A Senate of Fossils
By Nke Valentine
"L'impossible n'est pas Camerounais" goes a Camerounian popular saying, meaning 'nothing is impossible in Cameroon'. You do not need to stretch far to verify the veracity of this adage. No! Neither complications of cumbersome laboratory experiments, nor some cumbersome research methodology, attempting to formulate research questions, reviewing theories and literature, etc. No! Not all!
And so it came to pass that the long-awaited 30 Senators to be appointed was done. Wednesday May 8, 2013, left at least 30 families in a jubilant mood. Some unpopular stewards of the regime had been appointed Senators! The manner was similar to that of the Ahidjo One Party days where Parliamentarians were appointed. That is how the likes of Hon Fuguo James Djam found themselves in parliament. Some of the starkest raving illiterates went in - their duty: sleep during parliamentary sessions, get up when you hear handclaps and join in the clapping; even clapping louder than those who were awake. It was the period when the likes of Hon John Tatah will tell a journalist in reply to a question on what he was going to do with the condoms he had been offered as a Parliamentarian "I will teach my people about the AIDS 'philomena'" (instead of phenomenon).
A perfunctory look into the nascent Cameroonian Senate will reveal that more than 80 of the 100 Senators (86 CPDM and 14 SDF) are either sexagenarians or octogenarians whom some nefarious tongues describe as 'tottering on the borders of senile decay. Given that the majority of them are ex-ministers, ex-general mangers, ex-treasurers, ex-farmers, ex-embezzlers, ex-homosexuals and the Scavenger is sure there are ex-convicts (obviously representing the 'Kondengui Cabinet' it may not be wrong to conclude that it is a 'Senate of Fossils'.
Who can imagine that any of these can withstand the long hours Bepanda Mouelle, for example, will sit to read the results of carefully tailored Presidential, Senatorial, Parliamentary or Municipal elections! Not to talk of listening to some dictatorial yarn, prepared from the cosy confines of luxurious hotels being, spilled down on him or her, without drifting off to a slumber, while dreaming of the extra heaps of devalued notes that will go to swell his/her bank account, full of l'argent mal-acquis? Of his les biens mal-acquis and pondering over which of his/her sons will be able to manage such a huge estate after his demise, especially given that they are living their bonus lives on earth.
Ah! An "Emergent Economy in 2035" indeed! An economy without economists or with voodoo economists! Who says 'l'impossible est Camerounais'? Jamais! La caravane passe, les chiens aboient, et … le chat est jaloux ". Well, it may occur in some few individuals' pockets. For while we, the children of a lesser god, will be rummaging in the mud, seeking for earthworms and plankton, or why not scavenging in the multitude of mountains of refuse dumps that may characterise the scenery, to feed ourselves and children, they will be using helicopters to go to their farms and markets. The new technology or rather the latest will be theirs while we sink deeper and deeper into abysmal poverty irrespective of the lofty goal No 1 of the Millennium Development Goals.
Their offspring, even the fifth and sixth, or nth filial generation will never know the spelling of poverty. Maybe by then our species would have been extinct, for even in the present, we are an endangered species.
Jonathan Swift, famous for his Gulliver's Travels, said this in his treatise, A Modest Proposal:.
"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old the most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
"I do therefore offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow for sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That he remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter".
Listen to Biya's Senators: Achidi Achu Simon (above 80 years), Rene Ze Nguele (above 80 years), etc. In primary school we learned about these people in civics or current events. They were minsters. I am 53 now! Yet they are still in government, while I am almost going on retirement.
There is an unwritten law in Cameroon: "Once a big man you'll remain a big man forever, even your children's children's children's children …" Keep your hair dyed black and you will always be appointed. Do not bother what the people say; they are simply jealous. You can even marry your great-granddaughter who can always renew your blood.
Of what use would a Senate, made of men and women all close to and above 90 years, be to a beleaguered Cameroon? Is it one of the measures that will be taken to attain the status of an Emerging Economy in 2035?
In every facet of life in Cameroon, except of course this my scavenging job, only fossils dominate with demented brains. Can this ever help us to progress? Even in the Army?
It is said in a traditional proverb that you can not build a new hut without using old bamboos. But if the majority of bamboos are old I am sure termites will attack them faster and cause the hut to crumble faster too!