EDITORIAL: 9/22 Eruption: As the lava cools

September 22 is henceforth a marble milestone on Southern Cameroons’ political desert trail.  It was a day of self-discovery. Like the Lion of Oz who roared so loud that he scared himself, the entire population of Southern Cameroons shouted “enough” so loud that they could not believe their own ears.
In one of the many compelling videos that immortalized the event, the nonagenarian Fon of Besi broke down in public as the youth of his Fondom trooped around him along with the “Takumbeng.”  It was like the touching picture of children returning in tears to their father after a long sojourn with an abusive uncle.

And you had to be made of marble to not catch a treacherous tear sneaking down your cheek as you watched mammoth crowds in all Southern Cameroons towns take the plunge, undeterred by the eventuality of testy fingers among the troops pulling the murderous trigger.
At first, given the regime’s track record of brutal repression, “SCACUF’s” call for these mass protest rallies had looked like a tall order – until word spread that President BIYA had given strict instructions against shooting any protesters. His apparent change of heart was easy to explain: He was in New York to address the UN General Assembly that same day, and the protest marches would be a great opportunity for him to hoodwink the world as usual about how his regime tolerates dissent.
But if he thought he had a monopoly of brinkmanship, the seemingly simple-minded crowds beat him to it. On that score, 9/22 was a win-win for Yaounde and Buea. It was a near-win for President Biya’s public image laundry. For once, the world saw his police look on, as crowds all over Southern Cameroons spilled into the streets singing, “BIYA let my people go” or “Na how many people you one go kill?” It must have been a moment of mortifying restraint for him and his troops to read all the separatist placards, hear a different anthem sung in public and watch a different flag unfurl in a territory he believes he still controls. But it was only a near-win, because among the security forces there were blood thirsty ones who, unable to help themselves, defied his orders and felled eight unarmed protesters. Allegedly one of the murderers was a civilian – a mayor who now still walks the streets unperturbed.

The win for Southern Cameroons was mind-blowing. Never again will the Yaounde regime delude itself or anyone that the Anglophone problem is just a handful of ambitious, frustrated fame seekers, misleading a small group of people. To those who had resigned themselves to suffering in silence because the spectre of bloody repression hung over them like Damocles’ sword,  last Friday brought new meaning and proximity to Barack Obama’s words, “Yes, we can.”
With the rush of adrenaline that 9/22 triggered, two new dangers now lurk. The first is naive triumphalism. Yaounde’s restraint last Friday should not delude anyone into assuming some cheap victory. The now popular trend to associate the Anglophone struggle to terrorism must not be taken lightly. Whether or not Yaounde succeeds in marketing that new label abroad, it cannot be expected to pass the opportunity to use it as a pretext for extreme repression.
The other danger that lurks is foolhardiness. Having crossed the threshold of fear, chances are that some young people will take liberties and carry out unnecessarily provocative acts. Already, videos have been in circulation, in which some Francophones complain that their cars were savaged as they tried to enter Southern Cameroons territory. If that is true, the authors of such mindless behavior must be promptly reined in because 9/22 was not against Francophone Cameroonians, but against the oppressive policies of the regime. It must not be seen to herald the creation of a xenophobic state that would treat citizens on the other side of the cultural divide as enemies. Southern Cameroonians must not lose sight of the eventuality of perfectly legitimate retaliation for any xenophobic behavior, and God alone knows what could happen to the droves of their kith and kin living and working across the Mungo. This is to say nothing about the likelihood of a brutal response from Yaounde itself. It would be sheer naiveté and complacency to assume that Scexit is now a slam dunk just because 9/22 happened. All in all, those who pull the strings must take counsel and refrain from putting anyone in harm’s way unnecessarily.

Having pulled off 9/22, and while setting their sights on other milestones, the parties must take a moment to draw some appropriate lessons from what has happened so far.

Totally flabbergasted by massive mobilization on 9/22 the “colonial” Chieftain in Buea is quoted as saying, “they took us by storm” – an unwitting public acknowledgment that there is a them versus us – a dichotomy that has all along been on the mind of the regime and its vassals, but just being papered over by beguiling hashtags like “one and indivisible Cameroon.”

The statement is also an acknowledgment that the regime grossly underestimated the depth and scope of the anger it has provoked by its insensitivity and lack of respect for Southern Cameroonians.

9/22 was the eruption of a sleeping volcano. After ignoring the rumblings in its belly and the multiple little tremors for over half a century, Yaounde is now shocked and awed by the magnitude of the eruption, and that speaks volumes of Biya’s ability to lead a people he knows so little. And whatever may happen hereafter, it seems evident that that has shifted, some say from Etoudi to the Diaspora, but more from Etoudi to the streets, holds and valleys of Southern Cameroons.

9/22 was a final fail mark for Biya’s proactivity. Now starts the ultimate reaction test. Should he fail that too by still resorting to brute force and falsehood, he can as well just say Adieu to Anglophone Cameroon.

SEPT 22 PROTESTS: Unprotected Buea students disguise their way home

Things appear to be back to Square One with school resumption, following the fate of children in some schools who were left unprotected during the September 22 protests in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

In the Molyko Bilingual Grammar School, the school administration is reported to have fled for their own safety at the approach of the surging crowd of protesters

Even security officers who had been deployed to protect students were reduced to pleading with the protesting youths to go easy on the children. The students were forced to chant songs saying ‘no more school’. .  When they were finally able to leave, many of the students had to take off their uniforms and use other disguises to find their way home from school.  Ironically the failure to protect the children came after the school authorities had turned away parents who had rushed to the school earlier to fetch their children.

Some of the children were wounded and went home in tears, vowing never to return to school. Many parents now face the same fears as these children, casting shadows on effective resumption of school.

By Relindise Ebune

Who’s setting schools, public property ablaze?

Despite the massive deployment of soldiers with legal instruments of violence in tow in school campuses and elsewhere West of the Mungo, incidents of arson especially on schools infrastructure still persist. This has left many a Cameroonian wondering especially, as no one has been able to say with exactitude why, how and who is perpetrating these sordid acts. However, the general perception has been that it must be some faceless hoodlums. As bizarre as certain opinions of certain persons on the issue are, they still make for intense debate.

“It is difficult to force Government to speak the truth but I think if these people, (military officers on guard) are properly interrogated they will speak the truth,” Jude Anguese, UB Political Science student proposed.

He said he doesn’t understand why with the numerous security men on school campuses, people still succeed in getting in, to burn school buildings they ought to be watching over without any of them noticing. “The issue is actually getting me confused and I am tempted to accuse Government. It might be a strategy they want to use in implicating or frustrating the Anglophone struggle. Who are these people burning the schools if they are not acting in complicity with the security officers? This is the question I ask myself every time I hear of arson on schools or state property,” he said.

In his opinion, it is common knowledge that international organisations like UNESCO for instance, cannot support the burning of schools and since Anglophones are on strike, Government agents could be doing this to give Anglophones a bad name.

On his part, Agbor Damian, parent, and retired soldier said the situation is a funny one. As he puts it, it is unimaginable how despite Government’s necessary measures to protect students and school infrastructure from being attacked by ‘ghosts’, these unknown people still succeed in executing their plans.

“I hope with time, we will be able to know those responsible for all these mischievous acts. We cannot say that the security officers are not doing their work because we see them moving up and down everyday. I think Government should put more effort so that, its forces could be really effective in the field,” Agbor advised.

To Guy Melein, another parent and businessman based in Mbalangi, it is not good for whosoever to bring down a structure that has been put in place by Government to help the people. He said in as much as he could not tell who is behind the burning of schools, his only appeal is for Government to resolve problems raised by disgruntled Cameroonians, especially, those West of the Mungo because, every citizen ought to enjoy their country. “A country does not belong to the Government but to the people,”Guy stated.

In which case, whoever is responsible for arson on public or private property need not be told that, it is an irrational act; for one does not because of anger destroy one’s own house, neither does one help in looting his neighbour’s house because it is on fire.

By Nester Asonganyi

Infusing realism into governance

Finally, it is dawning on Government that brute force as means of securing acquiescence from those, whose sovereign will had, in the first place, brought into being its existence is anachronistic and redundant in civilized skies. Adjunctive to the above assertion, is uplifting elixir from watching images and news commentaries pertaining to last Friday’s multiple and well-coordinated protest marches in Anglophone Cameroon. This reassurance is not so much from the fact that aggrieved citizens were demonstrating as to the surprising reaction from erstwhile trigger-happy security forces. Concordant reports bespeak general orderliness and little or no provocation, be they from protesters or security forces dispatched to ensure the events had smooth sail. Barring a few unfortunate incidents perpetrated by some overzealous administrators and protesters leading to deaths, we can say congratulations to President Paul Biya, alleged to have personally instructed erratic hirelings to refrain from confrontational inducements.

Be that as it may, there are some dark clouds that need to be highlighted. The commendable reaction of security forces has been tainted by some occurrences that unfortunately, portray invidious posturing of some elected and appointed officials in the polity. Uncontroverted reports have ascribed the murder of one of the demonstrating youths in Buea to the maverick Mayor, Ekema Patrick Esunge. For the avoidance of doubt, no one free of lunacy tag would subscribe to the damage allegedly inflicted on the fleet of cars pompously displayed in the courtyard of his Molyko abode. However, the fact that the victim was shot out of his gate and his inability to rely first on frightening the irate youths with gun shots in the air instead of shooting directly smacks of unmistakable intention to kill. The same gaffe is alleged to have been perpetrated in Mamfe by its now fugitive Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, and yet another in Santa in the Northwest Region. Whatever the circumstance of this killing in cold blood, the fact that these acts of coldness to human lives usually perpetrated by the forces of law and order have now reverted to administrators and elected officials who ought to be more sensitive to sacredness of God’s creation, raises the spectre of descent into governance abyss.

On the other hand, even as the events of last Friday can be said to have been spontaneous in character and execution, and by that token, difficult to pin down excesses on particular individuals, there is need for caution to be preached to Anglophone youths. It is difficult to see the nexus between a peaceful protest march and ripping of the gate of the National Social Insurance Fund edifice in Mile 17, ostensibly to deprive vehicles from accessing the junction. The entry into Government Bilingual Grammar School Molyko and subjecting unwary students to despicable whipping, also, conjures the image of a bunch of insensitive and depraved zealots on the rampage. In some areas the excesses attained the level of the nation’s flag being pulled down and replaced by that of a yet to be recognized ‘Ambazonia’ state. Such incivility does not portray the imprimatur inherent in Anglophones; a people imbued with respect for the rule of law and reputed to be each other’s keeper. Let our social media generals rise up to the challenge of educating youths on the need to tread softly and avoid unnecessary provocations that engineer undue loss of lives. Peaceful demonstrations, yes but no to anarchy!

Unfortunately, the portentous events of last Friday had been unfolding when President Biya was on the podium of the United Nations in New York, where he had gone to pontificate on compelling urgency for security against terrorist outfits like Boko Haram, ISIS and of course, other little known insurrections occasioned by disaffection of citizens over obtuse mismanagement of their patrimony by imprudent cabals. Another issue that caught the president’s attention, or is it that of his speech writers is climate change, even as timber is being illegally and unconventionally exploited behind his house. Setting aside the fact that he was addressing an almost empty auditorium, which in itself speaks volumes relating to treatment accorded our Head of State by his peers in other skies, there is the issue of keeping one’s house in order before worrying about the fire about to engulf that of a neighbour.

To add salt to injury, hired hand clappers and destitute foreigners were brought in to cushion disgrace emergent from apathy to our Head of State’s presence in the United States of America. This was done with the colossal sum of 750 dollars per person daily; the equivalent of about FCFA 500,000, from a treasury under suffocating pressure from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to embark on structural adjustment niceties that will heighten pauperization of citizens. Such ego pampering would have been comprehensible from the likes of Ali Bongo of Gabon or his Central African Republic colleague in their 50s and not a man in his 80s, whose concern ought to be the mathematics of bequeathing a strong and stable country to posterity.

Lest it escaped his memory, Biya, should be reminded that charity begins at home. While conceding it is true that in terms of diplomatic rating, his presence in New York and the rare privilege of addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations are alluring to any Head of State, the number of years he has been officiating as Cameroon’s President ought to have been uppermost in his mind and dissuade him from such an ego pampering jamboree meant to further deplete his country’s already lean purse. Such grandstanding should be for much younger leaders who still yearn for stardom that President Biya’s twilight age can no longer give. If at all he needed this, he ought to have worked for same much earlier in his current Methuselah sojourn.

Back at home, the hope is that this aberrant departure from “autorite del’etat” (inviolability of state authority) has come to stay and will henceforth canalize government actions such that its current characteristic of AK-47 democracy ceases to adorn the minds of discerning Cameroonians, accredited diplomats and foreigners. Thinking of the current Government volte-face from its notoriety in employment of brute force to repress protesters, inexorably, compels us to imagine the number of lives wasted during previous commandeered expeditions that led to avoidable killings and destruction of property. The oddity of “Bepanda nine,” readily comes to mind. The discovery of mass burials in its wake reveals the extent to which Government can go in its desperation to foist President Biya on Cameroonians. Another episode of the sordid narrative of “kakhistocracy” as statecraft in Cameroon is the February2008 generalized strikes. Here, too, no fewer than 100 lives were lost in Yaounde, Douala Bamenda and Kumba to repression that materialized in gunning down unarmed youths protesting against mismanagement of the commonwealth. Had the Government applied the same tact that underpinned last Friday’s protest marches, we would certainly not be haunted by the ghosts of innocent Cameroonians who became sacrificial lambs for the perpetration of atrocious governance in our polity.

Prevailing times are very unpromising and call for above average attention to details. Such details include adherence to the principle of classlessness in dispensation of justice, resource allocation and legislation. Our country has lost too much to palpable negligence by implacable sycophants who hide incompetence under the yoke of loyalty to moribund party machinery and courtesan buffoonery. The breadth, spontaneity and organizational dexterity of last Friday’s peaceful protest, per force, allude to one thing; that is, Government has been taken completely off-guard. Having been caught napping, the solution is not resort to bravado. Such blustering, in the event that Government adopts it as option, would only lead to confrontation and loss of lives which is not what is needed at this very dreadful moment.

The solution lies in dialogue. For how long will Mr. Biya turn his face and give the impression that all is well when in reality, minutes are ticking off for a time bomb to explode. Can a genuine father allow his children to wallow in perpetual fear of sanguinary confrontation?  The signs are very clear. Government has lost legitimacy in Anglophone Cameroon. The solution is an all stakeholders’ conference to canalize an architectural prototype for a new Cameroon. This should be tailored to suit the yearnings of currently disgruntled Anglophones, and why not, our complacent Francophone brothers seemingly under a spell that causes them to endure suffering while smiling (apologies to late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti). This conference is more urgent and mandatory than hosting of AFCON 2019 or safari trips to the UN that have no bearing with local reality that require much savvy that only perceptible enormous drive and commitment to purpose from Government can provide.

By Ngoko Monyadowa

 

 

How to rescue Cameroon from ‘Methuselah’ leadership

Attoh Moutchia, founder of the National Youth and Labour Congress, NYLC, lives in New Jersey, United States of America. Moutchia is a Pan-Cameroonian. He opts for “devolution of powers.” He and The Rambler Publisher were agreed during a recent informal chat that certain political “Iscariots” were all out, preparing ingredients of geo-ethnic discord, rancour and acrimony from which they would make greedy capital.

Moutchia and The Rambler Publisher concluded that today’s Cameroon is a bastardized contraption, being worked on by flatterers, and sustained in falsehood, subjugation and a mind-boggling corruption by those who purport to govern it.

When the chat got formal, the NYLC raised issues on how best rescue a potentially wealthy nation of peaceful inhabitants from the clutches of an inept and corrupt leadership.

 

National Youth and Labour Congress is rather new; it is obscure to say the very least. When and where was it registered? And don’t tell me it is an American political party since you, its president have permanent residence here in the United States of America.

The National Youth and Labour Congress is not a political party. It is registered in the United States as a political organization. The NYLC is more of a movement aimed at organizing, educating, mobilizing, and galvanizing the grassroots. We believe that real power lies with the people but that it must be harnessed properly to be effective. We are an organic grassroots movement.

Its appellation gives one the impression that the project is either only for, or largely targeted at youths.

We believe the two most important pillars of nation building are the youth and labour. It is important that the youth be made aware of the role they play in nation building and be prepared for such. They must also be involved in the preparation of their transition to labour. Look at the youth in our country today and compare their preparedness to youths in other countries? Most don’t even have jobs. What’s the unemployment rate in Cameroon? The Government must be too embarrassed to collect such data. You have university graduates pushing wheelbarrows in the markets. You have graduates seven, eight, nine years after graduation who can’t find jobs and there are no assistance programmes to help and train them to become self-employed.

Also, the labour force is the life line of the country. They should and must be seated at the highest level of decision making in running the affairs of the country. There’s no sector of the country that is not operated by workers. They must be respected and work and retire in dignity. If organized labour pulls out of services, the country ceases to function. Yet in Cameroon they are exploited, paid dismal wages, used and abused, and not protected from the heavy hand of those in power. Those who try to speak up are fired if not thrown in jail.

One is tempted to pass off the NYLC as just one of those political contraptions put together to bite into and benefit from a rather porous Cameroonian legislation; some meal ticket to earn a living from and ultimately cash in on an imminent elections monetary largesse due for next year…

The NYLC does not believe in the fairness and transparency of next year’s elections. In fact, if you ask me, there shouldn’t be any elections until this regime is disposed of. Look at the reality of what’s on the ground… The entire election apparatus is run and operated by the regime whose only goal is to perpetuate itself in power, so I don’t even see the need for them to spend money trying to cajole anyone. Regional administrators have been given the broad powers they need, including tampering with tallies to return winning numbers for the regime. Cameroon might be the only country in the world where a so-called constitutional court and not the Supreme Court is the arbiter of electoral disputes. My question to you is where is the constitutional court? Who appoints it? How independent is it of the person who appoints it?

Our goal is to educate, mobilize and galvanize the grassroots. They need to be our watchdog to ensure that even we do not slip.

As far as people of your cultural background go, the fad now is either a complete break from the status quo, a return to federalism or put even more bluntly, independence of the new expression known as Southern Cameroons. But here you are, seemingly going against the tide of realism and common sense.

Well the tide of realism and common sense depends on what angle of the prism you’re looking from. We of the NYLC believe in the principles of the founding fathers. Was it perfect? No. But not even the United States with the oldest constitution, 230 years is perfect. We can amend the 1961 constitution to suit the dynamic evolutions of our times. When this resistance started, the call was for a return to a two States Federation. The regime’s intransigence and mismanagement of the situation is what has pushed and hardened a people’s call for total independence. Why did we at the beginning call for a return to a two State Federation? Because we had lived it for eleven years and till date still pride ourselves of what we, as a people, were able to accomplish under that dispensation. We have tangibles to show. So the problem was not the dispensation but the ensuing manipulation and that’s what we have to take measures to guard against.

The leaders of the independence movement have called for dialogue. Well, no Government sits to dialogue secession, so I think there’s flexibility in their position. We have to move forward and quickly, otherwise we would end up with utter chaos on our hands.

I say this because even French speaking Cameroonians are like buying into reverting to the case for a two state federation being clamoured for by majority of protesting Anglophone Cameroonians.

I think even the Francophones like many Anglophones, by the way, are learning more about the history of Cameroon as this struggle continues and are informing themselves of the beauty and benefits of what we had under a federal system and what they stand to benefit in comparison to what they have had for the past 35 years. I watched people like ‘Maitres’ Jean de Dieu Momo and Alice Nkom reminisce about the two state federation. French speaking Cameroonians now realize how much they have been taken advantage of under a unitary system in which power is consolidated in the hands of one person. They also want to make decisions in matters that are close to them. They want to feel inclusive. They want development. They are tired of waiting and being lied to. They are tired of embezzlement at the expense of their development and wellbeing. We are fighting for the liberation of both the Anglophone and Francophone Cameroons. We seek a strong coalition for fundamental structural change.

How strong or weak is your membership, vis-a-vis other apparently well entrenched political platforms in Cameroon? Is membership drawn from across the cultural board or from just from your Diaspora chums and your Northwest provenance?

True to say our membership is smaller than other well entrenched political parties, but we are not a political party. We are a political movement irrespective of party affiliation. Policy is fashioned on public opinion and as a movement we plan on shaping public opinion. When we gained multipartism it was not the policy of the Government. Remember the Government killed and imprisoned people who went out in the streets to clamour for multipartism. But public opinion had swung in favour of multipartism that the regime had no choice. Our numbers may be smaller at this early stage but it is important for us to build a solid foundation before worrying about numbers. If the foundation is solid, the numbers will flourish. As they say, if you build it, they will come.

But it is only just coming to the limelight now, thanks to the fact that I barely stumbled on you during this my brief visit to the US?

We are very grateful to you for giving us a platform to launch our movement out there in Cameroon. But part of our buildup was focused on an all-out media blitz once we felt we were ready to go out in full force. We will be on all outlets, including the all-powerful social media. You would be surprised at how many at home and abroad are already aware of us. We have to be careful to avoid arrests back home and infiltrations abroad before all the pieces are in place.

Again, we are glad and grateful for your platform.

If the SDF which was born in Bamenda had as much as a “fleeting spate” of popularity, I imagine, it was thanks to the overwhelming coming on board of the French speaking cultural component of Cameroon. I may be wrong, but from the look of things, the SDF has been sufficiently whipped and sapped; cornered. The Francophones have more or less withdrawn or simply pitched their tent of interest where it is safer… in the CPDM. What makes you think they will drop so many birds in hand and come for your illusive bird in the political thick forest or wilderness?

We do not think that fundamental change in Cameroon can be waged as a sectarian fight; so yes, we absolutely need to win over our majority Francophone brothers and sisters. Many of them are already engaged in the necessary groundwork. We do not take either the Anglophone or Francophone cultural components as you called them. But what are we offering them? If they drifted from the SDF as you said, it must be out of disillusionment. We are selling a new vision for Cameroon. An evidence based structure that has been tried and tested in all major democracies in the world and which has stood the test of centuries. A Federal system with devolution of power to the grassroots and accountability demanded at every level of governance then I think both cultural components will embrace our movement. We demand a return to the 1961 constitution as a basis for a way forward. A two to three years transitional Government whose primary goal is the implementation of that constitution and independent transparent elections so the people can decide what future they want. We have seen what we get when we let a sitting regime arrogate to itself the power of drawing up the constitution for the people. The CPDM has in earnest not offered them anything progressive.

You talk of groundwork, but here you are out here in the apparent comfort of the US doing but rudimentary spadework if you will, having not made even one significant inroad back in Cameroon?

To be honest, there is not comfort in the US, knowing what’s happening back home. Some of us could have remained tight lipped and enjoy free back and forth trips to Cameroon to take care of our own. But by standing up and speaking up, we have become targets and essentially forced into involuntary exile. That’s a very high price to pay. Some have not been able to go home to bury loved ones. Some parents will never again see their children in this life time. This is not only the case for Anglophones but Francophones as well. It’s not all roses for many in the Diaspora.

Remember sir that separatists and federalists are calling the shots in what is left of Cameroon’s opposition landscape today. Where and how do you fit into the equation?

I respect the views of separatists and I can tell you that they have been pushed and hardened in their position by the regime’s handling of the crisis. Where I fit in and maybe different from some federalists is in our call for the return to the 1961 constitution. There are different shades of federalism being called for out there. But I think it is easier to return to something we had that worked for us, albeit not perfect. What I recognize is that if we had respected the 1961 constitution, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The fault was not in the constitution itself but that Anglophones sat quiet while Ahidjo and the French violated the constitution and by extension our rights. Remember that constitution clearly stated that the form, or if you will the structure of the reunion was not subject to change. That was violated.

And then, your audacious dream of routing the Biya oligarchy with something of a stagnant NYLC machinery. Isn’t that an opium dream?

You’ve got to believe in something. Some of the most incredible victories in the fight for freedom and justice have come through the most improbable means and journeys. We believe that the regime is a very fractured one standing on thin ice. The failures are tangible and the built-up frustration is palpable. What people need is a concrete viable option to lead them out of this corruption infested, lawless and inept regime.

Are you nursing any plans, are you one of those ambitious young men nursing lofty plans of one day ruling Cameroon? If so, how are you concretely planning on routing the ‘Methuselahs’ of the UNDP, CPDM, SDF and so on?

I wouldn’t get ahead of myself. First and most important is to rid ourselves of the old order that has long outlived its usefulness if ever there was one and usher in a new generation of hope, vision, purpose and direction. We want a functioning democracy with a level playing field. Then anyone who wishes to take on the mantle of leadership can present to the people of Cameroon not only what their plan or program is, but how they would achieve their goals. Like former President Obasanjo eloquently put it, if these Methusellahs don’t leave power, power will leave them.

Interviewed by Charlie Ndi Chia

 

 

 

 

 

State draws curtains on prelates’ legal drama

The legal dust recently [deliberately] raised by the state ostensibly to cow Prelates of the Catholic Dioceses of English speaking Cameroon and the Moderator of the PCC has settled even before it could becloud the intended victims. A Buea Magistrate’s Court yesterday discontinued the matter, based on a ‘nolle prosequi’ accruing from the Minister of State for Justice. It was introduced at Monday’s court hearing by the ‘Procureur General’ for the Southwest Court of Appeal on the Ministers behest.

The discontinuation took effect a few hours after Justice Mengalle Vivian, epse Achiri ruled in favour of an application for a Nolle Prosequi made by the State Prosecutor, (Procureur General), Emile Esombe. Whereupon, Barrister Julius Achu, counsel for the “consortium of parents,” that purportedly filed a suit for private prosecution, aka citation directe, announced to the court that his clients were officially withdrawing the matter.

Counsel for the Bishops, Barrister Emmanuel Etta Bissong Jr. rose to ask for costs to be awarded to his clients, arguing that the whole process had caused them lots of stress, time, good will and financial loses. Whereupon, the court adjourned to rule on it subsequently. But when the court reconvened hours later at 2pm Monday, the presiding Magistrate struck out the matter strictly on the strength of the nolle prosequi but without the defence counsel’s request for costs.

At the time of the ruling, the private prosecutor, Barrister Julius Achu was no longer in sight. Similarly, and just like was the case throughout the duration of the trial of the Prelates, no “consortium of parents” member appeared in court. All but one of the Bishops, namely Monsignor Andrew Fuanya Nkea who is currently out of the country was present in court. So too was the Moderator of the PCC which discontinuation was similarly effected in his own matter.

Jubilating Christians of both the PCC and Catholic Churches sat through the court episode and could be heard ululating following the “freeing” of their Shepherds.

Meanwhile, following last Friday’s attack on confessional schools, the Prelates were very clearly vindicated as it became clear that they never asked for schools to discontinue. Similarly, even those parents who attended political rallies and shouted on top of their voices like parrots for parents to send their children back to school are known to have particularly kept theirs in the safety and coziness of their homes. Many others rushed their children and wards to safer educational havens in places like Douala, Yaounde and Bafoussam.

By Relindise Ebune

 

Catholic Church upholds right to education and life

The decision by authorities of the Catholic Diocese of Buea and elsewhere was largely expected. A foretaste of what is likely going to befall the Region and by extension operational schools within it was witnessed during last Friday’s protest action.

The Our Lady of Grace Secondary School, Muyuka was attacked and vandalized. Students here barely scampered for safety. Elsewhere at Saint Charles Lwanga Parish in Molyko, kids in school uniform were attacked. At the Mount Carmel Girls’ College, Bomaka, the protesters couldn’t gain access and ultimately left.

Then the Bishop, Monsignor Immanuel Bushu decided like before, that he wasn’t ready to bury any child. Before then, pupils and students were steadily, nay, cautiously streaming into schools since after the doors were flung open on September 4. The Bishopric decision means that school doors can only be flung open again after the Church would have observed the rather predictable events expected on October 1. Of course, it lends palpable credence to the fact that neither the Bishops nor Moderator of the PCC ordered the closure of their schools as the Government is eagerly portraying.

As it stands therefore, even regular Mass celebrations should have been carried out on Sunday, October 1 have been shifted back to Saturday, September 30 for strategic reasons of the safety of Christians.  The Diocesan act barring celebration of Mass throughout Catholic Dioceses of Buea next Sunday also invites parents to ensure the safe return of their children to various homes pending further announcements.

According to the Parish Priest of Saint Anthony of Padua   Parish Buea Town, Rev. Father Kenneth Kingwui, this decision is underpinned by the necessity for safety and wellbeing of Christians, in view of ambient instability in the country. Christians are expected to stay and pray in their homes on Sunday. The Parish Priest noted that, he is still suffering from severe headache after inhaling tear gas during the Friday, September 22 protests in Buea at which countless teargas canisters were fired.

In tandem with the decision of Buea Diocese, other Dioceses in the Southwest would also, not open their Church doors to any faithful on Sunday October 1. Furthermore, judging by exposure of the  regime’s inability to protect school children as exemplified in last Friday’s protest matches, almost all Catholic boarding schools have sent information to parents, requesting  that they take their children home, in order to be safe on the feared day. Schools like Bishop Rogan College are already empty and parents are still rushing from one school to another in fear, to take their children to safety, while other parents sending their children to day schools have sworn not to send their children to school, till they predict calm.

Interviewed by telephone, a Priest of the Diocese stated that in as much as the child’s right to education is fundamental, that to life is even more fundamental.

By Atembeh Ngewung Lordfred

Important tourist attractions

She was the rock to which my life was moored. With her around me, it was pretty hard to think there is much wrong with the world. Sometimes I would be wayward and probably insane but her quiet manner would compel me to never give up on her and in spite of my weaknesses, I remained much attached.

This lady remained true to her word and always supported my efforts at being a better person. On several occasions I woke up to a blur of swollen eyes, cobwebbed thoughts, a seared mouth, an arid tongue, bitter breath and the great daily question of “why did I do it?” I’ve vomited in the shower, sometimes inducing it myself to get it over with “…I am not one of those who are too proud to argue and too strong to beg…” I would tell her while requesting for her comprehension and forgiveness.

My woman was smart, petite, good in the kitchen, the living and matrimonial executive rooms, with her beautifully sculptured features, as well as a razor sharp wit bursting forth a refined intellect. Now, my woman is gone, yes, she is gone…

She has left behind several drafts mapping out plans to achieve her ambitions. She was not one of those who spent time sloganeering, mouthing empty nothings, stupid enough to steal billions from the public till with outright arrogance. People who are so unremorseful as to feel morally superior to those who vandalize public and private property and burn the flag.

Whenever I go astray she would scream, “Get back into the saddle, that’s what you did when you’d fallen off a horse.”

Then her health suffered a blow, whose devastating impact has given me that type of drubbing that awakens a man to the bitter fact that life doesn’t always turn out as you expected it to be. She died after months writhing in excruciating pain. Doctors couldn’t save her from the ailment. I still remember her agonizing struggle to hold on, from dawn to dusk and from dusk to dawn.

She used to indulge my passion for enlightenment through conversation, dwelling on people who have no sense of public service. Sometimes, we wondered why competitive exams to elite institutes of higher learning, limited candidates to competitors in a game called WHO IS MORE CONNECTED. We talked about the white collar murderers who brought the economy to its knees, and ruining development plans by their greed and addiction to ill-gotten wealth. They flaunt their booty without remorse so, why are they afraid to get medical attention from the country’s hospitals, they who have the power and means to fix the broken healthcare system.

So, I the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people this day declare; if you see me crying, it is because my woman is gone and if you need advice for your proud arrogant brother tell him to take time off his show- show schedule and visit places that remind one that he is nothing but one of the creatures living on earth. Visit the hospital and the mortuaries, for they are important touristic attractions.

By Winston Lebga

Mass uprising uncovers breadth, unanimity of wrath against oppression

Another dimension has been added to the smoldering Anglophone crisis in Cameroon resulting from spontaneous and simultaneous protest marches embarked upon Friday, September 22, 2017 by everyone else, including septuagenarians and octogenarians across the Northwest and Southwest Regions, demanding autonomy and emancipation from the shackles of consistent and systematic oppression.

Every nook and cranny of the two Regions felt the explosion of what some have qualified as ‘unprecedented revolution.’  Stiff but peaceful protests were experienced in almost all the Divisional and Sub-Divisional headquarters in the two Anglophone Regions. The people carried placards with messages like ‘Free Southern Cameroons’ ‘Release our detained brothers in Yaounde prison’ and chanted songs of freedom as they marched.

In Fako, it began at the roadside town of Ekona at about 8 am when households emptied into the road and headed for the Regional Headquarter of Buea.  The march which was to later spread to the rest of the towns of Fako was destined for the Governor’s office, this reporter learnt.

The scenario was not different in Meme Division where in its chief town of Kumba; the crowd marched to the Palace of Nfon Victor E Mukete, laying their request of ‘freedom and liberation of Anglophones’ in Cameroon to him, not just as a traditional ruler or Senator, but as one of the eldest learned men in the country.

Elsewhere, in Lebialem Division, the atmosphere was tense as people in the Divisional headquarter, Menji, marched to the SDO’s and DO’s offices, requesting for the “total liberation of people of English expression in Cameroon.” In Manyu Division, the protest was led by women. Kupe-Muanenguba and Ndian were not left out.

The situation in the Northwest Region was similar with teeming numbers of elderly women popularly known as Takumbeng joining the fray. In some localities, these not-too young women went half-naked exposing their saggy breasts and “daring” security goons with their nudity, an act some have said tells the gravity of anguish in the people. In other areas, the Cameroon flag was lowered for what this reporter found out was the ‘Ambazonia’ flag. Others chanted what they also called ‘Ambazonia National Anthem.’ In traditional Northwest society, “feasting on an old woman’s nudity” is considered taboo. The man who “benefits” from this sight could be cursed to the point of madness or even death.

There was one unmistakable issue; the demonstrations were meant to be peaceful as every protester carried a peace plant branch or leaf, or a blue and white piece of cloth that this reporter was told represented the colours of the ‘Ambazonian flag.’

The forces of law and order tried not to do what they did sometime in November 2016; shooting protesters. However, the day did not go without bloodshed. Three died; one was shot in Mamfe, another in Buea and the other in Santa, while some sustained injuries. This time, the shooting was not by military officers but by administrative authorities, The Rambler learnt.

In Buea, the major boulevard was blocked by the angry mob which was stopped around the Gendarmerie Brigade in Great Soppo, from reaching the Governor’s Office. They used stones, makeshift structures along the road, used cars parked by the roadside and anything they could lay hands on to block the road.They had signposts of schools along the road destroyed.

In search for where to quench their anger given that they couldn’t get to the Governor whom they wanted to lay their worries to, they took to the residence of Buea Mayor, where one was shot dead. The windscreens of the Mayor’s numerous cars were pelted and destroyed with stones, just like the louvers on the balcony of his mansion.

At the Government Bilingual Grammar School, BGS Molyko, the school gate was destroyed, and there was a mad rush by parents and guardians to rescue their children from being bloodied by the irate mob. The unfortunate ones were forced by the crowd to chant and dance the slogan‘no more school.’

This raises the question of what is to be done for effective school resumption in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. School resumption was already gaining steam in Buea and Limbe Sub-Divisions but the Friday incident might play negatively on those pupils and students that were cautiously inching back to schools. Some parents are already complaining of ambient insecurity. Whatever the case, it will pose no problem to other Divisions of the Southwest Region because there is actually no school, especially, in Manyu and Lebialem.

The incident, according to some analysts is an indication that the situation is gradually but surely drifting out of hand and fast and sincere dialogue between the two components of Cameroon is the only way out.

By Nester Asonganyi

Was mayor legally licensed to shoot protesters?

One fact is sacrosanct. Augustine Awah Atanga is stone dead and in a transit camp of sorts. Consequently, he will never testify as to whose bullet felled him. Evidence, if any that shall be ultimately adduced when it comes to establishing how he died is more likely to circumstantial than direct. Such evidence will of course, NOT by any stretch of the imagination be adduced by the deceased Atanga.

Thousands of accusing fingers are pointed in the direction of the Mayor of Buea Patrick Esunge Ekema. Many versions of the shooting incident are also being bandied about nationwide. But tried as we could, The Rambler couldn’t have the Buea Mayor state if, why and how he shot and killed the 27 year old man. His phone was permanently switched off.

A police source told of how the municipal administrator pleaded with protesters to vacate his property. When they wouldn’t, he drew a gun which act sent many of the crowd scampering for safety. The source didn’t say what happened to those that opted to continue wreaking havoc on the mayor’s property. He was also clueless on why Mayor Ekema’s property became the target of some of those that protested in Buea last Friday.

The mayor’s closest neighbours are quoted as stating that Ekema arrived at his home in a red car heavily protected by security operatives. That seeing what damage was being done to his fleet of cars, he fired several shots, two of which felled Atanga. This act on its own, tainted a rare manifestation of professionalism and restraint that had so far come from security operatives drafted to protect protesters from any form of hurt while also ensuring that they didn’t resort to destroying private or public property.

As would be expected, parochial, vested political interests are working overtime in a desperate attempt to at once divert attention and implicate both potential and latent opponents. The town of Buea was a day after the protests agog with news of how the likes of Humphrey Ekema Monono, Christopher Tambe Tiku and Senator Mbella Moki Charles arranged for the protesters to attack the mayor’s property.

Contacted by phone, Mbella Moki said he wasn’t ready to vouchsafe a statement that would confirm or deny the rumour. Tambe Tiku, who is Southwest Regional Secretary of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms was incensed when The Rambler approached him. According to him, his immediate neighbours could attest to the fact that he remained at home throughout the riotous period. He claimed not to have had contact in any form with Mbella Moki, let alone hatch an attack plan on the mayor’s property. He would want for investigators to check with telephony companies to ascertain if he ever had telephone conversations leading to the destruction of anybody’s property.

Tambe Tiku provided documentation to the effect that he had written the Commissioner of Government and the ‘Procureur General’ at various instances to protest the illegal possession and misuse of a firearm by the mayor of Buea. One such letter dated October 16, 2014 addressed to the ‘Procureur General’ of the Southwest Regional Court of Appeal read inter alia: “…We are reliably informed that from our own source that pistol the mayor had in his possession was used to threaten the complainants. This constitutes a serious threat to the right to life as enshrined in the constitution and major international human rights instruments that Cameroon has ratified.

“Firstly an investigation ought to reveal whether the pistol license was issued by the president of the Republic or the minister of territorial administration, who are the only constituent authorities to issue licenses for shortguns or pistols.

“It must be underscored here that the governor and senior divisional officer can only issue licenses for long or hunting guns. In the absence of a proper license, it would appear that the pistol was not bought from an authorized dealer in the country. That certainly should lead to another interesting investigation on how the pistol was acquired.”

Both this letter and another addressed to and received by the Commissioner for Government on August 16, 2016, are apparently still being processed.

And while this processing is ongoing, the logical issue to raise here would be that official red tape notwithstanding, forensic investigations ought to be carried out with the ultimate target of establishing which and or whose weapon felled Atanga and wounded one other. It would also be constitutionally mandatory for the public to be informed in no uncertain terms as to who qualifies to carry firearms, as well as when such could be used with full recourse to existing legislation.

By Relindise Ebune & Atembeh Lordfred Ngewung