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Cameroon Needs Enema 

By Azore Opio — Those who believe that Cameroon is somehow blessed miss a fundamental truth; Cameroon is bedeviled. Sick!

A stroll down the highways, we see how both the insensitive bourgeois and the madding down-scale crowd bear the brunt of death, an undisputable consequence of corruption and graft, that continue to inflict the most agonizing pains humanly imaginable on a people who seem to have been turned into sheep. When you come to think of it, Cameroonians seem to be reaping the fruits of a bizarre lunacy and an astonishing amount of ignorance.

It seems the value of their lives has been diminished to the rank of expendable mortals and their souls have been yoked to the chariot of the Devil that always hauls them to ghastly deaths. Of the deaths on the roads, government cares less. The survival of government is of greater interest. The upper crust clearly believes that the poor can all perish on the roads for all they care. It is none of their bloody business; impoverished CDC workers can be transported in hard metal cargo trucks like cows to the slaughterhouse. Who cares? And what better way to end the miseries of toiling plantation labourers?

We wonder, then, sometimes, why heaven itself cannot frown upon Cameroon’s predicaments.
Here is the equation of death on Cameroon’s express death ways; the driver does not need to attend driving school; he simply purchases a driver’s “license to kill” for a pitiable FCFA 30,000 and, by trial and error, he takes the wheel. At the other end of the equation is the traffic policeman or the gendarme routier (mange milles).

They bribe their way into training school and graduate as “itinerant businessmen” whose mind-set is inspired by profit-making. So instead of enforcing the law, they set up business at the roadsides complete with an open-air charge office and court, where defaulting drivers are arrested, charged, prosecuted and fined on the spot. Is it a wonder then that traffic offences are scarcely heard in the law courts?

While currency binds the highwaymen, alcohol consolidates their love affair. And so, the use of vehicles and the road is left to the quirks of dare-devils called drivers. In the middle of the equation is the indifferent and ignorant passenger who only wants to reach his/her destination whether in one piece or not. Then there is the vehicle inspectors now running a new lucrative business. One needs not go right up to the vehicle inspection yards now dotted across the nation, just send an a go-between with cash and you get your visite technique sticker clearing your vehicle as road worthy.

To make the equation as convoluted as it can possibly be, the governors, ministers, parliamentarians, mayors, lawyers, the clergy and all the human rights Toms, Dicks and Harrys and the money-collecting road safety gangs, seem only to act to suit the humour of the hour without meaning a single word or action they say or do.

This may seem like lurid details to titillate the reader. No, you may have heard it wrong. Corruption, mediocrity whereby the inept are able to wiggle their way into sensitive public offices together with a debilitating incubus that bears down on Cameroon, are guarantees that Cameroonians will continue to perish on their own roads for reasons that could easily be avoided.

Death on Cameroon’s roads have been around a long time and continues to flourish in much the same way as do its kindred spirits, disease and poverty. Death may not be a pleasant prospect, not even in Cameroon, but it is so much better presented. Although it has a bleak outlook, in Cameroon, death has a rosy hue underneath it since everyone knows that it occasions wining and dining, and new courtships.

When you are dead, there are four camps that form in your compound, if you have one – admirers who have fond memories for you; revelers, mediocres and those who come to rejoice that you are really dead and gone. Death in Cameroon though a sorrowful event, is celebrated in pomp and pageantry.

Perhaps that is why many people continue to die nastily on the roads and those living only mumble and grumble. Anyhow, whenever the scheme to celebrate a funeral is settled on, and the news of death is often broadcast on the gossip millstone much before the radio waves take it up, mourners are ever present from wake-keeping till the last shovel of soil is stamped down.

Both the great and the small in Cameroon cut down by time are venerated in drinks and food and everything else that goes with extravagant funeral activity. Some people kneel at the casket, an honour scarcely offered the living, sign the mourner’s book, shake hands with the family and a few other people and hang around to wait for the subsequent feasting.

Sweet heaven, there is no person more opulently appointed to kick-start a funeral than a reckless driver aided by a crooked official dressed in khaki, boots, beret and all. A perfect outfit indeed. Would you imagine that there is a one-armed driver plying the Muyuka-Buea road?
There is no need to say that death means nothing in Cameroon.

After a funeral watered by tears borrowed from crocodiles; characterized by public displays of the hearse – glittering coffin and long ceremonies – in an atmosphere flourishing with riots of blooming colours and the smell of sophisticated cooking, the people once again settle to their normal drinking and eating habits. Cameroon, indeed, needs enema to purge it of all the putrid botulistic sewage trapped in its rectum for it to regain its once envied deportment in the central African sub-region. So that sweet heaven may once again smile on the nation.

First published in The Post print edition no 01471