Sunday, 17 February 2019

“Football in Cameroon: the lingering issues”

Cameroon, also known as Africa in miniature, is one of the countries in Africa with relative political stability, until late 2016. By her enormous material and human resources, she is an economic power in the Central Africa sub-region. Her growing population estimated about 23 million, are diverse sports enthusiasts, especially football – the most popular sports in the country, played in all nocks and cranny, from obscure villages to cities. 
Football in Cameroon predated independence. The Cameroon Football Federation known in its French acronym as FECAFOOT is the local football governing body, created in 1959. It joined the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFFA) and Confederation of African Football (CAF) after independence in 1962 and 1963, respectively. It’s in charge of actual management of the game of football in Cameroon, including all national football teams, male and female, from youth to senior teams. Football events and or programmes are handled by this football house though under the supervision of the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education. FECAFOOT organizes the Cameroon Cup – the oldest and most popular football event in the country. Final game of Cameroon Cup is usually presided by the Head of State, according to constitutional provision. Cameroon’s domestic football league (both male and female) is equally organized and managed by FECAFFOT. The main league (male football league) started as a harmonized league for West and East Cameroon in 1968, when the then West Cameroon football league was surreptitiously disbanded. The Federal Football League was thrown up, which later stayed with its former East Cameroon appellation “The National First Division Championship”.

In the sixties, seventies and early eighties, the first division Championship was a stiff competition among domestic football clubs. Most of these clubs were formed according to tribal and or regional lines, with solid fan base that are sometimes fanatical.  Match days used to be great fanfare for winners and sorrow for losers, and often marked with violence - at the time when football was less lucrative and played just for the pleasure of it. Those were the days of football clubs like Oryx, Caimant, Dynamo and Union Sportive of Douala, Cambank, P & T and Prisons of Buea, Lion, Canon, Tonnerre Kalala and Diamant, all in Yaounde, PWD Bamenda, PWD Kumba, etc.
These clubs produced football greats and legends like Mbape Lepe, Joseph Ewunkem, Rodolphe Tokoto, Gregoire Mbida, Manga Onguene, Theophile Abega, Thomas Nkono and Emmanuel Kunde. Later were Bell Antoine, Milla Roger, Louis-Paul Mfede, the Biyick brothers of Francois Omam-Biyick and Kanan Biyick, and many others. They dominated Cameroon domestic football at the time and also brought the country to limelight in African football through clubs like Canon, which played a unique style of football that nick-named them 'Brazilians of Africa'. Canon won continental tittles: the African Cup of Champions in 1978 and 1980, as well as the African Winners Cup in 1979. These crop of players also formed integral part of the national team in the sixties, played in the national team when Cameroon hosted the African Cup of Nations in 1972 and the world Cup in 1982, where the team participated without loosing a match, though kicked out in the first round.

Between the last five decades and now, Cameroon football and even the domestic league has evolved. The national first division championship metamorphosed into Cameroon Professional League, operating into Divisions one and two, comprising 18 football clubs for Division one (as was in the 60’s) and 15 for Division two. The league has become comparatively lucrative, with corporate sponsorships. Communication giant like MTN are picking up sponsorship bills.
Development of grassroots and youth football has come to the fore over these periods. Inter-quarter football competitions are gaining momentum - organized during summer holidays to get more students and other young people involved. It is sponsored mainly by local council authorities and sometimes prominent Elites of towns and villages. The competition has a national spread.
The popular “Top Cup” football competition is another competition organized for different categories of youths, sponsored by the Brewery Company ‘Le Brasseries du Cameroon’. These football competitions saw the emergence of small village or community football clubs. Rural clubs like Ikata Farmers in Meme Division of Southwest Region came through this rank and made indelible marks in the Southwest regional interpool football tournament. Football academies also sprang up, like the Brasseries football academy, Njalla Quan football academy and others – training many young people in aspects of the game of football. This dimension of youth football development harnessed potentials and showcased young talents. It groomed young players who not only came to national football limelight but later formed the bedrock of different cadres of the national football team. They also formed part of Cameroon professional footballers plying their trade in other developed football leagues in the world. The likes of Augustine Simo, Samuel Eto’o, Rigobert Song, late Fue MacVivan, and others who were part of the national team at one time or the other, emanated from this process.

This process somewhat reflected on the glory days of Cameroon football in Africa. Though the country has not done significantly well in youth championships in the continent, the senior national team, Indomitable Lions has been very successful by all standards. Founded in 1959, the Indomitable Lions has won African Cup of Nations five times (including back to back in 2000 and 2002), with latest win this 2017. It has made six world cup appearances, with a scintillating performance in 1990, where it got to the quarter final, being the first African team to do so. This feat was among the considerations that gingered the increase of African participating teams from three to five, at the Mondial. The Lions as popular called in Cameroon, has equally won football gold at the Olympics and runners-up at the FIFFA Confederation cup. On individual basis, some Cameroon players have won the annual African Best Player Award at different times; notably Milla Roger, Thomas Nkono and Samuel Eto’o who won it for a record five times.

As laudable as these achievements, it is rather paradoxical that football in Cameroon is still bedeviled by challenges. Endemic corruption, poor infrastructure, poor management and administration are some lingering issues which have negatively impacted football in the country.
Corruption is somewhat institutionalized in Cameroon’s football management and structure, like a cankerworm nourishing deep on the system. It has become both the motivation and goal to serve in football management positions. It goes in the way of ‘dash’, ‘gifts’, ‘greasing of palms’, outright embezzlement and misappropriation. According to a football club manager, those who think Cameroon football is doing well simply because the national team always qualify for international tournaments like AFCON and World Cup, are wrong. Individual Cameroonian football players, especially those playing for foreign clubs, are doing well. They are the ones propping up the national team but football at home is dying. Former General Manager of Fecafoot, Jean-Lambert Nang, said in his book ‘Desperate Football House’: “Cameroon football is a victim of treachery, fraud, financial trafficking, corruption of the actors and personnel, impunity on the part of its main stakeholders, falsification of official documents and the ages of footballers as well as the indifference of officialdom”. Nang, who is also a celebrated sports journalist, seconded to Fecafoot by the government, was sacked as General Manager because he was viewed by Fecafoot as a spy who came only to dig out what’s done in the football house. He cited several cases where personal interests were placed before the general interest of football and its main actors – the players:

During the 1998 World Cup, the then Minister of Communication who was in charge of allowances intended for players, simply pocketed the money and announced that he had ‘forgotten’ the bag containing the money in the aircraft. Another minister, collected eight million FCFA (US $16 000) for an air ticket saying that the ticket bought for him had gone missing. He eventually boarded the plane using the ticket which was supposedly missing. In 2007, one of the private mobile telephone operators in the country (MTN) signed a convention with Fecafoot for the renovation of a number of stadia in the country for a total sum of 400 million FCFA (about US $800 000). The telephone company was to provide 300 million FCFA (US $600 000) and FECAFOOT 100 million (US $200 000). While MTN disbursed part of its own share of the money for commencement of work, Fecafoot would not come up with its own money. At one time the company threatened to stop financing the project unless Fecafoot pay its share. But instead of the football management paying up in order to ensure that the renovation work continued, it gave 73 million FCFA (about US $146 000) to the then Minister of Youth and Sports so that he could “breathe better” – as he said after receiving the money. At the of the 2014 World Cup, football officials from Cameroon, including then Fecafoot president overpaid themselves by 235 million FCFA (US $470 000). They were ordered by Prime Minister Philemon Yang to repay the money. Few years ago, Parliament appropriated a total of 12 035 585 000 FCFA (about US $24.1 million) for the renovation of existing infrastructure and preparation of players for international competitions within three years. There is nothing to show for this money.

Poor infrastructure or facilities has been the bane of football growth and development in Cameroon. Divine providence has endowed the country with abundant football talents, more than it has so far been tapped. Many of these talents never found expressions due to gross lack of facilities; raising the issue of luck, player’s exposure, skill, passion and personal efforts to succeed, as instrumental in Cameroon’s modest achievements in international football. Many football experts never attributed these achievements to impact of good football infrastructure, in a country where professional domestic league matches are still played on hard rough ground sometimes laden with red mud and players splashing through deep puddles, when it rains. This is happening in this 21st century.
Until Cameroon commenced preparation for both the 2016 and 2019 AFCON, football facilities in the country was in complete comatose. The country could boast of two main stadia: Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé and Reunification stadium Douala, both built in 1972 when she played host to the African Nations Cup. Later, the Garoua Rhoumji Adja stadium came. Yaoundé and Garoua stadia were more in use and therefore had intermittent face lifts because of the football engagements of Coton Sport Garoua, and the national football teams. Douala stadium was more of debris.
The new stadia in Limbe and Baffoussam, ongoing second stadia in Yaoundé and Douala (all with adjoining training pitches), are ripple effects of Cameroon’s hosting rights for the two AFCON competitions, majority of funding which are from partnership agreements and loan facilities. If AFCON had not been in view, obviously the status quo of ruin, dilapidation and total lack of football infrastructure could have persisted.

Poor management and administration is a critical menace of football in Cameroon. Football management is laden with corruption, breeding nepotism, tribalism and favouritisms in the appointment of football administrators. FIFFA’s stand on non-interference and independence of national football associations will remain an international chorus as far as government funds football association, which is also indirectly accountable to government. There are many instances where government had to step in to save the country and national team from international embarrassment on issues of player’s bonuses and wages of technical manager and staff..
Appointment of Minister in charge of sports and so called election of Fecafoot executive committee are manipulated and influenced by government in one way or the other; thereby creating jobs and opportunities for political loyalists, friends and cronies. This leads to football positions having increasing political significance where merit and competence are completely voided. One time head coach of the national team Artur Jorge resigned his position because of undue interference in the technical management of the national football team by then Minister of Sports and Physical Education. Such interference ensures talent and skill are jettisoned for mediocrity, in the selection of players for all levels of national team. Former executive vice- president of defunct mount Cameroon football club, Buea said that the current management style and regulations of Cameroon Football Federation needs complete overhaul.
Transparency and accountability in management is non-existing. Cash awards in international tournaments like the six AFCON victories, FIFFA grants for world cup participations, gate takings from international and local matches are all shrouded in secrecy – like an in-house affair between the football body and other government stakeholders.  At one time, staff at the Fecafoot headquarters almost brought football activities to a standstill because they were owed 44 months’ salary. FIFA sent money to Fecafoot to pay the arrears. However, officials paid only 16 months’ arrears and pocketed the money for the remaining 28 months.

To move forward, the state of football in Cameroon needs critical diagnosis for appropriate steps to be taken to effect changes. Football remains the most popular sports in the country that has become integral part of social life of the population. Cameroonians of all levels are great football fans. Condoning corruption in the system is capable of suffocating their passion for the game and their unflinching support for the national team. Therefore issue of corruption should be adequately addressed even if it requires effective legislation for punitive measures.
‘Operation Sparrow hawk’ – the anti-corruption move of government should be strengthened and football management included in its scope. The football house and supervisory authority in the country needs sound management. Development of the game as a viable commercial entity will never be possible if mismanagement and administrative malfeasance continues. Domestic league should be improved, with processes for selection or election, transparency and accountability put in place - which gives the populace a stake and sense of belonging.
Sound administration and management will reflect on good vision to develop football infrastructure beyond major football events. The need therefore to devise better strategy for maintenance culture that will sustain ongoing infrastructural upgrades in the country, as benefits of hosting CAF tournaments.

Written By:  Godycreative

                                                                                                            Twitter:       @Godycreative
                    “NEED FOR A THIRD FORCE”
To remain relevant in any endeavour is to keep making impact. Lack of impact erodes relevance thereby making change inevitable. Change is not necessarily due to obsolete, the need therefore for a
third Force in Cameroon’s political trajectory. It can not be more necessary than now. By this third force, I mean a formidable political force that will fulfill the yearnings of the people for good governance and other dividends of democracy.

In 1985, the existing force now holding sway changed nomenclature and became the First and only force. This change in nomenclature was somewhat heralded by the people, with expectation of ripple effect – that the change would reflect on socio-political governance and economic wellbeing. It seemed so, but soon, appearance and reality maintained their difference. The change conundrum became enough on logo and personality. “Democratic movement” became mere appellation, as the First Force brandished its own form of democracy coloured with impunity, arbitrariness and high handedness. A poisoned silence prevailed over the entire political space, mistaken of course for peace. People groaned for real change but none could dare the status quo, where all and sundry belonged. It was the only force, so you either agree voluntarily with subtle pressure or angled as an enemy. During elections or voting, the people had just one choice, yet perpetually impoverished and brazenly manipulated by politicians who cruised to positions of influence riding on their permissive will. The people were coerced to submit, hoodwinked by lies and bogus promises, induced with cash – dangled at them like a piece of fish set to trap an erring domestic rat.

Then the Second Force came into being, in the midst of glaring inner turmoil and grave yard peace. Like Moses in the liberation of slave burdened Jews, the Second Force was triggered by the wave of change and political pluralism across most part of the globe in the 90’s. It was as if the masses had been waiting for a lead. Their break-forth from fear, sycophancy and flattery, and a fast switch to the new Second Force seemed a turn around in their captivity like the biblical Zion. They were willing and ready to call a spade a spade. Their patriotic spirit was re-enacted. They wanted change at all cost and gave unalloyed support to the change crusaders.
For the first time, I saw fellow compatriots resolute and firm, even at very close range with gun trotting security operatives released against them like hunting dogs. They were a little combative. Blood spilled and wanton destruction seen on the side of the state. The masses vented their anger and pitched tent with the Second Force which emerged as aftermath of events of that moment. It cut across the east and west, far beyond language and cultural affiliations: the “Francos and Anglos” in cordant tunes like when the national football team is in a competition.

The Second Force was embraced and earned the people’s trust and basked on this good will and became the people’s hope for change. That hope had become forlorn since they digressed into secret hub-nub and hypocrisy, enjoying the assemblage and financial support of state machinery controlled by the First Force, in utter disregard of playing the watch dog which they even abandoned for sudden wealth. Some of them who used to be average career men and women with integrity are lifted to elite class of ‘neaveau riche’ - now parading in affluence. Their lifestyle reeks of ills and they are indiscreetly disjointed from the people’s expectation - like the biblical Joshua the high priest with the filthy garment which put him at a distance from God’s presence. The Second Force fast became ordinary, in similitude to other lesser forces who are confused, without clear-cut direction either to the left or right; more of appendages of the First Force.

The Second Force could have provided an alternative choice if their slogan of ‘power to the people’ is anything to go by. They are complete leftist with seeming territorial spread but the nuances with the First Force are not so glaring. It has been the same lies and deceits, same unfulfilled promises, same nepotism or support for those considered cronies, same venal kleptocracy, and same autocracy in internal processes: one Lion King on the saddle for too long, in charge of the zoo and charging for the jungle, holding both the oath and promise. Transparency is voided and tribal stronghold lingers – with streams of exodus and abdication. Theirs has always been threats and clamour, preferring the argument of force than the force of argument; all signifying nothing.

The people’s grief deepens yet the Second Force plays to the gallery until recently a bold baby Loin decided to challenge the status quo. Then another baby Lion, an off-shoot of the Lion King harps that the Lion King will not present self in contest for the jungle, giving the baby Lion the leverage to indicate interest for the jungle context. I heard another voice is added but whether he is a baby Lion, a hyena or hippopotamus remains to be seen.
However, as laudable as this move seems, it is coming rather too late when hopes had risen and fallen, and expectations skewed. It is still perceived that the Lion King may have hidden strings to rally forces around him and maintain relevance. It is believed he wants to give up one and holds another – being in charge of the Second Force for Life? May be he is giving up another for age constraints? The skeptism here stems from the fact that there is no paradigm shift because when a bird perches from one branch to another of the same tree; it is still on the tree.

What is required in the country’s political space is not a new wine in an old keg. There are possibilities of the new wine being contaminated. A formidable Third Force is needed that will chart a new course, ready and willing to give direction to the masses, and with the prevailing tension in the jungle, renew hopes for better future. A Third Force should usher a new way of doing things, with a complete departure from the old. Instead of clusters of insignificant political associations some without definite locations, coalition is possible beginning point for the Third Force, where strengths will be properly harnessed for numerical advantage. It should be a new set up driven by new breeds with passion for service in leadership. Men with scrupples
The level of political consciousness is high, all thanks to important roles played by mainstream and social media. So, dissenting political voices are not easily cowed. There are potentials in the country.  Human and material resources are also there. What I can’t vouch for is if the political will is there. It’s not about clamour, liberal platitudes on topical issues and overt criticism of the old order. It is about action, triggered by vision.

When a legal eminence recently declared interest as a new breed to participate in the jungle context, I thought he would walk in this line: rally like minds across parts of the jungle, beyond cultural influence, using his vast experience and foreign connect. But the euphoria came and soon nose dived. Little is heard about his moves and intentions, whether to the left or to the right. I pray we hear and see much of him soon.
In either case, the time for a Third Force has come. The set time is now because First and Second Forces have outlived their relevance.

By:   Godycreative

                                                                                By:  Godycreative
                                                                         Twitter:  @Godycreative.

                              “WHEN FOOTBALL COMES TO TOWN”

I was reflecting on an old African idiom recently. It says: he who borrows to impress a visitor should know that he will bear the burden of debt alone when the visitor leaves. Of course when the visitor leaves, he returns to status quo because his action lacks process and intent.
This was my thought looking at sports infrastructural updates in Cameroon, prior to her hosting the 2016 African Women Cup of Nations. The sports event took place in November 2016, in two main cities of Yaoundé and Limbe, same cities where infrastructural updates focused.  It made the map of sports infrastructure rather looking good, even months after the competition had been won and lost.

In Yaoundé, rehabilitation of the existing national stadium was favoured, together with training pitches. One of the training pitches was fitted out for 1,000 seats, as well as the military stadium, fitted for 2,000 seats. According to Jacques Blanc, Deputy Managing Director of Louis Berger the French company that handled architectural and technical studies of these two training grounds, they conformed to African Football Federation (CAF) and the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) standards, which also include fitting out new grandstands and new locker rooms and bathroom stalls.
Contract for the rehabilitation of these training grounds was awarded to Chinese company Sino- hydro at the sum of 3.2 billion francs cfa. Another French company Alcor Equipment, specialist in modular and movable stands, had the contract to equip the terraces with seating, to the sum of 3.07 billion francs cfa. Another Chinese company – Shanxi Construction Engineering, picked up rehabilitation contract for the main pitches and athletics tracks at both Omnisport stadia in Yaoundé and Limbe, at 1.2 billion francs cfa. Road and hotel infrastructures also had a face lift, same as telecommunications infrastructure notably the Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).

If Yaoundé had more of rehabilitations, Limbe was a combination of rehabilitation and new construction, but more of new construction. A brand new 25.000 capacity stadium was constructed by the Chinese, including three training grounds. Two training grounds are in Limbe, which saw the complete “overhaul” of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) Middle-farms sports field and rehabilitation work at the Limbe Centenary Stadium. One training ground was in Buea, regional capital of the Southwest. Buea is few kilometers away from Limbe and the training ground here saw the rehabilitation of the popular Molyko stadium, which used to be playing ground of defunct Mount Cameroon Football Club (MCFC), and also held matches of the Cameroon national inter-pool competition. Italian company Impressa Sartori won the contract of over 548 million francs cfa to equip the multi-purpose Limbe stadium, while Taiyuan Construction from China picked the job for fitting of stands in the stadium at 1.7 billion francs cfa.

Beside stadium, other infrastructures came alive. Cameroonian companies MAG Sarl, Buns and the Group Croisière BTP-Roud’Af, took charge of access and bypass roads of the Limbe multi-purpose sports stadium for 3.8 billion francs cfa. These roads linked the stadium with the national road from the seaside border town of Idenau through the west of Limbe, to Douala. New access road was opened from Buea, giving residents of Buea and its suburbs easy access to the stadium without a reach to Limbe main town. Rehabilitation works on national road linking Douala, Limbe and Idenau was also carried out, including in-roads within Limbe and Buea, though done by local council authorities.

 I saw the Limbe City Council going the extra mile to beautify the city: sculptors, painters and other handcrafters were engaged. Restaurants, recreation and leisure parks either had a face lift or constructed afresh. The sanitation company Hysacam was on its toes, keeping the city of Limbe spark and spin.
Hotel infrastructure had a boast. Government rehabilitated and expanded the famous Atlantic beach hotel Limbe. Other excellent private hotel facilities equally sprang up. In Buea, government awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of hotels, with contracts given to Cameroon companies. Gresceram International won 5.6 billion francs worth of job for the rehabilitation of the Buea Mountain Hotel, in collaboration with two other local companies. Somaf, another Cameroon outfit had 2.5 billion francs cfa contract for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Parliamentarian Flats Hotel in same city of Buea. These jobs had durations of 7 and 8 months respectively.

Social amenities also improved. Hospitals were upgraded - the Limbe regional hospital as a case in point. Electricity facilities were strengthened. In Limbe, we experienced uninterrupted lights for 24 hours, running into weeks. For the first time, I saw street lights in obscure corners of Limbe and Buea, like the glory of God came down in these cities, as if the powers that be remembered the people. To say the least, an abandoned street light in front of my house at Ngeme Limbe, was resuscitated.
For the first time after 1985/86, I saw major infrastructure face lift in Limbe. For the first time over decades, I saw government machineries working effectively, considering numerous visits made by the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, and other top government officials to project sites. The local organising committee of the women AFCON tournament was not left out, working assiduously in collaboration with regional sub- organising committees and top regional officials of government. Series of meetings were held to strategize and follow up on contracts awarded; ensured standards and deadlines were met. The heat was on and the pressure of the moment was to forestall failure, over come hitches, host a good tournament and satisfy CAF and Cameroon Head of State, Paul Biya, who wouldn’t have hesitated to wield the big stick if anything had gone wrong.

Then in utter amazement, I wondered why all the hullaballoo, for a tournament lasting barely two weeks. It set out on19 November and ended on 3 December 2016.  I wondered if it’s worth the heck: all the frets, efforts and humongous sums of money spent on contracts, most of which were awarded late 2015, on tight deadlines. Such deadlines entailed extra budgetary pressures to facilitate work which probably ended up as meal tickets for the boys. I grumbled at the duplicitousness of government and or policy makers, asking if indeed government could still provide for her people. The popular slogan “government machinery grinds slowly but surely” was immaterial here. There was speed, efficiency
and accomplishment. Government rolled its know-how and financial might - just because football was coming to town?

I remembered the state of sports infrastructures prior to Cameroon being given hosting right for the 2016 women afcon tournament. It was dilapidation. The Yaoundé Omnisport stadium, constructed over fourty years ago (1972) to host the then African Nations Cup, had been in tremendous depreciation as a result of age and poor maintenance, unable to meet international norms in communication, security, health, etc. Just few years back, the government of Japan financed renovation work in this stadium at 1.35 billion francs cfa, perhaps in a bid to save Cameroon further international embarrassment. The renovation touched areas like playground, presidential tribune, and modern public toilets for the first time, modern press cabin, mobile scoreboards and sound system.

 "The stadium will be equipped with over 30 public toilets, and pavements will be constructed from the entry into the stadium to the sitting spaces so as to control crowd movement during football encounters," said Ndinga Ndinga, sub-director of sports infrastructure for the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education. Some Cameroon football enthusiasts however did not share this optimism by the sub-director. They are not happy with the Japanese assistance, saying that it only makes the Cameroonian government look irresponsible. They question what the government has been doing with money gained from football events especially from Cameroon's participation in past international competitions, and also from local gate takings.
"I don't think this sounds well for us as a football nation, more so a nation that has produced football greats like Roger Milla and Eto'o," John Mbanda, a football fan said. He believes the government should have appealed for assistance to build a modern stadium rather than repairing an old dilapidated one; giving credence to some other opinions that the stadium did not meet international standards despite the renovation. The lighting system was 500 volts less the required international standard of 1,500. The athletic track also lacked a track, having seven of the required standard of eight. 

The Douala reunification stadium (built same 1972) and the Garoua Rhoumji Adja stadium had also been in the same sorry state. Before now, the Centenary stadium in Limbe and even the Molyko Omnisport stadium Buea could be likened to an advanced play ground for primary school pupils. The state of the Centenary stadium was so deplorable until late Henry Njalla Quan, former CDC General Manager and President of Victoria United football club Limbe, single handedly gave it a slight face lift, though without turf but soft dusty sand manageable to kick ball around. Same was the state of other stadia around the country and even worst. Sometimes it’s shameful to watch clubs in elite divisions of Cameroon football league play matches on rough and red earth grounds.  Players have taken risks playing on such venues with lingering injuries that jeopardized their career. For a football nation like Cameroon: five times African champion, runners-up at the Fifa confederation cup, Olympic football gold medalist, six appearances at the Fifa world cup and notable names in African and world football; this is indeed a disturbing situation.

Experts say sports performance and good infrastructure go hand in glove. In as much as I agree with them, I also found it difficult to place their assertion side by side Cameroon’s overwhelming performance in international football. These victories do not reflect the state of sports infrastructure in the country.
Football indeed came to town in 2016 and had a successful stay. The 2016 women afcon was no less a success, even when Cameroon lost in the final. 2019 is just by the corner, when football will stage another come-back to town - a much bigger tournament with Cameroon hosting the expanded 24 team African Nations Cup for the first time after over 40 years. Amidst possible weather challenge in CAF shifting the tournament to June – July (which is almost the heart of rainy season in Cameroon), there’s
also growing concern over Cameroon’s ability to host a tournament of such magnitude. This concerns stem from gross infrastructural shortages, though government said she is intensifying efforts to provide and ensure that facilities to host the tournament will be ready on time.
Contract for rehabilitation work at the Reunification stadium in Douala, the economic capital has been given; so also the choice of contractor for the new stadium in the suburb of Douala, as stated by the
Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Bidoung Npkwatt. The Italian firm Piccini has been awarded contract to build a 60.000 capacity Olembe stadium in Yaoundé, for 163 billion francs cfa. Government has obtained a loan of 26 billion francs cfa from Eximbank USA to further finance sports infrastructure planned for the 2019 African Cup of Nations. The loan with an annual interest rate of 2.5%, will enable U.S firm Prime Potomac and its partners to carry out the rehabilitation of Rhoumji Adja stadium Garoua  and four training pitches in this northern city, to be equipped with solar power or mini solar power plant. This loan will also help to build and or upgrade hotel facilities in Garoua, to meet CAF standard.

Efforts of government shouldn’t be another race against time, with about two years left to start of the competition. There is no doubt African Cup of Nations is the most important football event in the continent. It gives opportunity to a host nation to come to football limelight and also upgrade varying facilities, with possible outcomes of increased interest in football that will help develop the game in the nation. This is therefore a chance for the government of Cameroon and football stakeholders to critically look into developing sports infrastructures in the country. Experience from organising the women afcon should ease out stampedes and pressures at the eve of major events. Processes should be properly engaged with clear – cut development plans: to provide and improve on infrastructure prior to and beyond 2019, and to imbibe the culture of maintenance. This will build up grassroots competencies in football and other sporting discipline.  Existing concepts like the programme to develop sports infrastructure (PNDIS in French acronym) should be strengthened, given that such programme aims to construct football stadia in Cameroon’s ten regions.


In most third word nations, Cameroon inclusive, poverty and loss of biodiversity are intertwined in many ways. One of such ways is the over-dependence of the rural poor on local natural resources. This has brought stiff resistance on attempts to create awareness and or education on biodiversity conservation.
This write-up is therefore meant to go beyond the resistance, look beyond the frustrations of some local communities and continue to create awareness, focusing on this all important subject matter of biodiversity conservation. The fact remains that where purpose is not known, abuse becomes inevitable; which brings to fore the expediency of letting people especially those in local communities to understand the purpose of nature or biodiversity conservation so that the wantom abuse in loss and degradation which we see today, will be drastically reduced.

All living creatures including plants, needs one another in diverse ways. The connection may not be very clear, but the dependence is certain.  Therefore Biodiversity is about the diversity, the range of different living things and systems in an area.  The more plant, insect and animal species there are in one area the greater the biodiversity and the healthier the ecosystem. It is the ensemble of plant, animal and micro-organism life on earth with their diversity in species, genes including ecosystems, offering great opportunities for human wellbeing and development.
Biodiversity predates time and season and what we see today is as a result of many years of evolution. However, it is unfortunate that the influence of humanity in excessive demand for land, over exploitation or unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution, climate variations and natural disasters has brought undue pressure on biodiversity, disturbances to the environment, great threat to the planet and possible degradation to natural ecosystems.

In Cameroon, biodiversity conservation is of immense importance. Government places great value to it, and in a bid to show commitment in protecting her natural resources base, Government of Cameroon became signatory to major international conventions. Notably is the Convention on Biodiversity which provides the framework for global action on biodiversity with the objective to ensure the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.
The Country’s vision for biodiversity is part of her economic development emergence by 2035. It specifies that by 2035, “a sustainable relationship with biodiversity is established in its use and sharing of benefits to meet the development needs and well-being of the people, and that ecosystem balance is preserved through sector and decentralized mainstreaming with the effective participation of all stakeholders including local communities”.
This vision influenced the adoption of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 1999, which was revised in May 2012. It set to reverse and halt the current trend in the loss of biodiversity as a way to establish a strong nature base that is indispensable for the growth of the nation’s economy and a better livelihood of its people. Part of it aim at addressing the causes of biodiversity degradation/loss by reducing the direct and indirect pressures on biodiversity.

To say that Cameroon is endowed with rich biodiversity is stating the obvious. These diverse ecosystems are largely representative of Africa’s ecosystems resulting in the reference to Cameroon as Africa in miniature. The high degree of specie, genetic and ecosystem diversity is of significant socio-economic, scientific, and medicinal importance to its people. It improves its economy, significantly contributing to the wellbeing of its people. The current trend in biodiversity in Cameroon shows biodiversity as among the most diverse in Africa in terms of variety, quantity, ecosystems and genetic resources, and with a high degree of endemism. Within the African Continent, Cameroon is fourth in floral richness and fifth in faunal diversity and represents 92% of Africa’s ecosystems. Cameroon’s rich biodiversity accommodates about 8300 plant species, 335 mammal species, 848 bird species, 542 fresh and brackish water fish species and 913 bird species. About nearly half of the bird and mammal species of Africa are present in Cameroon forests.

Conserving biodiversity means ensuring that natural landscapes, with their array of ecosystems, are maintained, and that species, populations, genes, and the complex interactions between them persist into the future. It is about saving life on Earth in all ramifications and keeping natural ecosystems functioning and healthy. As a scientific discipline, biodiversity conservation has grown enormously over the past few decades and has increased our awareness and understanding of the great extent to which humans depend on natural ecosystems and biodiversity.
Biodiversity conservation relies on a number of disciplines working together, including ecology and other biological sciences, physical sciences like mathematics, and the social sciences such as public policy and psychology.

Why we need biodiversity is a question which encapsulates its importance and the essence of its conservation. With more plants, trees and animals, the soil improves and become stronger, less prone to erosion, drought and flooding. The more biodiversity an area has, the healthier it is because it supports a large number of animal and plant species.  Genetic diversity increases species resilience and adaptability to changing environmental conditions with opportunities for food security, medicine and development of industry, while ecosystems in which biodiversity constantly interacts, offer provisioning services of carbon sequestration, plant pollination, watershed protection, enrichment and maintenance of soil fertility, breakdown of waste and pollutants which are essential for human survival.

The importance of biodiversity to the environment, people and their welfare can not be over emphasized. Biodiversity is necessary to maintain stable ecosystems. An ecosystem is a group of life forms that live together in a balanced and stable community. If there is a sudden change in that community’s environment, the balance of the community will change which will negatively impact the ecosystem in that community. Rainforests, for instance, contribute both to the process of soil formation and help to regulate the climate through photosynthesis. Both produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. The destruction of rainforest causes erosion, loss of valuable species and changes in climate. Wetlands act as sponge-like reservoirs in dry weather and help to filter and purify water. Coral reefs and mangrove swamps protect the land they surround by reducing the effects of erosion.
In Cameroon, the volcanic soils of the South West and Littoral regions and its maritime influence and rich mangroves account for luxuriant vegetations which harbour highly diversified flora and fauna and support considerable agricultural, forestry and fishing activities. The beauty of the wild life and landscape of the north and extreme north regions are of high tourism value. The rich fauna and flora of the aquatic and tropical forests of the Centre, South and East plateau are large mass for carbon sink and attracts the wood industry.

People and individuals  can appreciate the beauty of biodiversity whether they are merely sitting and taking a garden view, watching animals play around, listening to bird’s song or going for a walk in a wood. Human beings like to live in varied natural environment with open spaces to walk and play in, trees for shade, colourful flowers, clean water for swimming and paddling. Human life and world could have been monotonous without nature. Our natural world has inspired our imagination, and somehow influenced our arts over the years.
Besides nature and environment, conserving biodiversity also has an ethical inclination. Many people especially in local communities feel indebted to nature and thus see it as a responsibility to bequeath same nature or natural environment they have enjoyed, to future generation. For example, some landscapes reflect community’s history and contribute to their sense of belonging. Some has even argued with emotive expression that plant and animal species themselves have their own value and right to exist whether humans need them or not.

The importance of biodiversity equally reflects on health and livelihoods because as the saying goes ‘health is wealth’. Goods or natural resources provided by a diversity of species significantly contribute to food security and health, essential for local livelihoods. Modern researchers are looking more and more towards natural biological resources, when developing new medicines. Many animal and plant species have been useful in the past for finding new treatments and cures. One of the most famous examples is digitalin which is derived from the foxglove and is used to treat heart conditions. Another is vincristine, taken from the rosy periwinkle of Madagascar and used to treat childhood leukemia. Many more medicines have been derived from species found in rainforest areas.
In Cameroon, The medicinal properties of diverse plant and animal species provide enormous health benefits. Plants and herbs known in local parlance as “fever grass, masepo, muringa, guava leaves” has been successfully used in the treatment of malaria/typhoid, stomach ache, purgative, stomach cleansing, etc. The nation’s biological and genetic resources constitute bedrock for food security and health. In rural production of food and nutrition, about 80% of the rural populations are engaged in biodiversity-driven activities on which their livelihoods depend. It is also estimated that 80% of the rural population in Cameroon depend on traditional medicine (source: IMPM Yaoundé, BHB Mutengene), a practice that has lasted for over a century and quite common to the Central and West African region. Here, inhabitants of biodiversity rich areas are endowed with indigenous knowledge associated with plants and animals. It is possible that many other species could hold the answer to future medical cures – so the more species that are conserved, the more chance there is of discovering something of medical value.
The realisation of these benefits and positive impacts of biodiversity has increasingly established its relationship and role in environmental sustainability, sustained economic growth and poverty alleviation.

In facing today’s challenge of poverty alleviation and promoting development in most developing Countries, including Cameroon, biodiversity remains vital and its  conservation indispensable within Country’s vision for growth and development. It stresses the link between development and wealth creation, and therefore requires the efforts of all and sundry in sustained awareness creation and for its preservation.

                                                                                    By :  Godycreative


“When you change the climate you change everything”. This is categorical to the important role climate plays in the environmental system of our planet, to the extent that minor changes in climate have major and complex effects on the planet. Climate is a dynamic phenomenon that changes continually, with long-term warming and cooling cycles. However, recent rapid and extensive changes are too extreme to be dismissed as ‘normal’ and have been shown to be closely correlated to changes in atmospheric carbon as a result of human activity (IPCC 2002).

Climate change affects people and nature in countless ways, and it often increases existing threats that have already put pressure on the environment. It is not a problem which appeared overnight. It has been over 30 years since scientists first alerted the world to the dangers of climate change. How much longer this danger will continue remains an unanswered question. This is because a change in nature has serious implications for people and economic system. The potential economic damage caused by global warming can not be over emphasized.

In Cameroon, Government has embarked on an ambitious programme for economic emergence by 2035. At the macro-economic level, this ambition highlights the need to speed growth by stepping up forest, agro-pastoral and fishing activities and ensuring an industrial technological advancement with emphasis on the processing of local commodities. It also envisages changing the structure of the economy; from a primary sector economy (agriculture and extraction) and informal tertiary activities to a more powerful secondary sector, and a specialized tertiary sector which creates decent jobs.

For this vision to be achieved, agricultural revolution in the rural areas must be envisaged, including environmental protection, taking into consideration climate change challenges. Cameroon’s economy is primarily agrarian. 80% of the country’s poor are not only involved in farming but live in rural communities. About 35% of Cameroon’s GDP comes from agriculture. 70% of the national labor force is employed in agriculture, which means that agriculture and the exploitation of natural resources are the main drivers of Cameroon’s economy and economic development. Therefore rural communities need awareness. They need to be well informed on how changes in temperature and precipitation pose a serious threat to their agricultural activities and nation’s economy.

Rural communities and the rural people must understand that climate change affects natural habitats like water and forest in diverse ways, stretching to agriculture and food security.
Water for instance is important for agriculture and industry. Rivers and lakes supply drinking water to people and animals, as well as oceans and seas provide food for billions of people.

Climate change affects water on water quality, rises in sea level, coastal erosion possibly triggered by flooding, storm tracks, rise in water temperature and ocean acidification. It also affects sea waves, beaches and obviously those that use them for recreation.

Forests mean so much to humans and their activities. Forest purify the air, improve water quality, keep soils intact, provide food, wood products and medicines, and are home to most endangered wildlife. In fact, an estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on forests for their livelihoods, including 60 million indigenous people or rural communities who depend on forests for their subsistence. Forests helps to protect the planet from climate change by absorbing massive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), a major source of pollution that causes climate change. It is quite unfortunate that forests are being recklessly depleted or destroyed at an alarming rate by logging and burning: to clear land for agriculture and livestock. These activities release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Some experts say about 20 percent of global carbon emissions that come from deforestation are greater than the combined emissions of every car, truck and plane on the planet. So instead of forests helping us to solve the climate crisis, deforestation will worsen the situation and rural communities should be dissuaded from such activities.

Climate change effect on agriculture will obviously reflect on food security. In other words, ‘a hit on one is a hit on the other’. It is common knowledge that the world rely on rain-fed agriculture, which is highly subject to changes in climate variability, shifts in season, and precipitation patterns. Any amount of warming will lead to increased water stress. In developing countries like Cameroon, about 40 percent of all exports are agricultural products (WRI 1996). One-third of incomes in the country are generated by agriculture, so also crop production and livestock husbandry account for about half of household income - rural communities or those in rural areas being in the majority (FAO 1999). Experts often argued that climate cannot be dissociated from agriculture since its various elements (rainfall, sunshine, humidity and temperature) are essential for the survival of crops and of man. Agriculture is arguably the most important sector of the economy that is highly dependent on climate.

When change in climate intensifies, crop production is at increased risk of failure and loss of livestock. This will negatively reflect on local food security – food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. Most times, expectations and predictions on warmer and wetter weather conditions fluctuate, which is not good for agricultural practices. Where agricultural practices are challenged, it affects human health and livelihoods, as well as purchasing power, food markets and security at the level of households.
In addition to changes in temperature and precipitation, another key factor in agricultural productivity is the effect of elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 on crop yields. Some estimates suggest that higher CO2 levels could increase crop productivity substantially by 50% or more, although these effects are likely to be constrained by other factors such as water and soil nutrients, particularly in the developing countries.

Climate challenge that plague agriculture in Cameroon should be factored into production plans if agricultural output is to be maximized. With a total land area of about 475,440 sq km and a coastline of 402 km, Cameroon’s climate varies with the terrain. Agriculture in Cameroon is moderately productive, extensively managed, and semi market-based. Farms and the associated input (storage, transportation and processing subsectors) provide low cost, high-quality food for domestic consumers and contribute substantially to export earnings for the country as a whole.
Farmland in rural communities has been increasing steadily over the last five decades and the total annual value of Cameroon’s agricultural sector’s output is greater than $4 billion. Crop production dominated by cereals, tubers and bananas, is worth over $2.5 billion.

While Cameroon’s agriculture is on a long march to productivity, rural communities should understand that the system is still highly dependent on climate, because temperature, light, and water are the main drivers of crop growth.                                                       

  By : Godycreative


                          “……Government curative approach has made considerable impact but more
                                    could be achieved with a little more of education………
          “Where knowledge is completely absent ignorant is King”.

                                       Tuberculosis (TB) – a debilitating lung disease is a public health problem in Cameroon.
                                                  Education / sensitization is an effective tool in the fight against TB.

Agbor, a young banker in Limbe Southwest Cameroon said: “I have not seen a tuberculosis patient before now, but from what I have read about the disease, the young man who sat beside me in a vehicle recently has the symptoms. He looked frail, coughing intermittently and spitting reddish mucus into a plastic bag. When I realized this embarrassing nuisance; I covered my nose and mouth with a handkerchief all through our short journey”.
Agbor is an enlightened mind. With little knowledge of Tuberculosis, he suspected a case and took personal cautionary measure, whether effective or not. Like Agbor there are many Cameroonians out there who are confronted with similar or other incidence of tuberculosis but ignorance prevailed on them to take measures.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a communicable lung disease caused by germs known as tubercle bacilli. These germs are usually found in the spit of TB patient. When a patient coughs sneezes or spits carelessly, the TB germs are spread into the air and can be breathed into the lungs of a healthy person who may develop TB sores in the lungs. Some of the known symptoms of TB include persistent cough, body weakness, loss of weight and appetite, chest pains, blood-stained spit, etc.
TB is endemic. Many people have dormant TB germs in their lungs which will not necessarily develop into active TB disease, may be due to strong immune system. Pulmonary TB is the most common form of tuberculosis (common also in Cameroon) – which affects more of the lungs. However other parts of the body can also be affected when the TB germs spread from the lungs by the bloodstream. TB is treatable and varieties of medications mainly antibiotics could handle it. This however has to be taken for at least 6 months or even longer depending on the case. The necessity of hospitalization for a patient depends on the stage of disease – whether earlier detected or at an advanced stage.

“It was a very painful and agonizing experience” Mr. Moka (not real name), a former TB patient said.
“You have both the complexities of the disease itself and the stigmatization to battle with. But graciously my family stood by me and with strict respect of treatment; today I’m completely ok though I do go for check up once in a while”.
For Lucy (not real name) – a young single mother of two, it is a different story. She has been battling with TB for over two years with no actual cure. “Before now, I have always had this negative thought to end it all – wondering why my own case of tuberculosis has refused to go, despite all the drugs I have taken. Not until the Doctor told me it is because of my HIV status”, she said.
Tuberculosis remains a serious public health problem in Cameroon as in many other developing countries. In 2010 for instance, there were 24.528 cases of tuberculosis (all forms included), with a prevalence rate of 122 per 100.000 inhabitants. Same year, the number of new sputum positive cases were 14.646. With an estimated HIV prevalence rate of more than 5% in the country, the rate of co-infections was estimated at 33% in new cases of sputum positive pulmonary TB.
There is no doubt that Government has made concerted efforts to curb the menace of this disease. In line with international directives (Directly Observed Treatment Short Term Strategy) and the Global strategy and plan to stop TB; government of Cameroon set up the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTCP). Financed by government and her international partners like the Global Fund, NTCP came on board to execute and elaborate on the national policy for the fight against tuberculosis. Among its operational objectives are: to detect at least 70% of positive pulmonary TB cases and also to cure at least 85% of the patient. Overtime, this control programme actually evolved, making better the delivery of tuberculosis care. Specialized TB units/centers were set up at many health facilities following the health system structure in the country made up of Regional and District Hospitals. The Mission hospitals (owned by Churches and Religious organizations) were also not left out. Some of them are strategically located in proximity to the local population and therefore accredited by NTCP.

“Here in the Southwest Region, there are many special centers at the level of the Regional and District hospitals in Limbe, Buea, Tiko, Kumba, etc; even the mission hospital in Mutengene, says Dr. Arrey – Regional Coordinator of the NTCP in the Southwest Region(just retired). According to this public health expert, there are 16 centers created already and lot more interventions have been made by the State via the NTCP. There are free treatments of TB patients for full treatment period at these centers. Patients pay just a token for laboratory diagnostics or texts fixed at 1000 FRS CFA (about 2 USD). Drugs have been made readily available which are also given to patient free of charge. There are also free TB vaccines for children under five years – some which are administered at the point of birth in clinics or as soon as early family contacts or infections are detected.

These efforts of Government and her international partners though commendably, are fraught with inherent challenges. There are lingering issues some of which seem to rubbish the implementation and effectiveness of the TB control initiative. The reality on ground is that the menace of tuberculosis still lingers. As obvious in other low income countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended Directly Observed Short Term Strategy –DOTS- faced implementation difficulties in Cameroon. It is complex, entangled with numerous barriers and also required huge resources. For this reason, many adaptations came up depending on the context. Instead of “Directly observed” as is the case, what one sees is “partially observed treatment. For instance during the intensive phase of treatment which is usually the first two months, instead of receiving daily observable drug doses, patients received several doses weekly or monthly. The NTCP on the other hand has not achieved desired or expected results. Though there is an appreciable therapeutic success rate (which is about 77%), the cure and detection of tuberculosis in Cameroon are still low. The cure rate is about 65%, 20% short of the NTCP operational objective pegged at 85%. The detection rate (all forms) was last measured at about 50 in 2012 – indication that the 70% mandate of NTCP on it is yet to be reached.

Many public health experts and other local health actors have attributed the shortfall in the cure rate of TB in Cameroon to issues such as HIV prevalence among the population, treatment of drug resistance cases and non compliance of patients to full treatment term or process. Drug resistance cases are usually provoked by non compliance by patients, which on its own is worsening by a lack of communication and interactions between health staff and patients during treatment process.

 “This has been a persistent challenge” says Mr. Wane, a health worker at the Southwest Regional Coordination Unit of NTCP. He stated that couple of months ago, 1,112 cases of pulmonary TB were diagnosed of which 41 began treatment and later stopped.
Not too long ago, experts from WHO and the Ministry of Public Health indicated that there are some 500 cases of multi drug resistance tuberculosis in Cameroon. This observation was made at a meeting in Yaoundé to evaluate short term treatment administered on 200 patients, and also on how to adopt a common approach in tackling TB infection. Drug resistance is more of a risk factor now. Tuberculosis normally takes 6 months or more for a complete cure process, but a patient can possibly feel better long before the full time. Should a patient for instance stop the treatment half way, there is the tendency of relapse – the germ re-activating after mutating to resist the drugs. The negative here is prolonged and expensive treatment which is not even a guarantee for effectiveness; and also high mortality.
Evidently Tuberculosis remains a killer disease in Cameroon – ranked among the top 20 courses of deaths in the country. According to WHO data published in 2011 Tuberculosis deaths in Cameroon reached 3.047 or 1.54% of total deaths. The age adjusted death is 21.89 per 100.000 of population; ranking the country 69 in the world.

 Any hope in combating this disease in Cameroon?
The answer here is in the affirmative. There is always a possibility; with better policy drive and strategic implementation.
Efforts need be intensified to overcome challenges but I also think that efforts here should be directed more to education – counseling or sensitization. Government curative approach has made considerable impact but more effectiveness could be achieved with a little more of education.
A look at the lingering issues in eradicating Tuberculosis hinges mainly on non compliance by patient – which throws up negative trickling effects. During treatment process, health staffs or officials need to be professional enough as to bridge the communication and interaction gaps between them and patients. By so doing they will have the opportunity to counsel patients more on the danger in abandoning treatment even with visible signs of being or feeling well. For this, regular counseling sessions should be greatly encouraged during treatment period. Education or sensitization should take the form of getting the population better informed on the risk factors of tuberculosis. 

“Sensitization on TB must continue. We are not satisfied with the level of sensitization yet”, says Dr. Arrey. She noted that those who are more at risk of contracting tuberculosis are heavy smokers, abusive alcoholics, those living in poorly ventilated homes and also those with HIV/AIDs infection.
Education or sensitization is also imperative in letting the population have basic knowledge of the symptoms of TB. This will help in early detection and effective treatment. It will enable citizens to take possible precautionary measures whenever there is suspicion of TB infection or patient in their immediate environment.
Much as education or sensitization is considered necessary, focus should be in rural areas. They are the least reached in health care inputs in Cameroon, though the bulk of the population lives here. Here also, ignorance reigns and where knowledge is absent, ignorance is king.

By: Godycreative