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[9] 2 The political game hen we say man is a political animal we are saying that he is an ace player in the survival game. Like any other game in life, politics is a test of good judgment; of the ability to discern the stakes. People who have succeeded in this intricate game have done so precisely because they have been alert to the inner requirements of this discipline. For politics is a discipline both as practice and idea. In Cameroon these inner requirements are particularly stringent. This stringency rests on the unique heritage of the present-day Cameroonian society. When Paul Biya says le Cameroun c’est le Cameroun (Cameroon is Cameroon), he is drawing attention to the peculiar aura of the country. This is one statement he has made that will earn him a place in the pages of our history, for it gives us a cryptic image of just who we are: a people of exceptions, of paradoxes, but also, and perhaps especially, a uniquely intelligent people; so intelligent as to become geniuses. And we know how dangerously contiguous genius is to lunacy. Cameroon is one place where logic does not always have its way, where outcomes are never predictable. Here is a country where foreigners have packed their bags in anticipation of a cataclysm only to turn round and find people going about their usual business in the most serene of moods. In one country the price of bread is raised by 33 cents and the whole country goes up in flames. But in Cameroon the currency is devalued by 100%, followed immediately by a 70% slash in civil service salaries and not a finger is raised. The country tops the chart of the world corruption index one year and is sufficiently comfortable with that performance to repeat the feat the very next year. The country is in some kind of democracy, but the election of its president is done in a one-round ballot. The country is a vastly wealthy triangle, yet W [10] its entry into the club of poor, heavily indebted countries is celebrated as a national achievement. Cameroon has the poorest football pitches anywhere in Africa but the richest football fame anywhere on the continent. Each one of us has his own personal record of the paradoxes in which the country is steeped. People have sought explanations to these paradoxes in varying ways. Some have said Cameroonians are cowards; others that they are indolent; yet others that they are narcissistic. None of these claims seems to tell the whole truth. One thing I have grown to admire in the Cameroonian is his resilient intelligence. Whatever we say, we cannot run away from the fact that Cameroonians are clever people. I really prefer the word intelligent. Just watch what they do in football and you will know that they are not a people to take lightly. In the manner of the geniuses that they are, they make football simple: they deconstruct the game, rid it of its orthodoxy, and turn it into a jamboree of individual artistry. Football is one game that tests intelligence! Cameroonians are masters at perceiving the stakes in any given situation. They never choose the worst option. However bad the situation is, they always find reason to make it look slightly less bad than it really is. The sky is never totally dark overhead. The Cameroonian always finds a silver lining in it – or puts one there from the depths of his impregnable optimism! Even natural phenomena bend to the strange ways of the country. Mount Cameroon, West Africa’s highest peak, erupts, but the larva billows away from all human settlements. The one-kilometre-wide blazing liquid flows downhill for close to eight kilometres, eating up lush vegetation, but stops a hair’s distance short of a hotel complex and within sight of the country’s oil refinery. At the end, not one house is buried; nor one body. ...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9789956717286
Related ISBN
9789956558520
MARC Record
OCLC
776906637
Pages
120
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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