By TazoachaAsonganyi in Yaounde.
Society is in permanent flux, with new patterns of needs and interests emerging continuously. A great challenge of political parties is usually how to harmonize what is good for the party with what is good for the society as a whole. In spite of blueprints and programs that political parties adopt from time to time, leaders have to act continuously like catalysts that fasten the emergence of new policies to address the changing patterns in society.
This is why political parties are usually faced with the problem of nourishment – the generation of new ideas. Such new ideas depend on the vision and thought patterns – some would say ideology - that order(s) the course of the party. And such nourishment is best sourced from structures not animated by timeservers – those who for selfish reasons adapt opinions to the times and comply with the humors of the powers that be.
Kwame Nkrumah was one of the main actors at the fifth Pan African Congress that held in Manchester in October 1945. The congress adopted the principle of African socialism based on African humanism as a means of resolving the African colonial question. Nkrumah later adopted the principle as the ideology he used to lead the fight for the independence of Ghana. The political party, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) he created in 1949, had an ideology he later described as “consciencism” or “scientific socialism.”
When Nkrumah became the president of Ghana, he formed a youth wing of the CPP, the Young Pioneer Movement (YPM) in June 1960 in primary and middle schools; it had as a pledge to “live by the ideals of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Founder of the State of Ghana and Initiator of the African Personality…” Students in high schools learned trades and ideology in scientific socialism in their extracurricular activities, while students in university institutions belonged to the National Association of Socialist Student Organization (NASSO) which had branches in colleges and universities. Further, there was a Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute (KNII) founded at Winneba for the reeducation of adults and public officials.
Nkrumah’s efforts to “teach” his “conscienscism” in these “schools” failed because he equated the state to his political party and imposed himself as a strong executive president that controlled a weak legislature and a weak judiciary. This undermined his vision of emancipating and developing Ghana. Robert Yaw Owusus’s glowing description of Kwame Nkrumah’s philosophy in his book - Kwame Nkrumah’s Liberation Thought - does not diminish Cameron Duodu’sopinion in a recent issue of New African Magazine that Nkrumah’s government considered the people’s enjoyment as a superficial aspect of life; only industrialization and other abstract words usually ending in “-tion” or “–ment” mattered to his socialist government. The CPP government enacted the undemocratic and repressive Preventive Detention Act that allowed it to detain “dissidents” for five years without trial! How this all sounds like the way power and “dissidents” are treated in Cameroon!
As defined by Joseph Ernest Renan, a nation is a moral conscience created by a big aggregation of people, pure in spirit and warm hearted. The dictionary definition of conscience usually turns around a sort of force within us which decides on the rightness or wrongness of our own actions and affections. And the word moral is also usually defined as the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong as determined by duty. Each component of the aggregation of the component people - the citizen - is assumed to possess a moral conscience. This guiding idea of moral conscience and people with pure spirits and warm hearts should be regardless of the temporary occupants of the power positions within the nation.
In such nations, moral conscience, purity of spirit and warm heartedness may be taught to children through the mainstream school system. In society, it is nurtured not through “schools” but through free debate and discussion in the free press, free association of citizens and the abundant existence of other freedoms – which all breed a “common sense” and feelings of solidarity among the aggregated people.
The Labour Party in the UK is nourished by the Fabian Society, an independent group of free thinkers founded to promote the “reconstitution of society so as to ensure the general welfare and happiness.” The Fabian Society promotes socialist principles and produces socialist policies that it circulates to the public through regular reports, tracts and essays. The Labour Party benefits from it not because the policy documents are directed exclusively to it but because it has adopted socialism/social democracy as its guiding principles.
It is obviously quite difficult for a thirty-something years old regime to initiate a shift to a new policymaking mode - to disrupt its usual way of thinking and action. A party that has created more martyrs of misgovernment than heroes of ideas cannot be trusted to engage in reflection on democracy and related issues. A party school or whatever it is called of a party like the CPDM that has shown itself to be incapable of facilitating the emergence of a constructive democratic society, and seeks to “give" democracy to society through imposed laws and commissions, will surely end like the Kwame Nkrumah “Schools”.
We can expect very little or nothing from any political “school” that will influence the allures of the CPDM government in Cameroon. What we urgently need is a change at the helm of the state to provide a fresh impetus to state matters that upholds the nation as a moral conscience.