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Boom For Cameroonian Asylum Seekers 

Although he was just in his early 40s, he wore the appearance of an ailing sexagenarian. His youthful vivacity had been brutally abridged by hard times. He was now a man of frail limbs, premature grey hair and a sagging gait.

It took me a long time to discover Che (not his real names) in the neighbourhood of Time Square in New York a few years ago. He was my school mate and one of those who travelled abroad in the mid 90s. Back in school, Che was a star. He was a boy of fine and equal parts, blessed with a fertile brain, a caressing accent and a robust mastery of the Queens language. He was almost every girl’s choice. The damsels sustained subterranean battles just to seek for his notice. He could barely avoid becoming a serial womaniser.

That was Che of the 90s. Not the one I saw in Manhattan, New York. Even though we greeted and exchanged pleasantries, I kept on telling my inner self that; this is not Che. When I saw him, he was standing at akimbo, staring at no one and nowhere in particular. His eyes seemed to have been tired of seeing all the trouble in this sinful world. Che’s entire frame was emaciated, and looked like the leftover of a hunger’s feast.

His bent shoulders betrayed the beginning of a premature hunch. His blank face was a network of wrinkles and sunken jaws. I only began to make him out when he started wandering towards me in the name of walking.

He is one of those who fled the country in the 90s on account of unrest in the University of Yaounde. As we hugged each other, the man narrated a jeremiad of his travails. He had a marriage of convenience with a certain white woman just to legalise his sojourn out there. But, now, the marriage has hit the rocks and he was thrown out into the streets. He also lost his lucrative job. With only a meager job, he was now hunched with the huge burden of taking care of his two children and was virtually left with little to live on.

Che’s agonising plight is the fate of many young Cameroonians who believe that the only way out of the economic harsh weather is to “fall bush” at all cost. Travelling abroad is a good thing. But it must not be for the wrong reason and at all cost. The scandals surrounding the maltreatment of many Cameroonian girls in the Middle East, is the tell-tale of the “bush falling” desperation.

Genuine as well as fake asylum seekers move the breadth and the length of the world in desperate bush falling. Even when Cameroon was relatively peaceful, the asylum seekers narrated cases, real and imaginary of government’s victimisation of SCNC activists, political opponents and lack of gay rights to defend their sojourn in foreign countries.

The current crisis in the two Anglophone regions of the country is a silver lining for many people. They are many people who are making political and pecuniary gains in the unfortunate situation. Sometimes, they blow the security situation out of proportion just to go on mission and line their pockets from the public till. Many of such people will pray for the crisis not to end until they build their houses, those of their concubines and buy new cars.

There are genuine members of the banned Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and SCNC activists who fled the country and are seeking for asylum in many western countries. Fake asylum seekers are benefitting from the conflict to have a boom out there. They narrate all sorts of fiction just to drive their claims home. It is the image of the country that is being battered in the eyes of the international community.

All the men and women that our system has frustrated continue to carry out negative publicity out there. And with the current crisis, Cameroon will soon be like the proverbial he- goat that cannot hide its stink anywhere in the world. Has anyone measured the damage Cameroonian protesters cause to the image of the nation? Some of these people are the very symbol of wastage and specimen from our museum of joblessness, social injustice, corruption and political victimisation. They constitute a damper on our national pride.

This is arguably the dividend of willful acts of neglect and greed. A majority of our politicians sing nation first, but serve self and only self. Many young people who hoped to serve their nation and rub shoulders with the Joneses are downcast. Their grouse against Government is lack of jobs. Even in such a situation, they could still smile because there was a simulacrum of freedom.

The upsurge of human rights abuses as highlighted by the recent Amnesty International report is a damper. The reaction has been a profound sense of shock and consternation. For, just yesterday, our dear country was known for tolerance, freedom, some measure of decency. Not, for senseless chapters of socio-political imbroglio and its trickle-down bestialities.

Our politicians must learn to be grander in their thoughts and more panoramic in their decisions because it is their actions and passions that shape the destiny of the nation. That is why it is incumbent on the Deciders-In-Chief to arrest the endless procession of shame, misery and other vices that are agitating the nation. This should be considered as a rescue mission because our “democratie advancee” is so pathetically bereft of what makes the Government of the people, by the people and for the people more superior to other forms of Government.

This should be done so that nobody takes liberties in making Cameroon a shameless pretender to democracy. Cameroon, a land of promise, with a huge natural resource potential and a people driven by excellence and enterprise, should not be allowed to get down to the abyss of a pseudo-State with a doubtful future. The present regime should listen to voice of the people in order not to quit the stage with the stigma and whirlwind of a prolonged presidency that is accountable to no one. That way, the New Deal regime will avoid earning more public odium.

The Deciders-in-Chief should ignore pussy- footing and sycophancy and stop the torture and destruction that stalk the breadth and length of Anglophone Regions. This is when they have to demonstrate their patriotism and statesmanship.

If they act, accordingly, bread and butter patriots whose only constituency is their stomachs will condemn them. But, prosperity will hail them and vindicate them. Like the President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar, Ntumfor Nico Halle, put it the other day; State authority cannot be exercised at the expense of peace and national unity.

This means that if State authority is exercised to the extent that it deepens national animosity and divide the nation, it will be      counterproductive.

We must all seek for atonement for there is no saint in the current crisis that is dragging our country through the cesspit of shame. We have all sinned and fallen short of glory. So, nobody should play Pointus Pilate in the current brouhaha. On one hand, there was neglect and apathy. All these provoked frustration, pent-up anger and over reaction on the other hand.

Frank dialogue presupposes that nobody should get to the table with the spirit of infallibility. Dialogue will be ordained to flop if one party is considered the devil or angel. The prerequisite of a frank and fruitful dialogue should be a level playing field. The nation will get into rhapsodies and drown in bliss if both parties shout in unison: “Dialogue, here we come”

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