Cameroon – Opinion: MATHIAS OWONA NGUINI AND THE SOUTHERN CAMEROON PROBLEM
August 21, 2017
By Atanga Achiri, PhD*
This paper is provoked by a recent outrage that Mr Owona came out with against the Anglophone community of Cameroon during this crisis.
Those who follow the media landscape in Cameroon should know MATHIAS OWONA NGUINI. Without vetting into his biography, it is important to note that he is the son of many times Minister Joseph Owona. He is a professor at the University of Yaounde 1. Worthy to note that he had been a critique of the Biya system for so long after his studies in France. But when he was cornered and called upon to grab an Associate Professorship on the basis of writing on the charity actions of Madam Chantal Biya, his mouth became numb. That is not the onus of this paper. It is my wish to explain some key facts to our professor, who has refused to think as one. The fact that he is a professor does not make him an expert of the Cameroonian political history. Not that a Masters holdert wants to lecture an Associate Prof but that history is very stubborn subject and always lay bare for everyone to see.
This paper is provoked by a recent outrage that Mr Owona came out with against the Anglophone community of Cameroon during this crisis. For so long a time he has been given the audacity to spit fire on the Anglophone people of Cameroon. This is because our own elites have either been frightened to their core and cannot stand up on this Pseudo intellectual who is supposed to use his classrooms and television appearances as a means to looks for solutions to this problem. Or maybe they are too satisfied with their pay checks that they have become so comfortable and give a blind eye on the plight of their people and by so doing allow people like Owona Nguni to spin the rod into the very wounds that hurt the Anglophone community of this country.
For the sake of clarity, I will like to pinch into some of the diatribes that this guy has used albeit in French before translating “des apprentis sorciers » qui croient pouvoir faire « céder le pouvoir « un état de colonisés tardifs », « encore faudrait-il pouvoir imposer la voie armée de la sécession à la République du Cameroun qui n’acceptera jamais une séparation pacifique » ; « En tout cas, il n’y a pas de Négociations avec les Sécessionnistes » ; « ce sont des analphabètes » ; « Ils sont fous ces Autonomistes » ; « les aventuriers » ; « On verra qui va payer le Prix de leur Radicalisation d’aliénés » ; « si en plus les illuminés de l’Ambazonisme tente la voie armée, ils seront massacrés « est-ce qu’on a peur des cercles concentriques…s’ils dérangent, on les coupe »… If my French is still better, these insults are what can push an aggrieve people to the wall. Calling Anglophones a late colony that was recently captured and that if they continue they should be massacred are words that need serious introspection on both of the divides.
This is pure genocidal provocations that a society that respects human rights need to investigate. For a professor to say these things loud and clear on a TV program is just a means of validating what that society has been planning. Research has shown that universities and by extension, its students and teachers are true reflection of any society. This therefore means that the society in which we live consider one part of its population as a colony that inhabits insects that can be wiped out by the master. Need not remind us that the Rwandan genocide got its start from the very use of such words that became a scar on the minority population.
Mathias Owona Nguni should understand that a society is rated better on how it treats minorities and people with low power in that society. In short, James Banks in his book “Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society” clearly states that “ The minority problem is a worldwide problem and each time the minority clashes with the majority, there is a creation of “Ins” and Outs”. The onus therefore is on the state that controls all the cannons of power to make the minority considered the “outs” group to feel comfortable and welcome as equals within that union”. If our professor did not read such books but take upon himself to act and speak as he wishes because he has been given the opportunity to speak, I can only say that somewhere we are missing the real essence of a university in Cameroon.
Being a university professor should tell Mathias that this is the time when our so called intellectuals should come together, put their brains together, speak the truth and propose solutions to the government to implement. The university should be the incubator of knowledge that hatches hot egg solutions to societal problems. That is why they are considered as citadels of learning. It is the place where emotions are kept aside and professors work apolitically and spew out intellectualism from their laboratories to safe their societies. But when an intellectual passes for an emotional debate hero, then what do you expects from a Divisional Officer who got his job after his A- levels or 1st Degree without getting into real world research?
Dehumanization is a crime in many societies and people are arrested and tried for doing that. It may come in many forms, verbally, emotionally or otherwise expressly committed. Such statements made by Mr. Owona Nguini are verbal expressions that lead to emotional dehumanization that need to be looked into. The absence of Anglophone intellectuals on TV stations to debate such issues should not mean that people like Owona should liberally crush the Anglophone community under his shoes. If his society thought him to preach hate and an expressed violence against a part of his society, then permit me say, he is not fit to be a university Don.
As a university Don, Mr Owona should understand that the fabric of a society is laid on the multi-characteristic nature and plurality of that society. This is embodied on the principles of truth speaking and the ability to put forward your views without any fear. It is worthy to remind him that our society is in dying need of intellectuals who are ready to proffer solutions and not hate speeches. Let it be told that the Anglophone community in Cameroon form part of that minority which Banks is referring to in his book. This therefore means that the state and those in the majority has as assignment to make that minority feel at home within a context of mutual respect.
Worthy of understanding is the fact that this union was born out of historical deceit that needs to be corrected. Corrections mean that the state of the union needs to be looked into. Any state that that is build upon historical lies will never stand tall but on a contrary, a state that was destroyed by historical lies will certainly rise one day. The state of Israel should remind us of such a state that was destroyed out of historical lies but is today a glowing example of a powerful nation.
Do we need to remind Mathia Owona Nguini that even mighty America has it on records that the president must address the state of the Union once a year? This is a must so as to assure every citizen that they form part of that union and their interest are safeguarded as equals and not as a subjugated colony. What then is difficult in a society like purs where history and colonialism played a big role to separate its people and hatched two different colonial systems? Why don’t we have it as a policy to review the state of the union within time frame? This will assure everyone the opportunity to air out the problems they see in the union.
*Culled from Cameroon Infos.Atanga Achiri ,PhD Fellow,University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
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