Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cameroon: Bishops reject government’s bilingual commission

Cameroon: Bishops reject government’s bilingual commission
Anglophone Cameroonians protest in Cameroon. (Credit: AP.)
By Ngala Killian Chimtom
YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon - Bishops from Cameroon’s English-speaking regions have said a new government commission to look at the rights of the country’s English-speaking minority is not adequate to resolve what has come to be known as “the Anglophone problem.”
The National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multi-culturalism was set up earlier in the year as part of government measures to resolve the long-standing problem of perceived marginalization of the minority Anglophones (who constitute 20% of the population) by the francophone-dominated administration.
But the bishops are saying the commission is simply fruitless.But the bishops are saying the commission is simply fruitless.
“A Commission on bilingualism and multi-culturalism cannot resolve the Anglophone Problem,” said the Bishop of Kumbo and Vice President of the National Episcopal Conference, Bishop George Nkuo.
Bishop of Kumbo and Vice President of the National Episcopal Conference, Bishop George Nkuo. (Credit: Ngala Killian Chimtom.)
“It should have been a commission on Bilingualism and Bi-Culturalism,” he said, noting that such a commission would help protect and preserve Cameroon’s bi-cultural heritage.
Cameroon’s bilingual and bi-cultural status derived from its colonial heritage. Initially administered as a German Protectorate in 1884, Cameroon would later be shared with France and Britain as League of Nations Mandates after Germany was defeated in the First World War.
The end of the Second World War and the establishment of the United Nations saw the two parts of Cameroon transition from mandated territories to UN Trust Territories.
In 1960, the northern part of Cameroon administered by France gained its independence. The southern part administered by Britain as part of Nigeria was in 1961 subject to a plebiscite in which they were offered independence by reuniting with their francophone Cameroonian “brothers” or by remaining part of Nigeria.
The results showed an overwhelming desire by English-speaking Cameroonians to reunite with the French-speaking part of Cameroon.
The “marriage” was guaranteed by a Federal Constitution that was ostensibly meant to preserve and protect the minority Anglophones and their colonial heritage. But in 1972 then-President Ahmadou Ahidjo organized a referendum that dissolved the federation in favor of a united republic, thereby removing the protections Anglophones enjoyed.
“That marked the start of the ‘Anglophone Problem’,” said Professor Verkijika Fanso of the University of Yaoundé.
He said the absence of protective guarantees meant that “the values that English-speaking Cameroonians brought into the union were eroded.”
Fanso said the minority Anglophones have seen their educational and legal systems systematically chipped away by the Francophone majority.
This has recently led to popular uprisings in the two English-speaking regions. The uprisings were initially sparked by disgruntled lawyers and teachers protesting the use of French in courts using the Anglo-Saxon common law tradition (practiced in the English parts of the country) and in Anglophone schools, and it soon boiled over to the general public, with many Anglophones calling for outright secession.
Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda (their jurisdiction is mostly in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon) have said the problem is a result of the government’s inflexibility.
In a strongly-worded letter addressed to the President of the Republic in December, the Bamenda bishops said that the Anglophone Problem was a result of “the failure of successive governments of Cameroon, since 1961, to respect and implement the articles of the Constitution that uphold and safeguard what British Southern Cameroons brought along to the Union in 1961.”
They also condemned what they called “the deliberate and systematic erosion of the West Cameroon cultural identity which the 1961 Constitution sought to preserve and protect by providing for a bi-cultural federation.”
Resolving the Crisis
In attempts to resolve the crisis, President Paul Biya has set up a Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.
The text creating the Commission states that the Commission shall “be responsible for submitting reports and recommendations on issues relating to the protection of bilingualism and multiculturalism to the President of the Republic and the government, monitoring the implementation of constitutional provisions establishing English and French as two official languages of equal status …, preparing and submitting to the President of the Republic draft instruments on bilingualism and multiculturalism and togetherness, receiving petitions against discriminations arising from non-compliance with the constitutional provisions on bilingualism, multiculturalism, and reporting … to the President of the Republic.”
But the Catholic bishops have dismissed the commission as a missed opportunity.
“Why Common Law lawyers were striking is that their legal system was being eroded. It is the same thing with teachers, who saw the Anglo-Saxon educational system they inherited from Britain being eroded. So, the problem is not a problem of multi-cultures, because Cameroonians in their cultural and linguistic diversity have always lived together,” said Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda.
In their December letter, the bishops said:
“Anglophone Cameroonians are slowly being asphyxiated as every element of their culture is systematically targeted and absorbed into the Francophone Cameroon culture and way of doing things. These include the language, the educational system, the system of administration and governance, the legal system, and a transparent democratic process where elected leaders are answerable to the electorate who put them there in the first place.”
The bishops are now calling for genuine dialogue between the government and Anglophone Cameroonians as the only way forward.
But the call comes at a time when thousands of Anglophone Cameroonians are already calling for a return to a federal system of government, or even secession.

ishops in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon have dismissed a new commission looking at bilingualism in the country as a missed opportunity. The minority Anglophone population says it has seen its educational and legal system systematically chipped away by the Francophone majority.

Women with HIV in Cameroon still stigmatised

In Cameroon, more women are living with HIV than any other group, and they are also more stigmatized than their male counterparts
In Cameroon, more women are living with HIV than any other group, and they are also more stigmatized than their male counterparts (AFP Photo/SAEED KHAN)
Yaoundé (AFP) - Blandine, a 28-year-old mother of a baby girl, sits restlessly on a chair in a women's health centre in Cameroon's capital, not knowing how or what to feel as she waits for an HIV test.
Blandine is HIV positive.
But the waiting is not for her -- it is to find out whether her one-year-old girl also has the human immunodeficiency virus.
A few minutes later, she has her answer.
"I am so relieved," Blandine said upon learning that her baby's blood tests came back negative for HIV. "I feel like I've won a battle with my child, a battle I was unable to win for myself."
In Cameroon, more women are living with HIV than any other group, and they are also more stigmatised than their male counterparts.Blandine, a teacher, was willing to share her story but preferred to use an alias to protect her identity and her family, including her husband, who has public responsibilities.
"I have a life to build," she said.
"There is progress but we cannot say that the stigma has disappeared. When you have a certain role in society, you have to defend your husband and your in-laws.
"You have to protect your children."
Blandine discovered she was HIV positive nearly two years ago, after a long illness. Her husband was the one who broke the bad news to her, as she was too weak to speak to the doctor herself.
She is still not sure how she came to contract the virus. Her husband, like their daughter, does not have it.
"It is really due to my husband's love that I was able to live through that situation," she said.
Blandine said many HIV positive women are rejected by their husbands and families and then isolated from society as a whole.
"Some women don't even dare talk about their status for fear of being abandoned," she said. "They deal with it on their own, without even opening up to their husbands."
- 'Afraid' of sex -
Serodiscordant couples -- where one partner is HIV positive -- face an extra set of hurdles in a relationship, especially as it relates to personal hygiene and sexual relations.
For Blandine and her husband, adjusting to her status meant regular visits to health professionals and a sex education course at the hospital.
"When you get the results, it's not obvious you can go back to a normal sex life," she said. "You are always afraid at the beginning."
At the hospital, the couple was taught the best way to continue having safe sex, but the most important thing was to remain faithful to each other.
"Fidelity is essential, for him but also for me, because we don't know the (HIV) status of people outside our relationship".
Blandine, whose HIV positive status is "nearly undetectable" because of her continued treatment, never thought she would be able to live such a happy, normal life -- with healthy children.
"I was always told that I could be a mother like any other, in spite of the HIV, and I am now just understanding that it is not a dream," she said.
"You can give birth to your child and breastfeed them like the other children. I am really happy."
As soon as she was born, Blandine's daughter benefited from immediate HIV treatment, and her first test at six weeks showed she had no HIV antibodies.
The baby will have to undergo her final test when she turns 18 months.
- 'We see progress' -
In the cheerful waiting room of the women's health centre of the Chantal Biya Foundation, Blandine sits surrounded by other HIV positive mothers and their babies.
Cameroon, a country of 23 million that hugs Africa's Gulf of Guinea, had a 5.75-percent HIV prevalence rate for pregnant women in 2016, making it one of the 10 countries responsible for 75 percent of new paediatric infections worldwide.
"We see progress in the prevention of the transmission (of HIV) from mother to child," said Therese Nduwimana, director of the HIV and AIDS section at the UN's children agency, UNICEF, in Cameroon.
In its efforts to lower the prevalence rate, the country has launched programmes where pregnant women can get tested for HIV during prenatal visits.
According to Nduwimana, "79 percent of those who find out they are positive are immediately started on treatment" and their children also receive treatment as soon as they are born.
Still, 17 percent of pregnant women skip their prenatal visits and about 12 percent refuse the test.
Cameroon has also invested in rapid HIV testing, which delivers results within the hour as opposed to a month.
When Blandine first tested her daughter at six months, the month of waiting was not easy.
"For weeks, you have a feeling of guilt, you cannot stop thinking that maybe you've passed a virus to your child that they'll have to fight for the rest of their lives."
In her work as a teacher, Blandine has been able to advise younger women living with HIV, without revealing her status.
But she hopes one day to be able to live openly with HIV.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Governor’s alert about SCNC attacks breeds renewed search for activists

By kum Bandolo

Security forces are said to have intensified the search for SCNC activists following a gubernatorial warning of a possible attack by the banned group’s radical activists.
    The Governor of the South West Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai recently alerte the new SDO for Fako Division, Emmanuel Engamma Ledoux during the latter’s commissioning into office that security reports indicate the SCNC are planning to attack Anglophone Regions, in a bid to take back what they called their territory.
  The Governor therefore implored the new SDO to beef up security on the ports and main entrance from Nigeria,a neighboring country, so as to check threates from  those with links to the secessionist group cum terrorist group.
   The SCNC, which is fighting for the independence of Southern Cameroons but is considered by the Cameroon government as a terrorist group, was banned last January 17 in Cameroon, as the Anglophone identity crisis worsens
    Several SCNC leaders are already in detention and are being prosecuted for fighting for the restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroon.
Prominent amongst them is Oben Maxwel alongside four others who were arrested in Bamenda and Kumbo and charged with acts of terrorism.
   Worthy of note is the case of a certain Ernest Nanje Sermobia who joined the SCNC since 2004.
 Nanje Sermobia, an SCNC flyers distributor, was reportedly picked-up in January 2014 in Muyuka, in the company of other activists by security agents  in mufti ,but Nanje Sermobia slipped off the hands of his captors.  Since then his whereabouts is not known but it is believed he must have fled to Nigeria, to join many other SCNC activists there.
    Mola Njoh Litumbe, another lead activist for the independence of Southern Cameroons has often condemned the deplorable conditions in which activists are kept in jail, insisting on the respect of international human rights instruments, to which Cameroon is a signatory.
    The renewed search for SCNC activists comes at a time when Anglophone Consortium leaders such as Abgor Balla and Dr Fontem as well as Zama Gorden, SDF Limbe District Chairman, are being prosecuted for terrorism charges.

   Those charged with terrorism could face up to 25 years in prison or a death sentence.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

University of Buea :Dean of Faculty of Agriculture Vows:“It’s time for communities to feel us !”

Professor  Ernest Lytia Molua,new Dean Faculty of Agriculture,University of Buea at installation

By Christopher Ambe
The new Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea (UB), has said henceforth local communities in Cameroon must benefit immensely from the existence of the faculty, which he now heads.
Prof Molua(left)chats with UB  VC Prof. Ngomo
Ernest Lytia Molua, aged 44, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics, made the commitment to reporters, on University of Buea campus, last July 19, shortly  after he officially and publicly assumed office as the new Dean of the ten-year old Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine of Cameroon’s first Anglo-Saxon University. He replaced Prof.Sakwe Nekongo Pierre Christopher, retired
    Appointed by Cameroonian President Paul Biya, Lytia Molua was commissioned into office by Prof.Ngomo Horace Manga, Vice-chancellor of University of Buea, which is a state-owned institution created in 1993.

  The Dean was commissioned alongside other newly appointed officials of same  university viz:Associate Prof. Ayu’unwi Ngwabe Neba,as new Director of Academic Affairs; Associate Prof. Nana Engo Serge Guy as new Director of Students’ Affairs; Associate Prof. Agbor Dieudonne Agbor as New Director of College of Technology  and Mr. Epoge NapoleonKang as new Director of Financial Affairs.
    The Vice-Chancellor urged them to be ever duty-conscious, to uphold the high standards of the university and ensure excellence in whatever they do.
      “The time has come for the Faculty of Agriculture & Veterinary Medicine in particular and the University of Buea in general to go into the communities and for them to really feel us; by this I mean we must design and develop short term training programs for few weeks or months and build the capacity of youth in rural areas, as well as go to the field for onsite-training”, the new Dean told reporters.

Dr.Namanga Ngongi (left),former Deputy Director,
World Food Programme, congratulates Prof.Molua
   Lytia Molua thanked Cameroon’s Head of State for endorsing the recommendation that he take over as Dean of the Faculty.
“It is an honour and a call to duty and I am ready and willing to serve the people of Cameroon and beyond”
  He noted that under his leadership, the Faculty would intensify and improve on its teaching, in such a way that students can generate knowledge, which can be used practically in the field of agriculture; we have to engage in vast research, relevant to Cameroon’s Agricultural sector and to immediate communities”
   Currently the Vice-President of Cameroon Association of Agricultural Economists (CAAE),Lytia  Molua holds a Doctor of Science Degree in Agriculture with specialization in Agricultural Policy Design and Planning from the Georg-August University of Goettingen ,Germany since 2002
   Before his current appointment as Dean, he was pioneer Head of Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, in the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine,

More facts about Professor Ernest Lytia Molua

Professor Lytia Molua
Ernest Lytia Molua, now Associate Professor, had obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1983 and proceeded to the prestigious St Joseph’s College Sasse, Buea, Cameroon, for secondary education.

In 1990, following an excellent pass in five science subjects at the Cameroon GCE Advanced Level, Lytia Molua was offered the prestigious Cameroon Government Scholarship for the best students to study abroad, and was posted to the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria where, he obtained the Bachelor of Agriculture degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension Services in 1994, and was immediately admitted for the Master of Science programme in Agricultural Economics, and graduated in record time in 1996.

In 1997, he proceeded to Europe for further studies at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he obtained his second Master of Science Degree in Agricultural Land-Use and Natural Resources Management in July, 1999.

In September of 1999, Lytia Molua commenced Doctoral Studies at the Georg-August University of Goettingen,Germany. In November of 2002, he graduated with the Doctor of Science Degree in Agriculture with specialization in Agricultural Policy Design and Planning.

 Lytia Molua immediately returned to Cameroon and commenced teaching in 2003 at the University of Buea as a Senior Instructor in the Department of Economics and Management, in the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences.

In 2005, he was formally recruited as Assistant Lecturer by the Ministry of Higher Education, and in 2006 he rose to the rank of Lecturer. In 2006 Lytia Molua was appointed Chief of Service for National and International Cooperation of the University of Buea.

In 2008 and 2009, he embarked on some capacity- building projects which allowed him to serve as a visiting African Scholar to Makerere University in Uganda; and also to the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

In 2009 Lytia Molua was awarded the American Government sponsored US Fulbright Research Fellowship to the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

In 2010,when he returned to Cameroon Lytia Molua  was appointed as pioneer Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness in the newly created Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, a capacity in which he served until 27 June 2017.

Professor Molua has won many awards, and published extensively in national and international peer-reviewed journals. Professor Molua is a visiting Professor to the University of Pretoria, South Africa, the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, Dakar, Senegal; and United Nations University for Natural Resources in Accra, Ghana. He has served as consultant to numerous United Nations agencies including the FAO, UNDP and UNEP

He is recipient of numerous research grants, and a member of some learned societies including: The Royal Economic Society of The United Kingdom, The International Association of Agricultural Economists and The African Association of Agricultural Economists.

Professor Molua, a native of Sasse village in Buea Subdivision, is married and is blessed with four children.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cameroon: As New UB Vice-Chancellor Takes Office Today, Mayor Ekema’s Degrees May Be Revoked

*The mayor is accused of fraudulently gaining admission into University of Buea
Ekema Patrick Esunge (now Buea Mayor) graduating from University of Buea.Photo credit /Anonymous
By Christopher Ambe

The newly appointed Vice-chancellor (VC) of the University of Buea(UB) ,Professor Ngomo Horace Manga  officially takes office today in replacement of Dr.Lyonga Nalova, retired. The New VC is assuming office amid serious allegations that the state-owned University violated its own requirements for admission of undergraduate students, by accepting -either in complicity or by error, an applicant named Ekema Patrick Esunge, to read history with just one GCE Advanced Level paper.
    The said Ekema Patrick Esunge is the current Mayor of Buea, headquarters of Southwest Region of Cameroon,
   Disturbing Facts have emerged that he sat for the Cameroon General Certificate of Examinations (GCE) Advanced Level up to four times but passed only in one subject (history) with an ‘E’grade (being the lowest pass grade).
   Yet, he ‘fraudulently’ gained admission in to the prestigious University of Buea, whereas many applicants who pass same exam with at least two papers and better grades are, yearly , denied admission, for failing to meet the institution’s  minimum requirements.
  These findings were obtained from the Cameroon GCE Board and were made public on Friday July 7 at a press conference in Buea by Mr.Tambe Tiku Christopher, rights activist and Southwest Regional Secretary for the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF).
    To be awarded an Advanced Level GCE certificate in Cameroon, a candidate must have passed in at least two papers at the same sitting. To gain admission for undergraduate studies into the state-owned Anglo-saxon University of Buea, an applicant must have passed in at least five GCE Ordinary Level subjects including English language and at least passed in two ‘A’Level subjects at one sitting.
Tambe Tiku talking to reporters
   But Ekema, who formerly was a junior staff of the University of Buea and reportedly had as his highest qualification a pass in One Advanced Level in his employment file at the institution, was later admitted to read history and he was awarded a Bachelors’degree in 2006.
  In March 2014, he graduated with a Master’s degree in history from same university and is now reportedly studying elsewhere for a doctorate degree.
Strangely, and probably worried by the fact he had his Bachelor’s degree in 2003 without a GCE Advanced Level certificate, Ekema again registered for the ‘A’ Level in 2007 (for History, Geography and Philosophy) but did not sit for the exam.
  At the press conference, Tambe Tiku told journalists that his office was “inundated with complaints relating to alleged violation of the right to education by the University of Buea”, adding that “the complainants alleged that the university’s requirements in to some departments are discriminatory. They {alleged} that whilst some of them were refused admission with five points, a certain Ekema Patrick Esunge was admitted with one Advanced Level paper with one point”
  Tambe Tiku, who also teaches law at same university, said based on the complaints, he was forced to write to the Cameroon GCE Board to get the detailed results of Ekema Patrick Esunge “to establish the veracity of these allegations”
  The Human Rights official said he acted within his competence, citing the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, which as per Section 3(2) of its organic texts can “request competent authorities to carry out searches and require the production of any document or evidence in accordance with ordinary law.
   And upon receipt of the official request from the Buea  Regional Office of Human Rights and Freedoms, Dr.Monono Ekema Humphrey, Registrar of the Cameroon GCE Board who is on record to  have  said “I have nothing more to give my country than working honestly for it” acted accordingly and swiftly by furnishing the details results.
  Tambe Tiku said the University of Buea has already been informed about his findings and it has promised to act accordingly if its own investigations confirm Ekema Patrick Esunge frauded his way to become a student of the institution.
   What is certain is that if the University confirms that Ekema Patrick,now Mayor of Buea illegally gained admission there, his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History will be revoked and a public announcement made to that effect.
  With pressure mounting on the University of Buea to quickly make a pronouncement on the scandalous findings, many think the new VC will consider the matter a priority challenge, to save the “battered” image of the university, which was created in 1993 and part of its mission statement says:
   “The University of Buea is dedicated to the continuous quest for excellence, the promotion of moral and human values, and service to community”
If at all the University confirms that Mayor Ekema frauded his way into the institution for studies, apart from stripping him of the degrees, it could initiate a criminal action against him.
   According to the Cameroon Penal Code in Section 207(1), “Whoever forges or alters any official certificate shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to three years
(2) “Whoever makes use of any such certificate shall be punished in like manner”
Tambe Tiku said it is “overwhelming for a public figure to continue in office after engaging in a fraudulent act of this magnitude”, urging the Mayor to resign from office.
     Sounding very confident at the press conference and relying on the confirmation of Ekema Patrick’s results made available by the GCE Board, the rights activist noted:
   “From the results at our disposal,we can state boldly that Ekema Patrick Esunge frauded his way into the University. It is difficult for us to ascertain whether it was done in complicity with the University”
    Tambe Tiku said, “It beats one’s imagination why Ekema who earned a degree (in History) in October, 2006, would proceed to register for Advanced Level (for same subject) in 2007.”
   He said with the GCE Board’s confirmation that Ekema has a pass in just one paper, “it is now left for the University and the Judiciary to take their responsibilities”
   Unlike before when the Mayor would react swiftly and angrily to pronouncements made against him by the Buea Human Rights office, Ekema Patrick has surprisingly maintained sealed lips on the sensitive matter, fuelling speculations that he has nothing to counter the allegation, which has also gone viral on the social media.
   Meanwhile, the Faculty Executives of the University of Buea, have addressed a memo titled “Disapproval of Fake Academic Credentials From Mayor Ekema Patrick Esunge” to the Vice-chancellor and Registrar, among others.
   The Memo calls on the University authorities to “bring the said Ekema Patrick to Justice”
   The students’ memo does not say exactly what will happen if the University   administration fails to heed their demands. But going by past records, students had always used strike actions to cause the administration to satisfy their demands.
   Mr.Ekema became Mayor of Buea in 2013, under the platform of the ruling CPDM, whose National chairman is Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya.
  CPDM officials are said to be saddened by the scandalous revelation about one of theirs.