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Cameroon: 50 years of “independence”: beyond celebrating logos

April 22, 2010

As the count down to the celebration or call it commemoration of 50 years of Cameroon's independence or better still autonomy narrows, there are many commentaries on what we are actually celebrating. We need to reflect beyond logos, eating and dancing. FCFA 5 billion was set aside to be squandered for the event while basic service delivery remains lacking. While most Cameroonians commemorate 50 years of relayed oppression, this time around not directly by colonial forces but by their own brothers, other Cameroonians are celebrating 50 years of domination.  50 years of just two presidents. 50 years of continuous appointment of the same clan of people ruining the country from sons to daughters, brothers, sisters and uncles and nieces.

Cameroon: 50 years of  “independence": beyond celebrating logos.

As the count down to the celebration or call it commemoration of 50 years of Cameroon independence or better still autonomy narrows, there are many commentaries on what we are actually celebrating.

Initially, there were two entities, one being the Republic of Cameroon which gained independence on January 1, 1960 and the other, West Cameroon which obtained independence by joining the Republic of Cameroon in 1961. So, celebrating the 50 anniversary in May makes many to wonder which of the independence we are celebrating. However, that may be academic rhetoric. I would prefer to focus on the practical issues facing Cameroon and Cameroonians.

Just as in the build up to most celebrations, it was with pomp and fanfare that the official logo for the anniversary was released in Yaoundé on April 20. I do not want to delve into the choice of the third logo as the official logo while the logo that won the contest worth FCFA 5 million was sidelined. Some people may smell some financial foul play with regards to this but, the argument may be killed by the fact that the three logos were already the properties of government and the latter could use at it wants.

Without any detail analysis of the logo, it affirms that there are young talented Cameroonian artists who desperately need to be nurtured. I do not want to belabour the point of national unity as portrayed by the artists because it is the song that has been repeated over and over, though one may really question the degree of efforts aimed at solidifying the union.

What has Cameroon got to show off as we celebrate the 50 years of independence? Is it infrastructure, good health services, improved quality of education, freedom, what really? Yet, it is a pity that FCFA 5 billion was dedicated to this stuff and most of that budget is going on consumption such as rewards of dance groups, fuel, brown envelops for some guests, food, communication, mission allowances and general logistics. Coincidentally, the way the budget is spent is just how Cameroon is managed with much focus on consumption than investment. Take a look at the budget of any council in Cameroon, or the government, then, you would realised that most of the budget goes on mission allowances, meeting sessions, salaries etc. I am not saying workers should not be paid. But quite often, the money collected as taxes is the same booty shared among members (workers) with no real long-term profitable investments. It was the same thing with the squandering of FCFA 90 million to receive an already overpaid coach of a sport that is brining Cameroon nothing apart from its profits being ripped by political opportunists. Ironically Cameroon are languishing in poverty.

Choosing to celebrate the event in Bamenda would have been an ideal opportunity for the government to accomplish the overdue promise of the Bamenda ring road. The construction of such a road and calling it the 50 Anniversary Ring Road would have been wonderful.  The economic turn over of such an investment is immeasurable.

The FCFA 5 billion being squandered for this event was enough to change the lives of several Cameroonians in term of rural electrification, supply of pipe born water, construction of health infrastructure, provided the money was well used. But organising an event and sharing the booty among organisers are some of the things which have made us fail to kick off. This short-term term rather than long term reasoning.

Senegal celebrated its own anniversary with a $27 million monument, larger than the Liberty Square. It also announced the withdrawal of French occupation troops from its territory. Though some disagreements may surround the construction of the monument just as many projects in Africa, the monument itself may not be a bad investment because it is physical and would probably be a tourist attraction. It is a better evil unlike in Cameroon where there is nothing to accompany the celebrations.

The FCFA 5 billion could be used to construct and equip a state of the art hospital that would carter for Cameroonians and name it 50 Anniversary Hospital. As a matter of fact if not of the high birth rate, our population could one day come no near extinction because there is no hospital in Cameroon. But for the Catholic Church and a few other missionary health services, the Cameroon health sector would have already collapsed like the Zimbabwean economy did some months back. This is the reason why most senior government officials, their families and collaborators do their medical check up out of the country instead of building our health service delivery.

While most Cameroonians commemorate 50 years of relayed oppression, this time around not directly by colonial forces but by their own brothers, other Cameroonians are celebrating 50 years of domination.  50 years of just two presidents. 50 years of continuous appointment of the same clan of people to ruining the country from sons to daughter, brothers, sisters and uncles and nieces. After 50 years, our rulers have failed to build a reliable banking system, instead the steal and stashed the country’s wealth in foreign banks.

Independence or Autonomy?

Legally Cameroon may be independent because we have a seat at the UN, we have an army, we have our representatives in most countries, and so do we host other embassies. But technically we are still neither really autonomous nor near independent. The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines autonomy as: “The right of a group of people to govern itself or to organise its own activities.” And it defines independence as “freedom from being governed or ruled by another country” and “the ability to live your life without being helped or influenced by other people.”

We do not fit in any category above because a high degree of our power is still with the colonial master and the sell-outs who have been ruling us. They have refused to give power to the people.

Giving power to the people is inextricably link to holding free and fair elections. It is effective decentralisation. It is conducting free and fair elections for other positions such as governors and scrapping colonial positions like Divisional and sub divisional officers as well as government delegates.

Socially, economically or politically, most things are stilly largely wanting in Cameroon. What explains the fact that Cameroon and member countries of the FCFA cannot break away from this currency. The plot to devalue our currency visa vis the French franc on the wake of France joining the Euro is clear proof that there is no independence or that our leaders are really stupid. What accounts for the reason why most economic operators in the sub region are French people? The complexity in the functioning of COBAC and its negative influence on our economy and banking sector is pitiful. All these because the structure itself is not made of independent minds.

Politically, one of our leaders is alleged to have admitted that he is a good student of Francois Mitterrand and the latter was the founder of the neo colonial France-Afrique. Our president frequently lives out of the country from where he signs decrees but these are unacceptable political actions in any sovereign state. How can our leaders govern us freely and with good will when they have stolen our money and stashed in France, London, USA, Monaco and Switzerland where they equally have assets. To therefore govern for the interest of Cameroonians would be a suicide mission for them.

The race for presidential election in 2011 is building up and one of the suppose candidate who is yet to declared his intention but being described by the press as winning the favour of France. When our press continues to still reason from the angle that France or other foreign leaders must approve of our own leaders, it implies it will take centuries of mental emancipation and decolonisation of the mind for Africa, Cameroon to positively evolve.

* It should be noted that according to Le Messager, FCFA 100 billion was allocated for a one year span festivities (May 2010-May 2011) of Cameroon's  50 years of "independence and re-unification". Curiously, nothing was allocated for water or electricity. Most of the money would go to entertainment, painting of a few buildings, and mission allowances of officials.

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Well done.No comments.

you have said it all but where do we start?

This is an insight into our rotten society. This article says it all. Hope those sycophants can steal some valuable time and thoroughly read through. There is a bunch of lunatics, who think that Biya is omnipotent and immortal. When Biya’s apparent perpetuity shall answer the divine call, we are going to hold them accountable. Even Biya’s carcass shall be exhumed, cremated and the ashes chucked in Sanaga. Thankfully their days are numbered.

Its a pity that Cameroonians are celebrating their doom come May 20. The problem is not only with Southern Cameroonians but even French Cameroonians are suffering the scorpion's bite from the continuous indirect repressive french regime. Look at the Bollore's and many others? Is it only Sounthern Anglophones gnashing its teeth? No!!! Everyone is in the mess. The only way we can get rid of the so-called French masters is to change those at the top in our country. Sarkozy a blatant liar said France-Afrique has come to an end yet he is inviting Presidents of France's former colonies to celebration's of France's National Day on July 14 in France. Am I supposed to say this is a Sarkozy-Afrique relationship and not France-Afrique as initially was the case?

REALLY,AS ONE BROTHER MENTIONED,NO COMMENT.GOOD WORK.

peace transcends all. while we seek progress, it most be done in a a peacefull manner. no point having a developed nation with no citizens

this is how the 5oth anniversary was to be celebrated. but Cameroon is a land for Dictators and due to fear f lost of jobs, it is better left unsaid than said.

I think some of your observations are very just. It's good that you have given us some interesting points. It's a useful article, I certainly would recommend it to all of my friends.

lets keep on with the efforts we will succeed one day



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