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CAMASEJ Elections – Savouring The Unexpected 

By Peterkins Manyong

CAMASEJ, the full meaning of the abbreviation, Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, is found in section 5 paragraph 1 of the CAMASEJ Constitution. But in paragraph 2 of the same document, the objectives of CAMASEJ have been spelt out to fight for the welfare of Anglophone journalists. From this explanation it can be seen that the name of the Association is a well crafted piece of euphemism.

To put the matter less equivocally, the beneficiaries from the initiatives of CAMASEJ should be persons whose parents hail from the two English speaking Regions. The election of Tricia Oben of Southwest origin was as much in order as it was unexpected.

Self-made Kingmakers

But while the returning officers, Chris Eno Oben, Victor Epie Ngome and Michael Yanou, deserve each a place in the Guinness Book of Records for transparency in elections, the same cannot be said of CAMASEJ "kingmakers" who claimed to have made things happen. Even the adversaries of Tricia Oben would admit that she is no novice.

She has a convincing programme, judging from her speeches during the occasion. Those who used the argument of gender balance to justify her election did her an infinite great deal of injustice. Nobody broadcasts so well or publishes a good magazine as she does, by accident.

The right to choose is a God-given right. God, with all His Omnipotence, proved this when he allowed the angels at His nose to rebel against Him. The contrary is the case with some of these "kingmakers". This analyst has since May 23 been under the frown of some who style him "a cheap campaigner" for one of the candidates (not Tricia Oben). 

This ugly development brings to mind the aftermath of the Fundong SDF election in which Hon. Paulinus Jua was pitted against John Fru Ndi, the party’s National Chairman.  Hon. Jua knew he couldn’t beat Fru Ndi, but he wanted to   prove that democracy prevails in the SDF and that every SDF militant is a potential national chairperson. But, instead of Fru Ndi’s supporters savouring their candidate’s victory, they were preoccupied in fishing out the six "traitors’ who dared to join Hon. Jua in voting against Fru Ndi.

The Super Delegates

They were predominantly staff of Eden Newspaper and their spokesman (self appointed) was Solomon Tembang. They apparently had no candidate and like in US elections, were ready to tilt the balance to favour any of the three candidates. There was, however, one thing very curious about them.

They were resolved to "put their ballot where their mouths were". In simpler phrase, they were determined to vote only where their publisher, Zachee Ngandebou, cast the ballot. Fortunately, Ngandebou was far more democratic than imagined and quit the scene giving the "super delegates" the freedom to be independent.

Diminished Power Of Bacchus

Last July’s CAMASEJ Assembly took place at the Franco-Cameroonian Alliance. There, Bacchus, the god of wine, was the presiding deity. If elections had taken place there and then, beer and not reason would have determined the outcome. It was probably to prevent such a situation that the venue of last May 23 polls was shifted to holy territory-the Synod of the PCC.

This caution didn’t, however, prevent the "disciples" from pouring libation in honour of their deity. The only difference being that unlike what normally happens; the Bacchanal "disciples" poured their libation not on the ground, but down their own throats.However, as these "disciples" were in hopelessly inferior numbers, their action had little influence on the outcome of the polls.

Tricia Oben’s Acceptance Speech

This was another pleasant surprise, coming after her election. It was rich in content, showing that she anticipated her victory. It also proved that she is ready to embrace her challenges and work with them for the absolute success of CAMASEJ. Though she quoted Barack Obama, she refused to be a slave to authority. That is why she resisted the temptation of reciting the hackneyed; "Yes, we can" expression.

As a communicator with many years of experience, she successfully resisted the temptation to be painfully pedantic. Her diction was simple, her sentences generally brief. Where she wanted to create some suspense, the periodic sentence was used. Perhaps the most striking aspect of her speech was her use of paradoxical sentences. "We can have the most powerful pens, but not be strong; we can have wealth, but not be rich".

In all, it was a modest speech, full of hope and consolatory to those who think the private press has sold its birthright to the "songbirds" of the Biya Regime, CRTV and Cameroon Tribune.
The new CAMASEJ President also proved her sense of gratitude by promising to visit the Bamenda Chapter that gave her such a great boost. The story of the one out of ten lepers that went to thank Christ who healed him could not have been better substantiated.

It is in the interest of CAMASEJ and Anglophone journalism that she works to heal the wounds created in their hearts by several decades of marginalisation. When William Pitt the Younger was appointed Prime Minister of Britain at the age of 24, Lord Byron described it as; "A sight to make surrounding nations stare/ A nation trusted to a school boy’s care".

Pitt proved Byron wrong by succeeding in his premiership. Tricia Oben is certainly no inexperienced schoolgirl. She is a communicator with amplitude of well researched journalistic knowledge. She is therefore even more equipped than Pitt to overcome the arduous tasks ahead of her.

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