Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cameroon Cracks Down on CAR Rebels

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mocking the rule of law by lynching figuratively and in essence

                            By Tazoacha Asonganyi in Yaounde.
    Let me be frank, I had long decided that I should leave the “journalists” to slug it out themselves; to do whatever they like with their profession. But as the punches rain from each ‘side’, how much they resemble the subtle blows and jabs – and sometimes fatal punches - in every nook and corner of our society; in every other profession we turn to!
   When one of my friends spent a considerable length of time in a newspaper column every week educating us on the ills of our society, he finally gave up with the sigh of “The past tense of shit.” It was the expression of the feeling that everything that was supposed to be said had been said – and they did not seem to be listening - so what else? So he hung up his pen, so to say.

    Yes, once in a while, there is that strong feeling that all that can be said has been said, so one should leave society to fry in its own juice of filth. But what type of society would that be? It will be soulless, lifeless, without a critical spirit urging it to move forward! Those like me whose own profession is to spend time in the classroom teaching students are always reminded of the many of the students who sit through the lectures but still flunk, in spite of the best efforts at teaching. That is symbolic of society. Some say many people do not read; that many of those who read either do not understand, or forget too soon…So, it is good to continuously point out what has been said before – to go down memory lane often, and often enough as a form of revision.

   The rule of law abhors interferences like the ‘fifteen-days-renewable’ of administrators, suspension of journalists and news outlets by the National Communication Council, and many other niches carved out by government for appointed officials to wield discretionary power – a subversion of judicial authority by executive power! Indeed, such government appointees virtually always work actively or passively to diminish the rule of law.
    In society, there is always a constant flux of opinion based on the choices of individual members. The judgment reached by each individual on different issues is not neutral, but it represents a stance; it concerns only a part, not the totality of an experience. In a way, public opinion is a plural perspective that brings together diverse aspects of life's experience in a way that casts new light on apparently separate parts that form a whole.
   The news media are the outlets through which individual opinion is known in the court of public opinion. In a way, society is in a state of permanent flux of individual opinion – a warlike posture - in which truth is usually a casualty, although only temporarily, because of rejoinders, counter opinions and different points of view that reach the pool from which public opinion emerges. Therefore opinion is constantly changing as it gets fed with information, different points of view, different images, and different sound bites.

    This is why it was interesting to read the following in what can be called a “rejoinder” or better still, a rebuttal by a journalist:

“…It is not everybody who has the time and option to resort to [rejoinders and legal redress]. The rejoinder has its limits because it is not everybody who reads the first article that necessitated the reaction that will read the rejoinder. Secondly our law courts have been variously criticized of being corrupt, slow and easily manipulated….[A] section of the press always intervenes in such matters with well conceived write-ups to intimidate, blackmail and influence the course of justice…”

This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, public opinion is not based on the fact that all those who read an opinion necessarily all read a rejoinder or rebuttal; to argue in a rebuttal that a rejoinder is not a good leveller because readership evolves is “to saddle the press with an impossible burden,” to use the words of a learned judge.

    Secondly, the history of the judiciary and the rule of law convince us that where justice appears not to be as “neutral” or as efficient as it should, it nearly always turns around and reasserts its authority over the rough edges of power. Such rebounds have always been under the prompting of society that constantly engaged the judiciary in shadow boxing through test cases in which litigants exploited all legal openings to make their point and expand the realms of freedom.

   Indeed, US President Eisenhower is said to have described his appointment of Earl Warren and William Brennan as the two biggest mistakes of his presidency because the two Supreme Court justices, against the wishes of the president, led a liberal revolution in the USA during their tenure. About the press and individual sensibilities, one of the justices, William J. Brennan Jr. wrote the following opinion:

“The guarantees for speech and press are not the preserve of political expression or comment upon public affairs, essential as these are to healthy government. One need only pick up any newspaper or magazine to comprehend the vast range of published matter which exposes persons to public view, both private citizens and public officials. Exposure of the self to others in varying degrees is a concomitant of life in a civilised community.    The risk of this exposure is an essential incident of life in a society which places a primary value on freedom of speech and of press... We create a grave risk of serious impairment of the indispensable service of a free press in a free society if we saddle the press with the impossible burden of verifying to a certainty the facts associated in news articles with a person’s name, picture, or portrait...”

    Of course, the courts sometimes leave the impression that the law belongs to the rich and the powerful, but this is no excuse for preferring lynching to the rule of law. It is wrong to be a partisan of lynching robbers in essence, as happens so often in our society, or a partisan of lynching figuratively, like some journalists are doing with their peers and some news outlets.

    In this period of celebration of the life of Mandela, many of us are so fond of quoting him, or referring to his example. Mandela is revered because he held much power in his hands and knew how to use it. Most of us who quote him often turn out to be very bad copies of him once they hold just a little power.

   Those with thin skins should not leave the impression in the public mind that the press in Cameroon fought a gallant fight against censorship in the 1990s and censorship ended up having the last laugh.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cameroon national killed in Central African Republic

Cameroonian businessman was killed in Central African Republic, where clashes have left 600 people dead and thousands of others displaced, according to police.

The Cameroonian national was slaughtered on Sunday at the airport of Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, where Cameroon had organized special flights to repatriate its citizens, a police source in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde confirmed on Monday.

The Cameroonian was identified as Sali, a Muslim businessman who had lived in Bangui since 2002. He was attacked by an unknown man when he was escorting his family to the airport to return to Cameroon.

The tragedy came after last week's massacre of a Muslim Cameroonian man, his wife and their two children, who were burnt in Central African Republic's capital, the police said.

The four were victims of a revenge attack by Christians in Central African Republic against Muslims they accused of supporting the abuses by ex-Seleka rebels, mostly Muslims.

Statistics released by the Cameroonian Consulate in Central African Republic show that there are 3,500 Cameroonians living in Bangui, most of them Muslims from the northern parts of Cameroon.

After the repatriation of 516 of them between Friday and Saturday through Bangui M'Poko international airport, 178 others arrived in Douala, Cameroon's commercial capital, on Monday aboard a flight of the national carrier Camair-Co.    

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cameroon: Dr. Fru Urges Government to Endorse His AIDS Medicine.

Dr. Richard Fru, Executive Director of the Garden of Eden Naturopathic Institute of West Africa (GENIWA), headquartered in Buea and an ardent advocate of traditional medicine, has called on the Government of Cameroon, to recommend Anti-Oxy-Toxin (AOT),a powdered drug  produced by his institute for public use against the pandemic HIV/AIDS. He has also publicly invited renowned research centers that are interested to put to test the effectiveness of AOT. Dr.Fru made the call, December 2, on the occasion of the 2013 Word Aids Day, in an interview with The Recorder. Excerpts:
Dr. Fru, how did the Garden of Eden Naturopathic Institute of West Africa (GENIWA), celebrate  the 2013 World AIDS Day?
   In the past the Garden used to organize free screening for people to know their HIV status, public educational talks and even give traditional medicines to patients. But this year, we decided to remain silent as way to protest against the poor treatment given traditional health practitioners by the Government of Cameroon. We are not happy with the way Government is handling issues concerning traditional medicine.
We have been doing a lot following the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) for traditional health practitioners to be fully involved in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But it is unfortunate that Cameroon, which is a signatory to the WHO, has not honored the call for our active involvement in this fight.

Could you elaborate on your unhappiness with the Government?
Dr. Fru displays  his  Health Excellence Award from India
Of course, the treatment given us is very poor and suspicious. The campaign against traditional health practitioners started when the Ministry of Communication banned not only the advertisement of traditional medicines but even our health educational messages.
   I strongly think that if Government had good intention, it would have banned only the advertisement of our medicines as it says drugs are not legally required to be advertised in the country, and not educative/informative health messages.
  I was embarrassed when a member of the National Communication Council was questioned on a radio programme whether health education campaign by  traditional doctors is considered advertising and he answered in the affirmative, adding that, on grounds that the traditional doctor’s name is mentioned. There is that need to differentiate advertisement from health educational talk or messages.
One is even supposed to be paid going on air to educate the public. But some of us do it free of charge.Yet, authorities don’t want it done.
I strongly hold that the government services claiming to regulate the traditional medicine are not doing so in good faith.
Despite all letters my organization has sent to the National Communication Council(NCC), asking it to advise us on how to use the media to  better educate the public on health issues, it has not replied even one.
   If the Government is cracking down on traditional medicine reportedly because of charlatanism in the practice, there are some of us who, in addition to inspiration, have received formal training on what we do and have professional /academic qualifications to be recognized as doctors.Therefore, we should be given the right to address the public on health issues, for health is wealth and we want Cameroonians to be healthy all the times.
I know that just like many other Cameroonians, you are aware that Dr. Fru is winner of multiple awards for research in traditional medicine. For example, I was recently awarded the International Health Excellence Award by the Renowned Indian Board of Alternative Medicines for my “outstanding contribution and praiseworthy achievement in the field of holistic health and healing” by the renowned Indian Board of Alternative Medicines.”
 You must have also learnt that the  I was  conferred the academic/professional  title of “ Doctor of Naturopathy” by the  INDIAN BOARD OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES, after the  completion of an academic course  and research in natural medicine.
   We suspect some hidden hands are influencing Government to frustrate traditional medicine in Cameroon. When we try to find out from some authorities, they tell us how they think the media is exploiting. But Traditional health practitioners have never complained that the media is exploiting us. Why can’t they come out clearly to say they are fighting against traditional medicine, which the World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 80% of Africans depend on it for their health care. Why are they hiding behind the media to fight us?
   There is a wise saying that if you want to bring down a man, stop him from talking. In this present world, the media is the mouthpiece of the society; it is the vehicle that carries the end product from the shelves of the manufacturer to the consumer. Therefore, stopping us from talking through the media is considered as an abuse of human rights and as a well calculated plan to suppress the growth of traditional medicine in the country by rival groups.

What is your appeal now to the Government concerning your medicines produced by your institute to check HIV/AIDS?
I am calling on the government to promote our medicines and even subsidize their production for the welfare of Cameroonians, especially Anti-Oxy-Toxin (AOT), which is, I am convinced, is an effective cure against HIV/AIDS, and many other viral infections.
You would recall that when I programmed the launch of this medicine (AOT) in May 2011, the Government suddenly banned it on the eve of the event, reportedly by instruction from hierarchy.
    But over the years we have been using AOT, successfully, to treat and cure patients. The medicine has proven beyond reasonable doubts that it is effective for the treatment of not only HIV/AIDS but other complex diseases such as hepatitis B and C, herpes simplex viral infections, toxoplasmosis, and many others. Laboratory results even from the most renown and trusted hospitals in the country stand as prove to justify the veracity of our claim!
   I want to use this medium to also call on renowned health research institutions that are interested to put to test the effectiveness of AOT to come in, for we are open to all those who come in good faith.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

At Its 20th Anniversary Celebration: Cameroon GCE Board Urged To Maintain High Standards.

*Also advised To Make Examinations More Inclusive  

By Christopher Ambe
GCE Board Registrar: Sir Monono  Ekema  Humphrey
Secondary Education Minister Louis Bapes Bapes,  last November 28, in Buea used the 20th Anniversary of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education(GCE) Board and the inauguration of its head office  to call on  the registrar of the examinations body  to continue maintaining the high standards the Board has set for itself. He reminded the Board of the need to implement recommendations of two recently held GCE syllabus review conferences
      "I expect you to start implementing the outcome of the syllabus review conferences in Limbe and Kumba", the Minister told GCE Board Registrar Monono Ekema HumphreyMinister Bapes equally implored the registrar to put in place “maximum security and adequate procedures for the credibility of your examinations” and to proceed with periodic review of syllabus content and assessment strategies so as to make the board’s examinations reliable and comparable to those of other examination authorities especially in the light of scientific,professional,pedagogic and technological developments
  “ If you do that and your staff continues to measure learning with honesty, that will  make the certificates you award veritable international currencies that will be accepted in the  international market place”, the minister told  Mr.Monono Ekema ,adding that “The Board has set for itself and its products high standards. I challenge you to maintain them”
     The Registrar was also advised to carry out studies on how to widen the types of special needs he can cope with in order to make the examinations more inclusive.
The minister acknowledged the achievements so far registered by the GCE Board and called for more.
    Stressing the need for state corporations and establishments to be results-oriented, Minister Bapes noted, “As the people hold the government more and more accountable, so too Government shall hold its agencies more and more accountable”
Talking about the new GCE head office, the minister said what has been realized is only part of a whole. “We know that the initial design was for Blocks ‘A’,’B’ and ‘C’ and the fence. Government has constructed Block ‘A’ and the fence. Blocks ‘B’ and ‘C’ are still to be constructed”, he said, announcing that construction works for Block ‘B’ will soon start.
He called on the registrar to ensure the cleanliness and maintenance of the new building, which he counted as one of President Paul Biya’s greater achievement projects. Minister Bapes commended Chariot Company and Ndowecam Enterprise for the construction works as well as TA Engineers and the Control team for supervision.
    The Minister recalled that he made the construction of a befitting GCE Board office a priority project when in 2008 he visited Buea and saw the rented buildings used as the GCE Board office, with all the attendant inconveniences.
Minister  Louis Bapes  presiding at the GCE Board's  20th Anniversary
Although the GCE board was created in 1993, the Government initially budgeted for the construction of the GCE Board office in 2009 but due to some difficulties, the contract was only awarded in May 2012 and signed in July 2013, according to the minister.
Earlier in his address, Monono Ekema Humphrey, who  became GCE Board Registrar since 2006 ,said  Decree No.93/172 of 1st July 1993 signed by the President of the Republic ,marked  official birth date of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board, adding that 1993 to 2013 marks twenty years and calls for celebration.

GCE Board Achievements
The Registar boasted that the Board was celebrating 20 years of significant achievements.
Mr. Monono Ekema said in 1993 when the Board was created there was no organizational structure. Prime Ministerial Order No.112.CAB/PM of 12 October 1993 provided the legal framework for an organizational structure.
   According to the Registrar: “In 1993 Messrs.Dioh Sylvester and Azong Wara Andrew constituted the only human resources of the Board. Today 2013 it has full Council and 92 permanent workers and more; in 1993, it owned no equipment. At the age of 20 she owns an appreciable number of computers, laptops, computer printers, risogragh printers, optical mark reader machines, and other modern office equipment
“We all know that examination results were managed manually using hand ruled broad sheets called Mark Check Lists. Twenty years down the line she has moved from one automated system to another passing through the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) scanners and forms to E-registration with the consequential gain in time.
“The Board has moved from publishing results in September as it did in its first examination session in 1994, to publishing results in July as it has been doing for the last couple of years thereby facilitating candidates’ admissions within and outside Cameroon.
“The Board has also moved from two examinations with 30 subjects to eight examinations with over 400 subjects, as well as registering a geometric candidate increase, from 23000 candidates in 1994 to more than 150,000 in 2013)
“In 1994 examiners marked examinations out of good will and for virtually no payments.Today, in its 20th year of experience, the Board succeeds to pay transport dues, script dues, and complete out-of -station allowances at the official rates.Furthermore, in its early year’s .Board workers went without their lean salaries for several months. Today (with reasonable salaries), Board workers are not owed any arrears.
“In 1993 the Board owned no car; today twenty years after, the Board has a modest fleet of eight cars including one truck and one bus. To God be the glory”
   The Registrar said when the Board started out in 1993,she was not known to any international association but today it is a tall member of two major International associations of educational assessment in Africa and the in the world.
“In that capacity the Cameroon GCE Board has been at the forefront of the organization in Cameroon hosting two AEAA conferences with the Board Registrar serving as former President on each occasion. The Board has also participated in two continental research projects-one on the development of Item Banking based on Item Response Theory and the second on the development of an African Indigenous Data Processing Software,” Monono Ekema said.
    Other achievements of the Board include two successful syllabus review conferences organized-one in Limbe for general education subjects and the other in Kumba for technical education subjects; the publication of research papers in International journals by Board chairman and staff; the GCE Board has also published two books loaded with useful material for in-service capacity building; the GCE board is now using more modern equipment to transcribe questions for visually impaired candidates as well as extending Board examinations to other categories of candidates with special needs.
It should be noted that the above achievements have attracted numerous awards and recognition on the board and its Chief Executive Officer

Gratitude to Government
Partial View of New  GCE  Head Office ,Molyko-Buea
While thanking Government for funding the realization of the new GCE Board head office, Monono Ekema said: “It is a physical embodiment of the English subsystem of educational assessment in Cameroon. It is memorable signpost that testifies to the fact that health and wealth of our fatherland is in constructive evolution. This is a signpost accompanying our Head of State, President Paul Biya in his greater achievement project. In deed, this is a prologue to the eminent manifestations to commemorate our 50th anniversary of reunification. This is more than just a building: it is a monument reflecting the commitment of a people with a common purpose...”

Former Board Officials Honored
The registrar saluted the huge contributions to the growth of examination body of pioneer GCE Board Registrar Azong Wara, and those of former deputy registrars Mbong Johannes Ngole and Akoko Mathew Abiewa.The three were during the ceremony publicly honored with awards. He also tribute to other former GCE Board officials, now of blessed memory: Dr. Omer Weyi Yembe(former Registrar),S.N. Dioh(board chair) and H.N. Endeley(former board chair).

Labour Medals 
Monono Ekema congratulated some 20 GCE workers who during the ceremony were awarded labor medals in recognition of meritorious services rendered to the board.The Medals were affixed on their them by the Senior Divisional officer for Fako,Zang III
The Registrar thanked other stakeholders who in one way or the other have contributed to the success of the GCE board and promised that the Board would “double its efforts to ensure that in future the achievements will be multiplied
   Other highlights of the ceremony included a welcome speech Buea Mayor Ekema Patrick; the poetry awards plaques and prizes to student contest winners, technical presentation of the building, cutting of the ribbon and unveiling of the inaugural plague, and a guided tour of the offices of the new building by the Minister.
Among the VIPs who witnessed the grandiose ceremony in front of the new GCE head office near Bilingual Grammar school Molyko were Professor Dorothy L.Njeuma; University of Buea Vice-chancellor Dr.Nalova Lyonga;the Paramount Chief of Buea SML Endeley;CDC General manager Franklin Njie and  Clement Fon Ndikum,SG at Buea Governor’s Office.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cameroon:Mayor Ekema’s “Change has come to Buea” Poster Sparks Debate

By Christopher Ambe
Following Ekema Patrick Esunge’s brilliant election as Mayor of Buea and just before his installation in to office, huge and attention-catching posters placed at strategic positions (Mile 17 Motor Park and Bongo Square) in the municipality, carried the bold inscription “Change has come to Buea” and were only torn down a few days ago 
     To critical thinkers, the poster message “Change has come” suggests that a Messiah has come to town. There is no doubt that Mayor Ekema may –God being his helper-turn out to be the solution to the development problems of Buea. 
   But what is worrying to pundits is the early announcement of the coming of this “messiah”, which, of course, has sparked off debate in and out of Buea.
    Action, it is said, speaks louder than words. Many had thought that the new mayor’s development projects would do the talking for him and not the other way round.
    His “Change has come to Buea” posters, only  comparable to the  large size of those used by President Biya during the last presidential election, has sparked a debate amongst those who saw or  heard about the public notice, as to what he means by “Change has come to Buea”
    At the time of posting this write-up the Ekema posters had just been removed from the billboards apparently to give room for those of President Paul Biya, who is expected to chair the 50th anniversary celebrations of Cameroon’s Reunification in Buea in the days ahead.
   Critics of the posters-and there are many, say they were uncalled for  considering that Mola Ekema had already been smoothly elected mayor. Some interpreted the poster message to mean that the mayor and his team plan to do far more in terms of infrastructural development than what Senator Charles Mbella Moki, had done in his eleven years as Mayor of Buea, for which the latter has not stopped receiving accolade from both the public and the authorities. Many others have given different interpretations to the public notice.
    In trying to make meaning out of the public notice, The Recorder recently stopped at the Mayor’s office but did not succeed to get the busy Mayor elaborate on his poster message. But when questioned in an interview with The Post, about his slogan   “Change has come to Buea”, Mayor Ekema said:
   “Change is not a static phenomenon.Rather, the first thing is to condition the mind of the people that there is change.First,we will begin with psychological change. Priority among our ideas is reinforcing the volume of water supply within the municipality, and then we embark on earth roads, principally farm-to-market roads and then expand street lighting. So, if there is increase, it is change. If you move from one to two, it is change; if you move from two to one it is change. Change is either positive or these circumstances, we are talking about positive change”
    Also commenting on the “Change has come” slogan, Professor Victor Julius Ngoh, who is Buea Council team leader, told to The Recorder: “The caption ‘Change has come’ indicates very clearly that the new team has taken a decision to work as a team; that is collective responsibility. And when we say change, we mean those who are running the council with the full support of the councilors, are out for the economic, social, cultural and political development of the Buea Municipality. And that change will be very visible. Those days are gone when the management of the Council made people to feel that certain areas were not part of the Buea municipality; all the villages will feel the touch of this administration led by Mr. Ekema Patrick. 
    “Another point is that the number of female councilors has increased. This is the first time for Buea Council to have that number- 14 female councillors.”
    Professor Ngoh further said, “More importantly, in the history of the Buea Council, since Independence and Reunification, this is the first time that a non-indigene has been elected a deputy mayor in the person of Madam Comfort Ojongkpott”
    During the installation of Mayor Ekema and his four deputies by Zang III at the Buea Independence Square, the latter was categorically told to put partisan politics aside and now work for the common good of the municipality in the economic, sociocultural and touristic domains; ensure hygiene and sanitation, ensure peace and security and enhance infrastructural development. The mayor was called upon to must work in collaboration with development stakeholders within in his effort to modernize the municipality
    Mayor Ekema, who replaced Charles Mbella(first as Interim Mayor and then Mayor) is a native of Buea .He was born on September 26,1976  and  is married.
    After his election as mayor, he successfully defended  his Masters Degree in History from the University of Buea, where he is also Faculty Officer in the Faculty of Arts.
    The mayor  was installed along with his four deputies: Emmanuel Motomby Mbome( 1st  deputy mayor), Lyonga John Effande(2nd Deputy mayor), Mosoko Edward  Motuwe(3rd   Deputy Mayor) and  Comfort Ojongkpott(4th Deputy Mayor)
(This piece will also appear in  next edition of The Recorder Newspaper, Cameroon)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2014 FIFA World Cup In Brazil:Final Draw reveals intriguing groups

Spain, the Netherlands, Chile and Australia will make up the proverbial ‘group of death’ at the 20th FIFA World Cup™, while Uruguay, Italy, England and Costa Rica will comprise another intriguing pool. 
Germany, Ghana, USA and Portugal will make up Group G, while hosts Brazil have Croatia Mexico and Cameroon for company in Group A,
Colombia, Greece, Côte d'Ivoire and Japan, along with Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras and France, appear to be in wide-open sections.
The Final Draw took place at the luxurious Costa do Sauípe in Salvador. It was conducted by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, assisted by Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Alcides Ghiggia, Fernando Hierro, Sir Geoff Hurst, Mario Kempes, Lothar Matthaus and Zinedine Zidane, who were representing the eight World Cup winners.
Brazil and Croatia will participate in the opening match at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on 12 June 2014. Germany, meanwhile, will become the first team to reach 100 World Cup matches when they face Portugal five days later.
The Final will unfold at the cathedral of Brazilian football, the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, on 13 July.
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA