Wednesday, October 3, 2012

B'da Ring Road: The Calamity of the Biya Regime

 Editorial of the Month: Farewell to the Mud and Welcome to Dust
By Fai Cassian Ndi
The Ring Road in Tears
I have often heard people say that it is forbidden to make a critical judgment analysis on the neglect of the Bamenda Ring Road by the Biya regime and that making such a critical judgment is like writing  satanic verses that lead to divine sentence. But let the word go forth from this time and medium to friends and enemies of progress alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation that will talk than die in silence. That the people of Donga Mantung Division have been tempered with carelessness by the Biya government through a former Minister of Public Works (whose name I have just forgotten) when he Ambassa Zang (I now recall his name) told Chinese counterparts that the ring road was not a priority for the Biya Government is an indisputable human rights abuse. Since 1948, the Bamenda man has reluctantly accepted the slow shame of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed and to which the nature of this country and the powers that be have imposed. In fact if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it can never save the few who are rich.
When government institutions were the pillars of moral value, any statement made publicly by the Head of state of this great nation Cameroon was never suspected to be an “April fool” kind of merrymaking. Any public pronouncement of the Head of State was considered by all and sundry as part of the Presidential largess that the President dishes out every time he visits any locality. Such a pronouncement was considered as a symbol of decorum because such promises were immediately followed up and realized within the shortest time possible. I remember my father once told me that President Biya once declared that he was personally going to supervise the construction of the Bamenda Ring road. Yet 23 years have come and past since he made that promise and the Bamenda Ring  is still in tears. Traveling from Jakiri to any part of Donga Mantung Division is not just a nightmare but demands a week of serious fasting and prayer because you never know when you will get to your destination. I do not know whether it is the influence of the Western culture that has transformed government institutions into negating its people or influence of politics that has made Head of States to forget what they say immediately it is done. However, anyone who would maladroitly sit on the fence to declare that the Bamenda Ring Road is not a necessity or a priority should be considered as being in a state of sin. Being a respecter of the institution that President Biya incarnates and the powers that he wields, the pressure suddenly became unbearable when I spent over 4 hours on the same spot along the Ndu-Nkambe stretch of the ring road.
Even though there is a statement in the Bible which states that people should not pass round for judges on others, I believe it is often quoted out of context because the Bible still tells us that people should be judged if their acts are injurious. I am aware that this critical judgment analysis is badly needed. It is imperative because the Ring road is in tears again  and the bells of anguish are being heard signaling that Donga Mantung Division may cease to exist in the map of this country. I am also aware that this bit will offset many people but it is a fact. Even so, who is even going to twist my arm for speaking the truth? Is it not a democratic right for the people of Donga Mantung to have a good access road and even enjoy more as a border Division?
 Calamity, calamity…………
Notwithstanding, if anyone takes this judgment for an offense, believe me it is positive insults. And if today some of our leaders no more command the powers they use to exercise, it is because of the copious counterfeited promises they make. I recall a former Minister once asked me in Yaounde whether the Bamenda Ring road had any economic values. It pains and kills my imagination as well as the picture post-card I got from my father that they decided to unite with La Republique because of what was happening up the road. 50 years after reunification the situation of this road is more pathetic than before. When I look across the river and see the road network, I cry for my Fatherland. When I see politicians taking false oaths because they have their interest to protect and like Achidi Achu who after his appointment as Prime Minister declared that he was the Ring Road, I pity myself why I was born a Cameroonian. In fact I disagree with people who would say that it is the notion of personal aggrandizement that has pushed the Biya regime to loose sight of reality. And to me, it is some sort of a mental torture that is being exercise.
The North West Region has had the privilege to produce two Prime Ministers but the notion that Biya appoints ministers to work for their people did not work. None of them created the unexpected like late Pefok who rejected a speech from the Yaounde cronies and doled out one from his pocket to tell President Biya what the Bamenda man thinks is like waiting for exhale. When Rt Hon. Achidi Achu was appointed Prime Minister, he told North Westerners that he was the ring road. It was a bitter pill but  we accepted and swallowed it. Yang Philemon also had the good fortune to be appointed Prime Minister and since charity begins at home and justice next door, work on the Bamenda –Nkambe Stretch of the ring road will end in Kumbo while Kumbo-Oku will be tarred. Anyone who has been on this road any of these days will agree that to travel to Donga Mantung Division, it demands serious fasting and prayers. No pregnant woman can travel on this road especially as the rains are heavy. The story of the ring road is not only that of pools of water but the sory that at this time of the year every small hill always make a name. It may sound ridiculous but the truth is that traveling from Bamenda to Donga Mantung demands two sets of dresses, one for the mud and another to wear at the destination. The state of nature of the Bamenda Ring road has made it in such a way that it is the nature of the weather that determines the transport fare to Kumbo and Nkambe.
In case of any disaster as was the case of Lake Nyos, evacuation of victims will not just be be problem but would contribute to destroy lives that would have been saved. If we go by the popular saying that where the road passes development follows, then the people of Donga Mantung Division who rely on the Ring Road will never dream of any meaningful development.
Every similar proposal here has bogged down until it was too late to save any lives. Anything newspapermen can write about this in their own papers will help. It will help to save lives, the lives of people like ourselves. I wish I were eloquent, I wish I could put down on paper the picture that comes to me from the restrained of anger. I need not dwell upon the authenticated horrors of the Nazi internment camps and death chambers for Jews. That is not tragic but a kind of insane horror. It is our part in this which is tragic. The essence of tragedy is not the doing of evil by evil men but the doing of evil by good men, out of weakness, indecision, sloth, inability to act in accordance with what they know to be right.
The ring road, until its termination, presents the classic existential argument about the existence of God or a higher power: if he did and does exist, then the only natural choice is to become a disciple; but if he did not, then there is no afterlife, then life is meaningless outside the present moment. Hence, there is nothing to be done except to live every moment without a thought to the next. The state of nature of the Ring Road has made Donga Mantung an Island on land which makes them to feel and to be powerless to influence the life of society by which their own life is governed. Change can occur only by a great increase of participation and responsibility on the part of those who now are well fed and amused but are excluded from effective participation in political decisions or in the policies of the institutions and enterprises they work in.
Today, thinking and feeling are more and more separated from each other, and this separation leads either to an almost schizophrenic intellectualism or to a neurotic, irrational emotionalism. Only if emotions and reason are brought together can man function in a way which makes life interesting and hence creates the possibility of a productive life. To put it briefly, what Donga Mantung people need is not speeches but a road that can make life more meaningful and bring back humanity from the wilderness closer to the people. God bless Donga Mantung Div.

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