The Power of the People and the Herakles Farms’ Debacle in Cameroon

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Posted May 28, 2013

The announcement that the government of Cameroon has halted the questionable activities of Herakles Farms in southwest Cameroon is most welcome news to Africa Faith & Justice Network. The decision highlights the power of local communities, the need for increased involvement of civil society organizations and the need for a paradigm shift in the approach to the numerous challenges that face African communities.

A close examination of the many challenges that beset Africa indicates that they are tied to governance issues. Thanks to the pressure from justice organizations within and outside Cameroon, and people on the ground, the government finally stepped up to do the right thing. “When ants unite their mouths, they can carry an elephant” – African proverb.The Cameroonian government now needs to investigate the participants in the shady land deals that Samel Ngiuffo describes as a “web of lies and deceit” that led to the destruction of a unique forest area for a project that would hardly benefit the local community or the Cameroonian people.

In a press release titled “Herakles Farms suspends Cameroon operations in complience with the recently issued stoppage order from the ministry of forestry & wildlife (MINFOF)”, the company stated that it "is diligently working with Cameroonian Government officials to resolve the matter as quickly as possible."  Furthermore, a quick look at a Herakles statement from March 20, 2012 adds insults to injury by implying that the company would help Africans: "Inspired by a desire to “do something” for Africa after a visit to war-torn West Africa in 1999, our CEO, Bruce Wrobel, quit his job to start Herakles Capital with a commitment to using his skills in large-scale project development for the benefit of sustainable economic development in Africa." However, we believe that it is time to put the people before profit and the much touted “development” projects by self-served multinational corporations. It is time to demand accountability and transparency.