Jean Marc Ekoh in 1957
Jean Marc Ekoh is a true elder statesman; one of these rare leaders in Gabon, who is uncompromising, principled and keeps on inspiring the next generation to carry on the legacy of honesty, hard work and dedication to the country. He is a prominent, highly experienced and respected person, whose actions and opinions should strongly influence the course of events in Gabon. This former State Minister from the Leon Mba era of the 60s has just wrote a stinging editorial in the newspaper "La Une", in which he speaks of the duplicity of Olam, the Singaporean firm, in its project to convert 50000 ha of primary forest into rubber plantations. Below is the translation of that article.
Stop the greedy and criminal machinations of Olam
In my mother tongue, "olam" means "trap". I have already had occasion to remind people during a recent workshop at the Hibiscus Hotel in the Louis neighborhood of Libreville, in the presence of representatives of foreign NGOs, of senior officials supposed to represent Ministries that exist in name only since their merger with the informal ANGT, and two Olam's agents.
By a negative and ashamed motion of the head, the latter two cited did confirm that in Singapore, no foreigner can not obtain a single square meter of land: they were responding to my direct question, as they were seated to my right.
Acknowledging this fact, that I can speak of from all points of view, having had as a long personal friend, a former mayor of Singapore, I reminded people of the disasters caused by the rubber plantations in Malaysia, near Kuala Lumpur.
No need to evoke the ravages of Rubber in Liberia, just visit the departments of Ntem and Okano to realize the very serious tragi-comedy that the Gabonese are living; people who once, thanks to cocoa they already produced in the amount of 50,000 tons during the years 1945 to 1966, were prosperous.
André-Gustave Anguilé, excellent minister of the first and only five-year plan Gabon has ever known, was considering also a cocoa production of 100000 tons by 1980, with the expansion of plantations in Woleu-Ntem and the maturation of already created farms in Ogooue-Ivindo and Ogooue-Lolo.
Around the year 1980, Okondja already produced over 500 tons of Arabica and Tchibanga 600 tons of rice ... Neither banana nor cassava, or tomato came from abroad.
On the general policy of planning of the Gabonese economy advocated by A. G. Anguilé, there is so much to say. But we will only mention SDRM (Society for Rural Development of Medouneu), the COPALMO (Company of palm of Moabi), the CFG (Company of plywood of Port-Gentil, the first in the world), the SOGACEL (company of production of paper pulp, an interrupted project in Kango), the SOTEGA (textile company in Libreville), a glass factory in Port-Gentil ... Planned was a battery factory has Moanda, from manganese dioxide.
We could add, o height of carelessness!, that despite the resources extracted from our forests, our 800 km of coastline, our inexhaustible hydrographic network, we do not yet have the capacity to distribute city gas, to fish for sardines, to travel by paved roads linking the nine provinces of this beautiful country that a political ignoramus class is brutalizing, under the pretext of previously unknown divisions of peoples who, like nobody can teach us, have never fought each others!
And hacks use this to engineer and maintain anti-nationalist polemics, like the incoherent gibberish read in "Echos du Nord" (one of the credible private publications) No. 137 on Monday, July 23, 2012 under the title "The rehabilitation of all cocoa plantations in the province ... A guarantee of their marriage with the people ..." Is this not one of the lowest uttered insult by a lettered man against the people, which deliberately ignores that 90% of foodstuffs consumed in Gabon is imported, and that Olam is not interested in cash crops that have disappeared for 50 years? We would keep silent on the rest for obvious reasons.
That the author (who is a close relative) no longer adds his name to those that we may lead to serious Courts authorities, to answer for a decision countersigned in Singapore by an irresponsible and greedy Gabonese.
"The culture of Rubber was introduced in the province (Woleu-Ntem?) By the Germans in the 40s ..." dares to specify the author! If this Woleu-Ntemois knew that Germany lost all its colonies in 1918, he would have not tried to counterfeit history, nor to claim to be an "agricultural engineer". Please! The International laughingstock of Gabon is already hard enough to take. Let us not add one iota!
Jean-Marc Ekoh est un véritable homme d'état; l'un de ces rares leaders au Gabon, qui soit resté sans compromis, ancré sur ses principes et qui continue à inspirer la prochaine génération à perpétuer l'héritage de l'honnêteté, du travail acharné et du dévouement à la nation. C'est un éminent personnage, très expérimenté et respecté; dont les actions et les opinions devraient influencer fortement le cours des événements au Gabon. Cet ancien ministre d'État de l'époque Léon Mba, des années 60, vient d'écrir un éditorial cinglant dans le journal "La Une"; dans lequel il fustige la duplicité d'Olam, la firme Singapourienne, à propos de son projet de conversion de 50000 ha de forêt primaire en plantations d'hévéa. Vous pouvez lire cet article ci-dessous.