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That CERAC Racket Safari Trip 

By Bouddih Adams

CERAC is a French acronym for Cercle des Amis du Cameroun, loosely translated as Circle of Friends of Cameroon. The friends of Cameroon happen to be Cameroonians and mostly women in high positions or wives of ministers and other government officials. But, once in a while, during public occasions, a wife of a diplomat or two, are splashed in the delegation to taste and sound good.

Two fromer PMs, Peter Mafany and Chief Ephraim Inoni

CERAC was founded by Chantal Biya, wife of 29-year serving President Paul Biya. It is purported to be a humanitarian and philanthropic organisation that spends a lot either through gifts to health centres, under-privileged children, women groups or disaster victims among others.

Cameroonians have always questioned where Chantal gets the money for such ventures. At first, we thought that it was a means of spending what Biya had acquired since we know that the First Lady does not work anywhere to earn these colossal sums of money and that her occupation is First Lady which means housewife.

CERAC’s last outing to Buea removed the scales from our eyes. CERAC takes more than they give. Indeed, on May 14, CERAC hit Buea town, precisely Muea, with a 70-seater busload of CERACians and about 25 turbo-charged Land Cruisers to donate didactic materials and hospital equipment to the tune of tens of millions.

The more than 100 of the CERACians stayed in probably the most expensive hotel in town, whose rooms cost between FCFA 80,000 and FCFA 150,000 each. The luxury bus was hired for at least FCFA 1,000,000 and the deluxe 4-Wheel Drive Station Wagons, fuel guzzlers, as they are, must have guzzled at least FCFA 50,000 each. All of these put together, add up to tens of millions FCFA, much more than the value of what was donated.

The Elusiveness of Power 

The wife of a Prime Minister is always the Vice Chairperson of CERAC. So has it been with the wives of Peter Mafany Musonge, Ephraim Inoni and now Philemon Yang. The wives of the former Prime Ministers used to be the guests of honour whenever they represented the First Lady. Once their husbands are out of the Star Building, their spouses become known as former vice chairpersons, and at public ceremonies, must pay allegiance to the representative of the First Lady, as their husbands wait to be recycled, Biya-style.

Their husbands too, are supposed to be present and in the eye of the public as paying allegiance to the wife of the man who has the knife and yam of public office. That is how senior citizens in the profile of former PMs, had to be requested to accompany Mrs. Bernice Mengot, wife of Minister of Special Duties at the Presidency.      

The CERAC trip was a mere safari trip during which the visitors had a swell time in our cool and cosy atmosphere and "legendary hospitality" to borrow from the Mayor, Mbella Moki. Gifts ranging from sugar cane through huckleberry to palm oil among other high profile ones were hauled back to Yaounde in Ghana-must-go bags while the other ones in other forms were simply zipped in hand bags.  

Contributions made by all the corporations and councils in the Southwest mounted to far more than that which was given. Yet, the credit goes to Chantal and by logic, to her husband, as he works his near-80-year old body to have victory at the Presidential election due this year. The local officials merely enjoyed the food bought with their money. Most members are government officials who abandoned their offices and State duties to come and sing halleluiah to Mama Chantal.

These women, including some men, most of them older than Chantal Biya and who mama her more than they mama their mothers, made sure they were there for the television camera so that they can use it to pick crumbs from her royal (?) table.
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