I have always wondered what a man like Paul Biya, France’s Cameroun puppet, who enjoys spending so much of his time in Switzerland and other parts of Europe thinks about after he takes a shit and flushes, confidently knowing that his shit will actually go down. I wonder what he thinks about when he’s sure that flipping the switch will turn the lights on in his sumptuous suite in the various European hotels he fancies so much. I say this because the vast majority of the people like him, Africans, who inhabit the country he’s been the titular president of for over 22 years do not have a toilet to flush, or the confidence that if they flip the switch, the lights will turn on. For many of Biya’s countrymen who have these amenities, it is always a gamble when they flush or flip.
For over 500 years, at the bottom of an economic system that has created massive amounts of wealth for humanity, has been the unrewarded toil of the African, first as slaves, then as the colonized. People like Biya make up that pedigree of Africans that Charles de Gaulle called the chiefs and notables, who in French-occupied Africa are cultivated and held personally responsible for power. They date back to the chiefs and notables who willingly sold fellow Africans into slavery, putting them as free labor for the creation of the wealth the west flaunts today. It really elicits pity more than anything else that people like Biya continue to allow themselves to be used for the perpetual fleecing of their fellow African and their homeland in this day and age.
For those of us in the Southern Cameroons, whose political senses have become highly developed and tactile because of the burden of French brutal colonial rule in our homeland, we must analyze reports like these from Amnesty International differently. The companies involved in the consortium of the Chad-La Republique du Cameroun pipeline have signed agreements with the African chiefs and notables in Chad and La République du Cameroun, “that could force them to pay cash penalties for ‘disrupting’ operation of the 650-kilometre pipeline, even if they are intervening to protect human rights” must be noted with scorn, dismay and put in the proper context. This is evocative of the deal that had Haiti having to pay France reparations after a successful revolt against French colonial rule (a legacy that Haiti is yet to recover from), or SONARA paying royalties not to Victoria in the Southern Cameroons, but to Douala in La République du Cameroun. Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” could not be more apt in describing the black experience.
The irony of Amnesty International’s report should not be lost on Southern Cameroonians. It is increasingly apparent that the much ballyhooed glamour pipeline project is not making a difference for the better in the lives of the affected populations and peoples of Chad and La République du Cameroun. We must recall that studies carried out prior to the initiation of this project called for the most economical path for the pipeline to be via Victoria, at the Atlantic Coast of the Southern Cameroons. Nonetheless, the French and their colonial state of La République du Cameroun, knowing fully well that the Southern Cameroons, despite appearances, is not and has never been part of La République du Cameroun, made sure that the pipeline did not go through that foreign occupied territory. A territory inhabited by a people who the French and Camerounese disparagingly call “les Nigeriens,” “les Biafriens,” “les anglofous” and “les ennemis dans la maison.” France and La République du Cameroun therefore undertook the destruction of unique natural habitats and fishing communities in Kribi to make it known that the Southern Cameroons and her inhabitants, will never have even the most remote of possibilities at anytime in the future of ever reaping any so-called benefits from their 3.7 billion US dollars glamour project. Loïk Le Floch Prigent, the then President of the French petroleum company ELF, revealed and explained his role in the Chad-Cameroun pipeline project to the French daily L’Express in these terms: “My role was to persuade the Americans, discreetly, to have the pipeline go through the French part of Cameroon.” Monsieur Prigent, in an article written by François Bambou of La Nouvelle Expression in February 21, 2005 is also quoted as saying that “It is thanks to ELF that France maintains a presence in francophone Africa and is moving into other countries. So in Gabon, ELF has Bongo; while in Congo, it is true that even when it was Marxist, was still under the control of ELF; it is also true of Cameroun, where president Biya did not only take power with the help of ELF, but also to contain the Anglophone Cameroon community.” Mr. Prigent does not end there; he then purrs that Biya’s maintenance in power in 1992 was due to the resources of ELF whom Biya paid back with future petrol revenue from SONARA. Southern Cameroonians should also recall that the refinery in Victoria was only built after comical plans of transporting crude from the field in the Southern Cameroons to be refined in La République du Cameroun were ridiculed for the folly that it was.
Practices like these may in part answer the question of the mayor of Buea, Mr. Mbella Moki, who recently wondered aloud where the revenues and royalties from the black gold that emanates in the Southern Cameroons ends up. The other part of the answer is to be found in the colonial policy instituted by the French in the Southern Cameroons, and which they plan to institute in Bakassi, called “francophonisation forcée.” This policy according to Mr. Aboya Endong Manasse, a lecturer in the Law and Political Science Department at the University of Douala, writing in Le Monde Diplomatique, said the political alienation of the Southern Cameroons was intended to completely wipe her out economically. In that December 2002 (No. 585) issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, Mr. Aboya Endong Manasse writes about the strategy implemented by Ahidjo, obviously on the advice of his ubiquitous French experts, lawyers and assorted technical advisers, intended to “completely rid the anglophone part [Southern Cameroons] of all of her economic levers. Such that SONARA based in Limbe [Victoria] in the anglophone part, curiously continues to pay a large percentage of her receipts in royalties to Douala, in the francophone part.” He continues by saying that, “this policy of economically extinguishing [the Southern Cameroons] has been reinforced via a strategy of political alienation.” This will also be the French master plan for the Bakassi Peninsula. This is what old France is doing in Côte d’Ivoire masquerading as the New Forces (a name even George Orwell will envy).
The French, especially, have always been clear in their policies in Africa as an unequal partnership between the center—Paris, and the periphery—their African colonial states. This underpins the French droit du seigneur attitude of: “we the French, who understand the souls and mentalities of the African natives, are superior human beings, and any and all business conducted in our periphery must be done on our terms or with our blessing.” This has come to mean that Africans or African institutions that resist this doctrine must be destroyed even if it means sponsoring genocides like in La République du Cameroun in the 1960s and Rwanda in 1994. In the Southern Cameroons, this translated in the destruction of the market oriented economy that was in place, the destruction of the democratically elected government that ruled the country and the Native Authority (NAs) local governments, the destruction of the legislative bodies that represented the people and their interest, the emasculation of the Southern Cameroons independent judiciary and her Common Law system, and in targeting of individual entrepreneurs like Fomenky Direct Supplies, Nangah Company, Kilo Brothers, Che Company etc. etc. for destruction.
The authors of the agreement cited by the Amnesty International report that perpetuates the dehumanization of the black race are the same people who benefited from African slavery and colonialism. The Africans who work with them like Biya in La République du Cameroun and his counterpart in Chad are integral members of the françafrique club. Only people like these will sign contracts in this century that basically says the human dignity of their fellow citizens-- the owners of the land--comes at a prize. This is slavery all over again. The people of Chad and La République du Cameroun are paying a severe prize: in a lost way of life, in lost land, in lost income, in lost opportunities, in lost dignity, in disease, and in premature death. They remain amongst the most repressed people in the poorest countries on earth that are heavily indebted, and having presidents who have sworn allegiance to French Masonic Lodges against the interest of their own people whose citizenship and humanity they should share. La République du Cameroun is hoping to extend these ravages to the population of Bakassi as they have in the rest of the Southern Cameroons.
Today, La République du Cameroun continues to send her officials overseas to beg for money as a proud and shameless member of the poor and heavily indebted club even after the oil is flowing from the 3.7 billion US dollars project that now sells for over $60 a barrel. La République du Cameroun’s partner in this glamour project, Chad, is of course doing just as well. The BBC reported last Monday that because of consistently going for months without pay, “Chad’s biggest workers’ union UST – brought N’Djamena to its knees, with hospitals, government offices and post offices deserted.” The BBC report continued that “At one stage in August, even deputies at the National Assembly threatened to strike because they claimed not to have been paid for two months.” But both Chad and La République du Cameroun, with presidents-for-life, are sitting on a 3.7 billion US dollars oil project.
When next France’s Cameroun puppet, Paul Biya and his friends enter one of his new planes on another one of his incessant trips to Europe, he must understand that a human mind was behind that invention; that a human mind is behind the sewage system that carries his shit from his toilet in Switzerland, human beings maintain that sewage system so his shit does not back up on him; the satellite systems that deliver the images and sounds he and his friends enjoy, whether in his jungle palace or in European cities, are all the inventions and the doings of the human mind. The hospitals and clinics he has the benefit of patronizing on his European holidays are all the workings of people with a mind like the Africans he and the French system that sustains him so ungodly dehumanize. For this human mind to accomplish these things he leaves his jungle Palace to go and enjoy in Europe, it must live in peace and dignity to pursue the inventions and doings that give people their dignity. Africans too must have the same rights of citizenship that the French have in France and the Swiss in Switzerland. Only then can they give themselves and their fellow Africans the same amenities and luxuries that he leaves behind to go avail to himself and his friends in Europe. The humanity and dignity of Africans should not be offered at an altar of greed and evil to a consortium of oil companies, in the process sacrificing any opportunities for them to lift themselves and their families to a life of hope and pride in the only place on earth God in all his wisdom created for them.
It is obviously too late for the Biyas of the world to change, or to effect change in their countries even if they wanted to; they have taken oaths in Masonic Lodges in Paris that bind their fates personally to the enslavement of their people; but a new Africa must be born on the ashes of their wasted lives. For us in the Southern Cameroons, the journey will begin and end at home, free at last from the evil virus emanating from Paris and infesting the African continent.
Moderator, Southern Cameroons People Forum