Third letter to Commander Ebube (1)

By Sammy Oke Akombi

Dear Commander Ebube,

Having written a second letter to you and obtained no reaction from either you or your gang, I considered it a waste of time to continue writing. Unfortunately, a gruesome event which occurred in Ndebaya, Manyu Division in the morning of Monday, May 27, 2019, has warranted this third letter to you and of course your gang. You murdered my relation and contacted a member of the family to collect the corpse at a given junction. This was duly done and the corpse was taken and kept in a mortuary in neighbouring Nigeria. You imposed sanctions on the family in order for the funeral of the man you murdered to be effected in his native Ndebaya. Despite resistance, somehow the family succumbed to some of your shameless demands. Your threats deprived many members of the family from paying their last respects to their beloved brother, uncle and father. I on the other hand conquered the fear that your threats generated, thanks to my personal conviction that it is a great honour when one dies, carrying out a good cause.

On Thursday, June 20, 2019, I left Yaounde where I am resident to Ndebaya. I travelled on a night bus that got to Bamenda in the Morning of June 21. I then took a mini bus from Bamenda to Eyumojock. It was a smooth ride going through military or gendarme checkpoints until the descent out of Bali where for the first time I was asked to identify myself at gunpoint. As I wondered at the scene, someone who sat by me said, ‘nawi pa o-o wuna no woriyi. Onli ask yifoyi own support.’

‘Alright pa your support’, the trigger-happy-ragtag-eighteen-year-old said.

‘My pikin, put that gun down first na.’ I said softly.

He looked at me menacingly and then lowered the gun. The man who sat by me said with much urgency ‘pa shake skin na.’ I understood what he meant and so I took out my wallet and took out a five thousand francs note and dropped on the ground for them to pick up. The others dropped lesser notes of one thousand francs and five hundred francs. They were better prepared for the dangerous journey. I wondered how I was going to cope with such demands in case there were more of such scoundrels on the way. And indeed they were – three on the Batibo-Widikum stretch and two on the Kendem- Bachuo-Akagbe stretch.

At one of the Kendem holdups – I’ll prefer not to call them checkpoints or controls, the minibus was hijacked and taken off the highway, by two of the boys who exaggerated their zealousness. They took us into an in-road about two kilometres away from the highway. There, they started the process of identification of people whom they considered pro- government. They told us their camp was three kilometres from where we were. After the identification the culprits would be taken to their camp. At this point, I gave up my goal of going to pay my last respects to my relation. However, I prayed silently for God’s protection. In the process, they identified a student, a young girl of about nineteen. They shouted at her and said, she was one of the criminals to be taken to the camp. Her crime was that she had crossed over to Douala to go to school whereas they (the boys) were in the bushes fighting for freedom. Another criminal was a retired teacher who was accused of having abandoned the struggle which they and lawyers had started. When they got to me, I thought of the story of mutilation of identity cards and so I simply said I had no identity card but I could show them my passport. When I took out the passport booklet, one of the boys surprisingly said ‘papa that one na plenty book. Putam back’. I kept back my passport and waited for their verdict. They asked the ‘criminals’ to each give them fifty thousand francs otherwise they would be taken to their camp for proper treatment. The retired teacher pleaded to give them twenty-five thousand francs and the student said she had nothing. I pleaded to bail the girl out with five thousand francs and they accepted, provided I added another five thousand for support. I agreed. This time the money was handed directly, not by dropping it on the ground. Our bus was thus released and the journey to Eyumojock continued.

The driver told us the experience he had had with the boys (your boys). They had abducted and taken him to their camp. After beating him with a machete on his soles, they had requested him to say his last prayers. Wittingly he had shouted ‘ Oh God of the Ambazonia Republic, descend on my fellow Ambazonians to set me free so that together we can fight for our freedom’. At this point they set him free. So despite their recklessness, the boys can be manipulated.

So Mr Commander, you see what the people, you claim you want to liberate, go through? By the time you would have squeezed all of them of the little resources they have, and subjected them to the torture you mete out recklessly, on a daily basis, they would be pushed to the wall and hell will break loose. I had tried in my previous letters to make you understand that this struggle you seem to hold dearly to heart is only a dream of the ego-centric, who understandably hate sharing. Already, you can observe what is happening among your leaders in the diaspora who are in disarray because of a dire want of this sterling virtue-sharing (the booty they have swindled from the gullible crowd). If the struggle is for freedom as you claim, then you and the rest of us urgently need to understand what freedom or liberation is all about. By God’s infinite mercy and grace, I was on time for my relation’s funeral mass at the Roman Catholic Church, Eyumojock, where as a tribute to him, I presented the paper below which I would like you and your gang to read and digest. (To be continued)

The man died in the hands of freedom

Freedom and liberty are near exact synonyms, especially in terms of content. The former is defined in standard dictionaries as the state of being able to do what you want, without anything stopping you. The latter is defined as the freedom to live as you choose without too many restrictions from government or authority. These two words are therefore used interchangeably. Many great minds have pondered over them. I would like to consider some of their pondering here. Jean Jacques Rousseau said in The Social Contract, “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” and Franz  Kafka in The Trial said, “it’s often safer to be in chains than to be free”. Another great mind Jean Paul Sartre affirmed that “man is condemned to be free. An American president Franklin D. Roosevelt who was in power during the turbulent times of the Second World War in one of his speeches pondered over freedom in the following words: “We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression –everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way– everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, – everywhere in the world.” Understandably, Roosevelt found the entire world lacking in the four pillars of freedom – freedom from want and fear, freedom of worship and expression. This same lack made Rousseau to talk about man having been born free and everywhere they are in chains. Kafka in his pessimism thought that it was even better to be in chains than to be free. They all sound confusing and that is why the concept of freedom and liberty should be given utmost consideration. In this regard I would like to bring to focus the words of Baron de Montesquieu who wrote in De l’esprit des lois that “liberty is the right to do whatever the laws permit.” In other words, every human community is free to have its dos and don’ts and every member of the community is free to do whatever they like, provided they respect these dos and don’ts.

It is a don’t in the Ndebaya community for anyone to prevent a catechist from carrying out morning prayers. It is a don’tto abduct another human being. It is a don’t to steal, kill, lie etc. So those who abducted and murdered Mr. Anthony Obi Asundep were not exercising their freedom. If they are free and going about their businesses then the community has descended into anarchy. Freedoms and laws should be the benchmarks of every human community. It is against this background that The man died in the hands of Freedom has been written.

In February 1959, a baby boy was born in the peaceful community of Ndebaya. This baby was welcome and was given the name Anthony. He grew up in the tradition of his people and went to school when his age was ripe. School and home gave him the education he needed to face the world. He was exactly two years old when the geographic area he belonged to became a nation. He grew up to understand that for his country, Cameroon to stand on its feet as a nation, it had passed through thick and thin. Some of his kith and kin belonged to an entirely different country, Nigeria. This country had won his admiration, for each time he crossed the border to visit his relations, he saw that roads were tarred and life was pleasantly different. But Anthony vowed that so long as the Almighty God in His infinite mercy had placed him on that piece of land which he could call his own, he would continue to pay allegiance to it and personally ensure its prosperity. When he left school, he traded for some time and then got married and started his own family. He easily became one of the most dependable persons in the community. He participated in the development of Ndebaya as it quickly became a home for many people working in the Sub-divisional headquarters, Eyumojock. Anthony was easily identified as a devoted Christian and he rose to become the shepherd of the Catholic Christians in the community. He opened farms and started a small business, taking advantage of Ndebaya’s nearness to the Nigerian border town of Ikom. Then bang the tarred road from Mamfe properly linked Cameroon with Nigeria, opening up lots of business opportunities for him and other enterprising young people in the community. He took advantage of the new developments and improved himself socially, culturally and spiritually. He believed in hard work and would tell anyone who cared to listen that total freedom is derived from working hard. Hard work he would insist gives you access to the means of survival. With such means, you can express yourself confidently in the knowledge that you are free to worship your God, free from want and fear. Unfortunately, in many of our communities, people like Anthony are rather envied than admired and emulated.

The development that had come as a result of the road had provoked the desire for a resident priest in Ndebaya and Anthony’s vision was for Ndebaya to become a religious sanctuary for Catholic Christians from both Nigeria and Cameroon and also a stopover resort for travellers of both countries. Unfortunately the evil that had been lurking reared its ugly head. The Ambazonian concept that has spiralled into a war caught up with Anthony’s vision for his much cherished community. It was Hiram Warren Johnson who said that the first casualty when a war comes is truth. And indeed propaganda has buried truth. So Anthony who had stood by truth was an unfortunate victim. The truth he believed in was that man is free to worship his God in his own way, express himself within the confines of the law and free himself from want and fear. In this firm belief he had left his home at 5.00 a.m. on Monday, May 27, 2019 to toll the Ndebaya Church bell for morning prayers. As the bell tolled to alert Christians to come and worship their God, Ambazonian warlords got up to carry out their evil deeds. They knew it was Anthony, the catechist who was behind the tolling bell and he was the same person who was going to conduct prayers. So they moved swiftly and abducted the village chief and one other person. Then they went into the house of God and confronted the man of God, abducting him too to an unknown destination. This happened in the full glare of other worshippers. They were thoroughly embarrassed as they stood speechless watching their catechist being marched away. Minutes later they found their voices and the news spread like a whirlwind to every shore that Anthony Asundep alias A.A had impacted. Hardly did anyone conjecture the reason for the abduction and so ears were on the ground to hear from the kidnappers. Minutes ticked away and then hours were gradually ticking away too. Finally, in the heat of the afternoon sun, a call came through from the commanding officer of the Eyumojock area unit of the Ambazonian Freedom Fighters, a certain General Lambert. We had kidnapped your father early this morning, but he has died in our hands. We have dumped the corpse at a given juncture, come quickly and collect it otherwise we’ll burn it up or throw it in a river. A family member was promptly dispatched and the corpse was collected and put in a morgue. It was after this that Ma Nkan, the sister and mother to the victim was called and told about the death and her reaction was “oh my God, my hope is gone! Is it the military again, who have gone on their usual rampage?” The answer was, “no mama, it isn’t the military, it is the separatist fighting for freedom.”

“So you mean my brother has died in the hands of freedom?”

“If you say so mama.”

At this point she cried out even louder, “freedom, freedom, o freedom, how your name is being misused. How the wicked use your name to commit heinous crimes? See what has befallen my kid brother in the name of freedom. When shall human beings understand that freedom before being collective is personal? Each one manages their freedom according to their circumstances.”

“I think you’re right mama. There’s so much criminality in the name of freedom. Humans if they believe in the God who created them should endeavour to understand that freedom is simply love for one another. If humans love one another there would be no reason not to be free from want, fear and self-expression. Mama if A.A’s death in the hands of freedom will ignite this understanding in people, then he would be one of the martyrs of freedom.”

“Martyr of freedom! Martyr of freedom, like our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ who died on the cross to set us free?”

“I think so mama.”

“If that be the case, then my hope is back. My kid brother has not died for nothing. I should rather thank my God for him.”

Thank God, Ma Nkan had found some sense and eventual peace in the cruel murder of her kid brother. Meanwhile the community succeeded to obtain the release of their chief and the other abductee when they paid up a whooping sum of one million seven hundred thousand francs ransom to the freedom fighters. Then the fighters heartlessly went further to ask for a two million francs ransom for A.A to be buried in the land of his ancestors.

The Ndebaya community went panicking for all homes would be razed if they failed to raise the money. In their panic they turned to Ma Nkan to raise the money if she would want her brother to be buried in Ndebaya – the land of his birth.She told them they were wasting their time for his brother had already shown the way to freedom. It no longer mattered to her where he was buried. Her only regret was that the country that all of them toil for has sat and watched very poisonous mushrooms grow on the invaluable soil of their ancestors.

My dear Commander, it is rather unfortunate that this has happened to our country. A lot of development has gone under water, especially youth development, as this crisis has made monsters out of young people who would have been the rising sun of the nation. Human blood has gone down the drain and this has implanted fear and hopelessness in those still alive. However, we shall forever be damned if we go out of the circumstances without having learnt lessons. Remember it is simplistically said that the first fool isn’t a fool but the second fool is a fool forever.

Cheers

S. Akombi

Rebellion as riposte to choked reforms

By Ngoko Monyadowa

The recent judgement sentencing of Sisikku Julius Ayuk Tabe and the Nera Hotel, Nigeria abductees in the absence of their lawyers to life imprisonment with concomitant colossal amounts running into billions as fines has lain bare the Biya regime’s inveterate inclination to abuse power and, by extension, disregard for the wellbeing of the very Cameroonians who by agency of the ballot box, even if lubricated by rigging, accord it a veneer of legitimacy.

Without recourse to casting aspersion on it since the procedural accompaniments preparatory to its pronouncement had ab initio attracted the ire of legal scholars, the feeling here is that its timing and cruelty conjure up a combination of insensitivity to the plight of suffering Anglophone youths who need to return to school in the days ahead and nullification of the much vaunted and money guzzling back to school mantra that has seen parliamentarians laugh home with FCFA15million each.

To the extent that such a very sensitive issue has vaulted into the political landscape at a time when even diehard separatists had begun eliciting support for a return to normalcy, at least in regard to schools resumption, the temptation arises to lend credence to the assertion that warmongers and moral cripples have taken the country hostage and nothing but pecuniary benefits derivable from freebooting drives such coldness. Dialogue has therefore been jettisoned!

 Admittedly, taking up arms against one’s fatherland is a heinous enterprise that requires meticulous investigation to bring out the reasons undergirding such adventurism and, if possible, proffer both commensurate punishment and solutions to the inducements advanced by perpetrators of such treasonable felony. Nevertheless, by the same token, government ought to have been more adroit in its management of the trial process to diminish the current legion of dissent. If for no other reason, the fate of children who have been away from school for three academic years and counting should inform a more civil disposition.

Indeed, at the risk of repetitiveness, there is every reason to believe that government has intentionally timed the sentencing to coincide with the back to school campaign. Unable to extricate itself from blame rooted in abhorrent misrule, it has instead embraced the scorn of local and international community by providing incontrovertible evidence of resolve to eschew dialogue in favour of military onslaught. 

This explains why one could not hold back tears for Cameroon after seeing television footages of some parliamentarians distributing school bags and a few exercise books to hired crowds of pupils and students in the name of government support to the back to school hymn. The issue here is not the fact that state money is being used and abused by people whose mandates hinge on parents of the same children being subjected to such derisory drama but more significantly, the purpose and process of making means available for pupils and students to return to school. How do we explain the fact that a category of citizens who have lost legitimacy and by that token declared persona non grata in their constituencies are the ones championing the back to school mantra? How many people among their supposed target audiences watch television in the bushes where current circumstances have compelled them to seek solace?

It reeks of presumptuousness for a cabal of turncoats that has not mustered the courage to be in their constituencies for three consecutive days in the last three years to be saddled with such an arduous project. To all intents and purposes, the feeling is that the Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education have been seriously spited by the lawmakers. These are the direct managers of schools and to that extent ought to be the handlers of the process of ensuring that schools resume effectively come September 2, 2019. Oh, no! Money is involved and such money is only good for the pockets of law makers and not school managers. A glorious wish indeed but certainly not a realistic picture of political pragmatism as it has easily crumbled under the complexities of current insurrectionary ripostes to such misrule.

Correlatively, the impression is that of a people in frenzy after being caught in a maze occasioned by illusory bravado. They are simultaneously everywhere and nowhere! Their actions depict so much antipathy for the well being of citizens to the extent that apartheid is clearly delineated between the lifestyles of the governing class and those who elected them in the hope that their interest will be primordial. No Way! There is no stopping them for the train of profligacy and callousness is in motion and any attempt to do so will suffer from the incendiary pangs of human infernos.  Yes, they operate with no qualms as if to say we are at it and so what! Indeed, our country is headed for a very dangerous precipice but surprisingly, many at the helm still lean on the fatalistic illusion of ‘all is well.’

Three years have come and gone like yesterday without any concrete solution to the political inferno that has bogged down governance. What began as a seemingly innocuous bubble has through inattention been allowed to degenerate into a festering sore that needs specialist attention. Its ramifications have reached a point where piecemeal handouts will not do the trick. The process of seeking solution to its malignant character must be holistic and drastic at the same time. In the circumstance, the feeling keeps cropping up that the intellectual repository that Cameroon seems to have represented is illusory and on that score wanting in intensity and reality. Otherwise, how can an issue whose character inheres in constitutional reform play foul on us to the extent that we are now killing ourselves? Greed, some may say while others posit that the explanation instead has root in uncertified lunacy that has afflicted many within our governing class.

Three years truly seem like yesterday but the repercussions have been ghastly and bestial. Roadside corpses have become mundane issues adorning conversations among travelers on major highways of Anglophone Cameroon. We seem incapable of properly calibrating the impact of the avoidable orgy of bloodletting that has sent most of us into trances from which we are still to regain consciousness. From premature deaths on both sides of the dichotomy between government and Anglophone separatists, we are now saddled with widows, orphans and prospects of famine judging by the business as usual approach adopted by government in distributing donations from the United Nations and other friendly donor organizations. As for handouts from government, they are already finding their way into local markets making it difficult for the intended beneficiaries to reap from such philanthropy.

Unfortunately, the time to sway public opinion is long past and gone. Blustering on television sets cannot and will not do the trick. Indeed, one would have imagined that there would be more ingenious ways of attempting to cajole Cameroonians like institutionalization of federalism but in a system operated by mobsters, money launderers and other people of doubtful credibility even the ordinarily intelligent get afflicted by indefensible callousness. This easily comes into play because of the unceasing and remorseless quest to be seen among the most obsequious of the emperor’s court jesters. And, since the emperor relies on such psychedelics to make decisions, the upshot is anti-people edicts that serve to implant apathy within the citizenry. Moreover, such civil sickness resultant from loss of national integrity engenders a credibility gap between government and the people owing to variance of interests.

Gunfire, the ‘popcorn’ that deafens, traumatizes old people

*By Nchanji Nadesh

Residents of the war prone regions of the Northwest and Southwest are rather becoming used to gunfire that there recent jokes are being cracked even as hails of bullets fell people. The average toddler now knows and would advise a first timer to duck, to hit the floor or even get under the bed when guns begin to “cough.”

Young men and women refer to the rattling sound of gunfire as popcorn or better still as corn being parched. It is a derivative of the popping sound of corn in a frying pan. But inasmuch as the young can, and easily joke about this deadly game of firing at human targets, the elderly are left in the lurch each time the guns belch, especially loudly. Those with a history of high blood pressure or cardiac issues say their last prayers more or less.

Some of them have been complaining aloud of the eardrum bursting effects of Kalashnikovs and AK47s, revealing the various ways in which gunshots have enormously contributed in putting them in the precarious conditions in which they are find themselves today.

One of them, Pa Kinge Joseph, 83, an ex-politician of the CPDM party revealed that he is a cardiac patient who is always jolted out of himself, frightened by the cracking sounds of semi-automatic weapons. He said gun firing causes him lots of trauma, thereby inducing him into unconsciousness. He said it often takes him a pretty long time to come back to himself.  

In apparent reference to splinter Amba groups, he referred to the what is going on as a two edged situation in which protagonists have been quarreling and in extreme cases shooting themselves. He mentioned certain respected persons like Dr Ni John Fru Ndi, the founding chairman of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, and the clergyman like the bishop who tried to open the eyes of the citizens to see the need of peace but he, alongside his priests were kidnapped and tortured.

According to him, secession was never an option due to a plebiscite which was conducted in 1961 and a referendum was held in which they decided on their fate. “So, separation will be difficult and so we should not compare with countries like Eritrea and South Sudan.”

 He concluded by saying that “a father is a father. When you ask for something, don’t press him to the wall; let us all spread the message of peace.”

Another victim of gunfire from Muyuka  who refused to reveal her identity noted: “I am addicted to my late husband’s house and due to this I have  been badly affected due to the numerous gunshots. I am now a high blood patient and was hospitalized for over two weeks with very little income to sustain my family.”

Yet another elderly person who lives in Muea testified on behalf of her grandfather who is 89 years old. “He has since started behaving abnormally due to the constant loud and frightful sounds of gunshots. He has been mentally affected and besides the fact that this excessive gun firing has rendered him deaf.

He would want for there to be a quick return to peace so that many more deaf, cardiac and generally traumatized cases are not unnecessarily registered.

UB JOURNALISM STUDENT ON INTERNSHIP

Market women head for graveyard in protest

*Anu Alice & Yemele Sarah

Most of the downturn in business is blamed on the current Anglophone crisis. Business has slowed down considerably, especially in the two affected regions. Both sellers and buyers are hard hit. They are crying, protesting in some cases.

 People visit the market to buy in bulk only if there are rumours of an impending lockdown. This is what a “buyam sellam” said of it:

 “Business is not moving at all. If I tell you that business is okay then I lie. Look at my onions; before I would have sold all this, but now look at it standing here. I have even sold a bit today because of the news of the lockdown, so people are forced to buy and stock and even as they buy, some keep it and it will still get bad because the lockdown can be cancelled within the process.

“Before the crisis erupted, I could sell 50 bags of groundnuts in one week. But now, I am most likely to sell the same amount for more than a month because those who use to buy 1/4 basin of groundnuts and come back after one week to buy another now come only after one month. This has also affected those I buy from in Douala because they also complain of bad market. But I thank God for the one I have sold today.”

Not only is the unfortunate issue of “bad market” disturbing the people, that of breaking sheds in the name of building stores without considering those who cannot afford to build them. Some market women show their grievances like Mama Queen Njobui Pauline who said that many people have applied to build. And she wonders what will happen to the traders who are selling on spots that have been sold off.

 “Like me, where I am here, I know is that they have sold it out to people who have money. They are the ones who bought it. Like I who was here, I had my shed here they have removed me and I’m outside and if they want to talk about those who started this market… We had to fight that they should let us sell here. But we have lost out, because those who have money have bought the place. And those who now own the place have asked us to leave; I don’t know what to do now.”

 “Does that mean you will not sell again,” we asked her?

“We could go and sell in front of the market but the council keeps sending us away. But I can say we are the ones who started this market just the few of us who started this market, just a few of us will march to the DOs office, to the chief because mothers were crying that they do not have money because if you have your FCFA 600 to walk and go to the central market it is expensive because they have moved the market to central market so this bakweri women cry to no avail. “We first got angry and went to the graveyard at Buea town. We also went to Likoko to the burial ground then we said no! And they saw it as we sat at the burial ground, crying out our hearts. Our business elsewhere had started functioning; then they brought us here that we should be selling inside the OIC market and we started growing in business. They came again and shared places for us to be selling on. We paid money and they gave us receipts. After that as those who have money saw that the market is functioning well, they have come now that they want to build the whole market and that is what they are saying.

“They have scattered all this line round and they have given us notice to leave this place and we are just sitting here because we do not have any other place to be selling in the market.” Asked why she doesn’t show her receipt to them as proof that they have the right to operate from that spot, she said, “all of us have receipts that they gave us to sell here. We had sheds here. See, I have scattered my shed here like five times. Today they will say leave, tomorrow they will say build. All of us here we have scattered and built this shed and we are tired.

“But we are saying that now that they have given this line out, they should look for a place and give us to ‘manage’ but they have said nothing. The thing is if they fight and occupy all the market with all these houses, people selling foodstuffs will run away from the market; they won’t have a place to sell and they will run away from the market. This is exactly what happened in Buea town market. Buea town market was booming, houses were not there but now that they have occupied it with stores, people ran away from the market.

“Even those who have the shops also suffered because people are no longer entering the market. As they are building here, people will also run away from this market. If it gets worse here, I will park out and I won’t sell here again because we have cried that they should give us another place since they have removed us from here and they have said nothing. ”

Other than this, others also express some remorse for the action of the council. Like certain Sarah says: “the council keeps sending us away from here and some days they will let us sell here like today. But they are confusing us like they will also ask us not to sell here but if they see us selling, they will give us tickets and later on they will send us away. As they want to build the market I will stop selling here. I will go and sell in front of my house. I will not pay a ticket and at times they will come and scatter my tomatoes and I face the loss.”

The OIC market in Buea has become a scene of confusion. Because it practically encroaches into the main boulevard of the town, overcrowding here on market days poses a serious social problem. Avoidable accidents during which lives have been lost especially from recklessly driven army personnel carriers are recorded on a regular basis. With no parking lot for taxis and other automobiles, “buyam sellams” suffer to get their goods into the market or car park. A certain “buyam sellam” by name Stephan noted:

 “We can’t enter the market with a car because everywhere is choked up. Others selling have refused and if you have something to put in the market with a car, you either come early in the morning or in the evening when the market has closed. What type of thing is this! But we pay tickets every market day. The other day the council seized my wheelbarrow of mesh for displaying by the road because I don’t have a place to put it in the market.”

Visitors to this market are very victims of municipal police who routinely block their cars against a FCFA official fine or a lesser amount as bribe. With no clear cut demarcation or indication of where one is free to park, the council policy is seen by many as a deliberate trap to attract revenue for it or bribes for its lurking corrupt officials.

UB JOURNALISM STUDENT ON INTERNSHIP

WHO uncovers fake antibiotic drug

The World Health Organization,WHO, asked those who may have taken the fake medicines to immediately seek advice from qualified medics, and ensure it is reported to the PPB. 

•The phenomenon of falsified medicines is also on the increase in many countries including in Europe.

A fake antibiotic has been intercepted in Kenya and Uganda, the World Health Organization has said.

In Kenya, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, PPB, said it intercepted fake Augmentin (Amoxicillin trihydrate – Potassium clavulanate) during routine market surveillance. 

The fake product was passed off as Augmentin, a GSK drug used to treat bacterial infections and listed as among WHO’s Essential Medicines.

said it did not manufacture this batch while tests in both Kenya and Uganda did not identify any of the expected active ingredients.

There were also labeling and packaging inconsistencies, authorities said.

“At this stage, no adverse reactions have been reported to WHO,” the organization said in a statement. 

“WHO requests increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries likely to be affected. It should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and any other suppliers of medical products,” WHO said

The organization asked those who may have taken the fake medicines to immediately seek advice from qualified medics and ensure it is reported to the PPB. 

This was the second WHO Medical Product Alert issued on falsified Augmentin in  Africa.

‘morning-after’ contraceptive pills 

“The market surveillance discovered a substandard/falsified postinor-2 (Levonogestrel) with different particulars on the secondary and primary package. Postinor-2 is an oral emergency contraceptive pill used to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex,” the Uganda National Drug Authority said.

The phenomenon of falsified medicines is on the increase in many countries including in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency says in the region, most of the fake drugs include expensive medicines, such as anticancer medicine and medicines in high demand, such as antivirals.

In Africa, it is usually the most used medicines like anti-malarials and antibiotics. 

In 2012, a research team from the US National Institutes of Health found that about one-third of anti-malarial medicines distributed in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa were counterfeit or fake.

Armoured car By

By Winston LEBGA

It is easy to spot these strange military vehicles crisscrossing the Northwest region. The Bohemian has noticed these vans employed for certain special conditions where typical vehicles will not be able to cope. They are designed in such a way that they provide the highest quality of security in order to ensure the safety of the people and valuables involved. The bohemian has heard that they can sustain not only direct fire from sophisticated rifles but also those weapons that fire armour piercing projections.

   It is in these military armoured vehicles that big shots travel to the various divisional headquarters of the Northwest shouting out the back-to-school mantra. From members of government to administrative top brass, they cry out with ululations that appear to be conversations or is it the other way round? Their tone of conversation swings between friendly hostility and playful contempt. So, how would the commoner hearken to the call without an armoured fighting vehicle to take him and his progeny to and from school, or should it be her and her child?  The back-to-school campaigners point to the commoners as those in whose hands the possibility of school resumption in the Northwest lies. This because according to the argument put forth, the people are harbouring suspected secessionist fighters and are not willing to provide the intelligence required to finish off the militants. By virtue of this argument, the people are the ones who do not want their kids back in the school campus for the new school year and the people are the ones putting the future of their progeny in jeopardy.

   It is the poor man’s child who will not be in school, it is the poor man who is in the line of fire and it is because of the poor man that some picked up arms in the name of a liberation struggle that has made many poor people even poorer and have become refugees, some politely called internally displaced persons. It is in the guise of defenders of the poor man and woman that fighting is going on. But the poor man has no gun and has never sat in an armoured car. His dream of his children becoming great people on account of their education is fast becoming a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never to be attained. The rich and powerful are fighting, but their kids are not in the Northwest or Southwest regions. It is the commoner’s kid who is expected to challenge the gun toting dunces and go to school, a mantra that stinks of political undertones and void of any strand of academia. The liberators are proving their point to those in charge, some say it is a toddling step in a misdirected approach. They are keeping matters dark, as someone would say, they believe would keep the adversary perplexed and uncomfortable. But, for how long?

  After contemplating the future of this land of our forefathers where people are fleeing the Northwest and Ambazonia godfathers have sounded the bugle for battle by insisting on a total lockdown, and have fired the first salvo to announce the new battle against mainstream education, I, the Bohemian of Abakwa born on the last day of the month in the land of the proud people, this day declare:

 The “grand katika” of this giant gambling house has to seriously consider putting an end to the mayhem and move from mere rhetoric about peace and dialogue to concrete acts that will help Cameroonians love themselves, live together and share the milk from the national cow equitably. If not, then we can settle and wait for this gunpowder keg to be ignited and for the veritable time bomb to tick down to its massive explosion. If that happens, poor people will not be alone in weeping over spilled blood and the armoured car might not be capable of doing the job. Well, self-styled revolutionaries turned political choirboys are beating the drums of self-indulgence at the expense of confused people whom they purport to be liberating from a confederacy of dunces who are running short of steam, running short of energy and are running on empty. And the poor people wish they too could be provided with an armoured car.

Killing fields expand, economy goes into summersault

Slightly more than a month ago talks of Swiss authorities opting to mediate between the government of Cameroon and separatists seeking an independent nation of Ambazonia made news headlines. Teeming victims of the war were more than expectant. The hope was that the shooting war that has been on for three years could possibly end. That hope has practically faded away even as we write, with new tensions rising. More blood continues to be spilled, while properties and villages are razed to the ground.

There is bickering in the camp of the Diaspora separatist propagators. Bandits have infiltrated the ranks of separatist fighters and are wreaking quite some havoc. As reported elsewhere in this edition, gendarmes and soldiers are dropping their weapons and fleeing. According to Barrister Eta Besong Jr, former President of the Cameroon Bar Association, many soldiers are currently being prosecuted in military tribunals for “dropping their weapons and running away in time of peace…” Other information posted online is to the effect that soldiers from a particular ethnic group are grumbling and threatening because they are singled out and sent to the war front to face ubiquitous deadly militias.

But all of this notwithstanding, the economy has clearly gone under, with erstwhile thriving businessmen practically melting under its scotching heat. In short, they are said to be between the hammer and the anvil, the hammer being government authorities and the anvil separatist interests. On the one hand, government is suspicious of some entrepreneurs of English speaking expression funding the separatist venture and on the other, separatists are coercing, even blackmailing them to fund the “liberation war” or face ugly consequences. The story is told of a certain “Commander Ebube” who scammed millions of francs from a Director of one of the bilingual pilot centres dotted in all 10 regions of the country. It did not stop there. Not only was such monies extorted from the man who was at the time lying sick in a hospital bed. But he was also compelled to supply the militia with a motorcycle as “your own contribution to the struggle.” Today, the impoverished man who recently retired from the public service is cursing, while publishing one open letter after the other to the faceless “Commander Ebube.”

The man who has since disappeared from public view is now writing from exile. He is said to have run into trouble with creditors who raised the cash for his ransom. But if separatists blackmail and collect cash from those they consider as affluent, government has as a silent policy to “nip the Anglophone dissent in its teenage bud.” Quoting a top security official, a Buea based lawyer told this newspaper that the regime is not very concerned with elderly dissidents as they would soon peter out. Rather they are very disturbed by vibrant youth who have a potential to upset the political applecart. “The top security operative told me that the strategy is to subdue by all means, fair and foul, all those still bubbling with youthfulness and exuberance; that they are the potential boat rockers and our brief is to deal with them summarily…”

However, Anglophone entrepreneurs, whether young or old, are systematically frustrated out of business. Most of them who do carry out direct government contracts have been systematically asphyxiated, economically speaking. Their bills are either not paid up or they are denied new contracts outright. Alternatively, they are penciled down and physically eliminated.

The story is still being told of a certain Felix Ngang who was murdered at his home early in 2018 in the dead of night. Ngang, like many of his friends was a prosperous businessman, having made his wealth mostly from government contracts. There are many versions of why and who murdered him. One such version states that Ngang’s friend and fellow businessman, Martin Ndenge Che reportedly got a hint from a top security contact in Yaounde advising that he and Ngang should immediately go into hiding because their names were on the regime’s hit list. Che passed on the tip to his friend and advised that they go underground. But that apparently protective of his sprawling business empire and banking on his connections with people in the corridors of power Ngang didn’t take heed and was slaughtered like chicken on the night following.

Yet another version has it that hit men were hired by some of Ngang’s disgruntled relations to do him in. This particular version was even posted on social media by one of Ngang’s daughters studying abroad. She points a direct accusing finger at the late dad’s one time female acquaintance who would have taken advantage of the politico-social chaos in the country to take her dad’s life and unduly benefit from his massive estates.

Whatever the case, Ndenge Che on the other hand let go his own business empire which like many others in Anglophone Cameroon is today lying in ruins. We are told that while at least one of Che’s children, by name Lum Ndenge Che is marooned abroad, unable to continue with her education on account of her benefactor parents’ awful plight, she at least, still has hopes of one day returning to reunite with those parents. Not so for Ngang who lost his life, whose kids are languishing abroad, unable to pay for tuition and whose business empire crumbled following his assassination. By the way, Ngang, Ndenge and others were highly suspected of using what was perceived as their business might to fund the current Ambazonia insurrection. Those who rule the roost, it was bandied about would not be invariably sponsoring traitors. “those who use what we offer them almost for free to backstab us.”

In a separate case, a multi-billionaire who made his wealth from selling imported frozen fish also recently made big headlines in the local media after strong regime interests openly tagged him with carrying out illicit business transactions, evading taxes and funding terrorist activities. This man from the Western region took the bull by the horns, threatened to sue certain individuals and the government to court. But even though the issue seems to have died a natural death, the tycoon’s fortunes have, from the look if things dwindled and he is said to be treading very carefully, just in case familiar unorthodox methods are applied to contain him.

Meanwhile security goons have adopted a subtle, nay, disturbing and clearly illegal methods of getting at regime opponents. They simply abduct close relations of dissidents, hold them in distressful conditions and incommunicado. Such is the case with the 80 year old mother and junior sister of Anu Chris, the US based Secretary of Communications of the “Republic of Ambazonia.” Chris’s family reportedly moved the mother and sister from the insecurity of their village in Anglophone Cameroon to the relative safety of Yaounde. But about a month ago, they were picked up and as we write, they are said to be still the unwilling guests of security operatives.

All in all, hundreds of thousands on both sides of the political divide have been forced into the army of the unemployed. It is worse off in English speaking Cameroon who have seen thousands of her youths either summarily killed or thrown into jail, in most cases without charge. Of course, there are also those thousands whose kiosks and sheds that used to serve as work places have been destroyed in the name of fighting dissidence.      

AMBAZONIA ACTIVISTS TELL JUDGE: ‘You can’t stop us talking’

By Beng Humphrey Fang

“I am facing a death sentence here. You cannot stop us from talking even if you want to charge us for contempt and sentence us. We have the right to talk. It is not a favour given us to talk. I insist that it is not a favour as you are saying there…”

This was Barrister Eyambe, one of those standing trial alongside Sisiku Ayuk-Tabe Julius in a Yaounde military court. It was during their last but one appearance in court and he blurted out to the trial Judge who ordered the accused to keep quiet, stating that the opportunity the accused persons had been given to speak was but a favour accorded them.

But an undaunted Eyambe screamed further: “I cannot be standing a deadly trial and a witness testifies against me in the absence of my lawyers.” The trial of the Ambazonia leaders had taken a dramatic turn after lawyers defending the accused persons staged a walkout of the court hall and which the presiding magistrate described as ‘voluntary and unjustifiable.’

 Having decided to walk out without justification and not reconstituting themselves, said the judge, could not stop the trial from proceeding. But the accused resisted, beckoning on the court to come to knowledge on the fact that they cannot be tried on felonious crimes in the absence of their lawyers and still have a chance to reconcile with their counsel to come back or not.

Citing humanitarian reasons, the accused persons had requested for an adjournment. Che Fidelis, one of the 10 accused persons and two others were said to be sick and could not withstand the rigours of the trial. The situation of Che Fidelis was said to have gotten more serious in the restart of session after the first suspension.  The accused persons earlier on before their counsel’s walkout had through one of them, Professor Augustine Awasum told the court that they were on hunger strike in protest against the ‘abduction’ of over ‘195 Ambazonians’ from the Yaoundé, Kondengui Central prison riot and had suffered protracted illnesses.

“It is just a matter of respect that we came to this court today,” Prof. Awasum told the tribunal. But the government commissioner reacting, rubbished the hunger strike staged by the accused, adding that it was a delay tactic by the accused on the proceedings. Medical problems, as they accused claimed are affecting some of them, are proven in papers or medical reports or documents and not by verbal pronouncements. The accused persons in court had rejected a medical offer by the colonel who is also l medical doctor, brought to testify against them to one theirs, Che Fidelis, arguing that someone testifying against them on dead penalty charges cannot be brought to attend one of theirs.

The court’s call for witnesses against the accused persons to testify sparked a row as the defendants took to their feet insisting that it cannot happen in the absence of their lawyers and one of them who lied sick in court. Barrister Shufai Blaise Berinyuy was overheard while addressing the court saying that the move by the court was clear injustice and questioning how it was possible for the new counsel to cross examine the witness’ testimony presented in their absence.

“I am facing a death sentence here. You cannot stop us from talking, even if you want to charge us for contempt and sentence us. We have the right to talk. It’s not a favour given us to talk. I insist it is not a favour as you are saying there” Barrister Eyambe exploded.

“I cannot be standing a deadly trial and a witness testifies against me in the absence of my lawyers” he added.

 “Why can you not just judge and sentence us in our absence as you want to try us in the absence of our lawyers? Will our brother who is lying sick here get up and know what was testified against him by the witness?” accused persons ferociously questioned calling on the court  to take them back to prison and continue with the case.

“We are pleading that we should be taken back to prison and let the hearing continue. This case cannot continue unless we are taken out and you people continue,” the defendants could be heard shouting out and overshadowing the witness ordered to ride on with the testimony.

The prosecution in their submission after the defense had walked out said the action by the lawyers to walk out was in disrespect of the law and out of ego, warning that “those who want the respect of the law should first of all respect it.” The prosecution had regretted that their clients never had the opportunity which the defendants have to have been tried before being killed but said they are much ready for the prosecution to start while insisting that no interlocutory ruling had ever been passed in the court as the defense claim.

According to the defense on the walk out, their appeals at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court against the court’s interlocutory rulings are still pending examination. Citing the law, they said the military court which is of the first instance is supposed to suspend proceedings on the matter. But the judge had told the court that the appeal does not or cannot suspend proceedings on the matter on grounds that the issues said to have been appealed are not substantive.

After the second suspension the of session for the day at 6:11pm as a result of the accused’s resistance against the attempted trial in their lawyers’ absence, the presiding magistrate noted that the tribunal took into consideration the health situation of the accused and for humanitarian reasons, adjourned the matter to yesterday, Monday, August 19.

As we went to press, nothing substantial had yet filtered from the proceedings.

Zombies in suit

By Winston LEBGA

Africa’s biggest football showpiece event, the men’s Africa Cup of Nations 2019 has ended. For the first time twenty four countries were on the guest list of the ball with Egypt playing host. The   land of the Pharaohs (the only humans in the football jungle of Africa) was chosen to salvage an embarrassing situation following the initial hosts Cameroon’s inability to be ready, so to speak. The authorities in Cameroon and those of the Confederation of African Football who had been assuring and reassuring the fans that the thirty-second AFCON was coming to Cameroon had to inform the nation, the continent and the world that there was a shift in dates and venue.

    Cameroon has been chosen to host the event in 2021. Government declared that although the country had been relieved of its 2019 hosting rights, the stadia under construction will be completed as initially planned. For as long as the Bohemian can remember, works are permanently on the ninety per cent mark.

     The Indomitable Lions travelled to Egypt as defending champions, and arrived in the country in acrimonious circumstances. They had complaints regarding the payment of bonuses. Someone said they should know that they are playing for country and should stop narrowing everything down to how much they will get from the expedition. Are they not the ones sweating it out on the field of play? Why should they travel as slaves in the name of patriotism while the men in suit who are pulling the strings in the background fill their pockets and get their lovers, relatives and domestic servants to travel with the team under the government bill? And that is not all, these zombies in suit armed with half-baked ideas would bring in gangs of dim wits calling them professionals.

      Where is it written that only commoners are under the obligation to be patriotic in this republic? Who is above the principle of patriotism? Who are those who have captured the Indomitable Lions and are planning to barbecue the animals alive? What punishment awaits these sons of a gun? The senior men’s football team of Cameroon is in actuality an army of foreign mercenaries. If you are a Cameroon-based player or tactician, brethren it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for you to find a place in the national team. A third rate player in the sixth division in Europe or China is more likely to be selected than a first division player in the country’s so-called pro-league even if the man is at the peak of his foot-balling prowess. You can ask the right back, Eta Bawak, one of the bulwarks of Cotonsport’s defence or the centre forward, Mangolo, Dragon FC’s fire spitting marksman.

      So, after learning about the sacking of Clarence Seedorf and how men and people have unleashed a torrent of insults on him, I the Bohemian of Abakwa born on the last day of the month by the shores of the Atlantic, in the land of the proud people, this day declare: We’ve been blaming coaches ad nauseam to the point that the Bohemian thinks it is time to face the real problems affecting the national team and stop the sledgehammer tactics that leave the fans in more pain than previously. They knew that Seedorf’s credentials were not impressive enough for the Cameroonian job yet the arrival of the man with his compatriot Patrick Kluivert in Yaounde was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. They hatched a plot to scam the fans, and they knew that whatever the outcome of the AFCON 2019, Seedorf’s case was going to be a cause celebre among football lovers. They knew about plans to recruit relatives, cats who thought themselves lions. They knew they would strike deals with player agents and Cameroon’s ballon d’or superstar and they knew that they were more concerned about lining their pockets than bringing the supreme accolade to a nation fervently desperate for continental glory.

     Even those who are in the mood of warlike jingoism, those in favour of the balkanization of the country were hopeful that Cameroon will bravely defend the trophy they won in Gabon. But, those know-it-alls could not allow for that to happen. They who were counting on a stroke of luck, as was the case two years ago. They, those ones, the tough people, the chosen ones, the zombies in suit…

War In Northwest/Southwest: Soldiers as ‘friendly enemies’

*By Ngam Kellikaina, Carine Enanga, Agnes Tarh, Mariegolder Metuge, Colette Ebwe & Samantha Erica

They are in two distinct camps currently operating in the Northwest and Southwest regions; those whose constitutional duty is to defend the territorial integrity of the state and the ragtag separatist fighters claiming that they have as mission to restore the Ambazonian statehood. Both classes also lay claim to “fighting in the interest of the ordinary citizen.” But what one sees on the ground are unpredictable people in arms, whose actions change like the colours of a chameleon.

This moment they are cuddling a baby and assuring women in distress for television cameras. And the next moment they are either burning down villages or killing unarmed citizens including women and babies. The separatist fighters on the other hand would come out from the shrubs to avenge the burning of villages and other chattels by regular soldiers. But then, at the blink of an eye, the same freedom fighters would have kidnapped hapless citizens for ransom or chopped off the fingers of a CDC worker out to earn his keep.

In such scenarios, those that the both camps purport to protect suffer like the proverbial grass after two elephants would have used it as a fighting arena. Such scenarios have become pretty regular and are better captured when regular soldiers go on the rampage, burning villages and shooting at anything that moves.

Some of them disclosed when interviewed that they often do this out of sheer frustration; frustration at what they say is the populations’ lack of assistance in wiping out the amba boys for peace to be restored. One who spoke on condition of anonymity said most civilian populations in Northwest and Southwest habitats know the amba boys and effectively host and protect them from being apprehended or neutralized, but that they are reluctant to vouchsafe useful information to soldiers, giving the impression that all Anglophones are cast in the separatist mould.

Still, another said they shoot, killing at random because at one minute a soldier could be living, smoking a cigarette and chatting and at the very next minute he would be dead meat in a body bag, having been taken out by a ubiquitous amba prowler. So, he said, “to preserve ourselves and also stay alive to eventually raise families, we shoot at random and in anger, because you never can tell who the enemy is or which civilian will betray you to amba boys…”

“It is either we kill or be killed, so we opt for killing,” he told us. Asked why they very often spray bullets at residential areas in pitch darkness his reply was: “…we have to stay safe; we have to frighten off the prowling ambas whom I must confess understand the local terrain more than we do and catch some sleep as well. After all, we are also human beings before being soldiers. Soldiers too need sleep.” He noted that when they have to exhibit the humanitarian part of the soldier in them, they are quick to do so, if only to solicit the cooperation of local populations.

Despite the accusations of human rights violations often rained on regular soldiers by separatist interests, their own fighters are not better. Several times they have killed government soldiers and had them beheaded. They are known to kidnap men and women alike. They are known to rape the women that they kidnap and put ransoms on the males including clergymen.

They hamper movement of goods and property; they impose ghost towns, thereby crippling the economy and destroying social life. They have so far made life pretty unlivable even for those they purport to be rescuing from the pangs of neocolonialism when they block vehicular traffic on highways and set automobiles ablaze, including those carrying relief materials to needy IDPs. Yet, on the positive side the amba militias have been basically protecting desperate civilian populations from the angst and brutality of military men some of who sometimes look down on Anglophone populations as sub human and expendable.

A lady told us of how amba boys kept them in their safety between Kumba and Mutengene for three days at no charge. She said the military were out to exterminate them and do away with their merchandise but for the timely intervention of the amba boys who ferried them to the safety of their camp in the bush. Another also talked of how amba boys often help in preventing the military form looting; how they would help them evacuate military killing zones in Ekona and effectively head carry their household property away to safety.

Certain denizens of Buea complain that soldiers in mufti have been on and about, spying on people, searching their mobile phones and generally denying them the right to free speech and thought. They often mingle in bars and off licenses, provoke touchy discussions and end up arresting people against big bribes or detention and torture.

Local administrators, some of them elected by the people are also known to use the military to intimidate and torture people of their constituents. This is typical of Buea, where the army participates in either sealing private business enterprises or breaking them open at the instance of a ghost town fighting mayor. Again, in some circumstances, educational facilities have been commandeered and converted to military camps where hideous human rights violations are carried out. It is also an open secret that school premises are highly militarized at the instance of overzealous administrators, giving vent to possible crossfire incidents between the said military and amba boys.

It has been noted by many that the idea of pupils and students studying under heavy militarized conditions is most likely to be counterproductive. A parent who asked not to be equated what he called studying under guns to muslims being basically enrolled and taught at Christian institutions, compelled to attend daily church services. Such pupils or students, he noted, are most likely to be converted into a faith against their wish, he noted.

Another Kumba based educationist thought there was a “negative likelihood” of children invariably enrolling in the army just by sharing most of their time with prowling soldiers. One who said his son was badly influenced by military men guarding Sacred Heart College Bamenda noted that the child has since adopted a violent approach to addressing issues, “because he saw too much of the military on campus and adopted their harsh manner of approaching problems.”

      Going down the lane, statistics now show that the citizens are now scared whenever they hear of the military around. Others say they hate them. “I hate the presence of the military because they almost killed me when I went out with some friends to play at Bakweri town field,” says a worker at a car wash in Buea. They are not here to protect us but rather to scare us away, even kill us.”

Another source said she sometimes forced to give them money, “even when I have all my identification papers on me and have committed no offence.” A man who owns a “parifoot” machine talked of how his customers are scared immediately they spot the military from a distance or around his business place, and how this has brought about a big fall in his business.

         Also, the crisis affecting everyone has made it worse as this military men now break into private homes where they steal and harass people, despite the fact  they have Identity  cards as a proof of their nationality as honest Cameroonians, a Buea based lady told The Rambler. We have several instances with that of taxi drivers as they share their experiences concerning them and the military. A taxi driver gave his experience on how he had to “settle several controls” on the way even when he was yet to earn anything for the day. Another incident occurred on Sunday, July 28, 2019, wherein a taxi driver was struggling to dodge a military control post and in the process one of the soldiers shot at the taxi, the bullet hitting one of his female passengers.

       A good number of military personnel sent to restore peace in the restive English speaking regions have been spotted buying condoms meant for unusual “shooting assignments.” Others yet, rape women and young girls outright.