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Cameroon: Review – La Guerre du Cameroun: L’Invention de la Françafrique 1948-1971 by Thomas Deltombe, Manuel Domergue and Jacob Tatsitsa. La Découverte: 2016. ISBN 978-2707-192141 (The Cameroon War: The Invention of Françafrique 1948-1971)

February 25, 2017

guerre-cameroun-2Review – La Guerre du Cameroun: L’Invention de la Françafrique 1948-1971 by Thomas Deltombe, Manuel Domergue and Jacob Tatsitsa. La Découverte: 2016. ISBN 978-2707-192141. (The Cameroon War: The Invention of Françafrique 1948-1971)

1.

Let’s begin at the end. At the end of this volume, the authors engage in what in English is referred to as “acknowledgments”, in French “remerciements” (which translates more precisely as “thank you’s”). Among those acknowledged or thanks for encouraging the authors is one Francois Gèze, publisher of Editions La Découverte, a French publishing house of repute noted for its excellent publications on current events (among other subjects).

Six years ago, during my last visit to Paris, I met Gèze, who kindly took me to lunch and introduced me to a number of Algerian ex-pats several of whom I subsequently interviewed. They included two former intelligence officers who had written persuasively about the rot infecting the Algerian intelligence apparatus and an Algerian energy economist, Hocine Malti, author of Histoire secrète du pétrole algérien, a most fascinating and insightful book, also published by La Découverte. Several articles, among the better ones I’ve written, resulted.

It’s a shame that these and other works by La Découverte have not (to my knowledge) been translated into English (and in the case of the stuff on Algeria, into Arabic as well) as they are all quality studies that add substantially to the subjects they probe. I should not have been surprised then, that La Découverte would publish two excellent full length studies – case studies in French neo-colonialism in Africa – on Cameroon, that oddly triangular shaped west African nation abutting on the Atlantic Ocean and wedged between seven countries – Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Read more…

Cameroon: Northwestern Cameroon Explodes in Peaceful Protest, Government Repression: The Language Question. Part Two of a Series.

February 21, 2017
Calgary, Canada Cameroonians

Calgary, Canada Cameroonians

North American Cameroonians Organize

In two weeks, on Friday, March 3, 2017 Cameroonians from all over North America will converge of New York City to protest the wave of intense repression which has blanketed the English-speaking regions of the Cameroon and go to the United Nations to present their case. Since mid November of last year as the repression grew, in their different communities throughout the United States and Canada, North Americans of Cameroonian origin, citizens or more recent immigrants have been calling for an end to the wave of arrests, censorship and purges that have covered large areas of Western and Northern Cameroon. Hopefully human rights, peace, religious groups will join them.

As Hippolyte Asah, now a Toronto resident put it in the January 23, 2017 edition of the Toronto Star,

“The situation in Cameroon is getting worse by the day. The marginalization of the anglophone people has caused so much civil disturbance…They feel like they are being colonized by the French. Lawyers and teachers (in English regions) go on protests and they are kicked, stoned, tear-gassed and manhandled…There are no opportunities left for those speaking English staying in Cameroon.”

The 2010 census puts the figure of U.S. citizens of Cameroonian origin at more than 16,000, while Canada claims to be hosting 6,500. But for the U.S. at least, the numbers are woefully underestimated as the  American Community Survey notes an additional 33,181 Cameroonian-born immigrants in the United States, concentrated in Los Angeles, Houston and Pittsburg. They are concentrated in Illinois, Southern California (in cities such as Los Angeles), Houston (Texas) and Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania). The Pittsburg Cameroonian Community is considered one of the better organized. In Canada, there are concentrations of them in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. Read more…

A Visit With Jeanette Vizguerra

February 17, 2017
Jeanette Vizguerra in Sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church of Denver

Jeanette Vizguerra in Sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church of Denver

Jeanette Vizguerra. 

Exhausted from the tension and the recent media attention, still JeanetteVizguerra, Mexican undocumented immigrant who has sought sanctuary at Denver’s First Unitarian Society church (corner of 14th Ave and Lafayette St. just east of downtown Denver) was willing to meet with me for a brief personal exchange. She felt safe and supported there, where she has gotten oceans of support from all over the city, country and the world. They help, give one strength to carry on against what I can only describe as the forces of evil.

I went simply to pay my respects, to express my solidarity with this mother of four, backbone of her family. She and her family have been in the United States for twenty years. Returning to the United States from Mexico after her mother’s funeral, her troubles with immigration began to intensify. Given the recent arrests of more than 600 people, including those technically protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) law, and getting essentially stonewalled by local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. This is Vizguerra’s sixth appeal to stay in the country with her children. She has been active, something of a leader among the undocumented fighting for their rights.  Read more…

San Diego – Strange Place – 2

February 10, 2017

2107-02-09-san-diego-113Home of the Pacific Fleet

This morning in the Bird Rock Coffee shop at 6:30 am. Four young men dressed in military fatigues, pleasant faces of the U.S. war machine, no hint in their composure of the destructive force in which they participate. San Diego is the home of the Pacific Fleet and as such one of the biggest military complexes anywhere, the U.S.A or abroad. When President-Elect Trumpty-Dumpty mistakenly speaks about the need to refurbish the country’s sagging military strength, it is primarily beefing up naval strength in the Pacific to which he is referring (according to some analyses with which I generally agree). Of course he leaves out the well-known fact that the U.S. military budget is by itself greater than most of the rest of the world’s military budget combined. Minor oversight, certainly.

Signs of it are everywhere, from the submarine base on Point Loma that one has to drive through to get to the Cabrillo National Monument to the ship yards one passes on the trolley heading south to San Ysidro. On the trolleys, buses, in coffee shops military people dressed in uniform. Robert, our homeless friend met on the trolley yesterday who invited himself to be our tourist guide at San Ysidro noted, not without some civic pride, that soon San Diego would soon become the home of the unified Navy Seal training headquarters – a kind of phd program in assassination and murder second to none. Read more…

San Diego – Strange Place

February 9, 2017
All that's left of

All that’s left of “Little Italy” is a mural next to a yuppy overpriced beer joint

The downtown area is as sterile as Denver’s – no character whatsoever, just a lot of skyscrapers and overpriced condo apartments that look like they’ll collapse when the next earthquake hits…and it will. But aside from all that cement forced into the dredged harbor, it is a fascinating place, death ships – submarines, aircraft carriers and missile-carrying destroyers – aside.

We stayed at a cheap hotel “neat comfortable rooms” – which it was, and were surprised by Nancy’s sister, Carol who came down from Palo Alto to spend a few days with us. She was staying at the same motel. It was the last of the moderately priced motels on a strip that has been gentrified by high-priced hotels and condos. The motel next to us is now being taken down and ours, Marina Motel and Suites, is next to go. Read more…

Cameroon: Northwestern Cameroon Explodes in Peaceful Protest, Government Repression: Part One of a Series.

February 4, 2017
demonstrations in Western Cameroon led by teachers and students

demonstrations in Western Cameroon led by teachers and students

After educators there announced a strike,on November 21, 2017 hundreds of people, mostly students and youth took to the streets of Bamenda, Cameroon in support. They were met by the Cameroonian police, not known for their training in police-community relations. As usual, the protesters were peaceful, the police/military armed to the teeth and quite ready to open fire, which they did.

When the day was over, according to opposition sources, three demonstrators lay dead, many wounded, hundreds arrested. But the demonstrations continued daily despite the repression. A week later, Le Monde, the Paris-based French paper often compared to the NY Times, ran the first of a series of stories on the incident that opens describing the carnage done that day. Here is my approximate translation:

The scene was horrific; it was shown all over the country’s social media…Young men and women, including youths even younger, chased by police (forces de l’ordre) in every direction…one video captured wounded youth, their bodies writhing in pain

Read more…

Death in the Everglades: The Murder of Guy Bradley: America’s First Martyr to Environmentalism by Stuart B. McIver. University Press of Florida. 2003, A Review

February 1, 2017

death-in-everglades1.

Although I haven’t been back since, there was a thirty year period of my life – from the late 1970s to 2008 – when I spent a good deal of time in southern Florida, Hollywood Florida, near Ft. Lauderdale to be precise. After selling our family home where my sisters and grew up in NYC, my mother moved to a condominium retirement community called “Carriage Hills” in Hollywood. It still exists. After her second husband died in a car accident, she lived most of the rest of her life with her older sister, my aunt, Malvina Stone, referred to in the family simply as Aunt Mal. The two sisters lived together there for fifteen years until dementia set in about the same time for both.

I loved visiting my mother and aunt, but had an uncomfortable sense of how, what had been little more than a tropical swamp had been transformed into strip malls, retirement communities and a completely depressing housing boom. There had to be more to Florida than this, I thought? The development craze, already well advanced there, had parallels to the orgy of the same just picking up on the front range in Colorado where I lived (and still live). Give me the swamp teaming with life any day over  southeast Florida strip malls. Read more…