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God the Politician

Peterkins Manyong

Publication Year: 2008

God the Politician is a compelling analytical, critical, informed and largely eyewitness account of the major events that have taken place in Cameroon since the return of multiparty politics in the 1990s. The accession of Paul Biya to power under the one-party regime in 1982 and the attempt to overthrow him in a coup d'?tat in 1984 are told in flashback, so are the excesses of power without responsibility that have come to be associated with over 25 years of Biya as President. Most of the story is centred on the struggle by the opposition, led by the Social Democratic Front (SDF), to overthrow the incumbent. In his determination to crush opposition, President Biya and his collaborators have sometimes used intrigue, but mostly force and callous indifference to basic human rights and to democracy. Bloodshed has often been the result of the regime's titanic struggles against freedoms. President Paul Biya is not in a hurry to go and so instead of democratizing Cameroon, he has chosen to Cameroonize democracy, turning electoral fraud into an art. Because of massive fraud during elections and the inability of the opposition to unite, political party leaders have decided to join him who they cannot beat. The book is an x-ray of a regime and the Frankenstein monsters it has created and sustained to thwart democracy. It exposes the corruption, electoral fraud, human rights abuse and cynicism that make politicians believe they can play God in the lives of Cameroonians.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. iv-v

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pp. 1-3

This book consists of 24 chapters in which the author covers a variety of issues on blood and terror in Cameroonian democracy. Titled ‘A Political Messiah is Born’, Chapter One recounts the launch of the SDF on 26 May 1990 in Bamenda, the capital of the North West Province of Cameroon. In a desperate attempt to prevent it, six youth were shot dead during Fru Ndi’s speech to launch the party in...

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1. Birth of a Political Messiah

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pp. 4-15

The news fell like a thunderbolt. ‘A new political party has just been formed. It will be launched on 20 May 1990.’ The leader of the new party was a Bamenda-based bookseller, Ni John Fru Ndi; proprietor of Ebibi bookshop along Bamenda Commercial Avenue. In palm-wine drinking houses, bars, beer parlours, markets and street corners in Bamenda, the topic was the same: the name of the new...

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2. Unwise Men From The East

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pp. 16-21

Reactions to the news of the SDF’s launch were numerous and varied. Just as many worshippers, among them angels from Heaven, poured into Bethlehem to greet Jesus Christ the Messiah asthousands poured into Bamenda. This was concrete proof that a political party had been launched but unlike the Wise Men from the East...

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3. Murdering The ‘Insurgents’

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pp. 22-28

'There can be no democracy without democrats.’ This observation is so prosaic and matter of fact that every sound mind would doubt why it should be quoted as if it were some well-coined aphorism. It is one of such observations of Paul Biya about which there was a great cacophony in the official media as if it was the wittiest thing...

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4. The Ndu Genocide

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pp. 29-39

'Political language is bad language’ wrote George Orwell in his essay titled ‘Politics and the English Language’ when he was condemning the subjectivity that dominates political speeches and partisan newspaper reports. He omitted to include the hypocrisy that characterizes diplomatic language that is a subset of the former. This gap...

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5. Electors and Cheaters

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pp. 40-44

1992. It will take Cameroonians several decades to forget this year, if at all. Here I mean Cameroonians who could distinguish between right and wrong in that year. It was the year of SDF glory as well as shame. It was the year of glory because the Fru Ndi, from available statistics, won the presidential elections in October, but a year of shame...

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6. Sacrificial Lambs and Wolves

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pp. 45-52

The long-awaited verdict came at 11 am on 23 October 1992. Our school was on break and I took advantage of this to go downtown and follow the Supreme Court’s pronouncement on a TV set in one of the popular drinking spots along Bamenda’s main market. Commercial Avenue was practically deserted except for a few taxicabs...

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7. Particulars of a State of Emergency

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pp. 53-62

The announcement came when least expected. It was during the 7 o’clock news broadcast on 25 October that CRTV announced the declaration of a state of emergency in the Northwest Province. This state-owned station explained that the head of state had decreed that it would last for the three-month maximum period allowed. I had never...

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8. Patriots and Gangsters

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pp. 63-67

Dictatorship thrives on the ignorance of the masses. That is why the dictatorship of Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four has as one of its governing slogans ‘Ignorance is strength’. Mind poisoning is employed where knowledge prevails. This justifies the second slogan ‘freedom is slavery’. But the policy which is...

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9. Recollections of a Faked Coup Plot

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pp. 68-78

A coup d’état is the method used most commonly in Africa to replace regimes that resist all forms of change through the ballot box. Nigeria tops the continent in the number of coups and attempted coups since independence. It is therefore no surprise that Anthills of the Savannah, the best publication on regimes created by coups...

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10. Constructional Acrobats & the Anglophone Problem

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pp. 79-86

In Part One of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift presents the politicians of his fictitious state of Liliput as expert rope dancers and acrobats. Between 1993 and 1996, Biya proved himself an expert in that art after announcing the Grand Débat. While the public was mobilizing to participate in this grand constitutional forum, the regime played the...

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11. Home-Bred Terrorists

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pp. 87-94

'The best time to hold peace talks is when guns are booming on the battlefield,’ said Paddy Mbawa, the erstwhile publisher of Cameroon Post, the most radical and influential English language newspaper in Cameroon at the time of the SDF launch and early confrontations with the Biya regime and just after he had served a prison...

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12. State Persecutors

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pp. 95-98

The trials of scores of persons accused by the Biya regime of masterminding the 1997 terrorist attacks in the Northwest Province constitutes one of the greatest travesties of justice in mankind’s legal history. The detainees who were arrested under controversial circumstances, some on their farms and others in their...

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13. Released Terror Suspects Narrate Harrowing Tales

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pp. 99-103

Some of the suspected terrorists incarcerated at the Kondengui and Mfou prisons and later released after trial, arrived in Bamenda at midday on Wednesday 13 October 1999. Shouts of joy and jubilation tore the air at the office of the Bamenda-based Human Rights Defence Group, where the general public had gathered to see the freed...

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14. Electoral Gymnastics & the Military Option

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pp. 104-112

Of all the natural features on the earth’s landscape, a river is, to me, the most fascinating. I developed an immeasurable interest in rivers while at secondary school when our geography teacher taught us the life cycle of a river which, he said, has three stages in its development: a youthful stage, a mature stage and old age. In its youthful...

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15. Tribute To Machiavelli

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pp. 113-118

Nicolo Machiavelli is a name that no politician is indifferent to. Even those who claim to be the most devout Christians would admit that to succeed in politics a certain degree of ruthlessness is necessary. Politics is about grabbing power and keeping it. When in his book The Prince Machiavelli says the ruler must be both a lion and a fox...

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16. The Law of Karma

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pp. 119-123

The idea that human beings pay for all their mischief on earth is nothing new. Writers call it ‘poetic justice’ because it was first advocated by poets who substantiated it in their poems. Others call it the Law of Karma. The misdemeanours of those who called the shots in the SDF and those who followed instructions without reflecting...

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17. The Cardinal, Politicians & State Terror

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pp. 124-130

Power is sweet to everybody, including soldiers. The wisest decision of any democratic government is to keep soldiers in their barracks and as far away from power as possible. Only dictatorial regimes share power with the military. This is because they are not democratically elected and know that without military backing they cannot last. The Biya...

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18. Spiritual Democracy

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pp. 131-135

Before the creation of Operational Command in the SDF, MPs had in the year 2000 done something spectacular that to a considerable degree substantiated Fru Ndi’s promise of an impending ‘earthquake’ as his MPs took up positions in the National Assembly. SDF MPs attempted a march on the presidential palace in Etoudi, Yaoundé...

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19. Power and the Man

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pp. 136-141

2002 was another dark year in the SDF’s history. Not only did the party lose half the seats it had in the previous parliament but a peace pact was signed with the Biya regime which led to the resignation of Seidou Maidadi, its first vice chairman, Evariste Foupoussi, the communications officer and other top officials. The controversy began...

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20. Bloody Universities

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pp. 142-152

The main reason why most dictators cling to power when they know the majority of their subjects are yearning to see their retreating back is the conviction that they can always wriggle their way out of difficult situations using force or sophisms. They believe, as Adolph Hitler did, that all they need do to make a lie sound like the truth...

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21. Hunter Hunted

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pp. 153-157

One of the most scathing criticisms often levelled against the Biya regime is that the executive lords over the judiciary and the legislature. This is particularly true in the case of the Supreme Court whose president, Alexis Dipanda Mouelle, confessed in 1992 that the numerous irregularities in that year’s elections were enough to...

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22. The Phenomenon Called Baba Danpullo

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pp. 158-170

In his play Major Barbara, Bernard Shaw emphasizes the centuries-old concept that whoever has money has everything, by making the millionaire AndrewUndershaft declare that poverty is a crime. He carries the idea forward by presenting the helplessness of Barbara’s church (The Salvation Army) before Undershaft, who made his millions...

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23. A Magician at the Presidency

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pp. 171-182

One of the best lessons Shakespeare taught politicians was that if they wanted to achieve their ambitions, they must demonstrate great humility. ‘Lowliness is young Ambition’s ladder,’ the playwright tells us in Julius Caesar. The destination of the climber is the top. Once there, he is free to spurn or mock those below. Perhaps no...

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24. The Role of the Church in Cameroon Politics

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pp. 183-187

Barrister Bernard Muna, whose conflict with Fru Ndi has been narrated in some parts of this book may not be the great politician his father was but his observations on certain burning issues in Cameroonian politics portray him as a man of considerable insight. One such memorable utterance is his definition of politics as ‘the art of...

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25. Postscript

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pp. 188-192

Thomas Jefferson. No historian or journalist ignores this name. He is well known not only for drafting the Declaration of Independence for the original thirteen states that made up the US in 1776 but also for a significant remark he made about the press and the government. According to Jefferson, if he had to choose between a...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956715787
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956558964

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2008