‘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

 

Mass uprising uncovers breadth, unanimity of wrath against oppression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Nester Asonganyi

SDF prescribes forceful harvest of federalism

In a bid to retrace its steps and be seen as being representative of the ideals of its founding fathers, Social Democratic Front, SDF, headship has vowed to forcefully wrest federalism from the Biya regime, if only to make life more comfortable for Cameroonians.

The mainstream opposition party in Cameroon the Social Democratic Fund has therefore reiterated that a federal system of government is prototype for a united, indivisible and peaceful but socially diversified Cameroon. During a National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the SDF in Bamenda on September 16, 2017 at their Chairman’s residence, adherents of the party, emphatically, conceded after a brainstorming session, federalism as way forward.

The main aim of the NEC conclave was to evaluate the level of preparedness for an elective convention of the party billed for October 27, 28 and 29 this year even as the touchy Anglophone problem and its ramifications could not escape the meeting’s agenda.

Opening the meeting, Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi, made it crystal clear that the party cannot fold its arms and watch Cameroonians in the Diasporas continue slinging insults on the SDF. “The SDF is going through trial moments because of the Anglophone issue but the party has a role to play. We have stayed quiet and those in the Diasporas have insulted and ridiculed us even though we threw no insults at them. We would not shy from our responsibilities but we would keep fighting because we as politicians must face the arduous task and show political prowess,” Fru Ndi reproved. A résumé of the usual in camera NEC meeting trickled down to the press through SDF Deputy Secretary for Communication Dennis Nkemlemo. He said “There is a very strong current in the presence of the crisis which is the request for outright separation by those in the Diasporas. The SDF is a national party that has always stood for federalism. We confronted that issue during our meeting and we have discovered that most of the people clamouring for secession are being sponsored; some even by the CPDM to render our stands for federalism unpopular because they want to bring us to the same basket where they are; you know how unpopular they are in the Anglophone community‼ So they are looking for ways to also make us unpopular but the NEC came out very clear to reinstate their stand that we want to move Cameroon forward and we stand by a federal system of government which is our principal ideology. What NEC has to do is to accelerate the pressure for the regime to make sure that a federal system should be adopted. It is very shocking to know that since the problem started; the regime has been very adamant and would not listen to anybody. The SDF has decided that they would push the federalism calendar more forcefully now so as to make the regime to take concrete actions towards that because the SDF is the only political party now that holds the peace of Cameroon because if we decide to go the way of the separatist you know what would happen to this country so we analyzed the situation and realized that we have two extremists in Cameroon. One of the extremists is the government which doesn’t want to talk with anybody as far as the crisis is concerned and we have another extremist who want us to separate our ways and between the two extremists is the SDF which is more realistic that the middle ground is Federalism so that people can manage their own affairs according to their orientations and culture” he echoed.

Stalwarts revealed that a budget of FCFA 80,000000 has been fixed for the October convention of the party that comes up next month. Other internal party affairs that came under review at the NEC meeting included the evaluation of regions that had not organized regional conferences and whether party members desirous for elective positions have regularized their status.

By Mildred Ndum Wung Kum

Biya’s drab leadership stoking separatist fires

From every indication President Paul Biya’s approach to solving the festering Anglophone problem has been to buy time for the sting to wear out. He just sits smugly in Yaounde or in Europe where he regularly sojourns, preferring to “instruct” per diem prone collaborators to organize visits that in the final import incite rather than douse the collective anger. His errand boys would return to Yaounde, pockets stuffed with fat envelopes, files full of half truths or truths convenient for the ears of Mr. Biya only.

Consequently, reports most likely to be at the president’s in-tray are mostly convoluted motions of support whose provenance is from people seething with anger against the very authority they are purportedly supporting. Scenarios like the ones above, have, unfortunately, been fanning the embers of the Anglophone protests. Similarly, public opinion has been blaming the broadening rift between the English Regions of the country and Government on the president’s cavalier approach to solving it, with many tracing his indifference to the plight of aggrieved Anglophones to the gains diehards ‘secessionists’ have made so far. Some people poured their hearts out when schools in the English speaking Northwest and Southwest Regions failed to record effective recommencement earlier in the month.

At best, the President, or better still, those fronting for him dangled more of the stick than the carrot on agitating English speaking Cameroonians. They have hit hard on every “nail” standing on the way of the hackneyed “one and indivisible Cameroon” as they bulldozed the crisis. The president has tagged them extremists and secessionists for daring to decry a marginalization that is all too glaring, palpable and protracted. The agitators still fume with anger at the nametags which they maintain, pushed them further to the wall. To go by some of these “insulted” English speaking Cameroonians, it was the nail that sealed the coffin, shutting out the possibility of Anglophones to share the same table with his envoys to dialogues which were everything but frank.

Spectators have charged his supposed droopiness with the killings recorded between November 21, 2016 and September 19, 2017. To some observers, no souls would have been lost had the President personally troubleshot the problem. “If Mr. Biya had [personally] taken his responsibility as president of the country to solve this matter when it was still at its infancy, we would have been singing a different song right now. But he ignored it, thinking that the Anglophones will give up, after their requests had not been granted. Now, we all are punished for a crime that one man committed. I hope he has learnt his lesson,” blurted Terence.

In the same vein, another empathizer of the situation that has befallen Anglophones pointed out that the solution to the present stalemate lies with the President and not the various “thieving” committees he created, who succeeded in nothing besides wasting taxpayers’ hard earned money. He posited that, “If the president really desires to solve this issue, he will do it in one tiny second. But he rather prefers to send those thieves (sic) he camped in committees, to feed him with fake reports.”

The question many are asking is whether he is ill informed or it is lack of political will that has glued his lips up until now. Guesses are that silence is the strategy the president has subscribed to, so that the tensions can lessen and everything gets back to normal. Whether or not his wishes will be granted is left in the hands of time.

An ardent observer of the status quo, ‘Maître’ Idris Kemayou, contends that the President’s apathetic attitude plausibly owes its root to the “fabricated reports” he receives from his errand boys who, according to him, pass for Ministers. “You would agree with me that the Ministers are those to blame for the worsening situation we are witnessing in parts of the country today. While some of them initially denied outright that there was an Anglophone problem, the bulk of others forwarded reports which sharply contradicted the realities on the ground. And our president, who prefers travelling to Europe than going to the field to closely examine the problem which is eating him up silently, will rather abandon the matter in the hands of his frail peers.”

Meantime, some Francophone Cameroonians have joined their Anglophone ‘confreres’ to chastise the President’s indifference in the face of the crisis which continues to wane parts of the country. They have, at least for once, unanimously spat at his unresponsiveness to the issue that has cost the country the lives of many citizens as well as billions of cash.

Almost one year into the crunch, the Head of State has succeeded in visiting neither the Northwest nor the Southwest Region to address the issue or like detractors say, to pretend to do so. If those who approximate that his deafening silence is from fake reports filed by his messenger Ministers are right, who should shoulder the responsibility? Are these people playing the devil’s advocate or are they illogically vouching that the “absentee president” is unaware of the lying expertise of the couriers he hired as collaborators? If the catastrophe deteriorates into the dreaded separation which yours sincerely frightfully mentions (because the mere utterance of the taboo word has sent many to jail), would indifference have yielded the (un)expected outcome? Your guess is as good as mine.

By Claudia Nsono