President Paul Biya has clocked 33 years in power, unleashing a social media storm of mockery in Cameroon and around the world.
Biya, one of “Africa’s last strongmen”, took power on 6 November 1982, two days after the surprise resignation of post-colonial leader Ahmadou Ahidjo.
He is now one of the continent’s longest serving presidents, after revising the constitution in 2008 to avoid stepping down in 2011.
As chairman of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, Biya will automatically be the party’s candidate in 2018.
On assuming office, Biya promised an administration driven by rigour and moralisation, a break from the reppressive regime he inherited from Ahidjo.
Yet, he became noted for overseeing one of the world’s most corrupt countries, with a litany of democratic and economic shortcomings.
In 2012, he openly complained that his government was bugged by red tape and in a later speech expressed frustration with a country where nothing seemed to work.
“Inertia, incompetence or malice of some people,” he said, was holding back economic recovery and for that reason “a substantial segment of our population continues to languish in hardship”.
Nonetheless, Biya, 82, has been praised for keeping the country peaceful in a region where armed conflict is rife.
After years of denial, he has waged a controversial war on corruption and rolled out a plan to transform the country by 2035.
But many are judging him from his overall performance in 33 years.
To mark the anniversary of his multiple tenures since he came to power, supporters of the ruling party are staging events around the country, including a marathon in Yaounde.
The CPDM scribe Jean Nkuete called for moderate celebrations as a way to pay homage to victims of terrorism and the recent death of Muslim pilgrims in Mecca.
But social media users did not seem to have received the memo and lit the place on fire.
The hashtags #33years and its French equivalent #33ans, have been trending all week, particularly on twitter.
#33years generated more than 650,000 social media impressions in the last two days, while #33ans was trending at nearly 800,000.
Most of the activity happened on twitter, with users in the United States and, yes, women being the most vocal, according to several analytics sites.
Early on Friday, Dibussi Tande(@DibussiTande) had one of the top-rated #33years tweets.
“Biya’s ‘rigor and moralization’ policy paradoxically created a culture of lavishness & an ethos of ostentatious consumption,” tweeted Tande.
Tweeting with the handle @zuzeeko, another user wrote: “#33 years of bad roads, inaccessibility and infrastructural degradation…”
User Olivia Mukam Wandji (@sankara1111) tore down one of Biya’s outstanding merits, which analysts argue might constitute his most significant legacy, with two separate tweets.
“I don’t understand the logic: Because we enjoyed peace and stability we have to silently digest our race to the bottom.”
“If after #33years we think our choice is, either peace or underdevelopment, then our logic has been screwed.”
No subject was out of reach as Biya came under scrutiny in tweets that fluidly shifted from harsh criticism to dry humour.
“Jesus Christ would have lived and died with one head of state. Nice,” wrote Tchassa Kamga (hlkamga).
One user joked the only thing that needed to be celebrated was the locally brewed and very popular beer, 33 Export.
A few found comfort outside politics and the economy.
“At least in #33years @StanleyEnow has brought an @MTVbaseAfrica MAMA award back to Cameroon! Let’s keep working,” wrote @ModeMaisonPR.
Not everyone was smashing things though.
@ConceptAfrica: “#33ans within these #33years I’ve learned to change what I can, encourage others doing their best & forget about the government. #team237”