A gripping new book titled Bamenda: Source of Inspiration for Modern Cameroon has just seen the light of day. The book which captures both in time and in space the role the Bamenda man has been playing in the edification of Cameroon from pre-independence through independence till now seeks to dispel unfounded myths about Bamenda as well as uninformed opinion which holds that Bamenda people in their majority are secessionists and non-conformists.
Colbert Gwain who is seasoned journalist, blogger and author of the book details through historical, political and socioeconomic analyses that contrary to what authorities in Yaoundé want the world to understand, the Bamenda man is a patriot of the highest order.
According to the author the book, it is rather patriotism that makes Bamenda people to behave the way they behave. He holds that unlike those who sit in Yaoundé, loot the public treasury and enlist accounts in Europe, Bamenda people would want to see a country where everyone is the neighbour’s keeper. With hindsight from his role model, Chinua Achebe, the reputed Nigerian writer, Colbert Gwain holds that “a patriot is one who loves his country. He is not one who says he loves his country. He is not even a person who shouts or swears or recites or sings his love for his country. Rather, he is one who cares deeply about the happenings and wellbeing of his country and its entire people”. By the same token, he sees in the striking lawyers and teachers as well as ordinary Cameroonians on the streets, real patriots because they care about the poor quality of education and the poor justice system that is being practised in Anglophone Cameroon.
Source of Inspiration for Modern Cameroon sees in a true patriot someone who demands the highest standards for his country and accepts nothing but the best for and from his people. Since one of the characteristics of patriots is that they are outspoken when things go wrong, Colbert Gwain’s book sees in the outspokenness of Bamenda people real patriotism. He holds the view that it is not because Bamenda people are outspoken to a fault that they should be treated with scorn by Yaoundé authorities and their hired bootlickers.
“Bamenda people are outspoken and I dare say, to a fault, in condemnation of the shortcomings of government without giving way to superiority, despair or cynicism. They demand the highest standards for their country and accepts nothing but the best for and from their leadership”.
According to Colbert Gwain, national pledges and pious admonitions administered by the ruling class or their paid agents I’m Yaoundé are entirely useless in the fostering of patriotism. The book is emphatic that Bamenda has nothing to admire from the patriotism churned out from Yaoundé because such patriotism does not advance the Cameroon agenda.
The coincidental launching of the CPDM in Bamenda in 1985 and Cameroon’s first and leading opposition party five years after, attest to the fact that Bamenda remains a source of inspiration for Cameroon. The fact that John Ngu Foncha was the architect of reunification and that other Bamenda sons and daughters like Augustine Ngum Jua, S.T Muna, Fonka Shang Lawrence, Professor Bernard Fonlon, Professor Victor Anoma Ngu and other living and influential figures like Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, Cardinal Christian Tumi, Rev. Bame Bame, Ni John Fru Ndi, to name a few, continue to forge a directional approach to Cameroon attest to the fact.
The book Bamenda: Source of Inspiration for Modern Cameroon also draws inspiration from the fact that CPDM’s failure to implement the reforms announced in 1985 pushed the Bamenda man to launch an opposition party, the Social Democratic Front. The author argues that the SDF was launched to fulfil the unfulfilled promises of the CPDM as enunciated in 1985.
Over and above, the book argues that the constant conflict between the Yaoundé regime and Bamenda stems from the fact that while Yaoundé seeks to Cameroonize democracy, Bamenda seeks to democratize Cameroon. Because the Bamenda man would not rest or sleep until Cameroon enjoys the full length of democracy, they have simply become veterans of creative suffering.
According to the author, the Bamenda man voluntarily accepts such creative suffering because it is part of the course of action to make Cameroon better. Given that such creative and redemptive suffering is dimply a response to the cruel and unusual suffering imposed by the establishment on them, Bamenda people have simply become a mission statement. This mission statement makes them think their mission in life is to help Cameroon live the full length of democracy, freedom, liberties and human rights. According to the book, Bamenda people are often surprise that people in other parts of Cameroon do not attach the same importance to these principles and are often sorry that others live in heathen ignorance of their land of milk and honey. They then use an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to get others to see the light. He sees in the Bamenda man someone who has an extraordinary sense of duty to the Cameroon nation. According to the book, the Bamenda man’s dogged determination to see things change and fast in Cameroon comes after recognizing like the first Ghanian President, Nkwame Nkrumah that “seek ye first the political kingdom and all others would be added unto it” and also after realizing that politics determines who gets what, where, when and how.
In all, Colbert reveals in his book that if there is any strong message sent out by the on-going Anglophone crisis, it is that contrary to what some elites and regime zealots make the world to understand, what unites the South West and the North West far outweighs what divides them.
thevoice newspaper sees in this book the manifestation of Colbert Gwain’s encyclopaedic intelligence on Bamenda as a phenomenon but also the revelation of his mastery of the literary genre employed in realizing this work. The book, according to Peterkins Manyong, emblematic social critic and Publisher of The Independent Observer, will forever change everyone’s mind who reads it about Bamenda. In his literary review, Manyong holds that Bamenda: Source of Inspiration for Modern Cameroon is largely critical, analytical and didactic in nature. While the Yaoundé regime overtly tries to subjugate the Bamenda man, it secretly draws inspiration from him for its own very existence. He argues that the frequency with which Yaoundé invades the ideological warehouse of the SDF attest to this. According to the reviewer, the All Anglophone Teachers and Lawyers strike action as well as Mancho Bibixy’s Coffin Revolution proves just how creative and independent of mind the Bamenda man is. “Les gens de Bamenda ne peuvent pas accepter ca,” is the instinctive reaction of the Francophone to an unpopular government decision. The book, according to Manyong, is a sense and meaning packed that it becomes a challenge to summarize. To him, representing the book in select quotations is to act like the man in the proverb who when he offered his house for sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen. So central is Bamenda to the thinking of the average Northwesterner it can be said that any person who is tired of Bamenda must be tired of life. Peterkins Manyong in the review quotes former Mezam SDO, now South Governor, Felix Nguele Nguele as having observed before leaving that his civil service career would have been incomplete if he did not work in Bamenda. That is why the book seems to stress that to know Bamenda and not to love it is to hate everything creative, original, sincere and splendid.
To say the least, thevoice newspaper can independently confirm that the book is not just an unputdownable but also unforgettable like Bamenda itself.
After all, was it not Kotto Bass, famous Cameroonian musician in his hit song ‘Yes Bamenda’ who sang “Bamenda, I no fit forget you”. As ever, Colbert’s writing is fluid, the dynamic taut, and the progress from one idea to one sentence to one paragraph to one whole book, compulsive. Serious writers and literary critiques might do well to examine his technique. Peterkins concludes by quoting the famous writer, Francis Bacon who in his essay “Of Studies”, wrote that “Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed and some to be chewed and digested”. The book: Bamenda: Source of Inspiration for Modern Cameroon is to be chewed and digested. It is obviously for that reason that the author, Colbert Gwain has placed a money back guarantee on the book. He says if for any reason a reader does not find satisfaction in the 100 page book that cost FCFA 5000 ONLY, he/she should simply return the book and request for a refund, less handling charges and no questions asked.