Monday, February 23, 2015

Cameroon:The SDF Crisis

By  Professor Asonganyi Tazoacha*
Professor Asonganyi Tazoacha
 Many people are anxious to know my take on the goings on that are making news in the SDF now.  Rather than write a statement as would probably be expected, I prefer to help interested persons to discern my feelings by including below, information that may be useful to them for their analyses. This includes the statement I made on the constitutional changes that have brought more confusion in the party, the parting statement I made at a press conference indicating that I would no longer run for the post of Secretary General, NEC’s decision that expelled me from the SDF - in other word, I never resigned as SG of the SDF; and a reflection I wrote for The Guardian Post Newspaper, on their request, on “Where the SDF has gone wrong.”

Siga Asanga was the Secretary General of the SDF from the declaration of the party at the DO’s office in Bamenda in February 1990 to March 1994 when he was tried and removed from his post. The problems that led to his destitution and eventual exclusion from the party were related to fuzziness and imprecision in the definition of terms like “anti-party” activities. The problem of Siga Asanga bordered on serious differences in the understanding of the mission of the party by him and some stalwarts of the party, including Fru Ndi.

Since Siga Asanga did not share the views of Chairman Fru Ndi on some core issues in the party, some members seemed to see him as a sort of rival to Fru Ndi. To quote one member at that time, Siga Asanga felt that “power at the head of the party was shared by the Secretary General and the Chairman; I therefore personally campaigned for the destitution of Asanga…”

Of course, if Asanga thought that power at the head of the party is shared by the Secretary General and the Chairman, he was right; power at the head of the party should not only be shared by the Chairman and the SG, but by other officials of the party. Since many members unfortunately did not share this view, Asanga was removed from the post of Secretary General.

It is clear from the above that Asanga’s problem derived mainly from a turf war with the National Chairman. He was the ideologue of the party. He believed firmly in the ideology of social democracy propounded by the party, and in the values of freedom and human rights that were the bedrock of the party.

And so by the time I became Secretary General of the SDF in 1994, there was already a strong, conservative core in the party, made up of those with a dogmatic adherence to the letter, to the exclusion of the spirit of the constitution of the party, and who seemed to be bent on shutting the door in the face of rationality.

The saga of the SDF as I lived it is treated in a book to be launched soon titled “Cameroon: Difficult Choices in a Failed Democracy – A Memoir” (also published in French:- Cameroun: Choix Difficiles  Dans Une Démocratie de Faҫade) ISBN 978-0-9916615-2-7, NGT Publishing, USA, 352 pages.

Here are the documents.

At an SDF Youth Forum that held in Yaoundé on 07 April 2005, I commented as follows on a proposed constitutional amendment of the SDF Constitution - this led to other comments from Nyo'Wakai, Ngwasiri, Kale and others:
 I draw your attention to the emergence of political currents, geared towards the establishment of a leader-centred culture in our party! I stumbled on what is called a proposed amendment of the Constitution of our party just two days ago. The mover of the amendment paints the “leader” as all-knowing, and the people (the militants) as naive, ignorant, and gullible. Dissent is presented under the cloak of quarrels. The consequence is that the proponent proposes that we only vote the “leader” and the “leader” will know best who to choose into the National Executive Committee! Interesting, it is said that nearly all socialist parties do this. If only he knew that the Labour party (UK) and others use all the militants of their party to elect their NEC members!
If such thinking were to gain currency in our party, I fear that the whole philosophy of the SDF will be turned upside down, and the party will lose its raison-d’être. There will be absolutely nothing to differentiate the SDF from the failed Cameroon state that has been ruined by this “leader-centred” mentality or from the CPDM where one man calls the shots! It should be remembered that the Constitution of the party makes provisions for replacing absentee members of an executive, or for filling vacant posts!
Checks and balances in our party are ensured by a robust NEC, a robust Advisory Council, and the devolution of power to lower party structures. This appointment-jittery fringe in the party should ponder the fate of the National Advisory Council, which is supposed to be a counter-balancing force, but which is virtually non-existent because its members have to be…appointed. Those who are supposed to ensure the existence of the important institution are reluctant to establish the very institution which will check the arbitrary exercise of their own power! Let us not fall in the same trap we sought to get out of through the creation of the SDF...

On 27 September 2005, I made the following statement to announce that I would no longer run as SG at the upcoming elective convention of the party:
As you may be aware, the Primaries for the renewal of the National Executive Committee of the SDF were launched on 05 September 2005 in conformity with the texts of our party. The ritual has always been observed, especially since I became Secretary General of the SDF on Sunday 19 June 1994. Since then, I have worked selflessly for the SDF, and have always put party and national interests before self-interest; and of course national interest before party interest.
This time around, with the launching of the primaries for NEC, I have decided no longer to present my candidature for a post in NEC.  I thought that I should invite you, our good friends of the press who have been effective companions in the struggle for change in our country all these years, to inform you about this. I know that you will be interested to know why I have taken such a decision.  Well, there are several reasons for it.

I feel strongly that the leadership of the party of which I am an important member has so far not succeeded in turning the formidable SDF machine into an effective catalyst for change in our country. Indeed, based on the resolutions of the 1999 Yaoundé Convention which empowered NEC to look for all other avenues to bring change to Cameroon, the outgoing NEC was not able, or was unwilling to create real opportunities to bring change to our country. I feel that this failure was due to lack of  a shared vision within the leadership, since we failed to clearly identify and prioritise the different circles of “self,” “party,” and “country.” 

As you will agree with me, these differences in vision and internecine quarrels have dominated the life of the outgoing leadership. Some of these were due to the emergence of a personality cult, which has as corollary the emergence of the all-knowing chief. When this happens in a group, all criticism, even the constructive is considered as a crime against the chief. In such an atmosphere, sincerity, solidarity and friendship are replaced by suspicion and calumny. A team that does not show love, friendship and solidarity within itself is not well placed to promote these values either in the party or in the country at large.

Further, there is persistent rumour that the leadership of the SDF not only has regular, secret contacts with the CPDM regime but also receives substantial secret funding from the regime. Of the substance of such rumours, I am completely innocent and ignorant. This seems to have greatly compromised the effectiveness not only of the SDF but also of the opposition in Cameroon. Unfortunately, the divergent visions and quarrels within the leadership have blocked the possibility of discussing and adequately evacuating the rumours.

You know that in all democratic organizations, the majority carries the day. Unfortunately, with the treatment of some disciplinary files in the party, I have started questioning the use of discipline as an effective instrument of promoting democracy in our Party. Some of the disciplinary files have been glaring examples of abuse of proceedings to stifle debate, deny members their basic democratic rights or have a go at perceived opponents of the leadership. Indeed, coupled with these abuses, issues of reconciliation in the party, long ruled on by the 1996 Buea Convention, and hesitantly brought to fruition on 8 September 2004 at the SDF Reconciliation Forum, continue to be treated in a self-protective manner by some of us.

As a member of the outgoing leadership, I fully share responsibility for these failures and weaknesses and strongly feel that new blood should be given the chance to oil and run the formidable SDF machine, and provide a new image of leadership and of the party.  I do hope that such new leadership will wipe out some of the perceptions about the present leadership and create a healthy atmosphere for the functioning of the SDF machine, rekindle the flame of militancy and the full embrace of the SDF vision, put the machine in harmony with other genuine opposition forces in the country and thus convert the SDF into a true locomotive of the forces of change. I also hope that such new leadership will be less self-protective and more aware of the reinvigorating role not only of reconciliation but also of proper disciplinary procedures within the SDF, and so turn the machine into a real catalyst for change in our country. 

Finally, I also have the strong feeling that no one should hold an elective or public office for perpetuity. It is needless to say that I will continue to play my full role as Secretary General until a new one is elected at the upcoming Convention of our party. After the convention, there will be a proper handing over, according to our rules.  Further, I will remain a strong, active and vocal militant of the SDF. I will be fully available to the leadership that will emerge following the 7th Ordinary Convention of the SDF in February 2006.
Thank you very much for coming.  I look forward to our continued cooperation. I know that some of you will like to ask me some questions. I will be pleased to answer them. Once more, thank you very much.

On 06 February 2006 I was served the following document in French (my translation) by a Bailiff Mah Ebenezer Paul:
Social Democratic Front. Meeting of the Disciplinary Council of 28 February 2006. In the year 2006, and on 28 January 2006, meeting in extraordinary session at the Presbyterian Church Centre Ntamulung in Bamenda, the National Executive Committee, meeting as a Disciplinary Council, ruled on the affair of Tazoacha Asonganyi Michael, suspended Secretary General of the party, and deliberated as follows:
-          Considering the constitution and internal rules and regulations of the party, as subsequently amended:
-          Considering rules of discipline of members;
-          Considering resolutions of previous NEC meetings;
-          Considering the statements made by Prof. Tazoacha Asonganyi Michael during a press conference on 27 September 2005 in Yaoundé;
-          Considering the different submissions in his disciplinary file;
-          Considering the different opinions expressed during the debate;
-          Considering the result of the vote to determine the sanction;
Unique article: With effect from 28 February 2006, takes note of the loss of membership of the SDF by Prof Tazoacha Asonganyi Michael in conformity with the provisions of section 8.2 of the Constitution. Done in Bamenda, 28 January 2006, The President of the Disciplinary Council, Etienne Sonkin.

Where the SDF has gone wrong
This title is suggested to me by the Editors of the Guardian Post Newspaper who asked me to participate in a reflection on the life of the SDF.
Political parties are like war games. The ebb and flow of events provide patterns on which to construct a narrative. The key events are obvious; winners and losers are also generally obvious; and outcomes can be traced back to specific decisions and trends. Outside watchers may usually not have clear markers to indicate exactly what happened, except perhaps what they tease out of recorded declarations, critiques, and official party texts.
Within this context, I will address four of the many problems that beset the SDF and led to its weakening.

Problem Number one: Founding Fathers.
Some operations are fated to go wrong from the start. The SDF was created to win power and govern. Its birth was facilitated by persons who later branded themselves “founding fathers.” By the constitution which they helped to write, they were supposed to play a central role in the nurturing of the “baby” they had helped to deliver.
But the baby they had helped to deliver belonged to society; it was not theirs! They were midwives that helped Cameroon society to deliver a “baby” from its pregnancy. In a way, like all midwives, their hour on stage had to be short and fretful. Like Marx’s proletariat that defines his goal as its own elimination as an exploited, alienated class, the birth of the SDF was supposed to cause the disappearance – so to say - of the midwives from the stage.
Unfortunately, instead of vacating the stage and allowing society to move forward the “revolution” – the “baby” - they helped to engender, the “founding fathers” attempted to act like Marx’s “communist” who had the theoretical advantage over the rest of the proletariat; who had an insight into the condition, the path and the general result of the proletarian movement. So the “founding fathers” imposed themselves as the “selfless servants” of the truth whose conservation they sought. They assumed that since they were “first” in the world of the SDF, they had precedence to generating an all inclusive thought system in the party. Most had a totalitarian view of politics and saw dissent as a betrayal; most saw antagonistic ideas as embedded in people who must perish with the idea in them through the famous Article 8.2!
The birth of the SDF was supposed to become at once a result and a catalyst for the step-by-step amelioration of the party. This was necessary since there is no preconceived or eternal form that can define once and for all the form of society that fits society for ever, or a form for a political party that can fit the party for ever. New ideas were not supposed to be seen as a rupture with one’s previous political engagements; rather, they were supposed to constitute a way of adjusting one’s goals; a way of thinking anew the relation between ends and means. Like Marx would put it, the human world is open to human actions because it is a creation of man.
Instead of providing the checks and balances they thought they would provide to the SDF, the “founding fathers” turned their “baby” into what Ngwasiri described to Nyo’Wakai in a correspondence in 1997 as follows: “Those of you who are the Chairman’s close associates have built him into a powerful monster and a dictator who has been trampling on democratic ideals with impunity...The SDF is today a party without history because its history is that of one man.”

Problem number two: Article 8.2 and the disciplinary process.
The SDF at inception adopted trial by jury as the means of finding guilt and punishing its members. But the procedure had weaknesses in the four components of trial by jury – judge, jury, prosecution, and defense. The major weaknesses were: 1) there was no sitting "judge" (with good knowledge of the intricacies of the rules and regulations as well as ideals of the party) to preside over the proceedings; the president of the jury played that role!; 2) the legal advisers (who were usually the main prosecutors) were the ones who usually dealt with points of law that arose, not the “judge"; 3) the prosecutors and defence counsel vote as part of the jury if they are NEC members; 4) members of the jury usually questioned the accused as if they were part of the prosecution; 5) prosecution and defence witnesses who were members of the executive that was sitting as the jury participated in the decision of the jury; 6) decisions of the jury were most of the time not based entirely on evidence adduced from the prosecution and defence during the trial.
In jury trials, the jury is supposed to take its decision in the absence of the accused, the "judge", prosecution and defence counsels, and the witnesses. This was not the case in the SDF. Further, “loss of membership” through the Article 8.2 fiat was much abused. Many people have called for its modification although the leadership once said that if article 8.2 goes, they would go with it!
 Article 8.2 can be modified as follows:
1)      Section 8: Loss of Membership: Membership shall be lost through the following circumstances:
2)      8.1 By death, mental and/or other incapacity resulting in loss of reason;
3)      8.2 By expulsion from the party as provided for in section 16.1.a.i;
4)      8.3 By resignation from the party as determined by a document duly signed by the member to that effect or a bailiff, with acknowledgement of receipt.

Problem number three: Interference of NEC in decisions of lower structures.
Checks and balances in the SDF were supposed to be provided by a robust national executive committee (NEC), a robust national advisory council (NAC), and the devolution of power to the lower structures. This was subverted by the ad hoc treatment of NAC, and the permanent interference of NEC in the affairs of the lower structures. NEC regularly sent “NEC Commissions” to conduct elections in structures, rather than supervise the conduct of the elections by the sub-commissions that delegates at elective conferences put in place as provided for by the SDF constitution. This led to abuse, demobilization, and generalize in-fighting.

Problem number four: Leadership.
It is usually said that leadership is finding a parade and getting in front of it. That creates the tandem of leadership and followership. None can exist without the other, but, importantly, the parade was there before the duo emerged. Only the leadership can fail the parade, not the other way round; the parade was there for a purpose. In case of failure, as is evident all around us, those who turn around and say things like “Cameroonians are not serious,” “Cameroonians do not care,” “Cameroonians are cowards” and others in that sense are in effect painting the picture of inadequate leadership.  There may have been parades and people who rushed to get in front of them, not knowing that leadership is serious business!

I hope these documents and more will help in the analysis of what is going on in the SDF today
Thank you.

*Professor Asonganyi Tazoacha, who is a noted social critic, was one-time the Secretary-General of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), Cameroon’s leading opposition party.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Scary Presence of State Auditors : SOWEDA Burgled; Safe, 5 computers carted away!

By Christopher Ambe

The office of the Southwest Development Authority (SOWEDA),Buea, has reportedly been burgled and one of the institution’s strongboxes, as well as five computers with one containing financial records carted away.

 The burglary has occurred at a time when state auditors on mission in the Southwest Region have temporarily established their office at SOWEDA to scrutinize the financial accounts of state institutions in the Southwest region. Such special audit missions, The Recorder gathered, are squarely in line with President Biya’s war against corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

     SOWEDA was created in 1987 as a para-statal with the overall goal of alleviating poverty in the Southwest region. SOWEDA alleviates poverty by identifying problems and proposing well-designed projects for government funding, such as the just-ended over 17 billion Fcfa RUMPI Area Participatory Development Project, whose second phase is yet to be approved.

      The sitting General Manager of SOWEDA, Dr. Eneme Andrew, has been in office for about twenty (20) years, since his appointment to that strategic development office in November 1995.

       The armed robbery took place in the wee hours of Wednesday January 28, when the burglars in a Carina E vehicle reportedly arrived at SOWEDA main gate, hooted for it to be opened on claims that they were SOWEDA workers who wanted to park the car in the premises for safety. Unfortunately for the guards, they were swiftly overpowered and tied up by the armed robbers who then dashed in the office to execute their diabolic mission.

     The carting away of the computers with financial records has fuelled speculations that it could be a scheme by some SOWEDA officials to do away with evidence, for fear of an unannounced audit of the institution, which since creation has managed billions of FCFA of public funds, to enhance development in the Southwest Region.

     But kange Elinge, Director of General Affairs (DGA) at SOWEDA thinks differently.

 “Actually, SOWEDA is just providing space to a team of state auditors from Yaounde.We don’t know whom they are talking to or what their mission is. But we hear they came to audit the Public Investment Budget of the Southwest Region. I don’t think they came for SOWEDA. We are just providing them office space and other small logistics”, he told The Recorder. “We have not in the past had any problem with auditors or controllers; because we regularly receive control missions from the Supreme State Audit, the Audit Bench, the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture...I don’t think we have any problems with our financial management.”

Kange Elinge: SOWEDA 's DGA
   The Director was at  loss to understand what the burglars who broke into SOWEDA (the office of the GM, that of the DGA, the Accounting Office, and that of the Finance and Budget etc) were searching for in office cupboards, displacing files and scattering them about. “SOWEDA, being a public administrative establishment, doesn’t keep money in the office. It is the Government Treasury that serves as our bank”, he noted.Mr. kange said the stolen safe did not contain money apart from some important documents, which he did not disclose.

He expressed regret that the official computer of the Finance and Budget Officer was carted away alongside four other computers belonging to an accounts assistant.

     At least  ten SOWEDA workers have been interrogated by the Judicial Police in Buea and the two security guards who  were on duty when the burglars stormed the  fenced office  are reportedly in police custody, Kange Elinge,SOWEDA’s Director of General Affairs told The Recorder in his office last Thursday.

      Mr. Kange  who was speaking on behalf of the General Manager, disclosed that     Dr. Eneme Andrew had not been well for a couple of days “but we informed him about the burglary and he came to the office and talked with the police .But as I said, since he is not feeling fine he had to return home”

He said all is relatively OK at SOWEDA, adding that there is no salary or arrears problem as Government gives it quarterly subvention

    But the DGA added, “The only worry of SOWEDA now is that there is no on-going project that we are supervising. The Rumpi Area Participatory Development Project ended two years ago. We were hoping that by now Government would have approved the second phase, but negotiations are still on with the ADB, SOWEDA’s funding partner”

     It would be recalled that the Pioneer General manager of SOWEDA,Franklin Ndille(late) ,appointed in 1991 when the structure went operational, died in 1994.His deputy Prince Jacob Lekunze became interim GM  same year up to  November 1995.In November 1995,Dr.Eneme Andrew was appointed, by a presidential decree, as General Manager, to date
(First Published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of February 2,2015)

Cameroonn:Anglophones Play Second fiddle at Supreme Court

By Christopher Ambe

The Presidential appointments of new members of the Supreme Court, who last January 30, took the oath of office in Yaoundé, have angered the Anglophone community, who see their marginalization in them.

Hon.Justice Ayah Paul
      No Anglophone heads a service and even those appointed are all serving as assistants, no matter how qualified they may be.

With Alexis Dipanda Mouelle retired after 26 years as President of Cameroon’s Supreme Court, the Anglophone Community-believing in power alternation/equation, expected that the new Supreme Court President should be one of theirs.

      But it is another Francophone, Daniel Mekobe Sone appointed as Dipanda Mouelle’s replacement. It is also another Francophone,Luc Ndjondo ,who is the replacement of the retired Procureur-General (Attorney-General) of the Republic, Martin Rissouck A Moulong
     Many have wondered why, for instance, Justice Ayah Paul, who is senior in grade to Luc Ndjondo,was not appointed as Procureur-General.but justice Ayah was instead appointed as one of the several Advocates-General(Deputy Attorneys-General).
      Just as in the past, the other new heads of the Supreme Court’s different sections are all Francophones.They are President of the Audit Bench,Marck Ateba Ombala; President of the Judicial Bench,Bisteck Dagobert;President of Administrative Bench, Andre Belombe.

      Before their swearing-in, it was hoped that President Biya, as Head of the Judiciary in Cameroon, would sign another decree adjusting some of the appointments, since seniority counts very much in the judicial corps but many were surprised that his appointments remained  unchanged.
(First published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of February 2,2015)

Buea School for the Deaf: Where the future of Cameroonian deaf children is brightened !

By Christopher Ambe
It is just a matter of decision by parents of deaf children and society as a whole and the future of deaf children will be bright. Yet, not enough is done to give the best, in terms of education and support, to this category of people in Cameroon.
       And that is where   Mr. N’jok Bibum Aloysius, himself a Cameroonian deaf, makes the difference: he, with the full support of his British deaf wife, Margaret Lioyd  Bibum, founded the Buea School for the Deaf (BSD) in 2003.  The wife became deaf at the age of two but got educated up to university level.
    According to Mr. N’jok, who doubles as founder and BSD director, “The primary objective of the school is to provide quality education opportunities to deaf children”
    BSD,which is registered under the Ministry of Social Affairs (Reg. No. 0005/A/MINAS/DDHPA/SDRPH/04 July 2007), is a private lay boarding school for deaf children.  The school, located in Wokoko, Buea, in the South West Region of Cameroon has   an enrollment of only 114 pupils and students. 
It is a fact that, there are just so many other deaf children out there who need to be empowered; but due to ignorance or the weak financial power of their parents, they stay at home.
    Of the 114 BSD boarders, 54 (28 boys and 26 girls) are in the primary section. The secondary section has 27 boys and 22 girls, giving a total of 49 students. 
     The current school programmes are Primary, Secondary and Vocational.  The Vocational Section, which is in the development phase, has six boys and five girls giving a total of 11 students.   BSD has staff strength of 30

Why Deaf Children Need Greater Support.
    Mr. N’jok , who became deaf at the age of six and  now holds amongst other academic qualifications, a BSc degree in Accounting and Economics from the Gallaudet University(USA),regrets that the situation of deaf children in Cameroon is very bleak.
“There are no government schools for the deaf as can be found in other countries, including in Africa,” he notes.
Students of Buea School for the Deaf: They need more public assistance
      “All schools for the deaf in Cameroon are private.  In some regions there is no school for the deaf.  There are no job training programmes for deaf people and hence employment opportunities are very few   Deaf children and adults have no access to health programmes through the provision of sign language interpreters.  Television programmes are inaccessible because there is no captioning.  Health information is not accessible to deaf people, a situation that can expose them to diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cholera.”
The Founder/ Director continue: “There are no support services for parents of deaf children.  Once a child is perceived to be deaf, it becomes the responsibility of parents to seek intervention services which involves seeking a school for their deaf child.
    “Parents of deaf children need much support and counseling in order to be able to cope with raising a deaf child. There is also the barrier of communication for the family with a deaf child.  Because of the child’s inability to hear, the child communicates most effectively through Sign Language.  However, it is often difficult for parents to learn sign language.  Many times family members are not interested in learning sign language which leaves the deaf child in the terrible situation of not being able to function normally in family life, often missing out on crucial information.
                        BSD Challenges
The challenges for a small institution such as the BSD in providing a comprehensive education to deaf children and youths that will enable them to integrate into society are monumental and complex. 
 To begin with, learning and mastering the English language which is fundamental to success in our educational system, is made difficult because deaf people communicate in Sign Language.  Sign Language and English both have different word order structure. 
·        School fees are the major source of operating the school but these are insufficient. “Even though our school fees are low compared to most boarding schools, the majority of parents are either too poor or are reluctant to pay all their school fees,” N’jok says.  “Parents lack the choice of sending their children to a private school or government school.  Recognizing this problem, we make every effort to ensure that the child stays in school by soliciting sponsorships in and out of the country”
      Deaf education is expensive due to the fact that the size of a class has to be kept small for effective communication (a maximum of 10 students  is preferable) and requires the use of teaching equipment that enhances visual learning.
     Deafness is a “hidden” disability which leads to much misinformation and ignorance about the needs of the deaf child.  “Society needs to be aware of the nature of deafness and how it impacts the deaf child or adult.  There should be more awareness and provision of opportunities for deaf people”, he notes.
                         Important Expectations.
·        Government Educational Support for deaf children.  Local Councils and Mayors should support the education of deaf children from their localities by allocating budget to subside school fees.
·        The different  Ministries should provide subventions to existing deaf schools to enable them to meet the operating costs of their institution.
·        The GCE Board should recognize and accommodate deaf candidates as they do in other countries by allowing sign language interpreters into the examination halls, give more time to deaf candidates, etc.
·        Parents of deaf children should make effort to learn Sign Language so that they can communicate with their deaf children.
·        The Government should support efforts to develop and have Cameroon Sign Language (CSL) recognized as in other countries such as Uganda, South Africa.  
·        Businesses should give opportunities to deaf people in their workplaces.

 BSD 200-bed Capacity Dormitory Inaugurated

       A befitting 200-capacity dormitory for the Buea School of the Deaf (BSD) has been inaugurated, putting to rest the accommodation problems pupils and students of this institution faced in the past.

Fon  Asongtia Valentine, Southwest Regional Delegate for Social Affairs, on January 20, 2015, inaugurated the one-storey dormitory, which is estimated to have cost over 100 million Fcfa

     The hall of residence has been realized thanks to funds from friends of BSD in the USA and Canada. The major donors after whom the building is named are Diane and Theodore Johnson from the USA.

Fon Asongtia unveiling the plaque on the dormitory wall
After the official cutting of the ribbon of the dormitory by Fon Asongtia, Catholic Priest,Rev .Fr Engelbert Ofon blessed the structure ,calling on God to be its all-time protector.

     The dormitory was constructed by Contractor Aji Jude of BA JUCAM E P, Buea, who said the project was supposed to be realized in six months but due to liquidity problems it finally took two years to be completed.

The school started in a rented building in Bomaka-Buea before moving to its present site at Wokoko.It emerged that BSD started without a dormitory, reason why in the night classrooms were transformed into bedrooms for the young scholars.

     Speaking during the ceremony, BSD Director, Aloysius Bibum said “Today is a happy day in the life of this institution, for after 10 years of its existence we are opening our dormitory”.

     The Director was very thankful to the donors and commended the patience of the Contractor who tolerated delay in his payment. Mrs.Bibum Margaret, who is Head of Instruction at BSD, was also very thankful to God for the realization of the dormitory project. “Everyday, I always thank God for helping us “, she said.

Back view of the 200-bed capacity hall of residence.
     Although the completion of the project delayed due to slow disbursement of funds, Contractor Aji Jude thought it was God who directed him to take the job offer. “If BSD has any other serious project, I will always be available to execute it”, he assured the school authorities.

     In his speech, Fon Asongtia said the dormitory was a “dream come true”. He commended BSD for being one of the only two schools in the Southwest Region catering for deaf children. He disclosed that the Ministry of Social Affairs has rated BSD as one of the best in the country in terms of promoting deaf children’s education/welfare.  The Delegate noted that if far away partners can be concerned about the welfare of Cameroonian deaf children, then there is every reason for Cameroon to be more supportive of its less privileged citizens.

     BSD Girls’ Senior Prefect Emilien Keafoun, who spoke on behalf of the pupils and students, admitted that the dormitory was quite spacious and comfortable a place. She praised the donors and the BSD founders for their sustained efforts to brighten their future.

     For his part, an elated PTA president Arrey Ndip pledged to donate beds to the school.

   Dignitaries at the inaugural included Nkwelle Jerry Ewang, Director of the Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind (Bulu Blind Centre,Buea)

   The Inaugural ceremony, which was coordinated by BSD Public Relations Officer,Gloria Okumo,ended  well.

       (First Published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon, of February 2,2015)

After Cameroonian-led Ebola protest in U S,more in Europe soon

By Chrsitopher Ambe

Christopher Tambe Tiku, law don at the University of Buea and a noted Cameroonian Human Rights campaigner who, last November, mobilized Africans to demonstrate in front of the White House, the official residence/office of the President of the United States of America, over ebola virus concerns, has told reporters that, more of such protests will soon take place in Europe.
Tambe Tiku leading Protest in front White House
      The Human Rights advocate said he strongly felt that he should make his voice heard over the inadequate support given to victims of the deadly ebola virus in West Africa by the West; reason why when he was in the U S last November he quickly mobilized Africans who joined him to protest in front of the White House. Some eight Africans from different countries reportedly took part in the peaceful demonstration.
      Mr. Tambe Tiku said the protests in chosen European countries in the months ahead, will be better planned and witness massive participation.
“Our protest in front of the White House was very peaceful, drawing the attention of the American people and their president that  we were not (and are not still)comfortable as far as the treatment for ebola victims is  concerned”, he said.
     “Nonetheless,we commend the efforts of the West in terms of huge material support, but when you see the number of Americans and Europeans who have been infected by the ebola virus, a few weeks later we are told that they have been cured, because they have been taken abroad
“ If the cure to ebola is to fly patients over, then  they should also fly its African victims in like manner”, he observed, pointing out that “ Human Rights is universal and the right to life is very fundamental.”
Mr. Tambe tiku  said the protests are targeting  the West because they have enough resources to help eradicate the virus. “It is not enough to catalogue the number of deaths from the statistics we get from the WHO, something serious has to be done,” he recommended.
     So far, he noted, over a 1400 have died of ebola, which is very alarming.
“We are not hearing much talk of ebola again but people are still dying.
 “We know the U.S is the most powerful nation in the world with enormous resources and we think they and other developed countries should sacrifice some to rescue Africans from the virus.”
 (First Published in The Recorder ,Cameroon,of February 2,2015)

Camerooon:How Death Chased and Caught Professor Michael Yanou !

By Christopher Ambe
Professor  Michael Yanou :Adieu 
As Director of Dialogue in the Ministry of Higher Education, Associate Professor Michael Akomaye Yanou was always on mission to dialogue with complaining lecturers and or students of higher institutions of learning especially state-owned universities.
         But little did this former   President of the Higher Education Teachers’ Syndicate, SYNES, University of Buea Chapter, and law lecturer of same varsity ,know that Death is not always ready for dialogue.
      As such, this outspoken Prof. Yanou, whose lifeless body now lies in the Mortuary of the Regional Hospital, Buea, pending funeral and burial arrangements, was knocked out of his dialogue/teaching business by death, which secretly monitored him before striking him: Prof.Yanou died in a car accident Tuesday, January 27 along the Edea-Yaounde road, mockingly described by many critical observers as a death trap.
        On mission to Buea last Thursday, January 22, Prof.Yanou, driven by his own wife Musi Nicoline, narrowly escaped death when their car was involved in a road accident, leaving it damaged. The couple came out safe.
According to The Post, “He managed to get [the car] for repair and continued his journey to Buea by public transport”
         The Director cum law don, The Recorder gathered, was coming to Buea to teach University of Buea post-graduate students.
He is reported to have taught the students on Friday, Saturday and Monday before embarking ,Tuesday ,on his return to Yaounde,this time driven by his private driver(since he was still to be assigned an official one) only to meet his sudden death ,as his car in trying to dodge a speeding truck, somersaulted into the bush.
“I succeeded in giving passage to a truck that appeared abruptly in front of me and actually swerved back to my lane. It was like a dream when I realized that the car was somersaulting in the bush”, Prof. Yanou’s driver, Joseph Ediaga, who was hospitalized for injuries by press time), is quoted by The Post as saying.
    The deceased  was  “hated” by  some officials  of the University of Buea(UB)   for  the several  strikes  SYNES  UB Chapter (under  his leadership or instigation) organized , pressing for  improved work conditions of lecturers .
      The University administration saw the SYNES strikes as a threat to what it considered as the smooth functioning of the University, whereas Professor Yanou was considered a hero by many teachers and students for always defending their rights to decent work conditions.
      It is widely believed that, because of the deceased’s outspokenness on the governance of the University of Buea by appointed instead of elected officials as the text creating the University states, and his fight for lecturers’ rights, Prof. Yanou won the admiration of the Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo, who appointed the former months ago as Director of Dialogue in the ministry, a post Prof.Yanou held until his demise.
     Speaking to The Recorder on Thursday January 29 at their near-GRA Buea residence, Prof. Yanou’s wife,Musi Nicoline  said his husband as Director in the Ministry remained true to himself, always expressing his views on matters of higher education without fear.
 Asked if Prof. Yanou as Director ever complained to her about any threats to his life, a heart-broken Mrs. Yanou   answered in the negative, noting that “I was not only his wife but confidant as well”
       Before becoming a law teacher at the University of Buea, the soft-spoken but critical Prof Yanou lectured in the faculties of law of the Universities of Uyo and Calabar in Nigeria respectively.
       Prof. Yanou who bagged his PhD from Rhodes University, South Africa, was also a fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University and a practicing advocate of the Supreme Court of Cameroon and Nigeria.
He was not only an admirable law don but a good researcher who published articles in learned journals.
     When the news of his death hit the university community in Cameroon, both lecturers and students were shocked to learn of it.
 Associate Professor Ernest Molua, who disagreed often with Prof. Yanou on the approach of handling strike actions in the University of Buea, expressed regret over the sudden death. Prof. Molua told The Recorder, “Considering his intellectual stature and caliber  this is a great loss to the university community in Cameroon. Despite his militancy in the teachers’ syndicate, he was still a fine teacher in Higher Education. It takes years to train somebody up that level. His death has brought to fore the issue of lack of infrastructure in our country, where we are losing not only poor Cameroonians but wealthy ones and intellectuals due to road accidents, due to poor infrastructure, poor traffic and also the lack of duty consciousness of the police. In fact, our roads have become death traps. The death of Prof. Yanou is a big loss to the higher education family in particular and Cameroon in general. My condolences to his family”
      According to Prof. Victor Julius Ngoh, now Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Bamenda ,who was also Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Buea,when Prof.Yanou was very active in SYNES: “It is not only sad news, it  is  a big loss to the Higher Education family  both an Associate Professor of Law and a director in the Ministry of Higher Education.
“I recalled there was a general assembly meeting of SYNES in Bamenda three weeks or so ago and he as Director of Dialogue, representing the Ministry of higher Education met me and we were talking about SYNES and I told him my position about SYNES and he said ‘Prof, since 2001 when you told Dr.Fonyam and me about your position about SYNES you still are consistent’. And I said yes.’ I have experienced sudden deaths in my family; I know how painful this can be. It is really sad news”
       Dr. Shu Fontem, a SYNES UB member and close friend of the deceased, described Prof.Yanou’s demise as a huge loss not only to the higher education community but also to the judiciary, where he played several roles such as a practicing lawyer and consultant.
       The Recorder learned that Prof. Yanou’s students and some lawyers have since been weeping for the irrecoverable loss.
Prof. Yanou has left behind his wife, three children, relatives, colleagues, students and well-wishers to mourn and remember him.
     It is worthy of note that in the last several years, road accidents have claimed the lives of many renowned University of Buea dons such as Dr. Bate Besong, Dr. Hilarius Ambe and Prof John Ebanja.
(First Published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon, of February 2,2015)