Courtesy of Chronicle
I just realized that the Anglophone is the worst enemy of the Anglophone. I think over a television program, I realized that there is a problem amongst chiefs of Fako who are fighting. You know you throw the least groundnuts at them and they immediately start fighting and killing themselves. And that is exactly what we do.
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Dr. Nick Ngwanyam has said that the 50th anniversary of reunification apart from being a merrymaking event, ought to be a moment of stock taking. In an exclusive interview with Chronicle newspaper in Bamenda, Dr. Nick says Anglophones are the first and worst enemies of other Anglophones.
|Dr. Nick Ngwanyam|
Good afternoon Dr Nick Ngwanyam. This is the aftermath of the 50th anniversary celebration that took place in Buea. Ideas started looming in the minds of Cameroonians; many are still to come to terms with the truth of the matter if really we were to celebrate the achievements, national integration and unity or should we be looking at what Reunification has brought. What is your take on this?
There were reasons to celebrate but all of us may not agree on these reasons why we celebrated. But we realize that every year we celebrate our birth days. I remember celebrating my 50th birth day when I was 50. Again, given that our life spans have been reduced a lot by a lot of diseases, when we all get to 50, there are reasons to celebrate. So the nation too, having got to 50, we celebrated that reunification.
We could ask a question, what exactly were we celebrating? What is the raison d’êtres for celebrating? As far as I’m concerned, that celebration was just a period of stock taking at the national level, in which we come together to say, yes, we reunited and it is 50 years gone. What are we supposed to be doing now? Are we supposed to be doing what we were doing in the last 50-years or is it time to redefine and start on a new footing?
We also have to understand that, as individuals, as families, and as a business you also have to do what we call, 'The S.W.O.T. Analysis' and you know that we have a time frame. So, it doesn’t matter what you do. So, from time to time you also have to stop and do what we call stock taking. You will look at your strength; what is it that makes you strong? You will look at your weaknesses; what is it that makes you weak? So you can correct those weaknesses.
Thereafter, you will look at your opportunities, and then you look at your threats. So if you take that picture to the national scene, Cameroonians would be doing that during that 50th anniversary. Then we as Anglophones will now do our own SWOT analysis as Anglophones. The Francophones should also do their SWOT analysis, and then you as an individual; you do your own SWOT analysis and see where you probably stand.
When you do the SWOT analysis, you will now know how to apportion blame, because most of the times, we turn to blame other people for our own problems. We have to realize that we are the ones to solve our own problems, and I know that we turn to blame others a lot, we have the blame game.
What are the strengths of Cameroon as one country? What is it that is strong about us? We can mention the peace, though we define it in different terms: there is some relative peace at least compared to some African countries. Some people will say that, just because there is the absence of war doesn’t mean there is peace. Well that is the way they look at it. But we are not killing each other as in Central Africa, and for that we are thankful.
There is some level of development and yet we can argue that we started at the same level with South Korea and we are not even one tenth of what they are. You can keep citing some of these things.
When you come to our weaknesses, I will say that we as Cameroonians are rather drinking too much. You know it has nothing to do with government policy because if the policy says that you can open a bar anytime, anywhere, the policy does not say that you should abandon your family and drink all night. So, we have to have self control when it comes to alcohol.
My observation is that we as Cameroonians, be they Anglophone or Francophone don’t like work. We don’t like work that is properly done and we are not genuine and when it comes to this country, I think the “Bamilekes” are showing a good example but we are not copying. “Bamilekes” don’t sleep and the bottom line is that they are richer than all of us. This is so because “Bamilekes” know what work is.
The Bamilekes are putting together their factories while we Anglophones are waiting for government to come and give us factories. It doesn’t work like that. Factories are privately owned. It is the private sector that works. So “Bamilekes”: they come, they see the land and because they know the value of land we throw our land away. So that is who we are and we should stop blaming other people for our woes.
|Dr. Nick Ngwanyam|
Even if the former West Cameroon were to be independent, we will be fighting amongst ourselves. The South West/North West fight will even increase. We will start fighting for posts and we will be killing each other. You see, we have this human weakness and that is why we need to correct that. So while agreeing that there is a Francophone Anglophone problem, there is a perceived North West-South West problem, there is a perceived Bali/Metta problem, there is a perceived Mankon – Nsongwa problem, there is a perceive Balikumbat-Bafanji problem. So we have the human problem, and when we take that problem nationally, we can see it. Even when it comes to our polygamous homes, the children of one mother don’t want to see those of the other woman. There is a problem between Baptists and Catholics, there is a problem between Muslims and Christians. So as long as there are differences between two human beings there is always a problem. Even when you come to one family and you have brothers and sisters of the same womb, as soon as their father dies, they start fighting over the property. So, we have a human problem that we will have to overcome.
Do you really think that the problem looking back 50 years ago is as more to our individual weaknesses than of the state?
This is the way I will put it: I know a lot of people have blamed Pa Foncha that ohhh, you went down to Foumban, and you were a sell-out and so on. Someone rightly argued that today we have more PhD holders but we are more sell-outs than the people of the past. So, there is a human problem here. It depends on how you look at it. You might say that the Anglophones are getting a raw deal, you might be right. I have no idea. But again, I have my own perspective of the Anglophone problem. The problem is divided into part A and part B.
Part A of the Anglophone problem is that associated with marginalization. One would say that the Francophones are marginalizing the Anglophones because they happen to be in the majority. And if we go by the same argument, the South West man also sees his/her self as being marginalized by the North Westerner. So this marginalization thing might be true or false. But each time that one group has that element that makes it to be stronger than the other, there seems to be that element of marginalization.
Let’s look at it in another way. Let’s take the whole nation Cameroon and then we take the “Bamilekes“ that we are talking about. If you bring together all the populations of the three other groups, the Northerners, the Betis and the Anglophones in terms of population we are more than the “Bamenlekes” but when it comes to savior faire, to economic empowerment, to entrepreneurship, to creating wealth and creating jobs, the “Bamilekes” put together beat all of these people a hundred and one times.
So, what I want to say is that there is something inherent in us that we are not exploiting. So, if I now go back to understanding the Anglophone problem, we can understand that somewhere along the line there could be some marginalization problems if we study the records very well.
But again there is part B, to understanding the Anglophone problem, which is the fact that you marginalize yourself. That is where my own problem lies. I couldn’t tell very much who is marginalizing me, but if you call me a slave and I know I am not a slave, and I’m working very hard, I can never be a slave just because you called me a slave.
So, there is something we ought to be doing which we are not doing which makes our case worse off. So, in this country, I will think that if anybody was to be hated, I will think the “Bameleke” is even hated more than the Anglophone. But the Bamelekes make it because they have chosen their path, they know how to work together, they assist each other. For instance, if a Bemeleke man sees a piece of land that is well situated and at a good price, he goes back to his brothers and sisters; they all put money together and come and buy it and then he finds time to make out for that. But we Anglophones, we can never come tighter to do that kind of thing.
So, we have a problem. We don’t know how to work in solidarity to make it. If an Anglophone goes up, it’s another Anglophone that pull him/her down. So, we sell each other, we are Judas Iscariots and then we tend to blame others for our woes.
Another problem is that we are not entrepreneurial. We have to learn to create our own jobs. We the Anglophones we are just taken over by these white collar jobs so much so that we are not seeing the opportunities. We are not making use of the opportunities. Cameroon has changed. If some other tribes are taking away all the white collar jobs, fine and good but nobody is taking away the technology from us. If I ask the question, where are our best students that left Sacred Heart, CPC Bali, Our Lady of Lourdes, PSS Mankon and St Bedes College Ashing. Where are they? They go to Europe and then they get lost. If they are studying technology and they come back to this country and open factories we will have no reasons to complain, we will beat the Bamelekes at it.
We the Anglophone we are sandwiched between the Ibos and Bamelekes who are hard working, so I don’t know what our problem is. This ought to have been a motivating factor and if we just copied what these people are, nobody would have beaten us in this country.
Do you think the Anglophones are asking for too much?
The Anglophones are not asking for too much, but even what they are asking for, if they were given, it still will not help because what actually makes a man move forward is his/her inner capacity, it’s not what somebody gives you but what comes out of you. So while we continue asking for what is ours, let us be doing something. So long as you are not doing something, you are not different from someone who wins the national lottery. People who win the national lottery squander the money and end up being poorer than where they started. So, it is more about building your own capacity, and doing your own home work.
Now taking these human weaknesses towards nation building how do you really correlate?
Nation building comes in two ways. If you take the geography of Cameroon and set the boundaries and remove all Cameroonians, and leave only trees and monkeys and so on, there will be no development. Number two, no forest will be destroyed, and there will be no bush fire, there will be no destruction, it will turn to be natural, and the animals will grow and take care of themselves. Therefore, the human being is the person who modifies the environment and therefore we have to realize that we have to respect our environment and learn in a manner as to use that environment judiciously. We have to add value to the environment, whatever we take from the environment we have to replace it, we have to add value to it.
The question here is, how have we been using our environment? We have been destroying it. We just cut logs of wood and sell. But we could actually cut those logs of wood, seasoned them, work on the wood and transform that into beautifully finished tables, beds, doors and so on, just like the things we import from China and Europe before we sell. But we are so cynical that we cut trucks of wood and throw away at others and to make more money we go and fell down additional trees. That is not right.
Though we have oil, it is not sustainable. When you earn the money from these things you have to create factories, you have to build the capacities of Cameroonians to do it themselves. That is where I am driving at. You know there is a country as rich as Dubai or Saudi Arabia. They have a lot of money and that money comes from oil. But if their roads and airports are well built and so long as it is done by foreign workers and those pilots that fly the planes are not from that area and they cannot repair anything, then they are still poor. So, real riches come from human development. Real riches is not money, airport, and houses, it is human development. That is why our Universities have to be modified, what we do in our schools have to be modified so that if we train Cameroonians they should be the best of human beings who can now transform their environment by adding value, not by destroying.
You know farmers sow the seeds, farmers don’t eat the seeds. As far as Cameroon is concerned now, we are eating the seed instead of sowing it. So as long as you are eating the seeds, you will never grow. It’s just like somebody who is doing petit business and eating into the capital. You don’t eat into the capital but you eat the profit. So in Cameroon today, we are eating the capital, we are eating the seeds and so long as we are doing that no progress can ever be made.
Now, looking at Vision 2035 which Cameroon has adopted, do you really think that the celebration of national unity and the practices which you and I put into practice on daily basis, that this vision can be attained?
You know during the end of year speech, President Paul Biya was very clear on that. That we have failed, especially the administration and that if we don’t change we will never get to 2035. That is very clear and nobody can doubt it. But 2035 as a vision is good, 2035 is a roadmap and therefore 2035, is not magic. We have start doing certain things in a specific way; in a calculated manner to get to 2035, otherwise 2035 will come around and we will have no results to show. But if we continue wining, dining and doing the things we are doing now without changing there will be no 2035.
So if you ask me, what does it take to get to 2035? 2035 is that point in time wherein, our technology and our level of productionwould have been so that we can do a lot of things ourselves. We will produce enough goods and sell, we would have added more value to our system so much so that we don’t waste a lot of money importing, but rather we will now be exporting because we have the capacity to produce.
To produce means that, you have a lot of technology and savior faire and you are doing it yourself. So if you ask me now where we are, I will tell you that we are still very primitive because as long as we are importing food items from other countries to the tune of 500 billion a year, then we are still-very backward. If we happen to reduce this figure to about 50 billion a year, then we would have been at 2035 and the only way to do it is through technology and the foundation of this is by training our children so that they can do the same things that people of Taiwan are doing, so that they can manufacture the same things that the people of Germany are manufacturing. When we get there we will be at 2035.
From where we are, do you think our technological infrastructural development can guide us through 2035?
No, we have zero technology, we have zero mind sets. The balance sheet is zero. We have to start to do things the right way