And beginning with Yaounde people in the capital city. Yes, there is "a method to our madness!" We will spread our ideas through every village and town in this nation before we're finished!
As we walk and talk with people during our sojourns, we are meeting people from Yaounde, as well as all other regions of Cameroun. I am amazed that as we walk and simply stop to talk to people, they are generally receptive to stand and listen and in most cases ask questions. By the time Antoine is finished answering their questions, and sharing with them his message of hope, they are nodding in agreement. We have seen time and time again, even the most disgruntled people, those who are disappointed that the promises of "a better life" made to them year after year by the same government, have not seemed to manifest in THEIR lives. They cry, not for themselves, but for their progeny, their children, and their future.
The message that we are sharing starts with sound policy as reflected in the political platform that Antoine wrote more than ten years ago and continues to refine. The discussions that we have in the streets usually continues for us during the course of the following days as we digest what our follow Camerounians are really saying, what they really want to change and how that will affect them. For the most part, they want to have a life which is richly fulfilling and attainable. Don't we all?
If you ask any Camerounian, they will all tell you they are poor. Why is this so endemic in this society? First of all this is what they were all taught; colonization really did a number on the psyche of an entire nation or should we say more accurately the psyche of practically an entire continent. The educational system that they inherited taught them to be subservient, second, less than their 'masters'. You have to remember, this nation has only been independent, sovereign since 1960 and the notion of people asserting their individual rights and freedoms is still a foreign concept. The educational system has not yet been adapted or changed to teach 'civism' the definition of which is good citizenship. How can citizens understand or take personal responsibility for exercising their voice, when their educational system has taught them otherwise, when they do not even feel as equals or proud to be Camerounian?
As a parallel issue, these same 'masters' have used another instrument to keep the population in such a subservient position. I dare say it was done quite intentionally. Alcohol - Cameroun has more than five brasseries whose production and sales are between 4 - 13 billion Fcfa each and every month. Can you just imagine a population of 18 million people who on a daily basis are anesthetized with a drug called alcohol. How could anyone become "all that they can be" with such a debilitating legacy? No wonder their 'get up and go, got up and left'.
Second of all, the value of each hour of work that they do is not commensurate with an open market trade policy. The parity of the currency is set - and has been continually devalued since 1994. This has not been to the advantage of Cameroun nor to her economy or citizens. It has been to the advantage of those who still have a stranglehold on this country through the control of the money supply.
A more eloquent statement was never made, more than two hundred years ago, which today accurately describes what we find rampant in West and Central Africa: Mayer Amschel Rothschild said "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws." That about sums it up! This country may have won its independence from France in 1960 but still controls each and every citizen because it controls the value of the currency, the money used in every Camerounian's life on a daily basis. Are we getting the point?
It would be easy to simply point fingers at the current government and the Administration and say it is all their fault. But if that is all we did, it would not be honest, accurate nor true. Yes, there are many problems within the current governmental structures but the problems that every Camerounian faces each day they work for "their daily bread" is rooted in the economics, the stranglehold France still has on having set the parity of the now Euro to the Fcfa, and thus the value of money in this country. Today, this is not a discussion about corruption as we are aware that Cameroun shares the position of being the number one corrupt country in the world. But I'll save that for another day.
What would happen if Cameroun and other African nations started trading more aggressively with partners not bound by such conventions which dictate the valuation or should I say devaluation of their currency, selling their valuable natural resources in an open market system based on supply and demand and payment of such? France would no longer have such a stranglehold on this country, nor could they hold them hostage for goods and services imported into Cameroun which are not currently produced here. There are other more viable options.
These are some of the underlying issues we are talking with Camerounians about in our campaigning - our goal is not to just understand the problems and simply talk about them ad nasium, but offer solutions coupled with sound policy. Yes, the leaders of this nation have failed in their duties to protect and defend the 'public trust' as public servants since independence. But in the same breath, we have to say they inherited an impossible economic situation.
Antoine and I are cognizant of the fact that only in the position of Head of State, can we begin to address these problems at their root cause and direct these very necessary policy changes which will benefit every citizen of this nation working along side a governing body which makes the laws and carries them out. And that is what this journey is all about; telling the world in my own words my personal statement and sharing openly what I am learning along the way.
I encourage all of you reading this to make comment, and share this journey with me. Isn't that what makes blogging, interactive storytelling?
And so the story goes...and so the story continues...stay tuned.
Anita Lynne NDEMMANU