On the morning following elections, emotions are all over the map here in the GCI office: frustration, apathy, anger, and hope are all prevalent as our staff members recount their experiences yesterday. When one examines the elections process and how the presidential vote was carried out here in Cameroon, it’s easy to see how these various feelings can co-exist not just here at GCI, but throughout the country and across the political spectrum as well.
Frustration tops the list of emotions when it comes to the 2011 elections. With constant reports flooding the national and international media of voting irregularities, inefficient polling administration, and even possible electoral fraud, it’s hard not to feel frustrated that the most basic exercise in a democracy—voting—could be carried out so precariously. Many are rightfully incredulous when it comes to the idea that people could be permitted to vote multiple times or that properly registered citizens could be denied their voting cards because of administrative shortcomings. The inability to properly select one’s own leaders is a handicap that certainly breeds frustration.
For some citizens, frustration and apathy come together, hand in hand. Cameroonian elections have a reputation of disregarding transparent and fair polling—how can you vote in an election that lacks legitimacy? How can you pretend to care about candidates in whom you have no confidence of leadership and good governance? Inevitably, the question becomes: what’s the point in voting at all? For some, the answer is to remain at home on election day with the cynical belief that your won’t matter at all.
Anger: an understandable reaction to inequality, ineffectiveness, and the possibility of a tampered presidential vote. This anger simmers below the surface of an otherwise calm Cameroon, where the frustrations mentioned above do not crystallize into apathy, but instead boil over into rage. Nearly every Cameroonian desires peace regardless of the election’s outcome, but the undeniable anger that courses through the hearts of some people could light a match over the inflammatory political tension that pervades the country. Repression,
Yet, for some office members and some citizens, hope still survives. Maybe it’s the tantalizing dream of a democracy that will function properly one day; maybe it’s the shining ideal that the people should still exercise their right to choose their own leaders no matter how marred the process may be. Whatever the case, people still hope for a future when they feel like elections won’t fall prey to voter fraud, violent unrest, or massive constituent apathy. To them, that hope is intertwined with the belief that one day, the Cameroonian government will rebuild the roads, create more jobs, increase educational opportunities, and improve health care. Indeed, we can all hope for that.