Paul Biya is president of Cameroon today by virtue of being born in a certain era, studying law in Paris such that he was able to land a job at the presidency, serving Ahidjo faithfully, and then finding favor with the French who dribbled Ahidjo out and put Biya in. Since becoming president, Biya has extended his roots so deep that it is now impossible to unseat him. Scoffing and mocking at educated Anglophone Cameroonians today as an impotent group because with their education they cannot unseat Biya is a misdiagnosis. Educated Cameroonians did not put Biya in power and his survival on the throne is not dependent on educated Cameroonians. Perhaps you think just going out to campaign and vote is what put people in power and remove people from power – think again.
In USA, Britain, Germany and France, only people within a very small segment of society with very strong political capital get to compete for the presidency or prime minister’s office. If Obama did not have the support of these power brokers in America like the late Ted Kennedy, he would not have been a candidate for his party; if Donald Trump was not a well-connected billionaire, which makes him a very powerful person in America, he would not be a presidential candidate for his party. If Hillary Clinton had not built up such a vast political empire in the past 40 years, she would not be a candidate for her party. Education is just one out of many elements required for a person to get into power.
It is an essential necessary element but not the most important element to get into power. Arguably the most important are that those who have acquired power before you, accept you and open the gates for you to join their table. If the British colonial administrators did not open the gates for Foncha we will not be talking about him today. Please don’t compare educated elites today to the half-educated leaders we had at independence; those half-educated leaders were what we had back then that the British had to choose from and work with. It is not something to be proud about, rather it goes to show how we were in short supply of capable human resources in Southern Cameroons at the time.
There are educated Anglophones today working in international development agencies and making impacts that affects the lives of millions of people around the world. These people are not on the pages of our local news media in Cameroon but are making a difference in their field on endeavors. Their education is being put to good use. Foncha played his part in our history, had his limitations and made his mistakes. Power is now in Biya’s hands and he has used it skillfully to his advantage. Neither you nor I have the power resources to unseat him; we have not acquired sufficient political capital in the eyes of real power brokers who stand with Biya, for them to feel we are a better alternative to Biya, in the way Biya was seen as a better alternative to Ahidjo.
In the process of debating and discussing these issues in the classroom, in people’s personal blogs, on Facebook and in the media, some will be learning and taking steps to build their political capital, so that one day they too can sit on the throne in Etoudi palace. Let us hope that these future leaders will give us a nation that lives’ up to the dreams and aspirations of all Cameroonians. Note that it is the intellectual debates of today that would inform the worldviews of these leaders of tomorrow.
God is still saying something.