There is a need and desire for change in Cameroon. That is something we all agree about. Pundits acknowledge the fact that the majority of the Cameroonian people are living in uncertainty and poverty, while the unscrupulous minority in the clique, which constitutes the present oligarchy, are living in affluence and arrogance. This criminal minority has hijacked our prosperity, our future and our dignity.
Their affluence, which is made pervasive by corruption, nepotism, ethnocentrism, regionalism and waste, has blinded them to the point where they are completely indifferent to the plight of the majority of Cameroonians who are living in poverty and deprivation. It is not the concern of the Biya regime that its fair-minded citizens are starving, that they are inadequately clothed, that they are excluded from effective sanitation and medical care, and that they are being prevented from the possibility of having a job. It does not bother the Biya regime and its collaborators that the Cameroonian children who are the major asset of this nation are being deprived of their right to education and training.
The Biya regime is even arrogant in its misrule by denying us our basic human rights, our freedom and the right to choose. It is even clear that this oligarchy is bent on denying us the access to our own brains. They expect us to stay docile or mute like dummies. The wrongs of the Biya regime are inexhaustible and cannot be justified. The true exponents of change are those who reject everything that condones the exploitation and oppression of one man by another and tags the exploiter and oppressor with the justifiable word “WRONG”.
In the struggle against the perpetrators of wrong, we are right. However, being right or being aware of the right and not ensuring its realization is a wrong in itself. We need to know that the task confronting us today is that of overcoming the wrong (the French-imposed system) and realizing the right (The New Cameroon through the Cameroonian ideal embodied in its union-nationalism). This task of overcoming the wrong is so colossal that many of us are divided over the approach to take and the extent to go. Over the years, each time that the exponents of change think or try to act in doing something about our plight, the question of how far we can go in correcting, dismantling and building crops up to divide us. This division is all the more disheartening and confusing due to our varying degrees of commitment to change. Why there should be this division while we are confronted by the agonizing wrong of the anachronistic French-imposed system is something few mortals can justify. However, we can clearly discern the divided forces:
1) Firstly are the ignoramuses, the indifferent, the skeptics and the cynics:
· The ignoramuses who fortunately constitute a small minority of the Cameroonian population are those who do not truly know what is theirs by right (their freedom, liberty and share of the Cameroon’s wealth) as citizens of the nation. It is because of their ignorance that they extol the custodians of this system for the handouts dished out to them, without being aware that they are being given hardly a decimal of what is theirs by right that has been stolen from them by the Biya regime. Make these ignoramuses to understand that their pathetic state, which they themselves abhor, is the responsibility of the system, and then we can rest assured and even boast that we have won powerful converts. Explain to them the objectives of the struggle and the turbulent phases it has gone through, and we shall be certain that we have trained the most reliable soldiers for the cause. These ignoramuses are aware of the fact that the handouts from the Biya regime cannot alleviate their misery.
· The indifferent are aware of the Cameroonian plight, but because they are in secure or comfortable positions, or because they have lost hope and are weary of the struggle, they have chosen to close their eyes, block their ears and pocket their noses. In short, they refuse to see or comprehend the wrong. What they need is a fresh spirit and a forceful engagement. And in a way, they can be made into remarkable assets for change.
· The skeptics and cynics can be said to want change, but doubt or distrust the change that the majority of Cameroonians are striving for. This may be due to their rigid attachment to outdated concepts, ties, futile dreams or their envy for not being the pillar in the struggle. They are perhaps the most retarding force outside the system.
2) The second futile or less committed force in the struggle for change are the liberals and moderates:
· The liberals accept the fact that the French-imposed system is anachronistic and unworkable and that it should be changed. However, they cannot come up with a realistic approach to change the system and an alternative system to replace it. It is because of their despair and fear of any action that would have to change the wrong system that they would engage in uncommitted moves or actions based on conciliatory rhetoric that instead serves the interest of the system than that of the struggle. When their rhetoric become indefensible, at a time that the true exponents of change have their backs to the wall in the tight corner of oppression, repression, extortion and deprivation, and see no other relieving option except the path of liberation (protest and resistance), our liberal in his deceptive ways opts out, which basically is giving in to the oppressive power of the system. However, the liberal would continue to talk of the wrong, agonize over it, and yet stay unwilling to fight against it because in his minor mind, the price for challenging the French-imposed system may result in more misery than it is presently the case.
However, the liberal fails to understand that though misery may be the price, it would be temporary and would end oppression and release the emotions, spirits, ideas and assets, which are all democratic and development forces that would ensure prosperity and security for the people. We only have to look at Bello Bouba Maigari, the leader of the National Union of Democracy and Progress (NUDP), to understand what I am talking about. The bed partners of the liberals are the moderates.
· The moderates also talk and work for change through the struggle without intending for a fundamental one. It is because of their desire for a partial change of the system that they have detached themselves from the present day Cameroonian reality and embraced a utopian notion of conciliation that promises nothing for the Cameroonian people .A clear example in sight is Adamou Ndam Njoya of the Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU).
Unfortunately for us in the Cameroonian struggle, these liberal and moderates constitute a potent force on the side of the exponents of change and easily whip up the support of those exponents of change who are without the revolutionary zeal or comprehension of the struggle for the New Cameroon framed on Cameroon’s union-nationalism. The greatest deception about these liberals and moderates is that they boast of their attachment to sobriety and the Cameroonian reality, which to them is devoid of a dream. But our struggle is basically that for the realization of our dream of true independence (unity, prosperity, freedom, self-confidence and an equal place in the community of nations). This true independence would culminate in interdependence with other progressive groupings and nations as an extension of our fraternity.
3) The third force are the confused and one-sided who are fervently fighting for causes that do not address the general Cameroonian plight, but rather address the plight of an ethnic group, religious belief, region or linguistic entity. The fact that they are deeply attached to their belief in the righteousness of their cause, and the fact that they consider all those who are not fully behind them as their enemies, this one-sided and confused force for change (which by their demands call for partiality), not only alienate themselves from potential allies for change, but also alienate themselves from the general objectives of the Cameroonian struggle that encompass their plight. And in a curious way without them really knowing it, they stall the wind of change because of their divisive actions and directions.
Unfortunately for the Cameroonian dream and the struggle, the true exponents of change, i.e. those who want a fundamental change of the system, are not fully organized. But their advance representatives who have fully mastered the demands of Cameroon’s union-nationalism can whip up the support of the ignoramuses, the indifferent, the skeptics and cynics, the liberals and moderates, and even the confused and one-sided, in order to give the Cameroonian people the true sense of purpose and direction that has eluded so many over the years.
That would be when we would be capable of getting rid of the mentality that has been created by the French-imposed system. With that step taken, Cameroonians would evolve from that stage of just wanting change to that of working for and realizing it. Such a prospect is possible only after we have cast aside our despairs and unwarranted suspicions, and blossom with the joy and exhilaration that the original Cameroon dream holds. Then hand in hand as committed union-nationalists, we would shout a loud No to the system, give it the final push to ensure its collapse and burial, and then see to it that the stinking corpse of the French-imposed system represented today by the Biya regime never rises again to haunt the new humanized Cameroonian system, which was realistically conceived in 1910.
March 23, 1995 Tchouteu Janvier