samedi 28 novembre 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 9th of October 2002, as Cameroon’s profile at the United Nations was raised by its participation in the Security Council. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.

Membership of the Security Council is one of the most prestigious positions a country can hold within the world superstructure. Having the chance to preside over it is simply the icing on the cake. What is perhaps more telling is that by playing that role, Cameroon made a name not only for itself but for the Central African Sub Region to which it belongs, and by extension, the whole of Africa.

While Cameroon was at it, the country performed the hat trick of placing three points - all of them related to the region - on the Council’s agenda for the month of October. The three included the UN`s relations with the region, notably in the areas of conflict prevention and management as well as the maintenance of peace and security. The other points were the control of light arms and the role of women in the promotion of peace and security respectively.

This vantage position serves two main purposes for the country. Firstly, it confirms our country’s role as the leader of the region, and secondly, it helps to highlight once more, the pressing needs of a region from which Cameroonians, perhaps more than other nationals, stand to benefit immensely. Cameroon has so many opportunities in the region that if they were all to be exploited many Cameroonians would be smiling form ear to ear. Without any doubt, Cameroon is the `big brother` of the region. To begin with, of all the six member countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States better known by the French acronym, CEMAC, Cameroon is the most strategically located. It is the only country that shares a common border with all the other five which are Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Cameroon is the only country, not only in the region but in the whole of Africa that is geographically located in the very heart of the continent, being more or less equidistant to the north, south, east and west. This tactical location has created some confusion in the sense that while some world authorities place Cameroon in the Central African zone, others have placed it in West Africa.

That is not all. In the region, Cameroon is the only country which combines desert, semi-desert, savanna and rainforest characteristics, to the extent that while parts of the north are sometimes starved of rain, a place in the South West known as Debunscha is on record as being the wettest place in Africa where it rains all year round. Although four of the six countries in the region have access to the sea, it is only Cameroon that has the privilege of serving as a supply route to the two landlocked countries, Chad and the Central African Republic. Of course, Cameroon is the only country that uses both French and English as official languages, not only in the region but in the whole of Africa.

Cameroon alone accounts for half the total population of the region. It is also more densely populated than any of the other five countries, having 30 inhabitants per square kilometer while the other countries have only six per square kilometer. Again, Cameroon alone accounts for up to 50 % of CEMAC `s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has a much higher rate of consumption of commodities and investment. The country is also the indisputable bread winner of the region, supplying food to all the other countries and even to neighbouring Nigeria, although the latter is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and not CEMAC.

Cameroon’s numerous professional schools are not only unprecedented in the region but have also helped in training many of the professionals in the other member countries. These include the Institute of International Relations , the Advanced School of Mass Communication, the Advanced School of Public Works, the Advanced School of Posts and Telecommunications, the Army Training School, the Police College and the Advanced Teachers` Training College, the Advanced School of Translators and Interpreters, to name those.

With such considerable assets, why should Cameroon not cash in on the situation? Why the country promotes peace and security, it can go the extra mile and look at other areas such as those that can create jobs for the country’s numerous unemployed graduates, professionals and able-bodied retirees with a view to helping them find their feet.

Clearly, when Cameroonians start thinking regionally and not just nationally, they shall have crossed the Rubicon, both economically and politically.

© 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 16th of April 2003, on the occasion of Global Education Week in that year. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.

Global Education Week is without any doubt, a crucial campaign tool for the girl child, among other beneficiaries, not only here in Cameroon but throughout the world. This is because when it is commemorated, the event brings into sharp focus, the question of gender parity. That is in a nutshell, the message National Education Secretary of State Number 1, Ngafeeson Emmanuel, delivered to the public on the day he launched Global Education Week this year.

As things stand, the Cameroonian girl child, even seen within the framework of her future role as a fully fledged Cameroonian woman, does suffer setbacks, compared with the boy child. For instance, according to a report published by the United Nations Country Team in Cameroon under the title: Progress: Republic of Cameroon, women represent 52 per cent of the country’s poor. Yet, according to the same report, girls do not have the same access to schooling. Figures for example show that in the year 1989-1990, the number of girls as opposed to boys in primary school education had declined from 85 % to 82.1 % in 1997-1998. Even so, the rates conceal large regional disparities, for, northern Cameroon was hardest hit, compared with the other regions.

The already bad situation is aggravated by the incidence of poverty, especially in the rural areas, where once again girls and women have been more affected. Obviously this state of affairs has repercussions on health care, for example, the 2000 edition of the Progress of Nations which is a publication of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), states that while 3.8 % of boys below 24 in Cameroon were found to be infected by HIV AIDS, the per centage for girls was higher, at 7.8. Another revelation is that some Cameroonian girl children are still too largely victims of genital mutilation. Just like in the case of Cameroonian children` health, that of women has also deteriorated in the last decade. The maternal mortality rate 1998-1999 is high, standing at only 550 per 1000 live births, which accounts for nearly only a 50 % per cent success rate.

The picture at the world level is graphically painted in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report entitled: The Right to Choose. According to the report, some 585 000 women, that is, one every minute, die each year from pregnancy related-causes. At least 75 million pregnancies each year, out of a total of 175 million, are unwanted and therefore terminated. The result is some 45 million abortions and only over 30 million live births. Decidedly, the need for action is urgent.

© 2009

vendredi 27 novembre 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 8th of May 2002, as a reaction to attempts by the Extreme Left to get to power and the efforts of the popular will to block its ascendancy. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.

Under normal circumstances, Jean Marie Le Penn’s spectacular victory in the first round of the elections was a remarkable feat, a hat trick that warranted popping of the champagne bottles. As might be expected, he and his supporters did the toasting, but while that happened, many other French people held huge rallies calling for him to be trounced in the second round, for they saw his extreme leftists policies of “La France aux Français” (France for the French) as a dangerous policy that could greatly divide the nation and contradict its lofty ideals of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. Over across in the Netherlands, another Extreme Left politician, Pim Fontoin took a similar nationalistic stance. But as we know, some of his fellow country men and women disagreed strongly with him and even went as far as wishing painful death on him.

Obviously, these two French and Dutch cases raise serious questions about what exactly is democracy, for, why should anyone who wins an election have his ascendancy curve stopped in its track just because some people do not like his or her ideas? And just in case anyone is wondering what democracy is, let us recall the definition given by the KNDP party here in Cameroon when it existed in the early 1960s. According to posters put up by the party at the time, democracy was “government of the people, for the people and by the people.” Even so, this definition is not waterproof because it is difficult to think of an instance when government which is an ideology can actually involve ‘all’ the people as such. There will always be some who hold contrary views, thus making total consensus utopia, unless of course one were living in a dictatorship. We all know that voting time is surely not a time of consensus for, while some voters cast their votes for one party, others will cast theirs for another. Furthermore, usually not all voters register to vote, which means that when it comes to voting time, the unregistered persons will not be able to vote, even if they want to do so. Then again, some of those who register may decide not to vote on voting day. They may abstain. Even among those who turn up to vote some may decide to cast blank votes.

At the end of the day, whether we like it or not, each country interprets and applies democracy in its own way. That is why whereas America has two active political parties, Britain and France each has around 15. Our country, Cameroon, now has about 200. Poland and Zaire (today renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo) have been known to have up to 400. So as we can see, there is no such thing as an ideal number of political parties a country should have. We also know that while a country like France dethroned and executed its ruling monarch and instituted a Republic which has survived to this day, the British are still ruled by a queen with no likelihood of abolishing the monarchy. Yet both countries are said to be democratic.

Cameroon therefore has, or ought to have, its own democratic identity. We are the only country in Africa that uses French and English as official languages and speaks over 230 national languages, while managing somehow or other to hold together its numerous ethnic groups. Consequently, in a way, we can not help agreeing with the country’s president, Paul Biya, when he says, “Le Cameroon C`est le Cameroon” (Cameroon is Cameroon).

While we exercise our democratic rights, we would do well to prioritize the consolidation of the democratic gains already made. If we do not, we risk being like the dog which while carrying a bone across a stream, lost it as it dived at the shadow of the reflected bone in the stream below, thinking it was capturing a larger bone. Let us not drop the substance for the shadow.



By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 7th of July 2002, as a spur-of-the-moment reaction to the rampant highway road accidents that claimed lives and damaged property in the country. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.

It is a gruesome and macabre picture, in fact a catalogue of horrors. A minibus and a truck ran into each other on the highway near Nkongsamba. The result was six dead on the spot and more injured and rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. A similar tragedy occurred on the Bafia-Yaounde road. Again, some died and more were ferried to hospital as their lives hung on a thread. Still not so long ago, a lorry carrying a corpse for burial crashed in Dzeng (Nyong and So`0 Division). Once more, deaths were registered and the wounded rushed to hospital.

The strange thing about us Cameroonians is that when we learn of such tragedies, we are immediately filled with sympathy. Then it all ends there. It’s like we heave a deep sigh of relief and say: “Thank God it’s not me or someone close to me.” Even so, the truth is that it could have been any of us. And in fact, tomorrow it could still be one of us.

One thing is certain: the person who loses a close relative or friend so suddenly and unexpectedly is maimed for life. What is even more painful is that all these pointless fatalities could have been prevented if only we cared a little more for the jobs we are paid to do or what kind of country we would like our children to live in tomorrow. We could have therefore saved ourselves all the grief and wasteful loss of human life as well as the attendant grief in which survivors of the deceased are usually embroiled.

The key questions are: why do these accidents occur at all and what can we do to prevent them? Obviously there are some observers who would say an accident is like a thief who creeps in at midnight unnoticed, at a time when everyone is sound asleep. But at least, we could take precautionary steps against the unforeseen. Such a move is indispensable because a frequent spate of road accidents could create a state of uncertainty and fear in the minds of Cameroonians and sow the seeds of confusion in the minds of foreign investors. Such an outcome would be disastrous for the country, especially at such a time when it badly needs foreign investment to shore up the economy.

The problem is not so much that drivers blatantly flout traffic rules, thus turning road use into something of a jungle game. It is rather that enforcement of road safety regulations leaves a lot to be desired. Many of our roads that are supposed to be marked remain unmarked. Some major road junctions are not provided with a lighting system and even when they are, drivers do not respect them. Furthermore, a good number of the vehicles that ply the roads are not road worthy. As such, they are nothing but death traps prowling the roads searching for preys. The catalogue of failings could be longer.

Government must really take a fresh look at its road transport policy, otherwise, whatever rescue package is put in place will be nothing more than papering over the cracks, in other words, a recipe for more disasters. It is necessary, for instance, for government to set up a National Road Safety Commission which would have some autonomy and oversee all of these areas of concern.

However, ideas are one thing and implementation, another. Perhaps while we spend time thinking, another disaster…and then another, will loom ominously and then strike. Let’s make hay while the sun shines and remember that a stitch in time saves nine.

© 2009

samedi 21 novembre 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 24th of August 2002, in reaction to a cabinet reshuffle President Paul Biya had just announced. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.


Although the shuffle was expected, some of the changes it contained might not have been predictable. Prior to the exercise for instance, newspaper speculations had been rife with how some members of government were on their way out. These included the Prime Minister and Head of Government Peter Mafany Musonge and Higher Education Minister Jean Marie Atangana Mebara.

In the end, the person who mattered most in the decision, that is President Paul Biya, retained his Prime Minister and twice promoted the Higher Education Minister as Minister of State and Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic. Henceforth, both men will be the President’s closest collaborators on a daily basis. They will assist him in the day-to-day running of the country.

The choice of the two men, just like that of the rest of the cabinet, generally, was sound, politically speaking. Paul Biya can make such choices, for he has decades of experience as president and is aided by the rare tranquility which makes our country an island of peace in a sea of turbulence. Cameroon commands considerable respect among its peers in Africa and runs a security system – some say a `police state`- whose ruthless efficiency makes it one of the best in Africa.

Peter Mafany Musonge thus becomes President Biya’s longest serving Prime Minister , having been appointed 6 years previously. Contrary to what some observers may think, Musonge is getting a just reward for a job well done. An engineer by profession, he came to the Prime Ministership after eight years as General Manager of the Cameroon Development. Corporation (CDC), the country’s largest parastatal and the biggest employer after the State of Cameroon. The scientific rigour and precision with which he ran the CDC were the same he has so far applied as Prime Minister. Among his achievements for the country are an impressive economic growth rate, the curbing of inflation and the feeling that generally speaking, something is being done to turn around a once depressed economy. Perfectly at ease in English and French, he has won the respect of international donors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Paris Club. At home, there are no scandals haunting him. There are no skeletons in the cupboard. Mr Musonge can therefore be said to be a `Mr. Clean`.

From several points of view, Jean-Marie Atangana Mebara was the right man to succeed the long serving Marafa Hamidou Yaya as Secretary General at the Presidency. He scored high ratings at the Ministry of Higher Education, incidentally his first ministerial portfolio. He is perhaps the best higher education Minister we have ever had. Yet, he was not himself from the ranks of professors. He was, and remains an administrator and has always insisted on staying that way, even when a State university such as the University of Buea whose Pro-Chancellor he was, requested that he put on academic robes for a ceremony at the university.

In Atangana Mebara`s time as Higher Education minister, students, lecturers and auxiliary staff largely regained their moral. He has sanitized the higher education examinations system, even if a lot still remains to be done. He has dealt a deadly blow at bribery and corruption as a prerequisite for the passing of entrance examinations. He has laid down clear-cut guide lines for the promotion of lecturers. He has promoted inter-university solidarity and made members of the higher education group feel like one big and caring family. He is above all a man who listens. While at Higher Education, files were known to leave his office almost as soon as they got there. People who frequented him have testified that his table was usually bare, in testimony. He will no doubt need that skill at a place like the Presidency where many important files are treated.

Interestingly, Atangana Mebara as Secretary General is now the authority in charge of bilingualism, which is just as well, because of all the ministers in Paul Biya`s government, he was the one who made it a point to use both languages at the least opportunity. He must now make sure everyone else implements that cherished government policy.

The public service and the nation at large would be better places if all ministers emulated the examples of the re-appointed Prime Minister and Head of Government, and the new minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic.

© 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 3rd of October 2002, two days after the day the SCNC usually causes a stir in the country as it accentuates its call for an independent state for the once Southern Cameroons. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.


A certain aphorisms hold that there is no problem without a solution. In fact, another goes even further by intimating that there are problems because their solutions exist. The real challenge therefore lies in finding the solution and implementing it.

The Anglophone problem as it has come to be known is really one that far from being dismissed as irrelevant should be examined with the greatest attention. It would be a disservice to our great nation, Cameroon, if the authorities were to sweep it under the carpet or simply paper over the cracks. Fortunately just at a time when it could have been reached, Fons of the North West have offered to officially take up the matter with the authorities.

But the Fons did another thing that was praiseworthy .They condemned both violence and secession. This political commentator adds his voice to that of the Fons, having come face-to -face with the horrors of war when he covered those in Angola, Mozambique, Chad and the Western Sahara. The casualties of war are as incalculably colossal as the adverse effects of secession. So any thought of violence and or secession must be crushed, with the last iota of breath buried and a requiem mass said over them. That is a figure of speech.

While the government studies the files from the Fons and deploys as well as employs its own channels to get an insight into the problem, there are certain measures that can be taken quickly at little cost, yet be appreciated by those feeling the pinch of the threat of secession.

The vexatious issue of religious studies at the GCE is a case in point. For years now official institutions such as universities and public competitive examination organizers have excluded religions studies when considering Advanced Level subjects. The consequence is that the work students and teachers spend years doing is suddenly and inexplicably treated with scorn and derision. Of course, Anglophone students are the ones who bear the brunt of the policy because they are the ones who do Religious Studies as a subject at the Advanced Level. Yet no tangible reason has ever been given by government for this state of affairs. Is it not a paradox that of all the subjects on the curriculum, Religious Studies is the one that can consolidate the policy of building a corruption free and upright Cameroon? Given this, it is difficult to argue with compatriots who feel they are being intentionally victimized because that subject is part of their own culture. The accordance of Religious Studies its rightful place among other subjects is therefore a necessity because such a move would go some way towards addressing the question of Anglophone marginalization..

Another bone of contention is the issue of official bilingualism in Cameroon. Our constitution is crystal clear about the question of bilingualism. Part 1, section 1 (3) of the constitution states: “The Official Languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status. The state shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country’’.

Despite those lofty assertions, the reality on the ground is otherwise. Daily, we read and here public official announcements, adverts and public tenders only in one language- French – which is the language of the majority spoken by about 80 per cent of the country’s population. And no one seems to care. Unless the government takes urgent steps to enforce the stringent implementation of bilingualism, this problem will persist.

One way of addressing the issue could be to give official translation a ministerial department of its own. The promotion of national languages could then be part of the package with provincial and divisional services being set up. It would be up to the government, of course, to do the fine tuning. If these measures are implemented, they will not only reduce the tension created by the SCNC and its quest for secession but would also augur well for national unity. A stitch in time saves nine.

© 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 18th of February 2005, following her appointment as Secretary of State for Commerce. One factor that drew attention to Ama Tutu Muna`s appointment was the fact that at the time of her appointment, she was an outsider, having come into government from the private sector, unlike most of the other appointees who were civil servants. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.


Whatever way one looks at it Ama Tutu Muna, was always going to be one of the most closely watched cabinet members here in Cameroon. She is one of the relatively few females in government, just as she is one of the very few cabinet ministers born in the 1960s, most others having been born in the 1950s. The major reason for the raised eye brows about her though, is that she is a Muna. From that point of view, it all looks like history repeating itself because her father, the late Solomon Tandeng Muna was a leading long time cabinet member of the country.

Be it as it may, fundamentally, the Muna now touring Momo Division, her administrative unit of origin, is different from her father and even her swashbuckling brother, Ben Muna a high profile barrister who was once President of the Cameroon Bar Association. Ben has, of course, also dabbled in politics, having been Campaign Manager of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), Cameroon`s leading opposition party, before he and the party parted ways. Unlike her father who ended up by breaking ranks with Yaounde, by tendering his resignation to President Paul Biya, Ama Tutu Muna has worked quietly but stoutly for the regime in place.

Although some observers believe Ben is the person who would have emerged minister from that family, had he been conciliatory towards the CPDM, the truth may never really be known, for in her own right, Ama Tutu Muna won many hearts and minds prior to her being appointed Secretary of State. She was a successful building contractor with one of the jewels of her making being the new court building at up station, Bamenda. It is not surprising therefore that as she left Yaounde for her Momo constituency, even members of the opposition in Momo were planning to receive her.

If Ama Tutu Muna who was a few years ago given the traditional title of Mafor, does not unite Momo, then perhaps no one else will. So far, Momo Division has lacked that single political force that could cut across party lines.

While Ama Tutu Muna may have succeeded as a contractor and is succeeding as a social being, the third challenge lies in her very job as Commerce Secretary of State. As things stand, she has what it takes to make it, for apart from holding qualifications in English and translation, Ama Tutu Muna has traveled widely.

Interestingly, Ama Tutu Muna’s boss, Commerce Minister, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana has an even richer background in commerce, having done higher studies in that domain and worked in Cameroon and Europe. Together, both can make the sky the limit for the Commerce Ministry. But more importantly, for Ama Tutu Muna, the people of Momo would be proud to say in future: ‘Here is a ministry that delivered the goods because our daughter was one of its key architects”.

© 2009


By Tikum Mbah Azonga

This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon National Radio Station on the 11th of July 2003, as a spur-of-the-moment reaction to the predicament faced by the urban communities of Cameroon. The paper was one of the daily political commentaries I delivered on the 6.30 a.m. prime time national and world news on Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaoundé, between 2002 and 2005.

There is an aphorism which contends that stronger than any army in the world is an idea whose time has come. The same line of thought, put in more simplistic language would be the well known saying that, a banana that has to ripen will ripen, regardless of where it is put.

By the look of things, that time has come for Cameroon’s towns and cities. More than ever, the heat is on, for Cameroon to come clean and clean up its act, in terms of urban development. The large number of international events whose organizers choose Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital city, for their venue should set our authorities wondering loudly whether sooner or later the figurative skeletons in our urban cupboards will not be unwittingly exposed to the visitor. Our cooperation pact with international donors such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), propped by HIPC funds, compel us to clean up our backyard as we fight poverty and strive to distribute the country’s wealth so that something filters down to the underprivileged. Apart from all that, Cameroon’s leadership position in the Central African sub region makes it a must for the country to serve as an example to be emulated by the other countries.

Nonetheless, our country, despite the progress made so far in the domain, still has a long way to go, before our cities, for instance, can compete favorably with their opposite numbers in other countries. The problem with Cameroon is that unlike in the developed countries its employees generally have a touch-and-go attitude. As a result, they do not seem to notice that objects are in the wrong place and things are only too often done the wrong way. Therefore, it appears normal even to the authorities for women selling food, for example, to set up a vending stand in the midst of contaminated standing water, food peelings and decomposed food particles. It appears normal for smelling rubbish heaps to stand for weeks and months on Yaounde streets, without those responsible for cleanliness batting an eyelid.

For the situation to improve a drastic change in mentalities on the part of Cameroonians is badly needed. That time is now, more than ever, considering that Cameroon has up to three authorities that have a direct say in the development of its towns. These are the local councils, the Ministry of Town Planning and Housing, and the Urban Affairs Ministry. All three authorities stand to benefit if they put their heads together, rather than work in isolation, which would be counter productive. The truth is that Cameroonians want better living and working conditions, and it really does not matter to them who is in charge. So, the authorities really and truly must go out of their way to understand the present dispensation. But this must be done in partnership with the people themselves, with their views being sought. Let us make a difference, by all means. We owe it to the Cameroonian people.

© 2009