Governor asks refugees to come out of forests

Feigning indifference to the persistence of turmoil emanating from the current crisis pitting Southern Cameroonian separatists against the Biya regime, Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai has declared that his Region is under control even as he acknowledged what he terms manageable disturbances that call for collaboration from the entire population to put an end to violence and embrace dialogue. He was speaking in Buea during a recent Regional administrative and security coordination meeting.
He referred to the meeting a traditional ritual, aimed at assessing the administrative and security situation in the Region. “We have had exchanges with Senior Divisional Officers and the Regional Chief of Defense forces and I will say the Region is under control. There are some disturbances but with the collaboration of the entire population, people of goodwill, traditional rulers, political leaders, the elites and the media, I think we will overcome all the challenges,” he said. Okalia added that preparations for future events are already underway given that the current school year will soon be over and, preparation for the next school year must be embarked upon because all the activities begin now, which circumstance justifies the presence of all SDOs in the Region and other collaborators.
In this connection, the Governor said: “We wish to continue in sensitizing the population to be aware that the truth is for them to come back to their homes; the forces of law and order are there to protect them against all acts of terrorism, hence they shouldn’t be afraid of the forces of law and order; rather they should be confident and be reassured in the presence of the military.
“We are inviting the elites, traditional rulers to come back and continue to work and sensitize their children especially, those who have been misguided and are now in the bushes for them to return home because dialogue is on the lips of everyone and we cannot dialogue with people who are in the bushes; let them return and the administration is there to exchange with them so that the situation should return to normal everywhere in the Region.”
Emphasizing further on the need for refugees to come out of hiding, the Governor added that, at the grassroots, traditional rulers, all leaders including family heads, elites, should return and go to the village to discuss with some of the children or the young men who to him are misguided and are now in the bushes. He said that what they are doing is detrimental and has no future emphasizing that it is the discussion with the entire community that can solve the problem.
Okalia assumed that it is only when people will return to their respective villages that dialogue would continue and one would be able to meet with the hierarchy for possible solutions. He also, appealed for violence to be put to a halt and “things returned to normal, before any other initiative because today the entire society is disturbed by the prevailing violence.” He talked of the Head of State having allocated many projects to the Region, many of which portend much hope to the population.
All the assurances notwithstanding, the governor admitted that the meeting was taking place within a peculiar context “that continues to be marked by the socio politically tense environment which is now commonly referred to as the Anglophone crisis.”
The governor acknowledged that the nation has registered the loss of many defense and security forces, school authorities, traditional rulers and even denizens assassinated under various circumstances by what he dubbed “the so called Ambazonia Defense Forces.” He however, appreciated the authorities present who have despite the harsh and tense atmosphere carried out their duties smoothly.
By Relindise Ebune

Fallen cop posthumously decorated

As Government’s last respect preluding transportation of the homeward-bound corpse of Chemu Mbange Denis, First Grade Police Inspector shot and killed in Ekona on May 20, Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, on Friday, June 8, in Buea decorated the lifeless body of the fallen hero with a bravery medal.
The event started with procession of the remains of Chemu into the police Mobile Intervention Unit, GMI, premises by his colleagues. The national flag was placed on his coffin and Okalia proceeded to decorate it with a bravery medal. He and some other dignitaries in the presence of the family members consoled the late police’s widow while the remains of Chemu Mbange were then taken away in an ambulance to be ferried to his native Balengou village in the West Region.
The 38 year old deceased was admitted to be a police constable in 2,000 and in 2,004, wore the grade of Police Inspector till his death. He had worked in the West Region, Maroua and lastly in Buea where he met his end.He was married and father of four little boys.
When The Rambler met with Tchoumjou Jean, brother of the deceased, he stated in agony that his late brother has left a very big hole in his heart adding that he doubts the person who can feel it. He pointed to the four little boys which Chemu left behind with his young widow.
Chemu Mbange died in active service in Ekona on May 20 according to the Southwest Governor by separatists.
By Relindise Ebune

Not how long but how well (Farewell to Geofrey Elah)

All eyes grew wide with curiosity when, during the funeral service for Geoffrey Mbongale Elah in the Limbe Regional Hospital chapel on Friday, June 1, the Master of Ceremony mentioned a Senator and Member of Parliament among the huge crowd of mourners. It appeared incredible that in his short 33 years of life, this unassuming young man had made all these connections and that in death he was pulling such a widely diverse crowd.
But come the eulogies, you heard stone-melting accounts of how this soft-spoken, ever-smiling son of David Elahnzeh touched all these lives. All week long from midnight on Thursday, May 24, when his death was announced, the chorus was on the lip of every journalist in Limbe. So too was the refusal to believe it was a mere bike accident that took his life, though nobody could articulate an alternative cause of death. And that unspoken suspicion rang through the eulogies, all of which eventually settled for leaving it at the foot of the Cross of Christ.
It was barely mentioned that Geoffrey held a first degree in Law from the University of Dschang. Stealing the show over his academic achievement was a career in journalism which I unwittingly pulled him into. The Sun newspaper was born in my NGO office in Limbe, where Geoffrey was doing a stint as Programme Officer. He had just acquired basic computer skills and I encouraged him to pay attention to how the paper was being laid out. “You never know”, I said. And indeed, when Cyprian the layout person from Buea was no longer available, Geoffrey slid into his shoe, serving not only The Sun but many other newspapers and magazines as well. His creativity was only matched by his curiosity, and that is what predisposed him to making the connection from layout to writing and editing. He was very self-effacing and unobtrusive, yet impossible not to notice by his gentle winning ways. That’s how come, over trained journalists, he got elected Secretary of CAMASEJ Limbe branch. And only at a CAMASEJ elective General Assembly did I last see so many journalists per square meter. You rarely see youth of the fourth estate let themselves go in such crescendos of wailing. How did you do it, Geoffrey?
The lady whose biker son did the damage was inconsolable. Her son had closed and parked his bike for the evening, she said, but a friend came entreating him to accompany him to the Alpha club neighbourhood. By purported eyewitness accounts, the bike was hurtling without headlight when it rammed blindly into Geoffrey who did not notice him approaching.
Such interplays of cause and effect are often wont to fuel metaphysical interpretations, but where does it all lead? An English poet says the child is father of the man, and David Elah, together with the entire Ngale family, is missing a father in a son. That family now has Geoffrey’s two little girls to mother. So do all whose outpouring of love and grief has kindled so much hope in the immortality of his memory.
By Victor Epie’Ngome

Meme celebrates World Red Cross Day, assists displaced persons

The Meme Divisional chapter of the Red Cross on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, joined its counterparts across the world in celebration of World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
In Kumba, close to a hundred volunteers converged on their Divisional headquarter office at Buea Road to commemorate the day. Messages from the various speakers all centred on finding solutions to the humanitarian problems plaguing the Division.
According to their president and Divisional coordinator Prince Abel Mukete, following training received by some members on how to intervene in crisis situations, in the days ahead, their shall be visiting displaced populations to render the much needed help to them.
Other activities to mark the celebration were education and physical display of how to bandage burns, first aid of burns amongst others. Visitors were also schooled on what the Red Cross and Red Crescent are and what principles the bodies uphold.
Being an organization that is also involved in prevention of humanitarian problems, members in Meme Division equally took upon themselves to get to pastors of all churches and other spiritual leaders to take their moral responsibility and solve the ongoing crisis. According to its leader Prince Abel Mukete, the church is the only credible institution that can intervene now.
The world international Red Cross Day
The Day commemorates the bravery of Red Cross volunteers, and the diverse humanitarian services they offer in communities everywhere.
Every year around the world, the Red Crescent Movement supports millions of people affected by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies, through its network of around 14 million volunteers and 450,000 staff.
Volunteers of this global movement are as diverse as the life-saving services they provide through 190 National Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC. This local action is supported by the global reach of IFRC, ICRC, as well as partnerships with sister societies across the world.
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated every May 8 – the birth date of Red Crescent Movement founder Henry Dunant. It recognizes the bravery and dedication of volunteers and staff members around the world.
By NGENDE ESTHER

Foolish war ripping Cameroon apart!

It started with a handful of “the nation’s leaders” declaring that it is anathema to as much as dream of changing the constitutional architecture of Cameroon. Bogus reasons were advanced. “Founding fathers’” wishes were exhumed and spread out as reason why even at the risk of being killed by selfish parochial interests, Cameroon must remain “one and invisible.”
Greedy Spin doctors were invited from friendly diplomatic quarters to join in the refrain of condemning “the evil of thinking about sitting like one big family to restructure Cameroon, such that every corporate interest counts.” Jail accommodation was augmented and the proverbial Big Brother went to work overtime, watching; pointing out and having real and imaginary dissidents deftly isolated and unwillingly accommodated in Kondengui and other fetid jails.
The “dialogue” refrain was intoned. Political scavengers settled for it and sang their voices hoarse, even as the vicious guns of power belched and coughed regularly… on command, leaving hundreds of protesters sprawling in their own blood. The operators of the killer machines were hailed in insipid speeches as patriots, fighting to contain extremists, terrorist prophets of doom. Poor soldiers are also dying, avoidably.
Cameroonians living in the English speaking Regions are being routinely subjected to “litanies of curfews.” Thousands of businesses have so far been destroyed in this part of the country. The economy this way now resides in the extensive care unit, to say the very least. Bullets, hunger and general poverty are felling the weak and innocent. Daily. For once, Cameroonians have become refugees in foreign climes.
Others yet, have taken to the forests either because their ancestral homesteads have been burnt to ashes or direly resorting to pristine ways of living to stay alive. Very few schools are functional. Educational standards in those that dare to hold are by and large, shoddy. Kids are taking to the bushes in droves, patronizing the drug industry. They are, out of sheer frustration and radicalization, joining militias, some of them dangerously murderous.
Governors and other Government ranking brass now don bullet proof jackets, with caskets to compliment. Denizens of the two Regions under review are living like rat moles, ever ready to pop out from invisible but handy corners and flee to safety. Kidnapping, which was absolutely alien to Cameroonians in past decades has become a regular thing. No one is safe. Not even those who are, by their actions indicating that dialogue could be a euphemism for “decreeing peace”, barking out orders and not listening; being guarded round the clock by soldiers who, by no means are not the solution to a problem they did not start.
The so called international community and “world bodies” are making brisk business from hawking their ‘AK47s’ and pellets. They are protecting their neo-colonial interests and minding those they have decided should protect their overseas interests, provided they don’t holler like the talkative Zimbabwean Bob whom they love to hate… They may well be waiting and watching, in no haste to show any obedient servant the door. Not just yet.
But one thing is clear. Cameroonians are dying in droves, unnecessarily. Thousands are joining the radical militia. A dear, lovely nation is being taken back to childhood, before our very eyes! A foolish, avoidable war is ripping Cameroon apart. And the leaders have decided that they are not our servants, but overlords! Apalling!

Ignorance, negligence, killing many

The sophistication of current life trends has been such that following up on how and why individuals indulge in particular lifestyles remains a daunting feat.
What people eat and drink, what they rub and spray their bodies with, all impinge on their life spans. Hence going to the hospital is increasingly losing its allure, having been overshadowed by cure-all traditional medicine practitioners and new generation healing prophets.
To that end, the news of the death of a person in contemporary settings, no longer elicits surprise or overflow of emotions. It is now very common, no longer shocking to hear that a person who was strong during the morning hours of the day suddenly slumped and passed on in the afternoon. Both young and old, move around looking rather hale and hearty, but the fact is, they are not aware their inherently ailing systems that are in dire need of prompt medical attention.
Death is now a very common phenomenon; the afflicted are flooding hospitals, while the mortuaries are bursting at the seams with corpses.
Poisoned food, polluted air, caused by many factors make the immune system of many fragile when taken in.
When The Rambler visited a hospital in Buea, the number of people found seriously ill was puzzling. Diseases that were not known in the past like hepatitis B have been discovered to be threateningly prevalent, especially, amongst youths.
When questioned on the method of transmission, Dr. Daniel Tambi, revealed baffling truth, particularly, for youths. “Hepatitis could be contracted via a kiss, body tissue, sweat or any liquid from an infected person to an individual with poor resistance or immune system. The disease is even worse than HIV and also has no cure but drugs to sustain a person. But once you are tested negative of the disease, there is a vaccine which is given three times and after that, that person is immune to hepatitis B. Even if the person gets in contact with an infected person, there is no possibility of him contracting the disease once he has been immunized.”
Another disease which The Rambler found to be prevalent amongst youths is the HIV virus. The doctor revealed that, most youths we see on the streets looking very fresh and beautiful are carriers of the virus, even as many are not aware. Consequently, with multiple sex partners, he explained,the virus is distributed and that is how the disease keeps thinning out. He narrated a scenario of a young girl who contracted hers in a hairdressing saloon via a needle which was infected by a carrier.
He also talked about various diseases which afflict many as a result of negligence and ignorance and cautioned that care should always be taken when dealing with people. He added, that the fact that a person looks healthy .
By Relindise Ebunedoesn’t mean that the one is actually in good physical shape, so medical checkups should always be done in order to know one’s health status.

Army kills Ndian woman, wounds others

A civilian (a woman) was reported killed and others seriously injured in Bekora Barombi, Ndain Division, after the military invaded the village, shooting indiscriminately about a week ago.
The Rambler gathered that the outright prohibition of the circulation of motor bikes even during the day sparked social tension in this part of the country. We were told that after Territorial Administration Minister Atanga Nji personally issued a communiqué banning this form of transportation, ‘Ambazonian’ fighters, backed by some bikers rallied in Bekora, swearing that no cars would move into or out of Ndian Division if bikes were not also assured and promptly allowed free circulation.
The actions of these bikers we gathered, attracted the attention of the military in Ekondo Titi, chief town of the Sub-Division.
On Saturday, March 10, 2018, we learnt that the “Amba Forces” made their presence felt in the village. It is also alleged that a military envoy was sent to the chief of Bekora, HRH Supka Kuru George, to warn him of a possible crackdown for allowing the ‘Ambazonian’ fighters “free reign” in his village. He reportedly denied their presence here, arguing that his village is a junction town, which means everyone else, including insurgents, could be passing through it to other destinations.
As at Sunday, March 11, the “Ambazonian forces” we were reliably informed, were still seen around. “They paraded the village until the evening hours before taking off for an unknown destination. It was only then that the military surfaced, shooting indiscriminately,” a resident told The Rambler.
One of such stray bullets caught a woman. She was being rushed to the hospital when she gave up the ghost. The woman whose names we could not immediately get was said to be a businesswoman and was spending the Sunday in Bekora in prelude to selling her vegetables (Eru) on Monday, which happens to be Bekora market day.
Other wounded victims are currently admitted to hospital.
It should be noted here that even after certain civilians had stopped soldier’s bullets and were in imminent danger of death, no bike, no form of transport was available to rush them to the hospital. Bikers were wary of their motorcycles being burnt. It only took the braveness, the kind, timely intervention of the Rev Father in charge of the Bekora Catholic Parish to transport the wounded to the hospital.
Many Inhabitants of this Division have decried the ban on motorbikes, which remain the sole means of mass transit in this part of the country where the roads are horrible, especially during the rainy season.
It should be noted that ever since the escalation of the Anglophone upheavals; Bekora in Ekondo Titi Sub-Division, Ndian Division has repeatedly been on the limelight of attacks, reprisals, massive arrests and summary executions. The area is said to be one of the strongholds of ‘Ambazonian’ separatist militants.
In a related development, hundreds of youths arrested or disappeared, in connection with the uprising are rumoured to be giving parents lots of fear and anxiety. One such is a middle aged widow, whose son, Agwenjang Lionel, according to our sources, has not be traced for a long while now. The lady, who insisted that her name should not be committed to print, told our reporter how she was at a loss fathoming why “the authorities are piling more pain on me and the children my husband left behind. My husband is gone; now they are picking on my children…”
Another lady lost her mind and spent over one week parading the streets of Buea with the photograph of a young man said to have been her only son. He was allegedly shot dead by security forces. She was swearing and cursing incoherently, suggesting that she had been “denied custody of the corpse of my only son.” She was finally forced out of the streets by security forces, only after she had clearly lost her head. Other parents were tear-gassed at the mortuary when they turned up to find out if their kids were victims of security forces crackdown some time back.
A gendarme recruit we spoke to, said on grounds of anonymity that they have orders to shoot to kill. He noted that they are buoyed, or angered by the fact that they, (gendarmes) have become the prime target of brutality which they did not initiate. “We are killed like flies by hit and run rag tag forces. We suffer for long hours, deprived of the comfort of sleep, while our own families are at risk of being attacked, all because we are defending the state.
“That is why we thought teaching these terrorists a bitter lesson could mean a quick return to the comfort of our own homes. Look here, we are also human beings, with family, with a life to live. How do you think that I feel each time I learn that one of my colleagues has been beheaded or shot dead by secessionist hoodlums?”
By NGENDE ESTHER

Man rapes brother’s children to death

A man is currently behind bars at the Nkongsamba Gendarmerie brigade for allegedly raping his two nieces to death over the weekend.
The children’s father had travelled out of town while their mother had gone for a night vigil on Friday, when Joel Tanko, 31, took advantage to commit his act, eyewitness at the Ngang neighbourhood in the Nkongsamba II District said.
According to the Divisional Delegate for Communication in the Mungo Division, Clovis Tchamabo, the perpetrator drugged his brother’s two children aged seven years and six months old respectively before preying on them.
It was only early on Saturday morning when mother had returned from the vigil that she got worried of the unusual calm in the house. The two were “deeply asleep.”
According to her, the house is always buzzy in the morning with the cries and noise from her children who are normally awake very early.
This calm struck her mind and pushed her to immediately check on them. This is when she found the babies “deeply sleeping” on their bed.
As she struggled to wake them up, she realized the six-month old baby had passed away while the seven-year old was immediately rushed to a nearby medical facility where she was also declared dead with medical reports showing they had been raped.
Police investigations led to the arrest of Joel Tanko who first denied having a hand but will later give in when he was undressed with signs of blood found on his underwear.
In the heat of the matter, it was revealed this was not the first time Joel was committing such acts but has always been protected by some family members who decide to solve the matter internally until last weekend’s incident.
What awaits Joel Tanko?
If found guilty of rape, Joel Tanko could face a heavy jail term and fine. Under Article 296 of the Cameroon Penal Code, rape is punishable with imprisonment of from five to 10 years.
The sentence can be increased to life imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 16 and the perpetrator had authority over the victim, was a public servant, or a religious minister, or was assisted by others.
By Francis Ajumane

Caught between assailants and bruised army

Unceasing and perilous gunshot exchanges between yet to be identified civilians and regular soldiers that more often than not leave casualties on both sides have kept the army on red alert in the Northwest Region since the beginning of the New Year.

Injured Gendarme rush to hospital

The last days of January witnessed several gunshots and civilian/military confrontations more than ever before across the Region.

In Batibo, assailants reportedly stormed the town in the early hours of Tuesday, January 23 fired gun shots in the air and paraded some parts of the town. In no time, the whole town was panic stricken as parents rushed home their kids with everybody running for safety. While gun shots were recorded, it could not be determined who was doing the shooting.

In Pinyin, throughout the week a joint control team of police and gendarmes invaded the locality shooting indiscriminately and breaking into homes. A group of unidentified men had stormed the village earlier, disrupted the market and caused schools to shutdown. The military responses have been reflected in heavy crackdowns that have left scores injured and two civilian deaths. Shootings took place in Fundong, Belo and Kumbo and each time it happened, reprisal actions came from the men in uniform

The worst scenario after Tadu in Kumbo was in Mbingo, Belo Sub-Division of Boyo. As early as 9am on Thursday, February 1, a gang of 11 unidentified men sent news that they were to attack Mbingo and in no time they came face to face with elements of the national Gendarmerie. In a gun battle that ensued, two gendarmes were butchered and abandoned by the assailants. They are reported to have hijacked an oncoming car and fled the scene. The wounded gendarmes where then evacuated into the Mbingo Hospital and two of them, male and female gave up the ghost. Reinforcement was immediately sent and news of their imminent presence sent villagers in Kedjom Keku, Mbingo and throughout Belo to scamper for safety in bushes knowing the barbarity that soldiers are wont to inflict on vicinities where their colleagues loss their lives. On the morning of February 2, law and orderelements mounted road blocks at Belo Three Corners and returned every passenger and car coming from Njinikom and Fundong. In some cases, windscreens were shattered, passengers burgled and some beaten. Scores of people were arrested and Promise Mesuh lost his life in the melee.

By Jean Marie Ngong Song

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