The Cameroon Bar Association has just gone through another session of elections in the course of which a new team has been put in place to run the affairs of the Bar for another term. We can only appreciate the fact that it all went well, in strict keeping with the rules of the game. We equally believe that this should constitute itself into an example that should be emulated by the broad spectrum of society when it comes to the call for us to examine our consciences while holding public offices. We are impressed with Barrister Ngnie Kamga, the outgone president of the Bar council, which is the decision-making body of the Cameroon Bar Association, in his rare decision to step down voluntarily, even after he was elected as a member of the council. His stepping down might not have been from the bottom of his heart, but we want to believe it bore a message for elective-office-holders, more so in our Cameroonian context, where perpetuity in office remains a pride
However like in all situations where the replacement of humans in positions of trust occur, such as what we have just experienced after the elections at the Bar, new faces tend to illuminate the dark chambers of our expectations, for what these new faces will do to reanimate the status core. If well-thinking Cameroonians are asked the question about the impact of the Bar Association on the social structure of society, the answer will certainly not be encouraging. The Bar is seen as not having put enough of their weight behind socio-political issues that are today rocking the very foundation of the state of Cameroon. The same right-thinking Cameroonians will tell you that there has been a generation gap between the Yondo Blacks and the Ben Munas, of the early nineties, and the present.
The era of the Yondo Blacks witness a concerted approach to issues whenever the interest of the state came into conflict with the supreme interest of the citizens. The aftermath of the 1992 presidential elections produced tensions that nearly grounded the state. Time and again the Bar was in action with statements and declarations that encouraged the voiceless population to be heard. In fact the Bar assumed its role as the voice of the voiceless. It clamoured for certain rights of the citizen which the regime seemed to perceive as sacred.
In other words a vibrant Bar can always exert its influence in finding such provisions of the constitution that have been violated by the machinery of the state and draw the attention of government on such violations through legal procedures which they, as professionals, know best how to follow up. The constitution of a country is perceived as the fundamental law of the land from which any other laws tap their credibility, particularly in areas that relate to the relationship between the state and its citizens. To be precise, where the fundamental rights of the citizen come into conflict with the rights of the state as stated in the constitution.
The just concluded elections at the Bar have produced new faces no doubt, but we still want to believe these new faces should come up with a more dynamic vision of society, such that should constantly send the regime back to the drawing board in reassessing its actions whenever it becomes necessary. It would also not be out of place to revisit the Common Lawyers’ strike which actually was a warning shot to remind government that the weather is gloomy. In fairness to the present generation of the Bar, we cannot pretend not to have noticed the reaction of government towards their initiative. But its abrupt end is what seems to give the impression that there is something wrong underneath, and this could just as well be founded on the nature of our bicultural set up, which is bound to impose a division within the Bar. This is unfortunate. We have therefore seen new faces we are however also waiting to see a corresponding new spirit towards a direction.