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THE WORLD AND ITS PEOPLE

The world and its people!

When I turn to my left or right

All I hear or see is chaos,

I turn on the radio or television stations

All I hear or see are famine, wars and rumours of wars.

 

The world and its people!

When I look at the world leaders

At loggerheads with each other,

I wonder if there will ever be peace and serenity in this world.

 

When I read some of the bills or the laws passed,

I ask myself, Is this what freedom is all about?

Did the creator make a mistake to give us the freewill to choose?

Oh, the world and it’s people!

 

I thought colonialism was over,

But that was a fatal mistake it was just rephrased and restructured.

Even after the so called independence

Nations are still suppressing other nations.

 

Rhetorical questions I keep asking myself,

Who made one human to think he is superior over the other?

Are we not all going to rot and return to dust someday?

How my heart bleeds

For this world and it’s people.

By

InsingWung

2015

Non-standard Vox Pop: Do you plan on relocating to Cameroon within the next 10years?

CamGerIt is common knowledge in Germany that, migrants of Cameroonian descent are one of the most educated set in Germany. Most of them have very good Grade Points, very good jobs, and are well respected by their peers of both German and non-German descent. As good as it may feel to identify with this set of people who seem to have created a positive image for themselves in ‘another man’s land’, I often can’t help but imagine what Cameroon will look like if all the great people I meet out here decide to relocate to Cameroon.

According to figures from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) or the German Technical Cooperation, more than 20,000 migrants of Cameroonian descent now live in Germany .Within this lot are both students and professionals in the fields of Engineering, Medicine, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Communication, Finance, Law, Sports, Languages and Culture amongst others. One can only imagine what a great nation Cameroon will be if these great minds decide to relocate. That said, it is also wise to acknowledge that, the degree to which the Cameroonian diaspora in Germany can succeed in influencing development in Cameroon depends not only on the migrants themselves, but on many other variables. Significant influencing factors include the country’s political regime, specific policies concerning the diaspora, investment conditions, corruption and security. The influence of the Cameroonian diaspora is directly dependent on whether or not the government seeks to cooperate with it and how it structures such cooperation.

Talking to some Cameroonians in Germany, the thought of all the above mentioned influencing variables makes most of their aspirations of relocating die even before they are born. Coming from this place of frustration, I decided to do a quick street poll. I made use of a non- standard vox pop which sought to know if migrants of Cameroonian descent in Germany plan to relocate to Cameroon within the next 10 years. As requested by most of the respondents, names were withheld and only initials used.

Question: Do you plan on relocating to Cameroon within the next 10years? If yes, why?, If no, why not?

N.F.N is a Clinical Research Associate in a contract organization that plans and executes clinical trials in Europe and USA. She said: “I don’t plan on returning to Cameroon in the next 10 years. The main reason for this decision is linked to my career. Cameroon as we know is an underdeveloped country. Judging from the little progress or should I say retrogression Cameroon has experienced in every sector in the last 25 years or so, I think it is safe to say that Cameroon’s economy will be nowhere close to average in the next 30 years. Someone said, development will actually only begin in 30 years’ time. Now, because I love my career and plan on pursuing it to the top, going back to Cameroon will be counterproductive”.

-E.T.F is in Germany for family reasons and will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. She said: “Yes, because it is Home. I have three main reasons:

  1. Pride: I think it is utterly vain to make another man’s land home simply because it offers me a more comfortable and secure lifestyle. Yes, I am proud like that. I do not care how problematic Cameroon is, it is still my home and I am proud of it. I will not run away from it.
  2. Need: Cameroon needs me more than any other country does. Over the years I have acquired skills and knowledge from foreign countries, but the truth is I have little to contribute to these countries compared to what I can contribute to mine. Regardless of how much impact I may manage to have abroad, it would be a shame to have none in Cameroon.
  3. Duty: Europeans, Americans or Asians will not be the ones to address and solve African problems in a sustainable way. It is the responsibility of Africans to help Africa. It is my duty to return home with knowledge and skill for my country’s benefit. It is the “patriotic” thing to DO”.

 

T.A works part time with the Machine Manufacturing sector while pursuing graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering. He said: “Mostly Yes, and may be No. Mostly yes, because I cherish the socio-cultural climate in Cameroon. I like the community life, the system of education, family life, freedom of religion and expression, simplicity of life and the cultural diversity. I like the flexibility that women have to be mothers while maintaining a career. The natural environment of Cameroon and the great potential (mostly still to be exploited) that Cameroon has to offer is of great appeal to me and I feel that I can make contributions to the exploitation of the numerous resources Cameroon has.

May be no, partly because of the political and socio-economic situation in Cameroon.  As much as I cherish Cameroon, I also cherish being an engineer. The present political and economic situation in Cameroon is not very enticing for engineers like me and 10 years seems too short to overcome and transform the political and economic climate and make it favorable for the engineering sector. I do however hope that in 15-25 years, Cameroon will be in good shape politically and economically and I would definitely want to go back there. But the most important reason why I might stay in Germany for the next 10 years is because my partner is German and she may need some more time to transition into life in Cameroon”.

-A.F.T is a Risk Management Consultant. He said: “Yes I plan to relocate to Cameroon in the next 10 years. I traveled to Germany to get education, work and make money. I believe I have been educated well enough such that I can contribute to my home country or to the African continent. The work I do here in Germany is appreciated but I believe working in Cameroon would be a more substantial contribution. Besides I would love to spend more time with family and loved ones”.

-A.T is doing Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. He said: “I do not see myself moving to Cameroon in the next ten years for a couple of reasons. First, I would like to work and earn some money in Germany in order to be financially secured as companies in Germany pay way better than the ones in Cameroon. Also, finding a job in Germany would not be as cumbersome as it would be in Cameroon where people have to pay huge amounts of bribe just to secure lucrative jobs (in most cases). Most importantly, I hope to acquire work experience from a renowned German company that I can take home when I finally decide to relocate. I’m particularly passionate about entrepreneurship with the primary intention of giving back to the society through job creation. This requires capital, part of which I hope to get from savings from my monthly wages”.

-V.N.K is in Germany for family reasons and she is in the final phase of her Masters in Journalism and Media within Globalization-A European perspective. She said: “Yes. I plan to settle in Cameroon in the next ten years. Not because I am happy about the politico-social aspects of the country but because I want to be a part of the change that I would love to see happen back home. I am convinced that, if given a chance, the youth of Cameroon can make things happen. Many of us have been out here and have seen the way things operate. We can adapt this knowledge for use in the development of our country. This, we cannot do if we remain abroad. So I am here, yes, but I owe my contributions towards the development of Cameroon. I hope and pray that things get better but even if they don’t, home is home and I must return”.

-G.T.A is pursuing a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering. He said: “I initially wanted to go back in 2 or three years after my studies, but that is changing now. The possibility of me being here for more than 10 years is more and more feasible. First my studies are taking a little longer than expected. Secondly, I am   beginning to feel more and more comfortable with (or used to) the environment here. Also, I personally want to face the challenge of making it here before exploring the other possibilities. This includes going back to Cameroon.”

Well, I will not say this sample is 100% representative. However, this gives an idea of what could be operational on the ground. It is more recurrent to find those who don’t plan on going back in 10 years outnumbering those who do. Of course there seems to be diverse reasons for their decisions with the most predominant being the unattractive political and socio-economic conditions back home. Call it cowardice or irresponsibility, but again, it is only an unwise builder who embarks on a building project without counting the cost. That notwithstanding, home is home. Fixing it needs combined efforts which of course can only be realized in an accommodative environment. Away from just a cliché, it is the government’s role to make home accommodative for its citizens. If we dream of an emerging Cameroon then the government should cooperate with its citizens to make this happen, without which the brain drain cry will continue day in and day out.

Crisis Communication 101: Reporting the Boko Haram Crisis in Cameroon

CamAs an SOS for communicating on the current state of events in Cameroon, DC Communications has come up with some useful guidelines for effective communication during this period. Firstly, communicators need to know at what stage of the crisis we are in at the moment. From observation, we are at the Crisis Recognition stage. This means three things should take precedence to any communicator at this time: Perceived Importance, Immediacy, and Uncertainty.

For Perceived Importance, it is very necessary to access the current crisis situation, its dimensions and likelihoods.  This entails providing information on; state of victims, what is being done to address the situation and prevent a re-occurrence, any teams available to help on the ground, and also contacts provided for information and assistance. Immediacy deals with the pace at which stake holders are taking action. What is the government doing and at what pace? What are the victims/ locals doing and with what restrains?

Lastly, Uncertainty has to do with the amount of ambiguity still surrounding the crisis. This will help propel action. Low or high ambiguity will depict the amount of pressure and commitment stake holders should apply to the crisis situation.

That said, the points below are some of the points DC Communications uses as ‘Fist Aid’ measures in a Crisis Situation. The list comprises of some key ‘Don’ts and Dos’ when gathering or disseminating information during a crisis situation like what is happening in Cameroon at the moment.

  1. Avoid serial reproduction problems. Be closest to the source as possible. Am sure you can imagine the amount of emotional damage caused by misinformation.
  2. Don’t try to sound like a Mum. This means, you do not try to withhold or modify negative information with the aim of keeping short term peace or protecting someone. The truth shall surely out one day. You definitely don’t want to be the bad guy at the end of the movie. The point of concern will now be how you release the facts. Facts released will propel action towards them.
  3. Avoid message overload. If you are Head of any team where you are privileged with so much information, systematically release information. Message overload usually results to distortion of facts.
  4. Do not use wrong crisis templates for current crisis. In essence, do not use old crisis situations to influence present crisis situation reporting. Treat the crisis as fresh. You can only use old crisis at the Post Crisis stage. At this point of the current crisis, you don’t need old crisis inspirations. It may limit your receptiveness to newness.
  5. Develop useful networks for consistent information flow from different angles.
  6. Develop a contact list for various types of information.
  7. Clarity, Timeliness and Depth are of essence.
  8. Make sure you are persuasive when you communicate. These involves elements like emotion, reason etc.
  9. Make use of experts from different fields when talking on areas you are not an expert in e.g the Military, Governance, Islam etc.
  10. Most especially, tell stake holders who to contact, when and how. Provide this information repeatedly using the most accessible medium at the moment. Note that, diverse stake holders may need different treatment . Do not neglect that.

Communicators should know that, handling and communicating about a crisis situation varies from stage to stage. By so doing, the most important question to always start with is; where are we with the Crisis? This will definitely influence what steps to take and with what gravity. With the way the system functions in Cameroon, I understand implementing all of these maybe challenging. However, if we care about our community we will strive to do what we have to do. For the recent Boko Haram attacks to be prevented from being replicated, communication channels should be clear. Flow of information from top to bottom and vice-versa is indispensable. With the help of Timothy Coombs, DC Communications could only help in making these tips available. It’s now our responsibility to act. Timothy Coombs is a veteran in the field with many publications on Managing Crisis Communication.

SOBA Foundation talked Empowerment, Migration and Unity

Soba p 1In the heart of this year’s nostalgic summer, SOBA ( Sasse Old Boys Association) Germany last weekend organized a People Empowerment Forum in Essen- Germany, to meticulously derive a road map to enhance their participation in mitigating some challenges in Africa .The forum had well defined focus areas stemming from contemporary challenges the African continent is facing. They deliberated on what could be done with respect to empowering individuals both within and without their immediate communities. They sought to identify possible causes of illegal migration as a route to handling migration challenges, and also stressed the need for unity, if any of these steps in the right direction will be transformed from abstract to tangibles.

Subsidiary discussions at the forum touched on possible options to promote the Cameroonian Culture, facilitate Developmental Cooperation between Germany and Cameroon, and support individuals/institutions actively involved in the Development of the African continent. The event’s panelists also emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation between Diaspora groups as a key antidote in handling challenges surrounding pertinent issues like Migration, Refugees Crisis and Diaspora projects.

Out in “another man’s land”, some people including members the SOBA Foundation surely still uphold a sense of loyalty to people and issues associated to their country of origin. SOBA Foundation Germany is a group of well groomed, neatly put together, charismatic men with a vision to strengthen cooperation between Diaspora Groups in their community for the benefit of their continent of origin-Africa. The association is compose of ex-students from the St. Joseph’s College Sasse, Buea – Cameroon, who are currently living in Germany. Generally, referred to as an elitist institution, the St. Joseph’s College Sasse, popularly called “Sasse” is without reservation, a renowned High School in Cameroon which raises young men with self-assertiveness and resilience as evident in the institutions products even decades after High School days.

From diverse works of life, ranging from the fields of Engineering, Communication, Health to Business and Finance, the SOBANS converged in their “uniform”(well fitted black trousers, white shirts, black coats and bow ties), all looking alike as obtained back in their High School days where they made their first steps towards becoming today’s men. Minimizing their age differences and maximizing their goals as a team, they mobilized human and financial resources to make the event top notch.

The event was of course not void of typical Cameroonian merry making reunion traits. It was punctuated with Cameroonian snacks, food and drinks, and later capped with a Gala Night which left those present with so much to reminisce about. With massive support from their countrymen and well-wishers from diverse origins, the event was definitely not just another convention but one with much substance on their list of conventions.sobba

An Open Letter to President Paul Biya

Dear President Paul Biya,

PB 1I do not write this letter from a place of malice or disrespect but as a concerned citizen of the Republic of Cameroon. I try in my own way to represent our country positively but truth be told, the situation in Cameroon is really embarrassing. Sometimes, I wish I was not a part of this country but again, that thing in me will not let me dissociate from my country despite how disgraceful it is. I guess blood is thicker than water after all.

As a father is expected to keep his house in order before embarking on a journey, I wish you do same for our nation, Cameroon. I have some issues lingering on my mind. If at all you share in the concerns of your children “Pa Paul”, you will join me, not just in thinking about the following points, but in doing something about them too. I think it’s never late to begin.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry .Whether or not you want to remain President after your current mandate is actually not my focus at the moment. That notwithstanding, I am sure we agree that you will one day leave the Unity Palace. However, whenever that will happen is not my place to determine. What I worry about is if you have taken up time to think about what will become of the nation and your children when you leave power. I worry about the state of the country at the moment and the fact that it gets bad by the day, with even stronger evidence that it will get worse when the façade of stability and peace we have now, no longer exists.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry. Cameroon’s public debt is rising. The country’s public debt rose from 3.9% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2013, not even up to a decade after our debts were cancelled. According to the World Facts book (2013), the country has a literacy rate of 71.3%, a GDP of $51.61 billion (2012 est.) on PPP, with an unemployment rate of 30% (2001 est.). The amount of people living below poverty line is at 48% (2000 est.).Youths are settling for crumbs abroad due to no jobs at home, despite their relatively good intellectual capacity. Even a necessity like potable water is scarce while MPs are rather reducing beer prices.  There is also the obvious serious division between the French and the English speaking Cameroonians. Then the power tussles between ministers to fill their “personal treasuries” rather than the national treasury doesn’t help matters. Having grown up in Cameroon, I think these figures are a little far from the reality. In my opinion, the situation on ground is worse than what is depicted in these statistics.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry. Is this the Cameroon you will leave us with? Is this the kind of legacy you will want to have attached to your name? With this state of affairs, the country may worsen due to the lack of an appropriate replacement since potential candidates are busy fighting each other for either more money or titles. Pa Paul, please put the house in order before you leave. We have suffered enough. Don’t make it worse by leaving it as it is, and leading us into a dark path. It will definitely result to chaos. Please, restructure the public sector to prioritize efficiency and equality. See into our indebtedness.  Allow potential replacements to feel free to air their aspirations so that we can know in what direction our country could be heading. As clueless as we are now, we can only say this will definitely have a direct bearing on the chaos we will find ourselves in, if that time comes when we are still not ready. The cyclical interdependent poverty we experience in Cameroon may become even severe if we continue like this. Pa Paul fix it, fix it, please fix it.

God Bless Cameroon,

Darlene Musoro.

Cameroonian Movie Industry; Brenda Shey, the “Mother Hen”

Brenda SheyCompared to the likes of the Nigerian movie industry and Ghanaian movie industry, the Cameroonian movie industry has only until recently been making impressive strides. With limited resources-both human and financial, the industry is presently maximising resources at her disposal to meet up with her competitors who have been around for decades. Thriving on the commitment and passion of individuals, with some peanut support from the Cameroonian Ministry of Arts and Culture, the Cameroonian Movie industry is no doubt representing Team #237 positively on the international scene.  At this point, the industry celebrates several great actors like; Brenda Shey, Desmond Wyte, Solange Yijika and Epule Jeffery, with several great movies like “My Gallery” and “Decoded” available on popular online platforms.

bre picDeeply engrossed mainly as a result of passion, Brenda Shey, fondly referred to as `Ma Bren`, wrestles with the internal and external challenges of the toddler industry to keep it striving. Her eloquence, charm, charisma and tenacity offer a reassuring touch to the forging industry.  She is a Producer, Actress and the Vice Chairperson of the Cameroon Film Industry. She is equally the Vice Chairperson of the prestigious Sonnah Awards (An annual Cameroonian awards ceremony honouring achievements in film, music, fashion, sport, television and digital media). Brenda Shey pushes on all fronts to make the Cameroonian movie industry vibrant and accepted .She Co produces a weekly program “Onset” on  the Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV (the Government owned radio and television broadcasting organ in Cameroon) which promotes the Cameroonian movie industry and movie stars. In this light, she facilitates a cordial relationship with actors from the Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industries by featuring `big names` from the aforementioned industries in  some Cameroonian Movies.

Cameroon has higher education programs offering theater arts, however most graduates from these programs rarely get to practice in their field of studies due to limited opportunities and poor remuneration.  Brenda is one of the numerous Cameroonians who go against all odds to make the Cameroonian movie industry conspicuous in Africa and the World at large which will hopefully create more jobs for the youths. DC Communications encourages such rare individuals who seek not only to represent their country positively on the international stage but also help others live their dreams.brenda 4

Sexism in Camfoot

Female Football teamOn June 20th 2015,while Cameroonians home and abroad were getting vocal (on and offline)  in support of their Female National Football squad, ahead of the march pitting Cameroon and China at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup, Camfoot.Com (A suppose  reference for information on Cameroonian Football) published  a ridiculous sexist  article titled “Ecclesiastes 9:9”. This article questions the participation of Women in a sport like Football.

Finding an article which questions both the participation of women in Football and the overwhelming support Cameroonians were putting up for the Lionesses on a medium that is supposed to be professional and unbiased, looks quite out of place especially at this time when the Lionesses have proven their worth. So far, they have triggered more applause and won the hearts of many than the present Male National Football squad.  According to the author of the said article, who purportedly got his inspiration from the Bible:

“Bible commands clearly, in no uncertain terms, to enjoy a woman all the days of your life of vanity. My take on this overrated adventure of Cameroon women playing the manly game of soccer in Kanuckland is far from being ambivalent. First I have my reservations about football being played by nappy-haired or blondish females with glossy lips. Second, I do not really believe that women could ever play the beautiful game with a fair measure of panache, flair and technicity. I could be wrong, granted. But I will stick to my guns. I do not believe that the Bible ever meant for us to enjoy them on a football pitch. Léon Gwod- Camfoot.

Gwod, did you say you could be wrong? In fact, you are not only wrong but your statements are quite ridiculous. Gwod quotes, “Ecclesiastes 9:9”. Which when extrapolated word verbatim from the New International Version of the Bible says, “enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-all your  meaningless days.  For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun”, as the base for his weird assertions. For possible alterations in Bible translations, the highlighted words are only changed to “Live happily with the woman you love ……”.  There are basic things every writer of any sort should know when drawing reference from another body of work. Firstly, you need to understand the context of whatever text you are citing. Secondly, you do not cite texts in isolation and thirdly but most importantly, Bible principles are NEVER based on one scriptural passage. One does not necessarily have to be a theologian to know that this reference was incorrectly used to perpetrate the opinion of an apparent gender-biased individual. This verse talks of enjoying life with the woman you love. I don’t see how playing Football makes a woman not lovable. In fact, a woman representing her country is even more honourable and loveable. Mind you, these ladies are in their line of duty, not in some romantic relationship.

Football is a game played between two teams of eleven people, where each team tries to win by kicking a ball into the other team’s goal. Nowhere is it said Football is for Men. Without sounding like a jerk, enjoying women as explained in the verse above has nothing to do with the profession an individual chooses to pursue. If this passage is actually the rationale for Gwod`s reservations towards female Football, I will suggest he re-examines his motive(s) for this write up and not misinform Camfoot`s audience with an inappropriate and misguided paraphrased verse from the Bible.

It is quite hilarious to find such an outrageous display of gender prejudice on a suppose reference  for information. It brings me to a position of questioning the values and editorial policies upheld by Camfoot .Who wakes up from his bed and publishes his sexist feelings on an official source? Who publishes a seemingly primitive opinion about a set of people who are bringing nothing but honour to their nation? During my days at the University, my News Writing lecturer, Diffang Funge always said “Let your opinion and feelings stay with you. Just give us the facts.”I will advise Camfoot takes heed to these wise words.

While I applaud my friends and colleagues who are fervent in their course of Feminism-”Feminist”, I have always tried to identify more with “Justice” than  “Equality”  when discussing gender issues. It’s true that these two terminologies are somewhat interwoven when discussing gender issues, however, advocating for justice gives more meaning to every gender than just equality. That notwithstanding, this perspective of women in Football is surely an issue to frown at, with the two sets of gender advocates since it propagates prejudice and marginalisation.

Cameroon´s Lionesses` participation in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada definitely brought a couple of pleasant surprises to the tournament and once again made Cameroon a proud Football nation.  Despite Cameroon`s elimination, the Lionesses no doubt put up a remarkable and historic performance at just their first outing to the World Cup.  In a quick summary, the Lionesses beat Ecuador in their opening game 6-0.The ladies accepted a honourable defeat of 2 goals to 1 from one of the competition`s favourites-Japan and then secured a comfortable qualification ticket to the second round of the competition by beating Switzerland 2-1. Cameroon`s experience in Canada ended on Saturday 20th 2015 following a 1- nil defeat in favour of China. They left the tournament as the best African team.

In the past, the country relentlessly supported the Men’s Football team which has brought nothing but humiliation to the nation lately while rigorously consuming taxpayer’s money. The Female squad has dared to prove its worth despite all odds. With Poor training facilities, relatively low match allowances, these ladies have brought honour to the nation. Qualifying for the second round at their first outing to the World Cup with spectacular performances  from names like Manie, Enganamouit and Onguene, what these girls deserve is gratitude and not attitude from people with unguarded male egos. I will request Camfoot to pay attention to the implications of articles published on her website. It will not be an exaggeration to say that, this article falls short of news worthiness, good journalistic writing, responsible journalism and patriotism.

Notes;

See Camfoot… http://www.camfoot.com/point-de-vue/ecclesiastes-9-9,21600.html

Credit Cards – Cash is King in Africa

Credit CardsThis is a guest post written by Godlove Ba.

Contemporarily, the lack of access to credit is an indicator of poverty. Statistics show that, there is a near linear relationship between the GDP of a country and the number of credit cards in circulation. According to 2011 reports from Euromonitor International Marketing Data and Statistics, in 2009, the USA, Japan and China, were said to have an estimate of 632.46, 351.28 and 185.27 Million credit cards respectively in circulation. On the other hand, figures taken from the April 2015 edition of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) Database revealed that, these three countries also fall in the top 3 for the 2009 GDP ranking.

Credit card usage in Africa trails other continents significantly mostly because of the extreme rural nature of most areas in the continent. According to a study done by McKinsey, (February 2014) on “Sub-Saharan Africa: A major potential revenue opportunity for digital payments”, more than 90 percent of retail transactions in parts of Kenya remain cash based, and Gallup’s survey of 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that more than 80 percent of adults there have made bill payments or remittances with cash. Given the lack of digital-payment penetration, consumers, banks, and governments in sub-Saharan Africa are still bearing the high cost of cash payments—costs associated with manual acceptance, record keeping, counting, storage, security, and transportation.

Many African countries in general do not have adequate technological resources that can enable them setup infrastructures such as swipe card systems. The absence of affordable nationwide internet network necessary to establish a credit card system also makes it difficult for credit card networks to be installed.

From a cultural perspective, this difficulty results from the reluctance of the African people to flip pages from their traditional rotary credit association, which is a financial system otherwise known as ‘njangi’ (a practice common in sub-Saharan Africa), to adopting the Western financial system called credit cards. The latter is profit oriented whereas the former is community welfare oriented.

Also, in contrast to Cameroon, other African countries show a more visible trend towards the use of credit cards. In February 2015, the Central Bank of Kenya’s website published the number of ATMs in use at 2643, which is also used as an economic indicator and the number of credit cards in circulation at 20047. Nigeria on the other hand which issued its first credit card in 2004, had 95,000 credit cards in circulation by the end of 2007 as estimated by Euromonitor International.

That notwithstanding, the apparent sluggishness of the pace at which credit cards are gaining grounds in many African countries could be justifiable since it took several decades for what was initially called charge cards, first introduced in the USA in the 1920s, to evolve into today’s credit cards. Cash is certainly still king in Africa.

How does it Work?

A Credit card is a rectangular sheet of plastic issued by lenders (banks in general) to qualified individuals so as to enable them carry out monetary transactions (such as purchase of goods and services) without using their own money. It’s make up consists of a Magnetic strip, a Signature strip and has a number embossed on it corresponding to the Card Number. They have a standard size of typically 85.60mm by 53.98mm. The two most prominent types of credit cards are MasterCards and VisaCards. All of the latter type card numbers start with 4 and consists of 16 digits (or 13 for old cards) whereas all of the former type card number start with numbers 51 through 55 and also consist of 16 digits.

The benefits of using a credit card are pretty obvious. It is highly convenient, serving as a mobile bank to which you can access while you are on the go. In fact, the world of credit cards introduces a cashless society.

The concept of credit cards involves borrowing money now and paying later without the provision of a collateral security. The amount of money lenders will be willing to make available to an individual or entity is based on the assessment of the financial position of that entity. In business, the term Solvency is used to describe the level of credit-worthiness of a potential card holder, with various levels being represented by a numerical figure called credit score. A credit score determines whether or not a credit card application can be approved. In order to come up with this score data such as employment type, employment history, minimum income (individual and/or household) is required.

Credit cards offer a lot of flexibility as purchases can be done in person, online and also over the phone. Its use may or may not be free. Some lenders charge an annual fee for using the card whereas others don’t. It is therefore very important to read the contract terms carefully before adhering to the card. Also beware of hidden fees which are not usually disclosed by the merchant.

Many credit cards will offer interest-rate-free credit during a period, known as the ‘Grace Period’, of typically 20 to 55 days depending on the type of credit card and the lending financial institution (bank). Should the card be paid off by the card holder within this period, no interest will be incurred (Zero interest).

Another important advantage of a credit card is, no collateral security is required but there is a limit however, to how much a cardholder can use on his or her credit card.

Credit cardholders also have many different services linked to the use of the card depending on the type of credit card. These include:

Balance Transfer It consist of transferring credit balance from one credit card to another (that is, paying off a credit card with another credit card) so as to take advantage of a lower interest rate on the card to which the balance is being transferred. Such transfers are usually subject to a transaction fees.

Cash Advance – It consists of transferring funds from a credit card to a bank account. Quite often, instead of using a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM (acronym for Automatic Teller Machine; a computerized telecommunication device that provides clients of a financial institution access to financial transactions in a public place) the card holder might decide to transfer the money into a bank account and then make a cash withdrawal from the account. Generally, for security reasons, some restrictions are placed on type of account into which funds can be transferred. In Canada for instance, some of the major issuers of credit cards, will only allow the primary (or secondary) card holders to transfer funds from their credit card into a checking account belonging to the primary card holder.

Rewards – Rewards are offered in the form of cash (cash back) or points which can be accumulated and later exchanged for cash (or specific goods and services). In the US some credit card holders can get as much as 400$ of cash back per year resulting from cash back cumulated from purchases made each month within that year.

Insurance – When travel tickets for example are bought with a credit card, it is possible for the cardholder to benefit from travel insurance if such an advantage comes with the card. Sometimes it might require subscription before it can apply. Generally, insurance coverage that comes with credit cards, are not easy to benefit from. Advertisement can sometimes make it sound highly attractive by offering up to a 1,000,000$ insurance coverage but the conditions to be fulfilled in order to take advantage of the service are not usually easily met. For instance the loss of an eye, either both upper limbs or lower limbs could be a few characteristics of the nature of an accident, a cardholder must be a victim of before he or she can be eligible for the claim

Hence, with GDP being considered as the broadest indicator of economic strength and growth, one can hope that the occurrence of an economic boom in Africa will incite people to make use of credit cards. In fact, the recent growth in bourses now shows Africa is at the verge of an economic boom, which should generally mean a promising future for the use of credit cards in the continent.

The `Frenchification` of Anglophone Courts in Cameroon

This is a guest post written by Amabo M.Law Court

The Republic of Cameroon is a multilingual country with two official languages (English and French). These official languages are the heritage of Franco-British rule in the country between the end of the First World War -which ended Germany`s presence in Cameroon and Independence.

However, there is an unequal distribution in the usage of English and French as official languages with a minority English speaking Population and majority French speaking Population. Hence, the policy of official language bilingualism, originally aimed at guaranteeing political integration and unity of Cameroon, now seems to constitute a source of conflict and political disintegration with conspicuous acts of marginalization of the minority by the majority population.

For decades since the independence of Cameroon, the Anglophones have constantly been in the battle of trying to negotiate their identity in the country. There has always been a call to denounce the Frenchification of Anglophone Cameroon and severe criticism of the Francophone-dominated states`s neo colonialism and repression coined the `Anglophone Problem`. The Anglophone Problem is actually not a forbidden ground when discussing Cameroonian politics. In fact, there are several expository write ups on the issue even by Francophone scholars like; `Tribalisme et Problème National en Afrique Noire` .Without exaggeration, the Anglophone marginalization problems is one of the most important problems in the country which the government has so far handled with somewhat irresponsibility. That notwithstanding, one should not overlook the fact that there are equally some Francophone intellectuals and activist who empathies with the Anglophones without necessarily approving the call for federalism.

Among several confrontations between the Francophone-dominated state and the Anglophones were major issues like, the demand for an autonomous General Certificate of Education (GCE) board-1990-1993 and the protest against the government´s announced privatization of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC)-1994, which were the remnants of the Anglophone Identify and Heritage. These were some of the occasions where the Anglophones out rightly demonstrated their solidarity to the course of fighting the Anglophone Battle. However, the victory obtained from these two battles where short-lived following a comeback by the government which took the Anglophones by surprise withdrawing their previously offered concessions. Recently, an event of this nature surfaced with an attempt to Frenchify Law courts in the North West Region- a major English speaking Region.

English language which is the modus operandi in the courts of the English speaking part of Cameroon has suffered major setbacks in North West courts over the past months. A decision by the President of the North West court of Appeal last February 2015, compelling lawyers to make their court submissions in the French language was seen by the Anglophone Lawyers as a complete violation of the Common Law system and procedure, practiced in this region. Apparently, this decision stemmed from the fact that, most of the Magistrates that were recently appointed to courts in the North West Region are Francophone who can hardly use English as a working language-an evidence of Frenchification of Anglophone Cameroon.

Instead of them trying to adapt to the Common Law system like their Anglophone colleagues appointed to courts in the French speaking part of Cameroon, who adapt to the Civil Procedure system; receive court submissions in French and render decisions in French, these Francophone Magistrates rather prefer to cause the Common Law system to ‘adapt to them’.

According to, Barrister Robert Nso Fon, the President of the North West Lawyers Association (NOWELA),“We are obliged to make our submissions in French, so why would they oblige us to make our submissions in French again in our own courts? It is clear that they simply want to completely eliminate the common law system in Cameroon. We the lawyers could understand and even speak the broken French, but what about our clients who understand no single word in French?.

Last year, there was a move by the government to post Notaries to the English speaking part of Cameroon, something which is contrary to the Common Law tradition wherein, every practicing lawyer automatically acts as a Notary Public. This faced fierce resistance from the Anglophone Lawyers.  This year there is the issue of the use of French in English courts.

In the past, it was very common to find discussions of Anglophone problems without constructive and practical recommendations on how these problems can be solved. Frustrated and disgruntled, the Anglophone lawyers (of the Common Law extraction) met in Bamenda on May 2015, to adopt resolutions to address the situation, amongst which is a resolution demanding the French dominant Biya regime to return Cameroon to Federalism. It is ambitiously reasoned out that, Federalism would go a long way to permit the peoples of the two cultures to develop themselves freely while adhering to the same constitution as a Nation. Considering that, these demands have been put forward by lawyers, it is envisaged that it will not be taken for granted.

It is the right of every group of people on planet earth to pursue their happiness and liberty with the use of all the resources at their disposal, without infringing on the rights and liberty of others. If Anglophones in Cameroon, after a `came we stay` marriage of perseverance for more than 50 years, do not see the long courting period productive, it is not over demanding of them to take an `ausfahrt` seeking alternative solutions. The Anglophone problem is definitely not just a problem to the Anglophones but to the Cameroonians because it handles issues like marginalization, exclusion and unfair distribution of wealth throughout the country. If the Anglophone problem can be discussed frankly in the spirit of patriotism without mischievous calculations resulting to seeing Federalism as a step towards secessionism, then that will definitely be a step in the right direction.

Notes: See May 9, 2015, Resolutions of Anglophone lawyers below.

PROPOSALS FOR A NEW DIRECTION IN THE JUSTICE SECTOR IN CAMEROON: 

  1. We demand an Independent Bar Association free of any Government Supervision and Control.
  2. We hereby propose a new direction for the future of the Justice Sector in Cameroon and recommend the creation of a national, Independent Law Reform/Review Commission comprising principally, Practicing Lawyers, Jurists and Judges.
  3. We therefore recommend that:
  4. The government should halt any project on the harmonization of laws until the national law commission is put into place and functional.
  5. All Judicial Processes and proceedings in the Common Law Jurisdictions should be conducted in the English language – in criminal matters; this should be from interrogations through investigations to hearing and Judgment.

iii.           The Two Divisions of Common Law and Civil Law be clearly defined and operated side by side in ENAM and the quota of intake in both divisions known in advance. Only common law trained Magistrates to be posted in the South West and North West Regions and Civil Law Trained Magistrates to the Civil Law Jurisdictions.

  1. That the Educational System in the South west and North West Regions should not be adulterated, English speaking citizens should have their studies in the English language from cradle to professional life. That all Public Examinations be organized in two Poles; English and French with none being translated from the other and the quota in both poles known in advance.
  2. We demand the establishment of TWO chambers of the Supreme Court of Cameroon that represent the Common Law and Civil Law System,with Judges appointed to the Chambers from Common Law and Civil Law backgrounds to address legal issues from both legal cultures respectively.  In this regard, we propose the appointment of Judges from the Private Bar into the Various Courts of Justice of the Common Law System.
  3. We recommend the amendment of law no. 90/059 of 19th December 1990 to organize practice at the bar and make provision for the creation of Law Schools.
  4. We propose the creation of a National Council of Legal Education to ensure the direction of legal education in the Common Law and Civil Law jurisdictions, develop curricula for academic and professional training of lawyers and to set up and supervise a system of continuing legal education for Lawyers, Prosecutors, Judges/Magistrates and other judicial actors.
  5. We also reiterate our previous resolution unanimously endorsed at the Cameroon Bar Association’s General Assembly in Buea on the 28th day of June 2014; that no Notaries be appointed in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
  6. We have observed with utter dismay that there has been and continues to be a lack of protection with regard to the rights of the minority(Anglophone Cameroonians) as provided for in the constitution of this bi-jural, bilingual and bi-cultural nation. It is obvious that the rights of the Anglophones in Cameroon in the spheres of education, socio-cultural values,administrative set ups etc, are continuously and systematically being eroded with a view of imposing the socio-cultural and administrative views of the French and or Civil heritage of the majority Francophone Cameroon.
  7. We demand that the State should exercise its Constitutional duty to protect the Anglophone minority and by so doing, protect our history, heritage, education and cultural values. Consequently for the better protection of the minority Anglophone Cameroonians and the Common Law heritage, we strongly demand a Federation.
  8.   We hereby give Government a reasonable period from the date of deposit of these resolutions through the Bar Council to react positively to our demands, failing which this conference shall take the necessary disposition within the national legal frame work and if dissatisfied, seek further redress from international dispute resolution fora as shall be deemed appropriate.

DONE AT BAMENDA THIS NINTH DAY OF MAY 2015. 
SIGNED AND ENDORSED BY ALL PARTICIPANTS PRESENT AT THE CONFERENCE. 

Paul Biya – Still seductive at 82

Paul BiyaAging and worn out, yet he has his charm, still having a strong hold on his political opponents. With 32 years of his life as the President of Cameroon, of course his compatriots yearn for a suitable replacement. This seems almost impossible with President Paul Biya, who has an outstanding record of successfully seducing his political opponents to share his bed.

Cameroon’s political sphere has a cream of political parties, which have still not been able to present the country with a suitable replacement for the aging player. Quite often, the country wakes up to the creation of a new political party which subsequently disappears into the arms of the ruling party. The sequence of events under which these parties become a shadow of themselves, seem to follow a similar tempting script written by Mr Biya. In recent years, major political parties in the nation have become gullible to the charms of the President, whose leadership has had several question marks.

The most recent display of Mr Biya’s enticing schemes was the case of Ayah Paul Abine of the Peoples Action Party (PAP). As Secretary-General of the Peoples Action Party (PAP), the system he once fought against presented a tempting offer of an Advocate General at the Supreme Court of Cameroon which he surprisingly embraced. Ayah Paul described his new found relationship as one which will help him take care of his financial concerns and equally prepare him for his retirement. In his words:

“I was raised to Index 1300, backdated to July 1, 2012.I don’t see how I opted for a career and all of a sudden I would turn away in favor of politics and lose what may help me in the end. What may help me in the end in the sense that, my pension would be calculated on my index level. So, I have to prepare my future. It is true that I received nothing from anybody except from my family relations. The situation now may change because as I said my promotion was backdated to 2012, which is to say that I should be expecting some arrears. So we are looking forward to a better tomorrow”.

The pertinent questions are; at what age is Ayah Paul trying to secure his pension? And who told politicians that money was a determinant for choices in fighting for a cause like change? Like every relationship with material benefits as the rationale for engagement, the break up will definitely be one to watch out for.

The Founder and Secretary-General of PAP, Ayah Paul Abine was appointed Advocate General by President Paul Biya, Cameroon’s Head of State and also National President of the ruling Cameroon People`s Democratic Movement (CPDM). Ayah Paul was Vice President of the Appeal Court of the South West Region prior to his election to the National Assembly.

Ayah Paul’s story is quite similar to that of Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary. As founder and President of the Front for the National Salvation of Cameroon (FSNC), Tchiroma said, FSNC “intends to contribute to the advent of a free society and promote the democratization process in Cameroon”. Tchiroma was once part of an opposition coalition and denounced President Biya, calling on the people to vote him out. Tchiroma headed a panel that was tasked with choosing a joint opposition candidate for the election, which would have improved the opposition’s chances of defeating Biya. The story took a different twist when President Biya appointed him as Minister of Communication in 2009. Since then, Tchiroma has been a town crier for the President and the ruling party. He covers Mr Biya’s slip-ups at the snap of any mishap. When President Biya took an expensive vacation to France in September 2009, which irritated his compatriots, Tchiroma argued that Biya, “like any other worker, he has a right to his vacations”. When concerns are raised about the aging President’s health and ability to perform his role in full capacity, Tchiroma promptly provides a counter response, insisting his boss is in good health. This is just another tale of Mr. Biya getting his opponents to lie in his bed at the cost of values they claimed to uphold. It is definitely fascinating to watch politicians shamelessly flip pages just at the wink of comfort.

The country’s oldest opposition party is not an exception. Many Cameroonians who had been rooting for the country’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), are beginning to seek alternatives to rest their hopes on, following the recent show of lack of commitment by the party’s Chairman and his fellows. While some militants of the SDF are signing out and into the ruling party, the co-founder and Chairman of the main opposition party, Fru Ndi has made clear his unwillingness to lead motions against the government. In his words, “those who believe I led protest because I had obtained some magical powers for protection should also go to where they think I went and get it. I have been shot and poisoned, but here I am. Let them lead and I will follow.”

Elected as the SDF’s National Chairman in 1990, Fru Ndi has led the party since then. It is believed he master minded the February 2008 anti-government protests which resulted to loss of lives and property. Fru Ndi is constantly in a position of trying to defend himself following allegations that, he is in a hide and seek relationship with the ruling party he once out rightly fought against.

Mr Biya may not have to display his charms all the time, yet he has had more prey changing beds for the comfort of his duvet. The daughter of Cameroon’s First President, late Ahmadou Ahidjo, on her own accord, joined President Paul Biya’s ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM despite stiff resistance from her mother, Germaine Ahidjo. Aminatou Ahidjo vigorously campaigns for the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) despite the fact that Ahmadou Ahidjo’s family and President Paul Biya have a far from civil relationship, due to a fallout from issues concerning the repatriation of the remains of the late president, to Cameroon from Senegal. Aminatou Ahidjo has single handedly decided to move on by joining her family’s enemy under the pretext that, Mr Biya is a warm president whom she doesn’t mind flirting with.

Ahmadou Ahidjo, was sentenced to death in absentia for his alleged role in a coup. He later died in exile in Senegal in 1989 after a political break up, with his chosen heir, Paul Biya.

Ahidjo’s widow, Germaine Ahidjo, has obliged the current regime to return the late leader’s body to Cameroon, a decision Biya thinks should be taken by the Ahidjo family.

32 years and counting as president, Paul Biya seems to be the only one who has a perfect mastery of Cameroonian Politics. Despite calls for change from his compatriots, the inability to provide a replacement leaves the Cameroonians with very few options. Hearing a Cameroonian pray for her 82 year old president not to die or leave power even after 32 years of leadership marred with corruption, mismanagement and unfulfilled promises, may be quite hilarious but the truth remains that, an old, tired, unproductive figure head like Biya, best fills the gap than unpredictable, untrustworthy opposition leaders. At this crucial time when the country’s security is threatened and opposition leaders who the people rooted for now wine, dine and cuddle with the ruling party, a well-articulated “Long Live Paul Biya, Long Live Cameroon”, is definitely not completely out of place.