Friday, April 5, 2013

Senatorial Challenges: The Ups/Downs of NW Female Candidates

 By Fai Cassian Ndi

With the first senatorial elections in Cameroon in the offing, North West women may register some important gains in political participation this year. The CPDM and SDF senatorial lists have one female substantive each (just that 10%). But ideologically, the CPDM is talking of a 30% quota for women nationwide. Yet only one fortunate woman is substantive candidate for the CPDM in the North West Region. She is no other than Eno Emma Lafon.
On the SDF list there is Cheka Gladys Ntala representing the interest of Donga Mantung Division and the SDF party. However, the bulk of women found themselves on the lists playing only secondary roles. 
It is the case with Chenyi Theresa, who is alternate to Dingha Ignatius. Shang Emerentia who is deputy mayor in Jakiri is also alternate to Eno Emma Lafon. Ma Ndim Prudencia Wibua formerly principal of GBHS Down-Town in Bamenda is also alternate to the in-fatigable mayor of Fonfuka council Wanlo John.
The SDF list also features the names of some prominent women as alternates. Apart of the lone substantive female candidate, Cheka Gladys Ntala, there are other high profile women as alternate members. They are Kifum Wanyu Martha who is alternate to Njong Donatus, mayor of Kumbo for Bui. Wainanchi Honorine is also alternate to Prof. Paul Nkwi for Boyo. Nkeze Emelia Kalebong is also alternate to Pa Atekwana Joseph in Momo.
This is in keeping with Cameroon’s commitments to gender equality, encapsulated by ELECAM Boss Fonkam Azu’u sometimes ago. It is alleged that Fonkam Azu’u set the benchmark for political parties to increase women participation giving that in the past many of them would have only play secondary roles. Yet this achievement is precisely so remarkable because of the ongoing challenges women in North West Region face in becoming politically active from the bottom-up through elections.
Obstacles Faced by Women in Politicking
 In the African traditional set-up, a woman has practically no home because when she gets married, her location changes. In this light, a woman once married automatically belongs to the roots of the husband. It is for this reason that when a woman gets married, she bears the name of the husband. Even though traditionally when a woman dies, she is buried in her husband’s home, in some areas the corpses are taken back to the parent’s compound. Yet these cases are few in Cameroon except in some localities in Manyu Division in the South West Region of Cameroon.  This is why when a woman gets married; her husband’s home becomes hers. If some people have been reluctant in supporting women in politics, it is because of some of these challenges. A woman who marries in her constituency has the chance of becoming a good politician and the one that gets married out of her constituency is likely to have alot of challenges. This difficulty has made many of them political chameleons giving that they have to keep adapting to the changes. Some have been forced to return back to their places of birth when it comes to politicking. Only few hard ones have been able to excel where they got married. Majority go back to their villages which they still consider as their constituencies. Thus abandoning their own constituencies and are usurping the political positions of their brothers and sisters, and then casting alot of doubts on their political intentions. These are some of the obstacles that always hinder women from playing frontline roles in politics.  
Two substantive senatorial candidates in the upcoming senatorial elections fall within this category of women.
They are:

Cheka Gladys (SDF Senatorial Candidate for Donga Mantung Division)
 Cheka Gladys was born in Kiboh in Misaje Sub Division. She is a teacher by profession and a politician vocation. Her first attempt was during the 2007 Parliamentary elections when her ambitions of going to parliament ended at the level of the primaries. She was beaten by Maah Isaac. Married to a Balikumbat man in Ngoketunjia, she prefers Misaje where she was born to Balikumbat the home of her husband. During the last celebration marking the 28th anniversary of the CPDM in Misaje, CPDM militants openly said they will not accommodate political adventurers. Dr. Fuh Calistus Gentry on his part was very categorically though they say politics is a dirty game; there are some practices that shouldn’t be accepted. He made mentioned of the fact that people shouldn’t only appear because their interests to claim political belongings. Meaning that Cheka Gladys should play politics instead where she is married and not Misaje where she was born. Instead, Cheka was propelled by that statement given that few days after, the fons of Misaje sub Division declared their support for her candidature for senate.

Eno Emma Lafon (CPDM Senatorial Candidate for Bui Division)
Eno Emma Lafon comes from Bui Division but she is married to a Mamfe man. Instead of playing politics in Manyu Division, she prefers to do it in her place of birth, Kumbo where she was selected by the CPDM to run for senate. However, it is aired that she wants to occupy all the political positions in Bui Division to the detriment of other women. Notwithstanding, the question many have been asking is where will she stage her homecoming if she is appointed, will it be in Mamfe or Kumbo.

Other Female Political Giants (Not Candidates yet with vaulting political ambitions)
 There is another category of women although not senatorial candidates, who have decided to come back to their homes to play politics. They are:
Ama Tutu Muna (Minister of Arts and Culture)
She is the daughter of the famous statesman, ST Muna, the one-time emblematic speaker of the National Assembly. However, Ama Tutu Muna’s constituency is not Momo (Mbengwi) since she got married out of the North West Region. Yet she was appointed as Minister of Arts and Culture based on grounds that she hails from Mbengwi. She attends and chairs almost all CPDM political gatherings in Momo. But she turned her back on her husband’s own constituency to operate in Momo her place of birth. It is even alleged that she plays the ostrich by sanction women who ignite symptoms of leadership so as to excel. This is so because she wants to be the only hen and at the same time confirming that saying a woman’s problem is another woman and not a man.
Achidi Achu Judith Yaah Sunde (Director at CAMTEL)
She hails from Ndu in Donga Mantung Division and she is married to Rt. Hon. Simon Achidi Achu. Only the manner she wears the husband’s name (two names Achidi Achu and not Achu or Achidi) speaks volume. Yet, many would have thought she would always follow the so much cherished husband to do politics in Santa but on the contrary, she prefers to do politics in Ndu. Whether it is because Santa is saturated or it is because she prefers her place of birth, no one can tell. This political buffoonery it is alleged has reached the level that she is already aspiring to the take over as WCPDM Section President for Donga Mantung II, Ndu. The scheme we gathered is that the manoeuvres are intended to propel her for appointments from Donga Mantung Division.  Notwithstanding, she has been so instrumental in sponsoring football trophies for youths and supporting women with farm inputs. When such an initiative is done in her husband’s home, it goes solo but in Donga Mantung Division, it is a public event. However, her good work had earned her not little in terms of recognition. Woman of the Year titles from Three Media Organs, Mafor Title from the North West Fons, and Senior Ma-Yaah from the fons of Donga Mantung Division. She is however exceptional when compared to others. When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

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