President Paul Biya celebrated his 86 birthday with family and friends of his ruling CPDM crime syndicate in his village in the South region. It is being reported that the event cost the government of Cameroon hundreds of millions of franc CFA.
Biya’s big birthday bash was held in Mvomeka’a. He was reportedly joined by his kinsmen and women wearing clothing adorned with Biya’s image. The celebrations have proven a distraction from discussions in the country about the health of the long-time president.
Biya took power in 1982 via a French sponsored palace coup against the late Ahmadou Ahidjo. He reportedly spent the majority of the festivities sitting impassively, as his wife Chantal and other family members praised his leadership style.
Biya’s birthday party and its price tag comes at a time when the people and government of Cameroon are facing a long list of difficulties. Southern Cameroonians have declared a separate state from La Republique du Cameroun. Boko Haram continues to cause mayhem in the Far North region. The security situation in the East region is growing from bad to worse due to sporadic fighting involving militant groups from the Central African Republic. And the Cameroonian economy continues to struggle, with many young people having difficulty finding steady work.
“Many citizens can rarely have a decent meal and Biya is busy celebrating” said a French speaking Cameroonian and father of four. Anti-Biya sentiment has been growing on social media with many Cameroonians saying that the birthday party is the most irresponsible, idiotic, frivolous thing they have ever seen.
An Anglophone journalist, George Ewane of the state owned Cameroon Radio and Television recently compared Biya to Jesus Christ. But questions of Biya’s health persist. He is often seen in Geneva, Switzerland and hardly attends cabinet meetings.
By Sama Ernest