PATRICE NOUMA; THE SCAM ARTIST

By Celestin Ngoa Balla, US Africa News. Updated 2014-05-13

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PATRICE NOUMA; THE SCAM ARTIST
Nouma Bodo Patrice in Action

When he landed in New York from France, Patrice Nouma offered his business card to all Cameroonians he met. He called himself a stylist and fashion designer, among other things. He said he had come to the US to launch a clothing line. He also distributed a CD that was released in France, which oddly titles him as the "activist Cameroonian poet." The CD, which sold in the boutiques of the Le Pen’s National Front back in France, contains the eponymous title track: "If you don't like France, get out of France.” Commentators say that it contributes to the conflict over the integration of immigrants and the rejection of Islamism or illegal immigration. 

At a time when it was very common to see Cameroonian immigrants in the USA taking to the streets to denounce the regime of Yaoundé, Patrice Nouma displayed signs of a certain ease with the regime, and only spoke well of it. The doors of Cameroon’s Mission to the United Nations were open to him. Some even believed he was a secret service man dispatched by Yaoundé. When his fashion business did not work out, Nouma was already advertising another dream— opening a purely Cameroonian cabaret, where he would be playing with musicians from Cameroon. That venture was stillborn.

And if they are many Cameroonians in New York with tears in their eyes, it is because they had fallen for Patrice Nouma’s scam. They were seduced by the pipe dream for Cameroonian musicians being heralded in New York. And they were asked to pay him three million CFA each for a hit of the pipe. Even today, his victims are demanding repayment of their money from this fiasco. His list of victims lengthened when he made himself head of an association of Beti that he founded. Members who enrolled in this short-lived association will never see their contributions returned. When voices begin to turn against him among Cameroonians, Patrice Nouma became a zealous supporter of Paul Biya, the Cameroonian President, and was in the foreground during meetings at the UN Mission. There, the atmosphere is not one of conviviality between employees. Nouma took the opportunity to get his hands on documents meant to circulate exclusively between bureaus. And soon, he began to use these documents to expose some diplomats. Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, posted in New York as Secretary General at the time, was his first victim. Nouma said there were incriminating files on the Plenipotentiary Minister and threatened to publish them if Ngoh Ngoh would not negotiate with him. Ngoh Ngoh told him to publish the documents. We are still waiting to see.

 A turnaround?

Others from the Department of Finance and Security were also approached by the blackmailer, who, curiously, is still very close to Ambassador Michel Tomo Monthe. The Ambassador very often entrusted him with handling media coverage. There has been a boom in demand for press coverage lately in New York, and Nouma started in this new position despite lack of training and qualification. The title of press agent opens doors in certain African embassies to the West and the United Nations. Because it was in New York that Ruben Um Nyobé spoke for the first time for the reunification of the two Cameroon before the UN 1952, the Organizing Committee of the fiftieth anniversary of this Reunification, piloted by Martin Belinga Eboutou, chose New York as one of the sites for celebration of the event, in sync with celebrations in Buea. Nouma was among a handful of Cameroonians who gathered to elect the members of the local organizing Committee. But the plans were not moving forward, because there were too many people wanting to lead, and no one to carry out the work. Ambassador Tomo Monthe came to the rescue, organizing a series of roundtables before the ball. Last October, Nouma was part of a group discussing "the contribution of the Cameroonian diaspora to the development of Cameroon". And since that time he has announced that his beliefs have changed.

Perhaps he was frustrated not to have been able to take advantage of the system and the funds allocated to the fiftieth anniversary festivities in New York. Nouma received some attention at the beginning of this year when he published a letter that he sent to Barack Obama on his Facebook page, asking the occupant of the White House not to receive Paul Biya at the summit between the US and Africa scheduled for next August. Although reprinted by some Internet sites, the letter has not so far created serious buzz. Recently, Nouma gave interviews to two online television stations based in New York in which he denounced people and practices at the Cameroon’s UN Mission. The effect was also less than sizzling. Now the man decided to create a scandal. He had the inspiration to take homeless Gisèle Alima into his home and interview her. This finally created a real buzz on YouTube. 

In reality, such activism would not have been noticed if Paul Biya was not announced to be coming to the US for the Summit in August. During each of his visits it is known that Biya gives money-- to supporters, and to those who oppose him in order to quell possible protests. This time, an agreement seems to have been made by both sides that Biya will pay off the strongest challengers. Simply put, it is about causing goosebumps in Yaoundé. The objective is to present the USA as the hub of a better organized and fiercer opposition. And to avoid the worst, the Yaoundé regime will try to negotiate with this opposition. Even so, one can bet that Nouma, who is likely to be the face unveiled for this other kind of opposition, will drop some more bombs in the days and months to come. Meanwhile, double agents are playing other games under the card table of appeasement. They must negotiate with one camp or the other; the final tab for the Yaoundé regime will be not small. Patrice Nouma and his team are demanding 200 million CFA. Extortion has a new name in Cameroon.

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