By Emmanuel Konde
It is a truly vexing question, particularly for ambitious young Cameroonians whose access to political power is being delayed by those who were born before them and have controlled the levers of power for a little too long. What’s to be done about this situation is a question, has been a question, and will be a question for much longer than we can imagine. In the meantime, however, the hazy heads amongst us will find time to castigate gerontocracy by recourse to inconsequential and irrelevant abstract ideas, even as they wait in the wings for their turns.
Far from reproducing abstractions drawn either from the void via the medium of human intellect or from the lived experiences of non-Cameroonians in Europe and elsewhere, I propose to discuss gerontocracy as a living aspect of the indigenous constitutions of Cameroon, since the foundation of every nation’s constitution should be derived from the people’s own historical experience. Approached from this perspective, gerontocracy makes a lot of sense in the context of the existing polities in Cameroon. All these polities were born of and nurtured in gerontocracy, which is the organizing principle of the composition of who governs and has deep roots in Cameroon’s distant past.
Almost everywhere in the country, whether among the centralized autocracies of the North West, West, North, Adamawa, and Extreme North provinces, or among the segmentary semi-democracies of the South West, Littoral, Centre, South, and East provinces, the same principle of devolution of power applies: old men rule.