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Incisive Journalism in Cameroon

The Best of Cameroon Report' (1978 - 1986)

Sam-Nuvala Fonkem

Publication Year: 2013

Working for Cameroon state-owned Radio in the 1970s and ë80s meant toeing the official line and learning not to sing out of tune. While the rather scanty private press that existed at the time was subject to prior censorship, a different kind of censorship ñ self-censorship prevailed at the Radio where topics for commentaries were vetted by the Minister of Information or his delegate. But for Anglophones working in a predominantly francophone environment, once topics were approved, the authorities could not be sure which direction commentaries were going to take as the journalists applied the tactics of ëbite and blowí, sometimes giving full expression of their Anglo-Saxon spirit of debate and critical analysis as evidenced in this selection of commentaries from the Sunday morning commentary programme, ìCameroon Reportî (now ìCameroon Callingî) of the late 1970ís up till 1986. It is a showcase of the irrepressible seed of freedom of expression that Anglophone journalists were imbued with and demonstrated at a time when subjects related to coups díÈtat, human rights and governance were considered taboo. It was and shall remain the indelible input of the Anglophone character that has had a positive influence on Cameroonís media landscape.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright Page

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The Editor

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-x

This selection of news commentaries and analyses is in itself so good, and so fairly represents the spirit, purpose and quality of Cameroon Report as to need explanation by way of introduction. The selection could have been titled Voices of...

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pp. xi-xvi

It is more than an academic privilege to be called upon to contribute an introduction to a book on ‘‘Cameroon Report’’, a land mark in investigative journalism and a source of hope and inspiration for many a voiceless Cameroonian over the...

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Editor’s Note

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pp. xvii-xx

This collection has been aptly described as the ‘Voices of Dissent’ and comes in a timely manner to dispel the widespread impression that the official media have been indifferent with regard to the struggle for human rights and...

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The Prologue

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pp. xxi-xxxii

The significance of this collection can only be appreciated if readers bear in mind that the socio-political context in which journalists and especially those of the official media operated in the 1970s and 80s was marked by an authoritarian...

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1. Cameroon Report 1/9/78: The C.N.U: Twelve Years After

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pp. 1-2

From all indications, the unity, truth and democracy have not thrived in a straight and steady path, nor in direct proportion to the efforts of its high priests. The dirty fingers of Cameroonian economic, political and social reality boldly

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2. Cameroon Report 18/1/81: Wum Farmer - Grazier Problem

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pp. 3-6

The civil disturbance in Wum, capital of Menchum Division, in the North West Province, which resulted in loss of life, several wounded and loss of property early this month, has come to confirm the fragility of providing only...

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3. Cameroon Report 28/3/1982: A chaotic Highway Transporters Union

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pp. 7-10

There are unmistakable signs that the transport union, Setracaucam, is headed for increases in transport fares and that figures yet to be published show a hike of about 17%. Whether these increases are justified or not is not the question. Granted that such increases fall within the...

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4. Cameroon Report 5/4/81: Inhuman prison conditions

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pp. 11-14

There are two thousand persons detained in the Douala Central prison. On construction, the capacity of this prison was meant to take five hundred persons. Recent modifications increased the capacity to eight hundred. The case in the Yaounde Central Prison is even more...

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5. Cameroon Report 5/4/1981: Lay Private Education

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pp. 15-18

The first duty of every government is to guarantee the education, health and security of its citizens. The government of this country has given priority to the education of our citizens. That is why the Ministry of Education has the largest budget. We all agree that it is impossible for the government...

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6. Cameroon Report 5/4/1981: Health for all by year 2000

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pp. 19-22

How far is it possible that the health of every Cameroonian shall be guaranteed by the year 2000? Cameroon Report has no intention of looking at this assertion from a negative perspective. But just as it is normal...

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7. Cameroon Report 22/11/81: Catering for disabled persons

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pp. 23-26

Millions of people are disabled in the world today. In every country, at least one person in ten is disabled by physical, mental or sensory impairment. Yet even these figures do not tell the whole story, for disability is a family...

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8. Cameroon Report 17/1/1982: Cameroon Nigeria Reconciliation

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pp. 27-28

President AHIDJO’s latest trip to Nigeria was a visit with a difference – coming as it was in the wake of a potentially explosive border incident in Cameroon’s territorial waters in which five Nigerian soldiers lost their lives. That the two...

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9. Cameroon Report 02/2/1982: The Role of our Parliamentarians

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pp. 29-32

The fact that members of parliament have been given a chance to assess the political and socio-economic situation in different parts of the country other than their areas of origin, is a sign that we are in position to achieve in a long run, a...

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10. Cameroon Report 06/6/1982: Wastage and Mismanagement in Public Health Services

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pp. 33-36

There is a time honoured adage which holds that “health is wealth”. I have no intention of quarrelling with such wisdom as is contained in this ancient saying except to point out that it is increasingly losing its relevance to life in the...

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11. Cameroon Report 01/10/1982: Crackdown on Customs Fraud

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pp. 37-40

Action has for once, without wasting any time, crowned our words. In this New Year address to the Cameroon nation on December 31, 1981, our Head of State, President AMADOU AHIDJO lashed out against the canker worms...

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12. Cameroon Report 24/10/1982, FONADER: Not yet the Farmer’s Bank

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pp. 41-44

Installing the newly-appointed Director General of FONADER, the Minister of Agriculture conceded that the previous management which pioneered the fund was plagued by the usual problems affecting most enterprises at the early...

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13. Cameroon Report 24/10/1982: Mount Cameroon Erupts

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pp. 45-48

Mount Cameroon, Fako Mountain or Buea Mountain as the natives prefer to call it, is a composite volcanic structure built through successive eruptions. Early occurrences, through a single central vent are known to have been very...

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14. Cameroon Report 7/11/1982: President Ahmadou Ahidjo’s Dramatic Resignation

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pp. 49-52

I have decided to resign from my duties as President of the United Republic of Cameroon. This decision takes effect on Saturday, November 6, 1982 at 10 am. In this crucial moment, I wish, and from the bottom of my heart, to express my gratitude to all who have, for almost...

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15. Cameroon Report 7/11/1982: The Task Ahead for President Paul Biya

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pp. 53-56

The last moment was breath-taking! In a terse, solemn speech, memorable, historic, unprecedented for Cameroon, unique for Africa, AHMADOU AHIDJO called it quits. A gaping, doubting, questioning Cameroon had to accept the...

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16. Cameroon Report 28/11/1982: Biya and the Housing Crisis

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pp. 57-60

It always seems to take forever for the plight of the robins and the starlings in the grass to hit the eye of the eagle perched up in the baobab but when that does happen, it is always greeted with a fresh wave of hope. And when shortly after that, the housing boss broke the...

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17. Cameroon Report 9/7/1983: Our Ailing Parastatal Corporations

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pp. 61-64

The recent call by the President of the National Assembly for more productivity in statutory corporations implies that these bodies have not been productive enough and when he goes further to stress the need for these corporations to...

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18. Cameroon Report 6/8/1983: The University as Brain Trust

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pp. 65-68

The impression most people have about the University today is still regrettably influenced by a monastic concept of education, hence the view of the University as a cold-storage for rusticated minds engaged in academic tedium with an intellectual eccentricity and a scholastic indifference which...

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19. Cameroon Report 31/3/1984: Biya on Housing and Road Construction

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pp. 69-72

Commenting on reports presented on the low-cost housing programme, the Head of State frowned at delays in the execution of housing projects, a glaring practice already observed by the man-in-the-street. The President gave strict instructions to the Housing...

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20. Cameroon Report 15/4/1984: April 6 Coup Attempt: An Appraisal

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pp. 73-76

On April 6th, the Republican Guards launched a coup in Cameroon and came within a hair’s breadth of succeeding, but for our gallant and loyal soldiers. Their excuses were unfounded. They falsely cried that under President Paul Biya, human rights were not respected, that the recent trials of the...

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21. Cameroon Report 15/4/1984: In the Dawn of the Abortive Coup

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pp. 77-78

Peace loving Cameroonians would like to congratulate the Armed Forces for their solidarity and action in suppressing the coup attempt. This they accomplished despite material handicap and inferior weapons compared to those...

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22. Cameroon Report 21/5/1984: Reflection on May 20

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pp. 79-80

The act of mediation may assume various postures, moods and objectives, but it all seems to lead to a conscious effort to achieve a better and deeper understanding of the human condition and the universe at large. Mediation may seek to accommodate the mind to a...

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23. Cameroon Report 9/6/1984: Parastatal Corporations Revisited

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pp. 81-84

We must admit that any sluggish approach to the ailments of state corporations in the name of gradualism would very likely lead the economy to very serious difficulties that may become too chronic to be cured. When the President of the National Assembly declared...

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24. Cameroon Report 01/1/1985, Chasing Files: A Product of Centralisation

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pp. 85-88

Responding to New Year wishes presented by officials of their respective departments, the Trade and Industry Minister and the Minister of Planning and Regional Development resurrected a seemingly dead issue, the eradication of which...

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25. Cameroon Report 20/01/85: The Plight of our Farmers

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pp. 89-92

It is more than two years now that Cameroon Report first brought to the knowledge of the public the famous North West Cooperative scandal. This was when the administration had realized the gross and unpardonable misuse of poor...

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26. Cameroon Report 22/4/85: The One-shift and Two-shift Working systems

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pp. 93-96

The two-shift working system is heavier on workers, thus bringing about a lazy attitude towards work and finally making the administrative machinery less efficient. In the one-shift system west of the Mungo, the day is shared between office work and other private activities which...

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27. Cameroon Report 25/4/1985: Decentralisation versus Decongestion

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pp. 97-98

Does the multiplication of ministerial posts, the creation of many provincial services and the creation of more provinces mean decentralisation No! It means deconcentration. Now that militants and workers in Bamenda, Buea and other places are asking for greater decentralisation of the...

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28. Cameroon Report 15/5/1985: 13th Anniversary of the Unitary State

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pp. 99-102

British superstition has it that the number 13 is an unlucky number, but 13 in the case of the age of the unitary state signifies that it has attained adolescence, an adolescence which hopefully would blossom to a ripe maturity. Since the creation o the unitary state in 1972, the nation...

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29. Cameroon Report 25/5/1985: The Role of Development Committees

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pp. 103-106

Ever since provincial development committees became institutionalised in 1977, observers have always been at a loss when it comes to assessing their impact on the elaboration of the national five-year development plans. Given that 5-Year Development plans are mere plans, as...

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30. Cameroon Report 01/6/1985: 1985 Budgetary Session

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pp. 107-108

On the eve of the annual budgetary session of our honourable members of parliament, it is only fitting to salute them in advance of their difficult task of sharing the national cake amongst highly competing needs and interests. Cameroonians are proud to note the substantial increases...

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31. Cameroon Report 30/6/1985: MUNA on Bilingualism

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pp. 109-112

To start with, we were rather pleased and flattered to hear that the Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. S. T. Muna listens to Cameroon Report and could admit it in a plenary session of parliament. But at the risk of seeming to dispute the Honourable Speaker, I would like to make some...

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32. Cameroon Report 14/7/1985: The Concept of Development Journalism

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pp. 113-114

The role of the press in under-developed countries has remained controversial. It has even been made demanding by the duty given to it by the necessities of development. That is why there is the talk of development journalism in developing...

33. Cameroon Report 08/8/1985: The Question of Certificate Equivalence

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pp. 115-118

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34. Cameroon Report 18/8/1985: Harmonising Our Two Legal Systems

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pp. 119-122

The Minister of State for Justice and Keeper of the Seals is reported to have castigated magistrates in the North West and South West provinces for violation, contempt and ignorance of the law. The charge was made during stormy...

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35. Cameroon Report 06/10/85: The First October Story

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pp. 123-126

The story being told in Cameroon today started in 1884 at the Berlin conference when more than two hundred ethnic groups were carved out as a colonial parcel and given to Germany. Thirty-five years later, another meeting which did not...

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36. Cameroon Report 20/5/1986, May 20th: Our Dream of a New and Great Cameroon

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pp. 127-132

The historic nation-wide celebrations marking the 14th anniversary of the peaceful revolution of May 20, characterized by lengthy march pasts and cultural activities have come and gone for the year. In the nation’s capital, the Cameroon Head of State, His...

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37. Cameroon Report 01/6/1986: The CPDM and Civil Liberties

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pp. 133-136

The democratic elections of the basic organs of the national party and the enthusiasm of the just ended seminars confirm our strong belief in the important role of the Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement CPDM in nation...

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38. News talk 24/6/86: Enemies of Democracy

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pp. 137-142

Talking about the enemies of democracy, I would like to go back to last Sunday, 22nd June, when Cameroonians were deprived of their favourite programme, Cameroon Report. Last Sunday, our commentator read this epitaph to mark the...

African & World Affairs

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pp. 143-144

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39. Cameroon Report 22/7/1980: Towards a New World Information Order

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pp. 145-148

At a time when most African states have attained post independence maturity, the need to define and apply an appropriate communication strategy has become more pertinent than ever before. As the decolonisation process is...

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40. Cameroon Report 12/04/1981: Africa’s Five Million Refugees

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pp. 149-152

Up from three million in 1979, African refugees today number five million, which is at best a conservative estimate. They are victims of Africa’s gruesome diary of recurrent natural and man-made disasters such as drought and poor harvests, compounded by sheer neglect, mismanagement and...

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41. Cameroon Report 07/7/1981: Boycotting sporting links with Racist South African

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pp. 153-156

In the eyes of whites in general and the criminals of the Pretoria regime in racist South Africa in particular, whoever has a black skin is a fool and must remain a fool. And that is why the western nations should deceive themselves by feeling...

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42. Cameroon Report 23/08/1981: The Proposed Senegambian confederation

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pp. 157-160

For the second time since he became Gambian Chief of State, Sir Dawda Jawara is said to have proposed a confederation between his country and Senegal with which it already has a mutual defence pact. Such association may...

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43. Cameroon Report 04/10/1981: The I.M.F. Tightens policy towards Third World

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pp. 161-164

The American demand for tougher conditions on loans from the I.M.F. to countries with balance of payment problems was, to say the least, a slap in the face of poor nations. Granted that it has been widely accepted for some time...

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44. Cameroon Report 11/10/1981: The Assassination of SADAT: Consequences on Egyptian Politics

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pp. 165-168

The assassination of President Sadat has left many political observers pondering over a number of perplexing questions such as the safeguard of political and ideological continuity in Egypt and the future of Middle East peace...

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45. Cameroon Report 26/10/1981: The North-South Dialogue

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pp. 169-172

For those who have not been to church for a long time, Cancun would have been a good place to go. What happened there strikes me as a two-day church service whose liturgy had been streamlined by prior tempering of the pent-up...

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46. Cameroon Report 13/12/1981, Ciskei Homeland: Another stride for Apartheid

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pp. 173-176

I say this because there does exist a small group of Africans whose sensitivity to human suffering has been deadened by the leprosy of power, whether this be the suffering of distant brethren in Azania and Namibia, or of those within their immediate power- whose future they very...

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47. Cameroon Report 17/01/1982: Palestinian Autonomy

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pp. 177-180

It would be naive at the moment to express any optimism for a dramatic solution to the problem of Palestinian autonomy which is, in effect, the real cause for all the upheavals the Middle East has experienced and lived with all...

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48. Cameroon Report 21/03/82: Cameroon’s Position on SADR’S Admission into the O.A.U

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pp. 181-184

There has been mounting controversy among political analysts and observers over Cameroons declared position on the Western Sahara question. The debate has been lively and heated particularly because of what appears to be a contradiction in the stated principles that underlay...

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49. Cameroon Report 07/07/1982: The 9th Franco-African Summit

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pp. 185-188

It must have been this year’s best-kept secret - Africa’s surprise package of the eighties. Some forty African leaders of varied political persuasions, we were told, were going to congregate in Zaire, sit together and, according to French...

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50. Cameroon Report 08/08/1982: OAU Deadlock over Western Sahara

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pp. 189-192

There seems to be two major roads of being talked about: either you succeed, which often requires hard work, or you fail which is easier because it is enough no to make any effort at all. As far as this kind of energy economics is concerned

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51. Cameroon Report 03/11/1982: Foiled OAU Summit Reconvened

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pp. 193-196

It was definitely with joy and relief that most Africans greeted the recent assurance that the foiled OAU summit was at last going to hold. For some, the joy was made even fuller by the fact that the summit was indeed to hold in Tripoli because...

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52. Cameroon Report 13/01/1985: Checking the African Dependency Syndrome

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pp. 197-202

During the week under analysis, the Ivory Coast government announced that it would soon cut back the number of its foreign experts- who are mainly French. One top official said that no less than 90% of the expatriates...

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53. Cameroon Report 02/02/85: The O.A.U. Drought Fund

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pp. 203-206

When African heads of state decided to establish a fund to help drought victims on the continent at last November’s OAU summit in Addis Ababa, observers quickly applauded the decision as a mature one taken by responsible leaders who...

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54. Cameroon Report 03/03/85: The Western Sahara Ten Years After

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pp. 207-210

Ten years ago, in 1975, Spain surprisingly abandoned its colonial territory of Western Sahara with no formula or structures for the independence or self-government of its inhabitants. King Hassan II of Morocco, in what went down in...

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55. Cameroon Report 21/04/85: South Africa: Botha’s Lame Reforms

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pp. 211-214

In two volleys, Pretoria announced the abolition of the immorality and mixed marriages acts which prevented love or marriage across the races, and closely followed up with a statement to withdraw South African occupation forces from...

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56. Cameroon Report 16/06/85: African Leaders in Europe

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pp. 215-218

The nature and quality of the reception given to African leaders visiting European countries often provoke deep and disturbing feelings among the patriotic nationals of the African countries concerned. Most African leaders are welcomed on arrival by junior...

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57. Cameroon Report 23/6/1985: South Africa’s puppet Government in Namibia

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pp. 219-222

Decades of the controversial independence struggle in Namibia took a new twist earlier in the week when the arrogant and headstrong racist regime in Pretoria installed a puppet government in Windhoek, the Namibian capital. In fact, the puppet gang is a fragile and artificial rainbow...

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58. Cameroon Report 14/7/1985: Africa’s Troubled Politics

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pp. 223-226

It ought to constitute a real cause for worry to us that bloody violence should make changes in the leadership of post-independent African countries. Almost to a country, the prospect of a change of power, even when this is constitutional, creates an atmosphere of...

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59. Cameroon Report 18/8/1985: Pope John Paul II in Africa

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pp. 227-230

The repeated papal visits to Africa (1980, 1982, and 1985) are seen as Vatican’s great concern over the changing trends of the Catholic Church in Africa which observers say is steadily going through a quiet and disturbing revolution. Churches, especially in the rural areas, are gradually...

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60. Cameroon Report 03/11/1985: Leadership Succession in Africa

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pp. 231-234

Stepping down from power freely by African leaders is such a rare happening, so the apparent smooth transfer of government in Tanzania must be greeted as a great act of courage by veteran statesman Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. On the basis of his own merit, Nyerere receives high...

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61. Cameroon Report 11/11/1985: Reagan-Gorbachev Summit

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pp. 235-238

As the dust raised by the US-Soviet talks in Geneva settles, there seems to be a happy feeling worldwide that wider avenues for co-operation, peaceful coexistence between the East and the West and greater prospects for the reduction of tension between the super powers have been found...

62. Cameroon Report 16/11/1985: Africa and its Elections

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pp. 239-242

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956791781
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956791170

Page Count: 276
Publication Year: 2013