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Central African Strongman, Michel Djotodia, Undresses Dictators 

By Bouddih Adams

CameroonPostline.com — Central African Republic, CAR, strongman, Michel Djotodia, has resigned. He orchestrated the ongoing bloodbath between Christians and Moslems who brought him to power in March last year. Djotodia resigned, January 10, in Ndjamena, Chad, while attending a regional summit on the crisis in the CAR.

His Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, also resigned. Many strong men, dictators if you will, in Africa and around the world will hate Djotodia for his action. How can a strongman do a thing that should only be done by weaklings, like stepping down? they must be asking. Yes, they will hate him like they hated Nelson Mandela when he ruled for only five years and left power.

The reason is that each act by a democrat annoys dictators. Each time someone steps down, the act further exposes sit-tight dictators. It portrays that they lack honour and are democratically naked. That is why some of them would not even receive Mandela when he visited their countries. They hated him right into his grave. Even when he died, they did not as little as go to pay him their last respects – they never respected him while he lived, anyway.

The situation Djotodia created in his country was now burning his hands. He, at long last, decided to drop the ‘hot potato’ that it was. He resigned after admitting losing control over the Seleka rebels that brought him to power, barely weeks after he refused to step down. “If man pass you, carry yi bag,” is a popular proverb in my village. The opposing forces against Djotodia were so strong that he had no option than to throw in the towel.

At least, he has done an honourable thing, though only after more than 1,000 people had been killed. I call it as an honourable act because, if he had insisted to stay on, many more people would have been killed. He neither behaved foolhardily by sticking to his guns only to end up dishonourably like Laurent Gbagbo, who was smoked out of his hiding looking like a cornered mouse.

Nor like Muammar Gaddafi who held up arms until he was flushed out like a rat from a sewage drainage, from where the rats and roaches he had insulted the people of being, live. Will the emerging leader of Central African Republic threaten the Benin Republic hosting Djotodia to send him back home to face the music – like he did about Francois Bozize who he sent scampering for refuge, first in Cameroon? Is it going to be a “soldier-go soldier-come” situation? This must be a fulfilment of the retributive “what goes round comes around.”

Djotodia has resigned, with all that trouble his eight-month reign caused, including the repatriation of more than 8,000 Cameroonians who were scratching a living in CAR. That up to 8,000 Cameroonians were eking a living in landlocked CAR indicates that things are, or were, better across the border. Look at another country that depends on us for everything, like Equatorial Guinea, that discovered oil just yesterday, and see how they are developing their country into an Eldorado with it.

That is why, but for the young Equato-Guineans who come here to study, you cannot find many of them in the Cameroons doing menial jobs? Yet, we are being chased out of there year in and year out. And Equatorial Guinea just closed its border with Cameroon. Now, the question is (since we are fond of asking questions rather than providing answers), how are they going to be absorbed by the Cameroonian society and economy?

These are a new kind of refugees – people fleeing their host country to seek refuge in their country. What made them migrate into a country relatively poorer than their fatherland? Have the conditions in the Cameroons that caused them to migrate into a foreign land been relaxed or is the environment now conducive for them to work and earn a living at home? Would they rather go back to CAR, with the resignation of Djotodia?

When President Biya enumerated all the failures of the government he heads, in his end-of-year speech, asserting that “…  we are an individualistic people, more concerned with personal success than general interest.

Our administration remains susceptible to private interest, which is most often in conflict with national interest. Such trends must not be tolerated in a modern state,” I was expecting a particular outcome. When he asked questions like “What then do we lack?” which implied; “What is wrong with us?”, and ended up with the statement, “Now is the time to act!” I thought he would end up by saying, “Since I and my Government have failed; we hereby resign.”

But he turned around and sought refuge behind the Indomitable Lions; as if to justify that he should stay on and ensure that the Lions have a successful expedition to Brazil. He has always used the Lions when they are shining, to the extent of naming himself Lion Man. But when their glow was dimming, he abandoned the name, like a fair weather friend would do.

That is why I have the feeling that football has stood in the way of change in this country. In 1990, when change was sweeping across Africa, we docked in the euphoria of the Lions’ participation in the World Cup. The wind of change passed us by. Since then, every eventful political year in the Cameroons, whether by design or accident, coincides with a football jamboree in which the Lions are participating and the people are distracted. Should we keep using subterfuges every other time, while the country remains in its abysmal decline every day?

Djotodia would have used any other subterfuge to stay on. His friends in need and friends indeed stayed by him during this unfair weather and advised him to do the honourable thing of resigning. Honour, or a modicum of it, demands that one should resign when things come to a head.
Are We Together?

First published in The Post print edition no 01496

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