BaretaNews can confirm that Professor Tazoacha Asonganyi, Cameroon’s natural scientist, and prolific political commentator has died. He died in Yaounde on July 3rd, 2016 after battling with a sickness for a while. BaretaNews celebrates him.
Professor Tazoacha Asonganyi is a father of 4 ( two boys and two girls). He leaves behind a lovely wife. He had his Ph.D. in Biochemistry since 1980 from the University of London (UK). He did his Ph.D. research in a Laboratory at Gower’s Street a few meters from Dillon’s Bookshop London, which he visited nearly every day. During the same period, he also worked with an Africanist Community Group (“Headstart Books & Crafts” London N15) which dealt in books on the history of peoples of African origin.
These two contacts with the book in domains outside his area of specialization caused a profound change in his education, influenced principally, as he says, by Cheikh Anta Diop whose books and many others with the same thrust he read during that time.
He attended Sasse College- the first college in the then Southern Cameroons. He is one of the great SOBAN of the 1964 Class. Celebrating his class 50 years anniversary in 2014, he wrote : ” Sasse marked the rest of our lives – in High School, in the University, in society… Sasse provided us the filter through which we see the world; through which we evaluate, judge and deal with life. This was the result of the heroic efforts of our teachers to get us to understand the several subjects we learned; the discipline they imposed on our youthful spirits; the religious inspiration and enlightenment we got from the daily Church services and the compulsory study of the scriptures which we always took for granted, but which contributed in marking our lives indelibly; the models our instructors represented for us; the attitudes and behaviors of our teachers and senior students that helped to shape ours. Sasse did not just train us to pass the London GCE; it seemed to focus on the entire person and personality of the students, and made sure that we left the college as little Catholic Christians that had dozens of little voices in us that ordered us around throughout our lives: whispering to us how to act, dictating to us what to do and not to do…”
He has taught in the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Yaoundé 1 since 1985, training medical students for over 30 years. He is a Visiting Professor at some Universities outside of Cameroon. He has published some 90 peer-reviewed articles and still publishing. His scientific research interests are in Sleeping sickness/Trypanosomiasis, River blindness/Onchocerciasis, HIV/AIDS.
He writes in many Cameroon Newspapers where he churns his political positions since leaving the SDF Party. He has published over 100 articles in Newspapers and other media analyzing the political situation in the Cameroons and African countries. His most recent book published in 2015 was titled ” Difficult Choices in a Failed Democracy”. The memoir tracks the Asonanyi’s conversion to and subsequent disillusionment with the “power to the people” ideology as practiced in the SDF.
In the book, he also describes the party’s origins, rising as it were from the ashes of one-party dictatorship to embrace the unfamiliar and highly nuanced multiparty ‘democratic’ system that succeeded it. He provided a sobering and heart wrenching description of intra-party conflicts, abuse of power, duplicitous behavior of those at the helm, reckless disregard of the party’s own statutes and internal rules in the pursuit of individual self-serving goals (“’Discipline’ became an instrument for stifling debate, denying members their basic democratic rights, meeting individual agendas, interfering in the private lives of members”); but above all, Professor Asonganyi evokes the party’s discomforting contradictions:
• a party that has staked its entire raison d’être on the creation of an autonomous national electoral commission as the sole guarantor of free, fair and transparent elections in Cameroon but would categorically rule out the establishment of an impartial investiture organ within the party with jurisdiction over elections and appointments
• a party leadership that continues to rile against weak national institutions that have led to the rise of an imperial president, only to turn around to support and actively encourage amendments to the party’s constitution that have ended up creating a de jure and a de facto one-man rule with an accompanying personality cult for good measure
• a party that has never ceased preaching national unity even as it continued to practice the politics of tribe and kinship
• a party that talks reconciliation but wants to be selective on who should be welcomed back into the folda party that preaches “equal opportunity for all” yet plays favorites when it comes to distribution of the spoils
- a party that preaches “equal opportunity for all” yet plays favorites when it comes to distribution of the spoils
He however acknowledges the party’s indelible imprint on the national stage; the influence it has had on our lives; and how its flaws (some built-in, others acquired along the way) continue to affect its national and international image even as it enlivens contemporary public discourse.
At the early onset of partisan politics in Cameroon he emerged and became Secretary General of the SDF, 1994-2005, He then became the Permanent Secretary of the opposition CNRR in 2004. He parted ways with the SDF in 2006 after the SDF meted article 8.2 on him by means of constructive dismissal from the party. He has observed elections for the Carter Center (USA) in Ghana, and for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of Washington DC in Nigeria.
In 2005, Prof Asonganyi was summarily dismissed from the SDF Party after the National Executive Committee ( NEC) of the SDF acted, following the provisions of Article 8.2 of the SDF, which dwells on the issue of discipline in the party. He was dismissed based on 6 counts.
In count One, Asonganyi was accused of granting a press conference on or about September 27, 2005, in Yaounde, during which he called to question the policies of the SDF, its ideals, its hierarchy and the fundamental options of the party.
According to this count, Asonganyi, who ought to protect and defend, instead denigrated the party, when he said the leadership has so far not succeeded in turning the formidable SDF machine into an effective catalyst for change in Cameroon.
Count Two accuses Asonganyi of having, during the press conference, questioned the use of discipline as an effective instrument of promoting democracy in the SDF, whereas he knows no democratic organization that can effectively function without discipline. It maintained that decisions on disciplinary issues in NEC are taken after the debate and by consensus or by voting.
In this count, Asonganyi was reminded that he shared part of the responsibility for the weaknesses of the SDF and blamed him for making a value judgment on the party leadership and arrogating to himself the functions of the convention, whereas he knows that only the convention can overturn the decisions of NEC. It, therefore, considered Asonganyi culpable, following section 15 (iv) and 16. 27 NEC members also voted for and 2 against this count.
Count three accused Asonganyi of degrading the party’s leadership by insinuating that it had secret dealings with the CPDM, benefiting financially therefrom. “To have gone public with the above declarations, which stigmatize the party leadership as embezzlers and sordid dealers, means you have proof of the facts alleged, but that you are not part of them, thereby carrying out such antiparty activities as are provided for and punishable under section 8.2 of the party constitution’s”, it read.
Count four blamed Asonganyi for having in subsequent writings and activities, acted on rumour, by holding that Fru Ndi accused him (Asonganyi) of killing his (Fru Ndi’s) wife, thereby insinuating that within the leadership of the party, there are murderers. By so doing, Asonganyi conducted himself in a manner that embarrassed the party and brought it into disrepute, hatred and ridicule, punishable under section 15(b) (ii) and constituting such antiparty activities punishable under Section 8.2 of the party constitution.
Count Five accused Asonganyi of having between the year 2004 and 2005, entered into negotiations with third parties, received funds for and on behalf of the party and unilaterally spent them, without the consent or even the knowledge of NEC.
In the Sixth and last count, Asonganyi was blamed that after suspension from the function of Scribe, he refused to hand over, as prescribed by NEC, which met on October 8 and 9, 2005 and put the party into grave expense by pursuing unwarranted court proceedings; activities that also dissipated the peaceful and efficient functioning of the party.
Recall that last year, another Secretary General Elisabeth Tamanjong who took over from Asonganyi resigned from her position and the party. On leaving, she sent out a communique where she spilled out her marginalization in the party, suggesting that she was just a figurehead in the organization. But above all, she’s very particular about the many sins of Chairman John Fru Ndi. She explained how from 2006, Fru Ndi virtually assumed all the powers to hire and fire in the party when he influenced the stripping of elective offices such as that of the SG and others, to his sole discretion. This line only goes a long way to recall the various counts the party levied on Asonganyi before he was summarily dismissed from the party. It is therefore left to be seen that there is too much power concentrated in the hands of Ni John Fru which leaves the SG powerless to carry on their job. BaretaNews thinks that it is in the same light that Asonganyi fell out with the party and the cabal had to take him out.
Despite leaving the party, Asonganyi’s relationship with the SDF and Ni John Fru has been very tense and not cozy. Asonganyi comes out tall as a true statesman for refusing to join any other political party despite interests from the CPDM government. He continued educating Cameroonians through his various weekly publications in Cameroons Newspapers. He has come to be loved by so many Cameroonians for his decency, honesty, soft talk and many within the SDF saw him as ” Mr. Clean “. Even after leaving the party, he was still popular and hugely loved. Bribery and corruption were aching to him, the more reason he called out the leadership of the SDF party when he noticed shady deals were carried out with the regime of Paul Biya.
Though not a “secessionist”, he was greatly loved by many Southern Cameroons movements who seek for an independent Southern Cameroons for his honesty and straight talks. Ebenezer Akwanga, the fearful youth leader of the Southern Cameroons Youth League based in USA wrote ” In honor of his sacrifices and work for the Cause of Freedom, our regular broadcast CONVERSATION will be temporarily suspended for Monday, July 4 and Wednesday, July 6. Meanwhile Friday, July 8 program would be DEDICATED in remembering Prof. Asonganyi for the unrelenting battles he waged throughout his life time against tyranny of all sorts” . This is just to show that Asonganyi remains hugely loved across the political board. BaretaNews can conclude that Asonganyi stands out tall for calling 20th May Celebrations fake. He had always said that 20th May should not be celebrated and that 1st October should be the Cameroons national day.
To this ends, BaretaNews salutes and celebrates his contributions to Cameroons democracy. His books and memories shall live on.
Rest in Peace Senior Comrade and SOBAN.
God is still saying something.