even if I have really never expressed it as much as I should.

Musonge and that book

P.M. Musonge has a very rich experience, politically and otherwise which I strongly think he should immortalize in the form of a book. Although I have not discussed this with him, I feel it would be of immense benefit to Cameroon and the world. If that were to happen, then the parallel between him and P. M.  Mauroy would go full circle.

 

Other dignitaries and the sound of the book

Nonetheless, not everyone receives advice about the need to commit experiences to writing kindly. I once put the idea to Cameroon’s Former Minister and Former Ambassador, Chief Michael Kima Tabong but regretted I did so because he frowned at it all. Without actually disagreeing with me, he looked irked and peeved. I wondered whether he might have been thinking that by mentioning his memoirs, I was kind of “pushing him to the end”. God forbid!

Michael Kima Tabong once served as Minister of Mines and Power. During that tenure, he put all his mind and heart and did a good job. When later he became our country’s ambassador to Italy, he worked so hard that Italy started challenging France Cameroon’s longstanding trading partner.

One man who warmed up very much to my suggestion to write memoirs was the Former Governor, Enow Tanjong. Not only did he like the idea; but he actually asked me to come and see him so that we work on it.

We discussed this in the village of Buh in Menchum Division where he was for the burial of his bossom friends, Barrister Nyo Wakai. It was then that I realized he and the barrister must have been very good friends. Not only is Buh far from the Governor’s native Manyu Division; but he stayed the night there and was hosted in his friend’s innermost chambers.

Surely, this world is a stage on which each actor has his or her own role to play.

 

 

 

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