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September 15: Our world Day of Democracy

19 September 2017 No Comment

By Ayuk Tobias Oru

This very important day passed unnoticed by the citizenry of this nation for reasons yet undisclosed by our government. It beats the imagination of all and sundry why we should pride ourselves as an “Advanced Democracy” when we ignore an important day such as this. Can it be said that our leaders are unaware of this date in their schedule of activities? Or should it be said that they have many other important matters to handle before them? All the same, we are a democracy, and we must live up to its tenets and principles.
Many are political critics who claim that the nation is at this stalemate today because of the spirit of democracy which is said to have been deeply imbedded in the Anglophones of this country even before our independence. We had acquired self-ruler ship far back in 1957 and had been trained by the British to become democratic. A true demonstration of this can be taken from the peaceful transfer of power from Dr. E.M.L Endeley to Dr. J.N. Foncha after the 1958 elections. It goes without saying that this same spirit prevails in our life, and that we have all along suffered from this democracy-hunger ever since our reunification in 1961. And the truth must be said that the vast majority of today’s citizens of this nation have a porous notion of what democracy is all about. They have ceaselessly asked such question as: What is all this talk about democracy? Who is actually a democrat? Is there real democracy in this material world? Can democracy truly grow roots in a country like ours? What should therefore be done for democracy to run smoothly and on good rails in Cameroon? These are questions and many others which remain unanswered because of the prevailing circumstances which becloud our socio-political landscape.
At the primary school level, we defined democracy as the government of a people by the people and for the people. We did recite it over and over without any profound knowledge of what it meant. But at this level, we should understand that democracy is that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people, and is exercised either directly through a suffrage or the representatives elected by them. It is characterized by certain basic facts: all the citizens have equal rights and opportunities. No class of people has some sort of hereditary rank or special privilege before the common people.
Thank God, these very vital elements of democracy are fully enshrined in the preamble of our 1996 constitution, and above all our Head of State believes in the advancement of democracy. In his work, communal Liberalism, he states “Real democracy should not be jeopardized by a form of oppression, tyranny or dictatorship from civilian or military authoritarian regimes which, even when they claim to be serving the aspirations of the government, sacrifice the liberty and equality of citizens on the altar of order.” What a wonderful piece of thought this is! We should be swimming in this pool of democracy by now, if his process of democratization were not too slow. And this is probably the reason for the reaction for the Anglophones and the inaction of our francophone brethren who had never enjoyed the soothing rays of democracy.
For democracy to have taken roots in the country, we needed true democrats like Endeley, Foncha, Jua, Muna, Fonlon and the rest of anglophone politicians who had put into practice its basic principles. These are political minds who could not have braved the ongoing political misdirection albeit ideological confusion. It is this law of the jungle in our political landscape which had shocked and devastated the Late Professor Bernard Fonlon to question in his work, As I see it p8: “Whither Africa? What do we not see, as we survey the present political African scene? Mad ambition, run-away greed, insatiate lust for power, callous indifference to public misery, the almost general absence of a sense of public service, treachery, betrayals, stabbing in-the-back, assassinations, massacres… Lord, what have we not seen? Indeed we have seen so much that we are now inclined to take it all with a shrug of the shoulders, as rather in the nature of things.”
Certainly, the Africa that is described here by the professor is not far from Cameroon, especially as he recorded the political events during the tyrannical regime of President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Even then, many are Cameroonians who hold the opinion that much has not changed in the country, and that we are merely living within the same regime.
They generally opine that true democracy cannot be practiced in a state of lawlessness just it exists in today’s Cameroon. According to them, the constitution and the laws of this land have never been respected by the powers-that-be in the country. They question whether we live a social state with equal rights and opportunities between Anglophones and Francophones. They equally question if the government can even respect just the preamble of the national constitution, lest one mentions its various articles; more especially Article 66 which talks of the declaration of assets before and after the tenure of administrative office.
Democracy calls for a profound sense of virtue and morality in the leaders as ordained by the Almighty God, since it is by His power that one is made the sherperd of His flock. From the pages of our history, we can strongly recommend our present-day politicians to follow the steps of one like Dr. J.N. Foncha who lived and died as a core-Christian politician. Those who attended his funeral rites in Bamenda on Saturday April 24, 1999, were deeply touched by the pomp and pageantry of a state funeral. Besides the colour and decorum which marked the event, the huge crowd which appeared at the scene was sure proof of the appreciation given to a noble statesman; one who lived his political life as a Christian. In his eulogy, Late Archbishop Paul Verdzekov paid glowing tribute in these words: “John Ngu Foncha leaves us a priceless heritage for all those who wished to serve our country in public life. Those who truly know him will readily admit that he sincerely endeavored at all times as a politician, to discern between right and wrong, between good and evil. He avoided any deliberate policy or action that would be incoherent with his faith convictions as a Christian.” How many of our politicians can claim to be true Christians? In our political life, do we discern between right and wrong or between good and evil? The choice is yours; but only make Cameroon a true democracy.

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