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Reunification Celebration Could Have Been Better 

Interviewed by Bouddih Adams — Louis Roger Youmbi is a comedian, an entertainer and a musician. The man, who is better known by his alias; ‘Le Roi Fotso’, whose clip gave television watchers a lot of pleasure and fun; from his attire, his clowns’ shoes, his dance style and even laughter, thrilled Cameroonians, continues to ply his trade abroad.

But he was in Cameroon, precisely Buea during the 50th anniversary of the Reunification. Le Roi Fosso granted The Post this exclusive interview in which he appreciated the celebrations and discussed other issues like patriotism and stated his position on the SOCAM saga. Read on:

The Post: Is your presence in Cameroon and in Buea during celebrations marking the golden jubilee of the Reunification a coincidence or by design?

Louis Roger Youmbi: Though I live in Europe, I may not live another fifty years to have another opportunity to witness the celebration of the country which I love so much. I had some time off my very busy schedule so I thought it a golden opportunity to be part of the golden jubilee of the Reunification of my country. It is a once-in-a-lifetime happening.

What impressed you and what did not impress you about the celebration.

It was a beautiful and colourful ceremony; well organised in terms of the attendance and the march past. But I did not like the sitting arrangement, with the Head of State, President Biya who I respect so much sitting this way, the President of the Senate sitting that way, the President of the National Assembly sitting the other way and the Prime Minister sitting yet the other way. I think the sitting order was out of order. So, the sitting arrangement was poorly organised.

If you were charged with organising such an event, what would you leave out and what would you add?

I don’t think I have the competence to organise such a big event. But if I were asked to try, I would have started with the erection of the monuments, statues for the architects of Reunification so that when the day for celebrations comes, children who are not on the ceremonial grounds but watching on television would have seen President Biya laying flowers at the feet of the monument and might ask their parents: whose statue is that, and they are told, those are the architects of this nation.

I think, that way, the children would have learned History and would never forget. Time evolves but History will never change; History is not something you can dig a grave and bury and seal it. I believe the time will come when new leaders would emerge and honour the founding fathers of this nation, the architects of Reunification.

You talk so much about your love for the nation; that reminds us of the Government’s call on the Diaspora to invest back at home. What have you done for this country that you claim to love so much?

My brother, let me tell you. I have invested so much in terms of real estate. I have constructed houses here in Buea, in Douala and other towns. But they have used taxes to kill the investment. I don’t know whether to say it is the Government or individuals who are doing this, but the truth is that the taxation policy has discouraged me and I feel really disappointed.

You are a musician and an entertainer, why don’t you invest in the Arts like setting up a production house that can support and promote young talents and you also make profit?

You do not want me to invest in a production house with all the piracy that is going on here. You release a CD and before you get to the market, the pirated versions have flooded the whole place and they are selling it for FCFA 1,000. Can you imagine that, with all the resources and effort put in? It means everything; all your investments have been flushed down the drain.

What are you doing to fight piracy which seems to be the locust eating all musicians and entertainers’ crop?

One man cannot fight piracy. Even a group of private individuals cannot fight piracy. To fight piracy successfully requires the will of the Government to wage a war against it in all its forms. If the Government cannot lead the war, piracy cannot be conquered.

What are you doing to promote young talents and your colleagues who might not have the means?

I have done much and I am doing a lot to assist young talents and colleagues, either by co-acting with them or by introducing them and presenting them to places or taking them in tours around Europe.  I have performed with Massa Batre, I have assisted young people like Singe d’Afrique and many others.

What have you been doing since your popular clip, “Le Roi Fosso; Le Pauvre et Le Riche”, that gave us a lot of pleasure and fun in the 90s?

I have been doing a lot of work. I have produced other clips that CRTV, STV, CANAL 2 and other television channels are using. Besides, I am an entertainer performing every so often as I am invited to. Some of my clips are on the internet. I am also a member of a group called, “Les Trois Courts (The Three Short Men)” and we are highly solicited to perform at big occasions.

What would you say about the SOCAM saga?

I am an artist and a member of SOCAM. I would say every structure has its law or its constitution. And it should always refer to its laws; it should respect its laws.  On one side, you have someone who says he has the right to be Board Chair, on the other side you have the other person who is Madam Minister who holds that the Cameroonian law does not permit a foreigner or a Cameroonian with a foreign nationality to be Board Chair.

I think if we refer to the law and the law says that the President of SOCAM must be of Cameroonian nationality, it is out of question for somebody, though Cameroonian but who has voluntarily contracted another nationality, to occupy that post, because, he is no longer Cameroonian.  To me, there is no issue because the law is clear on that. If I were the Minister, I would take the same decision.

It was a courageous decision that I, of course, appreciate. That Board ought to have been scrapped together with its Chair who is not of Cameroonian nationality and all its members. If it were in some other country that you went in to with documents when you know that you are not Cameroonian, that would have been a penal offence and you will be brought before a constitutional court.

Don’t you think that that would be antithetical in that we want Cameroonians in the Diaspora to come and invest back home but when they come back and invest, they can’t be President or Board Chair of the structure they have put in place? 

My dear friend, every organisation, every structure has its statutes. And the statutes must always be consulted. It is not only by becoming a Board Chair that you can serve your country. You can serve your country in other ways. I think the persons who want to hold or stick to that position want power. If you are not eligible to a position in a structure due to your nationality, you do not have the right to run for election to that position.

Except until, may be, the laws are repealed. I don’t think that that is what is preventing Cameroonians from coming to invest back at home. If you are a Cameroonian and you want to invest in Cameroon, you can create an enterprise, you can do many things and I don’t think the Government will prevent you because you are of foreign nationality. There French people are investing in Cameroon, there are Chinese, Japanese.

First published in The Post print edition no 01507

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