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Commission for Bilingualism and Multiculturalism is a Farce- Akere Muna

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Akere Muna concludes his Epilogue

I will conclude with a few lines on the Commission for Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. The biggest problem in policy nowadays is enforcement. Given this fact, anytime an institution is created with only advisory prerogatives, we might as well forget about the capacity of such an institution to be a tool to assist in the resolution of pressing issues. The Committee will have to provide advice, which can be accepted or rejected. Even if such advice is acquiesced, it must be followed by policy development, which in turn would need to be implemented effectively. If we are taking over 21 years, and still counting, to implement settled Constitutional provisions, we are kidding ourselves when we point to this Commission as the solution to any of the current issues. If you add to this equation the nature of its mandate, then we might just begin to understand the nature of the farce.

The time wasted weaving this web of division in which we unfortunately find ourselves distracts us from other seething issues that must be considered with the same amount of urgency. First among these is the problem of the management of landed property in our country. The preamble of our constitution affirms, “The State shall ensure the protection of minorities and shall preserve the rights of indigenous populations in accordance with the law”; we should remember that according to article 65 of the same constitution, the preamble is part of the constitution. The opacity in which the mining of minerals is managed in the Eastern Region of Cameroon in total absence of any discernable governance principles is saddening.

The consequence of this on the lives of the “indigenous population” will come to haunt us. The management of lands in Kribi is not accompanied by any policy that is aimed at protecting the indigenous populations. The management of the returned land in Fako from the CDC to the rightful indigenous population is fraught with all manner of mismanagement. In the Extreme North a war is raging on perpetrated by a group of terrorists and bandits attempting to pass for religious fanatics. All international assessments have concluded that, the dire economic situation of the population has exposed them and they have fallen prey to the enticements and threats from these charlatans who unsuccessfully try to hide under the cover of a respectable religion. As we tread forward, we must be ignited again by the spirit of a time when our country was poised for true greatness and distinction, not in spite of our differences, but precisely because of them.

A time when the synthesis of Anglophone and Francophone cultures meant that we would be able to draw on the best of both parts. A time when we were convinced that we would be more competitive on the global stage because we could do business in the world’s major languages. A time when we knew that, even through our music, we would be able to appeal to many more. To borrow words from one of our founding fathers, Um Nyobe (also at a time when Cameroon was at a crossroads), the first step in moving Cameroon forward is by actively combating tribalism, and creating a system that is based on the best each of us have to offer. It is time for better governance that is in tune with the ideas and solutions proposed by those who love this country, and not one that seeks to silence the voices that disagree with the status quo. It is never too late to do the right thing.

In Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, he makes a savvy use of proverbs from the Igbo people. One that comes to mind is: “the lizard that jumped from the high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did”. Like the lizard, some are marching all over the country, monopolizing the public media in self-praise, while everyone else watches in complete stupefaction. They see that the center can no longer hold because things are falling apart. However, it is not too late to change our course.

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