By Francis Wache
Kah Walla, the President of Cameroon O'Bosso, is an iconoclast. She bubbles with energy. Her head swirls with ideas: some captivating; others intoxicating. She dreams big. Her vision appears enchanting: change Cameroon and give a new lease of life to the downtrodden.
The truth is that, whenever she speaks -in English or French - you cannot be indifferent. Her message is enthralling. Of late, she stirred a controversy when, although a member of the National Executive Committee of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, she violated party orthodoxy by calling on Cameroonians to come out and register massively to vote.
It was an act of unusual political bravado. It took some putzah (guts), a word Walla cherishes. In the process, she committed what might seem like political hara-kiri. Conversely, she could be said to have released her fiercely independent spirit from the straight jacket of political party principles. Is she now set to soar? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Nonetheless, she has ruffled the hitherto quiescent political pond. And, because of that extraordinary act of courage, a lot is bound to change - for good or for ill.
In a write up entitled The Time is Now, Kah Walla eloquently argues that, prior to Independence, the nationalist freedom fighters wrestled with the colonisers for liberation. Unfortunately, she states, once Independence was won, leadership was handed to lackeys who played the game as dictated by the erstwhile colonial masters.
In the early 90s, according to Walla, another crop of leaders dared the monolithic regime and struggled to wrest power for the common folk. They failed. That is why, Kah Walla concludes, the imminent 2011 presidential election is the opportune time for a new breed of leadership to emerge and give Cameroon its second Independence.
She laments the fact that, those wielding power today, have transformed Cameroon into a champion of corruption, mismanagement, squander mania... Yet, according to Walla, the time has come for Cameroon to take its rightful position as 'Africa in miniature.' On Saturday, October 23, Kah Walla tossed the bombshell and, in one fell swoop, she announced her resignation from the SDF and declared that she would be running for the presidency in 2011.
In the hall where she made these declarations, excited and enthusiastic youngsters listened as Walla electrified the audience with giddy messages about the time being now and believing that it can be done (replacing the Old Guard). T-shirts worn by those invited to the event bore slogans like 'The Time is Now' and 'Yes We Believe'. These catchwords, of course, have unmistakable echoes of Barack Obama's enchanting of 'Yes we can' "I stand before you, today," she enthused, "because the time is now!" The applause was roof-splitting.
Kah Walla castigated the regime for catering only for a coterie of elites, lavishing them with the best of everything: the best water in the villages, the swankiest cars in town, the most conspicuous castles on the hills and the most costly trips abroad. To change all of this, her political platform revolves around a tripod: giving new definitions to power, reforming institutions and implementing decentralisation as a system of people-friendly governance.
For starters, Walla did not speak in the wilderness. There was a galaxy of political eminences grises to listen to the new voice and her new message. Personalities in attendance came from diverse horizons. At 45, Kah Walla could be said to represent the marginalised women and the youthful population of Cameroon (the current leadership is made up chiefly of septuagenarians). But, judging from the past, the youth behave as if they are hypnotised or show signs of apathy.
With Kah Walla blaring the trumpet and striving to arouse the youth from their crippling inertia and lethargy, could one speculate that the time has come for them to play critical roles and grab power from ruling class? Will they rouse themselves from the deep slumber and take the destiny of their fatherland into their hands? Difficult to say. But Walla has done her part by sounding the bugle call summoning the youthful troops, in particular, to line up for the final onslaught.
Surprisingly, Kah Walla announced her candidature at the same time that she was pulling out of the SDF. She knows that standing as an independent is virtually impossible because of the draconian conditions. So, how does she run for President without belonging to a party? Walla, has, well, not said her last word. She hinted, though, that a constellation of parties was behind her and that, at the appointed moment, they would anoint her as the standard bearer for change.
Kah Walla might not have formally signed from the SDF. The party hierarchy maintains that they have not received her official resignation. In fact, it might not be necessary for her to resign from the SDF. Still, she has sent a powerful message, namely, that after releasing the people from the CNU/CPDM close to half a century stranglehold, the frontline opposition party must come to grips with the fact that they have metamorphosed from a liberation movement into a political party.
As such, they must be prepared to strategise on how to conquer power and bring solace to the suffering Cameroonian masses rather than indulging in exclusive 'talibanic' tactics. Anything else will tantamount to a sheer betrayal of the people's aspirations. For now, Walla's message is unambiguous: Cameroonians, THE TIME IS NOW! All together for victory in 2011!