By Chiafie Zechia
Cameroon has one of the longest-serving regimes in the world. The regime is also the most corrupt (see transparency international records or ask ordinary Cameroonians about their government), the most policed, brutal and oppressive.
The regime does not respect any social contract with the citizens; it violated the constitution in 2008 for Paul to Biya run for 2011 elections (the year his mandate was supposed to end). It violated the agreements of the tripartite conference in 1990s. It violated the agreements with former British Southern Cameron in 1972 (Paul was active in government). Biya equally changed the name of the country in 1984 to wipe out any remnants of the union between the two Cameroons. The regime was not ready ‘le jour dit’ with regards to 2019 hosting of African nations Cup. The list is too long.
Cameroon talks of fighting corruption all the times but corruption is at its peak now. The fight against corruption has become a political tool to silence those who challenge the regime’s strongman, Paul Biya in power since 1982.
Election of rigging and fraud is not news in Cameroon anymore. Then comes the recently, declared war on the English speaking minority because they dared to ask for reforms. And not to talk of imprisoning political opponents and journalists.
With all these and a lot more on a long list of the regime’s ills, one of the things that many around the world still do not understand is the impotence of the citizens.
Many live in poverty and misery but seem not ready to take the bull by the horn. Cameroonians have refused to brace fear and take their destiny in their hands.
The truth is that the mindset of the oppressed people is in the hands of the oppressor. That mind-set is one characterised by fear, intimidation and blackmailing.
Over the years, the Biya regime has instilled fear in the minds of Cameroonians directly and indirectly.
Directly has been through tough punishment like long prison periods without charge, giving unchecked power to gendarmerie and police and, the use of administrative dismissal as a weapon.
The indirect way has been through mental intimidation. This is a system in which individuals are referred to by the title of their jobs and not by name. Remember “mon commandant, mon colonel, mon commissaire, le DG….etc?” This is a mental alienation tactic to silence citizens and dissent.
To let them know that their level and power is insignificant. In Cameroon, people fear and respect individuals much more than state institutions.
The reason why the regime has refused to end the war in former British Southern Cameroon is to send a message to anyone who dares to speak truth to power. The same goes to tribalising politics and hitting hard on the opposition. The Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM party is now referred to by State Media and CPDM supporters as Bamileke party or “Sociologie ethnique”.
The regime, therefore, knows that Cameroonians are afraid and plays on that. This could be seen on 22nd September protest. Fear kept people in, so the regime won on that day.
Fear itself is imaginary. The regime is more afraid than the people. The most frightful thing dictators fear is the people.
One finds fear from below (the people) and above (regime) nowadays in Cameroon. So the regime has the minds of the people at hand.
What the people need to have is the mindset of the regime (i.e, it is afraid, weak and collapsing).
This is the only that will safe cameroon.