By Tazoacha Asonganyi ,Yaounde
To cause the euphoric CPDM barons to descend from their imaginary horses of pride, I gave them the following caution when they were making noises around 6th November 2010: “As CPDM militants celebrate 6th November, they should keep in mind that the people have changed a lot over 28 years. The media revolution has broadened and deepened the people’s thinking, and reinforced their insistence on taking control of their destiny. The people have learned a lot from some of the powerful symbols and symbolic acts about change communicated to them from all corners of the globe during the better part of 28 years, right in their bedrooms. 2011 will neither be like 2004, 1997, nor 1992!”
By the time of this caution, the Sidi Bouzid Intifadah or what the western media have dubbed the Jasmin Revolution had not yet taken place in Tunisia, nor had Egypt’s own that followed closely on its heels. At that time, the only signposts were February 2008 in Cameroon, the “People Power” revolution of Corazon Aquino, and the colour revolutions that followed the collapse of the Berlin Wall, especially in Eastern European countries.
Few politicians can decipher their weaknesses from a position of ‘strength’, least of all CPDM militants! Politicians in a position of strength hardly ever think about the inevitability of defeat, or the inevitability of change. They hardly ever embrace reform in a more orderly manner, to pre-empt a more violent alternative.
Politicians are usually prone to choosing easy options. In creating ELECAM, Paul Biya sought to make it ‘his thing’, and appointed a coterie into the electoral board to act as a decoy for the totally submissive cronies he put as Manager and Assistant Manager of the electoral body. In doing this, he opted for an easy victory, stage-managed by these cronies, rather than a hard-fought, well-deserved one dependent on the will of the people.
In reaction to these antics, and the ineptitude of his cronies, Cameroonians have abandoned the whole thing to him, waiting patiently to teach him a lesson about their sovereignty, and their supremacy over him.
In politics like in football, an invisible hand – the ‘hand of God’ as Maradonna would describe it – can score critical goals. Some political heroes of the past may start claiming that they have been calling for ‘boycott’ of electoral registers to prepare the ground for an appropriate reaction. Interestingly, the ‘hand of God’ seems to have pushed out of the boat for change, those who would have barricaded themselves in their native provinces and issued appeals for “calm” in a sea of trouble.
There will be many grievances that will trigger the revolution being engineered by ELECAM in broad daylight, like the longevity of one man at the helm of the state, the insistence to use old registers doctored in the past by MINAT/D, the obscurantist approach of shunning new technologies, the glaring partisan control of the electoral process and the resultant loss of interest by the people, and the emptiness of majorities – like those of Ben Ali and Mubarak - gained by long reigning dictators in the ballot box.
There is also the possibility that one of these days the redoubtable WikiLeaks may compound the people’s bitterness by publishing the details of billions of tax-payers’ money stashed in foreign bank accounts by each of our long reigning dictators and their cronies!
Tanks, blank and life bullets, truncheons, water cannons, military boots, infested prison cells, and all the brute force that has been used to keep the people in check in the past will be at the rendezvous. But Corazon Aquino had since taught us, and Tunisians and Egyptians have just confirmed, that these weapons of oppression and repression are helpless in the face of masses of a determined people.
Although our own ‘leaders’ do not seem to be behaving like they know it, such masses of determined people are usually got through organisation and strategising; they are usually the outcome of grand coalitions of ‘opposition forces,’ not isolated calls for the people to ‘rise like one man’.
Of course, such grand coalitions need ‘leaders’ that do not have fixations about elections, since the futility of ballot boxes has since been shown even within their political parties. The emptiness of all-powerful ruling parties that derived their ‘power’ from ‘ballot boxes’ and the confiscation of state authority in Tunisia and Egypt is there for all to see!
Some of the leaders are swearing that they can only join the other ‘leaders’ to organise the people if it is to “fight for free and fair elections”, as if following the agenda set by the regime is the only avenue through which the people can reclaim their sovereignty. The people need to be organised in preparation for the impending ELECAM revolution. Those who are against coalitions are for the antics of the regime in place!
In any case, the media revolution has rendered distance education very effective. The people have learned the use of their power by watching other peoples use their own power. In the process, they have become aware of the advantages of mass action! Whether our ‘small’ and ‘big’ leaders like it or not, the people are poised to roar!
As usual, some people will tell us they do not want ‘war’, as if ‘war’ only represents the act of the people wrestling back their confiscated sovereignty. Keeping the people in check with repressive forces while usurpers mess around with the sovereignty of the people is not ‘war’, until the people react to the effrontery. Such idle talk about ‘war’ only gives the impression that those who fight around the world for their freedom and the sovereignty of the people do so because they like ‘war’...