Feumba Samen’s Chronicle: Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka , best Cameroonian editorialist in the turmoil
Editorial voices rose above the Cameroonian political clamor with words that Cameroonians will never forget. But also with a vocabulary that flowed like water on the feathers of a goose to fall into oblivion. From 2018 to 2020, editorials went in all directions. Each putting his or her most beautiful voice into it. Its colors. Its choice of words. Its political orientation. His hatred of one or his love of the other. The difficult analytical middle line having almost never been found.
Neither adept nor adversary
Some advocated for the annexation of Cameroon. But as historian Julius W. Pratt has written, ‘the words used did not gain ground’. Cameroonians being voiceless to any spider’s web of recolonization rights and continuity of exploitation of their country. Thus breaking the trap of tendentious editorials that would have allowed them to resume their destiny to the colonial pact. And beyond that, annihilating the imperialists’ strategy of wanting to put down even more roots in Cameroon, expand and possess the entire Gulf of Guinea.
Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka, modest patron-independent of RIS 105.8 FM, an independent radio station broadcasting in Yaounde, illustrated himself by an editorial line to the contrary. Freedom of tone. Varied editorial field. Sharp analysis. Rigor in the choice of words, expressions, concepts, and quotations.
Neither supporter nor unshakeable adversary. Bidjocka has an identity – ‘Say nothing to harm. Say nothing to please.’ He criticizes without taking on gangs. Appreciates with uplifting expressions. He is the pendulum of the golden mean.
War for war
Unbiased language. Direct. Sec. This is the ‘Bidjocka. brand’. The one he uses against ‘backward and self-destructive’ leaders and authorities. Publishes against them a cold reasoning cover. He is from the chapel of William Allen White of the ‘Emporia Gazette,’ who did not embellish his words to criticize politicians. On August 15, 1896, he wrote, ‘We have combed the ashes of human failure in the state and found an old hoop skirt of a man who failed as a businessman, who failed as an editor, who failed as a preacher, and we are going to get him elected a member of Congress.
To read White is to listen to Bidjocka, ‘perhaps because of [his] systematic tendency to tell the truth,’ which brings him closer to the radical-patrioticism of the British journalist H G Wells for the Daily News and Leader, who, advocating war against militaristic Germany, published ‘The War to End the War’ on August 14, 1914. A tendentious article stating that ‘such a cataclysm would lead to a permanently improved society’. Arguing, he wrote. We want to win. We are prepared for every catastrophe, for intolerable stress, for bankruptcy, for hunger, for anything but defeat. These words in defense of his homeland, Sismondi put it differently when he had to defend his country against the imperial invasion through the NOSO. Soldier of the microphone
This talented journalist is not only a voice that carries. He is a soul who does not defile himself in contact with the forbidden – incestuous concubinage. His ethics don’t always win him laurels. More enemies than adversaries. Threats. Tightening of the purse strings. He knows all that. But the biggest threat is the termination of RIS Radio’s broadcasting. We don’t know how much longer we have to live in this situation. Said Sismondi Bidjocka in his editorial of December 22, 2020. However, in three years of life, RIS was ‘ranked best in the Capital in its category after three media-metric surveys.
Honest with his listeners, and ‘so that no one would ask him later’ why RIS closed, Bidjocka ‘anticipated to tell [them] about [the] descent into hell in the year 2020’ of his media company.
Bidjocka as Gaba and Zongo
In the 1990s, Norbert Zongo, Burkinabè investigative journalist, founder and editor of the weekly newspaper ‘L’Indépendant,’ warned of the threat to his newspaper. But more about his life. No one had listened to him. On December 13, 1998 he was assassinated-calcined by a commando led by Chief Warrant Officer Marcel Kafando, who died on December 23, 2009.
He had been assassinated while exercising his profession as a journalist in Sapouy, on the side of National Road 6 (Ouagadougou-Léo). Notably in the investigation into the assassination of David Ouédraogo-Chauffeur de François Compaoré, brother-cadet of former President Blaise Compaoré-Lire ‘Les Guerres Secrètes AntiGbagbo’ published by Doxa Editions.
Zongo shocked by his editorials. He died of it. Bidjocka is wounded by his own. His radio station could close down. If not, his life could be in danger. Zongo was, and Bidjocka is, what Saleh Gaba, one of the best Chadian journalists of his time, used to say to this writer still in the streets in his underpants. Journalism that does not shock with the truth is not journalism.
Bidjocka, like Zongo, is already a victim of the ‘value syndrome’, an evil that destroys people who dare to succeed without cheating in a staged society. As Charles Ateba Ayene used to say: “A society where a non-value becomes a value. Sismondi, this patriot and ‘soldier of the microphone,’ may be retiring from service to his country. Since it is ‘impossible for him to ask for the help of the press that the government, through the Minister of Communication, gives to the private press. He said. Because, in ‘this ministerial department’ they would ‘undress the journalists in the offices’. Elsewhere, such a sure thing would have been rescued. The auditors would have, in all liberality, injected funds into the capital of RIS.
In the United States, ‘The River’ 104.9 FM in Central Ohio or Hillsdale College in the north of the state are two of thousands of institutions that have refused state funding in order to enjoy their conceptual freedom. In return, they are financed, for the first one, by its listeners. And the second by parents and alumni. In addition, these institutions receive contributions from people of good will.
Grandeur of spirit
Such an attitude would avoid the crash at RIS Radio, which is not yet on the brink. Barlev Bidjocka simply pulled the alarm bell. But if it should happen, he prepared to crash alone. Because, he admits, ‘the environment is not that bad. Honesty is so rare in Cameroon, where people are blaming others for their own misfortunes.
In addition, in good faith, he has a prayer for those who succeed in this hostile environment. We ask God to preserve them for jobs and the Republic. Greatness of spirit! Because he has ‘proved that he is among the best and does very well what he knows how to do and does not regret having dared to do it.
Bidjocka, the best
No one is infallible, so it is possible that he made mistakes. But he knows how to carry his cross. No one will slaughter fat pigs. Or break out the champagne. Because Bidjocka is an adventurer. Someone who doesn’t give up. And the best don’t die.
Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka, because he is currently the best editorialist in Cameroon, will bounce back. Surely!
By Feumba Samen