BOLE BAKUNDU RAID: Many killed, burning escalates, villagers flee

There seem to be no letting up in the merry-go-round of gun fire exchanges and subsequent killings, burnings and looting propagated by resolute separatist militants and regular soldiers who have turned callousness into a favourite pastime on the Kumba/Mbonge road, with the latest episode being the exodus of thousands of inhabitants of Bole Bakundu on Friday, January 2, to nearby villages, bushes and even to Kumba for those who could easily escape for safety. This latest stampede is said to have been caused by regular soldiers in pursuit of alleged Ambazonian separatists.

Friday’s raid was a spillover effect of Thursday, February 1 clash between Government soldiers and separatist fighters. According to eye witness accounts to The Rambler, at about 4pm, roads along Kumba-Mbonge and Kumba-Kotto were reportedly blocked by “Ambazonian Tigers” thereby halting circulation, which prompted military intervention.

The narrative continued that on the night of Thursday, February 1, indiscriminate shooting from gunfire exchanges by both parties left many dead and some wounded on both sides. These actions had already induced panic in the populations of Bole and Nake, thereby causing many to flee that same night for fear of the unknown, with hindsight from memories of Kwakwa on their minds.

More than 20 houses have reportedly been reduced to ground level and at least three persons dead in Bole alone. Motor bikes that were apprehended are said to have been set ablaze. Gunshots were reported in other villages like Ekombe on Thursday night. Generally, farmlands, businesses and other valuables have been abandoned.

When The Rambler talked to a lady who had fled from Bole but elected anonymity for security reasons on what transpired in her village and how she survived, she said “on Friday morning I went to buy fish in to prepare food. On my way back, I just saw people from my quarter running so I too joined them and ran back to the bush. When we arrived at a quiet place I asked them why they were running and they told me that the soldiers had come to our quarter searching homes for only what they alone know. Thank God I always walked with identity card even when am going to the farm because I know times are bad now and one can be embarrassed anywhere. That was how I followed my neighbours and landed in Kumba. Here in Kumba I only received calls from the village of persons whom I know whose houses have been destroyed and even some who have been caught by stray bullets,” she recounted.

Some other two corpses of civilians were discovered around the Kake Bridge still on Thursday night. The corpses were later taken for burial by workers of the Kumba City Council.


Firebombing moves from schools to villages

Incineration has become a regular trademark in villages where assailants have stalked and killed soldiers in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, causing many to begin wondering if such acts of vandalism expected from unknown assailants ought to be associated with regular soldiers as it currently obtains. Moreover, this firebombing feature that used to be connected with public and private edifices has now been extended to whole villages, inflicting pains in their wake on innocent citizens.

In the event, while gunshots rent the air as separatists and the military engage in combat, air pollution has, also, become a tenant as the homes of most citizens are razed by the military in retaliation against perceived injury and/or deaths inflicted on fellow men of arms.

Whether as a strategy by the Government to render denizens of the Southwest Region especially in Kumba and Mamfe homeless or not is still a moot point in discussions. However, it has been noted that in every area where there is combat between separatists and the military, houses around such areas would be set ablaze mindless of the fact that there may be people in such homes.

A recent scene of such barbaric act by military goons is that of the innocent 96 year old woman who died in one of the buildings said to have been set on fire by the military. While strong and agile youths for the fear of the unknown scampered for safety in the bushes, the late old woman couldn’t and was consequently roasted like chicken by same people who are under normal circumstances supposed to protect her.

Natives of victimized villages have cried foul as their properties have been shattered and their lives in danger. They have bitterly complained of an unprecedented crackdown by the military, which also used helicopters to fire on civilians. Even though Cardinal Tumi, Archbishop Emeritus of Douala has spoken out against the recent use of military violence and for the respect of human life, this has fallen on deaf ears as the burning persists and is instead progressing to other villages as was recently the case of Tado in Bui Division of the Northwest Region.

Many have pondered on the motive behind what they term wickedness by the military. According to natives, it is innocent people who are suffering because those the military are combating are not from of the villages which have been razed.

Though the Government is talking of dialogue but not initiating one, many have ascertained that the rampant arson on homes would eventually harden the hearts of denizens and make things worse. They have bitterly complained that the Government is doing nothing to ensure that the problem is solved and precious Cameroonian lives are going by the day.

Violence, many have said, cannot be solved by violence, but that seems to be the case now. Fear has engulfed the hearts of Cameroonians, especially, those in the two English speaking Regions as to what the future holds.

By Relindise Ebune

Journalists charged with being peace ambassadors

The advent of sociopolitical agitation climaxing in the Anglophone crisis of the last 15 months or so has brought into being a perilous circumstance for the media in Cameroon. And, in a profession that had initially exhibited a pronounced shortfall in both tact and proficiency propaganda for either of the contenders represented by Government and aggrieved Anglophones has become customary through the inadvertence of wanting to be seen to belong to the Joneses.

It is against this backdrop that during a press dinner organized by the Cameroon Community Media Network, CCMN Wednesday January 31, journalists were advised to practice peace journalism.

According to Alexander Vojvoda, Technical Organizer of CCMN, journalists should keep themselves safe first in order to be able to report on conflict situations. He however stated that as the fourth estate, reporters have the voice to either escalate the crisis or to join the peace voice. While calling on journalists to go in for peace journalism, he advised that information from the field should be weighed before dissemination. Vojvoda added that the effects of disseminating information should be put into consideration prior to its being propagated. “Since journalists are the voice of the voiceless, they should consider the effects at the school, economic, and social levels for the good of the public,” Vojvoda advised.

Going by him, there is a need for journalists to take a step back and see on which side they are standing; they should weigh each side and bring possible solutions to the crisis rather than being propagandists on either side which may instead fuel the crisis.

Journalists present during the press dinner where asked to each give their experiences and how they handle the current situation. It was discovered from almost all the media organs that journalists are often threatened for speaking the truth or for not being part of either of the propaganda. Many shared the ordeal they have experienced and are still going through since the crisis broke out.

While painting a picture of CCMN in 2017, the Secretary General, Kum Leonard said for 2018, they had a board meeting to look forward to activities for the year. According to him, it was agreed to design projects for workshops with journalists in 2018, set up a monitoring and evaluation scheme to follow up the projects. To him, it is their objective this year to increase membership and involve journalists in the network, especially, in this year of crisis and elections.

By Relindise Ebune

Letter to Unknown Soldier

Dear Unknown Soldier,

This letter is addressed to you because it is rightly assumed that you are the product of refinement through training and continuous mentoring. Unlike the ragtag terrorist agitators you are fighting, order is supposed to be ingrained in your personae. However, your recent presence in Manyu and Meme Divisions tend to invoke a rather sombre picture of your clairvoyance capacity, or its complete absence. Whatever the circumstance, tread softly, my compatriot.

Furthermore, judging from the way you prosecute assignments, certainly, on the instructions of your superior officers, there is the definite impression that you mistake all Anglophones for terrorists. More so, your indiscriminate shooting and killing of unarmed, hapless civilians, especially, on the occasion of the death of your colleague(s) allegedly killed by some faceless individuals who call themselves ‘Ambazonia Forces,’ is not a solution to the present face-off between Government and Anglophones.

The guerilla warfare launched against you by the “terrorists” has no doubt been slaying many of your peers. It is understandable that such situations might be difficult for you to accept because it presents a kind of defeat picture, but it is not true.

You might be the terrorists’ target but Ah! Mr. Soldier, mind you, hapless civilians are no substitute for the faceless individuals attacking you. You have the duty to locate, defeat and conquer them. Even if you kill all Anglophones civilians, you are not declared victorious or should I say, you are not safe yet-you will have no peace because your enemy still lives and intimidates.

Please Mr. Soldier; in the event where you are attacked in a particular locality by faceless individuals, do not in anger or in the spirit of revenge react by shooting indiscriminately at every living being on sight; razing down homes and rendering hundreds of fellow Cameroonians refugees in their own homeland.

You did this in Manyu and then in Meme. Have the “terrorists” stopped their activities? Of course not, so logical reasoning should tell you that, the guys perpetrating these inhumane acts on you are probably not from those localities and, so, would have little or nothing to regret after you raid in revenge. Mr. Soldier, by doing what you are doing to the local population, you only give them ideas that negatively change their impression of you.

By burning down entire villages, you immediately turn those people into your enemies because you treated them as such and that scare will take generations to heal. The point is, by doing what you do, you become as inhumane as the extremists. Remember, it is not in your place to inflict greater pain, loses and burden on your camp; when the people are shot, killed, maimed, rendered homeless, it is not the inhuman radical who will come to their rescue afterwards, but the Government.

In a sense, it is Cameroon that loses its human resources and not the terrorists, and this has tremendous impact on the country’s development. Analytically, if we continue on this lane, Mr. Soldier, “Vision 2035” would be a farce because the resources supposed to be put together for national development is being irrationally wasted.

If one puts together houses and properties torched in Manyu and now Meme, as well as the number of people rendered homeless, one can only begin to imagine the difficulties these people will go through in managing to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

Please Mr. Soldier, you are out to protect civilians as opposed to killing and exposing them to danger. Remember that all lives matter and we are all Cameroonians before being civilian, military, Anglophone or Francophone. Please, shoot no more, and kill not innocent civilians in Anglophone localities.

Graduate from being destructive to protective soldiers!

By Nester Asonganyi

Firebombs now rule Meme!

Mounting tension in the vicinities of KwaKwa and Nake along Kumba/Mbonge road consequent upon the brutal murder of a policeman and a soldier earlier this month allegedly by “Ambazonian Tigers” who had laid siege over the area, patrolling with guns and checking vehicles and, concomitant Government retaliatory expedition actualized in the deployment of over 500 soldiers and policemen has left the villages lifeless

Reports, images and videos captured of these villages indicate that more than 50 percent of their populations have lost homes to flames of fire set by military men. It was, also, reported that on Wednesday January 17 and Thursday January 18 when the military raided the area and met nobody, they were angry and started setting houses on fire.

One of the survivors of that attacks whose house was also burnt told this reporter that, “The military were just burning indiscriminately. This is because even churches which have no connection to the Anglophone crisis were burnt. He revealed that the premises of the Apostolic Church and the house of the Rev. Father of the Catholic Church have been reduced to ashes.” It is even alleged that an old woman of 96 year was burnt in one of the wooden structures in Kwakwa when all her children ran for safety in the bushes.

Kwakwa deserted

The erstwhile buoyant village is now as quiet as a grave yard at night. People have fled this locality to other safe zones like villages along the Bai Manya/Kotto Barombi road. Many of those who can be seen are those who hid in the bushes and only come to pick food stuff around their compounds. The only people who own the land now are the military who keep parading combat ready. Stray animals and skeleton of houses are the images that welcome the eyes of passersby in Kwakwa. In fact as at Saturday January 20, The Rambler got reports that all the Batibo people who had been residing in Kwakwa had taken off for Bamenda.

Attacks elsewhere

On Tuesday, January 16, soldiers stationed in Mbonge stomped the locality of Dieka Bafaw whereupon two civilians were reportedly shot dead. Reports from this area also indicate that one of the soldiers suffered an injury emanating from the careless firing of guns. The corpses of the two boys were laid to rest on Wednesday, January 17, by the villagers. People in this village are also leaving in constant fear of the unknown.

In Mbonge, a soldier was reported to have been killed by persons yet to be identified on Thursday January 18. Still on this day the principal of GBHS Mbonge was reportedly attacked by the “tigers”. It’s said that he ran and got missing at the CDC rubber plantation but later found his way using the GPS device.

The villages of Ekombe and Kake also suffered panic as there were reports of random gunshots in the afternoons and even at night. At Ekombe, the indiscriminate shooting by the military left a Sourobat worker (company charged with the construction of the Kumba/Ekondo Mudemba road) dead.

The neighbourhood of Tancha, in Kumba III Sub-Division is said to have also experienced a tensed atmosphere on Friday morning.

Generally, life in Kumba is calm but not without fear of what might happen the next moment.

By Ngende Esther

UB opts for commercial agriculture

The University of Buea, UB has opted to ensure that its much cherished tag as “the place to be,” is flown high at all times through teaching and research. The Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, FAVM, has made commercial farm production the epicentre of studies, with the long-term objective of producing independent-minded graduates as against the current crop of perennial job seekers.
Commercial farm production, one of the pillars of agricultural studies in the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, FAVM, University of Buea was activated during the current Yuletide Season.
Tomatoes, table birds, pigs and eggs are the tangible products FAVM students and field technicians cultivate and reach out to the community.
The scheme, principally targeting end-of-year festivities has come to bridge the gap in modern agricultural practice and stimulate local producers.
Professor Ernest Molua, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine asserted that “We view this scheme as a pilot opportunity to test the market here on campus and we intend to continue with the production of tomatoes, live birds, pigs and eggs. This won’t only be seasonal but we are going to strategize to see how we can do this on a daily basis.”
Studies and observation have proven that agriculture is facing a tough challenge in Cameroon due to poor farm-to-market roads, limited conservation and transformation plants and lack of modern farm technics.
This explains why seasonal products like maize, apples, plums, and mangoes last just for specific period and disappear.
Government policy must ensure agricultural institutions embark on commercial production effectively in order to expand second generation agriculture to the nooks and crannies of Cameroon.

By Ekonde Daniel

Gov’t donates expired inputs to farmers

Farmers in the Southwest Region have decried the distribution of expired chemicals to them as part of a trumped up campaign to fight black pod diseases in cocoa and coffee orchards.

During the recently celebrated Southwest Region 2017 Agro Pastoral Show, it was revealed by farmers that, last March’s spraying campaign put in place by the state to fight capsize and black pod diseases in cocoa and coffee orchards which was, ordinarily, a welcome move is now doing more harm than good to producers. According to Ndedi Akaba, Regional President of Southwest Farmers’ Platform, the project team mostly distributes such inputs after their expiry dates. He wonders if the intention of the state is providing producers with expired inputs.

To Ndedi, the year 2017 had been perceived as good for farmers in terms of price and production but unfortunately, they have instead witnessed a drop in production and a considerable drop in the prices of some major cash crops such as cocoa and rubber. According to him, one of the most difficult services in the production and post-harvest sectors is the collection of data and statistics. He said that the state cannot pretend to do it alone but that other organizations should also be equipped to collect data and statistics which has become a major concern in the country. He added that the long waited agricultural and livestock census decreed some years now has been overdue for action. To him, this exercise when completely done will make them know who does what and when in the country, especially, in the Southwest Region. “The banking and finance sector plays little or no role in the growth of the agricultural sector which is the backbone of the economy, all because the country does not valorize and has not officially recognized farming as a profession to enable it leave the informal r to the formal sector,” lamented Ndedi.

However, the Minister’s representative has countered that the Government of Cameroon considers the agricultural sector as a priority reasons why it has invested heavily on it with the view of developing it such that it can provide adequate jobs, create wealth and fight poverty. To her, that is why the Government after creating the Ministry of Agriculture embarked on the creation of agro pastoral shows in all the 10 regions. The event which coincides with end of year festivities according to her permits the denizens to buy foodstuff at a reduced cost, provide a platform for farmers to exhibit their best produce and receive rewards. It, also, according to her, helps farmers to enhance learning, exchanging partnership and networking. “It enhances farmers’ education and skills on production processing and storage techniques for the overall improvement of their agricultural sector. Promotes awareness, participation and motivation of farmers towards self-sufficient food production,” said the representative. She stated that this sector produces 35 to 40 percent gross domestic product and provides 70 to 80 percent raw materials to the industry.

She said that the President through his Government laid the foundation for the effective integration not only of the young farmers but other persons who will like also, to invest in the field of agriculture through numerous projects and programs. She urged those responsible for the projects to each make themselves known by all producers and to encourage and facilitate the integration of producers and their accession to different support and subsidies put at their disposals. She requested all the producers in association with individuals to get closer to the agricultural supervisors stationed in their locality so that they can accompany  them in order to make benefit from all available support at the level of MINADER with a view to optimize agricultural production.

By Relindise Ebune & Nester Asonganyi

Int’l Confab to curb Cameroon’s urbanization snags

True to Cameroon’s enduring inclination to substandard approaches to proffering solutions to national socio-economic problems and relying on foreign expertise, the nuisance chaotic urbanization in Cameroon has been posing may soon be consigned to history books, thanks only to fruits of bilateral relationships with Canada and China.

The imminent succour was made public by Cameroon’s Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Mbwentchou Jean Claude, while opening a press conference to announce the second International Conference on Canadian, Chinese and African Sustainable Urbanization, ICCASU, at the Yaounde Conference Centre, recently. Admitting that the CIA World Fact Book estimates of the country’s urbanization rate at 3.6 percent between 2010 and 2015, he stated that the conference will examine ways in which global and local issues limit sustainable urban development, identify realistic and adaptable measures to augment local and global governance of urban spaces.

Mbwentchou, boasted that the Yaounde meeting will be one of the first transcontinental conferences to address the challenges identified by the New Urban Agenda adopted at the Habitat III summit in October 2016. Pundits have however retorted almost immediately that being the first to address an issue does not guarantee efficacy.

The second ICCASU conference ran at the Yaounde Conference Centre from the 12 – 14, December 2017 and registered the participation of collaborators from the University of Ottawa, Canada and experts from the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat).  They examined the current urban development models in Canada, China and Africa with the hope of identifying best practices to promote smart urban development, reduce vulnerability and address fragility in geographic, economic, political, and historical contexts.

On the eve of ICCASU 2017, participants were treated to a workshop dubbed, “sustainable development 2.0: operational tools for integrated and concerted urban planning.” The training session according to Minister Mbwentchou “will see intervention of seasoned specialists from prestigious universities across the world, including Cameroonian universities. This workshop aimed at training participants in the conduct and supervision of programmatic approaches applied to various contexts and scale of urban planning, as well as offered a methodological instruction, specialized and operational urban development tools and empowered participants so as to improve their use of town planning tools.”

The Minister announced that the three day workshop spanning 9 to 11 December to lay the groundwork for the 2017 ICCASU conference, was the main innovation of their second symposium to sandwich the event proper and the post-conference. He equally revealed that the UN-Habitat would organize a free workshop on Urban Journalism for communication professionals to “popularize the new urban guidelines adopted at the Habitat III during the third United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, held in Quito, Ecuador in 2016.”

Facilitators tipped that among other thematic areas, the session termed “Smart Urban Development: Local to Global Action” will focus on smart cities and climate change, special challenges for Urban Africa, urban security and land tenure issues, cities and climate change, and translating the new urban agenda into action.

It should be recalled that Cameroon took over from 2015 host, Canada, and will handover to their Chinese fellows for the 2019 ICCASU convention.

What remains in the hands of time to be ascertained is whether the meeting flanked by Ministers of State Property, Survey and Land Tenure, Higher Education, Communication, External Relations among researchers, decision makers from the private, civil society and public sectors, will be the magic wand urgently needed to resolve urbanization issues plaguing the 54.4 percent of Cameroon’s population which is urban.

By Claudia Nsono


International wildlife sanctuary goes to Fontem

ERuDeF CEO, Louis Nkembi talking to the press

Government lip service to conservation as can be seen in unscrupulous exploitation of timber and granting of scurrilous concessions, to agri-businesses is being gradually offset by efforts from International and local Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations CSOs. One of such valiant opus is Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF, that organized a press briefing Monday, December 11, informing the press of its project dubbed The Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary aimed at conserving and ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources in Fontem, Sub Division.

Usually, when a locality is blessed with some biodiversity hotspots, natives or denizens living around such areas due to ignorance tend to exploit rather than conserve it for the good of the nation.

According to Louis Nkembi pilot of this initiative, the Proposed Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary is an over 6,000 hectares forest area located in Fontem Subdivision. It is host to over 300 Chimpanzees which is one of the biggest chimpanzee densities in Western Cameroon and over 100 forest elephants, drills, cross gorilla, bush baby, blue duiker, red eared monkey, some unknown plant species and globally threatened bird’s species are also some animals in the Wildlife as stated by Louis.

He added that, though there was the need to conserve and ensure the management of natural resources in the area, they have had a staunch resistance from the locals and elites who see it as a move to take their forest away from them and depriving them of their God-given source of living. He said that, much contestation comes from civil and political elites who try to grab lands belonging to the people for themselves. But that, come January 2017, there will be a general commission in Menji, whereby those who are for and against the creation of Mak-Betchou Wildlife Sanctuary will be invited to put forth their reasons for their stands.

Nkembi, however, stated that, it was important to keep the public informed about this because of the many misconceptions. He added that people have the misconception that the creation of a protected area is a private initiative that doesn’t fall in line with the Government. But that, they are all state property and are not transferrable from one location of the country to another. According to him, such areas are owned by the state but for community areas which have been given 100 percent community ownership.

“Protected areas play a significant role in the life of the communities and country as a whole. With such areas, Government investment in that community doubles, it serve as open doors to international investments, generates employment, socio economic development and livelihood of individuals would be improved upon with benefits for the entire community,” highlighted Nkembi.

Nkembi furthered that the project would attract tourists internationally and would build in the next eight years, FCFA millions for tourism. He, however, stated that, while working on the project, they would establish a substantive socio-economic programme for natives of Fontem to generate income and create jobs for them.

By Relindise Ebune



Builders of skyscrapers in Buea warned against eruption impact

The rate at which sky rise structures are growing in Buea and its environs has necessitated a workshop on ‘Building Local Capacities towards Disaster Risk Reduction and Reducing the Impact of Natural Hazards and Disasters Posed by Eruptions of Mount Cameroon on the Population’ in Buea.

Participants at the disaster risk reduction workshop

The workshop organized by the Faculty of Science of the University of Buea, UB on Tuesday December 12, was in perspective of a possible eruption of Mount Cameroon if its frequency of 15-16 years is respected.

“The focus of this workshop is due to the number of high rise structures we have today, because in 1999, when we had those earthquakes, we did not have the number of high rise that we have today and we don’t know the building rules which are being used to build these structures today. We have very tall buildings in countries like Japan with very high earthquakes intensity and magnitude but the buildings can withstand.  But are we building buildings that can withstand our own earthquakes? We don’t know and University of Buea is very concerned,” the chief organizer and Dean of the Faculty of Science, Prof. Ayonghe Samuel Ndonwi bothered.

According to him, there are different types of erupting mountains around the world and Mt. Cameroon has specific characteristics like all the other mountains. He said the risk that comes from the eruption of Mt. Cameroon as observed in previous eruptions includes tremor and earthquakes which precedes the eruption as well as the viscous lava which is not very fluid, flows slowly and is not very dangerous.

He said if the frequency of eruption of 15-16 years is respected, the mountain should be erupting soon but, assured that there should be no fear because they (scientists) will be able to handle it. He said the station at Ekona mounted by the Ministry of Scientific Research is monitoring the mountain and so, there should be no fears.

To the Vice-Chancellor of UB, Prof. Horace Ngomo Manga, engaging UB with the wider community of Buea Municipality on how to reduce the impacts of natural hazards and disasters that occur from eruption of Mount Cameroon is very important. He appreciated Partners Enhancing Resilience for People Exposed to Risk – Universities, Periperi U Grant and the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, for making the workshop a reality.

By Nester Asonganyi