Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Communication: everybody’s trade

By Tazoacha Asonganyi inYaounde.

Before all of us became communicators with the advent of the social networking imposed by new information and communication technologies, democrats and dictators alike had seen the handwriting on thewall.

They had hurried to change their schools of journalism into schools of communication, and their ministries of information into ministries of communication.

Communication, as famously defined by a communicator, “means simply getting any idea across and has no intrinsic relation to the truth ... It can be a peddler’s tool or the weapon of a political knave, or the medium of a new religion...”

Franck Sinatra used his song “My Way,” to tell the world that he did things his way. It is true of communication: everybody is doing it his/her way. No need to have headache about the effort of the present minister of communication to out-communicate even “zero mort.” It is his own way: running his mouth at every opportunity, and saying things that have no intrinsic relation to the truth.

The CPDM regime never ceases to fascinate us with their communication antiques. After the frivolous “motions of support” communicated to Cameroon Tribune and CRTV by self-seeking elite “on behalf of their people,” governors and other administrative authorities have taken the cue.

 They are ordering school children to mass up at different corners of various towns to wear free tee-shirts printed by the regime, and raise banners with messages concocted by the regime, in praise of the one and only Paul Biya for “offering 25.000 jobs to the youths.”

Some are even asking the old man to hang on until 2035 to ensure that Cameroon becomes the “emerging nation” he has promised for that year!

Of course, the messages for his 2011 candidature promise 100% votes for him. Never mind that they know fully well that the people’s votes are usually minted in administrative offices.
In their free-wheeling communication, they have borrowed a leaf from Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the Malawian dictator who was worshipped like a God. The dictator used to boast at political rallies that “People outside this country call me dictator. But I tell them this: if I am a dictator I am a dictator by the people’s will...” And the people used to clap and ululate in response, satisfying his ego that he was a dictator by the people’s design!

Talk about longevity in power in Cameroon, or a wasted 50 years of independence, and you will get a Kamuzu response: the ballot box is there; it is the people that decide. You will get the same response whether you talk about the leadership of political parties, or of the country. Luckily before Kamuzu’s demise, he had learned the hard way about the people’s power...

When you are inundated with such self-serving “communication” about “the people,” and you fall on an essay titled “Top 10 best elected dictators,” you can only smile at the thought of the boastful Kamuzu, especially when the league has on the n°10 spot none other than Hosni Mubarak who was chased from power by the people on February 10, 2011. Mubarak was 82 years old, had stayed in power for 32 years, and was elected in 1987, 1993, and 1999 with over 95% of the votes, and in 2005 with 88.6% through processes his sycophants said represented the people’s will.  The make-believe was propped up by “communication” which announced at every opportunity that it was all the people’s design!

Communication is always a double-edged sword. Remember when PC Fonso, a “social democrat,” dodged taking up the mantle as “eldest member of the house” to communicate his vision for Cameroon? We said then that he was the “microcosm of a failed opposition.” We also drew his attention to Clara Eissner Zetkin, a German feminist Marxist, who, on August 30, 1932, although she was blind and sick, opened the session of the Reichstag, as the oldest member of the House, and used the occasion to speak on the communist and feminist causes she believed in, and to denounce fascism she spent her life fighting against.  Probably because of the public exposure of his defaults, our own “eldest member of the house” was at his second outing this time around. But see what message he communicated to his peers at the opening of the session on March 7, 2011: praise galore for a regime his party is fighting to change!

 If you can’t beat them, praise them....
Biyiti Bi Essam used tell us that the army is "le grand muet" [the corps that never speaks], therefore nobody should talk about it!  Unfortunately, the proverbial child has shouted to the nation again, this time from Bonaberi, that "le grand muet" has no clothes! And they are going about their communication to refute this in the clumsiest way, forgetting that we are in the era of live-from-everywhere communication, and need audio-visuals to convince us, especially when it involves selling after the market!

Yes, everybody has become a communicator. The transactions of rulers can no longer be concealed from the people for long because democratised communication gets details of every happening out on the public place, in a stack of communicated information.

That is why, although all of us are communicators, we still need our journalists because they are supposed to have more judgement and perspective with which they can help us to make sense out of the cacophony in the stacks.
  After all, it has always been the place of journalists to tell us who has no clothes, not that of “innocent children” bereft of fear.

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