By Tikum Mbah Azonga
This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) on the 7.30 prime time national radio news programme of the 12th of April 2002. This paper was one of hundreds of political chronicles I delivered on the news programme from 2002 to 2005. The article was a spontaneous reaction to the national political snapshot of Cameroon on the day the commentary was delivered. The trigger was the move taken by the ruling political party of the country, the Cameroon People`s Democratic Movement (CPDM), given substance through the reorganization of the basic organs of the party.
A certain dictionary defines the word, “character” as a distinctive mark, a peculiar trait that is something which marks out or distinguishes one thing or person from another.
Although the above definition is limited, the question may arise, whether a country or nation can also have a character. Americans for instance, have a very strongly marked nationalist character, which makes them love their country, right or wrong, as dearly as one loves a spouse. For the American man or woman, love of the fatherland is a strong, innermost feeling which he or she would not trade or betray, even for a kingdom. As one loves a spouse, therefore, one is equally prepared to go to any lengths to defend his or her interests.
What then is the national character of our nation, Cameroon? Well, compared with other countries, the Cameroonian loves peace, his neighbour, education, beer and football. But then, there are moments when some of us question the national character. And that is why some Cameroonians have lamented being born Cameroonians. Such regret is, to say the least, is as pointless as it is counter productive. It is like saying one regrets being born to one’s parent. The fact is that at birth one cannot choose nationality, just as one cannot choose one’s parents. It is a reality into which one is born and over which one really has no choice and even strictly speaking, no right of reply.
Besides, even if one is not happy being a Cameroonian as such, can one pack one’s bags and move into another country and at once adopt that country and be accepted by it? Of cause not! There is therefore no place like home, which is not to say home is a bed of roses.
The point is that every Cameroonian has a right to live in the great national triangle. There is room in it for us all. No son or daughter has any greater right to that national space than anyone else. No one should therefore allow themselves to be out maneuvered or to chicken out.
Our national newspapers ought to be champions of the national character, like those of other countries such as Nigeria, are. But one finds that generally that is not always the case, for, some papers tend to mix up national interests with the interests of those who govern us. There is no doubt that our leaders, as public figures, ought to be x-rayed journalistically speaking, but the nation as such, is untouchable, unassailable and inviolable. As the late statesman S.T. Muna put it: “people come and go but, the nation remains”. So, let us, by all means, focus on the many similarities that unite us, than on the few differences that divides us.