An Open Letter to Cameroonians…





Dear fellow Cameroonian,
How are you? I hope fine, though I doubt it. I doubt it because I hear you grumbling all the time.
One of my earliest memories is of family gathered at an Aunts house at Ecole de Poste, Yaoundé. It was a small two bedroom apartment with cold walls and a musty smell as a result of being built on the marshes. As we children sat on the grey concrete floors poorly covered with a tattered plastic carpet we listened to the adults grumbling about the president and the ruling party, CPDM, as the members marched in a parade televised. As groups marched with their right hand over their hearts and their left hands raised adoringly towards the president in salute, we heard the grownups speculate and mumble about how millions were being mismanaged; how this person or that was being bribed or bribing; how SDF should have won the ’92 elections; etc.
That memory has re-occurred in different houses with different Cameroonian relatives and why not, in different countries at different times of my life. The grumbling is always there; in a taxi or bus as we dodge crater-like pot-holes or stop to give some uniform-wearer (I don’t want to spoil the term title: police officer) a thousand francs note. It is there when salaries are delayed because of some technicality that has to be corrected only in some illusive office in Yaounde (and correction is not for free o!).There is grumbling when the latest shake down reveals that 20 billion had been embezzled (the money you shall never see), there is grumbling when’ concours’ are written registering 20.000 candidates for just 20 spots to be filled, there is grumbling when election time comes around and we see no change, there is grumbling in the church, there is grumbling at schools when teachers see their salaries and the size of their classes, when students are about to graduate and join the sea of unemployed, there is grumbling in the hair dressing salons and poisonneries (cold stores) when lights go off for days and there is no one to hold accountable. No one to query for the days of business services and goods lost. There is grumbling in the bars, almost always in the bars, over bottles of Guinness and 33 Export no matter the price per bottle….
Till I came to the conclusion recently that my dear beloved Cameroonians, we have what one would call a “form of discontent”. We give the impression of displeasure but it is all a charade. A very inbred charade. For our actions show that we are content just the way we are. Now dear brother don’t get upset because the truth hurts. Let me prove my point eh? Let me show you how I know you are content, let me show you why…
I know you are content because you talk much but do nothing. And even when you do, it is not to solve/address the problem but to eat your own share of the national cake. Case in point; those who have set up one of the over 200 political parties in the opposition, who we hear nothing about till election year when they vie for “campaign allowances” never to be heard from again.
 I know you are content because you do not show up for elections, saying “after all what will change?” Well, nothing will if you don’t do something. I know you are content because you invest ten times the energy you would need to address your situation in Cameroon into the glorious pursuit for a foreign visa or blue passport…
I know you are content because you are ever ready and willing to bribe your way through the ‘concours’, the red tape in offices, the not having all car documents etc. and of course you expect a little “motivation” when it is your turn too.
I know you are content because you ignore your history and as a result repeat it.
 I know you are content because rather than fighting for your own language not to be considered “les patois la” you learned to speak theirs…
I know you are content because you, yes you my neighbor who had grumbled about how “this man needs to step down” “this man is spending our money in France” “This man is a shame of a leader” after all that grumbling, I saw you run to the road when you heard his car was coming up from Mutengene. I watched you and many others who had grumbled and insulted that “shameful leader” I saw you people jump up and down in ecstasy waving your hands in the air and smiling. And not a hint of grumbling could be evidenced. It was as if you were not all the same grumblers, like you had forgotten or forgiven that which had disgruntled you, including the gendarme standing before us with tear gas and other weapons in his hands and belts ever ready to attack should we attempt to go too close.
I know you are content because for over 30 years the same person has ruled you and you have done nothing but talk behind his back then fawn over him with wishes of “many more years” and motions of support when put on the podium (Ah ah! You could at least say “no comment” than to do that about turn na).
I know we are content because we don’t yearn for change as much as we yearn for a chance to be posted or given some title or the other which would grant us our own share of the national cake…then we do all the things we have formerly complained about.
I know you are content because you left from Tombel, Bafut palaces, Jakiri, Akwaya and Bakassi (even Bakassi oh!) to march past in parade before a man you had grumbled and complained about. You are definitely content because you even brought him gifts. Chiefs and Fons bowed low and carted heavy “symbols of their respect and admiration” till I was sure the foreigners in the grand stand were envious of the adulation.
 I’m sure you are content because that is the impression you give the head of state whenever he takes time out of his busy jaunts and decides he cares enough to look. You hurriedly fix roads, forcefully repaint houses, build new structures with some money that was there but somehow not here.

 Yes, you are content and Sister mine, I know why. I don’t blame you at all oh!
Why would you not be content when landing a government matricule is the equivalent of winning the jackpot (to be paid in small monthly amounts of course)? As some say “You care you go work, you care you go play Solitaire you go still receive your 150K “
 Why would you not be content when state University education is 50.000frs up to PhD! (we have never cared to check who is doing the subsidization) and then that same 50.000frs is being given back at the end of the year, and we take oh! In fact we strike to take.
Why would we not be content in a country where if someone steps on your toes (and you have enough money) you could always get the police to “handle them” (what poor man knows their rights enough to speak out)? Why would we not be content when there is always a way to bribe/pay out of a sticky situation, or into a better one?
Why would we not be content with a president who stays in power for years on end when for us to hand over as president of harvest committee in church is a problem (we know the taste of power and like it just as much as any bottled drink)?
Why would you not be content when our first lady represents us well, the majority of happy bleachers in our population and our president does what most of us would do if we were him?
 Why would we not be happy when there are two drinking bars for every church?
Why would we not be happy when the performance of our football team is more of a priority and gets more analysis on the national news station than the annual budget?
Why would we not be happy when despite the tribalism and nepotism being as rampant as they are, they benefit us every once in a while… it is like playing Wheel of Fortune, you win, you lose… The fact is there are disadvantages in our underdevelopment. To whom little is given little is required.
Of course we should be content, we don’t have the Boko Haram of our brother west of us in Nigeria (who somehow thrive despite the wahala), we do not have the starvation and malnutrition of our neighbors up in Tchad, and thank God we don’t have the gruel slaughtering of the C.A.R. We are content with good reason, we are too nonchalant to strive for better, and all too aware of the “worse” all around us to risk the passive peace that we enjoy…
But my comrade, fellow Cameroonian in this letter I have only one thing to ask you: Please stop talking while eating. It is disgusting, it is unsightly and it is damn annoying. Why grumble with the same mouth you just used to give “motion for support”? What makes me say all this now you may wonder? Let me answer you.
This past week the president had an official visit to the southwest supposedly for the celebration of the reunification of Cameroon which happened 53 years ago. The week’s program included a debate as starters which casually outlined some parts of history and just as casually omitted some others. I don’t want to go through a history lesson here. But I will outline a few points just for thought;
1-       On the 1st of January 1960 La Republique du Cameroun gained independence from France (Though our relations today say different. But that’s another story)
2-       A year and a month later, British southern Cameroons held a plebiscite on the 11th of February to decide whether to join the Federal Republic of Nigeria as another state or return to their brothers and be one. They mostly chose the latter (despite E.M.L Endeley’s warnings)
3-       A conference at Foumban later had a constitution drawn up for the Federal Republic of Cameroon where West Cameroon (Former British Southern Cameroon) and East Cameroon (Former La Republique)would each govern themselves. Their own resources and culture etc would remain theirs but of course under one federal leader: A president and Vice from each state respectively.
4-     On the 1st of October 1961 as Nigeria gained independence so did Anglophone Cameroon. And on that day we re-unified with our brothers of La Republique.
5-        Fast forward years of peace and relative prosperity later… Biafra occurs in Nigeria and scares our then president. He decides that a federation is too shaky - not consolidated enough - and he wants to ensure that the whole country remains “one” especially as oil has been “discovered” in the West. He cannot just break the constitution so he sacks his Vice President (an obstacle and easily replaceable one) and then organizes a referendum on the 20th of May 1972. On this day citizens all over the country are asked to choose if “They would want a United and Indivisible Cameroon?” (I’m sure most of them thought they already had that). It gets interesting … underneath that question (it is said) the options were “Yes or Oui” for bilingualism of course (read in your most sarcastic voice). So there was no way out and that is how we became the United Republic of Cameroon…
6-      Some many years later after an attempted coup and without much ado or reason… our current president dropped the “united” such that what is now printed on our passports just reads “La Republique Du Cameroun”.

Now that you have those clearly outlined facts, let me query you on what exactly we celebrated this past week? Has our history not been distorted? Every year on the 1st of October a CRTV journalist proclaims another hooray to note La Republique’s anniversary of independence, but if you can recall on the 1st of October gendarmes swarm the roads of the Anglophone regions not permitting them to hoist flags or celebrate what was not only their independence day but as the President himself noted in his most recent speech THE REUNIFICATION DAY. Why is that day not our national day? Why do we rather celebrate a day as of 1972 on which most of the country was tricked? Why is 11th of February not recognized in the memory of the plebiscite but camouflaged under the cover of “youth day” (International Youth Day is celebrated on 12th of August)? Why are we finally celebrating our golden anniversary of reunification on the 20thof February, 2014? A day of NO historical consequence not to mention 3 years late! And then our leader casually quips “Better late than never” which reminds me of his “les Apprentis Sorciers” of 2008. But above all I want to ask my fellow Cameroonians why they allow it?
Why not show that you know your history, your right from your wrong? In the making of the reunification monument was any care given to incorporate symbols of our past? Heroes? Dates? Anything? This past week you we were given the opportunity to defend our own. To do something for ourselves and once again we did nothing but fawn at the person we deride on a daily basis. The president is beginning to look like someone with a country full of “fair-weather” friends. I do not blame him for a SINGLE flaw in this country because at the end of the day not only do we passively encourage it by doing nothing, we actively destroy ourselves.
So dear brother, dear sister I appeal to you to SHUT UP and STOP THE GRUMBLING, stop complaining about this or that, because you are the problem, not the president. I have never seen the president stand on the road to collect a 500 FRS note as bribe. I have never seen the president go to an office to pay to have their child’s name added to a list. I have never seen the president at Soa with money striking a deal to “buy” results. I have never seen the president force a young university girl to sleep with him for a pass in a course. I have never seen the president discriminate between his girl and boy child as to who goes to school or who gets married. I have never seen the president sell the same land twice as some “royalty” do.
You know those “Christians” prone to say “satan made me do it” or “It is the work of the devil” when caught red-handed in crime? That is how you sound when you blame the President for the bad road in your quarter or the fact that you have not had electrical power for days on end. People (yourself included) are responsible for so much and fail to go to work on time, fail to do what they are supposed to and in their lack of functioning things fail. Don’t blame one man for what would not have happened if a 1000 of us cared for more than getting our own share of national cake! So dear brother/sister I write to you pleading. Please stop grumbling, you sound like a broken record.
 Sincerely, the Youth Watching You…

Comments

  1. Entoute ca!
    Hope lost is ...... deferred..... That's the bottom line of all these grumbling.
    The Gospel only the Gospel can set them free!!! Payisan's don't loose hope. If only those times they take to grumble it could be used for...... the righteous are as BOLD as a LION....
    Grumbling = meditating on discontent.

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  2. This article is too excellent. It's the bitter truth. We are the ones who have destroyed our dear father-land.

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  3. Great piece. This is what you should be doing. Perfect the act. It's your calling.

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  4. This is piece of writing is to be reckoned with.I have to re-read it.lol.Truth all the way..I love it..You presented the facts..no finger pointing. We are all to blame..lol!

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  5. High order palava finding hahahaha! Can I reblog this in my weekly #TheyWantCoshWe post?

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    1. Feel free to re-blog dear. Its an open letter, may it travel.

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  6. Spot on! Thank you for posting!

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  7. Simply put, and easy to understand. I wish there was a copy of this in French.

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  8. Very articulate and the bitter truth.

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  9. Monique. ... first I laughed, then I cried. .. spot on baby girl spot on!

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  10. Well penned and articulated.You couldn't have said it any better Monique.Keep it up.

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  11. Spot on sis! I love the part ...satan made me do it, or it is the work of the devil! Aren't we all looking for some to blame? We've got to be man enough to accept we fell and this because we weren't wearing our sandals! Great write-up! Definitely looking forward to more. Check me out here-> www.lovewordz.com

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  12. NIce combination of wit and fact. Truth is that 99% of those of us grumbling are only grumbling because we do not have the opportunity to cheat, not because we care about our father-land. Cameroon can only go forward when our mind sets change.

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  13. Facts, Truth and Beautiful but it needs an editor. It sounds like improved pidgin pls. this could go far but work on it. Courage

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  14. Waoh, it is so great!

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  15. These couldn't be better said!! you were right all the way. LET'S ( you inclusive) be the change we want!!!!

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    1. Indeed, we should sew new seeds for change. I am attempting to do just that with Better Breed Cameroon. Join us
      https://www.facebook.com/BetterBreedCameroon

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  16. Beautiful... enjoyed the honesty in this.

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  17. I am Cameroon is here to change all that
    https://www.facebook.com/Jesuislecameroun
    http://jesuislecameroun.wordpress.com

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    1. And I'm a fan of the I am Cameroon Movement. My association Better Breed Cameroon does similar work https://www.facebook.com/BetterBreedCameroon

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  18. Nice article. I will disagree with you on not blaming the President. It is normal that when things are going wrong in the house, a father takes his responsibilities and get things done correctly. For over 32years, the lack of democratic transition has been a major drawback to our development. The system of governance via centralization of powers has proven its lapses for long now but still we keep all in papers (decentralisation). Corruption has become a culture and the principle of divide to rule is most active. The patriotic spirit is no more and most of our youths and graduates have turned to call boxers, okada drivers, scammers in other to sustain life. I only have a negative balancesheet abt this president and his government. There is another government in prison with former secretary generals at the Presidency and PM. All appointed by this president who is head of all the institutions in the country. Please stop blaming Cameroonians for they have taken alot from this regime and today families are more divided today than in the 1960's (Ahijo's Era). This president has been sleeping alot and spends abt 90days out of his country each year. Can he not make his home conduisive for living and stop spending tax payers money!!!!!!!!! To change we need a top-botttom discipline. The article 66 of our constitution must be respected by all. The president must preach change by setting the example. Today the only achievemement for this regime, is that even children needs to be bribed to do work in the house. I think in your second letter to Cameroonians, kindly bring out the responsibilities of our president and his government for 32years of rule. Example. in the case of a football team, whenever a manager is recruited, he is given a budget to recruited players that will deliver the results over a precise duration and if results are not forthcoming he is sacked or he resigns. Same for the President, he has been voted for over 5 mandates (32 years), appointed his different governments and given a budget for their work. All Cameroonian get as results is emblezzlement, misappropriation, poor roads, no electricity, no water even in the so called capital (Yaounde), just to name a few. It hurts Cameroonians so much, that they are being abused day after day of their basic rights and what do they recieve in return, promises, threats (apprenti sociers) and no report / balance sheet of the running of their country. Once the President admits his incompetency, resigns and apologise to all Cameroonians, a transition government put in place, new elections conduction with all 200parties streamlined to 3 major parties, the head of government and ministers dismissed, a reconciliation commission created for the anglo-franco prob, the electoral code adjusted with elections in 2 rounds, an independent anti corruption unit voted with a mandate of 10 years by the National assembly and accountable to the this house be created and more. If these propositions are adopted, then Cameroonians will gladly stop grumbling and start working to change and build their country, for the right people will be managing their institutions, so then we will become an emerging country come 2035. Without this happening so soon, then our best talents will take foreign nationalities and prefer to contribute to the growth of these countries than theirs. Thanks for sharing. Blessings

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  19. In a taxicab from Education office in Buea to Molyko, around the time the president is to visit Buea. The driver says, " na only one man d come so dem d broke broke road, fix fix things dem all side so?" Then one Papa (I'm sure is SDF) said," dem d fix the road for wetin? so so chop people dem money...this contri no fit change if dem no move e..." Then I asked on question, " wona sabi say na President of The republic of Cameroon d come visit for Buea so? Tell me one country wey when president d go visit for occasion of such magnitude wey preparations no d be? Make wona no just d talk any how. When ya pikin/broda comot Europe for come spend crismos holiday, wona d paint house, clear grass, even make sure say shower for bathroom wey e nova flow for the last two years try work. Then President for the nation d come dem fix place wona d want complain. Yes things dem rough but I no think say na when dem remove e wey things go better. Na when we change wey things go change.Take for example, dem don talk say grand chantier for Cameroon, you dey here d complain rather than for believe say true true things dem d happen like that. ALl this work wey d go on for Buea now so, you don sell how many bag cement for who, or take contract for build who e house, or supply workers for which project? Or u want make na Popol come tell you make you do am?. You d complain na wetin for here so noh Papa? And na so wona d pass the wona complain attitude for younger generation. Rather than instilling them with spirit of hardwork and entrepreneurship"...." ...ehn! for Ahidjo e time things dem be better! what do you know young man? wona just come d talk talk.You are too young. That man has spoiled this country.If e remain for there nothing good no go come for this country." " Pa, I be your pikin be I no be small pikin. Wetin good you want make e be for this country if no be good wey e come for an individual? If u d wait say make dem make annoncement for Luncheon Date say govmen d divide money for Bongo square u d fool yourself. Young guys like elders dem d make millions from this small visit wey president d visit so. u dey here d complain. Take the case of hygiene: if person no fit decide for chop banana so choweh the canda inside bin you want make na who tell e say no be correct thing wey e d do am? Taximan, how many of wona get all papers for motor? small time when small control dey, wona d act like James Bond. Massa wona lef talk. If we want make contri change, make we start change. Taximan, make wona decide for wona meeting say taxi wey e no get book no d enter road, then all wona go make wona books dem. then when control dey wona deny for give choko weda something go happen.when taxi people for Kumba hear am so, dem follow suit, small small choko for road go loss. or na lie I talk?" Then the driver said," but eske na all man go go make e doki dem for motor? even if we do how, d commissaire dem wey dem get taxi dem for outside no go make book. But na say if we union trong we fit deny make that kind taxi dem no enter road. na true wey u talk oh." What is my point with this recollection: complaining has become the order of the day. The older generation is passing it on to the younger generation. That is not productive. It only breeds generations of lazy Cameroonians enslaved by their lack of constructive thoughts. Cameroon has won the bid to host AFCON 2019. Opportunities for young Cameroonians to breakthrough. But they will be watching and talking about those who made it. Change is coming to Cameroon, I'd rather be on the right side of this change, anytime

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    1. Love this! Sorry for the late response. Only seeing
      this comment today

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  20. I agree with most of this write up Monique. I usually think that we are under a spell and often wonder what it would take for us to snap out of it. Years go by and nothing changes. Ours is a system that leaves no room for innovation and change. I invite all The 'Youth Watching' to help us out here by answering these questions: WHAT IS THE WAY OUT, WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD?

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