Friday, January 8, 2010

Cameroon Fails to Reverse Brain Drain

It is usually said that half bread is better than none, or that do not bite the finger that starves you. Though it is not enough but at least it is something. For many years now Cameroon has encouraged Brain Drain by neglecting its graduates. Many young people graduate from university but cannot find work. Many are roaming the street telling stories, and others are playing clowns in market squares. Some have joined the 419 business, and others have become sorcerers; consulting people with tricks, and others have become outright pickpockets. Most of the hawkers and female prostitutes now are university graduates. So to hear that Cameroon is discouraging Brain Drain sounds farcical because back home things are still bad. Furthermore, the government is approaching the issue the wrong way by increasing the salaries and allowances of lecturers and researchers. This reminds me of an incident that happened in the village a few years back.

In 1979 there was a man who came to see my grandfather to complain that most of his North West workers have run away. My grandfather said well if you do not pay them how do you expect them to stay. He said actually, I did not have to pay them; they worked the farms, sold the produce and we shared the profits in three parts. To make sure that they did not cheat him, he assisted by sending his own trustees to the farm during the harvest season. The allotments were in three parts: one part for him, the worker and his farm. But for some years the farms have not been producing anything because the ground has been very unproductive: getting to sterile and barren, but it is still being paid. Rather than add manure to make the soil fertile or give the workers new farms he was trying to increase their share allotments.

So you see why I say the government is approaching this problem from the wrong prism and spectrum. The issue here is not actually that the graduates and researchers are not being paid though that is an issue, but that the majority of the graduates abroad are there because they could not find work at home. If they could find work at home even with a meager salary very few people will run abroad. Therefore, to solve this problem, the government must improve the economy of the country so that it could employ its graduates, and create opportunities for research. If you look at it well, the government has not been able to pay most of its workers for months, and increasing that salary but owing them does not solve the problem. Pay them the little they are due at least so that they can put food on the table for their families. You know that the African society is a society where the man providing for his family is both a responsibility and virtue. Failure to do so will bring raillery to the victim, and no matter his education he will become a laughingstock.

In addition, the poor treatment of graduates has encouraged many young people to drop education as a priority. Why should a family drain their wealth pool to send their first son to the university and after he comes back, he cannot find work, but is being fed by his younger sibling. Tell me in what language you will teach them that going to school is good. In a surviving society like Cameroon, how much you know doesn’t really matter; it must go hand in hand with how much you bring home. That is why when someone makes some little money he is quickly forced to take a traditional title and in places where they can call you chief he is called chief Dr this. So to cure this malaise, the government should instead encourage private enterprises because the government alone cannot hire and employ all the graduates. So here is how the government should encourage private enterprises.

Looking at business progression in Cameroon now, one does not need to be Adam Smith to figure out that real estate business is catching fire in Cameroon. Instead of trying to bring the American style homes (30 years mortgage) one should continue with the Sic style where the payment is actually affordable until the economy has improved.

Most companies are producing things that consumers do not really need. Instead China is producing what the consumers want at a cheaper rate. This is the age of cell phones, digital cameras and in short electronics in general. There is no Cameroonian company producing such products. Thus the companies that will strive better will be Chinese (foreign). And it is difficult for a country to survive on imports or with foreign companies. One can learn from the US trying to bring back manufacturing companies at home.

The death of the private sector did encourage Brain Drain. The major problem that has killed the private sector is corruption, because state agents harassment private businesses with exorbitant taxes and fines. The government should eliminate tariffs and custom duties on construction materials, transport equipments, machinery, and electrical equipments so they will become cheaper. For example: a high demand in cars will bring increase demand in petroleum and its secondary products, and that will up production and create jobs since we have enough wells to drain oil. There should be high taxes on clothes, and electronics for they do not help the people in anyway; instead they make them indolent. That is why you see young people sitting by the river side with ipods and mp3 players in their ears singing “iiiyo cow oh, jamma jamma cow oh, my brother and sister dey for America for seka belle cow oh”. The government must do all to eliminate all these Copecs and quartier banks that pop up like mushrooms and overnight disappear leaving investors in penury. That breeds discontent and leads to depression. A depressed person is usually less productive anyway.

The failure of the government to protect private vendors who would have hired graduates and revitalized the economy has also encouraged Brain Drain. The government has killed a lot of private businesses who were vendors. Most of them supplied to the government, but the government did not pay them. Let us say the government decides to increase their prices it will not still serve them any good if they are not paid. The failure to encourage them has discouraged supplies. Then they have to go bankrupt and out of business while the government selects another victim. The change of suppliers slows down business because they have to learn the routes and comply with orders. This is also a bell to other vendors who do not want to deal with the government. That again breaks down the economy.

Some of the intellectuals who left the country were righteous people who could not survive in a corrupt country like Cameroon. If the government intends to discourage Brain Drain it must increase its fight against corruption. The government should be praised for the little it has done against corruption, but it still has to do more than enough to extirpate if from the minds of Cameroonians. I believe that people should be asked to return the money they have stolen, and if they do not then there are left in jail to rot. If they return the money, they should be rehabilitated and asked to manage the resources. That way they would be like on probation. The foreign government should refrain from accepting runways who have embezzled money from Africa and are hiding in their countries as refugees or asylees. Corruption has discouraged investors a great deal because they know their efforts will fail.

The presence of western lifestyle has encouraged Brain Drain. Actually, it has made Cameroonians very lazy too for they have become copycats of the western brand. Nowadays, young people drop out of school trying to be rappers and Beyonce. Those that see what the sport stars get from sports cannot afford to “waste” their time in education. There overseas, flows milk and honey. The government will have to reorientate the mind set. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers prefer to quit their jobs in Cameroon to be Caring Nurse Assistant (CAN) in America for there lies the money.

The desire to be like Bushfallers has encouraged Brain Drain. You can count 3 in every 5 young people nowadays who aspire to be like the Bushfallers. When December is coming the primitive Bushfallers run home to showcase the wealth they have garnered from overseas. Those Paysans too do not want to be left out because even the ugliest of the Bushfallers (God knows most are ugly like hippopotamus and rhinoceros) takes the best and most beautiful Paysan girl leaving the poor Paysans in regrets of why he could not make it too abroad. Therefore, Bushfallers should grow up and think about seizing girls from Paysans. They are indirectly funding 419 which encourages Brain Drain.

Until hen, I wish the government venture well.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).
Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).

Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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