My younger brother ever asked me in very good faith whether French was the opposite of English. He would honestly seek to know why CNU for instance became UNC in French; or why the brigade commander was “commander de brigade”; or again why community development was “development de community”.
Even the French official policy does not neatly depart from parting ways with the English. Some French President once sought to ban the use of the English Language in official French business, and on French official documents. How successful he was I can’t pretend I do know.
In line with the dichotomy, the poor Anglophone believes he is a servant of the public while in occupation of a public office. (Should I say these days that the Anglophone used to believe…?). That is not of great import here. What is of great moment is that the true Anglophone soldier, standing at attention before his superior, exclaims: “At your service, Sir!” The Francophone counterpart, by contrast, tremblingly says to his superior “A votre commandement”! The latter roars out his orders beginning with “A mon commandement”, do or don’t do…! He lords it over his subordinates and over all ordinary members of the general public. He exacts subjugation instead of inspiring dedication. He baptizes himself with divine wisdom from the demon’s paradise, and crowns himself with blurred infallibility.
The resultant extracted deification places the superior in some lofty celestial orbit from where he issues edicts to the populace below. As simpletons, the latter’s thought, vision and even feeling are commandeered from above. When tickled by coached sensation, their reaction is as controlled and targeted. The difference between those persons and automatons is just that they can carry their masses along by themselves.
The harm such persons do to the community is that harmony is supplanted by unison with the loss of reason as the corollary. The end-product is their sole ability to parody. In blind allegiance therefore do they parody every word from the outer space: “intrumentalise, manipulation, destabilise…!” They simply cannot by themselves exercise value judgment. All is parrot-recitation!
It is no surprise then that almost all the Francophone newspapers, and even most of those calling themselves Francophone intellectuals, are talking about early presidential election in 2010 as if presidential elections in Cameroon are not governed by the constitution. One would have liked to imagine that, from all the horrible things happening in our country nowadays, most Cameroonians would cry out against non-respect for the law with one voice. But because some subhuman majority, by reflex, reacts in like manner, the minority voice is easily overwhelmed and drowned.
The Constitution of the Republic provides in the clearest of terms that early presidential election in Cameroon is possible only where the incumbent president resigns, or has died in office, or is too ill to perform his duty as president. In each of those circumstances, the election of the next president is organized by the president of the Senate (National Assembly as of now). No-one needs be a lawyer to understand that, by our present constitution, an incumbent President of the Republic cannot organize, let alone, contest an early presidential election in Cameroon.
How can anyone with the reasoning faculty keep reciting, in the face of such unambiguous constitutional provision that, because of calls from his party to be the candidate of their party, the incumbent president will call an early election in 2010? How, even from ordinary reasoning, can a deceased president, or the one that has resigned, or the one that is too seriously ill to perform his duty contest an election called because he has resigned, or is deceased or is too ill to perform the duty of president? Even if that is possible within the 1960 constitution of the Republic of Cameroun, would such election take place in Anglophone Cameroon constitutionally?
The obvious answer leads one to surmise that we are heading to another abysmal failure like the early experiment in bilingualism and assimilation. We surely are not oblivious that, in his dream to erase salient disparities between Anglophones and Francophones, or, at least, to narrow the yawning gaps between the two groups, President Ahidjo created the Federal Bilingual Grammar School, Man O’War Bay, Victoria, (now in Buea). It was the first of such schools in Cameroon. Thirty-five Francophones and the same number of Anglophones were admitted into the school each year. It was a strict rule of the school that no Francophone student should be flanked by Francophones, and vice versa.
That scheme of “integration nationale”, (veiled assimilation in fact), was however upset in many other aspects of college life. While Anglophones underwent extensive and intensive French and wrote the BEPC in form four alongside their Francophone counterparts, the reverse was not true of the Francophones for GCE ordinary level. That created a bitter sentiment of domination, (or is it subjugation?), and the Anglophones writhed under the oppressive feeling of being used as tools for an experiment.
In the wider context, it was the Anglophones that had voted to join the Francophones. Many were Francophone leaders who, in the early days, saw our joining them as an economic burden with an expensive outcome. Even some persons in high places claiming today to champion the cause of national unity are merely presenting a façade in reversal of their previous stances, overt or covert. One of my university lecturers seized every opportunity to tell “les Anglos” that he naturally identified himself more with the Fang-speaking people of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea than with “les Biafrais”. No comment! “Tais-toi”! He in fact adumbrated the doctrine of a Fang Empire: it could well be undergoing polishing-up right now.
The aftermath of such domination and rejection is seen concretely today by the inability of the ex-students of the Federal Bilingual Grammar School, Man O’War Bay, to form an ex-students’ association. The experimental on the success of “reunification” has been thrown to the dogs. The wounds had been too deep to be healed by the sole brandishing of verbal unity. That is the result in spite of all the lures offered and duly received. As a matter of fact, some of the first batches were lured with extravagant provisions: free tuition, free food, free beds/mattresses, text-books…They were given even laundry soap at times, on top of all the excesses. Bitterness has instead outlived all those efforts to erase a people’s identity. Clearly, “coexistence can never be imposed”!
From the look of things, one wonders if we should not agree with some Anglophone scholar who recently opined that it was high time someone called a national forum to debate the merits and the demerits of “reunification”. Chanting reunification by reflex only is like the recitals of dirges or skeletal eulogies. There is abundant evidence that, in Cameroon, unlike poles do repel
January 9, 2010
UNLIKE POLES DO REPEL
AYAH Paul ABINE