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Genesis of a Peaceful Revolution: Dialogue with the French Colonial Master

 

We, the people of sub-Saharan francophone Africa are at the cusp of engaging the French colonial power in the fight to free our country from the shackles of the French. The people of sub-Saharan Africa are beginning to realize how damaging are the injustices of colonial exploitation they have been subjected to for the last 50 years after they became independent. We have complained about the brutalities, the tortures, the intimidations and the assassinations  perpetrated on our people by the French.

 

We complain about the unfair economic agreements in place, the exploitation of our national resources such as petroleum, hydrocarbons, forestry, agriculture, utilities such as telecommunications, infrastructures such as Seaport, Airport and much more. In all these areas, the colonial master exerts some control over our country. After five decades of independence, it is unquestionable that the French sustained exploitation has strangled and stifled the development of most of Francophone Africa, leaving a bleak future for its people and their posterity.

 

It should now be abundantly clear to the African people that the freedom we seek must necessarily redefine our relationships, partnerships and agreements with France. Our freedom must necessarily include a new financial and monetary arrangement –with the CFA at the heart of the debate--, a new economic and monetary policy. Freedom must necessarily alter the current configurations and interactions with France and must guaranty full and total control of our natural resources.  Right now, the money from our natural resources and exports is paid to the French treasury in France, in the so called "Compte d'Operation", an ocean away from our country, and out of the reach of our people. And this scheme is only possible because we are using the CFA, a substandard currency designed by France to exploit and steal our resources. Every time you think of the CFA, think of the term "Compte d'Operation". Remember the term "Compte d'Operation". This is an account created by France in the french treasury. The scheme is the same as the one employed by the Nazi Germany after they invaded a country during the WWII.  There is one account for each member of the 14 banana Republics of the FrancAfrique. All the proceeds of our natural resources and exports are paid to this account. All financial transactions of our country such as loan and grants must operate through this account. France automatically owns 50% of this account. Our country owns the other 50%. It is in this bank account in France that the exploitation, the massive embezzlements and grand theft occur. It is through this bank account that France exerts a stronghold and controls its banana republics and their dictators. France can decide at its whim to devalue this currency to adjust its economy. It can decide to block disbursements to our country and halt vital projects such roads or bridge constructions, because we gave the contract to the Chinese or the Germans.The current scheme of exploitation by the French guaranties that the proceeds of our Natural resources and exports never make it home. They essentially hold and control our purse or pocket book, which is the blood line of our economic and industrial development. That is why I have called for the creation of our own currency and a Cameroon Central Bank or CCB. A financial institution where all the proceeds of our exports, including Agriculture, Petroleum and other Hydrocarbon will be disbursed to. We don't need the --untrustworthy-- French as middle man for all of our financial transactions. The money from our exports must come home to our country and our people. And this is only possible if we dump the CFA, create a currency of our own and a Cameroon Central Bank. A sovereign currency leaves in a Central bank. Freedom means, we must begin a dialogue with the French colonial master. Dialogue in which we let the world know about the unfairness, the injustices, inherent in the current arrangements and the remedies that we seek. Our goals must be clearly stated and understood by our people and the French. "We want the CFA out of our country."

While peaceful protests is a way to make our voices heard, as we put pressure on the master to understand and acknowledge our cause, the path to freedom must necessarily include a political dialogue with the French. Dialogue in which we hope to achieve the changes we are asking for. Our complaints have to be clear and well understood. We must clearly define what we are asking for in each area. –Economic, Trade, Monetary, Financial etc…--

So how do we go about getting France’s attention to our cause ? How do we stand up, united as one people, and make our complaints known in a peaceful but yet very determined way ? What is the language, the verbiage, the formulations, the syntax to be used to establish our complaints ? How do we earn the respect and the attention of the French people to our cause ?

The Cameroonian opposition has not been very successful in establishing strategies and tactics that can deliver the outcome we seek. They have not been able to articulate exactly what is it that they intend to achieve with change. They have not been able to demonstrate the contrast between the current system --which they oppose-- and the alternative that they propose. They have not been able to teach and mobilize the people around a clearly defined common cause with a feasible, sustainable and effective strategy and tactic.

“Operation Villes Mortes”, while sensational may not end up with any constructive measurable result. Peaceful marches and strikes, can be very effective, but may not achieve any significant change if they only end in the streets. Asking for free and fair elections is certainly a good start. Screaming for Anglophone secession, while spectacular and sensational has very little prospects to succeed especially when there is no clear workable and feasible plan. Furthermore, secession is necessarily a divisive approach which only diminishes and weakens us as a people. It amounts to an interesting intellectual distraction that we don’t need right now.

Our people have sacrificed so much and they deserve leaders who can devise a feasible, an effective and a clear plan moving forward.

While we keep the pressure on the streets with the sporadic peaceful marches and the strikes, we must also open a diplomatic channel, or a mechanism by which we can dialogue with the Government in order to get the attention of France and the French people. For this to occur, we must have respectful and respectable leaders. Leaders known for their integrity, their grit and determination, their resilience to the cause of change. We must seek opposition leaders who are eloquent, knowledgeable, articulate in style, in content and in presentation. Your leaders must be able to inspire respect and seriousness to get the attention of the French people and Government. Your leaders have to be articulate and measured in their criticism, moderate in their expressions and constructive in the formulation of our requests.

Two examples are the Civil rights movement in the USA –1964-- which ended up with the signature of “Civil Rights Act” at the white house by President Lyndon Johnson in the presence of Martin Luther King. The fight to end the inhumane apartheid system in South Africa with a historical and irreversible agreement between Mandela and Frederick  De Klerk. In these examples, the oppressor agreed to a settlement with the leaders of the movement because of the following reasons:

1- The oppressor held the opposition leader to a high esteem and clearly understood their  requests.

2- The oppressor respected the opposition leader. He may not like him, but he respects him.

3- The oppressor understood that the leader has the grit and the determination to achieve justice and was ready to pay the price –if necessary--. The oppressor understood that the cause would not relent or go away, could not be wished away, and that the current path was not sustainable.

4- The oppressor came to understand that the cause of the people is just and fair and the message of the revolution spoke to his values, his ethos and his consciousness.

For the most part, the opposition leaders in Cameroon today are not held to high esteem, they are not respected, their objectives are not clearly defined and understood, even though the cause is just and right. They may be asking for free and fair elections, but they are incapable of articulating to the Cameroonian people, what they would do differently from the current system. They are still to articulate to the people the fundamental differences between the corrupt system in place and the alternative they propose.

In this article, I try to share some ideas with the Cameroonian people and the opposition leaders in the fight to free our country.

The central premise for any substantial and significant change to our Country must fundamentally alter our relationship and partnership with France. We must craft a technic to get France’s attention. Language and culture can be used very effectively to trick and charm your oppressor to agreement and surrender. But to get there you must study the French history and speak the French language. –Note: I am not asking that you adopt the French culture, I am asking that you study it.This is so that you know the strengths and weaknesses of your adversary, while you pay attention to his soft spots. If an Ewondo man goes to Ntarikon or Nkambe and speak to you in your native dialect, praise your culture and history, you will certainly want to listen more to what he may be asking of you.

The more eloquent and articulate you are in French, the more your message is likely to get France’s attention and make the French people sympathetic to your cause. Why learn France’s history and culture ? For two reasons.

1- People are more likely to be receptive and sympathetic to your message when you speak to their values, their ethos and their culture. They may still not like you, but they may respect you and give you the benefit of the doubt.  Talking to the French people, remind them about the great things about their culture and their own history. This is called the reverse phycology tactic. In this technic, you are getting your audience –in this case the French-- to look inward and do a self-examination. You don’t want to condemn them, but instead you want to appeal to their good spirit in order to achieve the desired outcome. This is what Barack Obama did so smartly in the all white states of Iowa and New Hampshire during his primaries with Hillary Clinton in 2008. He reminded the people of these 98% white states how generous and welcoming they are as a people. How rich they were with their culture and their history. How hardworking they were as a people. He reminded them how great is America with Liberty and Freedom for all, and that only in this country the story of a guy with a funny name –like his-- was even possible. This tactic is also referred to as the “Charm offensive”, in the sense that you are appealing to the god angels in these people, and in so doing you are getting their attention and sympathy to your cause even as you seek change from them. Mandela studied the history and culture of the Boers in South Africa. He spoke their language very fluently. And in so doing he caught their attention and sympathy to his righteous cause. And that is why even the cruel supporters of the apartheid system could not kill him even as they hated him for speaking truth to their conscience.

2- Once you have captured the attention of your audience –in this case France--, you are given full access to explain to them and make the case why the current –economic, political and financial-- arrangements and configuration are unjust, unfair and unsustainable, and why they needed to change. The French National motto is “Liberte Egalite Fraternite”.

Great. Let us take them at their own words, their own history, their own culture and their own principles. Speaking to the French, remind them how aspirational their National motto was.

Liberte –Liberty-- is what all people aspire to, and we the African people can certainly appreciate the greatness of that value. And that is precisely why we ask that you free our economy, our finances and our monetary policies. Because without this, we are not free and there is no “Liberte”. The very same Liberte that your ancestors cherished and bled for.

Egalite –Equality—is a universal value. And the fact that you have this aspirational word in your national motto informs the world how much your culture cherishes this value. And we the African cherish the value of Equality as well as you do. Therefore, we ask that you treat us equally and fairly, just as you would with your own people.

Fraternite –Brotherhood—is a timeless creed that informs us of our common humanity, our common bonds as human being, and we, the people of Africa share the value of  fraternity and brotherhood. We like to see the French people as our brothers and not our oppressors. And Brothers have responsibilities to each other. Brothers protect each other, look after each other, do not take advantage of each other, respect each other and love each other. We the people of Africa want to be respected and loved as brothers of yours. Remind the French about the “Marche sur la Bastille” and “La Declaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen” all of which symbolize the profound desire --of the people of France-- for freedom and Liberty. Tell them that the idea of Freedom is God’s gift to mankind and the people of France validated that in the unrelenting quest for their Freedom in the 17thcentury. The people of Cameroon are your brothers and today, they are fighting for the same cause you once stood for, fought for, bled for and died for. To the people of France, we ask that you to tell your Government to free the people of Africa. Free their resources, free them from the dictators you keep in power for 3 decades, free them from the shackles of post-colonial exploitation. For these are the same values that your ancestors bled and died for.

This type of words have the capacity to speak to the French man’s history, to his culture, to his values. It speaks to his heart in a way that he can relate to our cause. It reminds him of the values that his ancestors once stood up for, and it reminds him of his responsibility to stand in support of all people who aspire to these same values that the people before him fought for.

The message of a peaceful revolution must appeal to the good angels of human beings. However, the verbiage and the formulations must also clearly express our stuuborn grit and determination to achieve victory. Our message must carry the audacity to challenge the oppressor to examine his own conscience and reconcile himself to the fundamental truth and value that all men are created equal as in “Liberte Egalite Fraternite”. Truth and values that he once stood for, fought and bled for.

Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign was able to capitalize on this by reminding the white people on the true meaning behind the powerful words of the declaration of independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…”, and that the black and white people of America constituted one people and one country, indivisible and free. He reminded them that these are the values that the founding fathers fought and bled for at the alter of freedom. He summoned them to aspire to look after one another and try to create a country as perfect as the words of its constitution. He used the expression“I am my brother’s keeper”.

Mandela was able to convince the white people of South Africa that they had to create a fair society with equal opportunity for blacks and whites. And that the white and black people of South Africa must learn to leave together in peace and respect each other. He made the statement:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.  But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”  --Mandela, 1994--

And this simple but powerful statement resonated and appealed to both the white and black people of South Africa. These aspirational words of wisdom of this this brave Leader –Mandela-- is what ultimately led to Freedom in South Africa. --for both blacks and whites. Remember that the oppressor is also not free.--

The Cameroonian opposition leaders must learn from past peaceful revolutions. They must be inspired from the history of peaceful revolution and translate the lessons learned to our cause of today. Read about the inner workings and the principles of peaceful revolutions. Study the strategies, the tactics, the art of persuasion, the technics of the oral arguments --the charm offensive and humor-- learn the art of debating an idea, and talk and charm your way to freedom. Our people and opposition leaders must equip themselves with the right set of tools, the knowledge and the understanding to lead our country to a peaceful revolution and freedom. The journalists, the writers, the lawyers, the intellectuals must learn from past revolution and make the connection to our current situation. They must learn to use a language and verbiage that appeal to the good angels of man and even to the oppressors’.

Don’t spend all of your time shouting –violently-- on the street, not articulating what you really want, and not getting the attention of your oppressor. Don’t spend all of your time writing about Secession unless you have a feasible and viable plan that can achieve that outcome. Don’t spend all your time cursing the white man without seeking or leaving a small open door for dialogue and diplomacy. Don’t spend all of your time drinking beer and entertaining the pleasure of the physical senses, while your representatives are sleeping and snoring at the National Assembly. Don’t be destructive in your arguments, arrogant in your expressions for this will only inflame the dark passions and evil side of man. Don’t be too radical and disrespectful to the extent that a settlement can’t be reached because your requests and conditions are too unreasonable. Don’t be mouthy and careless with words, for you will be disrespected and not taken seriously.

Thomas Sankara, Idi Amin had the right cause, but were very radical, sometimes ignorant and disrespectful in their approaches. And that only flamed the passions and hatred of their enemies. Mandela and Martin Luther King were audacious in their approach, determined to the core, but were able to masterfully craft a language that inspired and appealed to all, even those who did not like them. This approach earned them the respect and high esteem, which compelled the oppressor to examine his own conscience and relate to the cause of the oppressed. In that lies the foundation and the fundamentals of a successful peaceful revolution.

Study your oppressor’s history and culture, study his values and ideals --not because you like it-- but because you want to use it against him and compel him to self-examine and acknowledge the truthfulness and fairness of your argument. Our people must master the art of persuasion, the science to inspire, and the technics to appeal and convince human beings. Learn to be eloquent, be precised on message, and make a great on presentation of your points. This is how you get the respect, the attention, and perhaps the admiration of those who you are asking to change. Knowledge is power. But knowledge has to be applied in the correct manner, in the correct circumstances, with the correct strategy and the correct tactics to yield the outcome we yearn for. Use your knowledge to conquer the human mind, to appeal to the human heart and bring out the angels of love in them. Abstain from using your knowledge to inflame the passions of hatred and stir the demons in man.

That is in part what Jesus meant in the following statement:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you..” –Matthew 5:44.

You see, Jesus is not speaking literally here. Please never love your enemy ! This is not what the Lord meant. It is not natural --nor advisable-- to love someone who hates you. You must understand the metaphor behind these powerful words of wisdom. In this verse, the Lord is asking us to learn the art of persuasion, the science to seek what appeals to the good side of man and brings out the angles of love within them, even if they are your enemies. And in so doing, you are compelling them to examine their conscience, to change, and to overcome their own shortcomings. But if we respond to hatred with even more hatred, we inflame the passions of the devil and the demon in us, and in so doing we attract even more evil onto men.

To free our country, we can’t use the same technics that the oppressor used to enslave us. Martin Luther King, Mandela and Barack Obama understood the wisdom behind these principles of a peaceful revolution. Idi Amin, Thomas Sankara –whom I loved dearly-- did not.

 

“The central premise for any substantial and significant change to our Country must fundamentally alter our relationship and partnership with France.” –ANST--

 

“Study your oppressor’s history and culture, study his values and ideals --not because you like it-- but because you want to use it against him and compel him to self-examine and acknowledge the truthfulness and fairness of your argument.” –ANST--

"Every time you think of the CFA, think of the term "Compte d'Operation". An account in the French treasury, created by France to steal the proceeds of our natural resources. Remember the term "Compte d'Operation"." –ANST—

 

"We must dump the CFA,  create a currency of our own and a Central bank of our own. Without it, economic and industrial development is simply impossible in our country." –ANST--

 

“Use your knowledge to conquer the human mind, to appeal to the human heart and bring out the angels of love in them. Abstain from using your knowledge to inflame the passions of hatred and stir the demons in man.” –ANST--

 

“To free our country, we can’t use the same technics that the oppressor used to enslave us” –ANST--

 

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