Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: The New African Diaspora: Anatomy of the Rise of Cameroon’s Bushfallers

I was looking for a book to read for the two weeks holidays, and I got one: "The New African Diaspora: Anatomy of the Rise of the Cameroon’s Bushfallers" is a 100 page contemporary book written by Emmanuel Konde and published by Xlibris in the US, in 2014. The method of his research is very simple; it is based on “juxtaposition of empirical observations of the author in Cameroon and the United States, first hand narratives of Bushfallers, conversations with friends and compilations of opinions from internet sources.” The author uses a simple strategy to make his exposition. He defined the term Bushfaller, traced its origins, showed its evolution, contrasted the term with other migratory phenomena like feymanism and les coupeurs de routes (highway armed bandits), and finally, he prescribed a task for the Bushfallers. He reemphasized the contradictions and controversies that have divided the politics of the North West from that of the South West, the West Cameroons from East Cameroon , the youths from the old and the differences between feymen and Bushfallers. Konde defines feymen as, “vagabonds, thieving, and dishonest counterpart conmen.” (Page 38)
This book will serve as driving lenses to the young and old desiring to unshackle themselves from the manacles of colonialism and the poor governance from the Biya regime. In it you will understand the importance of the Bushfallers to their families, Cameroon and themselves. Notwithstanding, I will provide you a foretaste.
Konde traces the advent of bushfallerism from the Operation Ghost Town. Parallelingly growing up was feymania that sprung simultaneously with bushfallerism. There were earlier Cameroonians who had migrated abroad. Most of them forgot their roots, but the Bushfallers never do. They are aged between 23-43 years old. This will fit the time span of Operation Ghost Town that had “ill-defined goals that was patched by politically unschooled demagogues” like John Fru Ndi who gave young unemployed Cameroonians false hope.
The discontent started when Foncha and Muna in their quest for selfish power sold the aspirations of their West Cameroon compatriots to Ahidjo’s portage. Konde sees the beginning of this phenomenon from there. He says, “A large number of Bushfallers were thus born at the tail end of the Federal Republic and the beginning of the United Republic…” (Page 27). Thus, hardship had scared the psyche of the emergent Bushfallers
 It is important to see in the footnotes how Konde emphasizes the dichotomy between slavery and Bushfallerrism which he termed involuntary and voluntary migration. He says that the African and Cameroonian forebears did not go to Arabian, European and American lands because they wanted, but the Bushfallers go to those places out of choice. Even though they go out grudgingly and forced by circumstances, they still go there on their own volition. They go there to escape the doldrums of poverty that has bedeviled them as kids. Who then is a Bushfaller?  Konde defines it thus, “‘Bushfaller’ is the Cameroonian term for the young unemployed and unemployables, including dissatisfied professionals, who leave their country in search of greener pastures in the industrialized East and West.” (Page 10).  The Bushfallers were now competing with the coastal dwellers who “were civil servants, administrators or unskilled laborers in the plantations.” (Page 11). The Bushfallers syndrome has affected every young Cameroonian, born and unborn. According to the author, the Bushfallers have contributed to the economy more than the non Bushfallers; nonetheless, he emphasized that the Bushfallers are not more important than the homeboys.
Konde recounts narratives of Cameroonians who live like rats, I mean; some even like roaches in China, Germany, Holland, Britain, Australia and other countries just to earn a living, which in some cases still eludes them. Those in Europe date their grandmothers just for the papers because the young girls are too expensive. I saw that myself when I went to Europe. Thank God for Red District which becomes an appeasement center for the sexually starved bushfallers. America needs them here to save the American Bushfallers from sexual starvation. The author uses the eye of the eagle to analyze and point out the incongruities in the life of the Bushfallers. Some are like people swimming in a river but soap is entering into their eyes; while, others are simply reenacting the Tantalus fate.
Konde entertains very high hopes for Cameroon's Bushfallers, who he refers to as a new breed and depicts as "smart, determined, daring, calculating, enterprising, at once assertive and aggressive, and seemingly unstoppable" (10).  He hopes that this breed will eventually turn to politics in their homeland and there wrought the much needed social transformations. The author again reveals that the Bushfaller has external forces pushing him/her to go back and regain the father land. The need to rebuild the father land, the social injustices of racism and prejudice suffered in their oversea farms and the need to continue the struggle their elders began. Would the Bushfallers answer present when the role is called up yonder, or would the Bushfallers disappear in oblivion as the feymen and feywomen whose demise is usually swift and violent? If you don’t have a copy, I urge you to buy one and read for yourself.

Until then, I love this book because it is eyeopening.

St Arrey of Ntenako

“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). "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (I Cor 15:19). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." 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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