Joseph Tchuindjang Pouemi, the genius who got in the way. We may have forgotten. Illustrious unknown, great forgotten of the Faculties. And yet here is the very first aggregate in economics of Cameroon (1971). A grandfather of science who left quietly on December 27, 1984. He leaves a testament: this book which is 40 years old today is a bible. A volume of words that can lift our economies out of their suffering.
Small parenthesis, on pages 192-199 he describes the IMF as an instant misery fund.
More interestingly, Joseph Stiglitz, one of the greatest economists in the world, acerbic critic of globalization, was made Nobel Prize for economics in 2001. And what earned him this prize was the resumption of Joseph Tchuindjang Pouemi’s theses on repression by the IMF on the economies of underdeveloped countries.
This book is one of the most daring and useful books of its time. While we are talking today about the exit of the FCFA, the economist Tchundjang Pouémi understood everything from the end of the 70s. For him, no country can develop as long as it does not master its own currency. This brilliant pan-Africanist economist was assassinated in the prime of his life and his death was disguised as suicide. Below is a summary of his book, analysis written by Odile Tobner :
This work written in 1978-1979, published in 1981, presented by its author in a dedication as an “attempt to contribute to the understanding of the pains of Africa”, constitutes, after more than a quarter of a century, a unique and unparalleled perspective of the plight of Africa in the global economy. Everything that has happened since the publication of this book has indeed confirmed the correctness of his analyzes, which were greeted at the time as views of iconoclastic insolence. Not only was this luminous book obscured, but its author disappeared shortly after its publication under suspicious conditions, apparently committed suicide.
Yet this testimony, a real monument by the power of the conceptions, the acuteness of the spirit and the elegance of the language, makes perfectly intelligible to Africans some of the curses which they drag as a fatality and the remedy for s ‘undo it.
Tchundjang Pouémi bluntly poses the situation of Africa as “the reservoir of Europe, itself at the service of multinationals”. Cameroonian, he judges the CFA franc as a “chimera”, noting that “France is the only country in the world to have succeeded in the extraordinary feat of circulating its currency and nothing but its currency in politically free countries”. The stakes of this subjection are perfectly exposed. The book, which aims to reach the general public, testifies to a prodigious effort of popularization, on abstruse subjects, the obscurity of which precisely guarantees their harmful effectiveness. It is worth the effort to follow the narrative step by step and to endeavor to penetrate the mechanisms of what is shown to be the source of power: mastery of money.
The economist demonstrates how the “auto-repressive techniques” assumed by Africans “block all economic progress, if they do not reverse it …”, how local savings, despite the obstinate efforts of small savers, are not remunerated , while states are 8% indebted to the World Bank. After the theoretical presentation, a few concrete cases illustrate the failures of African economies. Thus the case of Zaire where “the sustained impoverishment of Zaïrois faithfully accompanies the good business of Gécamines”, since, as posited by the axiom enunciated by a Belgian soldier that he quotes: “after independence = before independence “. To have read Tchundjang Pouémi in the 1980s would certainly have avoided the flood of comments in works as thick as they are confused on the astonishing observation of an “absence of development” in Africa.
The different monetary situations of African countries are explained, from the total subjection of the countries of the franc zone to the orbiting of those who are in the orbit of the pound sterling. Colonial legacies irrevocably hamper the economic development of so-called independent countries. But, with brilliant foreknowledge, Tchundjang Pouémi paints a realistic picture of the ravages of the domination of the IMF – according to him Instant Misery Fund – whose function he announces: “It will help to contain the ambitions of African countries, of Latin America and Asia who aspire to better-being, now accepted as a sine qua non of peace, but unacceptable, because it implies at least a slowdown in the rate of consumption in the West. ”
The conclusions are truly prophetic. Today that we are stumbling over the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), how can we fail to appreciate the judgment that “obviously the North-South dialogue is deaf” because “we are in the presence of two strong claims. divergent. One, that of the OECD, which intends to… crystallize the world. The other, that of the South, which… believes it can aspire to material well-being, a logical consequence of the right that it is said to be recognized to exist with dignity ”a situation from which“ there is no way out ”, otherwise the development of conflicts linked to the control of raw materials, as present-day Africa offers the tragic example.
Admirably educational – the author exposes the historical foundations of the currency – of a remarkable breadth of view, this work is the great classic of the African economy, combining the control of all the mechanisms of the economy with the vision of a perspective of political philosophy and above all in the flame of the mission of salvation for a humiliated continent. Its strength and radiance are yet to come.
By Odile Tobner