Dictionary.com defines lies telling thus; “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood, an inaccurate or false statement; something intended or serving to convey a false impression”.
Dr. George Simon says; “lying serves to give a manipulator an advantage over someone else. They want to keep you in the dark and keep you guessing. One of the best ways to do this is by deception. One subtle approach to lying is lying by omission. When someone wants to pull the wool over your eyes, they don’t have to make an obviously absurd or bogus claim. Many times, all they have to do is make sure they don’t tell the whole truth about something. It’s as simple as leaving out a very important detail or something crucial to understanding the whole picture”.
There are several forms of lying, but one approach Dr. George Simon highlights appears to describe vividly what is happening in Cameroon. He says; “Another type of subtle lying is the use of vagueness. When you confront a manipulator about an issue, they may give you an answer, but they might also be so vague about the details that you end up remaining largely in the dark. Sometimes, the disordered character can manipulate you effectively by doing just the opposite — by using specificity in a response in such a way that it may provide a limited answer to the question you’ve asked, but without providing additional detail that would better address the intent of your question”.
The over thirty-year rule of President Paul Biya has, from many perspectives been characterized by the glorification of lies telling to the point that lies telling has virtually been accepted in Cameroon as a way of life. The main thing here is that, as Jean Paul Satre put it; “In politics all means are good, provided they are efficient”.
In the early 1990s when the wind of democracy swept through Cameroon, the government found it hard to contain the thirst of the people for change. The growing unpopularity of the Head of State and his CPDM Party pushed the authorities to chosing the easy wrong against the hard right. That is how people like Prof. Augustin Kontchou Kouemegne rose to prominence, for telling vital lies that bailed the President out of complicated situations.
Prof. Kontchou’s lies were blatant, provocative and ended up being simply amusing, but no one ever found the opportunity to tell the regime a terrible foundation was being laid for the Republic and that the younger generation shall grow up with the notion that telling lies is not only normal, but acceptable. Elsewhere, fact checks would lead to the resignation of such congenital liars, but in our country, Cameroon, it rather attracts rewards at the highest level.
One striking thing is the degree to which public authorities get away with some seemingly ridiculous lies. In 1994, Cameroonians of all social strata contributed money to facilitate the participation of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at the FIFA World Cup jamboree, hosted by the United States of America. Contributions came in from truck pushers, market women and even students anxious to see their heroes rekindle the miraculous performance of the World Cup organized by Italy in 1990. The collections were launched because government openly expressed difficulties sponsoring the team due to the raging economic crisis at the time.
Unfortunately for those who contributed, the money never reached the Indomitable Lions, not a single Franc of that money got to the team in the United States of America. The players found it difficult to carry themmselves around to the point where some benevolent American stars even organized concerts to raise funds and assist them. As could be expected, the performance of the squad was far below average and the team went on to concede 6 goals in one encounter against Russia, handing Salenco as many as 5 of those goals, making him by the same token, one of the top scorers at the tournament. It only took the genius of play maker, Roger Albert Milla for Cameroon to at least score a goal against Russia.
While the public expected government to render accounts on the money contributed, the spokeman at the time, Prof. Kontchou reduced the whole thing into a joke. He told Cameroonians on National media that; “The money was in the air between Paris and New York” and that was it until date. Nothing has ever been said again and no one has been brought to book for mismanaging the money.
Today, Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary has been seen widely as having replaced Prof. Kontchou, churning out what many see as blatant lies at every standpoint. The Minister recently received a missive from the Kondengui Maximum prison from one-time Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Jean Marie Atangana Mebara who sought to correct what he considered outright lies and fabrications the told the public about the matter relating to the purchase of a presidential jet. The view that the Minister’s press conferences are mainly manipulative is somewhat widely shared and he is often compared to the infamous Prof. Knotchou.
As if that were not enough, members of the National Order of Medical Doctors of Cameroon have made a rare unpopular outing in support of their colleagues and their Minister in the Monique Koumateke affair. The Order corroborated a version, mostly considered as inaccurate, by the Minister of Public Health- Andre Mama Fouda, claiming Monique died at home before being ferried to the Lanquintinie hospital in Douala.
The report unfortunately came amidst press reports that members of the Order were trying to bribe late Monique’s sister who performed the operation to claim was a trained nurse, indict the mortuary attendant and admit that Monique died at home, in exchange of the sum of 50 million CFA F and a visa to any European country of her choice.
Without any surprise, the press reports alleging corruption attempts have been ignored by the authorities. Rather, the major pre-occupation remains the need to conceal the truth as much as possible from Cameroonians. A government that bribes its top ranking officials to manipulate election outcomes and confiscates all civil servants to the service of one man, cannot in any way ever lay claims to accountability, transparency and moral rectitude.
It is for this reason we hold at The Times Journal that the much heralded attainment of emergence by the year 2035 is a fallacy as long as this regime stays in place.
BY AKUROH JOHN MBAH
Senior Journalist(The Times Journal)