Cameroun: Autopsie d’une Pseudo-Independance

Pour continuer sur la même lancée, je voudrais vous faire part de cette vidéo: “Cameroun: Autopsie d’une pseudo-indépendence” par Gaëlle Le Roy et Valérie Osouf.  Cette vidéo porte sur les années noires du Cameroun, les années de repression, les années du maquis, les années du génocide en pays Bamiléké, et les techniques utilisées par Roland Pré, alors Haut-commissaire muté au Cameroun en 1954.  Pour en savoir un peu plus, visiter le site: Kamerun-leSite qui fait état de cette guerre cachée qui sévira au Cameroun pendant plus de 20 ans et qui fera plus de 300,000 morts.

The Principal Reasons why Osende Afana was defeated

Castor Osende Afana
Castor Osende Afana

Castor Osendé Afana‘s maquis suffered a major defeat, and a final blow with the murder and decapitation of its leader on 15 March 1966.  Here are some of the principal reasons of the defeat of the Boumba-Ngoko maquis in the south east corner of Cameroon.  These reasons had been identified by Osendé Afana himself before his death, and by his some of his followers later on.

1 – The Boumba-Ngoko region (or Moloundou region) had not been exposed to any revolutionary movement, or any influx of political ideas about the liberation of Cameroon since the end of the second world war, like the populations of the West, Littoral, Center or Southern provinces.  The populations there being mostly Bakas pygmies and poor Bantous peasants and illiterate had almost never led major economic or political struggles against the exploitation and domination of the colonial and neocolonial forces.  Their political awareness was quite low, and they had very little experience fighting.

2 – The region was sparsely populated, which forced the guerilleros, who were supposed to move around the people as fish in the sea, to fight practically in the open against a very powerful enemy.

Map of Cameroon from 1919 to 1960, including both Cameroons (French in Blue, and British in red)
Map of Cameroon from 1919 to 1960, including both Cameroons (French in Blue, and British in red)

3 – The low number in Afana’s group which kept decreasing due to several desertions.  It was also very difficult to recruit among the local people.

4 – No members of the initial group were originally from that region, and thus had little knowledge of the field, the language, and customs of the local populations.

5 – The maquis’ entrance from Congo-Brazzaville had happened without much discretion, and all their subsequent movements in the region did not go unnoticed.  This made it easy for the colonial forces to trace them.

6 – No prior ground study had been done.

7 – The government of Congo, while giving their support to Afana, were opposed to any military action on their borders.

8 – Several tactical differences persisted within the group, with Osendé Afana, being more political and anxious of respecting the Congolese wishes, and with Fosso Francois, who was more military-centered.

9 – No prior contact/communication had been established with the Western maquis led by Ernest Ouandié.  This could have ensure some help.

10 – An incorrect assessment of the colonial forces, their tactics, their capacity of enrolment, and the political activity of the masses on the national scale.

11 – Lastly, too big a reliance on external help.

For more information, visit to learn more about these critical events in the history of Cameroon.

Castor Osendé Afana: A Cameroonian National Hero

Castor Osende Afana
Castor Osende Afana

Brilliant economist, Castor Osendé Afana is considered a national hero in Cameroon, however he is not as well-known as Ruben Um Nyobé, or Felix-Roland Moumié, or even his alter ego on the western front of Cameroon, Ernest Ouandié.  Like those three, he was also assassinated, and paid with his life for his passion for the freedom of Cameroon, and Africa from colonialism.  So who was Castor Osendé Afana?

Well, Castor Osendé Afana was born in 1930 in Ngoksa near Sa’a, in the Centre Region of Cameroon.  In 1948 he was admitted to the seminary at Mvolyé, in Yaoundé, where he became a strong friend of Albert Ndongmo, the future Bishop of Nkongsamba.  He was excluded from the seminary in 1950 because of his critical and rebellious character.  It is as a ‘candidat libre’ that he successfully passed the first part of the Baccalauréat.  He then started in philosophy at the Lycée Leclerc where he headed student manifestations demonstrating against the poor food service there.  He nonetheless went on to successfully pass the 2nd part of the baccalauréat in 1952.

Later, Osendé Afana obtained a full scholarship to study Economics in Toulouse, France.  By 1956, he was a vice-president of the Black African Students Federation in France (Fédération des étudiants d’Afrique noire en France – FEANF), and was managing director of the FEANF organ L’Etudiant d’Afrique noire.   As a UPC militant he ensured that the issues of Cameroon were well-covered in the magazine.  In 1958, Osendé Afana was named General Treasurer of FEANF, as well as being responsible for the UPC in France.

UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié
UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié

After the French government dissolved the UPC by decree on 13 July 1955,  most of the UPC leaders moved to Kumba in the British-administered Southern Cameroons to avoid being jailed by the colonial power.  In July 1957, under pressure from the French, the British authorities in western Cameroon deported the leaders of the UPC to Khartoum, Sudan.  They moved in turn to Cairo, Egypt, to Conakry, Guinea and finally to Accra, Ghana, where they were hosted by President Nkrumah.  In 1958, after Ruben Um Nyobé’s death, Osendé Afana decided to abandon his thesis and rejoin the leadership of the UPC, proposing himself as a candidate for the new Secretary General.  Nyobé’s successor, Félix-Roland Moumié, told him “There is no longer a Secretary General.  There was one, he is dead, that is it.”  However, Osendé Afana was designated UPC representative at the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Conference in Cairo in December 1957 – January 1958.  After Cameroon’s independence in 1960, the UPC continued to fight the government of President Ahmadou Ahidjo whom they considered a puppet of the French colonial power. Continue reading “Castor Osendé Afana: A Cameroonian National Hero”

‘Le Corbeau et le Renard’ version ivoirienne

J’ai trouve cette belle illustration de la fable de Jean de La FontaineLe Corbeau et le Renard.’  C’est une fable que nous avions l’habitude de reciter au cours moyen 1 (CM1), quand nous etions petits.  Vous reconnaitrez l’accent ivoirien dans les dessins (texte et dessins de LaCombe)… Alors regalez-vous bien!

Le Corbeau et le Renard

Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l’odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
“Hé ! bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau !
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois.”
A ces mots le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie ;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s’en saisit, et dit : “Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l’écoute :
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute. “
Le Corbeau, honteux et confus,
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu’on ne l’y prendrait plus.

The Crow and the Fox

Master Crow perched on a tree,
Was holding a cheese in his beak.
Master Fox attracted by the smell
Said something like this:
“Well, Hello Mister Crow!
How beautiful you are! how nice you seem to me!
Really, if your voice
Is like your plumage,
You are the phoenix of all the inhabitants of these woods.”
At these words, the Crow is overjoyed.
And in order to show off his beautiful voice,
He opens his beak wide, lets his prey fall
The Fox grabs it, and says: “My good man,
Learn that every flatterer
Lives at the expense of the one who listens to him.
This lesson, without doubt, is well worth a cheese.”
The Crow, ashamed and embarrassed,
Swore, but a little late, that he would not be taken again.


Analysis on Obama’s 2013 Visit to Africa

President Barack Obama with President Macky Sall of Senegal
President Barack Obama with President Macky Sall of Senegal

I would like to share the following article on Pambazuka by Antoine Roger Lokongo, summarizing and identifying key questions for Obama’s last visit in Africa.  Like he points out so well, Obama’s visit was a tour to counter China’s influence in Africa.  Make up your own opinions, and please think: what should be the future of African relations with the United States, Europe, China, and others? What will be fair for African countries? How do Africans impose themselves at the bargaining table?


[…]  There is a Chinese proverb which says that, ‘When the water subsides the rocks emerge’. Now that the ‘Obama fever’ has evaporated, all that remains is a stark reality that we are faced with: Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America who went to Africa to defend and promote America’s strategic interests, perceived as being threatened by China’s strong presence in the continent. Obama’s African tour was about countering China’s influence in Africa. Despite his charm offensive to woo Africa, depicting it as a ‘hopeful continent on the rise and with which America can partner and do business on an equal footing and ‘win-win’ basis’, perhaps taking a leaf from the Chinese ‘win-win’ international relations lexicon, Africans should treat him as such: A US president who went to Africa to build strategic military and business ties with Africa in the face of China’s surge in the continent.

President Obama in South Africa
President Obama in South Africa

[…] In his speech at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, President Obama rebuffed the criticism often coming out of Africa according to which democracy and transparency, those values which America holds dearly, are somehow Western exports and that it is intrusive and meddlesome of America to impose them on Africa. … he pointed out that ‘those in power in Africa who make those arguments are usually trying to distract people from their own abuses. Sometimes, they are the same people who behind closed doors are willing to sell out their own country’s resource to foreign interests, just so long as they get a cut’. It is hard to argue against that. The question, however, is, what if those foreign interests are American?

It is hard to believe that America does not tell African people who their leaders should be, but stand up with those who support the principles that lead to a better life. The list of African leaders who were assassinated by the CIA because they put the interests of their people first and refused to blindly serve American interests is very long. The list of leaders (living and dead) who were hoisted to power to serve America’s strategic interests and heaped with praises they do not deserve from the White House is also very long. In Congo, Patrice Lumumba was assassinated and Mobutu Sese Seko was hoisted to power. As far as we know, there are no strong institutions, such as independent judiciaries that can enforce the rule of law; honest police forces that can protect the peoples’ interests instead of their own; an open government that can bring transparency and accountability in Rwanda and Uganda today. But there are two strongmen who are supported and protected by Britain and America so long as they serve as proxy forces in Congo. They are presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame!

China's presence in Africa
China’s presence in Africa

In fact, today, apart from the Chinese mining contracts in which the Congolese state (DRC) retains at least 32% of stakes, the stakes of the Congolese state in all other mining contracts the government has signed with Western mining companies do not go beyond 20%! So, Western powers still enjoy the lion’s share in Congo. In Zimbabwe, the government retains 51% stakes in each mining contract, not like in the DRC. That is what should be emulated by all other countries throughout Africa. The Chinese respect our laws and rules of the game and are massively investing in Zimbabwe under those rules, but Western countries see a problem with that policy in Zimbabwe where the economy is recovering without Western financial help and despite Western sanctions (so Mugabe is not pocketing all the money). Without African countries drawing their own rules and laying them on the table for their external partners to follow and not the other way round, African independence will remain meaningless and Africa will totally be owned by the outside world, in other words, by people who come and loot Africa’s wealth through predatory wars and then return to Africa as investors! Continue reading “Analysis on Obama’s 2013 Visit to Africa”

Gerard Sekoto: the Father of Urban Black Painting

Gerard Sekoto (Source:
Gerard Sekoto (Source:

Today, I will be talking about the late South African painter Gerard Sekoto.  Gerard Sekoto is known today as the father of urban black art and social realism.  Born in 1913, Gerard Sekoto grew up in South Africa at a time of apartheid.  His entire art has been influenced by his life experience.  He held exhibition in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  His painting was actually the first painting by a Black artist to be exposed at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.  He was a big fan of oil painting.

Gerard Sekoto's depiction of Steve Biko's death
Gerard Sekoto’s depiction of Steve Biko’s death

In 1947, he exiled himself to Paris.  His first two years were quite depressing and hard; they actually had nothing to do with painting.  He played in French nightclubs as a pianist, and composed over 25 songs whose main themes were the loneliness of exile, and the courage of an immigrant trying to survive in a foreign country.  Quite a global theme these days, in this global world!

In 1966, he visited Senegal, and was actually a guest of President Léopold Sédar Senghor.  He visited Dakar for a year, and this visit reignited his passion for painting.  Armed with his brushes, he fully immersed himself into the ‘Dakarois’ environment, and once again started painting African scenes.

Prisoners laboring hard in South Africa - by Gerard Sekoto
Prisoners laboring hard in South Africa – by Gerard Sekoto

In the 1970s, he started expressing his opposition to the apartheid system back in his homeland, and started painting about it.  One of his famous paintings is poignant depiction of Steve Biko‘s death, with Biko’s tearful mother at the center of the painting, Biko to the right of her, and a white policeman to the left.  It is very sorrowful and vivid depiction… and to think of Biko’s mother! Most often, people paint the victim, and forget those they’ve left behind.

Sekoto never had a chance to return to South Africa, not even for his mother’s funeral. He ended his days in a retirement home for artists on the outskirts of Paris in 1993.

Please check out the website of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, the Gerard Sekoto Webpages, and this photo-journal by the BBC.  Don’t forget to read about how Sekoto used to capture his subjects on

The Jackal and the Wolf


ONCE upon a time Jackal, who lived on the borders of the colony, saw a wagon returning from the seaside laden with fish; he tried to get into the wagon from behind, but he could not; he then ran on before and lay in the road as if dead.  The wagon came up to him, and the leader cried to the driver, “Here is a fine kaross for your wife!
Throw it into the wagon,” said the driver, and Jackal was thrown in.

The wagon traveled on, through a moonlight night, and all the while Jackal was throwing out the flsh into the road; he then jumped out himself and secured a great prize.  But stupid old Wolf (hyena), coming by, ate more than his share, for which Jackal owed him a grudge, and he said to him, ” You can get plenty of fish, too, if you lie in the way of a wagon as I did, and keep quite still whatever happens.

Hyena (Wolf)

So!” mumbled Wolf.
Accordingly, when the next wagon came from the sea, Wolf stretched himself out in the road.

What ugly thing is this?” cried the leader, and kicked Wolf.  He then took a stick and thrashed him within an inch of his life.  Wolf, according to the directions of Jackal, lay quiet as long as he could; he then got up and bobbled off to tell his misfortune to Jackal, who pretended to comfort him.
What a pity,” said Wolf, “I have not got such a handsome skin as you have!

South African Folk Tales, by James A. Honey, 1910, Baker & Taylor Company.

The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Adichie (Source:
Chimamanda Adichie (Source:

Today, we will examine ‘The Danger of a Single Story,’ a speech given by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference.  Like Adichie, I have always felt annoyed by people referring to Africa as a country.  I have also been annoyed by people’s ‘single story’ of Africans.  Just like the author I was guilty of some stereotypes myself.  Growing up in Africa, we often watched documentaries about life in America, and how there was a gun shot death every 13 seconds in the streets of America.  I used to think, “how on earth could people live in a country where there were so many gunshot deaths, drugs, and gangs?” Until I realized that, that was a single story of America, and there were other stories like those of scientific achievements, of Ivy league schools, etc.  So why can’t they, Americans, and others, learn to have other stories of Africa?

This blog is about offering other stories of Africa other than ‘the single story.’  What kind of ‘single stories’ of Africa have you heard?  What stories of Africa would you like to hear?

Why the name: Nairobi?

Nairobi in 2010
Nairobi in 2010

Have you ever fallen in love with a name? with a place? well… that is the feeling… when you hear the name Nairobi (the capital of Kenya) for the first time, it is like some beautiful girl you were always attracted to but could never get.  Well, the name Nairobi is quite far from that: it comes from the Maasai Enkare Nyrobi which means the place of cool waters, which is also the name for the Nairobi River which lent its name to the city.  Today, it is popularly known as the Green city in the sun… probably because of its lush-ness.

Flag of Kenya
Flag of Kenya

Nairobi hosts a natural reserve protected, the Nairobi National Park, within its borders.  It is also the capital hosting the most species of birds in the world.  Nairobi was originally built at the beginning of the 1900s as a railway link between Mombasa (on the coast of Kenya) and Kampala (Uganda) by the rail company Kenya Uganda Railway.  It was completely rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the burning of the original town.  Its location was chosen because of its central position between Mombasa and Kampala; it was also chosen because its network of rivers which could supply the British camp with water and its elevation which would make it cool for the British residential purposes.

Map of Nairobi
Map of Nairobi
Nairobi from Nairobi National Park
A girafe looking onto Nairobi, from Nairobi National Park

In 1905, Nairobi replaced Mombasa as capital of the British protectorate, and from then on grew tremendously around tourism, administration, and big game hunting.  Britons came to live in Nairobi for for game hunting.  In those times, the city quickly became the commercial centre for the colony’s coffee, tea, and sisal industry. Today, Nairobi is one of the most populous cities in Africa known for its beauty, for its versatility, and also for its slum Kibera.  The city of Nairobi is located on the eastern edge of the Rift valley, with the Ngong Hills located to the west of the city, and Africa’s two tallest mountains, Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro are located to the north and towards the southeast, respectively.  It was also the birthplace of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

Enjoy the great Congolese singer M’Bilia Bel (she is also a beauty) singing about the beautiful Nairobi, Nakei Nairobi, a song written and composed by Tabu Ley Rochereau.

Have you ever been to Nairobi? What were your impressions?