Agbor-Balla reaffirms two-state federation stand

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017 in London, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla granted an interview to Focus on Africa on the BBC. In the interview with David Amana, Agbor Balla who is the pioneer president of the now outlawed   Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium emphatically re-echoes his stand for a two-state federation. The following is the interview transcribed by Atia Azohnwi. Excerpts:-

What is the way forward now for the two English speaking Regions of Cameroon? It has been more than a year since civil disobedience protests began. At the heart of the crisis are grievances over what people in the Northwest and Southwest Regions feel as marginalisation by the Francophone dominated government in Yaoundé. One of the men who called for the demonstrations last year is Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, a lawyer and leader of the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Consortium of Civil Societies. He is in London right now. He was actually released from a lengthy jail sentence early this year and stood accused on terrorism and treason charges. So why has Government given him freedom to move around now?

I was accused of terrorism, secession, incitement to civil war, group rebellion, and also attempt to change the form of the state among others. There were eight charges against me.

 

And which of the charges do you admit to?

None of the charges. We were innocent of all the things that they said. We did not commit any crime. The consortium was clearly a non-violent organisation.We said it in all our communiqués and press statements. I think we were arrested because they felt that because of our leadership qualities, we were in total control of all what was happening. And our people listened to us. It was more of trying to see how they could kill the movement.

What about the charges calling for secession?

We never called for secession. If you read all the communiqués from the consortium, we talked about a two-state federation. The consortium had never spoken about independence, restoration and secession. And till date, that is the same position that we maintain. We were for a two-state federation; we have never been for secession, restoration or independence.

And that is how it started. You even have supporters in the US calling for independence at the UN, calling for a state called Ambazonia. What do you make of that?

Independence is a very emotional thing. People, everybody likes it. But I look at the reality. I am a realist. You know, I look at the feasibility of having it. I am for a federation [two-state federation] that will bring the Cameroons together – the Anglophones and Francophones – to build a stronger country. Let us be honest; we can have unity in diversity. We can respect each other’s specificities and cultural and linguistic differences. But we are a people, we are one, we can build a stronger nation by being together. I don’t think separation is the panacea for the time being.

And you will agree that is a softer line that calls for independence.

Yes! I think it is a more centric view. I think lots of Anglophones also are now talking about a federation. And I think we have moderate Francophones who have joined the call for a federation. Prior to our arrest, federation was a taboo. Discussions about it were taboo. We think now that everybody understands at least that federalism is a form of Government that can be acceptable to everybody. And it ends up being a win-win situation. So, it is a balance between those calling for restoration or Southern Cameroons’ independence and those who believe in a unitary state. So, if we can have a federal structure, it will help the country.

The children in those Regions have not been going to school. It is over a year now. They stay away from school. And you were the leader of one of the organisations which called for parents to keep their children away from school. Do you still maintain that position?

When we called for kids not to go to school, it was not supposed to be a long term measure. It was supposed to be a short term measure to try to call the attention of the Government to address the issues. I believe that now it’s time for kids to go back to school. I believe that it is time for the leadership in the Anglophone community to ensure that kids should go back to school. I urge the leadership to consider that kids should be able to go back to school.

And the ‘ghosts towns’, the disruptions to the economy, and small businesses; what should happen to those concerned?

It is a price that we all pay. I can understand a ‘ghost town’ for one day. But when it is two or three days, I think it is heavy. Most of the business people that I talked to are okay if there is ‘ghost town’ on Monday. But when you start making it for two or three days, especially in Buea which is considered the Silicon Valley, it has a lot of effect on small businesses. They understand, they accept the fact that, I spoke to one guy who has a shop. He said “President, if it is for one day, I understand it is my own price to pay.” We have to start thinking out of the box. We can still continue the struggle while not killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

You were jailed for eight months. You suffered, but they have eased up on you now. Have you done some kind of deal?

Before I went to jail, I used to work in the UN. So, I have lived in the West for at least 17 years. I travelled at least three times every year. So, it is a continuation of who I am or the things I do. And let’s not forget, before I went to jail, for those who know me, I stay in my house that I built, my office, I own it. I think it is more about people who don’t know who I am and who really don’t know the kind of person I am made of. But Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Neba is there. We don’t have our ID cards, our bank accounts are blocked.

Are you in touch with him?

Yes! I mean, we live in the same town. We are constantly in touch.

Are you two still following the same path?

Yes! We are still following the same path. And like I said in one of my interviews on local TV in Cameroon, nobody did cut any deal. Since I left jail, there is nobody in Cameroon; there is no Anglophone in Cameroon who has made the kinds of statements that I have made since I left jail. I want to see one person who has made the statements that I have made since I left jail. Nobody living in Cameroon, including the leaders of the opposition, including those who want to run for president, nobody has made the statements that I have made in Cameroon. For somebody who follows the political landscape of Cameroon, it would be shocking for someone to say that because I travel out of the country, [I have cut a deal with Government]. I went to Ghana, that was on a UN-VP high level panel discussion on the future of governance in Africa and my ticket was bought by the organisers.

Before the beginning of next year, where do you want to be? Do you want to be in negotiations with Yaoundé?

I think the first thing is I am trying to lobby for us to have an all Anglophone leadership dialogue conference where leadership will meet and try to strategise on immediate, short-term and long-term goals.

So what you are saying is that you want to achieve unity first because you are disunited?

Yes! Among the leadership, there we can have an ‘All Anglophone Dialogue Forum’ where everybody will sit, hoping that we have a negotiation with Government to address some of the issues.

But in the meantime, Government is not waiting. You’ve got an election next year. President Biya is going to walk it, isn’t he?

Yes! And I believe that Anglophones also, we have to start thinking how to get into the political process. Because if we have 45-50 parliamentarians, with moderate Francophones who are for a federation, then we can make things happen. We cannot be absent from the electoral process. We need to get involved. We need to try to see how we can create a movement; we need to try to see how we can bring like minded people on board. Because even if we don’t go for elections, others will go, with our representation which will be the people we don’t like, but they will have to represent us for the next five years.

Tumi breaks silence, comments on: *Wave of Anglophone protests & Diaspora influence, *Murder of Bafia Bishop, *Occultism in Catholic Church, *Assimilation of Anglophones…

Christian Cardinal Tumi is a household name in Cameroon. Apart from being immediate past Archbishop of Douala Archdiocese, and this far, the only Cameroonian Cardinal, he has always been an acerbic critic of governance that is grounded not in transparency and accountability but in falsehood, corruption and ineptitude. He does this with unrivalled dispassion and independent mindedness that put in abeyance any attempt to ascribe partiality to his utterances.

Surprisingly, this ebullient Prelate and illustrious scion of Kikaikilaiki (‘K4’), in Bui Division, has been unusually quiet in the last one year, even as unfolding events in the polity call for perspectives from revered and renowned individuals who have attained the status of institutions through integrity, cultivated over time. Indeed, the festering Anglophone crisis and attendant loss of yet-to-be-ascertained number of lives, and Government’s seeming nonchalance after perpetrating such carnage did not seem to have moved the Cardinal into screaming for a halt to the barbarism as he is wont to do.

However, last week, His Eminence decided to shelve his silence cocoon and gratified The Rambler with an exclusive interview in which forthrightness and concern, the wellbeing of the sheep he is meant to be shepherding came out forcefully.  Issues that the Cardinal fielded include occultism in the Catholic Church, the gruesome murder of the Bishop of Bafia, Biya regime’s scorn for Anglophones, French mastermind of Anglophone assimilation and many sidekick issues.

Cardinal Tumi spoke exclusively to Charlie Ndi Chia, The Rambler Publisher/Editor-in-Chief. Readers are advised not to start reading it if they have other pressing issues to attend to. Reason? It is an addictive novelette!

Your Eminence, thank you very much for according us this rare opportunity. Let’s begin by wondering if justice for Monsigneur Jean-Marie Benoit Bala has been buried along with the Prelate. One isn’t hearing of any investigation, let alone any hint at ultimately punishing the perpetrators of his gruesome murder.

We do not know if the state is continuing with its investigation as it was said, but we, the Church, with our lawyers will continue the investigation. We want to know those who took part in the assassination of Bishop Bala. The Bishops Conference continues its investigation.

Is the Bishops’ Conference unanimous? Is it the wish of all of you to go the whole hog of the investigation or there are internal dissentions?

There might be Bishops who have their own individual opinions but once the President of the Conference acts, he acts in our name. Once we have accepted that he continues, once the majority does so, then we agree that everybody is in agreement with what the President of the Conference is doing. Up to now, nobody has come out to say anything to the contrary.

How perfect are lawyers at investigations? Why not private investigators, competent ex-policemen?

Well, those who are investigating as we know are lawyers. And so far, they are the only ones we have consulted. We don’t know any other source or any other organization that could do that work better.

I may be repeating myself, but is the Church doing anything to secure justice and why not, prevent any further such bestiality on her ordained servants? If so, what steps have so far been taken and with what results?

We are not taking any steps to prevent such happening tomorrow…

You mean you are resigned to fate?

No, that is to say, our Founder was assassinated; that is Christ Himself, and the Apostles, so we just keep proclaiming the Gospel. If it is God’s will that we leave this world by violent deaths, may His will be done. We should, as Christ has said; “Do not be afraid. I have conquered the world.”

Your Eminence, let me ask you this again for emphasis; is the political leadership of Cameroon so far showing any palpable interest in apprehending and bringing to book those behind the heinous act?

We have seen no signs that can push us to answer affirmatively to your question. We think that the state is not doing enough…

The persistent assassination of Catholic clergymen cuts a tragic figure of an ugly stain on the local Church’s image. Any special effort at putting paid to the weird practice, given especially as you put it, that you’ve seen no trace of the regime trying to stop it?

Yes! There is a more fundamental question that I ask myself; why or how to explain the fact that most of the assassinations are from the Centre Region. How does one explain that? Except for my predecessor in Yagoua, Bishop Yves Plumey and Father Anthony Fontegh in Kumbo, the rest of the assassinations have taken place in the Centre Region. We are still looking for the answer to that question.

Your Eminence, forgive my persistence. What, would you imagine, even if you are still looking for the answers, could be responsible for this gruesome trend of Bishop killing in Cameroon?

As I say, most of those killed are from the Centre Region. I still ask myself questions; are they too involved with their brothers and sisters or tribal men from the Centre in certain meetings where they reach a point, a Priest or a Bishop will say to himself, as a Priest or a Bishop, I cannot go further. In their secret societies, a Priest might be involved; a Bishop might be involved but at a certain point, he says to himself; hey, I cannot go further as a Priest. But since he already has knowledge of what was supposed to be secretive, then he has to pay for it because he might make known certain secrets.

You have just hinted at something very fundamental. Is there precedence? Can you pin a finger on any precedence, wherein an ordained Catholic Priest, whether in the Centre or elsewhere in Cameroon was involved in the occult?

Well, take even the case of Monsignor Bala. Many of us believe that the late Bishop of Bafia is a Martyr. We should not forget that the Rector of his Minor Seminary was killed before him. And it seems that he was warned. And why was he killed? It seems there was a secretive society that had something to do with the minor seminarians concerning homosexuality and the Priest and the Bishop were violently against that. It seems there are a quite a number of Christians involved in that. So when the Priest was killed, (I have no proofs) the Bishop was warned for he seemingly was coming out violently against homosexuality.

But some peculiar phenomenon hitherto unprecedented in Church circles, manifested shortly after the Bishop was buried. Some heathen rituals were carried out by his kith and kin. Is such in normal Christian practice? Does the Church allow for “kontri fashion” or “ngambe” to be performed on a Pastor of Souls at death?

That is pagan practice. It was absolute pagan practice.

And the Church was helpless? The Church could not stop it?

They had done it and there was nothing to do. The Church had nothing to do with it. They did it in their village. They didn’t come to do it in the Church. But what I heard was the blood they found on the tomb of the Bishop. That again, we don’t know what blood it was. Nobody had had any laboratory examination of it. Again, I have not much to say about it because I also heard of it like everybody else.

But if the secular authorities were mute, following a criminal desecration of someone’s tomb, would it not have been prudent for the Church as an institution to insist that the blood should be taken to a laboratory and clinically analyzed?

We didn’t see the need for that. If I were there I won’t see the need for it, as a Bishop; as a Priest. After all, what do you get from it?

Let me ask this question which I consider unpleasant. Is there a possibility of there being some foul play from within the Church itself? Power play, pecuniary interests and the like?

What power? That was a young Bishop…

Maybe he was about to be upgraded to an Archbishop or something higher?

Archbishop of where? (Laughs heartily) The Archbishop of Yaounde?

Or may be Cardinal…

That a again… (Laughs)

Remember that you are retired…

Even if I am dead it is not certain that there will be another Cardinal in Cameroon.

Maybe Cameroon needs two or three more Cardinals.

There are countries in Central Africa that have no Cardinal. The Cardinal is the personal appointment of the Pope; and he appoints who he wills. It is true there is an inquiry… I am sure, but it is not certain that after me, there will be a Cardinal in Cameroon. There is no Diocese in Cameroon that is Cardinalate. In the world, there are a few Archdioceses where the Archbishop is always a Cardinal. Take like Malan in Italy. I can see Kinshasa coming in Africa because they are on their third Cardinal in the Archdiocese of Kinshasa. Otherwise…

Maybe you should explain how a local Church qualifies to have a Cardinal.

I don’t know. (Laughs)

You just said something about there being no Archdiocese that is Cardinalate in Cameroon…

There are a few Archdioceses in the world where it is known that if somebody is appointed an Archbishop there, he will be sure that one day he will become a Cardinal. I gave the example of Milan in Italy. That one I know well. I was ordained with the Archbishop of Malan on December 6, 1980. We knew that he will become a Cardinal and in the following Consistory, he was appointed a Cardinal. But in Africa, I don’t know any yet.

Let’s depart from Church issues and look at the crisis in the English speaking Regions of Cameroon, Your Eminence. The Government, if one has to go by the posturing or body language of the Communication Minister is ignoring, even mocking at every counsel from the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province. If anything, Government has dumped them in the mould of whom they refer to as ‘extremists, secessionists and terrorists.’ This is untoward, disturbing, don’t you think?

I know each and every one of them, the six Bishops of that Province. What they wrote, I have read it. They were writing as people who are living the events and I think those who are criticizing them do not know what is happening over there. They don’t. But the Bishops are living the events from day-to-day. They are Priests at the grassroots; they are Christians and they are informed. They don’t just sit and write. They make inquiries. Now tell me those who criticize them don’t understand what is happening over there. Myself, I am from there. I went to bury my cousin that week. I had a completely different opinion when I came back. I did not know what was happening over there. I was convinced that the separatists as they call them; those who want to cut off were an inferior minority. But I was wrong. When I went there… I went through from Tiko, Kumba, Mamfe, Bamenda, Kumbo, and came back by the same road. I estimated… I was travelling with the Bishop of Buea. I estimated that 80 percent of Cameroonians over there are for secession; the Bishop told me, ‘no, it is 90 percent.’

But this doesn’t change the disturbing fact of Bishops being labeled as secessionists and it is disturbing…

It doesn’t mean that they are what they are labeled to be. I am what I am despite what you think of me. Only I know myself and God.

Your Eminence, is Government really dialoguing the way she purports? Could you, as a dispassionate observer state with certainty that any dialogue has or is going on at all?

I don’t think they have started yet with dialogue. They are dialoguing with whom? It is they in power who take the initiative to go and ask people questions and tell people things in the villages. That is not dialogue. Dialogue…

But there has been this sing-song in Government controlled media about how the President is pushing for dialogue, has been dialoguing, and conceded much more than was actually asked by protesters. The impression is given that it is but the dissenters that are obfuscating dialogue.

I can pretend to know the two camps. I have spoken with some of the ones they call the ‘Revolutionists’ who are outside the country and who are inside. They also are ready for dialogue. All I heard was that they want dialogue as far as possible, dialogue outside the country because I don’t see how they can dialogue without them today. Those fellows who organized such a demonstration on the 22nd of September had defied everybody. How can you dialogue without them? You might call them names but they are controlling the population today; the English speaking part of the country.

When you spoke to them, did they tell you that anybody on the Government bench has approached them for dialogue?

As far as I know, not yet. The President first of all has said that no dialogue with them. But everybody in the world now is calling for dialogue. They are not stupid fellows; they are intellectuals. What I keep on asking myself is; how is it possible that these fellows outside and inside could have organized such a march as the one of the 22nd of September and nobody in the country was aware of it? Have you a national security? How is it possible that on that side, every child, young and old women sing that ‘National Anthem’ of the Ambazonia as they call it? When did they teach it and where? Those are things that should…

Maybe they are divinely inspired…

Divinely inspired? (Laughs) No, even the Psalms… We were not divinely inspired to sing the Psalms. We have to learn to sing them; either in schools, either in seminaries. You don’t just sing the Psalms. They are inspired in the teaching of it but the singing of it… I was surprised in the village, I went to bury my cousin, and for some other things. The SCBC, I hear, is Southern Cameroons Broadcasting Corporation. That’s how I was watching it in the Priest’s house… That is why the police on the 1st of October, were breaking people’s television sets and everything. But the people have the phone, which I think the national security doesn’t know how it functions.

You just doubted how September 22 happened without the security knowledge, but the troops are now wide awake, cracking down and ‘taking care’ of every dissident?

Because they are ignorant. Only an ignorant person uses force. You cannot win a man over by force. You suppress him, he keeps quiet; but he is waiting for another occasion. The human being is rational. You must reason with him. That is what the whole world is calling for now, that Cameroon should dialogue with those fellows.

You said before that when you spoke with the leaders of eh…

They sent one of them, to come and see me here. They invited me to their meetings in Europe and I said no, I am not coming. If you want to see me, you come to Douala. I will not come over there. That is what I told them.

Which reminds me of this recurring decimal, namely; that if there must be dialogue, Cardinal Tumi must make for its credibility; that is what even our Francophone compatriots are projecting. That Cardinal Tumi should constitute part of the dialogue…

Well, when I was ordained a Priest, one of the decisions I took and I think I am still faithful to it is that, I will never accept the invitation of a political party for whatever cause. But if all the parties in the country need and they are looking for a refuge and they invite me, I will go. That is why I went for the revision of the 1996 Constitution. Before that, the Head of State received me and we agreed on two things. The first was that… I proposed to the Head of State that all political tendencies should be present in that Commission for it to be credible. Secondly, was that the draft Constitution should be sent to the members well before hand because many of them have never done any constitution law just like me. But we were given the documents only when we arrived for the meeting. That is why when I discovered that the majority of those who were present were of what was called “Presidential Majority,” I decided to withdraw. I told them this was a decision I took as a Priest, I have seen that it is the one tendency so, I am going away.

What is your reading of the “dialogue missions” to the two English speaking Regions? What good is likely to come out of them?

I don’t think any good will come out of it.

You are pessimistic or you have seen the…

They met a few CPDM sympathizers, they met a few teachers; they met a few people and two or three chiefs here and there. That is not serious dialogue. The least they could have done was to have called even a group in those Regions where they went. I mean those who are in power and against it and listen to everybody.

So are you suspecting that they are going to come out with a watered censored version of… do you think that the outcome is intended to be a watered censored contraption which will be submitted to…

I agree with those who went said we should consider this as the beginning of dialogue…

But there are others yet who say that it is something of a quick fix, some face powder for the attention of the Secretary General of the UN whom it is rumoured will visit Cameroon tomorrow, Friday, October 27.

But the Secretary General…

That is, to give him the impression that dialogue has taken place and that the generality of the people have agreed on a way out of the quagmire?

They cannot fool him…

Both parties can fool the SG because he doesn’t belong here and apparently doesn’t…

Well, if he thinks that in two or three days they can dialogue and come to a conclusion, then he himself… you see, he is the SG of UN, they are used to getting problems of that nature. He cannot just believe that. Where were these fellows who provoked the disturbances? Was any of them involved? I ask you, did they meet any of them? I don’t think so. Those who are at the basis of the whole uprising…

And the destructions?

Destructions by whom?

 I think Diaspora dissidents have been masterminding the burning of schools and other public property.

Take for example the burning of the Sacred Heart College, Mankon. If it is those dissidents who burnt it, where were those guarding the college? And they even suspect those guarding the college to be the ones who burnt the college’s dormitory.

If this is true, would such an act amount to giving a dog a bad name in order to have it hanged?

They could do it in order to accuse every destruction on… I am not saying that they are not doing it but they have not proved it. The killings there now and the stealing of people’s precious property is done by the army. On the 21st of September, I was in the village, which is why I say that I lived some of these events. They said nobody should come out. Why then did they go to drag people out of their houses? And some were shot, if not, kidnapped; they were on parts of the body that are difficult to cure. And people said once they broke into their houses, sometimes at night, they took away what is precious; and if they saw money, they took it. What I think is that there should be a serious inquiry…

Who should carry out the inquiry about killings?

A foreign body. The UN can organize it. How many people were killed or were wounded? A military man said they were given instructions that on the 1st of October you see anybody on the street, you shoot to kill. That is why they (the military) took upon themselves to advise people not to come out.

Is that what a military man told you?

Yes.

Did he say who gave the instructions?

No.

Bishops were dragged into the fray. In a sense, they were, more or less, muddied alongside those the regime branded as secessionists. They were left off the legal hook abruptly. How far, would you say, has this act compromised Bishopric authority and prestige vis-a-vis their Christians?

If I were there I would go to court. That shows, that the Bishops too… that before the law, all of us are equal. It doesn’t matter what you are in the country; Bishop, Archbishop, Cardinal, President of the country, Minister… if you go against the law, you should be made to face trial. They proved that we are all equal before the law and I congratulate them for that.

Did being docked downgrade their integrity? Did this action compromise the authority of the Bishops before their Christians?

No; on the contrary, because the faithful were also in court…

That said, do you see Mr. Biya, as an antidote to what seems like a looming civil war?

I don’t think there will be a civil war. I don’t think there will be any war at all.  But as everybody keeps crying and I will like you to read my book: ‘My Faith: Cameroon to be Transformed’ Chapter Two, on the minority… ‘The Anglophone Minority in Cameroon.’ I even put together my interviews towards the end of it. Just last year, I was interviewed, I think by one of the newspapers. It is there, it is published in that book; on the Anglophone problem in 2016…

But Mr. Biya’s silence is deafening. He is the nation’s father; he should talk, isn’t it?

I think so too. I think like others, he should have gone down to the field.

But why do you think he is hardly addressing the issue, and even when he mentions it in passing, he is scornful, not consoling?

Well, I think he believes in his army for discipline in the country. He believes in so called elite. I don’t know who an elite is. I think the elite of the people are there in the village with them, not in Yaounde. Those they call elite have been imposed on the people; the Prime Minister was appointed.

He (Mr. Biya) barely returned to the country a few days back. He has been out for an incredibly long period. When the street protests were rife in the Anglophone Regions, a terrorist bomb went off in the US, killing many. Biya condoled with President Trump but said nothing of the scores that were mowed down by his troops back home. It is like someone’s charity beginning abroad, do you think?

Well, it is normal for him to send his condolences to his colleagues outside the country. Politically, you begin with those who are outside but naturally, you begin with yourself. But I think he knows that things are being followed up by the Prime Minister who has no powers by the way. I think he already met with the Prime Minister. I read in the newspapers today (Thursday, October 26) that he received the Prime Minister. I think it was principally for that. I am sure after that he will make a statement.

Why do you say that the PM has no powers? At least he is Head of Government.

He is not elected; he is appointed. He is not like any other Prime Minister elsewhere in the world. He is not like the French Prime Minister. He is appointed; Paul Biya can change him tomorrow.

We have always known you to be Mr. Biya’s friend. Have you sought to discuss the very dicey Anglophone problem with him? He just might hear you out on how to stop the senseless bloodletting…

Oh no! I decided not to see him. You are the first journalist whom I have accepted to talk to…

I am lucky!

But because I believe that they know what is happening. You see, I think that at the reunification, from the start, the idea was to wipe out from Cameroon the Anglo-Saxon culture. I don’t know whether I have ever told you my experience in Rome at the French Embassy to the Holy See. I am in Rome for the Synod of Bishops and the French Embassy invites us for a reception; those of us who were from the French speaking countries. So, I was there and one of the workers in the Embassy approached me and asked me: ‘Monseigneur vous etes de quel pays?’ I told him that I was from Cameroon. Well, being a Diplomat and knowing that Cameroon is bilingual, he should have suspected that I could be from the English speaking part of the country even if I were speaking French. But then, he immediately told me “We are very happy that you are assimilating the Anglophones.” He was in another country, not a French speaking country; which means that was the policy of France. I met the Ambassador of France here not long ago; I told him the same experience that I lived and I said therefore when you form your Diplomats, for those who are coming to Cameroon you tell them to encourage the assimilation of the Anglophones. He said, ‘No, no, that is not it.’ Everybody knows now that Fru Ndi won the elections of 1992. Who organized the coup? It was Mitterrand and I am citing something Mitterrand said to Biya, ‘jamais un Anglophone a Etoudi,’ meaning; never an Anglophone in Etoudi. Well, what is creating the whole problem is the presence of France in Cameroon. Whereas the English people left, whereas they packed their boxes and everything and went away, Cameroon is controlled by France. That’s the problem.

But Your Eminence, Cameroonians in their entirety could decide that enough of France and act strictly as Cameroonians. They could, irrespective of Anglophone-Francophone cultural considerations opt simply for good, credible leadership; good governance.

Why did they not decide that more than 56 years ago, or simply put, since independence? Why did they not arrive at that conclusion? Because they know that France will proceed to organize a coup d’état as she has done in other countries.

And of what interest would it be to France imposing a Francophone in perpetuity in Etoudi?

So that they will have control, and Mitterrand said something, and I got the information. He said that if an Anglophone comes to Etoudi, it will be like giving the country to England. He said ‘On ne serait pas controller par les Anglais’

But Your Eminence, we could decide to undo France’s yoke, act Cameroonian and be truly independent as…

Go ahead and decide.

You could insist on meeting him and talk Mr. Biya into being nationalistic, instead of shrugging your shoulders, throwing in the towel. It is part of your brief as a Prelate, Your Eminence.

I don’t think so. I am writing it down. Maybe one day I will publish it. They know my thinking. Last week I received a Minister here.

Maybe they need a reminder… a difference might be made if you seek an audience with Mr. Biya and talk with him frankly.

I have told his Director of Civil Cabinet, that is, Belinga that I will never ask him again for audience…

Why?

I am tired of asking.

You’ve just confirmed that you have asked and it has been refused?

Well, I asked him and he said nothing. That is refusing. One time I told the President himself that asking for audience with him was humiliating.

And what did he say?

He just smiled. He gave me his number but each time I telephone him, he doesn’t take…

Where were you at reunification?

At the reunification I was 32 and I have lived the 56 years of the reunification. I was still a student; a seminarian. In 1962, I was still a student, not a priest. When I asked my Bishop this question: ‘My Lord…’ He was Bishop Jules Peters. ‘Why do you continue to send us to Nigeria for seminary studies when there is a seminary in Yaounde?’ He told me that, that is a political question. So, I closed my mouth. But now, I was looking for an opportunity to study French so that I will be at home everywhere in Cameroon.

But you are at home here in the French speaking part…

I am coming. Three years after ordination, my Bishop comes to me; I was teaching in Bishop Rogan College and told me that he has decided that I go for further studies in Europe. I immediately asked him that to where in Europe? He was marveled that I could dialogue. He told me Rome. But I told him, My Lord, if I go to Rome I will struggle to learn but Italian and when I come back it will be of no use. I will like to study in a French speaking country, in order to force myself to learn French. This time he said alright and that is why he sent me to France to study in Lyles. I had to struggle to… so that I will be able to express myself in French and will feel at home everywhere in Cameroon. So, when I came of course I did not know that the Lord Himself was preparing to become a Bishop in this part of the country. As soon as I came, I was appointed Bishop of Yagoua surely because I knew some French after studying there. I have been a Priest for 50 years; and a Priest in the English speaking Regions of the country only for nine years. The rest of my years have been spent here. I have never forgotten the fact that when I was appointed Bishop, I was Rector of Bambui Minor Seminary. A Bambui man comes to me and tells me, ‘Father, I now understand the English expression mixed feelings; that you are appointed Bishop, I am happy. But that you are now going to the French speaking side of the country, I am not happy. If tomorrow we cut off, what will happen with you?’ This was in 1979. This is what a retired man told me at that time.

Your Eminence, where do your brother Prelates, especially those of French speaking extraction stand in this Anglophones crisis?”

It is a difficult question. I met the President of the Conference, who is my Bishop and I said look, I have the impression that the Anglophone Bishops have grudges against you. When they were taken to court, none of you was there. I didn’t understand his explanation. But told him if tomorrow I am told that you are in court, I wouldn’t want to know whether you are guilty or not, I will be in court also. If you are to be sentenced, I will want to be there myself. I will not want to go by hearsay. No French speaking Bishop was there. Not even the Secretary of the Bishops Conference was sent to go and see.

They brought up a declaration and people who do not read and understand were thinking that it was a contradiction between what you signed as the President of Bishops Conference and what the six Bishops brought out there. I don’t see any contradiction because for a statement to contradict one another, the subject and the object must be the same. The Archbishop himself went there to intervene in the schools boycott problem but was badly received. He went there as President of the Conference in the English speaking part of the country. They were two of them; the Bishop of Bafang and himself. And none of them speaks English. They were asked (I think it was in Kumbo) how dare you come here and speak in French?

All I try to say is that the English way of looking at things is different from the French. Those who are brought up in the English way are pragmatists. They are writing as those who are living the events. And that is why before the meeting of the “Conseil Permanent” of the Bishops’ Conference, I asked them, was there any Bishop from there? They said no, there was none. The Secretary General of the Conference did not go there; no Bishop from there who was here, you could not have had all the information that was required. That’s why people tend to see a certain contradiction because the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province were firm about it. They called things by their names.

Would it be fair enough to imagine that whereas the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province “call things by their names,” their peers from the French speaking Provinces call things by “political expediencies?”

Well, you know, when I write from hearsay it is not the same like when I write from my personal experiences. We should never write from hearsay. In fact, I will say that the others should keep quiet when the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province write because they know better what is happening. They should at least cite them and not just ignore their declarations.

Interviewed by Charlie Ndi Chia

Akere Muna’s presidential bid: solution to Anglophone ruckus?

Events are gradually panning out and exposing a potential formidable force that might oust President Paul Byia and his Methuselah CPDM sidekick from the arena of politics in Cameroon come 2018 when his current mandate statutorily expires. At least, so seems to think supporters and sympathizers of Cameroon’s 2018 presidential aspirant, Barrister Akere Tabeng Muna, who has announced his readiness to join a coalition for the upcoming appointment, provided its vision aligns with his. Addressing media practitioners during a press conference at his Bastos residence in Yaounde, Wednesday, October 18, 2017, he said that he would cheerfully belong even if the people’schoice of leader were to sideline him.

Acknowledging Cameroon’s impoverished state and the immeasurable hardship that goes with picking up a job incorruptibly, the former chieftain of the International Anti-Corruption watchdog, Transparency International, TI, chastised the state for educating youths and abandoning them to wallow in poverty, no thanks to unemployment and uninviting entrepreneurial atmosphere created by an inelegant governance. He thus promised to initiate a scholarship scheme for 100 students to be handpicked, 10 from each Region of the country. He explained that such a plot would hearten excellence among Cameroonians; a practice he thought, has so far been everything but encouraged.

He enjoined denizens to enroll on electoral registers as the most viable measure to increase their likelihood of securing the Etoudi Palace come 2018 or whenever elections would be organized. He stressed that it is only with pooled resources that Biya, who for 34 long years has occupied the presidency, now called “disunity palace” by regime faultfinders, will be forced to handover its keys. “The only way to go is to go together,” he briefed.

The member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln Inn, Akere, confessed inadequacy relating to the financial wherewithal for the race to Etoudi, but, begged for Cameroonians of voting age to each register and support the vision with FCFA 200 each, to raise enough money for his race to the Unity Palace, when poked regarding the wherewithal to champion such a dreamy cause.

Dwelling on whether he believed he could outsmart 84 year old President Paul Biya during the elections scheduled for 2018, considering decried foulplay that characterizes the Cameroon electoral system, the 65 year old Akere, noted that unlike Biya he had declared his candidature. The two time President (‘Batonnier’) of the Cameroon Bar Association, added that, “Coming at a time when Biya’s emissary elites assigned to the Herculean task of bringing his message of hypothetical goodwill to and dialoguing with his subjects of the two English speaking Regions met obdurate resentment from their kinsmen “back home,” Akere Muna, otherwise an Anglophone elite whose ancestry can blindly be traced to the Northwest Region, announced that his door-to-door campaign will begin in the South Region whenever it will. Fault finders are already quaking with uneasiness as they query that by “further relegating” Anglophone communities to the background, he had coupled with the “oppressor.”

In his defense, the Attorney-at-Law, revealed that there is a problem in the entire country and not just with the Anglophone component. Head him: “For those who know me very well, I started writing about the Anglophone problem long ago. I later wrote an article to my Francophone brothers. I think there is a political push to the Anglophone problem. It is not only a problem for Anglophones. It is a problem of the whole country which is badly managed.”

Questions abound on whether his candidacy declared less than a year to the 2018 elections is window-dressing geared at weakening the Anglophone struggle. The attorney distanced himself from claims that he is an opportunist, thieving the opportunity accorded by the Anglophone calamity to amalgamate wealth and greedily get the top job. He laughed at such “unfounded claims, explaining that an opportunist is someone who either seizes an opportunity, or one who violates laid down rules.”

“There has been a mismanagement of that problem. So, what are the solutions? When I hear of opportunism I laugh. Opportunism has two branches: the opportunity and violation of principles. And by principles, I always talk of bad governance and corruption. One is causing us what we have today. Really, it is based on my principles that I have thought that now is the time for me to act. And I am hoping you will understand that there is an election in less than a year. If we want to spend time being distracted by all the issues then we will pay the hard way like we have done before.

“I think that many Cameroonians are so far understanding me and supporting me and that is why we need to move forward.”

By Claudia Nsono

‘I taught detainees the ‘Rosary of liberty’

“In the cell, they brought in boys who were shot and blood was oozing and sprinkling all over the cell. Luckily, my wife had brought this big toilet paper; it was the toilet paper that they used in dressing and cleaning the wounds so that the blood could clot.

“In the morning, they took me outside of it and there was this pregnant woman; her crime is/was that when people were tear-gassed, she gave them water to wash their faces. They tortured her and when I looked at it, I couldn’t help but burst into tears; they asked me; ‘Pa, what is the problem with you?’ I said well, if this is my turn, why don’t you take me to Yaounde? If I were to be shot; people have been shot before me, and will be shot after me. Why allow me to see this inhumane treatment on humans in front of me? I cried because I couldn’t help it. The woman had even wanted to urinate but nobody allowed her. I winked at her to urinate where she was sitting, but she didn’t understand me.

“One thing I am happy to have done while in detention is that, I transformed the cell into a church house. We were praying the ‘Rosary of Liberty’ and they don’t know the ‘Rosary of Liberty’and were saying I was singing liberty songs. I was praying the rosary and taught Catholics and non-Catholics the rosary; how you can pray it and be liberated. Each time, when I had not prayed that rosary, the children I was sharing the cell with will remind me. They will call and ask me, “‘Better Papa’ ‘where is the ‘Rosary of Liberty?’”

Shey Kongnso Chrys is aged over 60. His account of how Anglophone “terrorist” suspects are treated in detention could, by and large, tame, convert some human rights violators with a bit of a conscience to spare. Kongnso’s narrative has only been slightly edited.

 How he got caught in the trap

“About two months ago, my boss, Hon. Calvin Foinding called and told me, ‘Kongnso, we cannot continue staying like this. Life is difficult; children must go to school. Go to that piece of land and map out one or two hectares on the plot and sell it. I need the money very seriously. When you sell it, I will help you open an insurance office because you have been looking for money to open one.’

“I looked for Mr. Felix, an architect, `a retired surveyor. We went there and estimated the plots. He said I was going to pay him FCFA 500,000. We agreed that I needed to buy pillars to be planted for demarcations. Hon. Foinding sent FCFA 125,000 to be used in buying the pillars. When I collected it, I called and told Felix I had gotten the money for the pillars. I asked where he was and he said he was at the Gendarmerie Brigade; that his daughter and his sales boy who works at his dry-cleaning shop in Clerks’ Quarters had been arrested. This sales boy is my tribe and he probably marched and they wanted to settle scores with him. Felix’s daughter was also arrested and locked up. When I called, he told me that he was at the Brigade. I suggested that I could come give him the money there and he agreed. I was in a hurry because I needed to go apply fertilizer on my farm because my maize was almost overdue fertilizer.When I got there, he was talking with the gendarmes who were interrogating the boy.

“When I gave him the money, I looked at the young boy, Aloysius Yongshe, with lots of sympathy and told him ‘ashia!’ “The Gendarme Officer who was questioning him raised his eyes and asked the boy; ‘what is the relationship between you and this man?’ ‘That is my father’, the boy responded. It was normal because you will not expect a young man like that in our tradition not to call me his father. (I have been with the Banso community in Buea here for a long time and all of them, including those who are older than me always refer to me as their father.)That is how I got into problems. Then the gendarme asked me in French: ‘Can I have your identity card?’He was talking with a lot of authority. If it was not in his office, I would have resisted giving it. (I don’t know his rank, but he is a private and his name is Joel.)I had no other alternative than to give him my ID card. He told his elements to make sure I was seated somewhere uninterrupted and that is how I sat.

“When he finished getting Aloysius’ statement, it was now my turn. He asked; ‘can you tell me where you were on the 21st of September?’ (It was a cooked up plan to support why I was being arrested.) He said; ‘we are charging you with terrorist activities’ and wrote it down at once. I was baffled. I know there was an obnoxious law passed on terrorism which if you were guilty of it, your head will go. I said to myself; this is trouble coming.

“As at that time they had not confiscated my telephone, so I called my lawyer, and asked him to come. I told him I was in trouble at the Brigade. I told him if he didn’t come quickly, the gendarmes were most likely going to beat me because I was not going to sign the statement until he came. He came and what was the statement? ‘Where were you on the 21st of September 2017?’ (Every blessed day if you ask me to account myself about the day, except something happens; I will vividly tell you where I was and how my day was spent.) I told them I remember I was doing my things but towards the evening, we were in Pa Lottin’s house for Bible sharing. That I left at about 8:00pm. With my wife, we trekked home, since my house is not far, we were home a few minutes after 8pm. I watched a little bit of TV and I went to bed.

“On Friday, when there were protests; I left my house in the morning and went to Mile 16 to meet people I was supposed to go down to Limbe with. (There is this farm issue where the Chief of Bwanda-Mile 16 had just declared that, the farmland on which we have been working for more than 30 years belongs to them. We were fighting it and the SDO had given us an appointment for that day.) As I was going down, I saw boys marching from the Muea end to Mile 17 Park. We managed and passed. Got to Mile 16 where we saw some barricades. The people I had to go with arrived and together, we went down to Limbe. Limbe was calm that early morning and our group was the very first the SDO entertained for that day. Behold, I was the spokesperson of the farmers on that Friday. I told the gendarme that the SDO was not happy with the fact that we our group was so big and I apologized, pleading in the process that, a hungry man is an angry man especially so because most of the women have worked on the farmland for several decades and depend on it for their livelihoods. So when the earthmover destroyed their farms, they became angry and were ready to go to any length.We pleaded that as a father he should do something. We pleaded with him to see things objectively so that a lasting solution could be found. He promised paying the charges we had levied and to create and a commission that will look into the matter.

“I told the gendarme, that on my way back I saw that a car had been burnt near BGS Molyko. That it is now that you (Gendarme private) are telling me that I held a meeting for that car to be burnt. (They had had a cooked up charge that I held a meeting in my bar where, we discussed that the car should be burnt.) It turned out that it was the car of the President of the Buea Military Court.But I think it was a spontaneous act. It was spontaneous that they found a gendarme driving it and they burnt the car.

“I told them I didn’t know anything about the car. That I went through thin and thick to get to my house on that day. I learnt that the boys had issues with the gendarmes somewhere around the Gendarmerie Brigade at Great Soppo and were forced to turn back. They were beating everybody on their way back. So, when they got to me and I was moving, they asked me; “pa, why are you moving like this?’ A boy gave me a green leaf to hold if I wanted to be safe and I held it right up. I was trekking, because Bate who took me from Mile 16 left me around Biaka Junction and went to hide his car somewhere.Thank God, somebody picked me along the road and brought me to my house. As I entered my house on that Friday afternoon, I only came out the next day. So how can you say I convened a meeting in my house?,” I asked the gendarme.

“In the night, they asked me to take off my jacket and did. I had some money in it. I gave it to my lawyer to hand over to my wife.  Felix to whom I gave money for the pillars was also locked for ‘employing a terrorist.’ My other offence was that I was a father of a terrorist. We were shoved into the cell. Felix was there for at most three hours and was released. I said to myself, if he is going away, it means I will also be released.

“I spent my first night in the place crying. The next day it dawned on me that no amount of crying could change anything. My lawyer and the State Counsel, who hails from the same tribe like me, tried to secure my release, but failed. They were warned to stay clear. They were told that mine was a political and terrorist activity. My lawyer went and never came back.

“On the second night, I was brought before the colonel whose car was burnt. I can’t even say if it was his private or official car. I have never known him. As I appeared before him he said; ‘but, such a responsible man?’ I replied that I am responsible indeed. He wondered how a responsible man like me would commit such a crime. I said yes Sir, I am responsible but what is this? (What do we call what you are doing to me now?) And if you know me, you should know many things. He asked, ‘like what?’ I started citing. I cited how I even had recognition from the Pope. When I was giving too many citations, he stopped me and asked if I know Ambassador Fossung? My reply was, did you bring me here because he is my neighbour? He denied it. I was now very aggressive. He asked, ‘who was Ambassador Fossung? I said he was an Ambassador in Russia. He asked further,‘what is he today? I said I know he is of the opposition and that it is not a hidden thing and we all know. He said; you can be naming all these good things even when you have suddenly changed like Ambassador Fossung did.

“He asked: ‘Did you not organize a meeting in your house, wherein you decided that activities on Friday should be disrupted and my car burnt?’ I replied, ‘President you know I don’t know you.’ He said he knew me. I told him it is possible because most people know me even if I don’t know them. He said he went to school here and that is the more reason he knows me. I told him football had made me at one time to be very popular that every small child knew me in town, and if he went to school here and was a football fan, he should know me. He insisted that I plotted for his car to be burnt, but I refuted the claim. I drew his attention to the fact that my house is very close to the ‘GMI’ police… imagine the number of police and gendarmes who get in and out of that station; how can I hold a meeting in that bar when I had taken upon myself as leader of the Nso community to advise them on how best to comport themselves so as to avoid running into any form of trouble with the law. Why will it be me again holding a meeting a nocturnal illegal meeting? Even if people decided to hold a meeting in my place since it is close to the road and I am living behind, I have some dogs that will not allow them sit there at that kind of hour you are talking about.

“He said he was closing his case and had me taken back to the cell. Third day, fourth, fifth, sixth day went by and through my investigator, Joel, (he commands a lot of authority in the place even though with a small rank,) I pleaded that they should release me on bail but they refused. Then my son was constantly there, trying to release me. The President of the Military Tribunal told my son I was not guilty of any offense and that I should be released but it was denied.

In the cell, they brought in boys who were shot and blood was oozing and sprinkling all over the cell. Luckily, my wife had brought this big toilet paper; it was the toilet paper that they used in dressing and cleaning the wounds so that the blood could clot.

In the morning, I went out and there was this pregnant woman; her crime is/was that when people were tear-gassed, she gave them water to wash their faces. They tortured her and when I looked at it, I couldn’t help but burst into tears; they asked me; ‘Pa, what is the problem with you?’ I said well, if this is my turn, why don’t you take me to Yaounde? If I were to be shot; people have been shot before me, and will be shot after me. Why allow me to see these inhumane treatments on humans in front of me? I cried because I couldn’t help it. The woman had even wanted to urinate but nobody allowed her. I winked at her to urinate where she was sitting, but she didn’t understand me.”

“One thing I am happy to have done while in detention is that, I transformed the cell into a church house. We were praying the ‘Rosary of Liberty’ and they don’t know the ‘Rosary of Liberty’and were saying I was singing liberty songs. I was praying the rosary and taught Catholics and non-Catholics the rosary; how you can pray it and be liberated. Each time, when I had not prayed that rosary, the children I was sharing the cell with will remind me. They will call and ask me, “‘Better Papa’ ‘where is the ‘Rosary of Liberty?’

 

“I ended up being released but then, it is good for the world to know that I was detained, I was locked, I was made to sleep in the cell and my health deteriorated. My blood pressure was high and I went to the Brigade Commander, he said first thing next morning I will be taken to hospital. The fellows were not ready to compromise. They were all Francophones; even the small Oku boy who came last had no say because he has no rank. But one time, the Oku boy took me to the hospital and when we got there, the nurse took my blood pressure and said to me in French; ‘at this age you know the state of your health, why get yourself involved in such acts?’ I said so, you are already judging me and passing a verdict? Do what you have to do and let me leave here. I was already a wounded lion; anybody who spoke to me impolitely, I gave it back to them in the same manner.

“Some people have being saying that the colonel was sympathetic but I ask, sympathetic with what or with whom? He asked that I should be detained and the deed was done. He saw that my file was clean and maybe he didn’t want to collect the dirty money from me after studying my records. I must tell you that brisk business is ongoing at detention centres in Buea; the fellows are each making FCFA hundreds of thousands on a daily basis. People are buying their liberty. I had insisted and told my children that they shouldn’t bother; I wanted them to take me to Yaounde or if they are not taking me there, let them do with me what they wanted.

“While I was there, I cannot say if people were taken to Yaounde or not because people were released only in the night; you will not know where they are going to. I was released at night around 8:00pm and because my son was with a car, I went home in his car. I cannot say if the gendarmes are those who take people home after their release because all I heard was, after loading people in their trucks like sardines, they will order them; ‘wuna talk wuna last bye-bye.’ That was maybe to scare the people, since they didn’t know where they are taking them to.

“The Brigade Commander called me back days afterwards and said that the colonel wanted to see me. I have been there thrice but have not met him. When I was released, he started talking to me but because people were around, he asked me to go and that, he was going to tell me why I was released.

“One thing I am happy to have done while in detention is that, I transformed the cell into a church house. We were praying the ‘Rosary of Liberty’ and they don’t know the ‘Rosary of Liberty’and were saying I was singing liberty songs. I was praying the rosary and taught Catholics and non-Catholics the rosary; how you can pray it and be liberated. Each time, when I had not prayed that rosary, the children I was sharing the cell with will remind me. They will call and ask me, “‘Better Papa’ ‘where is the ‘Rosary of Liberty?’

As we speak, I am a very angry man; imagine that you take your own self to the gendarmerie and they lock you up? I don’t know where my misfortune is coming from. Despite all, I am still a committed Anglophone, I believe in the Anglophone problem, I believe that we have been marginalized and I believe that we want a way out. I am a federalist, if I go by my party, SDF. I cannot be preaching secessionist tendencies when my party is standing for federation. If I was crying for that pregnant lady, for those children, if that boy had referred to me as his father and I accepted, it is the Anglophone mentality. And if I was grieved at all the harsh treatment meted out on the people, it is because I am an Anglophone.

 

 

Governor will still brutalize stray ‘dogs’

Like what his hired military did to “dogs” on October 1, Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai still warns “dogs” whom he termed terrorists or secessionist attacking property, students and teachers in various schools of brutal military reaction on them this time around. Bernard Okalia Bilai was speaking recently while presiding over the ceremony of International Day of the Teacher in Buea with theme, “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers.”

According to Bilai, the society is in dire need of positive change only through transformative pedagogy. He said it is incumbent on teachers and trainers especially in the two English speaking Regions to impart in learners “intelligence plus character” implying sane behavior, attitudes and admirable personality. He furthered that celebrating; they are sad witnesses to the disturbing current social crisis in which to him, many learners have been misguided into vandalism and cultural barriers are inimical to peaceful coexistence, national cohesion and territorial integrity. Like he would normally say, he assured the students and teachers of security emphasizing that security measures will be intensified. He concluded that the reaction of the forces will be brutal on any “dog.” Forgetting so soon that, during the September 22 upheavals, despite all promises of security measures, students and pupils were still abandoned in the quake of riot.

The President of the Buea Area Teachers Association, BATA, noted that UNESCO in its wisdom and clairvoyance wishes to use this year’s celebration of the International Day of the Teacher to highlight the importance of freedom as they celebrate teaching and what they need to do to ensure quality education and a sustainable future for the teaching profession. To him, virtues of peace, love, tolerance, discipline, forgiveness, patients, patriotism, brotherhood… are inculcated in classrooms in a serene, calm and disciplined atmosphere into young citizens. He pleaded on behalf of teachers for the amelioration of living standards, citing the poorly paid teachers of the private sector who, despite the upheavals in the Region opened their doors to teach young Cameroonians. some with no hope for a salary.

Citing the current tense state of affairs in the nation, he implored the state to create a level ground for constructive and long lasting dialogue that will culminate in a serene political atmosphere to enable teachers teach in freedom.

Also present during the celebrations was Mombakued Victor Yewoh, Southwest Regional Delegate of Secondary Education the 24th edition of the world Teacher’s Day, who said, it is however very historic for him considering that it is his first time as Regional Delegate of Secondary Education to participate in the celebrations in the Southwest Region. He said it was even more challenging for him and his colleagues due to the fact that the celebrations were holding in this Region in the back drop of social strife where schools and major stake holders have been unfortunate targets.

He saluted what he said was the courage, sacrifices and the determination of teachers that propelled them through last year’s hurdles to the start of the 2017/2018 academic year since the challenges are quite enormous and slaps them in the face but as stated by him, they are determined to overcome them. According to Yewoh, teachers of Cameroon have never been among the least, considering the status their products occupy all over the globe. “One can conclude without any traces of doubt that the emergence of Cameroon by the year 2035 depends squarely on the enormous efforts teachers are making to produce global citizens. “Despite the prevailing insecurity, tensions and conflicts across our Region, there is a strong need for a better and more tolerant society,”he said.

He furthered that the mission of teachers is that of propagators of non-violence and living together through citizenship education which shall enable them shy away from those vices that plague the profession like absenteeism, laxity, poor lesson preparation, poor orientation, inadequate counseling, disrespect for constituted authority and low levels of collaboration.

By Relindise Ebune

Military razes Manyu village

Sesseku Ayuk Julius Tabe, “head of state of Ambazonia” definitely enjoys unfettered political and other freedoms in the United States, US. Here, he rants and makes a mockery of President Biya’s 34 year old regime unimpeded. His recent actions and pronouncements have put Biya’s Cameroon in the league of the world’s most corrupt and undemocratic nations.

But whatever grounds “His Excellency” Tabe has gained in the Diaspora easily pale out in the face of the real power that resides with the de facto leader of Cameroon. Tabe’s political victory is pyrrhic in the face of what his kith and kin in a Manyu village recently witnessed. In fact, Ewele was recently razed to the ground by soldiers in apparent retaliation for “H.E.” Tabe’s dissidence. His kinsmen are now homeless and going by political gymnastics, they may start questioning why an exalted, ranking son of the soil could subject them to such vicarious hardship while effectively in the comfort of the US.

The army, agents of a United Nations recognized nation, Cameroon, might as well just be softly reminding Tabe’s own brethren where real power resides.

The villagers have lost property, even lives; young men have fled to the bushes for the fear of their very lives and ancestral freedom. They had dared state authority, come out in massive manifestations on October 1, considered as Ambazonian Independence Day by one of theirs, only to be brutally reminded where real, constitutional power resides.

Meanwhile, a lawyer, who happens also to be a native of Ewele village has promised to sue the Government. His main grouse is that his old father’s house was torched, leaving the old man homeless and in a state of shock.

By Relindise Ebune

Troops bloody reunification anniversary

For two days running guns coughed, they smoked. Yet, determined, albeit, foolhardy angry protesters surged on. Uncountable teargas canisters emitted from the coughing guns, pellets popped out and protesters lay in cold blood… their own blood. Gunboat helicopters hovered over West Cameroonian skies, occasionally spewing bullets at targets. Victims fell; mothers and other relatives wailed and grieved. Mortuaries received morbid tenants aplenty. State authority was prevailing, having the upper hand. Elsewhere, ‘politicians of convenience’ hailed the ‘indivisibility’ of the country and demonized ‘adventurers out to undermine national unity.’ Parliamentarians performed road shows; they hailed the head of state. They outplayed one another in pledging unflinching support for His Excellency’s rare brand of good governance. They entreated the ‘natural candidate’ to run in next year’s presidential polls.

As we went to press, security goons drafted to the two Regions to halt secessionists in their tracks were retreating piecemeal, having ostensibly delivered on their assigned task of keeping secessionists at bay and ensuring that the peace which the nation must ‘continue to enjoy’ prevails. Hundreds, including a pregnant woman, many teenagers and those we can sincerely refer to as human cargo, some very badly injured badly were admitted to pre-trial detention in Buea… The Rambler may not be in possession of exact casualty figures, but, we can state on good authority that they are, by and large, staggering, too shocking, and too gruesome to commit to print.

However, we have dispassionate reports of how October 1 was lived in the two English Regions of Cameroon.

Over the last 12 months, Cameroon has been in the throes of unprecedented civil strife underpinned by callousness, irreverence to human life and coldness from Government, resoluteness, and barefaced bravado from Anglophone agitators who although disparate in their vision of a better Cameroon find unanimity in common enemy – gangrened governance. Contacted, a public affairs analyst that would rather remain nameless noted that a people-centred Government would have curbed the current crisis at its infancy and spared the nation of extremely friendly citizens, the horror and shame that now dangle on its corporate image.

 

The analyst was of the opinion that the socio-political logjam in which Cameroon finds herself could have been briskly and amicably disposed of since 2016 if the very fundamental concerns that were raised by Common Law lawyers in mid-November of that year and later teachers were given due and sincere attention.

“If maybe, just maybe the issues were looked upon as fundamental for the proper functioning of the society, and not as issues that concern only ‘second class citizens’ and hence, given second class treatment, we would not have been where we are today.

“Things were poorly handled by corrupt and greedy power mongering public officials and cunning politicians; things degenerated and today, we are no longer talking of teachers’ or lawyers’ problems. We are talking of people who are now threatening the territorial integrity of the country. Like the saying, ‘better late than never’ all cards could still be put on the table, with no one trying or pretending to be more Cameroonian than the other because, whichever view, whoever holds, is worth hearing as even the deaf and the dumb have their own story.

“The long and short is, lots of waters have passed under the bridge, within the last 10 months of crisis in this part of the country. Lives have been carelessly lost, property destroyed, businesses ruined, the economy shattered, education disrupted, courts grounded with justice for the common man compromised and life in general rendered desolate.”

From this reporter’s observation, despite the intransigence on both sides; despite the “ghost towns,” occasional brutal crackdowns and the propaganda of Face book activists and other dissidents in retreat, life was gradually returning to normal with many hoping for the blinding dust of the one year long imbroglio to settle.

Many a Cameroonian from across the political divide was hoping for the Government dialogue sing song to eventually see the light of day, no matter how long it took. But the Government went to sleep, hoping against the odds for the agitators to tire out and give up. This strategy turned out to be a very poor political strategy with the bubble eventually bursting.

The Friday, September 22, incidents gave a new but ugly impetus to the issue. Until now, no one had been able to say with exactitude who, where, why, and how the wind which blew that day in the entire Northwest and Southwest Regions came about; but what registered was that the young, the old, children, men and women in Anglophone Cameroon took to the streets demanding for what they termed freedom or the liberation of Southern Cameroons by occupation forces. Prodded by activists in the safety of the Diaspora, protesters confronted armed security goons. Even though the gun-toting soldiers were practically overwhelmed by the surging crowds from all the nooks and crannies of the English speaking Regions, quite a good number of the protesters paid the ultimate price.

Otherwise boastful local administrators are known to have shown a clean pair of heels. President Biya’s rare outing at the United Nations Organization, UNO, paled into insignificance. It was dimmed by spontaneous protests back home and the Diaspora. A rented crowd of cheerleaders planted by regime spin doctors at the New York Headquarters of the UN paled out, compared to the milling multitudes that protested the leadership of the man that has ruled Cameroon uninterrupted for 34 years and counting.

Ekona, a small locality along the Buea-Kumba highway, just like in many other towns and villages of the Southwest and Northwest Regions initially paid the price of having the guts to protest or rise against the regime. Soldiers’ bullets sent many to early graves. Rather belated arrests and torturing started, with security goons breaking into homesteads, dragging out and subjecting random victims to unprintable forms of torture.

The Rambler possesses, but has elected not to publish the names of several victims who died as a result. Plus other maimed individuals that are most likely never going to have a normal life ever. Ekona has known no peace as the people have vowed to resist Government oppression while Government too is poised to clamp down on the people. A situation, an analyst has described as Government’s lack of good advisers on how to handle violence. The analyst however, warns Government to desist from reacting to violence with violence. As he put it, “violence plus violence equal to violence.”

The persistence and intensification of the crisis on Thursday, September 28 prompted the summoning of a meetingin Buea by Southwest elite. Ostensibly at the behest of President Biya, the meeting sought to among other issues, jumpstart the effective implementation of the 1996 constitution which will enable each Region to be autonomous. This step, they believed would calm the flaring tempers especially of Cameroonians west of the Mungo.

By September 29, the Southwest Regional governor read the riot act. Purporting to be acting on instructions from above, he closed land and sea borders with neighbouring Nigeria. He, like his counterpart of the Northwest Region imposed a dusk to dawn curfew with respective durations. Hundreds of troops with military armada in tow, took over every street corner. Even church services were logically banned from holding on Sunday October 1.

Internet connectivity was once again surreptitiously ordered to be cut off from the two Anglophone Regions, ostensibly to deter coordinated protests and other action that could compromise troops movement and operations. But even these actions, including the intimidating movement of troops and armada did not quite deter foolhardy secessionists from taking the plunge. Many of them, contrary to Communication Minister’s cooked records are known to have been decently shot and killed. Still, others were maimed. Hundreds more, including youths of both sexes are being held in detention facilities, some of them improvised.

On the other hand, riotous protesters either burnt or destroyed some public property and surreptitiously hoisted Ambazonian flags, which, The Rambler learnt, constituted a “symbolic declaration of Statehood.”

In the course of this melee, law makers were posing for cameras in Yaounde, reeling out condemnations and platitudes, hailing and praising the head of state. After many decades of treating October 1 as though this was an avoidable, untouchable leprous on the political calendar of Cameroon, flunkies and strategists filed out in towns like Yaounde, Douala and Sangmelima in convenient regalia to “commemorate” the day when two fraternal entities reunited. But mind you, this did little or nothing to mitigate the loss of precious lives, property and perhaps trust at the level of Buea and Bamenda.

By Nester Asonganyi

Of dogs and democratic tear gassing

Frederick Forsyth was a prolific British author. He covered the Nigerian civil war for certain British media. In the process he befriended the late Colonel Chukwuemeka [Emeka] Odumegwu Ojukwu, head of state of Biafra, a republic that seceded from Nigeria and was briefly independent. In 1982, he published a biographical work titled, ‘Emeka.’

He is best remembered by Africans for this book about his Biafran chum and ‘Dogs of War.’ Lest we forget, Emeka led a 30 month secessionist armed war against Nigeria and lost. Anglophone Cameroonians have, so far, virtually been on the streets for some 11 months, armed mostly with peace plants and requesting a return to the federal republic status that was brokered in 1961.

Forsyth died recently, but his legacy is engraved in his works, some of which depict how power is brazenly stolen, confiscated and misused by African tyrants and lackeys. His friend, Emeka too died nearly a decade ago. Emeka was responsible for the death of some one million Nigerians. Despite this, Emeka Ojukwu, through Gowon’s “No victor, no vanquished” mantra renounced his Biafra nation dream and pledged ‘one Nigeria.’ He sat on the negotiating table; in fact, he wined and dined with Gowon, He was accoreded a hero’s burial at death. Forsyth’s ‘Dogs of War,’ is a scintillating account of discovered mounds of diamonds in Zangaro, a fictional Republic of tyranny located in Central Africa.

It features a small group of European and African mercenary soldiers, hired by a British industrialist to depose the Government of the fictional African country, Zangaro. The mercenary protagonists, like protagonists in the author’s earlier novel, ‘The Day of the Jackal,’ are professional killers – ruthless violent men, heroic only in the loosest sense of the word. They are anti heroes. Initially introduced as simply killers, as the novel progresses, they are gradually shown to adhere to a relatively moral code; however, as the mercenary leader Shannon tries to explain at one point, it is difficult for civilians to understand this.

Recently, Anglophone Cameroonians couldn’t come to terms with Southwest Regional Governor calling them dogs, befitting game to be preyed upon by the military. Very few of them have the foggiest idea of Forsyth’s ‘Dogs of War’ concept. Not even being rabid, they can hardly even juxtapose the canine attributes of hurt dogs and a Regional commander’s order for them to be shot and “society saved from their rabidity.”

But hey! The average Anglophone Cameroonian literati has had the [linguistic] opportunity of comparing Forsyth’s image of ‘Dogs of War’ and Montesquieu’s mantra that to become truly great, one has got to stand with people, not above them. Vintage Anglophone literati would easily buy into the French philosopher’s theory of there not being an injustice greater than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.

Montesquieu was a philosopher of Francophone extraction. His thoughts were so profound such that academics hurried to drink deep from his fountain of knowledge. Like Forsyth after him, his works [take it or leave it] are immortal. As such, they will remain the template, the formwork in which lots of universal modern knowledge shall continue to be moulded. Many Anglophone Cameroonians are more or less, charmed, why not, addicted to Montesquieu’s outlook of freedom.

According to the great Frenchman, political liberty is a tranquility of mind arising from the opinion each person has of his safety. By the same token, Anglophone Cameroonians may be dogs in the euphemistic as opposed to the downgrading opinion of a ‘Hitler’ governor. True, the typical Anglophone is imbued with certain canine and watchful attributes of the dog, especially as they have been hurt for decades and sentenced to everlastingly barking at the moon for promises, primarily intended to be mere platitudes that have at best, remained provocatively fake and insulting to the collective cultural intelligence. We are not lap dogs like the political jesters and urchins passing around for elite, whom masters of the board employ to hoodwink the rest of us for crumbs, for filthy lucre.

The chief propagator of freedoms, Montesquieu said of liberty as involving living laws that protect humankind from harm while leaving him free to do as much as possible, enabling him as well, to feel the greatest possible confidence that if he obeys those laws, the power of state will not be directed against him.

The Frenchman theorized that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it. Consequently, it is necessary for power to be a check on power. Montesquieu outlined this in the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. He posited that if different persons or body upholds these powers then each can check the others if they try to abuse their powers. As beautiful, practical as this democratic approach to good governance is, ego-inflated Cameroon leaders that chirp democracy like song birds on tree tops practise it in the breach.

Power belongs in the hands of one person. He doles it or donates it when it suits his fancy. The National Assembly President kowtows to the head of state. Similarly, instructions are openly sought from and given by the executive as to the outcome of issues that are strictly judicial in nature. Small wonder, the executive can off-handedly invoke the now famous nolle prosequi writ and order the discontinuation of the trial of abducted individuals that would have spent months or years in pretrial detention without charge and without apology.

It is one person/body that holds all or several of these powers, with nothing preventing that person or body from acting tyrannically. How we fear the magistrate instead of the office of the magistrate! And to further paraphrase Montesquieu, governors and those they front for have been rushing to inflict punishment, which is not derived from necessity but from sheer tyranny.

Peace in the air, peace everywhere and peace nowhere!

We seem to be endowed with a very peculiar listening leadership. Our leadership is so wise and quick to stress the unity of our dear country. It is also quick to stress that the structure of this unity cannot be negotiated even if and when “We, the People,” so decide.  Yes, our leadership derisively labels those that call for a restructuring of the polity as secessionists and extremists. Our leader reluctantly donates a few dirt roads, varsities and garbage cans and screams of such achievements in speeches and other Good Friday pontifications.

His Man Fridays, local appendages and other Iscariot politicians abhor the spirit of the 1961 federal constitution that was ripped apart for parochial expediency. Our leader is knowingly silent on the fact of protesting Anglophone youth being molested, slaughtered like chickens in the streets with resources that could best be used for Bakassi-type fireside negotiations. Our leader is more concerned, obsessed with just the sentiment of “I am in power,” even if the octogenarians that pander to him are returning, willy-nilly,  to childhood, to pristine times.

And now this…

Of late, I have been expecting the all knowing talking cricket, aka Government spokesman to for once, read the handwriting on the wall. I have been expecting him to tell Cameroonians that one cannot be promising them coats when he himself has been wearing only one tattered coat for 34 years and counting.

Take this, Tchiroma and ilk. What this country badly needs now are words that are healing, not cheap rant and cant; not belly-aching lies. True, we have a duty to keep Cameroon one and indivisible, but how we live in that one and indivisible Cameroon must be negotiated. And this is not treason!

 

 

 

How to rescue Cameroon from ‘Methuselah’ leadership

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, we are glad and grateful for your platform.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewed by Charlie Ndi Chia

 

 

 

 

 

State draws curtains on prelates’ legal drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Relindise Ebune