By Samira Edi
The June 7, 2007 issue of the New York Times Magazine contained an eight-page advertisement supplement on Cameroon which was allegedly cost the Cameroonian taxpayer $250,000 (About 120 million FCFA).
This is another exercise in futility or are we to say Cameroon is being preened and pimped about for the Bohemian Westerner? Have we been bewitched in Cameroon? No matter how much they slice and dice it, the most virulent of all the viruses killing the country is corruption.
And corruption as endemic in the forces of law and order, financial establishments like the ports, etc could not be eradicated in the next 20 years. All these grand gestures by the Ministry of Tourism are but tokenistic and expensive adverts to glamorize and paper over the cracks of a much bigger pandemic.
Why should Cameroon be selling its image abroad, when a place like the heart of the economic Capital “city” Douala - Akwa - is the miniature nerve centre in a corner of hell? The Avenues King Akwa and Amadou Ahidjo are teeming with a ragtag of spivs, feculent heaps of living matter, microscopic and non-microscopic, all battling for space with a hodge-podge of traffic: dilapidated rattletraps, old bangers and air-polluters with the world’s most reckless drivers from hell!!
Well, it is not without reason that Douala is “fondly” called the armpit of Africa. Its bug-ridden streets, pest-infested backyards, crumpling houses, pot-hole ridden roads are not exactly the stuff that makes a fantastic selling point of any city. Step over the tarmac of the Airport and one is greeted by a whoosh of negativity right from the first encounter with those men and women in Uniform.
Go into any shop on the street and the attendants give you a once over like you’ve stepped into a protected zone.
Again, foreigners go to Cameroon Embassies abroad and immediately get a poignant whiff of what to expect in the country of their intended visit: disorderliness and dirt, a rude and sloppy staff, and maybe a taste of corruption.
That $250,000 would be better spent training our extremely debauched Police Force the fine art of Civic responsibility. Money should go to better train primary school teachers; those marauding forces of stupidity and ignorance, who are also responsible for miss-educating Cameroonian pupils at a very young and impressionable age. Most of them lack the most basic communication skills.
But more than anything else, the puss that infests the police force in Cameroon needs pressing urgently......We should out all the Brigadier Sabari as the great guru from Dimbokoro, Alpha Blondy would say of the police force: Brigadier Sabari. Néko koutoubou sakidi!!
Cameroon must clean itself amongst its own people before trying to sell its sorry image abroad. Gawd! Rescue us from these “well-intended” agents du Gouvernement!