The desperately hungry and begging gendarme officer: From Sesekou Isong’s Diary 0

One of the certainties any despot and serial embezzler always maintains is a well-paid and ably greased military. It’s well recognised by all that Biya and his criminal mob have maintained power in La Republique du Cameroun by an astonishing structure and system that has kept his military placated and hence on his side. Is that actually changing?

During my recent visit to The Federal Republic of Ambazonia, something fascinating crossed my path. I was stopped at one of those colonial police/gendarmes checkpoints in the Manyu County. It’s one of those thousands of road barriers that Biya and his co-conspirators have designed around the country for the facilitation of bribery and corruption.

These days, the occupants vary from custom officers, police officers and gendarmes to forest guards and the colonial army. They habitually have whistles and are always consuming alcohol. It’s scandalous but acceptable. Almost without exception, they approach your car with no smiles, little or no training in dealing with the general public and whiff of perspiration. These so-called officers of law and order are always discourteous. You know what I mean.

On this charming sunshiny day, I was cruising along peacefully enjoying the scenery and having grand visions of how Ambaland would look like with the application of brains and love.

I was requested to pull over which I did. A young lady walked towards my car with the intention of checking my vehicle particulars and passenger identification documents I hoped. By her physical traits, I guessed she was between 21-25 years of age. Her Kalashnikov was as long as she was tall. She asked to see my car particulars and ID documents which I complied. After quickly staring at the documents she said to me ‘uncle I am an Anglophone just like you. Please for some money to buy food! I haven’t eaten since morning. I am not happy with this government and occupation.’

I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Bribing has been a permanent fixture of checkpoints in Cameroun for as long as Biya has been around but this was something else. She was begging for money to buy food. Although I was infuriated by her uniform and presence in Ambaland, I was consumed by compassion and passed her 5,000 CFA FRS which she quickly pocketed so her colleagues didn’t see it. As I drove off, my sentiment was a combination of resentment and delight. My resentment was from her being in Ambaland illicitly. My delight came from the knowledge that there must be more disenchanted in the military, gendarmes and police. I muttered to myself that if there were disillusioned members of the military, then we will certainly have many recruits soon for our struggle.

Talking to many people about this incident, I quickly learned that there were many in the Cameroon armed forces that weren’t happy at all. I was reliably informed that their daily allowance was CFA 2,000 frs which Biya’s regime is finding challenging to bear out. The one million dollar question is what can CFA 2000 frs buy these days in Cameroon? Not a lot is the honest answer.

How high up within the ranks does this gloom go is anyone’s guess. For those in Ambazonia who still find it hard to believe that victory in this struggle is possible, let me remind you that many a despot have been ousted for their inability to keep the army comfortable. Mr. Biya is indeed taking the last kicks of a dying horse.

Sessekou Asu Isong

 Next on this series, the Sesekou will be looking at the conviction by many in the villages and towns in Ambazonia that victory in this struggle is close.