So they – they – crowned Mayor Patrick Ekema Esunge as Nyamoto Kpatolo, Bulu for “The Great Warrior”. But what would traditional rulers of the South have meant by that? Who is Ekema fighting against? Who receives and enjoys the booty from his “great conquests”?
Let me point this for starters: I have loads of sympathy for Mayor Ekema and have had occasion to say it to him and in my writings, some not too long ago in this column. I sometimes had the feeling he was being victimized by fellow Fako political elite as if he did not have the right to exist and breathe his own share of oxygen. I admired the way he fought hard (against their scheming) to mobilize potential CPDM voters ahead of party reorganization in 2015 before he was disqualified from the race. I thought his political brothers ought to live and let live Ekema. That was before the current Ambazonia revolution erupted. Since then, I have found him overzealous in trying to show, more than achieving any cost-effective results. (And in fairness to Ekema, I believe he is going farther afield in search of political godfathers because of hostility from home and threats to his political career in view of expected elections.)
Chief Effa Rene Desire of Mbone Nkok who led his peers in decorating Ekema in his capacity as President of the South Regional Chiefs’ Conference, said the Buea mayor earned the title thanks to his brave fight to preserve national unity, that is, by standing (supposedly) as a bulwark against the Ambazonia movement. So question is, when such a conferment comes from traditional rulers of the South – the ruling clan – how does it resonate with the rest of the country, especially Anglophones?
It is also about political communication and marketing. Or as communication experts may easily understand from Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message”, even a deserved title coming from the wrong forum in the wrong context may derive negative connotations. This one easily does. And this is nothing to do with negative characterization of the South; it is just the obvious.
The move was poorly calculated in both structure and content. Structure-wise, the casting for the awarder was poorly done. Were this title coming from the northern regions, West, East, or North West, it would be seen to be a statement from Cameroonians without obvious special interests. Had it come from the Littoral, it may have been viewed as coming from Sawa cousins and seen in the light of a Sawa “conspiracy” to throw the spanner in the works of the Anglophone struggle under the slogan that there is no Ambazonia nation because Southwesterners are Sawa while Northwesterners are Graffi. Yet, it would have been less controversial than one coming from the South who, for being the home-base of the President of the Republic and viewed as partakers of the privileged meal or “pays organisateur” as the late Eteba Eyene puts it, are major benefactors of the subjugation of former Southern Cameroonians. It secures their “chop farm”, kind of.
Straight to the point, Mayor Ekema is being rewarded for using the chains placed in his hands by those now rewarding him, to bind his Anglophone brothers, hush them to submission and deliver them a second time to their master. If anything is disputed in this political crisis, it is not the fact that Anglophones from wherever – whichever region – are victims of unfair domination and forms of exclusion which some have described as enslavement of an unconquered people. Whatever great conquest Ekema is supposed to have made to deserve praise from traditional rulers of the South tells its obvious story.
Lest I forget, resembling the Bulu Nyamoto, Nyama Moto in Ekema’s Mokpe (Bakweri language) literally translates to “Meat Man”. Certainly nothing to do with Ekema’s physical mass. Literarily, it could mean hunter of animals. Knowing that protesting former Southern Cameroonians – only protesting with peace plants, no weapons at the time in September-October 2017 – were described as dogs by who we know, can it be understood that the South is saluting Ekema for hunting those dogs? Na tok di bring tok!
By the way, has Ekema been effectively hunting any “dogs”? He seems to have been agitating more than acting and achieving anything. Ghost towns are still effective in Buea. He is not the bane of the Ambazonia movement as some paid stories suggested.
Mancho Bibixy: riot victim or school campaigner?
What message will be received by those believed to be warming up to the end of school lockdown as a result of a call from Mancho Bibixy after his reported tribulations following the Yaounde prison riots?
If indeed those who follow their role models blindly are joining the back-to-school calls because of Mancho; if anyone, including those who stood against back-to-school, were changing their minds simply because their role models made the call, shall such persons still be warming up or are they now waxing cold? Can you trust the person who whips the hand that bears the torch that points the light to an uncertain destination to you?
The suspense over the fate of Mancho who was whisked out of the Kondengui prison as one of the ringleaders of the prison mutiny, is yet to be cleared, though tensions that built up over allegations that he might have been tortured to death do not seem to have dissipated.
Yet a curiosity remains. Some might have thought Mancho’s call for school resumption meant he was a “collaborateur” of the Yaounde regime against the Amabzonia cause or that he was, by that, scheming to win sympathy from the authorities to benefit from some form of clemency towards, perhaps, an early release from jail. Do they still think so? And the authorities who might have pounced on Mancho at the slightest opportunity to whip an already over-bled horse, did they think about the effect that might have on “his” back-to-school campaign?
AFCON, CHAN: danger for Cameroon again!
I urge you to take seriously the now “disclaimed” hint that Algeria has its eyes on the African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon in 2020 and perhaps AFCON 2021, also to be hosted by Cameroon. Take it seriously. Do not listen to political talk and lame media campaigns to distract the public from the crux of the matter.
For a number of reasons. Because there is no smoke without fire, the declaration by the Algeria Sport Minister that they have been requested to get set as plan B for AFCON 2021 could be revealing.
“Algeria has been told to prepare, should the 2021 AFCON be withdrawn from Cameroon. We hope that they will host the tournament. The government has given the go ahead to the Algerian Football Federation to make a bid if Cameroon fails to meet up. We have the means to organize the Africa Cup of Nations, the stadiums are ready. We saw what Egypt did, they had to renovate their stadiums to standard with just a limited period of six months”, Raouf Bernaoui said. Though the minister did not say who told Algeria to prepare, this cannot be waved off.
Secondly, this second threat to Cameroon’s hosting of AFCON 2021 cannot be dissociated from its CHAN hosting. CHAN 2020 was awarded to Cameroon as a second resort after it was withdrawn from Ethiopia to permit Cameroon use it as a dress rehearsal for AFCON 2021. Should AFCON 2021 be hanging on a string, there cannot be too much guarantees for CHAN 2020. And what about the understanding that Cameroon and CAF have been contemplating moving CHAN 2020 from January to June, not only to align to the new calendar applied for the first time in this year’s AFCON in Egypt, but also because Cameroon are showing signs of unpreparedness in the next six months?
In the fire-fighting reactions by Cameroonian authorities, FECAFOOT’s Seidou Mbombo Njoya did not even as much as reassure the public that Cameroon infrastructure was ready or would be ready in time. He rather pegged his morale-boosting talk on Algeria, thankfully quoting another Algerian official that their minister’s comments were interpreted out of context. At least the words cited above are unambiguous, are they? And how did Cameroon become so vulnerable that its chances of survival should only depend on another country’s goodwill not to challenge its bid, like Morocco “thankfully” withdrew its bid for AFCON 2019 which Cameroon still lost anyway.
If Cameroon doubts itself, it is not Algeria or CAF that ought to be too sure. Plan B is handy. Cameroon must render it unnecessary by meeting up. AFCON 2019 withdrawal fears were disputed many times but they came to pass. By the way, CAF has not disclaimed the hints. I urge you to take them seriously until you see delegations arriving in January or June 2020 because Algeria is really on standby until then.
Ivory Coast: tale of shuffling alliances
Two Ivorian former presidents, Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo met in Brussels last week and contemplated a political alliance against current president, Alassane Ouatarra. Former Prime Minister and Ouatarra ally Guillaume Soro is expected to join them in an emerging broad coalition to challenge Ouatarra in the 2020 election.
Ten (and five) years ago, it was the race against Gbagbo (recently released provisionally from ICC jail), especially in the 2010 election when the Ouatarra-Bedie alliance was supported by Soro, then still Gbagbo’s PM. At that time the bonding factor of the alliance was their common Houphouetist roots. Ouatarra was PM under the late founding president Felix Houphouet Boigny and Bedie was his House Speaker and eventual successor. Both men had clashed in a bitter power struggle when Ouatarra, who had practically been acting president during Houphouet’s long months of illness before his death in 1993, tried to “seize” or “remain” in power. Bedie carried the day. The constitution was on his side. It provided that the House Speaker was the constitutional successor. The bitterness that followed Bedie’s the exclusionist “Ivorite” that prohibited Ouatarra from running for president (doubting his Ivorian origins), followed by Gbagbo after he came to power in the year 2000, did not stand in the way of the two men coming together to challenge incumbent Gbagbo in 2010. They buried the hatchet.
Now, Bedie’s Partie democratique de la Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) and Ouatarra’s own civil war ally, Soro are coming together to challenge him. Hard to tell how the three men, each with personal presidential ambitions, plan to share the booty if they get it. Soro is looking forward to it, Gbagbo and Bedie are looking backward to it, but Bedie may look more and more to his detractors as a permanent challenger while those who salute his role may reason that he is on a permanent peace mission to always help the aggrieved candidate to achieve their dream and in so doing diffuse tension in the country and lay the ground for national reconciliation.
Trumpism tearing allies apart
Japan and South Korea are America’s top allies in Asia. Next door are its foes, North Korea, China and Russia. It is not these three who are the saddest when bonds slacken between America and its allies or between America’s allies; it is good news for them. They are currently on a trade war, rooted in historical bitterness.
Commenting on the South Korea-Japan trade row last week, BBC’s Julian Marshall wondered on News Hour how Trump let America’s allies to slide into a dispute. That is what the world is asking. But only those who have not been projecting are wondering now.
Such cracks on the wall are the result of Trump withdrawing the US from its paternalistic role among its allies to that of competitor. Certainly, bankrolling the burden of leader of the alliances is heavy on the US taxpayer, but leadership comes with its costs. America has always borne such costs economically and militarily, sweating under the weight, but not complaining because of the reward – the image of Big Brother. Until Trump came with his world view driven by the sound of coins and also – I still believe – naïve or conscious manipulation by Russia to weaken the alliances that made America look great.
Trump came to power threatening America’s own allies with trade wars and disputes over military spending that suggest their bonds may fall into disarray in the long run. South Korea versus Japan is a manifestation of it. When America’s allies turn against each other and each seeks new alliances or have none to turn to, America’s enemies will come marauding. She will be all the more vulnerable to attacks from its enemies. Guess how Japan would react if South Korea came under attack now from North Korea or Russia.