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Why I Shook Hands With Mr. President 

By Peterkins Manyong

What is in a handshake? The response many may give is similar to that given to a similar question; what is in a name?  "Nothing" But the truth is that handshakes are quite often an outward manifestation of an inward joy.

Wednesday, December 8, your humble analyst shook hands with President Biya. That was at the Bamenda Congress Hall after his civic reception at the grandstand. The question cynics may ask is "And so what? Does shaking hands with the President make you a President yourself or even one of his confidantes?"Good questions, which deserve equally good answers. Before drawing a conclusion about the relevance or not of a handshake, let us examine the following:

Soon after he announced his Bamenda visit, Hon. Simon Fobi, an SDF MP with obviously good intentions, cautioned Biya about the possibility of being by sympathizers of the G11, some of whose members are in detention at Kondengui. Biya, who is known to always surround himself with thick layers of security, was almost lost in the crowd of admirers at the Bamenda Congress Hall on Wednesday. Where therefore did Biya’s courage come from? Obviously from the fact that he granted the people’s wish.

Many intellectuals argue that a university is an absolute necessity and should not be given as if it were a favour. But the fact is that somebody must sign for it to be created. The President of the country, at least, one where education is still regarded as a favour by the leadership, is the most competent person to do it. Those who say it is a right, are syllogistically right, but pragmatically wrong.

The Gwanyalla-Type Euphoria

Raymond Dingha Gwanyalla, Mayor of Bali Council, is one of those whom The Post contacted to comment on Biya’s gift of a university "I am simply overwhelmed"

Gwanyalla’s reaction deserves mention here because he is not one of those parents who strain to educate their children. But the fact that he was overjoyed means that he placed himself  in the situation of those who are less economically privileged. He didn’t end there. According to him, President Biya went further than expected by promising that  the electricity potentials of Menchum fall would be exploited.

The importance of Menchum Fall as a source of hydroelectricity dates back by several decades. In the 70s, it was even alleged that the Menchum Fall could provide electricity to the whole of West Africa! The Bali Mayor expressed a genuine concern to see the problem of power cuts solved just as he is preoccupied with the wellbeing of his Municipality. Reason why a news organ rated him the best performing Mayor.
Back to the issue of the university…

Those who think that the Bali Mayor was more the CPDM militant than the intellectual in appreciating the university miss the point completely. The Christian University, the initiative of the PCC, is in Bali and the fee is "exorbitant." While it can be argued that it would provide quality education, there is no gainsaying that only the children of the affluent can afford it. The same for the Catholic University of Bamenda. A  genuine intellectual places the good of society above personal interest.

It is also worth noting here that it is not everything that is deserved that is given. In a country which is yet to fully embrace a democratic culture, right is not always might. This column has mentioned before that Cameroon is like a hijacked plane.

The wisest course of action for the  passengers is to play ball with the hijackers as the only means of securing not only some favours from their captors, during , but even their lives. When armed robbers take control of a house, everything there, including even the lives of the occupants belong to the hoodlums. This means that whatever they leave behind is a favour to the occupants.

Pragmatism Vs Fanaticism

A word of caution here. The heavy turnout at Biya’s Wednesday civic reception in Bamenda was not by any means an indication that Northwesterners have turned their back on the SDF or that Northwest has turned CPDM. Fru Ndi himself was present at the grandstand to welcome Biya.

There were high expectations that the long awaited handshake between the President and the SDF National Chairman would take place. It didn’t, although Fru ndi was present at the Bamenda Congress hall where Biya shook the hands of hundreds of people.. Bamenda people didn’t make public their disappointment when Fru Ndi wasn’t a recipient of Biya’s hand.

They know that it will come when it will. They needed something and Biya gave them that something. Once more to  the question in Paragraph One of this analysis. What is in a handshake? Everything. A handshake appears so much a part of what has been inherited from the imperialist that unending enmity has sometimes arisen from a rebuffed handshake.

If a person, like your analyst, who has been uncompromising to the regime in place considered it an absolute necessity to shake hands with Biya, then there is   more to it than simply a "Thank You" It is a way of telling him "Well done, but please, make sure you keep your promise". Paul Biya promised to personally supervise the tarring of the Ring Road. That was in 1991.He didn’t and has received quite some tongue lashing for this.

He certainly can’t afford to fail in his promise to  create the university. The stakes in this case are too high, especially as he intends to seek re-election. If every vote can begin to count in Cameroon, he should be eager to get as many of them from the Northwest as he possibly can.
 

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