60 Minutes with Wain Paul Ngam on CRTV
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)
In keeping with tradition, the Head of State on December 31, 2014 delivered his end of Year message to the nation. He addressed the threat to national peace posed by the insurgent called Boko Haram. President Paul Biya also urged Cameroonians to consume home made products. The issue of corruption was not addressed. Is it to say that we are making progress in the fight against corruption? Dr. Nick Ngwanyam revisited the address and is once more our guest and attempts answers to some of the questions.
If you know that there are things in your life that you ought to change and you are waiting for a New Year or beginning of New Year to be able to correct that thing then there is something wrong with you. The best way to live is to seek everyday to do God’s Will. In doing God’s Will you know that you would always be falling and rising like Christ was falling and rising with the cross. Life is about rising and falling with that cross and keeping your mind where you want to go without distractions. That is the best way to do it by trying as much as possible in the journey of life, to eliminate what is not useful and bring on board what is useful. In July if you realize that there is something good for you to do; you make that realization in July. It makes sense to start putting that into practice in July and not to wait for December to start it. That is how it works.
Are there certain things that you want to do for the State and the common person in 2015?
For the common person, yes of course I have been working on that. I will only say that in 2015 I would do more on that and for the State I would be a good citizen by being patriotic. Everything that you do for the state starts with patriotism whether it is small or big.
Many people may not even understand what you mean by patriotism.
Patriotism is the love for your country and it starts with the love for yourself. You have to love yourself, love your neighbor and your country with the understanding that God did not make a mistake to put you here in this Cameroon. To be born Cameroonian is not a mistake. If you do not love your country, what you are saying is that God made a mistake to put you here.
On the 31st of December, people are always keen to listen to the Head of State. In 2014, he spoke and addressed a number of issues. One of them had to do with the fact that we Cameroonians do not consume home made products. Probably he had been informed that we have those products in the market.
He was born and bred here so he should know what we have. It might be when he became the president; he was not being given the things that are produce in our country. He certainly eats the paw-paw and mangoes that are grown here. They could not be imported. When he says we should consume Cameroonian stuff, he is right because we live on 95% of imported stuff which is actually a wrong mindset. There is no way you can be selling timber and oil to buy goods produce in other people’s country when you have the capacity to produce probably 75% of those things. It does not mean that we should not import. Even America with the highest technology still imports. China imports and everybody imports but they pick and choose what they are importing.
What you and I should be importing now is not rice, eggs, frozen chicken, Champaign; not all these wines, ready-made cloths and so on. Carry out this experiment with me. Look at everybody who is doing some kind of sport every morning. See what they are wearing. See all our primary, secondary school and university students, they all have sport wear. All of those things come from China. Take for instance that our tailors are not good enough to make the best Italian suits or whatever, but at least they are good enough to get this synthetic material and sew these sport wears here. Already we can start in a small way with the little technology at our disposal to reduce some of the money that we are wasting like that. Think of it. There is none of the sport wears that is used anywhere that is made in Cameroon. If we begin to look very critically, we would see into those areas that we have to be working to be able to satisfy our needs.
Is it enough to take a decision that we have to consume our goods? First of all they have to be available and we need to have the right polices to produce them.
That is correct. Like you have mentioned policy, most of us fold our arms and wait for the president’s speech to do things. We behave as if the president were God. He decrees things and they happen. No it does not work like that. The president is just a human being like you and I. Nature might have put all the resources in his hands and he is using all those resources to help us develop and meet our needs. It does not matter what he does, he is just one human being with two hands.
As a leader; at the end of the year; he comes out and says what it is we could do better and he comes out on a platform and says; dear Cameroonians, brothers and sisters this is what we could do to fare better.
He actually calls us brothers and sisters because we are not his slaves. What we should be doing at the receptive end is to begin to understand what he is trying to say and try to see how we fit into that program and wake up from our comfort zones, fold our sleeves so to speak and then go to work. Work with that mind frame and on that vision.
If the year turns around and we do not have results then we try to figure out different ways to make it work so that in three, four or five years’ time; we would not only be consuming Cameroonian, we would be exporting Cameroonian. Until we realize that he was not talking to trees; he was actually talking to us the human beings and if we also understand that the most important element in the formula is that human person and we have to do something, we shall not grow.
We should come together with him; we join hands together with him and make things work. If we think that we are just going to sit around in bars, drink and only comment about the president’s speech without doing something about it, thinking that some people are going to come from the moon to make it work, then we deceive ourselves.
Do you have the impression that there are some people in Cameroon who do not even care to analyze what the head of State says?
Most people do not and that is why a lot of people want to be civil servants because when you are a civil servant, you do not have to care. You do not have to bother. You can only bother about one thing; whether there is a salary. If there is a salary, you stop thinking. If there is no salary they complain. The president gave a whole speech but people did not care; even the CRTV was at fault. All the CRTV did was to go out with cameras to show how the bars were empty and how there was not enough beer. We have become a beer nation and I was just so surprised that we could not concentrate on something so important than going around in bars. We have been drinking so much that we do not actually think. It is really a pity.
Do you also have the impression that Cameroonians throughout the year work knowing that the head of State might use what they have produced to make a good speech?
There are a lot of things that we have to change in our psyche. Even the few Cameroonians who work are not appreciated. We have to come to a point where we have to start appreciating good work for what it is. To be able to understand; you know, take things like medals.
The medal awards go to the wrong people. They are not genuine. If I have been working well, then I have to apply to tell someone that I am working well; please decorate me. A lot of fey men have been using that to put things on their chests which do not have any meaning. We have not really attached importance to most of the things. You have to be able to recognize people who work by giving them an opportunity to work even more. The bible says that to him that is given two talents, when he uses them well more would be added. But it looks like in Cameroon, even the few talents that you have are taken away from you and those with zero talents are given more. So we have reversed that principle.
I talked awhile ago about the policy to make things work in Cameroon and the idea of consuming home made products. Who is at the forefront of that policy?
The President; it is the president and his government. Those policies are very important. Let’s look at the case of a country like Gabon today. Gabon has a very good medical system and you know one of the ingredients that go with the health care system is drugs. What push the cost of health care are the cost of drugs and the availability of good drugs. We sit here, import drugs from all over the whole place amongst them some Chinese, Indian and some made in Nigeria drugs. There are good drugs and there are bad drugs. We do not know which is which. Our markets are flooded with everything and our pharmacies have drugs coming from foreign countries. We as Cameroonians should know that we have come of age and should start producing our own drugs. We cannot produce a hundred percent of what we need, but at least let the 85% of what we need be produced in Cameroon.
The very common things like the paracetamol, the malaria drugs, antibiotics, medicine for doing wounds, cough syrups and balms could be produced here in Cameroon. If we cannot make drugs for cancer, we can import that one, but we cannot just be importing everything down to water. It is wrong.
You have just said that the person who should be drafting the policy for the production of home products should be the president and his government.
Yes, that is correct. It cannot be the villager.
When you send your mind back to those who invented the machine or whatever, did they start with the government?
We have the luck that we do not have to invent anything. We just have to copy it. You know those Xerox machines or photocopiers, the technology has been discovered. Somebody has already done the donkey work and shown that when you want to do agriculture, these are the equipment that you use. It just has to be like this. We know all of that but our problem in Cameroon is just the inability to copy. That is where our problem is. We do not have to discover anything at all. As far as I am concerned, all those research centers in the country, maybe we would need them in the future when we must have already used what is at our disposal and we need more, then we can research. We are researching when we have not yet used what is at our disposal. That is a problem.
Talking about drugs for instance, somebody already started trying to produce drugs in Douala just as we are talking policy; it did not work because of undue, unjust and unnecessary taxes. We have people who are trained in ENAM, who do not understand anything and they just formulate taxes which closed minds.
If the Head of State really wants us to grow, if he wants us to emerge before 2035; if he really wants our industrialization to pick up, he should understand that taxation is killing us. Policy is killing us and that is very important. People are trained to survive but the system kills the chicken that lays the golden egg.
Most people must have been waiting for the Head of State to speak about the fight against corruption. He said nothing. It looks as if he is tired?
I guess he is tired. We have made no progress. It has gone worst. If he started the speech by mentioning corruption, most people would have switched of the Television and gone to drink more bear. This is because it would be the usual old story. He would say corruption and what did we do about it? Many Cameroonians would be excited to hear that with corruption;
we catch people who have embezzled state funds, take back that money and invest in the economy. We punish them so that people can see it. But the prisons are full and overflowing with corrupt officials but we have seen no penny collected yet. There is a problem there and nobody is interested.
There are some who are paying back the money.
Well, if they are paying back the money, let us hear them say on the radio how much they stole, how much has been collected and what are the timeframes. If there are a hundred corrupt officials, how many of those are paying? Is it just one or two that are paying? Is it 98% that are paying? That is what is important.
The fact that the Head of State did not mention it, I thought it meant that we have made some progress?
We are not making progress because there is no enabling environment for growth. We are looking at corruption as a problem. If you just try to attack corruption it would not work. What we need to do is to correct the whole country and correct the whole government. A teacher can only correct the scripts of the child if the teacher knows the truth.
Therefore, if we are running away from the truth, if we are trying to correct when we are not respecting merits and norms it would not work.
That is where the problem has been. The devil cannot cast out the devil. You must know the truth by respecting merit to be able to correct corruption. So if you put people who are corrupt in place; people who do not know the truth and do not respect merit; people who went to ENAM themselves by paying their way into ENAM and you want them to fight corruption; it would never work. We must first begin to learn what merit is and respect it, what truth is and respect it and the whole nation would correct itself.
For corruption to go away, we must have Cameroonians of integrity…
They are there; it is just that a larger part of people tell lies especially in politics. They choke the system and choke the president especially with lies. They choke everyone else with lies and blackmail. The president has realized that and that is why he is changing his tactics.
It means that there are men of integrity in Cameroon?
Yes, of course. You cannot have a country that is completely rotten. It exists nowhere in the world.
Are those persons of integrity making any effort to increase their numbers?
We just have to create an enabling environment and we grow more. As of now, most of the youths in Cameroon have been made to think that you have to be crooked to survive. There have seen a lot of crooked people making it. They have seen a lot of crooked people riding big cars, living in the best houses and flying to France and coming back. So they think it is a way of life.
Is there a possibility of helping this young people you are talking about to become persons of integrity?
Yes, number one by teaching civic education in our schools, by teaching them the love for one another and the respect for each other and making sure they begin to see that merit and truth count. If you do not teach them to see that merit and truth count, then what ever we try to do would not work. If the country is decaying, it is because merit and truth have been thrown to the dogs.
What difference does it make Dr. Ngwanyam to teach the children civic education in school? They are at home and seeing what their parents do.
That is correct. We are talking of an environment. It has to be like rain that falls on everybody. But when the rain is falling, some people had prepared their farms and some have not. Those that prepared their farms would have the harvest.
Have you heard that there are some government schools that the parent must pay for their children to gain admission? In those schools can we teach civic education?
Yes. It might be teaching civic education but it is like lip service. It is like a Christian who goes to church and does not know what worship and praise are about. Sometimes when we are talking about all these things, we are actually referring to ourselves. When we are talking, someone might think we are talking about the government. No. the government is a faceless thing. If I ask you to go and bring government, whom are you going to bring? You would turn around and realize that you are government actually.
If we are failing, it is a collective responsibility. All what we are saying is actually referring to us. I was thinking the other day about something which is very subtle which if we do not stitch in time can mess up a lot of people. I was thinking about it because we have this argument going on in the internet about the word Merry Christmas and Merry Xmas.
Some of us were arguing to say that Xmas is not the right word. That it comes from the Antichrist. It is the devil actually. You think it is right but in the next couple of years many down the road, children would not know what Xmas stands for because Christmas must have disappeared and they would say Xmas. The Xmas has no Christ in it and they would actually forget that they are dealing with something that has to do with Christ. So, that is how the devil deceives. He comes very gently and gives you a fake and you use the fake to replace reality.
I remember in our days in primary school, we had this thing called Hand Work. Hand Work meant that you actually went home; you used your head and hands to craft out something yourself. Even if you were making a bamboo chair, you did not get your father to make it for you. Your elder brother did not make it for you. You made your own chair, broom, molded your own pottery and whatsoever and you brought it to school as Hand Work.
In so doing, it stimulated the child’s mind to creativity. You can be surprised that most industries are born at that level because a child starts knowing that you take this clay and you give it form and it has value. That is the lesson. Most of the time especially in big cities, that Hand Work has lost it value. I remember my children going to the catholic school St John at Foncha Street; the eldest of them is probably thirty years now which means that in the last thirty years, what they called Hand Work was not Handwork. What they did was this. When they asked for handwork, the children took money and bought a broom and brush and took these to school. That was taken as Handwork. If you did not have, you brought the money. So they would take a hundred francs to replace the handwork. So, in reality, the lessons that were supposed to be learnt, they never learnt them and that is why we have gotten it wrong all this while. That is what is done in all these schools. We are replacing reality with fake.
What did you do when your children asked for money to buy Handwork for school?
I guess I did not really see what damage I was doing to them. But today when I look back, it is a crime
A while ago you said the government is us…
Yes, we are the government
All Cameroonians make up the government?
Yes, they vote representatives to speak on our behalf.
The young people do not realize that they make up the government of tomorrow.
They don’t and that is why we have to be very careful in teaching them the right things so that they would become responsible otherwise they would go astray. When we are talking about the government, youths and so on, we have to bring that home and then it begins to make sense. When you say government, it looks more amorphous and then you do not get it. Talk of the family, the family is government. You have the father and mother who make the policy and run the economy of the family.
The father is the Head of government.
No, the father is President, the mother is the Prime Minister and some of the elder children are ministers of that and that. When we all come home, the mother becomes the Minster of the Interior. We keep shifting functions like that and that is how a real government functions. No father on his dying bed would hand over his property or whatever he has amassed to an irresponsible child. Technically he prefers to give it to a child who is more responsible. Even though culturally, women do not seem to inherit but in reality we might find out that in some families the girls are more responsible than the boys and the girl becomes the head of the family and takes the inheritance. The precondition for inheriting anything is good character, behavior, responsibility and accountability. So we should teach all our children to have these qualities, the whole government would be well.
When the Head of State makes a speech and then some people react to it in a particular way and some describe them as detractors, are they not teaching their own children how to appreciate the president’s speech?
You know some people have this preconceived idea of having a certain bias against somebody. They say oh, he has been there for thirty two years and that is enough. Ok but, he is saying something at that material moment. Let’s listen to it. Is he making sense or not? If he is not making sense what is it in the whole thing that is not making sense? He said about a hundred things, were 80% of those things correct? Then take the 80% and throw away the 20% that is not making sense or try to modify them. You cannot just throw away everything in Toto. That is not the way.
The Head of State lamented the fact that the consumption of the investment budget was very low.
To me it is a blessing. It is a good thing that the consumption was not high. Where are we running to? There is no need to run. We need the roads, we need the hospitals but the way we have been trying to build those roads, the schools and the hospitals; we have been stealing more money than actually building hospitals.
There is a mechanism put in to try to see how we can be more effective and productive. If it is going to take us five years to know how to use the budget; then let it be; so that when we start, we would do it right.
When we talk about consuming the budget it is paper work. There was a road that was done from Kumba to Mamfe and they might say it was tarred when it was not tarred. That was the problem. There was a road from Bamenda to Mbengwi, it was supposed to have been tarred many years ago and yet there was no tar. So on paper, the budget has been consumed. Things seem to have progressed on paper but there was no reality on the ground. Until we match paper work and reality, there would be no point rushing.
Probably, it has been low in the past one or two years but when it was high, was the common person benefitting?
No, they were benefitting from the fallout that was stolen and the real projects were not executed. That is why everybody is in Kondengui. Let’s wait and probably make emergency packages like this one and get certain things done. When everybody must have learned how to manage money and resources, then we will get something out of it. It is about being efficient but if there is no efficiency, it is a waste.
The authorities have now brought out a list of the projects that are supposed to be realized using the investment budget in the various localities. In fact in has been done division by division. Do you know what is in Donga Mantung?
Yes, if people are mad and angry out there, it is because some contracts are awarded at the central level. So, somebody just shows up in your village and says I have been asked to come and execute this contract. He does not even tell you. When he comes, he has his paper work and starts doing things. He does not consult anybody, he is very rude and he does whatever he wants to do. Whether he signs the papers or not but he rushes down to Yaoundé to get paid for a job that was not properly done. He is not accountable to anybody.
We have to work in partnership and avoid all these kinds of contracts that are awarded left and right with no control. That is where the darkness and the bitterness come from. Let’s learn to realize that even when you go to do a project for a people, it is for the people and you should respect them. You should be accountable and let them look into what you are doing. When the people on the ground do not understand what you are doing, they tend to be a nuisance.
Many people have condemned what you have just said. That is, contracts are awarded at the central level to people who have never been to the locality. The question is, are there no sons of the soil who have disappointed their own people?
May his soul rest in peace; I once heard a contract to do a road or whatsoever was given to Fon Doe of Balikumbat. You know he used to be the Fon, the mayor, the parliamentarian, the contractor and everything and most contracts were not done because he had the yam and the knife.
The question Dr. Ngwanyam is, there are people in your village who probably would now realize that this is a project they are bringing to the village thanks to the investment budget. How do they follow up to be sure that the project is executed?
It is difficult to try to put new wine into old wine skins. What you are saying is of course that the environment has not been prepared for that kind of activity. What do I mean? There has to be proper decentralization. When there is proper decentralization, then for the people at the grassroots; their capacities are built tobe able to interact and monitor. They would be able to assess their own needs. They would be able to know what they want. They would be able to prioritize their needs. When all of that is done, then we are ready to move.
If you just sit in Yaoundé and then you do things and come and throw on them, when their capacities have not been built they would be a problem. What am I saying? This is the way things should be done. Let us say that in the whole nation, we had 1billion to invest for the whole country. Then we should get a billion divided by 58 divisions. Then if we think that the divisions that are in the capital city probably they need a little more because of the human stress; then we could do some adjustments for that. Everybody knows that in Donga Mantung Division, we expect so many billions or whatever. We know what is available to Donga Mantung in terms of money.
Then local councils and the people in Donga Mantung would now say, for the money that has come, what are our needs. What people in Donga need is probably what the people of Boyo do not want. So the local people choose based on their pressing needs what they want. They do their own selecting procedure for their contractor because they would have been taught of course what it is.
It is even best to use local contractors that they can keep an eye on and it becomes everybody’s business and everybody would claim ownership of it. When you decentralize voices would be heard easily when the people have a problem. When you decentralize most of the time they would be no need for those voices to be heard because the people would have been able to solve their problems at the roots.
The Heard of State took up so much to talk about insecurity in Cameroon posed by the insurgent Boko Haram. You know what has been done in Cameroon to fight Boko Haram. How do you react to what the Head of State said and to what he has done so far?
I think we are twenty million Cameroonians except those of them who have joined the Boko Haram themselves. We can say that twenty million Cameroonians have hailed the president for the good work he has done so far as far as that problem is concerned. If anybody has not hailed him, then something is wrong. Political opponents like the SDF can genuinely tell you that the President has done a good job though they might think that if they openly say so, they might be weakening themselves by acknowledging their political adversary.
But when it comes to war, I think we leave out all our differences and look at that thing that can collectively kill or perish us. If I am wrong they can come correct me but I would imagine that everybody in the SDF, the SCNC or whatever group is there; they would hail the president for a job well done by bringing the country together to collectively begin to face the challenge that is threatening to kill all of us.
So in the of face this threat, the country is uniting around a common thing; something that would keep us together. In the past it was the football that kept us together and that was not strong enough. This time around, I think we have a better reason that should keep us together and remain focused. When this thing started, it was not yet clear in our minds as who was who and what was what. But as time went on it became clearer in our minds and we are able to know that it is not a religious war of Muslims against Christians; because if that were the case it would have been a very dangerous situation that we would not like. If it were a Muslim/Christian situation it would have within seconds spread all over the national territory and that would be very dangerous for the state.
It is more of a problem of some people who are trying to just crush the nation whether it is made up of Muslims or Christians. The Muslims have been very supportive of the president and I think that is a good thing. That is why the Muslims also realize that it is not a Christian -Muslims thing. It is some kind of a force that we do not understand. Boko Haram is a spirit. When something is manifesting in the natural, it first manifest in the spirit. If the spirit is not there, there would be no manifestation. Boko Haram is a spirit of confusion, destruction, a spirit that lacks love. It is a spirit that is hovering over a portion of Nigeria, Niger, and Chad and is crossing to Cameroon. It is like a cloud. You know clouds do not respect geographical boundaries. The best way to fight Boko Haram is to come up with a new spirit, teaching and loving and by bringing something different to counteract other forces in the spirit realm.
The bible tells us that in every circumstance, we should give God the glory. I do not know whether somebody should be thanking God that he has allowed Boko Haram insurgents to come and be disturbing the peace in Cameroon.
Except you are a Christian and except you meditate, you would not see any reason to be thankful to God in these circumstances. If you have lost some relatives, someone very dear to you even in an accident; you would cry but at the same time you would take the person to church and give thanks to God. This is because at the end of the day, you would realize that you are nothing.
The best thing to do is just to give thanks to God because he understands everything that happens. Therefore, there is nothing that happens without God’s knowledge. The bible says that a hair would not fall off your head without God knowing about it. So, in all these things, it is God wanting us to learn something from the Boko Haram situation. We might have been doing things our own way and probably Boko Haram is going to force us to look at things out of the box, stand outside and learn some lessons.
When you talk about some lessons, what is your image of the soldier in Cameroon today?
I want to tell you that I am a soldier myself. I am a reserved soldier. I was trained in Ngoundere. In the whole nation, I think those are the only people that I respect. They are much disciplined. You might have one or two headstrong people in there but they are a disciplined core. That is all we can count on. A moment like this is when you realize that if you did not have a strong army, you would have been crushed. We have to stand behind our army, love them. They sacrifice a lot. For one thing over the years, we have kind of neglected a lot of people. We thought that the people who are worth praising, worth recognition were only the politicians and everybody became a politician. You would see a minister who produces nothing, he is just being hailed for being a minister. Now with the military, we begin to realize that some people are more important than others. As of this material moment, nobody is important in this country but the boys up there in the north who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe. So those military boys are our angels. If we see them as our angels and begin to respect them for whom they are, then we will know exactly what to do for them.
Before you talk about the lessons God wants us to learn, do we agree that whatever is happening up north reduces resources which would have been used to develop the country?
That is correct. War costs money. There is nothing like something for nothing. Therefore, when there is a war, someone else is paying with his life. Soldiers are paying for it with their lives and personal comfort; their families are paying because they are sacrificing their children.
We as Cameroonians; everybody is called upon to pay for that war in one way or the other. In saying a prayer for those young people, you are part of it. It is everybody’s concern. The soldiers are concerned, the President is concerned and we are concerned. That is the way forward. Nobody can sit behind. War costs money. If you thing it does not cost money, take out the resources and see what Boko Haram would do to us.
While we thank God for the soldiers who are fighting, what should we learn from the experience?
I would like to explain one or two things. Cameroonians do not think out of the box. That is the first thing. Most Cameroonians react due to situations or whatever based on feelings. Feelings are deceitful. You react to situations or you think based on principles. When you think or react based on principles, you would find out that you would do something which under normal circumstances, you would not do because the principle allows you to act in a right way. Feelings can lead you into a ditch. We learnt in primary school that a stitch in time saves nine. If there was something for you to do today and you get up and do it, it saves you the trouble of running after nine damaged things.
Number two; always see a silver lining in every dark cloud. It ties with what we were saying is from the bible. I think it is in the book of Thessalonians. In every circumstance give thanks to God. So why would somebody be giving thanks under very damaging conditions like these? What we are saying is that in every cloud, there is a silver lining. But it is not everybody who sees a silver lining.
You have to be trained to be able to see the silver lining. While it is all dark, look for that silver lining and capitalize on it. You would realize that, we have not been building our capacity for receiving challenge. When you are faced with any challenge, what makes you to overcome the challenge is your training. If you do not build your capacity and the challenge comes when you are sleeping, the challenge would overtake you. We have not been building our resilience and our reserve capacity in this nation in many fields.
So Boko Haram challenges us and awakens us to begin to make sure we build our capacities in many areas. I was watching television the other day and the worry up north was that they were not going to have enough grains because of the trouble. If our agriculture was build and we were producing so much that we could even sell, would not feel it. But we are doing hand to mouth kind of living so that when a little stress comes, the gap shows. In many things; be it roads, hospitals, and the educational system, we have not been building resilience.
What lesson can we draw from what is happening?
One lesson is time use.
That is very important. How do you use time? How do you use resources? How do you use human resources? How do you use financial resources? How do you use your land and all those things? You would have noticed that in Cameroon, we never react to situations as they are. We do not hit the iron when it is hot. We let it be and after sometime we try to hit it when it is cold. Even if we get no result, it does not mean anything to us.
With Boko Haram, you have to learn how to think out of the box. You have to learn to think fast and you have to learn to get it right. When you most have done all these, you act on the result promptly otherwise if you do not do that then you would be in the mess with Boko Haram. For all our lives now in Cameroon, it does not matter which sector we consider, must be proactive. If we use our time right, we would discover that it is one of the most important resources that we have been wasting.
I was just thinking aloud that war costs money and while our boys are out there exposing their lives to a lot of danger; some are getting killed and some are getting maimed, while some of us down here are just drinking alcohol. It is time we begin to pay some extra money on the alcohol we drink for those boys.
Some people have said that while we talk about Boko Haram fighting against us because it is against us in the northern part of the country, we have small Boko Harams in every part of the country.
What a beautiful thought. Yes, in fact lets forget the Boko Haram in the North and come again down here and look at ourselves. We said Boko Haram is a destructive spirit and if you look at it keenly, you would discover that we are all Boko Harams. You put a principal in a school, instead of a principal running the school the way a school is supposed to be run, he is using the school as a milking cow. As he is doing all those funny things, he is nothing but Boko Haram. If you put a director and he is doing some funny things, he is a Boko Haram. So the corruption that we were talking about is a spirit of Boko Haram. So technically, while we are talking about Boko Haram, let’s realize that there are a lot of Boko Harams around us.
So you want us to learn some lesson about the Boko Haram in the north, yet we have not learnt any lessons from those around us.
Yes, all those negative and evil spirits and all those uncles who seize property from their nephews when their parents die are all Boko Harams. It is an evil spirit that does not know the truth. So we are called upon to begin to love each other, to be true to ourselves, respect merit, to begin to build our capacities and to be able to produce. The only force that can overcome is the force of love and the force of God.
The small Boko Harams that we are talking about are actually vices that are killing us. The question is; over the years, why is it so difficult to fight those vices? When you go through some streets in Bamenda, there are many churches in Bamenda yet we are unable to fight against these vices. What is happening?
It boils down to the non respect of merit, the truth and then it boils down to the fact that we are all greedy. These are the issues and therefore, when you see the overt Boko Haram in the North, it is the vices that have come together to bake a mature cake. We have little vices over here and then when the environment is conducive, there will be a spark. It is important for us to begin to correct those little vices and to also grow an enabling environment. We should begin to train our children properly, train them in the manner that they can find work. I do not mean sitting in government offices, they should be productive.
Is the church helping us?
The church is trying to help us but there are a lot of those vices in the church as well. A lot of people are preaching church doctrine which has got nothing to do with the Fear of the Lord. If there is anything to preach that would bring change is; try to understand the mind of God. God did not come in this church or that church or whatever. God came to us. He made us and put in us the love for him, the love for man, love for work and the respect for each other. All these things, if we do not do that and think that it is in the church, we would fail. Church is actually in us. It is not outside of us.
There is one issue which you have hammered on, the kind of training we give to our children to prepare them for tomorrow. Sometimes it looks like if we are only focusing on the school. Those values of yesterday, can we still give them to our children or do we even still have them?
Most parents of today do not have them, but we have to go back to those roots and get them right. During the last graduation ceremony in Buea; Professor Njeuma was the one who delivered the speech. What I would say about the speech is that most of our politicians would not be able to write the speech and would not be able to read it even if you gave it to them. If you force them to read the speech, they would rather have a heart attack. That was a speech that we all need to look at and learn some lessons from there. We are talking of a professor who knows she is a professor and is talking as a professor. We are talking of a mother who is talking to us as a mother and says my children; this is it. It is not about the CPDM and is not about she was a former Minister. She is talking as a Christian and as an elderly person who knows what is right for us. If we listen to people like that we will get it right. We have not lost it all, we just have to take reference from people like that and then it will grow.
When they are conferring degrees to students in Buea or any University worth its salt, the dean usually says, “We have found Wain Paul Ngam worthy in character and in learning.” Character comes first. So you realize that if you are only worthy in learning and your character is not good, you did not make it. These two things have to go together. Those are the things we need to be working on. In all our school system, number one we have to work on character. Then number two, that learning bit, we have got it all wrong in Cameroon. If you want to know whether that learning bit is the right one, take ten thousand graduates from the universities in Cameroon and compare them with ten thousand graduates from the universities in South Korea, you would see the difference.
That speech she made in Buea, are you sure the young people got anything out of it. They might have been just waiting for her to finish and then they go back home and start feasting?
In fact, when she was reading the speech most of them were busy taking but pictures. We have a problem. It is not only with the youths. About six months ago, the ambassador of Turkey came to Bamenda and he went to the University of Bamenda. The purpose was to go and talk to the youths and the lecturers about the way forward because Turkey was in a precarious situation like ours and they did certain things and they have come out of that mess. In fact Turkey makes Mercedes buses and their economy is very strong. They have done very well. He was coming to tell us the secret but you would be surprised that there were no classes going on at the university because everything had stopped for that purpose. They were supposed to be at the Asanji Hall. It was one third full. The ambassador came and was talking to himself. We do not have wisdom.
For students to be distracted when such an important speech is going on, it means that the lecturers did not spent three years preparing the character of those students.
The problem is this; Cameroonians do not know what is important. We have been so used to celebrating that the celebrating part of it is more important to us. If there is a wedding, death or a requiem mass or something, do not ask anybody ‘what did the priest say’ but rather, how was the wedding or how was the death ceremony. They would say very well. What was good about it? There was enough to eat and drink. We have been so used to eat and drinks that we do not go beyond our canal feelings. This is because we do not meditate. Real people go past these things because they know the true value of things and when you do not know the true value of things, you misuse them.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)