Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Man Stripped Naked After Cameroon - Gabon Match

A man of about 36 years, whose names The Vanguard got only as Arouna Mama, was reportedly stripped naked after the Cameroon Gabon Match last Sunday that saw the Cameroonians beat the Gabonese by 2 goals to none.

Arouna is said to have lost a bet The two, Arouna Mama 36 and his friend Kamtem Augustine reportedly betted on 25.000 FRS each. If the Lions won then , Kamtem will take home the sum, while if Gabon won Arouna will take the money.

They both put the 25.000 FCFA each, making 50.000 FCFA in the hands and care of a middle man of that part in a popular drinking spot in Bafoussam. The rule of the game was that he who wins shall share drinks to the spectators worth 15.000 FCFA.

As tension mounted during the first 45 minutes, each of the two friends was confident to take back home the sum. Emmana’s first goal did not discourage Arouna as he went on to tell his opponent that he was going to disgrace him. Samuel Eto’o Fils shattered his dreams at the 67 minutes when scored the second goal. Arouna Mama then became visibly infuriated and aggressive to the middle aged man and his opponent, who said he was only making football jokes like a good foot ball fan.

The spectators, thirsty to drink in order to celebrate Cameroon’s, pressed for the 15,000 FCFA to be spent. Arouna stripped himself naked and swore that if the 25.000 FCFA was not handed back to him he will commit suicide. Deaf to his claim, the sum of 15.000 FRS was removed and handed to the bar seller who shared drinks for consumption.

Arouna then took to the street ready to die. He was promptly arrested by the police to whom he narrated his ordeal when questioned. He revealed to the police that his father sent him to collect the 25.000 FCFA from a njangi house. His father had told him it was meant for transport for his junior brother and sister to travel to travel back to school in Douala on Sunday.

Before the police arrived the scene, everybody had gone but it is believed that the friend through the help of the police borrowed him the 25.000 FCFA.

Arouna, it should be noted is not the first to have risked his father’s money meant for transport for his junior one in gambling. Many parents too during this crucial moment of back to school have indulged in gambling in a quest to have more money in order to lessen their burdens. When you gamble, be prepared to lose or win.

By Emmanuel Wambo, Bafoussam

Three Die after consuming Poisoned Food in Mutengene

Three brothers in Mutengene are reported to have died after consuming poisoned food. The three brothers after taking their evening meal went to bed but were no where to be found the next morning.

The neighbours, worried that their door was still closed late in the morning, forced their door open and discovered that all three brothers lay dead in their bed. These very concerned neighbours rushed their bodies to the hospital where an autopsy showed that the three bothers were victims of food poisoning.

Their bodies were recently transported to their region of origin, Western region, where they were laid to rest. Police have opened investigations to discover the source of the poisoned food and more details.

From our news room

Okada Wahala: Killing Bikes and Riders

A motorcycle rider whose names The Vanguard got as Moses Agem recently sustained serious injuries on his legs and head following an accident that occurred on Friday September 4, 2009. He is reported to have died after days of receiving treatment at a Hospital.

The motorcycle rider collided with a stationary taxi after loosing control when the front wheel of his bike caught fire. He was immediately rushed to the Hospital in Kumba by the taxi driver with whom he collided with. He was later transported to the Limbe Regional Hospital, where he finally gave up the ghost.

Mean while a 60-year-old man was also reported to have died instantly after being knocked down by a commercial motorcycle rider. Reports reaching The Vanguard say, the accident was blamed on excess speed on the part of the rider. Police have opened investigation about the said accident; meanwhile the corpse is presently lying at a mortuary in Kumba

From our Kumba desk

African experts brainstorm on eliminating examination fraud.

African experts under the banner of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa, AEAA have ended their five days annual conference in Yaoundé. The 27th annual conference that ran from Monday the 24-28 of August at the Yaoundé Conference Centre was hosted by the Cameroon General Certificate of Education, GCE Board and placed under the patronage of the Cameroon's Ministry of Secondary Education.

The theme of the conference was "Education Assessment and Quality Assurance in a Multicultural Society." Discussions during the conference were focused on control mechanisms in public examinations; examination analysis for improving the management of public examinations; assessment perspectives in multicultural settings; examination crisis and management; e-learning, educational assessment and ICTs; and examinations management in the multicultural society


Opening the conference in Yaoundé, the minister of Secondary Education, Louis Bapes Bapes, said succeeding in an exam through fraud is moulding up corruption in the candidate. He added that at a time when political leaders are fighting corruption, he is very convinced that the exchanges by the experts will suggest ways of eliminating examination malpractices amongst candidates.

According to Minister Louis Bapes Bapes, if quality education is given to candidates, they will, in turn build up skills that can be useful in the job market. The minister told the delegates at the conference that Cameroon is constantly in search of quality even in the field of education; hence the theme of the conference according to him is very timely.
The experts equally brainstormed on e-marking and quality control in examinations; assessment and national cohesion; curriculum evaluation and national realities; assessment tools and practices across examination bodies; translation and testing in a multicultural society.

By NDI Eugene NDI

Monday, September 28, 2009

SW Principals Sneer at Motion of Support to Biya

Principals of public and private secondary schools in the South west Region as well as Regional Pedagogic Inspectors and some Divisional Delegates staged a scornful mockery of an unpopular motion of support addressed to the President Paul Biya Wednesday, September 3 at BGS Molyko-Buea Gymnasium.

At the close of the first sector conference for secondary education in the region three motions of support were forestalled; one each for the Minister of Secondary Education, the Premier and the Head of State.

As the Principal of GHS Buea, Hannah Etonde Mbua mounted the rostrum and read out the first two motions in that other, each of them spurred the educationalists to bring down the house in applause, leaving no surprise in the faces of onlookers. The atmosphere however ran dead chilly for them when she egged on reading the motion to the President of the Republic, worse so when she reached a particular item. In reading it, she condemned what she called defamation of the President’s character by the French Catholic NGO, France 24 and other media which allege that the President is amassing Cameroon’s wealth illegally.

To the dismay of the Regional Delegate for Secondary Education, Ngundu Francis Mokomba, the principals, regional pedagogic inspectors, and some divisional delegates croaked like frogs while others chattered under their armpits like monkeys to make nonsense of what some of the called baseless defence.

The anarchy that characterised the near end of the motion was however arrested by Ngundu who roared: “I was a little bit disappointed when the motion of support to the President of the Republic was being read. You were laughing mockingly when a particular item of it was being read. Some of you do not know how the system operates. Most of you are even appointed officials. If you want to form your own political party and write your own motions of support, we have no problem with that. I saw some of you laughing wildly and even clapping your hands before the reader could finish. That means that you were mocking. Next time, we will not tolerate that!”

The Vanguard cornered one of the principals who required anonymity for security reasons and quizzed him on the fuss about the motion. “Mr Ngundu should know that we are not chickens. We can paddle our own canoes and tell a B from a bull’s foot,” he waged back. “It is a shame that we come for a pedagogic meeting and it turns out to be a political campaign. People are trying to stage a defence for the President on accusations that carry figures, yet they do not have any figures to counter the accusations. The President himself has not said anything about it. He should declare his assets to clear the rumours if it is,” he fumed. “I sympathise with the RD (Regional Delegate). He is the boss here and could not have done otherwise. He has his position to protect. But I advise him not to cry more than the bereaved,” another principal urged.

By Mua Paul Kum

NW Civil Society Association Formed in SW

Members of the Civil Society of Northwest Associations (CISONWA) based in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, defied the heavy downpour of August 22, 2009 to attend their coveted second meeting at the Molyko Catholic Church Hall in Buea. They came from all the nooks and crannies of the region to deliberate on a draft message of congratulation to the Premier, Philemon Yang, a vote of thanks to President Paul Biya and a memorandum to the Head of State, before onward transmission.

Unlike the previous meeting that saw the attendance of only 70 members at the Buea Town Catholic Hall, the Molyko meeting was a crowd-puller, occasioning kudos to be awarded its general co-ordinator and eventually pioneer President of CISONWA, Deputy Registrar of the GCE Board in charge of Technical Services, Akoko Mathew, for his mobilising spirit. Interestingly, only delegates from the various associations were expected at the meeting, yet the number in attendance was so overwhelming.

In his opening remark, Akoko lauded the efforts of all participants for having braved the near storm to attend the momentous meeting. Later, he observed that this was testimony to the fact that they understand the essence of the civil society which, he said, has often been mistaken otherwise by some circles.

Akoko defined the civil society as the arena of voluntary collective action around shared interests, purposes and values and is often populated by organisations. He said a civil society has the necessary features of separation from the state and the market, formed by people who have common needs, interests and values like tolerance, inclusion, co-operation and equality; and development through an endogenous and autonomous process which can easily be controlled from outside. For him, a civil society serves for poverty alleviation, participatory democracy, conflict management, and as a channel for service delivery. The academic said the challenges of the civil society lie on its legitimacy, partnership with the state, sustainability and accountability.

According to the chairperson of the memorandum committee, Azong Wara Andrew, the fact that the people of the Southwest Region have always been very hospitable to their brothers from the grass-fields called for incorporation of their worries in the memo to be forwarded to the President of the Republic.

The Memorandum

CISONWA came up with a 5-dimensional memorandum on education, infrastructure, agroforestry, health and issues of national dimension.

On education, they urged President Biya to create a full-fledged university in the Northwest Region on the basis that there is very high demand for the lone Anglo-Saxon University of Buea. They observed that 21381 candidates passed in the 2009 GCE A/L, yet the University of Buea can admit only one-fifth of this number of candidates. “What happens to the other over 17.000?” they wondered aloud. Besides, they noted that in the University of Dschang, Northwest students constituted 21% of the overall students’ population in the 2008/2009 academic session; a very significant figure.

The English-French bilingualism concept in Cameroon having been abandoned for the concept of the two separate subsystems operating in the same institution, CISONWA called for the creation of two bilingualism secondary schools in every division in the country. Besides calling for the recruitment of more teachers, they decried the recruitment of Francophone teachers in Anglophone technical schools who end up teaching in pidgin, recommending the creation of a technical teachers’ training college in the region. There was also the call for the creation of a Faculty of Engineering at the University of Buea.

On infrastructure, CISONWA enjoined Biya to facilitate the construction of the Kumba-Mamfe-Bamenda Road, the Bamenda Ring Road and a decent football stadium in Bamenda. Otherwise, they pleaded with President Biya to create an enabling environment for the creation of an agroindustrial zone and a referral hospital in the Northwest Region.

On National issues, CISONWA urged the government to release the results of the 2005 general and housing census, implement the follow-up of files at the level of the regions, check global warming, as well as brain-drain in the country. It should be noted that at the end of the session, a full team headed by Akoko Mathew as President was put in place to man the affairs of CISONWA henceforth. The executive bureau is expected to form branches of CISONWA in every Subdivision of the Southwest region.

By Mua Paul Kum

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cameraman attacked by police officers in courthouse

(JED/IFEX) - On 17 September 2009, "Canal International" cameraman Freddy Nkoue was attacked and beaten in the Douala courthouse by two police officers named Ndingie and Nyonga. Nkoue was at the courthouse to cover a trial involving leaders of two opposing factions of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), a political party. "Canal International" is a private television station based in Douala, the second largest city in Cameroon.

Contacted by JED, Nkoue said he had placed his camera's tripod in the courthouse while awaiting the return of the journalist who had gone to ask the authorities' permission to cover the trial. He was approached by two police officers who ordered him to stop filming and began to beat him. Nkoue's camera was damaged, his clothes torn and his belongings were taken away by police. He managed to escape bare-chested with a fractured left hand.

Asked about the motive for the attack, Nkou said he had not filmed the police officers or the courthouse building before receiving official authorisation to do so.

B.P. 633 - Kinshasa 1
374, av. Col. Mondjiba
Complexe Utexafrica, Galerie St Pierre, 1er niveau, Local 18 Kinshasa/Ngaliema
République Démocratique du Congo
direction (@)
Phone: +243 81 99 29 323
Fax: +44 20 7900 3413

Thursday, September 24, 2009

MINEDUB: recruit 6490 primary and nursery teachers

The Minister of Basic Education, Youssouf Adidja Alim has revealed that some 6490 qualified primary school teachers will be recruited during the academic year 2009/2010 in addition to the existing 70.000. She made the revelation in Yaoundé recently while officially opening a two day concentration meeting of officials of the central and decentralised services of her ministry.

The meeting that brought together Inspectors General, Pedagogic Inspectors, Directors, Regional Delegates, representatives of teachers Trade Unions as well as the civil society had as objective to evaluate the 2008/2009 academic year and examine the level of preparedness for the take off of the 2009/2010 school year. Holding their meeting at a time when the Basic Education sector is plagued with the problem of acute shortage of teachers and poor infrastructure; the Basic Education boss announced that some 6490 teachers will be recruited and some new schools will be constructed with some out of the 18.000 existing primary and nursery schools in the country rehabilitated. The Basic Education boss also used the occasion to warn officials against the misuse of funds.

For two days therefore, the officials listened to exposés and balance sheets of the activities of the year 2008/2009 as presented by the various regional delegates. From their various reports, it was realised that one of the problems of the sector was bilingualism. To this effect, speaking at the closing ceremony; the Basic Education boss revealed that some three bilingual primary school teachers’ training schools will be created in Yaoundé, Douala and Bafoussam. On their part, the participants left the Yaoundé meeting satisfied with the deliberations.

One of the participants Njika Joseph Forba who is regional delegate of Basic Education for the South west region told this reporter that he is going home fully satisfied and ready to go and implement the recommendations they have taken at the meeting. Urging teachers to start work on the 4th of September, he added that for pupils to have quality performance there should be partnership between teachers and parents. Njika Joseph used the occasion to appreciate teachers of the Bakassi area and praised government for the constant posting of teachers in the area.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Biya returns from France after lavish spending spree; hides some of his entourage

The President of Cameroon Paul Biya and wife Chantal with some of the members of his entourage arrived Cameroon yesterday after his three weeks’ private visit to France. His sojourn in France this time around evoked numerous reports from the French Press about lavish expenditure in two luxurious hotels in the French seaside resort town La Baule.

Mr Biya according to the reports from Radio France Inter, Radio Fidelite Nantes and France 24, rented the Hermitage hotel, a five star hotel and the Royal Hotel a four star hotel all making up 43 rooms at a colossal sum of 27,300,000 francs a day! His three week’s stay therefore cost more than FCFA 650,000,000 francs. This, the reports further said, did not include the money for meals, expensive shopping sprees as well as his cost of treatment through seawater therapy which they called thalassotherapy. The reports further say he was decorated with a medal by the Mayor of La Baule, Yves Mateirau, as an honorary citizen. He is said to have responded in a press interviews that the city was a wonderful one and he would like to return there. The reports even compared the holiday expenditure for some world renown presidents like Obama, Sarkozy

In front of some journalists Mr Biya said:

“Your town is so comfortable. I will, no doubt, visit again”.

The report further commented, “Why would Biya have hesitated? He had received the best reception from the local authorities. Starting from the Mayor of La Baule, Yves Metaireau, who, on that Friday decorated his presidential tourist with the honorary medal of the town as a “new secondary resident”.

The mayor, just as any other traders who come round, appreciated these generous tourists who are so extravagant in their expenditure. This is nonetheless negligible in times of crises.

They are these press reports that Issa Tchiroma, desperately tried to deny, describing them as malicious. Equally the Cameroonian press while covering Mr Biya’s arrival used the opportunity to indirectly deny some of these facts. For example the French press reports said Biya had an entourage of about 43 people but the Cameroon Television said only 6 people accompanied Mr Biya. They list included only the Ministers. They failed to mention even Mr Biya’s wife, Chantal and all the valets and servants and body guards and Journalists and Biya’s children, as if they were not people. All Cameroonians know that when Biya is going out of the country he takes everybody in his household including the cooks and probably the night watchmen.

On hand to receive him at the Nsimalen Airport were the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang; the President of the National Assembly, Alhaji Cavaye Yeguie Djibril and the Secretary General at the Presidency, Laurent Esso.

Commenting on his arrival, CRTV journalists highlighted his landing at the Nsimalen International Airport at 5 p.m that evening just when the Cameroonians scored their first goal against Gabon in the on-goingAfrican Nations Cup/World Cup eliminatory tournament. They did not fail too to notice that the second goal was scored when the Presidential motorcade had just reached Mvog Mbi in Yaoundé.

At the airport the President granted audiences to the various ministers while Chantal, his wife, granted audience to the wives of top-ranking Cameroonian officials probably recounting her sweet experiences in La Baule. Meantime the President of the National Assembly welcomed him back home from his trip after “press attacks.”

By Nke Valentine

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Biya to Hand Power to Northerners under Duress

It is conjectured within very plausible quarters that Biya will hand over power to the North as any attempt to hand over to his Son Frank Biya may cost his head. Pundits have hinted that President Biya will hand over power to one of the northern Ministers instead of his son as earlier on schemed.

This cataclysmic change of the succession plan is to pre-empt political mayhem that could bother the erstwhile tranquillity of his family after he leaves power. The Vanguard gathered that abandonment of Late President Amadou Ahidjo’s corpse in Senegal remains another source of rancor between Biya, Adhidjo’s family and the entire Northern Cameroon. Besides, Late president Ahmadou was tricked by French authorities to hand over power to President Biya "their best Student” expecting that he was going to pilot the affairs of the nation sheepishly following their selfish economic plans.

The Northerners can hardly forget the treatment meted out on their kith and kin after the foiled April 6, 1984 coup d‘état. The key reason for the coup as read by Issa Adoum in his speech was the rate at which Biya and his kith and kin were plundering the state economy. At that time the rest of the Cameroonians were infatuated with Mr Biya’s “Rigor and Moralisation” and rose up as one man to defend Biya and the nation. A few years after the putchists were proven right and Cameroon crumbled under the crunch of the economic crises.

As testified in a recent video documentary Histoire d’Ahidjo, President Ahidjo was a Nationalist, a visionary with a wonderful development plan for the nation. He left so much wealth behind only to be squandered within a very short time by Biya and his country people. Ahidjo Germaine, late Amadou Ahidjo’s wife, said in the documentary that Ahidjo developed crises when he learnt that Cameroon was in economic crises.

On the contrary Biya is not a nationalist. He prefers to spend most of his time in France where he schooled and knows nothing about his country. He is even reported to have once boasted that he was the French president’s best pupil.

The pundits, who are currently working on statistics of the number days Biya spends in Cameroon in a year since he took over power from Adhijo, hinted The Vanguard that Biya will hand over power to the North under duress. The Vanguard gathered most Cameroonians preferred a northerner as next president of Cameroon to a Beti again.

He dismissed fears that Biya might replicate Gabons’s political maneuvers to catapult his son Frank successor. Though he earlier plan to hand over power to him to check any embarrassment that could bother his life after power, the under ground atomic political tension against such plans is reportedly so frightful that he had to change his plans.

The massive recruitment into the army, especially his Beti fellows into the army and the military cooperation ties with France and early plans to use inter-continental force to ram his son down the throats of Cameroonians has been neutralized by the mounting tension. Though France might try to force him to impose his son on Cameroonians, Biya seems to have understood the dangerous and selfish economic game plans and may not yield.

The political pundits lamented that Biya’s hands are tied as he is being remotely controlled from France owing to the fact that France, La République du Cameroon’s colonial master, has never granted Cameroon Economic and Political independence. Biya antagonized his relationship with France by embracing other strong western Countries like America amongst others. Such moves by Biya to free Cameroon from France taunted French authorities. This explains why Nicolas Sarkozy at first ignored Biya when he came to power. “Though he pretended that he was not going to embrace sit-tight African leaders, what took him to Bongo of Gabon who had been Head of State for forty years, more than Biya that had only clocked twenty five at the time?” he questioned.

It is also rumored that former Finance Minister Polycap Abah Abah gave Nicolas Sarkozy financial assistance during his presidential campaign on condition that he was going to cause Biya to quit for him to take over. According to this school of thought, this accounts for Sarkozy’s indifference to Biya in his early days on the French throne. The Sarkozy- Abah Abah ploy against the President in preparation for the 2011 presidential race is what is today known as the G11. Biya reportedly got wind of the ploy and had to cage all those who featured in the list. This is where Zaccheus Forjindam former Director of Chantier Naval,fell into the dragnet, Jean Marie Atangana Mebara former Secretary General at the Presidency,Olanguena Awono former Minister of Public Health not withstanding.

By Julius Nyassa

Biya, repeated Press Reports and Refusals: When shall this end

Two weeks ago the Minister of Communication, Alhaji Issa Tchiroma Bakary, purportedly opposition Minister in Mr Biya’s Government, was very vocal in denouncing reports from the French Press on Biya’s lavish expenditure in a hotel in France. The proprietor of the hotel himself came up to denounce such as people trying to run down his customer. He did not however refute the fact that Biya and his entourage did not lodge there. The motions of support and the marches against these 'untruths' are surely on the way.

This refusal follows closely on the heels of the one published by the French Catholic NGO CCFD. This report considered very damaging on the Head of State and his family revealed among other things, Biya’s wealth in France, his altruism to a cult OSTI and the wealth of his son Biya Frank.

The questions here which beg for answers are: do the press organs that propagate this information hate Biya? What do they gain by doing such mischief, if mischief it is? Are they sponsored by some group or country as anti-campaign against Biya in view of the 2011 Presidential bid? Finally are these press organs above the law that Biya can not sue them in court?

The most interesting aspect of it is that Mr Biya himself has never made any public statement about such publications. It is said silence is consent. What baffles The Vanguard newspaper is why outsiders have decided to weep louder than the bereaved. Although it is said that a public figure does not have any personal life at least once in a while Mr Biya has to come out and defend his person. The fact that he has adopted a life of passivity and always allows time to solve his problems; it is not a very good strategy. His arrogance beats imagination. He seems to take Cameroonians for some of those imbeciles that are probably electronically fabricated and do not have blood circulating in them. They can thus be treated with such spiteful arrogance with impunity.

Surrounded by sycophants of the highest order it is possible to reach such heights in arrogance. His choir boys of CRTV would stop at nothing to shamelessly say the President is moving in the most expensive attire when he is moving naked. And so it was when he landed at the Nsimalen airport last week after his three-week luxurious holidays at the expense of the Cameroonian taxpayer the boys were not ashamed to be saying he went to Europe only with six people naming a few ministers and forgetting about his wife children, dog, stewards and you can name the rest.

It is equally very disheartening that a country which the most venerated person in the world has visited not once, not twice but three times, I mean the Pope, could be loaded with such obscenities. Cultism, corruption, immorality and you can name the rest is the order of the day in Cameroon. In short Cameroon could be likened to the Biblical Sodom and Gomorra.

Yet we thrive on, smiling in difficulties, staging marches everyday to denounce what the press says about our president, sending motions of support, calling on our president to be there for all his life since if he quits Cameroon will cease to exist. Cheers and let’s keep suffering and smiling!

By Nke Valentine

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dance With Kings in Amsterdam, NL

African diaspora, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 12 september. Ghana’s community in The Netherlands celebrate their cultural heritage with the annual Dance With Kings festival in Amsterdam. Honoring Ghana’s royalties living in Europe en the kings and queens who came over from Ghana. The festival takes place on the square named after the Surinam-Dutch freedom fighter Anton de Kom. His statute stands tall above all the gathered audiences and royalties. This edition pays tribute to the relationship between Ghana, Surinam and The Netherlands. And welcomes former president of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings as special guest.

From the brand new local swimming pool building the royalties from Ghana parade to their seats. King’s men and queen’s women escort their masters with golden decorated parasols. They all wear colorful traditional dresses that suits the hot summer weather. The royalties wear a lot of golden jewelry to display their wealth. Traditional greetings welcome the royalties one by one. The public becomes even more enthusiastic when the former President of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings arrives. He makes a round over the square greeting all the audience who hardly can see him, a dozen photo and camera men surrounding him. Finally taking a seat on the VIP stand opposite of the stand with the traditional rulers.

A traditional prayer opens the ceremonies, as the host explains: “Before the Europeans came we had our own ways to pray to the same God.” The arrival of the Europeans is also the start of the special relation ship between Ghana’s, Dutch’s and Surinam’s communities. Many traditional dressed women wear the Dutch or Surinam colors. One woman wears a dress made for the occasion: “Symbolic for one people all over Holland. A dress with the national colors of Ghana, The Netherlands and Surinam.” One of the kings thanks al the audience for their interested in Ghana’s culture and says feels sad that five kings could not come because the Dutch embassy in Accra refused the visa. The president of the Amsterdam Southeast city counsel. Mrs Elvira Sweet makes a enthusiastic welcome speech but receives a poor applause.

Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands have a relationship that started for more than 400 years ago. The ancestors of the kings and queens are the ones who started wars out of financial gain. Captured enemies and sold them as slaves. The Dutch ancestors, transported them to the colonies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Tame the prisoned Africans by braking the spirits and destroying their cultural consciences forcing them into obedient slaves. The most slaves had to work till they dropped dead. And where easily replaced with new stock brought in from the African continent.

The steps to the higher road form a big stand where the audience have a clear view. In between them the statute of Anton de Kom. He was the son of a man born in slavery, became political involved and sent into exile from his native Suriname by the Dutch colonial authorities. In The Netherlands he wrote his book ‘We Slaves of Surinam’. During the Germans occupation in the Second World War he joined the Dutch resistance. He was captured and sent into forced labor and died of TBC in a concentration camp in Germany in 1944.

Ghana was known as the Gold Coast and the profits of the trade made the rise of the powerful Asanta kingdom possible. The Dutch sailed away with huge profits and celebrate this period in their history as The Dutch Republic’s Golden Century. For the many victims of the trade, this history’s heritage still effects the daily life of their descendants.

Text and photo's by: Auke VanderHoek

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Intelligence agency personnel visit free expression organisation, director goes into hiding

(MRA/IFEX) - On 8 September 2009 at about 1:30 p.m. (local time), two agents from the State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria’s intelligence agency, visited the offices of Development Dynamics, a freedom of expression NGO based in Owerri, in Imo State, southeastern Nigeria.

They told Mr. Callistus Nwachukwu, the organisation's administrative officer, that they came as a result of Development Dynamics' bi-weekly interactive radio programme "Democracy Forum" aired on Radio Nigeria Heartland FM in Owerri on 7 September, with the theme "Democracy and the Banking Industry in Nigeria".

They claimed that they had been instructed to monitor the organisation's activities and requested to see Mr. Jude Ohanele, the organisation’s program director, who was not in the office at the time.

Mr. Nwachukwu called Mr. Ohanele on his cell phone and he spoke with one of the SSS agents who gave his name as Nna Stephen. The agent reportedly insisted that they needed to interrogate Mr. Ohanele in person on the activities of Development Dynamics as he could not be questioned over the phone.

Mr. Ohanele said later in a statement that: "In recent times we have noticed that our office is being monitored as we see strange faces around the neighbourhood once in a while looking in the direction of our office. Neighbours also informed us of visitors visiting their premises to ask to be directed to our office but who ended up not visiting our office despite being directed."

In a telephone interview with Mr. Ayode Longe, Media Rights Agenda’s senior program officer, Mr. Ohanele disclosed that he will be staying away from his office until he is able to determine why he is being sought. He added that the SSS officials said they had instructions from the Abuja headquarters of the SSS to go to the office of Development Dynamics to interrogate him.

The organisation called on well meaning individuals and groups to help it demand that the SSS back down from disrupting its lawful free expression activities or arresting and detaining its staff.

More info:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NW Governor given Ultimatum to Quit Residence

The inter-ministerial Commission on disaster management of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation (MINATD) has issued an ultimatum calling on the Governor of the North West Region, Abakar Ahamat, to quit his residence as the catastrophes around his residence intensify The commission, which was in Bamenda for three days brain-storming on the causes and solutions of the ubiquitous landslides, flood waters and collapsing roads and houses, finally came out with their recommendations on Wednesday, August 19.

Presenting, the recommendations at Ayaba hotel, the head of the commission, Dr. Jean Pierre Nana, who doubles as the Director of civil Protection of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, said before other measures will be taken to mitigate the catastrophes, the Governor of the North West must quit his residence as fast as possible. He observed that his team discovered that the early August landslide was just some few metres away from the Governor’s residence while several cracks were visible around the residence and on the Governor’s house which was constructed by the Germans 106 years ago. “The Governor must leave immediately and lodge else where to obviate any embarrassment”. He warned.

It was equally recommended that the water ways with bridges should be drained either weekly or monthly to avoid flood waters caused by the blockade of the water ways and the population warned against the dangers of throwing garbage in the water ways.

To facilitate proper disposal of the garbage, both the Government and municipal councils were enjoined to put up garbage cans at strategic portions of the town so as to prevent the population from throwing garbage along the water ways.

Harping on the lasting solutions to the collapse of a portion of the national road between Bamenda and Santa which cut the entire North West Region from the world, the commission stressed that more than two roads should be constructed to link Bamenda to West Region while the collapsed portion of the National road is properly constructed. It was therefore recommended that a road should be constructed to link Galim in West Region to Bamali in Ndop and Bamenda in the North West and another constructed to link Santa to Bali Sub Division and Bamenda.

To prevent landslides which are experienced in several places in the Region this year, it was recommended that trees should be planted on the risk zones to reduce the water table. Earlier, the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Vincent Ndumu Nji, ordered the residents in risk zones in his municipality to quit latest April 16, 2010.

Between August 3 and 10 this year, Bamenda town recorded untold flood waters, landslides and the sinking of the roads. As a result, a child was killed at Sisia quarters, four houses collapsed including the concrete walls of Vatican travel agency fence and the sinking of a portion of National road Number 6 between Bamenda and Santa.

At Press time, the Mayor of Bamenda II, Balick Fidelis Awah, announced the collapse of a bridge between Bamenda and Mbengwi and another road leading to GHBS Down Town, Bamenda.

From our news desk
Photos by: George Kweilla Fombutu and Auke VanderHoek

Lake Nyos

The following is reprinted from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader: World of Odd.
Here’s the story of how scientists unlocked the secrets of the worst natural disaster in the history of the West African nation of Cameroon… and what they’re doing to try and stop it from happening again.

The discovery

On the morning of August 22, 1986, a man hopped onto his bicycle and began riding from Wum, a village in Cameroon, towards the village of Nyos. On the way he noticed an antelope lying dead next to the road. Why let it go to waste? The man tied the antelope onto his bicycle and continued on. A short distance later he noticed two dead rats, and further on, a dead dog and other dead animals. He wondered if they’d all been killed by a lightening lightning strike; when lightening lightning hits the ground it’s not unusual for animals and humans nearby to be killed by the shock.

Soon the man came upon a group of huts. He decided to see if anyone there knew what had happened to the animals. But as he walked up to the huts he was stunned to see dead bodies strewn everywhere. He didn’t find a single person still alive, everyone in the huts was dead. The man threw down his bicycle and ran all the way back to Wum.

Something big

Nyos village, where nearly 2,000 people were killed. By the time the man got back to the village, the first survivors of whatever it was that had struck Nyos and other nearby villages were already stumbling into Wum. Many told tales of hearing an explosion or rumbling noise in the distance, then smelling strange smells and passing out for as long as 36 hours before waking up to discover that everyone around them was dead.

Wum is in a remote part of Cameroon, so it took two days for a medical team to arrive in the area after local officials called the governor to report the strange occurrence. The doctors found a catastrophe far greater than they could have imagined: Overnight, something had killed nearly 1,800 people. Plus more than 3,000 cattle and countless wild animals, birds and insects. In short every living creature for miles around.

The official death toll was recorded as 1,746 people, but that was only an estimate, because the survivors had already begun to bury victims in mass graves, and many terrified survivors had fled corpse-filled villages and were hiding in the forest. Whatever it was that killed so many people seemed to have disappeared without a trace just as quickly as it had come.

Looking for clues

What could have caused so many deaths in such a short span of time? When word of the disaster reached the outside world, scientists from France (Cameroon is a former French colony), the United States, and other countries arrived to help the country’s own scientists figure out what had happened. The remains of the victims offered few clues. There was no evidence of bleeding, physical trauma, or disease, and no sign of exposure to radiation, chemical weapons, or poison gas. And there was no evidence of suffering or “death agony”: The victims apparently just blacked out, fell over, and died.
One of the first important clues was the distribution of the victims across the landscape: The deaths had all occurred within about 12 miles of Lake Nyos, which some local tribes called the “bad lake.” Legend had that long ago, evil spirits had risen out of the lake and killed all the people living in a village at the water’s edge.

Both the number of victims and the presence of fatalities increased as the scientists got closer to the lake: In the outlying villages many people, especially those who had remained inside their homes, had survived, while in Nyos, which is less than two miles away was the closest village to the lake, only 6 of more than 800 villagers were still alive.

But it was the lake itself that provided the biggest and strangest clue of all: its normally clear blue waters have turned a deep, murky red. The scientists began to wonder if there was more to the legend of the “bad lake” than anyone had realised.

Still life

Lake Nyos is roughly one square mile in surface area and has a maximum depth of 690 feet. It’s what’s known as a “crater lake”, it formed when the crater of a long-extinct volcano filled with water. But was the volcano really extinct? Maybe an eruption was the culprit: Maybe the volcano beneath the lake had come back to life and in the process suddenly released enough poison gas to kill every living creature over a very wide area.

The theory was compelling but problematic: An eruption capable of releasing enough poison gas to kill that many people over that wide an area would have been very violent and accompanied by plenty of seismic activity. None of the eyewitnesses had mentioned earthquakes, and when the scientists checked with seismic recording station 140 miles away, it showed no evidence of unusual activity on the evening of August 21. This was backed up by the fact that even in the hardest-hit villages, goods were still piled high on shelves in homes where every member of the house-hold had been killed. And the scientists noticed another mysterious clue: The oil lamps in these homes had all been extinguished even the ones still filled with plenty of oil.

Testing the waters

The scientists began to test water samples taken from various depths in the lake. The red on the surface turned out to be dissolved iron, normally found on the bottom of the lake and not on the top. Somehow the sediment at the bottom had been stirred up and the iron brought to the surface, where it turned the colour of rust after coming into contact with oxygen.

The scientists also discovered unusually high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved or “in solution” in the water. Samples from a as shallow as 50 feet deep contained so much CO2 that when they were pulled to the surface, where the water pressure was lower, the dissolved CO2 came bubbling out of solution, just as if someone had unscrewed the cap on a bottle of soda.

Contents under pressure

As the scientists took samples from deeper and deeper in Lake Nyos, the already high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels climbed steadily higher. At the 600 foot depth, the levels suddenly shot off the charts. Beyond that depth, the CO2 levels were so high that when the scientists tried to pull the samples to the surface, the containers burst from the pressure of all the gas that came out of solution. The scientists had to switch to pressurised containers to collect their samples, and when they did they were stunned to find that the water at the bottom of the lake contained five gallons of dissolved CO2 for every gallon of water.

As the scientists pieced together the evidence, they began to form a theory that centered around the large amount of CO2 in the lake. The volcano that formed Lake Nyos may have been long extinct, but the magma chamber that fed it was still active deep below the surface of the Earth. And it was still releasing carbon dioxide gas, not just into Lake Nyos, but into the surrounding environment as well. In fact, it’s not uncommon in Cameroon to find frogs and other small animals suffocated in CO2 “puddles” that have formed in low points along the ground. (CO2 is heavier than air and can pool in low spots until the wind blows it away).

But what was unusual about Lake Nyos wasn’t that there was CO2 in the lake; that happens in lakes all over the world. What was unusual was that the CO2 had apparently never left, instead of bubbling to the surface and dissipating into the air, the CO2 was accumulating at the bottom of the lake.

Ups and downs

In most lakes CO2 escaped because the water is continually circulating, thanks to a process known as convection: rain, cold weather or even just wind blowing across the surface of the lake can cause the topmost layer of water to cool, making it denser and therefore heavier than the warmer layer below. The cool water sinks to the bottom of the lake, displacing the warmer, CO2 rich water and pushing it higher enough for the CO2 to come out of the solution, bubble to the surface, and escape into the air.

Still waters run deep

That’s what usually happens, but the water at the bottom of Lake Nyos was so saturated with CO2 that it was clear that something was interfering with the convection process. As the scientists soon discovered, the waters of Lake Nyos are among the most still in the world: Tall hills surround the lake, blocking the wind and causing the lake to be unusually consistent in temperature from the surface to the bottom. And because Lake Nyos is in a tropical climate that remains hot all year round, the water temperature doesn’t vary much from season to season, either. Lastly, because the lake is so deep, even when the surface is disturbed, very little of the agitation finds its way to the lake floor. The unusual stillness of the lake is what made it so deadly.

Full to bursting

There is a physical limit to how much CO2 water can absorb, even under the tremendous pressure that exists at the bottom of a 690 foot deep lake. As the bottom layers become saturated, the CO2 is pushed up to where the pressure is low enough for it to start coming out of solution. At this point any little disturbance—a landslide, stormy weather, or even high winds or just a cold snap—can cause the CO2 to begin bubbling to the surface. And when the bubbles start rising, they can cause a siphoning or “chimney” effect, triggering a chain reaction that in one giant upheaval can cause the lake to disgorge CO2 that has been accumulating in the lake for decades.

CO2 is odourless, colourless, and non-toxic; your body produces it and you exhale some every time you breathe. Even the air you inhale consists of about 0.05% CO2. What makes it a killer in certain circumstances is that fact that it’s heavier than air. If enough escapes into the environment at once, it displaces the air on the ground, making breathing impossible. A mixture of as little as 10% CO2 in the air can be fatal: even 5% can smother a flame… which explained why the oil lamps went out.

Snuffed out

The scientists figured that if their theory was correct, there might be other instances of similar eruptions in the past. It didn’t take very long to find one, and they didn’t have to look very far, either: Two years earlier, on August 15, 1984, a loud boom was heard coming from Lake Monoun, a crater lake just 59 miles Southeast of Lake Nyos. In the hours that followed, 37 people died mysteriously, including a group of 17 people who died while walking to work when they came to a low point in the road—just the place where CO2 would have settled after being released from the lake. The incident was small enough that it hadn’t attracted much attention from the outside world…until now.

The big bang

In the months following the disaster at Lake Nyos, the scientists continued to monitor the lake’s CO2 levels. When the levels began to increase again, they concluded that their theory was correct. In the meantime, they had also come up with an estimate of just how much CO2 had escaped from the lake on August 22 and were stunned by what they found. Eyewitness accounts from people who were high enough in the hills above the lake to survive the eruption described how the lake began bubbling strangely on August 17, causing a misty cloud to form above the surface of the water.

Then without warning, on August 22, the lake suddenly exploded; water and gas shot a couple of hundred feet into the air. The CO2 had taken up so much space in the lake that when it was finally released 1.2 cubic kilometers of CO2 -enough to fill 10 football stadiums- in as little as 20 seconds. (Are you old enough to remember the huge volume of ash that Mt. Saint Helens released when it erupted in 1980? That eruption released only 1/3 of one cubic kilometre of ash, a quarter of Lake Nyos’s emission.)

Cloud of doom

Cattle herders graze their animals on the hills above Lake Nyos, and after the lake disgorged as much as 80% of its massive store of CO2 in one big burst, dead cattle were found as high as 300 feet above the lake, indicating that the suffocating cloud shot at least that high before settling back onto the surface. Then the gas poured over the crater’s edge into the valley below, travelling at an estimated 45 miles per hour.

For people living in the village closest to the lake, death was almost inevitable. A few people on hillsides had the presence of mind to climb to higher ground; one man who saw his neighbours drop like flies jumped on his motorcycle and managed to keep ahead of the gas as he sped to safety. There were the lucky few. Most people didn’t realise the danger until they were being overcome by the gas. Even if they had, it would have been impossible to outrun such a fast-moving cloud.

Curiosity killed the cat

In villages farther away from the lake, people had a better chance of survival, especially if they ignored the noise the lake made as it disgorged its CO2. Some survivors said it sounded like a gunshot or an explosion; others described it as a rumble. But people who stepped outside their homes to see where the noise had come from, or to see what had caused the rotten egg smell (a common smell “hallucination” associated with CO2 poisoning) quickly collapsed and died right on their own doorsteps. The sight of these first victims passing out often brought other members of the household to the door, where they, too, were overcome…and killed.

People who were inside with their windows and doors shut had a better chance of surviving. There were even cases where enough CO2 seeped into homes to smother people who were lying down asleep, but not enough to kill the people who were standing up and had their heads above the gas. Some of these survivors did not even realise anything unusual had happened until they checked on their sleeping loved ones and discovered they were already dead.

An ounce of prevention

The disaster at Lake Nyos was only the second such incident in the recorded history—the 1984 incident at Lake Monoun was the first. To date, scientists believe that only three lakes in the entire world, Nyos, Monoun, and a third lake called Lake Kivu on the border of Congo and Rwanda, accumulate deadly amounts of dissolved CO2 at great depths.

It had taken about a year to figure out what had happened at Nyos. Then, when it became clear that the lake was filling with CO2 again, the government of Cameroon evacuated all the villages within 18 miles of the lake and razed them to prevent their inhabitants from coming back until the lake could be made safe.

Scientists spent the next decade trying to figure out a way to safely release the gas before disaster struck again. They eventually settled on a plan to sink a 51/2-inch diameter tube down more than 600 feet, to just above the floor of the lake. Then when some of the water from the bottom was up to the top of the tube, it would rise high enough in the tube for the CO2 to come out of solution and form bubbles, which would cause it to shoot out the top of the tube, blasting water and gas more than 150 feet into the sky. Once it got started, the siphon effect would cause the reaction to continue indefinitely, or at least until the CO2 ran out. A prototype was installed and tested in 1995, and after it proved to be safe, a permanent tube was installed in 2001.

Race against time

As of the fall of 2006 the tube was still in place releasing more than 700 million cubic feet of CO2 into the air each year. That’s a little bit more than enters the lake in the same amount of time. Between 2001 and 2006, the CO2 levels in Lake Nyos dropped 13%.

But the scientists who study the lake are concerned that 13% is still too small an amount. The lake still contains more CO2 than was released in the 1986 disaster, and as if that’s not bad enough, a natural dam on the north side of the lake is eroding and could fail in as little as five years. If the dam collapses, the disaster of 1986 may prove to be just a small taste of things to come: In the event of a dam failure, 50 million cubic meters of water could pour out of the lake, drowning as many as 10,000 as it washed through the valleys below. That’s only the beginning, releasing that much water from the lake would cause the level of the lake to drop as much as 130 feet, removing the water pressure that keeps the CO2 at the bottom of the lake and causing a release of gas even more catastrophic than the devastation of 1986.


Scientists and engineers have devised a plan for shoring up the natural dam with concrete, and it’s believed that the installation of as few as for more siphon tubes could reduce the CO2 in the lake to safe levels in as little as four years. The scientists are hard at work trying to find the funding to do it, and there’s no time to waste: “We could have a gas burst tomorrow that is bigger than either (the Lake Monoun or Lake Nyos) disaster”, says Dr. George Kling, an University of Michigan ecologist who has been studying the lake for 20 years. “Every day we wait is just an accumulation of the probability that something bad is going to happen.”

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Wonderful World of Odd.

This book focuses on the odd-side of life and features articles like the strangest TV shows never made, the creepiest insect on Earth, odd medical conditions, and many, many more.
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts.