Seeing with Ears and Hearing with Eyes: Demented Political Engineering in Cameroon


By Tatah Mentan, Sept. 26, 2017

Where is an ear? Is an ear part of the inside or the outside of a body, and how can we distinguish its own inside and outside surfaces? Where is the ear of an era, the ear of the early modern? Such quibbling might seem of little consequence, serving to irritate rather than illuminate, and yet irritation is sometimes productive. It is the foreign body that puts the body to work. These questions resonate in the context of the various debates about studies on the body, on orality and aurality, on speech and writing, on the voice and the gaze. In particular, these questions have a special pertinence in the context of recent calls for an attention to sense, and to the senses in the political engineering in a torn and convulsed society like Cameroon that appears to be seeing with ears and hearing with eyes.

One example to demonstrate the wobbling and ostrich behavior of the Cameroon regime is crucial. In the glare of daylight and thundering noises from around the world, the regime in Yaounde is seeing its actions of torture with its ears. In Cameroon, all human rights investigations affirm that detainees are placed “in a common stress position described as ‘the goat’, the detainee’s arms and legs are tied together behind his back and he is left on the ground and beaten. In a common suspension technique known as ‘the swing’, the victim’s arms and legs are again tied behind his back, before he is lifted and suspended on a bar fitted between two poles or tripods, and further beaten. A

number of victims bore the visible scars of this torture, with analysis by a forensic doctor providing Amnesty International additional corroboration of their testimonies. When provided details of such practices, a representative

Prof. Tatah Mentan

of the Minister of Defense denied it was torture, insisting it was merely “enhanced interrogation” (“exploitation approffondie”).” Torture as state policy becomes a thing for celebration in Cameroon?

Deaf and insensitive as he is, Cameroon Minister of Communication, jail bird, Issa Tchiroma,  decried the reports as done in bad faith, saying “Amnesty’s methodology followed no scientific norms. He accused Amnesty International of being biased and of intervening in security issues in a sovereign state without soliciting the government’s point of view.” Hahaha! Tchiroma may not be schooled enough to understand that the extensive torture industry in Cameroon constitutes violations of international human rights law, as well as violations of international humanitarian law that amount to war crimes against humanity. This explains his genocide cry that “Francophones will spill blood till all secessionists are gone.” Who are “secessionists?” they may be the Boko Haramists he sponsors copiously.

Another interesting example is that President Paul Biya has the dubious honor of ranking nineteenth on author David Wallechinsky’s 2006 list of the world’s 20 worst living dictators. The President’s grip on his country’s presidency

has remained tight since he came to power in 1982 and there have been widespread allegations of fraud and voting consistencies in every election cycle. In fact, Mr Wallechinsky claims in the Huffington Post Biya is credited with the innovative election fraud tactic of paying for a set of international observers to certify his elections as legitimate. And, the President-for-Life calls this barefaced robbery “advanced democracy.” Since his ears see, when he changes the appellation from Province to Region, he calls it decentralization. Indeed, an unidentified dimension of dementia!

In all, there are some 150 registered political parties or in Cameroon. But they don’t have members, most don’ have head offices and seldom do they have political programs for the decaying country. The so-called leaders of political parties are in reality rogues and proud mendicants without any ounce of pity for the masses.  Hence, they constantly want to extort the masses. The danger with the proliferation of political parties in Cameroon is that the hope of political alternation in the country via orthodox or democratic norms could be quickly forgotten. But what I strongly think could happen in Cameroon because most of its politicians or leaders do so desire will be a kind of patriotic bloody revolution with its consequences, if it is not well managed. This may sound like pie in the sky by demented folks. But, time is the best judge.

Another example may not be intoxicating. Democracy depends on freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The current assault on truth and facts in Cameroon is a sign that democracy is at risk. The Cameroon regime has a penchant for attacking the media, regulating the court system and even facts themselves. It habitually churns out erratic, bullying or false messages. This creates a climate of fear. Internet penetration in the Cameroon has grown from just 5% in 2011 to over 20% in 2015, according to the World Bank. This has given many Cameroonians a space to criticize gummy-handed officials and protest pandemic government negligence, corruption, and incompetence.

But, addressing Cameroon’s parliament on November 10, 2016, the “Speaker” of the assembly, Cavaye Yegue Djibril, called social media  “a new form of terrorism,” according to a version of his speech uploaded on the parliament’s website. These platforms, according to Djibril, have created a “social pandemic,” perpetuated by “amateurs, whose ranks, unfortunately, continue to swell and who do not have a sense of etiquette and decorum.” Djibril also called on the “appropriate authorities to see the pressing need to track down and neutralize the culprits of cybercrimes.” He is a typical graduate from a French school for training renegade colonial agents of repression. His large ears cannot see that this is already the 21st century.

Finally, generally, Cameroon government debt as a percent of GDP is used by investors to measure a country’s ability to make future payments on its debt, thus affecting borrowing costs and government bond yields. This page provides

the latest reported value for – Cameroon Government Debt to GDP – plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news.

The outstanding public debt of Cameroon reached FCfa 4,502 billion during the first quarter 2016, which represents 26.8% of the GDP of the country, announced the Autonomous Amortisation Fund (CAA), the public organization in charge of managing public borrowing. Out of this global outstanding of the public Cameroonian debt, we learn, 77.3%, about FCfa 3,480 billion, represent the external debt, against 22.7% of internal debt, approximately FCfa 1,023 billion in absolute value. On this last point, CAA points out that compared to the period of reference last year, the Cameroonian State has reduced its internal debt by 5%, which thus moved from 27.9% of GDP at end March 2015 to 22.7% during the first quarter of 2016. One can readily understand why the Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde had to warn Cameroon against reckless borrowing. Five generations of unborn children already have debts on their heads. Yet, the claim is that Cameroon will emerge in 2035. An overdose of dementia!!!

In conclusion, life is made up of sharing ideas, dreams and goals. Hearing is vital to that. Seeing as well! Giving one person the gift of hearing may seem like a small act of kindness, but it has a compounding effect on the future of one’s world. Can Cameroon desist from seeing with ears and hearing with eyes? “Biya boya alors” with demented political engineering?


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