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Paul Biya And The Cargo Cult Mentality 

By Kenneth Ngu Foncha (Actor For Change)

During his recent visit to Bamenda to tell the populace of the Northwest Region what they had longed to hear, Paul Biya described Cameroon as a great country. What constitutes a great country is a contentious issue and different people will have different opinions.

The eminent writer Chinua Achebe had once noted that, one of the commonest manifestations of underdevelopment is the inclination among the ruling elite to live in a world of make-belief and unrealistic expectations. Achebe described the attitude of African presidents to the cargo cult mindset that anthropologists some times speak about: – a conviction by backward populace that one day without any hard work whatsoever on their own part a fairy ship will tie up in their harbour with every goody that they have always dreamed of possessing.

The surest indicator of a great country is the general welfare of its entire people. Indicators of the welfare of a country includes level of unemployment, literacy level, level of poverty, public health, safety, food, freedom and economic condition. Undoubtedly, the greatest nations try their utmost to minimize these problems as much as possible and only when these problems are irrelevant do we talk of a great country.

Cameroon is not a great country. Cameroon is not a country anymore but a concept. What is left of Cameroon is a composite of predatory interest; whosoever is on top is the faction most skilled at preying on others. Cameroon, once a country with bountiful stores of hope and optimism, today teeters perilously on the brink of economic disintegration, political chaos, institutional and social decay. A country with seemingly unlimited resources and potential has become one of the world’s poorest countries.

Cameroon lacks leadership. It is like a ship in the high seas, whose captain has jumped overboard. For the last quarter of a century, development has been distorted and priorities violated. Cameroon is an archetypical kleptocracy- government by theft. Tax payers’ money goes into hip pockets – a ready source of cash to reward friends, co-opt enemies and buy off opponents. State treasury is an adjunct of gangsterism. The Presidency makes no distinction between State expenditure and private expenditure.

This explains why the creation of the University of Bamenda came as some one announcing a ‘born house’. Any neutral observer would imagine money to run the university would come from the President’s wallet. The right to education is a fundamental right, clearly articulated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The University of Bamenda like any State University is the legitimate right of all Cameroonians.

Cameroonians must not always go cap in hand before someone "decides" to announce the creation of a university to be financed by tax payers’ money. Cameroon needs a change in leadership for its survival, as it seems headed towards a societal meltdown, State failure, and a revolution if current conditions continue. The needs of the poor must take priority over the desires of the rich.

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