Tah Eric Kaba

My Road to Democracy

ACCOD was created because I witnessed an experience in a rural area in Cameroon where information age is still to come true. As I strolled the rugged streets of this far-off village in a far-flung corner of the country, I fell upon a cluster of young men hovering over something like bees over honey. I could not help pondering on the object of such concentration and desire. What must be attracting these exuberant youths. It must be definitely powerful, interesting to nail the attention of our versatile youth. As I moved closer to scene, I noticed one of them delicately and studiously held something that looked like a newspaper. The paper that was published by one of our good privately-owned newspapers dated 6 months earlier. These were 6 “light” months when it was first read in our towns and cities, but here it was, the latest edition of the paper. I learned this was the first paper that came along for nearly 6 months. It was brought home by some elegant young man from the town.

ACCOD Director Tah Eric Kaba and US Ambassador Jackson

It dawned on me that getting news by some in such areas was next to impossible despite the presence of times, our information superhighway age. Still some could only dream about reading a newspaper. They could only dream about having fresh news. The internet and all other modern communication technologies meant nothing to these people. They just wanted some news, some “fresh news” and of course from the towns. And ACCOD was born from the desire, the urge, the urgency to take action. It had been thought about some years back but the opportunity was presented to me when I joined LAGA. One meeting on one normal working day had the idea blossomed, it was the catalyst or door-opener. True, I had thought about this many times before and I equally had in mind many other projects which I could work on: women or gender issues, environmental issues and child rights – I had worked on this before during my days in the Bamenda, a town considered to be the democracy capital of Cameroon. But this was the first real chance of doing something and the idea was supreme because of its links to democracy. Coming from a University that was at the centre of the fight to bring multiparty democracy in the early 90s,-  I had been arrested once fighting for the cause -  I had built one good and firm idea in my mind.

For Africa to attain its objectives it doesn’t really matter which ones but invariably development stands strong, I knew it would be through democracy, nothing more and nothing less. It would be through the tried and tested system of governance called democracy. I crafted these principles early on and has ever since held them. I hold them as firmly as I could and I keep thinking every African  should hold steadfastly to democracy. This could be done through education and information dissemination. It is dangerous for the continent that holds ignorance in good share if someone or some groups of persons are not working on political education of the masses. The sheer power of the masses can singlehandedly fight whatever dictatorship there is on the continent. The Arab spring came around and I danced happily. It is sending one clear message – people power. We do have a power that has never been put to use. ACCOD thinks this is the way, getting information to the people, opening peoples' eyes not mouths to eat and drink during elections. When they see, they shall understand and when they understand they shall move. For all our troubles, for all the blames we may put on the doorsteps of the others, for all the criticisms of our present predicament, there is none  greater than the failure to do something, the failure to take responsibility and act as individuals first.

Action for Citizen and Community Demcracy - ACCOD

Building an informed and participatory citizen maybe the goal of this organisation that was created by some buddies and I, but the passion for change may be its player. Whatever problems Africans face today, I believe the passion for true societal change is what is lacking most. If this change is anything I go by and following standards known throughout the world, then we still have not had any change whatsoever in our beloved Cameroon. It could be easily argued that Cameroon has undergone profound change, but it is not that kind of change we need, we need real positive change. This is possible and this is my work, to see to it the rural mass most especially and Cameroonians in general move from a mere football loving and agitating mass to genuine base for sincere and positive change that can make the country a democracy.

In this line of activity, the organisation (Action for Citizen and Community Development ACCOD) has been very active within some frameworks in the country in fighting for genuine democracy and human rights. We are proud to say so and also that within two years of existence ACCOD has emerged as one of the leading organisations in Cameroon and is invited in many spheres to discuss and work on issues of democracy. We have received many consultants from Cameroon and abroad wishing to know more about Cameroon’s democratic process. We are working to see that our country becomes a true democracy. Shortly before the presidential election of 2011, we ran a nation-wide public sensitisation campaign through community radios or rural radios to be more appropriate to move Cameroonians, firstly to the registration offices and secondly to the polling stations to cast their votes – to make their choices. Giving others the opportunity to make real, hard and informed choices is fulfilling. ACCOD was one of seven organisations that elaborated a manual on preventing electoral fraud that has been widely used during the September 30, 2013 polls to check and stop irregularities. The production of the manual was funded by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Yaounde.

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