It was hard to discern forbearance in the fearless and powerful writer and critic of Cameroon’s political landscape, but forbearance, genuine patriotism and social responsibility were the qualities he prized. The Cameroon Nation ought to be the place where the meaning of Cameroonians’ life matches the marvels of man’s labour. Dr. Charles Ateba Eyene wondered aloud why this was not the case in Cameroon!
But poor statecraft management in Cameroon has become such a pun among Cameroonians for the past 50-years, that it now seems religion. Cameroon’s kleptomaniacs most of whom are civil servants, coming from a little clan and not businessmen, are unusually hideously cloaked with legality, and armed with authority…cum fearsome arrogance. They daily baffle the few bright examples of honest men among them swearing provocatively that they belong to the ruling class hence are fearless. Cameroon’s spiritual leaders, leaders of opposition parties, businessmen, helpless peasants, etc. are tired of decrying this state of affairs. All has been like throwing water on a duck’s back.
Dr. Charles Ateba Eyene, you tried to enter the moral battle against all of these by exposing them in your wonderful books and your sharp social conscience clashed with the filthy sycophants who questioned your audacity to do just that. Yet these were your parents who brought you up like a child through to the schools you attended nurturing you with the moral menus to be what became. You confirmed that democracy with all its defects is certainly the safest form of government, but you condemned a pseudo-democracy, submerged in a mindless centralised unitary system of rule, which enjoyed a filthy monolithic morality. Indeed, a system which beat the drums of democratic governance daily by the creations of anti-corruption commissions, while the music released caressingly loud, is rhythmically suitable for heedless public fund swindlers and autocratic fleet-footed dancers. You questioned why the top brass of our society, seen and listened to, home and abroad are the same guys who denude the nation of its financial earnings. In fact, they behave as if they were born before shamefulness!
Dr. Ateba Eyene, you remarked several times in your works and roundtable conferences that it is a lesson in history, that people who are denied a fair share in political power, arising from a majority and minority consideration, and are also soullessly marginalised, are therefore also denied a share in the benefit of power. Why? Because politics is vulgar when not liberalised by history; and, of course, history fades into mere literature when it loses sight of its relationship to politics. And indisputably while present politics is history, history is dialogue, fact and not literature.
Our Government for more than three decades now is heavily weighted on an unorthodox filthy principle of what can be described as“political accommodation”. This system gives leverage as it mindlessly encourages, shameless intractable corruptive practices: tribalism, favouritism, nepotism and even thuggery and political hygiene. It nurtures corruption and other sinister practices to the extent that its practitioners utterly ignore the fact that they are public servants or authorities and therefore accountable to their employer, who is no other than the electorate.
Political Accommodation: A Dyke against Eradicating Corruption!
What then is political accommodation? It is a practice, particularly, in a unitary form of government professing a monolithic morality, in a semi-presidential system. Here, the chief executive appoints and dismisses his collaborators at will not necessarily through the disapproval of the public. Appointees to posts of high responsibilities in such a government belong to a “vicious circle”. They remain loyal to who appoints them. Indeed, it is a kind of “guild” which promotes political clientelism and henchmen, political jingoism and greediness. This is a primitive “hold-tight” principle in the Cameroon Government since from the reign of the late President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Since after the April 6th attempted coup d’etat it was intensified till date and it has done the nation immeasurable irreparable damage.
Political accommodation also thrives on the dirty principle of the aristocracies of birth, divisions, clans/tribes, camaraderie, regions, opulence and of easily bought dubious political supporters, from which all appointments are made in Cameroon by the Chief Executive with mediocre individuals often chosen over their betters in both academic and professional fields in the name of political gratification.
Political accommodation creates the most offensive vicious circles in whatever political system, let alone Cameroon’s pseudo-democratic organisation. Why? The reason is simple, the same people parade the corridors of power whereby they maintain amonolithic morality and try to convince Cameroonians and the international community that our democratic practise is advanced.
And nobody in this club can criticise another as each follows the other in the worthless dance round the vicious circle, except his mind is made of a special social fabric. And, of course, the Garga Haman Adjis, Titus Edzoas, Eteki Mboumas, etc. are few among the shameless kleptomaniacs.
Dr. Charles Ateba Eyene you accomplished your work and ended your mission abruptly like that of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi, John & Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Sangkara, etc. But you opened the eyes of many Cameroonians and not just those of your tribesmen in the Centre and South Regions. Your many books written, particularly, “Les paradoxes du pays organisateur…”
within a few years of existence are a commendable achievement. This book cited above raised a lot of political dust and threatened your detractors, who are ever seeking to suppress the truth by considering books and all forms of writing as objects of terror.
You have suffered a cancer of jealousy and political intolerance in our political circles executed by men/women in the name ofpolitical hygiene, which has been the instrument in the hands of blockheaded political Pollyannas anywhere in the world. A Machiavellian principle, where if the worthless politician fails to shut up your mouth or bend you to join their bandwagon he can only snuff you out of life and this has robbed Cameroon of outspoken and honest citizens.
Dr. Charles Ateba Eyene, you have finished your job and although you have gone beyond the realms of physical existence at a tender age, you will live forever in the hearts of all Cameroonian patriots, who will continue to draw inspiration from your life. You remain an enigma, the most controversial Alternate Member of the Central Committee of Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) of President Paul Biya’s ruling political party. Nevertheless, some gurus of your political party did not only hate your progressive militancy but feared your boldness which they called pomposity! It was the acknowledgement of their guilt of what you wrote about them, about their impolitic and thievery attitude in the name of CPDM untouchables. Most of your detractors are already regretting their short-sightedness, but ululations cannot repair thither.
Aptly, Ernest Hemingway (1899-19610), US novelist & short-story writer observed that:
“If people bring so much courage to the world, the world has to kill them to break them, so, of course, it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially”.
Senator Robert Francis Kennedy, (1925-1968) playing the risky politics of popularity in the 1968 primaries of the democratic party, while vying for the United States Presidency was cut down by the bullet of Sirhan Sirhan, the boy who shot him at the Ambassador Hotel. Nevertheless, in a rather prophetic style, in 1966, in a ripple of hope, he had this to say:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Few, he estimated, are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows like it is the case in Cameroon, where statecraft mismanagement is a religion. Most of the top brass of the Cameroon society ride the ship of the “get-rich quick”. They are always over-pitching their expectations and ever misreading their socio-cultural, economic and political barometres and do not brave the censure of their colleagues and wrath of their society. After all, the centre forward in this club would ask any agitator to present the proofs.
The late Senator taught us that moral courage like what you, Dr. Ateba Eyene had cultivated is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Senator Kennedy believed in 1966 then that those with moral courage to enter the moral conflict like you Dr. Ateba Eyene would find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.
After all, it is not the senseless political murderer who threatens the society than the man with ideas, who even when he passes on to eternity leaves a reminiscence of himself in books, for instance. Many young followers sprout with relay batons to follow, resuscitate, promote, and propagate their precursor’s ideas, perhaps, more forcefully than ever. There is no wonder that Ernest Hemingway remarked earlier that, if people bring so much courage to the world the world has to kill them to break them, so, of course, it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterwards many are strong at the broken places.
It is a shame that our political maniacs fail to understand that, the future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic towards common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will bring to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of Cameroonian society.
Man, after all, is not a figure in the landscape. He is a shaper of the landscape. And the shaper of our political landscape, you were, Dr. Charles Sylvestre Ateba Eyene. Cameroonians of all hues of political opinion realised that there was a vein of gold hidden inside your nature. Adios! May your soul rest in perfect peace!
*Dr. Awah-Dzenyagha is a retired civil servant, Journalist, Political Scientist, Member of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Transport, London and an independent writer, poet and critic. He is author of several articles and books and is based in Wum in Menchum Division, North West Region of Cameroon, where he is at the same time the Executive Director at the Foundation for Community Development, Wum.