19, July 2016
The Social Democratic Front (SDF) and the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) are both major political parties in the Republic of Cameroon. The similarities end there! The SDF as Cameroon’s main opposition party is in a state of brooding, and its diaspora outlets in Europe and the United States of America are facing an energy-draining soul-searching brooding.Yet, every SDF militant you meet in the streets of London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin and Oslo is not even worried.Is their silence deliberate or accidental? What is really the matter? Is it that the SDF revolution is actually over? Or is it in the words of Dr.Boniface Forbin “going, going, gone”.
The SDF tormented by fear graciously accepted the 43 seats awarded the party by a CPDM government-rigged parliamentary election in 1997. The understanding then from every SDF militant particularly those in the diaspora was that: well, we know the party will do nothing in parliament, but what will it achieve by staying out? It would have continued as a front as some Semi Bantus and Sawas recommended. But the Bafourchu mafia that hijacked the SDF were tired of staying on the sidelines of power and those luxurious hotels in Yaounde, the nation’s capital. From 43 seats gotten through a counterfeit parliamentary elections in 1997, the SDF has slowly but surely been reduced to a North West Region political party in 2014.
Correspondingly, it is evidently clear that the silence maintain by SDF militants in the diaspora is deliberate and betrays frustration arising from the fear that the SDF as a political entity in Cameroon has outlived its usefulness and the revolution that came along with it is over. When this reporter speaking to SDF militants in Paderborn,Germany in 2000 did observe that the SDF going to parliament in 1997 under those CPDM conditions was in effect surrendering and beginning a new form of cooperation with the President Biya regime, he was given matching orders to leave the venue. The 1997 SDF decision demonstrated a frightful and unloving attitude by the party towards the Cameroonian people. It was indeed a decision that was contrary to the SDF’s fundamental objective which was to overthrow the crime syndicate headed by President Paul Biya and bring about democracy, economic prosperity, law and order and above all good governance in the Republic of Cameroon.
As a big political party with a very small brain, the SDF did not know that its Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi’s greatest distinction and strength laid in his consistency and unswerving faithfulness to the party’s objective over the years. A pro-National Assembly policy destroyed this overnight. To be sure, the 1997 pro-Assembly decision weakened the SDF and its leadership forever!! The SDF diaspora in Europe and the USA cannot wash their hands off this failure like the biblical Pontus Pilate! The argument that came from New York, Berlin and London that there is no future prospect for free and fair election under President Biya greatly contributed to ending the SDF revolution. What the SDF diaspora was actually saying to their leadership back home was that “if you can beat them, join them”.Which they did!!
The SDF it can now be said was never ready for a long term campaign. What we know as Africans is that similar liberation struggles have lasted for decades and even more. The revolution that finally brought Meles Zenawi to power in Ethiopia in 1991 lasted 17 years. Though a very bad example in modern day Africa, but it is on record that Yoweri Kaguta Museveni challenged the electoral fraud of Milton Obote and that led to a long campaign based on a 10-point programme. He finally beat Obote and all the others in 1986, after 16 difficult years. In Namibia, Sam Nujoma and Toivoja Toivo founded SWAPO in 1959 to fight abusive colonialism. Nujoma went on exile in 1966 but kept up his fight for liberation. He won and became President of Namibia in April 1990-after 31 years. In South Africa the ANC campaign began in 1910. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. That did not daunt the spirit of the struggle. The campaign for African majority rule in Northern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe lasted for more than 20 years. So where does our Cameroon SDF stand in history? Maybe the SDF diaspora needs to come up with a new idea!!!!
Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai (Cameroon Concord News Group)
NB: This article was first published in 2014