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Road Companion to Democracy and Meritocracy

Further Essays from an African Perspective

Godfrey B. Tangwa

Publication Year: 2010

Each of the essays in this book is marked by a certain simplicity and clarity, a seriousness tinged with humour, masking a profundity that are unmistakably characteristic of Godfrey B. Tangwa alias Rodcod Gobata, one of the leading critical minds amongst Cameroonians. The essays are centred on the theme of democracy and meritocracy which the author believes to be the pre-conditions for genuine development in Africa. The immediate focus of these essays is Cameroon, a country remarkable for experimenting with French/English bilingualism and for having a political dictatorship which claims, wrongly or rightly, to have transformed itself into a democracy; but they are equally relevant to other countries in Africa and beyond. Each of the essays stands alone but they are all telling various aspects of the same story from various angles at various times using different modes of expression. Anyone who seeks a glimpse of understanding of the trouble with Africa and particularly with Cameroon, 10 years into the 21st century, would read this book with great profit.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication

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p. ix-ix

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Acknowledgement

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p. xi-xi

I would like to thank the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and my German academic friends and collaborators, Professors Eckhard Breitinger . . .

Preface

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p. xiii-xiii

Part One

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1. Democracy and Development in Africa: Putting the Horse before the Cart

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pp. 3-20

Before the colonial intervention in the history of Africa, the continent was politically composed of various Kingdoms (Fondoms), . . .

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2. The Medium and Long Term Lessons of the Lake Nyos Natural Disaster

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pp. 21-25

There have been three events in recent times that have drawn world-wide attention to Cameroon, a country which, otherwise, . . .

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3. X For All by the Year 2000

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pp. 27-30

The year 2000 A.D. ought to be designated the “International Year of Hope.” Nearly everyone is familiar with the expression . . .

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4. Letter to the Dean

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pp. 31-37

I first applied to the University for a lectureship in November 1984, immedi-ately after obtaining my Ph D. from the University of Ibadan, . . .

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5. Fonlon’s Socratic Life: Its Relevance to our Political Culture and Contemporary Situation

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pp. 39-45

The parallels between the life of Bernard Fonlon and that of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, are so striking as to make . . .

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6. The Sasse Motto Fide Quaerens Intellectum

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pp. 47-52

The founding fathers of Sasse College, Cameroon’s premier secondary pedagogical institution, chose for its motto the scholastic . . .

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7. The Plight of the Ex-seminarian and Ex-religious in Modern Cameroon

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pp. 53-57

I should begin this essay with some preliminary confessions: I am one of these people that I am about to write about, having quit the path . . .

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8. Bernard Fonlon Evening Monday 19th November 1990

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pp. 59-61

I have greatly enjoyed all the lectures given this evening. I have learnt a lot of things I didn’t know before. All the lectures have raised . . .

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9. Fale Wache, Lament of a Mother

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pp. 63-64

In this poem, Wache, taking refuge behind a woman whose son, Ndikochong, has gone overseas and refused to return, lays bare the festering . . .

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10. On The Television Programme “The Debate”

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pp. 65-68

I have what I might describe as serious reservations concerning the T.V. programme “The Debate.” Let me try to put my points simply and . . .

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11. Is There Really an Anglophone Problem in Cameroon?

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pp. 69-75

If there is an “Anglophone problem’’ in this country, what exactly is the problem? If there is no Anglophone problem, then what the hell . . .

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12. The Beginning of the End

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pp. 77-80

Well, before you mistake me for a preacher, let me own up and introduce myself as a University teacher by deliberate choice . . .

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13. Our Book of Revelations

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pp. 81-84

My priestly hangover is still with me. Well, you don’t get over an abortive attempt at “fada-work” so easily, do you? My Bible . . .

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14. Cameroonians are Unshockable

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pp. 85-87

The late seventies and early eighties were a period of remarkable relative prosperity and optimism in Cameroon. The Cameroon . . .

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15. From Unshockability to Exaggerated Credulity

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pp. 89-91

Last time I was talking about the apparent unshockability of Cameroonians. This unshockability is complemented by exaggerated, . . .

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16. For the Attention of my Students

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pp. 93-95

I must try my best again to convince you of the following thesis: all formal education involves the acquisition of skills, whether physical or . . .

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17. Revelations Chapter 3

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pp. 97-100

For “INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM,” the gold medal for this year will surely go to LA NOUVELLE EXPRESSION.” In this . . .

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18. Our Mungo Bridges

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pp. 101-108

On 11th February 1961, the United Nations conducted a plebiscite in what was then called “British Cameroons,” comprising . . .

Part Two. In the Spirit of GOBATA

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1. The Stuff Mandela is Made of

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pp. 111-114

First of all, I throway salute to all Cameroonians in general and readers of CamPost in particular, especially those who have steadfastly . . .

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2. Of Prof Ngwafor’s Practical Jealousy and Ambition’s Sterner Stuff

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pp. 115-118

Please, forgive today’s title. It sounds quite un-Gobatalike, but all the “Sasse” in it is drawn from the SOBA YAOUNDE CHAPTER NEWS . . .

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3. Struggling Non-violently: The Case of the SCNC

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pp. 119-122

Some people claim that the idea of non-violent struggle is selfcontradictory an impossible idea. This point of view is not entirely without . . .

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4. Western Democracies and African Dictatorships

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pp. 123-125

Although democracy as a system of governance has acquired the status of a sacred dogma in western political thought and ideology, . . .

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5. Western Democracies and African Dictatorships

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pp. 127-129

The real tragedy in the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and his compatriots is not the mere fact that it was done in contemptuous . . .

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6. Tenth Anniversary of a Horrible Year

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pp. 131-134

I am scripting this piece on August 27, 1996, exactly ten years, to the day, since the untimely death of Bernard Nsokika Fonlon whose birthday . . .

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7. Where we Should Be Heading

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pp. 135-137

As a freshman undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, which, as they used to boast in those days, is “the very first . . .

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8. In the Spirit of a Zealous Disciple

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pp. 139-143

There is a remarkable story told by all the four biblical evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - about the Passion and . . .

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9. A Rich Harvest of Peters by Paul

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pp. 145-148

What’s in a name? Very little. Especially Western names like Peter and Paul, Mary and Martha, which have no literal meaning but . . .

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10. The Collapse of the French Empire in Africa

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pp. 149-151

The French have received more than a fair share of my critical attention since 1990. I have voluntarily and freely given the French very important . . .

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11. Between Mvondo and Mvodo; The Emergence of Victor Ayissi

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pp. 153-156

Honourable Victor Ayissi Mvodo, an erstwhile Minister under Ahidjo’s dictatorship, has emerged from the wings, as it were, and . . .

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12. Corruption Fights Cameroon

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pp. 157-159

There is a famous Nigerian cartoonist named Josy Ajiboye who, for decades, has been cartooning regularly for the . . .

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13. Rumours of Dangerous Manoeuvres and Machinations

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pp. 161-163

Although we have continued saying that “Le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun” and: sometimes, with apparent justification, we need to . . .

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14. Politics of Back Scratching

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pp. 165-168

It is Honourable (?) Simon Achidi Achu, ex-this and that, who is generally credited with the copyright of the political theory of back-scratching. . . .

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15. For the Attention of All Potential Ethnic Cleansers

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pp. 169-171

Ethnic cleansing is a truly horrible idea that had its origin, birth and flowering in Europe, especially in Nazi Germany. It is closely . . .

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16. Independent Electoral Commission, an Absolute Necessity

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pp. 173-175

With the mandate of our first supposedly democratically elected parliament coming to an end, Cameroonians have one rare . . .

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17. How to Demystify John Fru Ndi

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pp. 177-179

For quite a long time now I have never written anything directly about John Fro Ndi or Paul Biya, so as not to create or reinforce the . . .

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18. If You Saw The Shah Escaping…

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pp. 181-184

Do you remember the Shah of Iran who reigned before the rise of Ayatollah? How funny I cannot now even recall his name! The . . .

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19. On Behalf of a College Room-mate

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pp. 185-187

I have once remarked in this column that the bond between school class-mates is much stronger than any tribal bond. People are never so ready . . .

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20. Mixed Signals of the Emerging Shape of Things

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pp. 189-191

Faithful watchers of our political thermometer would agree that the political temperature has been dropping towards normality in . . .

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21. Address to the Youth

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pp. 193-195

I am talking about my own address to the youths, not about that of His Excellency Paul Biya. I am not a senior political analyst at CRTV to . . .

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22. Registering on the Electoral List

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pp. 197-199

I wonder how the exercise of registering for the forthcoming elections is going in other parts of the country; but in Yaounde it has, so far, . . .

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23. In Provisional Praise of Paul Biya

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pp. 201-203

I could easily become a frequent praise-singer of His Excellency Paul Biya, if the latter continues changing and improving at the remarkable rate that . . .

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24. Constitutional Council: Why we Are Worried

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pp. 205-207

The last (extraordinary) session of our now expired parliament was evidently not convened to create the (as yet) non-existent Constitutional . . .

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25. For Every Mobutu a Kabila

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pp. 209-211

When His Excellency, Marshall Sese Seko Mobutu was recently persuaded to interrupt his terminal cancer treatment in . . .

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26. Killing an Innocent Person Can Never Be Justified

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pp. 213-215

Killing an innocent person is unjustifiable, not only from the point of view of morality but from the point of view of mere rationality. . . .

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27. On the Threshold of a Democratic Breakthrough

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pp. 217-219

Today, in Cameroon, we are standing on the threshold of a democratic breakthrough from the strangulating grip of the repressive . . .

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28. Yielding Place to a New Order

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pp. 221-223

No human being is immortal. No human being is eternal. No human being is omniscient. No human being is omnipotent. No human . . .

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29. Mola Njoh Litumbe’s Concept of Home

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pp. 225-227

According to Mola Njoh Litumbe, a person’s home is where that person (or, more accurately, his/her corpse) is going to be taken for . . .

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30. As a Participant Observer

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pp. 229-231

As a participant observer, it is my patriotic duty to make the following report on our just-ended parliamentary elections. I do know that . . .

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31. Waiting for Kabila

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pp. 233-235

You may think I am referring to Mobutu. His Excellency Marshall Sese Seko Desire Mobutu, the erstwhile richest and most powerful . . .

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32. Kleptocracy and Mendacity as Identification Marks

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pp. 237-239

The unmistakable identification marks of the political regime which is co-extensive with the Ahidjo dictatorship without being identical . . .

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33. Non Dimittis, Domine

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pp. 241-244

Man plans and God unplans. I had planned to sing my nunc dimittis about now. You remember Simeon, don’t you? Yes, the Simeon . . .

33Non Dimittis, Domine

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956578375
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956616701

Page Count: 262
Publication Year: 2010