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Jujulitics: Voting By Ordeal 

By Azore Opio — One of the pleasures of recording contemporary history is the rare opportunity for direct contact with the subjects of interest. And so here we are in Cameroon in the thirteenth year of the Third Millennium, some 2000 and 13 years after the demise of probably the greatest philosopher who went under the alias of Jesus Christ, son of God, the Almighty.

As you have probably already heard, Cameroonians went to the polls for the eighth time in 20 years. Having already been rated for being as bad as any elections can get, the organisers of the last twin elections now appear to be out for the award of the most impressive yet the most tactlessly rigged elections ever. It is worthy to remember that over the years, Cameroon elections, massively rigged, have afforded a handful of instances in which tempers have come close to detonating.

The last elections were, to say the least, a remarkable achievement; but the thing about a bomb is you can do a perfect job and only one error is catastrophic. Among the diagnosis of Cameroon’s crises – spiritual, intellectual, social, economic and political – from the 60s up to the present time, none has occasioned more debate, controversy, intrigue, deceit, coercion, self-aggrandisement, egotism and personality cult worship than elections.

And now they have incorporated juju into the equation. It becomes more convincing that devils clothed with human bodies have descended upon this lovely country called Cameroon. Or, if that not be the case, then it would seem that men’s thoughts and actions during elections are cunningly controlled by Satan to exclude everything good.

The toll in human suffering physically, emotionally and economically is often incalculable – death, wastage, misappropriated resources and perpetual abject poverty and backwardness. Let’s look back at the election scenes and see the mess left behind by those who rig elections, the most prominent being the 1992 Presidential Election characterised by post-election violence in Bamenda; houses and property destroyed, state of emergency and ghost town.
Voting is known to be the opportunity to choose freely.

In the case of voting political representatives, it means choosing people with dignity and good reputations, tested integrity and selflessness. But once a people capitulate to the temptation of money and immediate gratification or are coerced, as some Northwest traditional leaders reportedly did with fetishes for people to vote a certain party lest harm comes their way, the voters unwittingly turn over their natural power and authority to the control of deceitful and unreliable scoundrels.

The rapscallions then take up the fraudulently acquired public offices and set out with the tool of their trade, corruption, to “recover” the monies they spent bribing voters and polling agents, rake in undue profits and enrich themselves at the expense of collective development. Is it a wonder then that Cameroon remains one of the most backward nations in the whole round world?

With dishonest men dogged by problematic characters the legal rulers of the country, or any other country for that matter, the nation becomes one huge slave market and everyone born into it is born a slave of the election riggers, under their dominion. This is the reason for example, why Mamfe of all places in Cameroon, remains a region least populated with teachers and one of the poorest in terms of development. All the wealth of Cameroon which Mamfe contributes towards is kept from entering this lovely place because of a day’s rigging at the polls. And have Mamfe sons and daughters gone to school?!

You will find in Mamfe a school with two teachers; the headmaster and another teacher who teaches all the subjects in all the classes in the entire school. Sometimes there is only one teacher: the omnipotent, omnipresent headmaster – he is the head teacher, the regular teacher, the discipline master, the bursar, the gate keeper, the cook and the waiter. In short, the “everything”. Yet, the blind defenders of the faith of election rigging brave impossible roads, severe weather to spread the word of the prince of the power of hot air.

The story is told of a retired and tired administrator in Mamfe who, in the line of duty, so to speak, had to hire a four-wheel truck at a whooping FCFA 250,000 just to travel from Kumba to Fotabe, a short journey, so to speak, to launch campaigns for the recent twin elections. Yet, the cash and the off-road vehicle were not enough to get him to his village; he had to add up rain boots to complete the package! But for all practical purposes, Mamfe is dead! A victim of election of rigging waiting for a requiem and final commitment to the grave.

Election riggers are evil, sadistic creatures who continue to imprison ill-fated vulnerable people in a slave camp, caring nothing for them as human beings. They use them for their purposes and dump them on a junk heap when they are finished with them. Until they pay ransom for their freedom by way of holding firm to their votes and preventing election rigging, Cameroonian voters’ slavery to election tricksters will remain the barrier to a restored fellowship with peace and prosperity.

First published in The Post print edition no 01470