Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Book Suggests Solutions to Cameroon's Perennial Problems

   The  man in his words

AUTHOR: Mokun Njouny
(Tel :+237 77 57 88 79)
PUBLISHER: Editions Veritas
Edition: 2013
Reviewer: Claris Dud

       This book is particularly innovative; first ,in its form (the manifesto of a candidate standing for a major election, the programme of a reformist party or the cry of a patriot that was deeply attached to his native land and impatient to see how his country could explore its enormous human and natural resources), followed by its presentation in a bilingual format (English and French), expression of a great concern for inclusion, accessibility to all and a consideration of Cameroon’s specificities; and finally the approach: devoted collaborators and an author, apparently of great  humility, who simply limits himself to putting together the ideas and entirely allowing the person at the centre of this editorial project to express  himself. Far from presenting Dr Christopher Fomunyoh to us from his own perception – that may be biased and distorted, the author leaves the latitude for everyone to make his own opinion, through a clear, concise and coherent presentation of the words of this Cameroonian, soldier and sentinel of democracy, committed to serving Africa and the world.
      The author, in this eleven-chapter book, not only presents the vision of Christopher Fomunyoh on the socio-political, economic and diplomatic development of Cameroon in particular, but also for Africa and the world in general. The themes discussed relate to various aspects of national and international life, with a patriotic focus and constant desire to see Cameroon prominent position and play a leading role in the world, equal to its abundant natural and human potentials.
     All through the book, it  is clear  that political debate in Cameroon is excessively polarized, in a logic that is partisan and outdated; a situation that hinders the putting in place of credible democratic institutions that could play an educational role for citizens and as a consequence has given way to contested legality at the detriment of democratic legitimacy. Similarly, the constant disagreement over the establishment of the electoral register and the permanent challenge of institutions in charge of assuring democratic legitimacy is a reflection of the poor management of the transition since the early 1990s, despite the existing sham political and media pluralism.
      On the future of the opposition, Christopher Fomunyoh posits that for a real change to take place in Cameroon, there is need for an all- inclusive approach: “a broad coalition that will include not only the opposition parties but also those who, though militants of the ruling party, want things to change and that the management of national wealth benefit all Cameroonians."  Despite "the restrictions to freedom, interference by the executive and the administration in the mobilization efforts of parties, the malleability of our Constitution and various laws that distorts the political game and equal opportunities for political stakeholders," he suggests ten points which opposition parties could work on to attract both national and international audience and visibility in terms of votes from the electorate. These range from self-criticism or self-assessment to establishing professional relationships with major international bodies, through liaising with civil society and the Diaspora, the revision of recruitment strategies at the grassroots and the indispensable renewal of leadership.
     In the book,Christopher Fomunyoh addresses the Anglophone problem courageously and  objectively ,inviting both Francophones and Anglophones  to consider Cameroon as their common good and home, where everyone should deploy all the necessary energy beyond cultural divides, victimisation and recurrent lamentations. This applies too for the future of the country, for according Dr Fomunyoh, after President Biya’s thirty years in power; it is natural to start envisaging the transition.
    Legitimately, every citizen who feels competent can nurse presidential ambitions and ensure that there is “a global consensus over the person who has the required capacity, expertise and vision to be the country’s flag bearer."
    Is Christopher Fomunyoh nursing presidential ambitions? His answers keep the reader waiting, despite the fact that there are persistent calls to this effect. While expressing his availability and demonstrated interest in anything that can move the country forward, he does not see himself as the corner stone: "I am open to all those who are fighting and working for a better Cameroon. Of course, I respect everyone's ideas and I do not fail to share my ideas with everyone, whatever his affinity ... Within the framework of my work, I have gathered a lot of experience and expertise that I plan to share with the entire Cameroonian community."  He hints, "In the years ahead, I will continue to connect with fellow patriotic democrats, militants of political parties across the board, the civil society, women and youth, as well as the grassroots, especially in rural areas, to ensure that our country finds the place that should be hers among the emerging democracies of the continent and the world."  Such is a veritable political declaration and the expression of a strong desire to see it succeed.
     Ultimately, this book is consistent with the convictions of Dr Fomunyoh; a lot of tolerance, a fervent determination, great expertise and long experience in transition mechanisms or democratic change. How then can one imagine that Cameroon would not make full gains from such an exceptional know-how that one may have the luck to find once in a generation?
     This book is a well-polished piece of work! It is  not by coincidence but an art of mastership in the rule of law, democracy, elections and others that for over two decades the speeches, interviews and write-ups of Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh have been focused on all sectors of Cameroon's life - a mark of people-oriented leadership.
   The publisher is to the point when it notes that; “There are values to be cultivated. There are experiences to be shared. There are ideas that deserve to be recorded in a book of records.” This should be the motivation for Mokun Njouny Nelson to have come up with this thrilling book of our time, with must-read contents on Cameroon's political life, the economic situation, organization of elections, the Senate, the Opposition and its future, the Anglophone problem, Diaspora, Democratic transition in Africa, President Paul Biya, Challenges ahead, Diplomacy, Profile of next president, Presidential aspirations and Hope in a whirlwind.
    Easy to read and accessible to the general public, Mokun Njouny Nelson, offers the public an interesting synthesis and civic contribution that is likely to inspire stakeholders and influence the socio-political evolution of Cameroon.

NB: Dr Christopher Fomunyoh is one of the most respected voices speaking for democracy in Africa. He serves as the Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the Washington based National Democratic Institute, NDI.

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