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Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

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  • Isaac Zama
    Hello Francois, Thanks for the rejoinder. Let s be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his
    Message 1 of 9 , Nov 14, 2012
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      Hello Francois,

      Thanks for the rejoinder. Let's be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his father. What powers did Ali have under his father? It is no secret that Le Vieux called the shots, and not even his minister son could push his father to do what he did not want to do. Are you denying the fact that he has not or is not building roads all across Libreville and the national territory? Let's be realistic here. Do you really expect that all roads in Gabon can be built within 4 yrs that he has been in power? Let's give credit where credit is due. Better late than never.

      Yes, the route nationale was cut in half because of some natural calamity. Food prices spiked as a result, but the gov't took some steps to alleviate this problem, and to the best of my knowledge, the measures that the gov't took have help. Can more be done? Absolutely. Ali has and is putting in place very good agricultural policies that should solve the food crisis in Gabon, if Gabonese are willing to work.  Let me give you just one example: one of my graduate students happens to be in charge of a program in the ministry of youth and sports that offer grants to young Gabonese to engage in agriculture. More than half of those who apply and get these grants use the money to buy cars instead of opening up farms. With this mindset, how do you expect food prices not to spike when food imports from Cameroon are disrupted? Spike in prices is not anything new when there is a natural calamity any where in the world. In New Jersey for example, hurricane Sandy
      has caused lots of disruption, with attendant price hikes. So, this is nothing new, and should not be attributed to the lack of effort by Ali to make things better for Gabon.

      No where did I insinuate that only the Bongo's can rule or should rule. Ali is putting in place structures that will enable peaceful and democratic transition in the country. In fact, just within the last few months, Ali has accepted the wish of the opposition to have biometric voter cards. These are incremental steps meant to build democratic institutions. No where in the world were democratic institutions built over night. If you followed the 2012 US elections, you will have realized that states like Florida and Ohio changed voting practices, whether for good or bad. The bottom line is that if democratic institutions are put in place, it will come a time when no one family will be able to circumvent the will of the people, and that is what Ali is doing in Gabon. Similarly, in the summer, a parliamentary commission submitted its report on corruption, and those ministers who had embezzled money were scrambling to pay what they had stolen. Is this not a
      sign of progress? I know for a fact that corruption at the port in Owendo has reduced by over 70%, why, because Ali is doing all to curb corruption in the country.

      Yes, it is a fact that life expectancy in some of the countries you mentioned are dismal. But, do not forget that all those countries were subjected to inordinate dictatorships. However, with the advent of democracy, anglophone countries are improving at a faster rate than francophone african countries. I have been to Rwanda, and seen what Kagame is doing despite his own faults. He is what I may call a benevolent despot, but he is working hard to build the country. Besides Senegal, is there any other francophone african country that can be compared to Rwanda in terms of development within the last 10 yrs?

      Call Ali a charlatan all you want. What is important to me is whether the so called charlatan has a vision to move the country forward. The answer to me is an equivocal YES. I have had the opportunity to read his GABON EMERGENT vision, which I think is a very good blue print for developing Gabon. He has actually done a lot for the few short years that he has been in power. Being in higher education, I have seen the plans that he has for higher education, which if given the chance to implement this vision will put Gabon in a very different league with central africa. The colleges and universities that he is building and plans to build across the country will build the human capacity that Gabon sorely lacks.

      In fact, Gabon is not going backwards. There is no single party rule in Gabon anymore. The opposition in Gabon is very strong, even if they are not well represented in the national assembly. The level of free speech in Gabon is enviable. As I mentioned above, the implementation of biometrics in Gabon is the work of the opposition. That is just one example. If I had the opportunity to advice the opposition in Gabon, I will tell them to simplyfocus on policies that will build strong institutions that no one will be able to circumvent, rather than trying to assume power . That is how democracy was built in the west. The slogan 'the guy needs to go' is a failed strategy that has not worked in countries like Cameroon -'biya must go' started in 1992, but the guy is still waxing strong. This same tactic will not work in Gabon. 

      Francois, if you have the chance, advice your fellow country men and women to work with Ali to develop the country. Honestly, with the fragmented nature of the opposition in Gabon, I do not see any opposition leader strong enough that can unseat Ali at the next presidential elections. Ali is a smart fellow, and he is doing what any astute politician will do to win the confidence of Gabonese, and he is succeeding.

      Over to you.


      ________________________________
      From: François Gouahinga <gouaf@...>
      To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:02 AM
      Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

      Isaac

      I do take exception with a few points:
      1-"it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime"

      In other words, some people CLAIM that Bongo wants to correct the wrongs caused by Bongo. I see no proof of that. Just last month thousands
      of families had to spend more of their meager income for basic food items, because Gabon's only highway was cut in half as a result of lack of maintenance. The
      perceived scarcity of food items (which have to be trucked in fresh
      everyday) led to a sudden spike in the prices of staples. To add insult
      to injury, that same week hundreds of thousands of homes were denied
      access to water and electricity due to rationing as a result of low
      supply caused by infrastructure neglect. (For more, please click this
      link: http://rfi.my/QNwIzJ and http://bit.ly/WslA13) As always it is
      poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected. Why do I
      mention this? Bongo Ali spent his entire adult life as a member of the cabinet, most
      recently as the minister of defense. Meaning he has been an integral
      part of the apparatus of oppression and underdevelopment that landed us
      where we are.


      2-"Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? "

      Great. God bless SIngapore, but no we Gabonese are not praying for a "benevolent dictatorship".I just do not believe that of all the sons and daughters of Gabon the only people fit to govern are the very same who got us in the problem we're in in the first place. And then what? Tomorrow those who think like you will tell us that only Bongo Ali's son is fit to fix whatever his daddy and grand daddy didn't fix. We get into circular reasoning.

      3-Countries "with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun."
      I already mentioned Zim, let me add Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sierra Leone; one indicator: life expectancy. Even as we are right now, French-speaking Gabon is better than them anglophones. Do I need to say more?

      4-"Yes, we all love the lofty democracy."
      First off, democracy needs no qualifier. Right there you implicitly admit that Bongo is nothing but a charlatan. We Gabonese actually believe we can do better than Bongo. Our country is going backward, we have receded back to single party rule and we are told that we must accept it because, well because Bongo is all we've got. We say no thanks. The guy needs to go.


      -Francois


      ________________________________
      De : Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
      À : "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
      Envoyé le : Mercredi 14 novembre 2012 7h25
      Objet : Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend


       
      Francois,

      I equally beg to differ with you about the imposition of English in Gabon. I am not a Gabonese, but I can say I know Gabon a little bit - under the old and younger Bongo. In fact, I do work in Gabon in Higher Education. Ali is the leader that Gabon needs at this time, and he has a vision akin to what I may call the NEW DEAL. His Gabon Emergent idea is spot on. 

      Whether rightly or wrongly, it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime, that is why he is doing all what he is doing to develop the country. Secondly, it is asserted that Ali is not there to steal money, at least not as much as he would have stolen if he was not rich before becoming president. If someone else had been president, that person would have pre-occupied himself with learning the ropes how steal money. But, Ali had already learnt the ropes as minister, had money, prestige etc, and now he only wants to engrave his name in the annals of Gabon history by doing the right things for the country.

      In terms of development - roads, electricity, water, etc the difference is very evident. Old Bongo did absolutely nothing for Gabon, but Ali is developing the country with ferocious speed. The major roads in Libreville, across the country to the provinces --from Libreville to the south en passant par Lambarene, Moulia etc and the Nationale are all being built within the last 3-4yrs since he came to power.

      Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? How much fiat did the leaders of Singapore exhibit to bring it to where it is today? Don't you wish Gabon was like Singapore?

      Yes, English is not a recipe for success, neither is the hanging on to French. Look at all the Anglophone and Francophone countries in the central African region. Their development trends are as stark as day and night. Those with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun. If you do not know, the French system of education does absolutely nothing to liberate the person and the mind. I know what I am talking about my friend. Teaching Fang etc is a lofty goal, but to be practical and for development purposes, Fang and other local languages will not take Gabon anywhere in such a global and competitive world.

      The fact that none of Gabon's neighbors speak english is precisely the reason why Gabon should speak English. Ali has discovered that French is a dead language with no future. Most Gabonese with some means are sending their children to Cameroon to study and learn English. My colleagues are doing it, and they tell me, they want their children to learn English because English is the language of the future. Most of the Francophones in Cameroon are sending their children to the Anglophone part of Cameroon to study in English. If you doubt me, talk to Cameroonians, and they will tell you. Just a small anecdote: Go to foreign embassies in any African country and look at the lines of Africans seeking visas to France and to any other Anglophone country in the world - US, UK, South Africa etc etc and you will see the difference. Fewer people from Africa are going to France to study or do business because they have understood that French is a dead language. Yes,
      state apparatus in Cameroon is French, but it does not mean that the leaders of Cameroon really like the French. Paul Biya's children are not studying in France or in French. They are in Switzerland, studying in English. Most Cameroon ministers send their children to the UK or USA? Know why, because they do not have the balls to tell the French, your language is dead meat. I really praise Ali for taking this decision knowing fully well that this could cost him his job, as the French can easily topple him for interfering in their plantation -- which is Gabon. 

      Please do not compare Gabon and the US. You cannot compare the 2, as the decision making processes are different. Let me give you 1 example to buttress my point: last summer, I watched Ali on TV in a conference with some economic operators and government ministers etc. He said ' le Gabon sera develope avec ou sans vous'. What he implied was that some people in gov't and business where blocking his plan to build affordable homes for Gabonese. What would a leader do in such a situation? Send the question to parliament to get an endorsement for affordable housing to be built for Gabonese? You and I know that all these people in parliament do not really care for the poor people who suffer in the squalor of some quartiers in Libreville. If you ask my opinion, I would would prefer a strong leader who puts his foot down, and get things done, if that is for the interest of the people. 

      Yes, we all love the lofty democracy. But, I would prefer good roads, clean water, stable electricity, affordable and good housing, good schools for our kids, cheaper food in Libreville etc etc than the democracy noise with nothing to show for.

      Isaac

      ________________________________
      From: François Gouahinga <gouaf@...>- 
      To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:44 AM
      Subject: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

      Friends

      I beg to differ. First off, you cannot impose a new language -- and implicitly a new culture -- by presidential decree. A decision of such magnitude should have gone through a referendum, or at the very least through the parliament. Rule by fiat only lands you a few headlines, and that's it. Nothing serious will come out of it.

      Second, if merely speaking English was a guarantee of success, Zimbabwe wouldn't be where it is now -- or Liberia for that matter. Development is the result of hard work in consultation with the people. It starts with the basics: reliable supply of electricity, drinkable water, roads, and adequate housing. Right now we lack all these prerequisites.

      Third, when he was running for president in 2009 Bongo Ali promised to revive our God-given African languages. We are still waiting for that to materialize. Punu, fang, myene, nzebi are still not taught in our schools. Instead, we get this distraction.

      Finally, much is being said about Rwanda, but if you look at the map of Africa you will understand that it does make sense for Rwandans to speak English. Rwanda has four neighbors, two of which speak English and are part of the same trading bloc. None of Gabon's neighbors speak English, with the exception of bilingual Cameroon -- even there, the state apparatus is essentially French. So this doesn't make any sense.

      It would be an insult to suggest that America can only do business with English speaking countries. Money knows no language barrier, except currency.

      So please don't feed us this Bongo propaganda. And show some respect: I don't think you'd appreciate it if Obama unilaterally mandated that Chinese must now be taught in all US schools that receive federal funding. It should be no different with Gabon: those who want to speak English should feel free to do so, and those don't want it shouldn't be forced to.

      - Francois

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    • bobutne
      DAKAR — Gabon s President Ali Ben Bongo announced in October the country will start promoting English as a second language, in addition to the current French
      Message 2 of 9 , Nov 14, 2012
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        DAKAR — Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo announced in October the country will start promoting English as a second language, in addition to the current French in a move that seems to be a growing trend in Francophone West Africa.

        Gabon's presidential spokesman, Alain Claude Billie By Nze, says efforts to adopt English will begin within the educational system, but classes will also be available for adults. He says Gabon is not the first country in the region to move in this direction. He says Rwanda, another African country that formerly called French its official language, made the switch to English in 2009.

        And according to Strategico political risk analyst Lydie Boka, who is based in France, Burundi could be the next country in Africa to join the English-speaking Commonwealth. "Burundi is going that route," said Boka. "I think they've asked to join the Commonwealth without saying whether they would abandon the Francophonie. I think a number of African countries, rightly or wrongly, think the English-speaking countries develop faster."

        Some African officials note that French keeps them regionally isolated and if they wish to diversify their global economic interests or partnerships, then English is the best way to do so.

        The timing of Mr. Bongo's announcement could not have been more pointed, coming just ahead of this year's summit of Francophone nations, hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

        Boka says Gabon's decision to move toward English could be seen as a political snub to new French President Francois Hollande -- whom the Gabon leader felt did not afford him the proper reception during a recent trip to France.

        "The same day he met with Bongo, the (Gabonese) opposition met with the Socialist party, which is the party of Hollande," said Boka. "And the Socialist party issued a communiqué that the French Socialist party was concerned about the democratic deficit in a number of countries, including Gabon."

        The Bongo family is one of three African presidential families being investigated by French authorities since 2008 for so-called "ill-gotten gains" -- cars, homes and other luxury assets in France allegedly bought with embezzled state funds. French President Hollande took office earlier this year professing, as many of his predecessors have, to finally do away with the "Francafrique."

        The francafrique refers to the sphere of influence France has sought to maintain over its former colonies through what many say have been corrupt, personal ties with African leaders and off-the-books diplomacy, often at the expense of democracy and human rights.

        Analysts say that Gabon, in particular under former president Omar Bongo, epitomized the Francafrique. It was former president Bongo who was so memorably quoted by a French newspaper in 1996 as saying that "Gabon without France is like a car with no driver. France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel."

        President Hollande's desire to recalibrate France's relationship with Africa was reflected in his comments to reporters just days before he travelled to Kinshasa for the 14th Francophonie Summit. He said the Francophonie is not simply about a language and French is not simply for France. He said French is also the language of Africa and in coming years, more Africans will speak French. This language, he said, belongs to them but it is also a language representing values and principles, including democracy, good governance, and the fight against corruption.

        Gabon's presidential spokesman, Billie By Nze, says the country's move to English is about pragmatism, not politics. He says President Bongo went to Rwanda to study its experiment with bilingualism before making his decision, which he says was based on economic and educational motives.

        Learning English, he said, is a good business decision, as oil accounts for 80 percent of the Gabon's exports and much of that, and other, business is done in English with the Middle East and China. Since World War I, English has gradually eclipsed French as the modern lingua franca, the language of global diplomacy and trade.

        Gabon's decision to put English at the heart of its education system reflects a growing interest in English among young people throughout West Africa, whether it be to understand the words to American rap music or one day score a job with an international NGO or a multi-national cooperation.

        Francophone organizations say they are not alarmed by Gabon's announcement. Ousmane Paye - special assistant for the secretary general at the International Organization of the Francophonie - says French is not an endangered language in West and Central Africa. He says of the 53 French-speaking member nations who gathered at the 14th Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa in October, 28 were African countries and more than 55 percent of French speakers currently live in Africa. The International Organization of the Francophonie estimates that by 2050, more than 80 percent of French speakers worldwide will live in Africa.

        http://www.voanews.com/content/francophone-west-Africa-English-language/1545406.html








        --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello Francois,
        >
        > Thanks for the rejoinder. Let's be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his father. What powers did Ali have under his father? It is no secret that Le Vieux called the shots, and not even his minister son could push his father to do what he did not want to do. Are you denying the fact that he has not or is not building roads all across Libreville and the national territory? Let's be realistic here. Do you really expect that all roads in Gabon can be built within 4 yrs that he has been in power? Let's give credit where credit is due. Better late than never.
        >
        > Yes, the route nationale was cut in half because of some natural calamity. Food prices spiked as a result, but the gov't took some steps to alleviate this problem, and to the best of my knowledge, the measures that the gov't took have help. Can more be done? Absolutely. Ali has and is putting in place very good agricultural policies that should solve the food crisis in Gabon, if Gabonese are willing to work.  Let me give you just one example: one of my graduate students happens to be in charge of a program in the ministry of youth and sports that offer grants to young Gabonese to engage in agriculture. More than half of those who apply and get these grants use the money to buy cars instead of opening up farms. With this mindset, how do you expect food prices not to spike when food imports from Cameroon are disrupted? Spike in prices is not anything new when there is a natural calamity any where in the world. In New Jersey for example, hurricane Sandy
        > has caused lots of disruption, with attendant price hikes. So, this is nothing new, and should not be attributed to the lack of effort by Ali to make things better for Gabon.
        >
        > No where did I insinuate that only the Bongo's can rule or should rule. Ali is putting in place structures that will enable peaceful and democratic transition in the country. In fact, just within the last few months, Ali has accepted the wish of the opposition to have biometric voter cards. These are incremental steps meant to build democratic institutions. No where in the world were democratic institutions built over night. If you followed the 2012 US elections, you will have realized that states like Florida and Ohio changed voting practices, whether for good or bad. The bottom line is that if democratic institutions are put in place, it will come a time when no one family will be able to circumvent the will of the people, and that is what Ali is doing in Gabon. Similarly, in the summer, a parliamentary commission submitted its report on corruption, and those ministers who had embezzled money were scrambling to pay what they had stolen. Is this not a
        > sign of progress? I know for a fact that corruption at the port in Owendo has reduced by over 70%, why, because Ali is doing all to curb corruption in the country.
        >
        > Yes, it is a fact that life expectancy in some of the countries you mentioned are dismal. But, do not forget that all those countries were subjected to inordinate dictatorships. However, with the advent of democracy, anglophone countries are improving at a faster rate than francophone african countries. I have been to Rwanda, and seen what Kagame is doing despite his own faults. He is what I may call a benevolent despot, but he is working hard to build the country. Besides Senegal, is there any other francophone african country that can be compared to Rwanda in terms of development within the last 10 yrs?
        >
        > Call Ali a charlatan all you want. What is important to me is whether the so called charlatan has a vision to move the country forward. The answer to me is an equivocal YES. I have had the opportunity to read his GABON EMERGENT vision, which I think is a very good blue print for developing Gabon. He has actually done a lot for the few short years that he has been in power. Being in higher education, I have seen the plans that he has for higher education, which if given the chance to implement this vision will put Gabon in a very different league with central africa. The colleges and universities that he is building and plans to build across the country will build the human capacity that Gabon sorely lacks.
        >
        > In fact, Gabon is not going backwards. There is no single party rule in Gabon anymore. The opposition in Gabon is very strong, even if they are not well represented in the national assembly. The level of free speech in Gabon is enviable. As I mentioned above, the implementation of biometrics in Gabon is the work of the opposition. That is just one example. If I had the opportunity to advice the opposition in Gabon, I will tell them to simplyfocus on policies that will build strong institutions that no one will be able to circumvent, rather than trying to assume power . That is how democracy was built in the west. The slogan 'the guy needs to go' is a failed strategy that has not worked in countries like Cameroon -'biya must go' started in 1992, but the guy is still waxing strong. This same tactic will not work in Gabon. 
        >
        > Francois, if you have the chance, advice your fellow country men and women to work with Ali to develop the country. Honestly, with the fragmented nature of the opposition in Gabon, I do not see any opposition leader strong enough that can unseat Ali at the next presidential elections. Ali is a smart fellow, and he is doing what any astute politician will do to win the confidence of Gabonese, and he is succeeding.
        >
        > Over to you.
        >
        >
        > ________________________________
        > From: François Gouahinga <gouaf@...>
        > To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
        > Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:02 AM
        > Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
        >
        > Isaac
        >
        > I do take exception with a few points:
        > 1-"it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime"
        >
        > In other words, some people CLAIM that Bongo wants to correct the wrongs caused by Bongo. I see no proof of that. Just last month thousands
        > of families had to spend more of their meager income for basic food items, because Gabon's only highway was cut in half as a result of lack of maintenance. The
        > perceived scarcity of food items (which have to be trucked in fresh
        > everyday) led to a sudden spike in the prices of staples. To add insult
        > to injury, that same week hundreds of thousands of homes were denied
        > access to water and electricity due to rationing as a result of low
        > supply caused by infrastructure neglect. (For more, please click this
        > link: http://rfi.my/QNwIzJ and http://bit.ly/WslA13) As always it is
        > poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected. Why do I
        > mention this? Bongo Ali spent his entire adult life as a member of the cabinet, most
        > recently as the minister of defense. Meaning he has been an integral
        > part of the apparatus of oppression and underdevelopment that landed us
        > where we are.
        >
        >
        > 2-"Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? "
        >
        > Great. God bless SIngapore, but no we Gabonese are not praying for a "benevolent dictatorship".I just do not believe that of all the sons and daughters of Gabon the only people fit to govern are the very same who got us in the problem we're in in the first place. And then what? Tomorrow those who think like you will tell us that only Bongo Ali's son is fit to fix whatever his daddy and grand daddy didn't fix. We get into circular reasoning.
        >
        > 3-Countries "with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun."
        > I already mentioned Zim, let me add Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sierra Leone; one indicator: life expectancy. Even as we are right now, French-speaking Gabon is better than them anglophones. Do I need to say more?
        >
        > 4-"Yes, we all love the lofty democracy."
        > First off, democracy needs no qualifier. Right there you implicitly admit that Bongo is nothing but a charlatan. We Gabonese actually believe we can do better than Bongo. Our country is going backward, we have receded back to single party rule and we are told that we must accept it because, well because Bongo is all we've got. We say no thanks. The guy needs to go.
        >
        >
        > -Francois
        >
        >
        > ________________________________
        > De : Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
        > À : "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
        > Envoyé le : Mercredi 14 novembre 2012 7h25
        > Objet : Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
        >
        >
        >  
        > Francois,
        >
        > I equally beg to differ with you about the imposition of English in Gabon. I am not a Gabonese, but I can say I know Gabon a little bit - under the old and younger Bongo. In fact, I do work in Gabon in Higher Education. Ali is the leader that Gabon needs at this time, and he has a vision akin to what I may call the NEW DEAL. His Gabon Emergent idea is spot on. 
        >
        > Whether rightly or wrongly, it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime, that is why he is doing all what he is doing to develop the country. Secondly, it is asserted that Ali is not there to steal money, at least not as much as he would have stolen if he was not rich before becoming president. If someone else had been president, that person would have pre-occupied himself with learning the ropes how steal money. But, Ali had already learnt the ropes as minister, had money, prestige etc, and now he only wants to engrave his name in the annals of Gabon history by doing the right things for the country.
        >
        > In terms of development - roads, electricity, water, etc the difference is very evident. Old Bongo did absolutely nothing for Gabon, but Ali is developing the country with ferocious speed. The major roads in Libreville, across the country to the provinces --from Libreville to the south en passant par Lambarene, Moulia etc and the Nationale are all being built within the last 3-4yrs since he came to power.
        >
        > Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? How much fiat did the leaders of Singapore exhibit to bring it to where it is today? Don't you wish Gabon was like Singapore?
        >
        > Yes, English is not a recipe for success, neither is the hanging on to French. Look at all the Anglophone and Francophone countries in the central African region. Their development trends are as stark as day and night. Those with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun. If you do not know, the French system of education does absolutely nothing to liberate the person and the mind. I know what I am talking about my friend. Teaching Fang etc is a lofty goal, but to be practical and for development purposes, Fang and other local languages will not take Gabon anywhere in such a global and competitive world.
        >
        > The fact that none of Gabon's neighbors speak english is precisely the reason why Gabon should speak English. Ali has discovered that French is a dead language with no future. Most Gabonese with some means are sending their children to Cameroon to study and learn English. My colleagues are doing it, and they tell me, they want their children to learn English because English is the language of the future. Most of the Francophones in Cameroon are sending their children to the Anglophone part of Cameroon to study in English. If you doubt me, talk to Cameroonians, and they will tell you. Just a small anecdote: Go to foreign embassies in any African country and look at the lines of Africans seeking visas to France and to any other Anglophone country in the world - US, UK, South Africa etc etc and you will see the difference. Fewer people from Africa are going to France to study or do business because they have understood that French is a dead language. Yes,
        > state apparatus in Cameroon is French, but it does not mean that the leaders of Cameroon really like the French. Paul Biya's children are not studying in France or in French. They are in Switzerland, studying in English. Most Cameroon ministers send their children to the UK or USA? Know why, because they do not have the balls to tell the French, your language is dead meat. I really praise Ali for taking this decision knowing fully well that this could cost him his job, as the French can easily topple him for interfering in their plantation -- which is Gabon. 
        >
        > Please do not compare Gabon and the US. You cannot compare the 2, as the decision making processes are different. Let me give you 1 example to buttress my point: last summer, I watched Ali on TV in a conference with some economic operators and government ministers etc. He said ' le Gabon sera develope avec ou sans vous'. What he implied was that some people in gov't and business where blocking his plan to build affordable homes for Gabonese. What would a leader do in such a situation? Send the question to parliament to get an endorsement for affordable housing to be built for Gabonese? You and I know that all these people in parliament do not really care for the poor people who suffer in the squalor of some quartiers in Libreville. If you ask my opinion, I would would prefer a strong leader who puts his foot down, and get things done, if that is for the interest of the people. 
        >
        > Yes, we all love the lofty democracy. But, I would prefer good roads, clean water, stable electricity, affordable and good housing, good schools for our kids, cheaper food in Libreville etc etc than the democracy noise with nothing to show for.
        >
        > Isaac
        >
        > ________________________________
        > From: François Gouahinga <gouaf@...>- 
        > To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:44 AM
        > Subject: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
        >
        > Friends
        >
        > I beg to differ. First off, you cannot impose a new language -- and implicitly a new culture -- by presidential decree. A decision of such magnitude should have gone through a referendum, or at the very least through the parliament. Rule by fiat only lands you a few headlines, and that's it. Nothing serious will come out of it.
        >
        > Second, if merely speaking English was a guarantee of success, Zimbabwe wouldn't be where it is now -- or Liberia for that matter. Development is the result of hard work in consultation with the people. It starts with the basics: reliable supply of electricity, drinkable water, roads, and adequate housing. Right now we lack all these prerequisites.
        >
        > Third, when he was running for president in 2009 Bongo Ali promised to revive our God-given African languages. We are still waiting for that to materialize. Punu, fang, myene, nzebi are still not taught in our schools. Instead, we get this distraction.
        >
        > Finally, much is being said about Rwanda, but if you look at the map of Africa you will understand that it does make sense for Rwandans to speak English. Rwanda has four neighbors, two of which speak English and are part of the same trading bloc. None of Gabon's neighbors speak English, with the exception of bilingual Cameroon -- even there, the state apparatus is essentially French. So this doesn't make any sense.
        >
        > It would be an insult to suggest that America can only do business with English speaking countries. Money knows no language barrier, except currency.
        >
        > So please don't feed us this Bongo propaganda. And show some respect: I don't think you'd appreciate it if Obama unilaterally mandated that Chinese must now be taught in all US schools that receive federal funding. It should be no different with Gabon: those who want to speak English should feel free to do so, and those don't want it shouldn't be forced to.
        >
        > - Francois
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • bobutne
        The world s lingua franca is English whether in business, tourism, much of music and the arts or other. South America is a pretty big exception as is most of
        Message 3 of 9 , Nov 14, 2012
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          The world's lingua franca is English whether in business, tourism, much of music and the arts or other. South America is a pretty big exception as is most of China although there are an estimated 10+ million Chinese who speak English. Nations that do not have English trained workers are at a competitive disadvantage to those that do. Not every Gabonese kid is going to need English but those wanting to enter the world of business, tourism and other cross border fields will have a real heads up on those who only speak French.


          --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobutne" <bobutne@...> wrote:
          >
          > DAKAR — Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo announced in October the country will start promoting English as a second language, in addition to the current French in a move that seems to be a growing trend in Francophone West Africa.
          >
          > Gabon's presidential spokesman, Alain Claude Billie By Nze, says efforts to adopt English will begin within the educational system, but classes will also be available for adults. He says Gabon is not the first country in the region to move in this direction. He says Rwanda, another African country that formerly called French its official language, made the switch to English in 2009.
          >
          > And according to Strategico political risk analyst Lydie Boka, who is based in France, Burundi could be the next country in Africa to join the English-speaking Commonwealth. "Burundi is going that route," said Boka. "I think they've asked to join the Commonwealth without saying whether they would abandon the Francophonie. I think a number of African countries, rightly or wrongly, think the English-speaking countries develop faster."
          >
          > Some African officials note that French keeps them regionally isolated and if they wish to diversify their global economic interests or partnerships, then English is the best way to do so.
          >
          > The timing of Mr. Bongo's announcement could not have been more pointed, coming just ahead of this year's summit of Francophone nations, hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo.
          >
          > Boka says Gabon's decision to move toward English could be seen as a political snub to new French President Francois Hollande -- whom the Gabon leader felt did not afford him the proper reception during a recent trip to France.
          >
          > "The same day he met with Bongo, the (Gabonese) opposition met with the Socialist party, which is the party of Hollande," said Boka. "And the Socialist party issued a communiqué that the French Socialist party was concerned about the democratic deficit in a number of countries, including Gabon."
          >
          > The Bongo family is one of three African presidential families being investigated by French authorities since 2008 for so-called "ill-gotten gains" -- cars, homes and other luxury assets in France allegedly bought with embezzled state funds. French President Hollande took office earlier this year professing, as many of his predecessors have, to finally do away with the "Francafrique."
          >
          > The francafrique refers to the sphere of influence France has sought to maintain over its former colonies through what many say have been corrupt, personal ties with African leaders and off-the-books diplomacy, often at the expense of democracy and human rights.
          >
          > Analysts say that Gabon, in particular under former president Omar Bongo, epitomized the Francafrique. It was former president Bongo who was so memorably quoted by a French newspaper in 1996 as saying that "Gabon without France is like a car with no driver. France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel."
          >
          > President Hollande's desire to recalibrate France's relationship with Africa was reflected in his comments to reporters just days before he travelled to Kinshasa for the 14th Francophonie Summit. He said the Francophonie is not simply about a language and French is not simply for France. He said French is also the language of Africa and in coming years, more Africans will speak French. This language, he said, belongs to them but it is also a language representing values and principles, including democracy, good governance, and the fight against corruption.
          >
          > Gabon's presidential spokesman, Billie By Nze, says the country's move to English is about pragmatism, not politics. He says President Bongo went to Rwanda to study its experiment with bilingualism before making his decision, which he says was based on economic and educational motives.
          >
          > Learning English, he said, is a good business decision, as oil accounts for 80 percent of the Gabon's exports and much of that, and other, business is done in English with the Middle East and China. Since World War I, English has gradually eclipsed French as the modern lingua franca, the language of global diplomacy and trade.
          >
          > Gabon's decision to put English at the heart of its education system reflects a growing interest in English among young people throughout West Africa, whether it be to understand the words to American rap music or one day score a job with an international NGO or a multi-national cooperation.
          >
          > Francophone organizations say they are not alarmed by Gabon's announcement. Ousmane Paye - special assistant for the secretary general at the International Organization of the Francophonie - says French is not an endangered language in West and Central Africa. He says of the 53 French-speaking member nations who gathered at the 14th Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa in October, 28 were African countries and more than 55 percent of French speakers currently live in Africa. The International Organization of the Francophonie estimates that by 2050, more than 80 percent of French speakers worldwide will live in Africa.
          >
          > http://www.voanews.com/content/francophone-west-Africa-English-language/1545406.html
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, Isaac Zama <ifzama6@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Hello Francois,
          > >
          > > Thanks for the rejoinder. Let's be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his father. What powers did Ali have under his father? It is no secret that Le Vieux called the shots, and not even his minister son could push his father to do what he did not want to do. Are you denying the fact that he has not or is not building roads all across Libreville and the national territory? Let's be realistic here. Do you really expect that all roads in Gabon can be built within 4 yrs that he has been in power? Let's give credit where credit is due. Better late than never.
          > >
          > > Yes, the route nationale was cut in half because of some natural calamity. Food prices spiked as a result, but the gov't took some steps to alleviate this problem, and to the best of my knowledge, the measures that the gov't took have help. Can more be done? Absolutely. Ali has and is putting in place very good agricultural policies that should solve the food crisis in Gabon, if Gabonese are willing to work.  Let me give you just one example: one of my graduate students happens to be in charge of a program in the ministry of youth and sports that offer grants to young Gabonese to engage in agriculture. More than half of those who apply and get these grants use the money to buy cars instead of opening up farms. With this mindset, how do you expect food prices not to spike when food imports from Cameroon are disrupted? Spike in prices is not anything new when there is a natural calamity any where in the world. In New Jersey for example, hurricane Sandy
          > > has caused lots of disruption, with attendant price hikes. So, this is nothing new, and should not be attributed to the lack of effort by Ali to make things better for Gabon.
          > >
          > > No where did I insinuate that only the Bongo's can rule or should rule. Ali is putting in place structures that will enable peaceful and democratic transition in the country. In fact, just within the last few months, Ali has accepted the wish of the opposition to have biometric voter cards. These are incremental steps meant to build democratic institutions. No where in the world were democratic institutions built over night. If you followed the 2012 US elections, you will have realized that states like Florida and Ohio changed voting practices, whether for good or bad. The bottom line is that if democratic institutions are put in place, it will come a time when no one family will be able to circumvent the will of the people, and that is what Ali is doing in Gabon. Similarly, in the summer, a parliamentary commission submitted its report on corruption, and those ministers who had embezzled money were scrambling to pay what they had stolen. Is this not a
          > > sign of progress? I know for a fact that corruption at the port in Owendo has reduced by over 70%, why, because Ali is doing all to curb corruption in the country.
          > >
          > > Yes, it is a fact that life expectancy in some of the countries you mentioned are dismal. But, do not forget that all those countries were subjected to inordinate dictatorships. However, with the advent of democracy, anglophone countries are improving at a faster rate than francophone african countries. I have been to Rwanda, and seen what Kagame is doing despite his own faults. He is what I may call a benevolent despot, but he is working hard to build the country. Besides Senegal, is there any other francophone african country that can be compared to Rwanda in terms of development within the last 10 yrs?
          > >
          > > Call Ali a charlatan all you want. What is important to me is whether the so called charlatan has a vision to move the country forward. The answer to me is an equivocal YES. I have had the opportunity to read his GABON EMERGENT vision, which I think is a very good blue print for developing Gabon. He has actually done a lot for the few short years that he has been in power. Being in higher education, I have seen the plans that he has for higher education, which if given the chance to implement this vision will put Gabon in a very different league with central africa. The colleges and universities that he is building and plans to build across the country will build the human capacity that Gabon sorely lacks.
          > >
          > > In fact, Gabon is not going backwards. There is no single party rule in Gabon anymore. The opposition in Gabon is very strong, even if they are not well represented in the national assembly. The level of free speech in Gabon is enviable. As I mentioned above, the implementation of biometrics in Gabon is the work of the opposition. That is just one example. If I had the opportunity to advice the opposition in Gabon, I will tell them to simplyfocus on policies that will build strong institutions that no one will be able to circumvent, rather than trying to assume power . That is how democracy was built in the west. The slogan 'the guy needs to go' is a failed strategy that has not worked in countries like Cameroon -'biya must go' started in 1992, but the guy is still waxing strong. This same tactic will not work in Gabon. 
          > >
          > > Francois, if you have the chance, advice your fellow country men and women to work with Ali to develop the country. Honestly, with the fragmented nature of the opposition in Gabon, I do not see any opposition leader strong enough that can unseat Ali at the next presidential elections. Ali is a smart fellow, and he is doing what any astute politician will do to win the confidence of Gabonese, and he is succeeding.
          > >
          > > Over to you.
          > >
          > >
          > > ________________________________
          > > From: François Gouahinga <gouaf@>
          > > To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
          > > Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:02 AM
          > > Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
          > >
          > > Isaac
          > >
          > > I do take exception with a few points:
          > > 1-"it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime"
          > >
          > > In other words, some people CLAIM that Bongo wants to correct the wrongs caused by Bongo. I see no proof of that. Just last month thousands
          > > of families had to spend more of their meager income for basic food items, because Gabon's only highway was cut in half as a result of lack of maintenance. The
          > > perceived scarcity of food items (which have to be trucked in fresh
          > > everyday) led to a sudden spike in the prices of staples. To add insult
          > > to injury, that same week hundreds of thousands of homes were denied
          > > access to water and electricity due to rationing as a result of low
          > > supply caused by infrastructure neglect. (For more, please click this
          > > link: http://rfi.my/QNwIzJ and http://bit.ly/WslA13) As always it is
          > > poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected. Why do I
          > > mention this? Bongo Ali spent his entire adult life as a member of the cabinet, most
          > > recently as the minister of defense. Meaning he has been an integral
          > > part of the apparatus of oppression and underdevelopment that landed us
          > > where we are.
          > >
          > >
          > > 2-"Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? "
          > >
          > > Great. God bless SIngapore, but no we Gabonese are not praying for a "benevolent dictatorship".I just do not believe that of all the sons and daughters of Gabon the only people fit to govern are the very same who got us in the problem we're in in the first place. And then what? Tomorrow those who think like you will tell us that only Bongo Ali's son is fit to fix whatever his daddy and grand daddy didn't fix. We get into circular reasoning.
          > >
          > > 3-Countries "with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun."
          > > I already mentioned Zim, let me add Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sierra Leone; one indicator: life expectancy. Even as we are right now, French-speaking Gabon is better than them anglophones. Do I need to say more?
          > >
          > > 4-"Yes, we all love the lofty democracy."
          > > First off, democracy needs no qualifier. Right there you implicitly admit that Bongo is nothing but a charlatan. We Gabonese actually believe we can do better than Bongo. Our country is going backward, we have receded back to single party rule and we are told that we must accept it because, well because Bongo is all we've got. We say no thanks. The guy needs to go.
          > >
          > >
          > > -Francois
          > >
          > >
          > > ________________________________
          > > De : Isaac Zama <ifzama6@>
          > > À : "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
          > > Envoyé le : Mercredi 14 novembre 2012 7h25
          > > Objet : Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
          > >
          > >
          > >  
          > > Francois,
          > >
          > > I equally beg to differ with you about the imposition of English in Gabon. I am not a Gabonese, but I can say I know Gabon a little bit - under the old and younger Bongo. In fact, I do work in Gabon in Higher Education. Ali is the leader that Gabon needs at this time, and he has a vision akin to what I may call the NEW DEAL. His Gabon Emergent idea is spot on. 
          > >
          > > Whether rightly or wrongly, it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime, that is why he is doing all what he is doing to develop the country. Secondly, it is asserted that Ali is not there to steal money, at least not as much as he would have stolen if he was not rich before becoming president. If someone else had been president, that person would have pre-occupied himself with learning the ropes how steal money. But, Ali had already learnt the ropes as minister, had money, prestige etc, and now he only wants to engrave his name in the annals of Gabon history by doing the right things for the country.
          > >
          > > In terms of development - roads, electricity, water, etc the difference is very evident. Old Bongo did absolutely nothing for Gabon, but Ali is developing the country with ferocious speed. The major roads in Libreville, across the country to the provinces --from Libreville to the south en passant par Lambarene, Moulia etc and the Nationale are all being built within the last 3-4yrs since he came to power.
          > >
          > > Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? How much fiat did the leaders of Singapore exhibit to bring it to where it is today? Don't you wish Gabon was like Singapore?
          > >
          > > Yes, English is not a recipe for success, neither is the hanging on to French. Look at all the Anglophone and Francophone countries in the central African region. Their development trends are as stark as day and night. Those with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun. If you do not know, the French system of education does absolutely nothing to liberate the person and the mind. I know what I am talking about my friend. Teaching Fang etc is a lofty goal, but to be practical and for development purposes, Fang and other local languages will not take Gabon anywhere in such a global and competitive world.
          > >
          > > The fact that none of Gabon's neighbors speak english is precisely the reason why Gabon should speak English. Ali has discovered that French is a dead language with no future. Most Gabonese with some means are sending their children to Cameroon to study and learn English. My colleagues are doing it, and they tell me, they want their children to learn English because English is the language of the future. Most of the Francophones in Cameroon are sending their children to the Anglophone part of Cameroon to study in English. If you doubt me, talk to Cameroonians, and they will tell you. Just a small anecdote: Go to foreign embassies in any African country and look at the lines of Africans seeking visas to France and to any other Anglophone country in the world - US, UK, South Africa etc etc and you will see the difference. Fewer people from Africa are going to France to study or do business because they have understood that French is a dead language. Yes,
          > > state apparatus in Cameroon is French, but it does not mean that the leaders of Cameroon really like the French. Paul Biya's children are not studying in France or in French. They are in Switzerland, studying in English. Most Cameroon ministers send their children to the UK or USA? Know why, because they do not have the balls to tell the French, your language is dead meat. I really praise Ali for taking this decision knowing fully well that this could cost him his job, as the French can easily topple him for interfering in their plantation -- which is Gabon. 
          > >
          > > Please do not compare Gabon and the US. You cannot compare the 2, as the decision making processes are different. Let me give you 1 example to buttress my point: last summer, I watched Ali on TV in a conference with some economic operators and government ministers etc. He said ' le Gabon sera develope avec ou sans vous'. What he implied was that some people in gov't and business where blocking his plan to build affordable homes for Gabonese. What would a leader do in such a situation? Send the question to parliament to get an endorsement for affordable housing to be built for Gabonese? You and I know that all these people in parliament do not really care for the poor people who suffer in the squalor of some quartiers in Libreville. If you ask my opinion, I would would prefer a strong leader who puts his foot down, and get things done, if that is for the interest of the people. 
          > >
          > > Yes, we all love the lofty democracy. But, I would prefer good roads, clean water, stable electricity, affordable and good housing, good schools for our kids, cheaper food in Libreville etc etc than the democracy noise with nothing to show for.
          > >
          > > Isaac
          > >
          > > ________________________________
          > > From: François Gouahinga <gouaf@>- 
          > > To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
          > > Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:44 AM
          > > Subject: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
          > >
          > > Friends
          > >
          > > I beg to differ. First off, you cannot impose a new language -- and implicitly a new culture -- by presidential decree. A decision of such magnitude should have gone through a referendum, or at the very least through the parliament. Rule by fiat only lands you a few headlines, and that's it. Nothing serious will come out of it.
          > >
          > > Second, if merely speaking English was a guarantee of success, Zimbabwe wouldn't be where it is now -- or Liberia for that matter. Development is the result of hard work in consultation with the people. It starts with the basics: reliable supply of electricity, drinkable water, roads, and adequate housing. Right now we lack all these prerequisites.
          > >
          > > Third, when he was running for president in 2009 Bongo Ali promised to revive our God-given African languages. We are still waiting for that to materialize. Punu, fang, myene, nzebi are still not taught in our schools. Instead, we get this distraction.
          > >
          > > Finally, much is being said about Rwanda, but if you look at the map of Africa you will understand that it does make sense for Rwandans to speak English. Rwanda has four neighbors, two of which speak English and are part of the same trading bloc. None of Gabon's neighbors speak English, with the exception of bilingual Cameroon -- even there, the state apparatus is essentially French. So this doesn't make any sense.
          > >
          > > It would be an insult to suggest that America can only do business with English speaking countries. Money knows no language barrier, except currency.
          > >
          > > So please don't feed us this Bongo propaganda. And show some respect: I don't think you'd appreciate it if Obama unilaterally mandated that Chinese must now be taught in all US schools that receive federal funding. It should be no different with Gabon: those who want to speak English should feel free to do so, and those don't want it shouldn't be forced to.
          > >
          > > - Francois
          > >
          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          > >
          > > ------------------------------------
          > >
          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
          > >
          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > ------------------------------------
          > >
          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
          > >
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          > >
          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          > >
          >
        • dupont3@juno.com
          All this political posturing is what holds Africa back. It seems like these perpetual critics are more against the Bongo name holding the Presidency than the
          Message 4 of 9 , Nov 15, 2012
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            All this political posturing is what holds Africa back. It seems like these perpetual critics are more against the Bongo name holding the Presidency than the actual development of Gabon as a nation. They talk about democracy at the expense of the nation developing in the right way. If young kids in Gabon are learning to speak english then the sky is the limit in Gabon. That is the bottom line. You can bask in political partisanship all you want. But at the end of the day those kids speaking english will be better prepared to move Gabon forward and attract the kind of business to the country that will help it develop beyond oil exports. President Ali Bongo wants a stronger relationship with the USA. Thats great because the USA can help Gabon immensely. The big problem now is the language barrier. I dont think you can compare a future English speaking Gabon to that of present english speaking African nations that are tied to the UK. Ali Bongo wants a Gabon aligned with the USA. The President wants to educate a new generation of Gabonese in a way that gives them significant access to global economic opportunity. Like if you go to Germany the smart German kids all know english. Its compulsory in Germany to learn english in schools. President Bongo is thinking along those lines for Gabon. He is looking beyond the simpleton partisan political battles. I would not trust any other leader to run Gabon cause they dont think the same and seemed totally out classed. Gabon is lucky to have Ali Bongo leading the country. He has a vision for the future of Gabon that is bright. I can see where President Bongo is trying to lead the Gabonese people to. The Gabonese need to start thinking, "not what your country can do for you , but what you can do for your country"- JFK

            ---------- Original Message ----------
            From: Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
            To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
            Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
            Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 07:46:48 -0800 (PST)

            Hello Francois,

            Thanks for the rejoinder. Let's be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his father. What powers did Ali have under his father? It is no secret that Le Vieux called the shots, and not even his minister son could push his father to do what he did not want to do. Are you denying the fact that he has not or is not building roads all across Libreville and the national territory? Let's be realistic here. Do you really expect that all roads in Gabon can be built within 4 yrs that he has been in power? Let's give credit where credit is due. Better late than never.

            Yes, the route nationale was cut in half because of some natural calamity. Food prices spiked as a result, but the gov't took some steps to alleviate this problem, and to the best of my knowledge, the measures that the gov't took have help. Can more be done? Absolutely. Ali has and is putting in place very good agricultural policies that should solve the food crisis in Gabon, if Gabonese are willing to work. �Let me give you just one example: one of my graduate students happens to be in charge of a program in the ministry of youth and sports that offer grants to young Gabonese to engage in agriculture. More than half of those who apply and get these grants use the money to buy cars instead of opening up farms. With this mindset, how do you expect food prices not to spike when food imports from Cameroon are disrupted? Spike in prices is not anything new when there is a natural calamity any where in the world. In New Jersey for example, hurricane�Sandy
            has caused lots of disruption, with attendant price hikes. So, this is nothing new, and should not be attributed to the lack of effort by Ali to make things better for Gabon.

            No where did I insinuate that only the Bongo's can rule or should rule. Ali is putting in place structures that will enable peaceful and democratic transition in the country. In fact, just within the last few months, Ali has accepted the wish of the opposition to have biometric voter cards. These are incremental steps meant to build democratic institutions. No where in the world were democratic institutions built over night. If you followed the 2012 US elections, you will have realized that states like Florida and Ohio changed voting practices, whether for good or bad. The bottom line is that if democratic institutions are put in place, it will come a time when no one family will be able to circumvent the will of the people, and that is what Ali is doing in Gabon. Similarly, in the summer, a parliamentary commission submitted its report on corruption, and those ministers who had embezzled money were scrambling to pay what they had stolen. Is this not a
            sign of progress? I know for a fact that corruption at the port in Owendo has reduced by over 70%, why, because Ali is doing all to curb corruption in the country.

            Yes, it is a fact that life expectancy in some of the countries you mentioned are dismal. But, do not forget that all those countries were subjected to inordinate dictatorships. However, with the advent of democracy, anglophone countries are improving at a faster rate than francophone african countries. I have been to Rwanda, and seen what Kagame is doing despite his own faults. He is what I may call a benevolent despot, but he is working hard to build the country. Besides Senegal, is there any other francophone african country that can be compared to Rwanda in terms of development within the last 10 yrs?

            Call Ali a charlatan all you want. What is important to me is whether the so called charlatan has a vision to move the country forward. The answer to me is an equivocal YES. I have had the opportunity to read his GABON EMERGENT vision, which I think is a very good blue print for developing Gabon. He has actually done a lot for the few short years that he has been in power. Being in higher education, I have seen the plans that he has for higher education, which if given the chance to implement this vision will put Gabon in a very different league with central africa. The colleges and universities that he is building and plans to build across the country will build the human capacity that Gabon sorely lacks.

            In fact, Gabon is not going backwards. There is no single party rule in Gabon anymore. The opposition in Gabon is very strong, even if they are not well represented in the national assembly. The level of free speech in Gabon is enviable. As I mentioned above, the implementation of biometrics in Gabon is the work of the opposition. That is just one example. If I had the opportunity to advice the opposition in Gabon, I will tell them to simplyfocus on policies that will build strong institutions that no one will be able to circumvent, rather than trying to assume power . That is how democracy was built in the west. The slogan 'the guy needs to go' is a failed strategy that has not worked in countries like Cameroon -'biya must go' started in 1992, but the guy is still waxing strong. This same tactic will not work in Gabon.�

            Francois, if you have the chance, advice your fellow country men and women to work with Ali to develop the country. Honestly, with the fragmented nature of the opposition in Gabon, I do not see any opposition leader strong enough that can unseat Ali at the next presidential elections. Ali is a smart fellow, and he is doing what any astute politician will do to win the confidence of Gabonese, and he is succeeding.

            Over to you.


            ________________________________
            From: Fran�ois Gouahinga <gouaf@...>
            To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:02 AM
            Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

            Isaac

            I do take exception with a few points:
            1-"it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime"

            In other words, some people CLAIM that Bongo wants to correct the wrongs caused by Bongo. I see no proof of that. Just last month thousands
            of families had to spend more of their meager income for basic food items, because Gabon's only highway was cut in half as a result of lack of maintenance. The
            perceived scarcity of food items (which have to be trucked in fresh
            everyday) led to a sudden spike in the prices of staples. To add insult
            to injury, that same week hundreds of thousands of homes were denied
            access to water and electricity due to rationing as a result of low
            supply caused by infrastructure neglect. (For more, please click this
            link: http://rfi.my/QNwIzJ and http://bit.ly/WslA13) As always it is
            poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected. Why do I
            mention this? Bongo Ali spent his entire adult life as a member of the cabinet, most
            recently as the minister of defense. Meaning he has been an integral
            part of the apparatus of oppression and underdevelopment that landed us
            where we are.


            2-"Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? "

            Great. God bless SIngapore, but no we Gabonese are not praying for a "benevolent dictatorship".I just do not believe that of all the sons and daughters of Gabon the only people fit to govern are the very same who got us in the problem we're in in the first place. And then what? Tomorrow those who think like you will tell us that only Bongo Ali's son is fit to fix whatever his daddy and grand daddy didn't fix. We get into circular reasoning.

            3-Countries "with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun."
            I already mentioned Zim, let me add Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sierra Leone; one indicator: life expectancy. Even as we are right now, French-speaking Gabon is better than them anglophones. Do I need to say more?

            4-"Yes, we all love the lofty democracy."
            First off, democracy needs no qualifier. Right there you implicitly admit that Bongo is nothing but a charlatan. We Gabonese actually believe we can do better than Bongo. Our country is going backward, we have receded back to single party rule and we are told that we must accept it because, well because Bongo is all we've got. We say no thanks. The guy needs to go.


            -Francois


            ________________________________
            De�: Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
            �: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
            Envoy� le : Mercredi 14 novembre 2012 7h25
            Objet�: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend



            Francois,

            I equally beg to differ with you about the imposition of English in Gabon. I am not a Gabonese, but I can say I know Gabon a little bit - under the old and younger Bongo. In fact, I do work in Gabon in Higher Education. Ali is the leader that Gabon needs at this time, and he has a vision akin to what I may call the NEW DEAL. His Gabon Emergent idea is spot on.�

            Whether rightly or wrongly, it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime, that is why he is doing all what he is doing to develop the country. Secondly, it is asserted that Ali is not there to steal money, at least not as much as he would have stolen if he was not rich before becoming president.�If someone else had been president, that person would have pre-occupied himself with learning the ropes how steal money. But, Ali had already learnt the ropes as minister, had money, prestige etc, and now he only wants to engrave his name in the annals of Gabon history by doing the right things for the country.

            In terms of development - roads, electricity, water, etc the difference is very evident. Old Bongo did absolutely nothing for Gabon, but Ali is developing the country with�ferocious speed. The major roads in Libreville, across the country to the provinces --from Libreville to the south en passant par Lambarene, Moulia etc and the Nationale are all being built within the last 3-4yrs since he came to power.

            Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? How much fiat did the leaders of�Singapore exhibit to bring it to where it is today?�Don't you wish Gabon was like Singapore?

            Yes, English is not a�recipe for success, neither is the hanging on to French. Look at all the Anglophone and Francophone countries in the central African region. Their development trends are as stark as day and night. Those with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun. If you do not know, the French system of education does absolutely nothing to liberate the person and the mind. I know what I am talking about my friend.�Teaching Fang etc is a lofty goal, but to be practical and for development purposes, Fang and other local languages will not take Gabon anywhere in such a global and�competitive�world.

            The fact that none of Gabon's neighbors speak english is precisely the reason why Gabon should speak English. Ali has discovered that French is a dead language with no future. Most Gabonese with some means are sending their children to Cameroon to study and learn English. My colleagues are doing it, and they tell me, they want their children to learn English because English is the language of the future. Most of the�Francophones�in Cameroon are sending their children to the Anglophone part of Cameroon to study in English. If you doubt me, talk to Cameroonians, and they will tell you. Just a small anecdote: Go to foreign embassies in any African country and look at the lines of Africans seeking visas to France and to any other Anglophone country in the world - US, UK, South Africa etc etc and you will see the difference. Fewer people from Africa are going to France to study or do business because they have understood that French is a dead language. Yes,
            state�apparatus�in Cameroon is French, but it does not mean that the leaders of Cameroon really like the French. Paul Biya's children are not studying in France or in French. They are in Switzerland, studying in English. Most Cameroon ministers send their children to the UK or USA? Know why, because they do not have the balls to tell the French, your language is dead meat. I really praise Ali for taking this decision knowing fully well that this could cost him his job, as the French can easily topple him for�interfering in their plantation -- which is Gabon.�

            Please do not compare Gabon and the US. You cannot compare the 2, as the decision making processes are different. Let me give you 1 example to buttress my point: last summer, I watched Ali on TV in a conference with some economic operators and government ministers etc. He said ' le Gabon sera develope avec ou sans vous'. What he implied was that some people in gov't and business where blocking his plan to build affordable homes for Gabonese. What would a leader do in such a situation? Send the question to parliament to get an endorsement for affordable housing to be built for Gabonese? You and I know that all these people in parliament do not really care for the poor people who suffer in the squalor of some quartiers in Libreville. If you ask my opinion, I would would prefer a strong leader who puts his foot down, and get things done, if that is for the interest of the people.�

            Yes, we all love the lofty democracy. But, I would prefer good roads, clean water, stable electricity, affordable and good housing, good schools for our kids, cheaper food in Libreville etc etc than the democracy noise with nothing to show for.

            Isaac

            ________________________________
            From: Fran�ois Gouahinga <gouaf@...>-�
            To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:44 AM
            Subject: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

            Friends

            I beg to differ. First off, you cannot impose a new language -- and implicitly a new culture -- by presidential decree. A decision of such magnitude should have gone through a referendum, or at the very least through the parliament. Rule by fiat only lands you a few headlines, and that's it. Nothing serious will come out of it.

            Second, if merely speaking English was a guarantee of success, Zimbabwe wouldn't be where it is now -- or Liberia for that matter. Development is the result of hard work in consultation with the people. It starts with the basics: reliable supply of electricity, drinkable water, roads, and adequate housing. Right now we lack all these prerequisites.

            Third, when he was running for president in 2009 Bongo Ali promised to revive our God-given African languages. We are still waiting for that to materialize. Punu, fang, myene, nzebi are still not taught in our schools. Instead, we get this distraction.

            Finally, much is being said about Rwanda, but if you look at the map of Africa you will understand that it does make sense for Rwandans to speak English. Rwanda has four neighbors, two of which speak English and are part of the same trading bloc. None of Gabon's neighbors speak English, with the exception of bilingual Cameroon -- even there, the state apparatus is essentially French. So this doesn't make any sense.

            It would be an insult to suggest that America can only do business with English speaking countries. Money knows no language barrier, except currency.

            So please don't feed us this Bongo propaganda. And show some respect: I don't think you'd appreciate it if Obama unilaterally mandated that Chinese must now be taught in all US schools that receive federal funding. It should be no different with Gabon: those who want to speak English should feel free to do so, and those don't want it shouldn't be forced to.

            - Francois

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          • Brad Hodges
            Personnellement, je trouve que cela serait une injustice du même ordre que la dévalorisation de la multitude de langues bantous au Gabon par l obligation de
            Message 5 of 9 , Nov 15, 2012
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            • 0 Attachment
              Personnellement, je trouve que cela serait une injustice du même ordre que la dévalorisation de la multitude de langues bantous au Gabon par l'obligation de l’utilisation du français en exclusivité dans les établissements scolaires. Mais qu'est-ce que j'en sais, moi, un prof d'anglais comme langue seconde dans une uni aux États-Unis. Que deviendra de notre riche diversité culturelle si tous les pays du monde adoptait Eengleesh comme langue officielle...?

              Voici mon humble réponse:


              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYd4b3du3_g


              -SE El Hadj Moussa


              ________________________________
              De : "dupont3@..." <dupont3@...>
              À : gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
              Envoyé le : Jeudi 15 novembre 2012 15h00
              Objet : Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend


               
              All this political posturing is what holds Africa back. It seems like these perpetual critics are more against the Bongo name holding the Presidency than the actual development of Gabon as a nation. They talk about democracy at the expense of the nation developing in the right way. If young kids in Gabon are learning to speak english then the sky is the limit in Gabon. That is the bottom line. You can bask in political partisanship all you want. But at the end of the day those kids speaking english will be better prepared to move Gabon forward and attract the kind of business to the country that will help it develop beyond oil exports. President Ali Bongo wants a stronger relationship with the USA. Thats great because the USA can help Gabon immensely. The big problem now is the language barrier. I dont think you can compare a future English speaking Gabon to that of present english speaking African nations that are tied to the UK. Ali Bongo wants a
              Gabon aligned with the USA. The President wants to educate a new generation of Gabonese in a way that gives them significant access to global economic opportunity. Like if you go to Germany the smart German kids all know english. Its compulsory in Germany to learn english in schools. President Bongo is thinking along those lines for Gabon. He is looking beyond the simpleton partisan political battles. I would not trust any other leader to run Gabon cause they dont think the same and seemed totally out classed. Gabon is lucky to have Ali Bongo leading the country. He has a vision for the future of Gabon that is bright. I can see where President Bongo is trying to lead the Gabonese people to. The Gabonese need to start thinking, "not what your country can do for you , but what you can do for your country"- JFK

              ---------- Original Message ----------
              From: Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
              To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
              Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
              Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 07:46:48 -0800 (PST)

              Hello Francois,

              Thanks for the rejoinder. Let's be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his father. What powers did Ali have under his father? It is no secret that Le Vieux called the shots, and not even his minister son could push his father to do what he did not want to do. Are you denying the fact that he has not or is not building roads all across Libreville and the national territory? Let's be realistic here. Do you really expect that all roads in Gabon can be built within 4 yrs that he has been in power? Let's give credit where credit is due. Better late than never.

              Yes, the route nationale was cut in half because of some natural calamity. Food prices spiked as a result, but the gov't took some steps to alleviate this problem, and to the best of my knowledge, the measures that the gov't took have help. Can more be done? Absolutely. Ali has and is putting in place very good agricultural policies that should solve the food crisis in Gabon, if Gabonese are willing to work. �Let me give you just one example: one of my graduate students happens to be in charge of a program in the ministry of youth and sports that offer grants to young Gabonese to engage in agriculture. More than half of those who apply and get these grants use the money to buy cars instead of opening up farms. With this mindset, how do you expect food prices not to spike when food imports from Cameroon are disrupted? Spike in prices is not anything new when there is a natural calamity any where in the world. In New Jersey for example,
              hurricane�Sandy
              has caused lots of disruption, with attendant price hikes. So, this is nothing new, and should not be attributed to the lack of effort by Ali to make things better for Gabon.

              No where did I insinuate that only the Bongo's can rule or should rule. Ali is putting in place structures that will enable peaceful and democratic transition in the country. In fact, just within the last few months, Ali has accepted the wish of the opposition to have biometric voter cards. These are incremental steps meant to build democratic institutions. No where in the world were democratic institutions built over night. If you followed the 2012 US elections, you will have realized that states like Florida and Ohio changed voting practices, whether for good or bad. The bottom line is that if democratic institutions are put in place, it will come a time when no one family will be able to circumvent the will of the people, and that is what Ali is doing in Gabon. Similarly, in the summer, a parliamentary commission submitted its report on corruption, and those ministers who had embezzled money were scrambling to pay what they had stolen. Is this not a
              sign of progress? I know for a fact that corruption at the port in Owendo has reduced by over 70%, why, because Ali is doing all to curb corruption in the country.

              Yes, it is a fact that life expectancy in some of the countries you mentioned are dismal. But, do not forget that all those countries were subjected to inordinate dictatorships. However, with the advent of democracy, anglophone countries are improving at a faster rate than francophone african countries. I have been to Rwanda, and seen what Kagame is doing despite his own faults. He is what I may call a benevolent despot, but he is working hard to build the country. Besides Senegal, is there any other francophone african country that can be compared to Rwanda in terms of development within the last 10 yrs?

              Call Ali a charlatan all you want. What is important to me is whether the so called charlatan has a vision to move the country forward. The answer to me is an equivocal YES. I have had the opportunity to read his GABON EMERGENT vision, which I think is a very good blue print for developing Gabon. He has actually done a lot for the few short years that he has been in power. Being in higher education, I have seen the plans that he has for higher education, which if given the chance to implement this vision will put Gabon in a very different league with central africa. The colleges and universities that he is building and plans to build across the country will build the human capacity that Gabon sorely lacks.

              In fact, Gabon is not going backwards. There is no single party rule in Gabon anymore. The opposition in Gabon is very strong, even if they are not well represented in the national assembly. The level of free speech in Gabon is enviable. As I mentioned above, the implementation of biometrics in Gabon is the work of the opposition. That is just one example. If I had the opportunity to advice the opposition in Gabon, I will tell them to simplyfocus on policies that will build strong institutions that no one will be able to circumvent, rather than trying to assume power . That is how democracy was built in the west. The slogan 'the guy needs to go' is a failed strategy that has not worked in countries like Cameroon -'biya must go' started in 1992, but the guy is still waxing strong. This same tactic will not work in Gabon.�

              Francois, if you have the chance, advice your fellow country men and women to work with Ali to develop the country. Honestly, with the fragmented nature of the opposition in Gabon, I do not see any opposition leader strong enough that can unseat Ali at the next presidential elections. Ali is a smart fellow, and he is doing what any astute politician will do to win the confidence of Gabonese, and he is succeeding.

              Over to you.

              ________________________________
              From: Fran�ois Gouahinga <gouaf@...>
              To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:02 AM
              Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

              Isaac

              I do take exception with a few points:
              1-"it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime"

              In other words, some people CLAIM that Bongo wants to correct the wrongs caused by Bongo. I see no proof of that. Just last month thousands
              of families had to spend more of their meager income for basic food items, because Gabon's only highway was cut in half as a result of lack of maintenance. The
              perceived scarcity of food items (which have to be trucked in fresh
              everyday) led to a sudden spike in the prices of staples. To add insult
              to injury, that same week hundreds of thousands of homes were denied
              access to water and electricity due to rationing as a result of low
              supply caused by infrastructure neglect. (For more, please click this
              link: http://rfi.my/QNwIzJ and http://bit.ly/WslA13) As always it is
              poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected. Why do I
              mention this? Bongo Ali spent his entire adult life as a member of the cabinet, most
              recently as the minister of defense. Meaning he has been an integral
              part of the apparatus of oppression and underdevelopment that landed us
              where we are.

              2-"Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? "

              Great. God bless SIngapore, but no we Gabonese are not praying for a "benevolent dictatorship".I just do not believe that of all the sons and daughters of Gabon the only people fit to govern are the very same who got us in the problem we're in in the first place. And then what? Tomorrow those who think like you will tell us that only Bongo Ali's son is fit to fix whatever his daddy and grand daddy didn't fix. We get into circular reasoning.

              3-Countries "with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun."
              I already mentioned Zim, let me add Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sierra Leone; one indicator: life expectancy. Even as we are right now, French-speaking Gabon is better than them anglophones. Do I need to say more?

              4-"Yes, we all love the lofty democracy."
              First off, democracy needs no qualifier. Right there you implicitly admit that Bongo is nothing but a charlatan. We Gabonese actually believe we can do better than Bongo. Our country is going backward, we have receded back to single party rule and we are told that we must accept it because, well because Bongo is all we've got. We say no thanks. The guy needs to go.

              -Francois

              ________________________________
              De�: Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
              �: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
              Envoy� le : Mercredi 14 novembre 2012 7h25
              Objet�: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend


              Francois,

              I equally beg to differ with you about the imposition of English in Gabon. I am not a Gabonese, but I can say I know Gabon a little bit - under the old and younger Bongo. In fact, I do work in Gabon in Higher Education. Ali is the leader that Gabon needs at this time, and he has a vision akin to what I may call the NEW DEAL. His Gabon Emergent idea is spot on.�

              Whether rightly or wrongly, it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of his father's regime, that is why he is doing all what he is doing to develop the country. Secondly, it is asserted that Ali is not there to steal money, at least not as much as he would have stolen if he was not rich before becoming president.�If someone else had been president, that person would have pre-occupied himself with learning the ropes how steal money. But, Ali had already learnt the ropes as minister, had money, prestige etc, and now he only wants to engrave his name in the annals of Gabon history by doing the right things for the country.

              In terms of development - roads, electricity, water, etc the difference is very evident. Old Bongo did absolutely nothing for Gabon, but Ali is developing the country with�ferocious speed. The major roads in Libreville, across the country to the provinces --from Libreville to the south en passant par Lambarene, Moulia etc and the Nationale are all being built within the last 3-4yrs since he came to power.

              Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? How much fiat did the leaders of�Singapore exhibit to bring it to where it is today?�Don't you wish Gabon was like Singapore?

              Yes, English is not a�recipe for success, neither is the hanging on to French. Look at all the Anglophone and Francophone countries in the central African region. Their development trends are as stark as day and night. Those with an English orientation are much better in every indicator index you can think of under the sun. If you do not know, the French system of education does absolutely nothing to liberate the person and the mind. I know what I am talking about my friend.�Teaching Fang etc is a lofty goal, but to be practical and for development purposes, Fang and other local languages will not take Gabon anywhere in such a global and�competitive�world.

              The fact that none of Gabon's neighbors speak english is precisely the reason why Gabon should speak English. Ali has discovered that French is a dead language with no future. Most Gabonese with some means are sending their children to Cameroon to study and learn English. My colleagues are doing it, and they tell me, they want their children to learn English because English is the language of the future. Most of the�Francophones�in Cameroon are sending their children to the Anglophone part of Cameroon to study in English. If you doubt me, talk to Cameroonians, and they will tell you. Just a small anecdote: Go to foreign embassies in any African country and look at the lines of Africans seeking visas to France and to any other Anglophone country in the world - US, UK, South Africa etc etc and you will see the difference. Fewer people from Africa are going to France to study or do business because they have understood that French is a dead
              language. Yes,
              state�apparatus�in Cameroon is French, but it does not mean that the leaders of Cameroon really like the French. Paul Biya's children are not studying in France or in French. They are in Switzerland, studying in English. Most Cameroon ministers send their children to the UK or USA? Know why, because they do not have the balls to tell the French, your language is dead meat. I really praise Ali for taking this decision knowing fully well that this could cost him his job, as the French can easily topple him for�interfering in their plantation -- which is Gabon.�

              Please do not compare Gabon and the US. You cannot compare the 2, as the decision making processes are different. Let me give you 1 example to buttress my point: last summer, I watched Ali on TV in a conference with some economic operators and government ministers etc. He said ' le Gabon sera develope avec ou sans vous'. What he implied was that some people in gov't and business where blocking his plan to build affordable homes for Gabonese. What would a leader do in such a situation? Send the question to parliament to get an endorsement for affordable housing to be built for Gabonese? You and I know that all these people in parliament do not really care for the poor people who suffer in the squalor of some quartiers in Libreville. If you ask my opinion, I would would prefer a strong leader who puts his foot down, and get things done, if that is for the interest of the people.�

              Yes, we all love the lofty democracy. But, I would prefer good roads, clean water, stable electricity, affordable and good housing, good schools for our kids, cheaper food in Libreville etc etc than the democracy noise with nothing to show for.

              Isaac

              ________________________________
              From: Fran�ois Gouahinga <gouaf@...>-�
              To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:44 AM
              Subject: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend

              Friends

              I beg to differ. First off, you cannot impose a new language -- and implicitly a new culture -- by presidential decree. A decision of such magnitude should have gone through a referendum, or at the very least through the parliament. Rule by fiat only lands you a few headlines, and that's it. Nothing serious will come out of it.

              Second, if merely speaking English was a guarantee of success, Zimbabwe wouldn't be where it is now -- or Liberia for that matter. Development is the result of hard work in consultation with the people. It starts with the basics: reliable supply of electricity, drinkable water, roads, and adequate housing. Right now we lack all these prerequisites.

              Third, when he was running for president in 2009 Bongo Ali promised to revive our God-given African languages. We are still waiting for that to materialize. Punu, fang, myene, nzebi are still not taught in our schools. Instead, we get this distraction.

              Finally, much is being said about Rwanda, but if you look at the map of Africa you will understand that it does make sense for Rwandans to speak English. Rwanda has four neighbors, two of which speak English and are part of the same trading bloc. None of Gabon's neighbors speak English, with the exception of bilingual Cameroon -- even there, the state apparatus is essentially French. So this doesn't make any sense.

              It would be an insult to suggest that America can only do business with English speaking countries. Money knows no language barrier, except currency.

              So please don't feed us this Bongo propaganda. And show some respect: I don't think you'd appreciate it if Obama unilaterally mandated that Chinese must now be taught in all US schools that receive federal funding. It should be no different with Gabon: those who want to speak English should feel free to do so, and those don't want it shouldn't be forced to.

              - Francois

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            • Jack Atkinson
              I agree with you Brad but it s true that English is the most common universal language. Here in Spain this problem of local languages such as Catalan, Basque
              Message 6 of 9 , Nov 16, 2012
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                I agree with you Brad but it's true that English is the most common
                universal language. Here in Spain this problem of local languages such as
                Catalan, Basque and Galician is on the political agenda every day. For now
                these languages are being used in some public schools and Spanish is second
                language with English as a third language. Without a doubt people who speak
                English "well" have a head start for jobs in Europe. I understand that
                cultural diversity is important but we have to be prepared to pay a price.

                On Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 6:16 AM, Brad Hodges <niakurondi@...> wrote:

                > **
                >
                >
                > Personnellement, je trouve que cela serait une injustice du m�me ordre que
                > la d�valorisation de la multitude de langues bantous au Gabon par
                > l'obligation de l�utilisation du fran�ais en exclusivit� dans les
                > �tablissements scolaires. Mais qu'est-ce que j'en sais, moi, un prof
                > d'anglais comme langue seconde dans une uni aux �tats-Unis. Que deviendra
                > de notre riche diversit� culturelle si tous les pays du monde adoptait
                > Eengleesh comme langue officielle...?
                >
                > Voici mon humble r�ponse:
                >
                > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYd4b3du3_g
                >
                > -SE El Hadj Moussa
                >
                > ________________________________
                > De : "dupont3@..." <dupont3@...>
                > � : gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
                > Envoy� le : Jeudi 15 novembre 2012 15h00
                > Objet : Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
                >
                >
                >
                > All this political posturing is what holds Africa back. It seems like
                > these perpetual critics are more against the Bongo name holding the
                > Presidency than the actual development of Gabon as a nation. They talk
                > about democracy at the expense of the nation developing in the right way.
                > If young kids in Gabon are learning to speak english then the sky is the
                > limit in Gabon. That is the bottom line. You can bask in political
                > partisanship all you want. But at the end of the day those kids speaking
                > english will be better prepared to move Gabon forward and attract the kind
                > of business to the country that will help it develop beyond oil exports.
                > President Ali Bongo wants a stronger relationship with the USA. Thats great
                > because the USA can help Gabon immensely. The big problem now is the
                > language barrier. I dont think you can compare a future English speaking
                > Gabon to that of present english speaking African nations that are tied to
                > the UK. Ali Bongo wants a
                > Gabon aligned with the USA. The President wants to educate a new
                > generation of Gabonese in a way that gives them significant access to
                > global economic opportunity. Like if you go to Germany the smart German
                > kids all know english. Its compulsory in Germany to learn english in
                > schools. President Bongo is thinking along those lines for Gabon. He is
                > looking beyond the simpleton partisan political battles. I would not trust
                > any other leader to run Gabon cause they dont think the same and seemed
                > totally out classed. Gabon is lucky to have Ali Bongo leading the country.
                > He has a vision for the future of Gabon that is bright. I can see where
                > President Bongo is trying to lead the Gabonese people to. The Gabonese need
                > to start thinking, "not what your country can do for you , but what you can
                > do for your country"- JFK
                >
                > ---------- Original Message ----------
                > From: Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
                > To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
                > Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
                > Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 07:46:48 -0800 (PST)
                >
                > Hello Francois,
                >
                > Thanks for the rejoinder. Let's be pragmatic here. No one denies the fact
                > that Ali has spent his whole adult life as a minister under his father.
                > What powers did Ali have under his father? It is no secret that Le Vieux
                > called the shots, and not even his minister son could push his father to do
                > what he did not want to do. Are you denying the fact that he has not or is
                > not building roads all across Libreville and the national territory? Let's
                > be realistic here. Do you really expect that all roads in Gabon can be
                > built within 4 yrs that he has been in power? Let's give credit where
                > credit is due. Better late than never.
                >
                > Yes, the route nationale was cut in half because of some natural calamity.
                > Food prices spiked as a result, but the gov't took some steps to alleviate
                > this problem, and to the best of my knowledge, the measures that the gov't
                > took have help. Can more be done? Absolutely. Ali has and is putting in
                > place very good agricultural policies that should solve the food crisis in
                > Gabon, if Gabonese are willing to work. �Let me give you just one
                > example: one of my graduate students happens to be in charge of a program
                > in the ministry of youth and sports that offer grants to young Gabonese to
                > engage in agriculture. More than half of those who apply and get these
                > grants use the money to buy cars instead of opening up farms. With this
                > mindset, how do you expect food prices not to spike when food imports from
                > Cameroon are disrupted? Spike in prices is not anything new when there is a
                > natural calamity any where in the world. In New Jersey for example,
                > hurricane�Sandy
                > has caused lots of disruption, with attendant price hikes. So, this is
                > nothing new, and should not be attributed to the lack of effort by Ali to
                > make things better for Gabon.
                >
                > No where did I insinuate that only the Bongo's can rule or should rule.
                > Ali is putting in place structures that will enable peaceful and democratic
                > transition in the country. In fact, just within the last few months, Ali
                > has accepted the wish of the opposition to have biometric voter cards.
                > These are incremental steps meant to build democratic institutions. No
                > where in the world were democratic institutions built over night. If you
                > followed the 2012 US elections, you will have realized that states like
                > Florida and Ohio changed voting practices, whether for good or bad. The
                > bottom line is that if democratic institutions are put in place, it will
                > come a time when no one family will be able to circumvent the will of the
                > people, and that is what Ali is doing in Gabon. Similarly, in the summer, a
                > parliamentary commission submitted its report on corruption, and those
                > ministers who had embezzled money were scrambling to pay what they had
                > stolen. Is this not a
                > sign of progress? I know for a fact that corruption at the port in Owendo
                > has reduced by over 70%, why, because Ali is doing all to curb corruption
                > in the country.
                >
                > Yes, it is a fact that life expectancy in some of the countries you
                > mentioned are dismal. But, do not forget that all those countries were
                > subjected to inordinate dictatorships. However, with the advent of
                > democracy, anglophone countries are improving at a faster rate than
                > francophone african countries. I have been to Rwanda, and seen what Kagame
                > is doing despite his own faults. He is what I may call a benevolent despot,
                > but he is working hard to build the country. Besides Senegal, is there any
                > other francophone african country that can be compared to Rwanda in terms
                > of development within the last 10 yrs?
                >
                > Call Ali a charlatan all you want. What is important to me is whether the
                > so called charlatan has a vision to move the country forward. The answer to
                > me is an equivocal YES. I have had the opportunity to read his GABON
                > EMERGENT vision, which I think is a very good blue print for developing
                > Gabon. He has actually done a lot for the few short years that he has been
                > in power. Being in higher education, I have seen the plans that he has for
                > higher education, which if given the chance to implement this vision will
                > put Gabon in a very different league with central africa. The colleges and
                > universities that he is building and plans to build across the country will
                > build the human capacity that Gabon sorely lacks.
                >
                > In fact, Gabon is not going backwards. There is no single party rule in
                > Gabon anymore. The opposition in Gabon is very strong, even if they are not
                > well represented in the national assembly. The level of free speech in
                > Gabon is enviable. As I mentioned above, the implementation of biometrics
                > in Gabon is the work of the opposition. That is just one example. If I had
                > the opportunity to advice the opposition in Gabon, I will tell them to
                > simplyfocus on policies that will build strong institutions that no one
                > will be able to circumvent, rather than trying to assume power . That is
                > how democracy was built in the west. The slogan 'the guy needs to go' is a
                > failed strategy that has not worked in countries like Cameroon -'biya must
                > go' started in 1992, but the guy is still waxing strong. This same tactic
                > will not work in Gabon.�
                >
                > Francois, if you have the chance, advice your fellow country men and women
                > to work with Ali to develop the country. Honestly, with the fragmented
                > nature of the opposition in Gabon, I do not see any opposition leader
                > strong enough that can unseat Ali at the next presidential elections. Ali
                > is a smart fellow, and he is doing what any astute politician will do to
                > win the confidence of Gabonese, and he is succeeding.
                >
                > Over to you.
                >
                > ________________________________
                > From: Fran�ois Gouahinga <gouaf@...>
                > To: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
                > Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:02 AM
                > Subject: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
                >
                > Isaac
                >
                > I do take exception with a few points:
                > 1-"it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants to right the wrongs of
                > his father's regime"
                >
                > In other words, some people CLAIM that Bongo wants to correct the wrongs
                > caused by Bongo. I see no proof of that. Just last month thousands
                > of families had to spend more of their meager income for basic food items,
                > because Gabon's only highway was cut in half as a result of lack of
                > maintenance. The
                > perceived scarcity of food items (which have to be trucked in fresh
                > everyday) led to a sudden spike in the prices of staples. To add insult
                > to injury, that same week hundreds of thousands of homes were denied
                > access to water and electricity due to rationing as a result of low
                > supply caused by infrastructure neglect. (For more, please click this
                > link: http://rfi.my/QNwIzJ and http://bit.ly/WslA13) As always it is
                > poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected. Why do I
                > mention this? Bongo Ali spent his entire adult life as a member of the
                > cabinet, most
                > recently as the minister of defense. Meaning he has been an integral
                > part of the apparatus of oppression and underdevelopment that landed us
                > where we are.
                >
                > 2-"Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the
                > benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? "
                >
                > Great. God bless SIngapore, but no we Gabonese are not praying for a
                > "benevolent dictatorship".I just do not believe that of all the sons and
                > daughters of Gabon the only people fit to govern are the very same who got
                > us in the problem we're in in the first place. And then what? Tomorrow
                > those who think like you will tell us that only Bongo Ali's son is fit to
                > fix whatever his daddy and grand daddy didn't fix. We get into circular
                > reasoning.
                >
                > 3-Countries "with an English orientation are much better in every
                > indicator index you can think of under the sun."
                > I already mentioned Zim, let me add Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Sierra
                > Leone; one indicator: life expectancy. Even as we are right now,
                > French-speaking Gabon is better than them anglophones. Do I need to say
                > more?
                >
                > 4-"Yes, we all love the lofty democracy."
                > First off, democracy needs no qualifier. Right there you implicitly admit
                > that Bongo is nothing but a charlatan. We Gabonese actually believe we can
                > do better than Bongo. Our country is going backward, we have receded back
                > to single party rule and we are told that we must accept it because, well
                > because Bongo is all we've got. We say no thanks. The guy needs to go.
                >
                > -Francois
                >
                > ________________________________
                > De�: Isaac Zama <ifzama6@...>
                > �: "gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com" <
                > gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com>
                > Envoy� le : Mercredi 14 novembre 2012 7h25
                > Objet�: Re: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch
                > trend
                >
                > �
                > Francois,
                >
                > I equally beg to differ with you about the imposition of English in Gabon.
                > I am not a Gabonese, but I can say I know Gabon a little bit - under the
                > old and younger Bongo. In fact, I do work in Gabon in Higher Education. Ali
                > is the leader that Gabon needs at this time, and he has a vision akin to
                > what I may call the NEW DEAL. His Gabon Emergent idea is spot on.�
                >
                > Whether rightly or wrongly, it is asserted in some quarters that Ali wants
                > to right the wrongs of his father's regime, that is why he is doing all
                > what he is doing to develop the country. Secondly, it is asserted that Ali
                > is not there to steal money, at least not as much as he would have stolen
                > if he was not rich before becoming president.�If someone else had
                > been president, that person would have pre-occupied himself with learning
                > the ropes how steal money. But, Ali had already learnt the ropes as
                > minister, had money, prestige etc, and now he only wants to engrave his
                > name in the annals of Gabon history by doing the right things for the
                > country.
                >
                > In terms of development - roads, electricity, water, etc the difference is
                > very evident. Old Bongo did absolutely nothing for Gabon, but Ali is
                > developing the country with�ferocious speed. The major roads in
                > Libreville, across the country to the provinces --from Libreville to the
                > south en passant par Lambarene, Moulia etc and the Nationale are all being
                > built within the last 3-4yrs since he came to power.
                >
                > Ruling by fiat: What is wrong with ruling by fiat, if that is for the
                > benefit of the country? See where Singapore is? How much fiat did the
                > leaders of�Singapore exhibit to bring it to where it is
                > today?�Don't you wish Gabon was like Singapore?
                >
                > Yes, English is not a�recipe for success, neither is the hanging on
                > to French. Look at all the Anglophone and Francophone countries in the
                > central African region. Their development trends are as stark as day and
                > night. Those with an English orientation are much better in every indicator
                > index you can think of under the sun. If you do not know, the French system
                > of education does absolutely nothing to liberate the person and the mind. I
                > know what I am talking about my friend.�Teaching Fang etc is a lofty
                > goal, but to be practical and for development purposes, Fang and other
                > local languages will not take Gabon anywhere in such a global
                > and�competitive�world.
                >
                > The fact that none of Gabon's neighbors speak english is precisely the
                > reason why Gabon should speak English. Ali has discovered that French is a
                > dead language with no future. Most Gabonese with some means are sending
                > their children to Cameroon to study and learn English. My colleagues are
                > doing it, and they tell me, they want their children to learn English
                > because English is the language of the future. Most of
                > the�Francophones�in Cameroon are sending their children to
                > the Anglophone part of Cameroon to study in English. If you doubt me, talk
                > to Cameroonians, and they will tell you. Just a small anecdote: Go to
                > foreign embassies in any African country and look at the lines of Africans
                > seeking visas to France and to any other Anglophone country in the world -
                > US, UK, South Africa etc etc and you will see the difference. Fewer people
                > from Africa are going to France to study or do business because they have
                > understood that French is a dead
                > language. Yes,
                > state�apparatus�in Cameroon is French, but it does not mean
                > that the leaders of Cameroon really like the French. Paul Biya's children
                > are not studying in France or in French. They are in Switzerland, studying
                > in English. Most Cameroon ministers send their children to the UK or USA?
                > Know why, because they do not have the balls to tell the French, your
                > language is dead meat. I really praise Ali for taking this decision knowing
                > fully well that this could cost him his job, as the French can easily
                > topple him for�interfering in their plantation -- which is
                > Gabon.�
                >
                > Please do not compare Gabon and the US. You cannot compare the 2, as the
                > decision making processes are different. Let me give you 1 example to
                > buttress my point: last summer, I watched Ali on TV in a conference with
                > some economic operators and government ministers etc. He said ' le Gabon
                > sera develope avec ou sans vous'. What he implied was that some people in
                > gov't and business where blocking his plan to build affordable homes for
                > Gabonese. What would a leader do in such a situation? Send the question to
                > parliament to get an endorsement for affordable housing to be built for
                > Gabonese? You and I know that all these people in parliament do not really
                > care for the poor people who suffer in the squalor of some quartiers in
                > Libreville. If you ask my opinion, I would would prefer a strong leader who
                > puts his foot down, and get things done, if that is for the interest of the
                > people.�
                >
                > Yes, we all love the lofty democracy. But, I would prefer good roads,
                > clean water, stable electricity, affordable and good housing, good schools
                > for our kids, cheaper food in Libreville etc etc than the democracy noise
                > with nothing to show for.
                >
                > Isaac
                >
                > ________________________________
                > From: Fran�ois Gouahinga <gouaf@...>-�
                > To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
                > Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:44 AM
                > Subject: Re : Re: [Gabon Discussion] Jury out on language-switch trend
                >
                > Friends
                >
                > I beg to differ. First off, you cannot impose a new language -- and
                > implicitly a new culture -- by presidential decree. A decision of such
                > magnitude should have gone through a referendum, or at the very least
                > through the parliament. Rule by fiat only lands you a few headlines, and
                > that's it. Nothing serious will come out of it.
                >
                > Second, if merely speaking English was a guarantee of success, Zimbabwe
                > wouldn't be where it is now -- or Liberia for that matter. Development is
                > the result of hard work in consultation with the people. It starts with the
                > basics: reliable supply of electricity, drinkable water, roads, and
                > adequate housing. Right now we lack all these prerequisites.
                >
                > Third, when he was running for president in 2009 Bongo Ali promised to
                > revive our God-given African languages. We are still waiting for that to
                > materialize. Punu, fang, myene, nzebi are still not taught in our schools.
                > Instead, we get this distraction.
                >
                > Finally, much is being said about Rwanda, but if you look at the map of
                > Africa you will understand that it does make sense for Rwandans to speak
                > English. Rwanda has four neighbors, two of which speak English and are part
                > of the same trading bloc. None of Gabon's neighbors speak English, with the
                > exception of bilingual Cameroon -- even there, the state apparatus is
                > essentially French. So this doesn't make any sense.
                >
                > It would be an insult to suggest that America can only do business with
                > English speaking countries. Money knows no language barrier, except
                > currency.
                >
                > So please don't feed us this Bongo propaganda. And show some respect: I
                > don't think you'd appreciate it if Obama unilaterally mandated that Chinese
                > must now be taught in all US schools that receive federal funding. It
                > should be no different with Gabon: those who want to speak English should
                > feel free to do so, and those don't want it shouldn't be forced to.
                >
                > - Francois
                >
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