The lamb in the lion’s court

“You send a child out to buy salt and the next thing you know is that you are fetching his corpse from the mortuary, or collecting money from relatives and neighbours to ransom him from the troops before he is transferred to Kondengui (maximum security prison) some 33 miles away in Yaounde.” This is the simple but graphic picture of the daily reality in a community besieged and starved of electric power for not less than four days at a time.
The siege, now replicated in a growing number of Anglophone towns and villages, is the work of a fire-and-fury expedition apparently sanctioned by Yaounde to punish the communities for killing a Government soldier or official, or for any act of defiance to authority from Etoudi.
In these few, euphemistic words, this statement sketches a people’s impotence and resignation vis-à-vis a state that pulls no punches in dealing with any form of dissent. It speaks of the blind, unrestrained visitation on innocent children of the State’s raw and primitive rage for offenses whose authors it is equipped to investigate if it could be bothered to. It brings to mind the story of the lion deciding to eat a little lamb, as punishment for muddying the water which the lion wanted to drink.
“When did this happen”, asked the lamb, shivering.
“That was two years ago”, replied the lion.
“Sorry, sir, I was not even born then.”
“Then it must have been one of your brothers.”
“I am my mother’s only child, Sir.”
And no excuse was good enough to get the little lamb off the hook, because the lion had decided to have him for lunch.
Most of all, the statement spotlights the corruption and shocking cupidity that underlie the ongoing war, and explains why it must rage on despite the hair-raising cost in both military and civilian lives. Short of summarily executing them, the officers hold young men to ransom, demanding anything from FCFA 300,000 to a CFA one million, with the threat of indefinite detention hanging over their heads like the sword of Damocles. That is what public servants in Cameroon do best – pushing people to a tight corner and farming their despair.
The paradox is that these troops are purportedly deployed to defend the unity of Cameroon, and yet in their every act they strengthen the case for separation. What could Biya possibly do now to convince the millions who have seen their relatives raped, tortured, maimed, killed, detained or flushed out and their homes razed to the ground, that this Cameroon can still be their country?
Weak human institutions without character often take on the character of those who lead them. Most leaders we know would promptly cut short a foreign trip and run back home when some accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack takes the lives of a handful of their citizens.
President Biya’s recent trip to China in the midst of the calamitous happenings in the country is only the latest of his many demonstrations of insensitivity to the loss of Cameroonian lives.
But coming from him, neither that nor the fact of calling elections in the midst of all the bloodshed, no longer surprises anyone. What takes our breath away is the fact that the callousness has so rubbed off on State institutions that even councilors from the affected areas could still afford to go out and elect people into a chamber that has systematically looked the other way while their constituents were being massacred and disposed of home and property?
It all seems to feed the illusion that divide-and-rule is working, since the regime seems to be succeeding in divorcing the traditional rulers and the so-called elite from the people, by making them put their hearts where their mouths are.
In so doing, Yaounde is emasculating the traditional institutions in the Anglophone Regions ahead of the elusive decentralization it claims can solve the so-called “crise Anglophone.” No one is surprised if it does not occur to the new vassal in charge of that portfolio that such emasculation makes the traditional rulers the more easily expendable. He must have learnt nothing from the Balikumbat and Kom people in this regard. As for the members of the chambers of shame, they may well be allowed to live in their fools’ paradise with the money their chieftain may have borrowed from the Chinks, but they are far less relevant and more expendable than the rulers. So they can bay the moon while the caravan passes as they are wont to do – but a stray bullet cannot tell a senator’s kinsman from a ‘nobody’.
And what if… just what if, someday the popcorn starts popping closer to home for those who are now making brisk business of the war? Has Yaounde thought about that? It is easy to raze Kwakwa or Kembong or Ngwandi. What would you do with Elig-Edzoa or Mvog-Atangana-Mballa for instance?
It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore Johnson Suleiman’s prophecy that Southern Cameroonians are nothing but sacrificial lambs for a blood-thirsty cultic warlord. But all said and done, no human being, however elevated in the occult, can go beyond their God-determined tether. They may laugh like the Egyptian magicians at Moses’ rod but their snakes end up being eaten up.
Biya must realize that by waking up now and calling a halt to this madness, he would be saving not just Anglophone lives but those of his own kinsmen in the long run. That is a fact that impressive displays of state military might will not change.
The problem seems to be that we who claim to have the Omnipotent God on our side have reduced our dependence on him to mere symbolism. The churches can organize a few days of half-hearted prayers and then go back to the business of sowing seeds and raising funds for this or that project. Is the bloodletting in Cameroon not serious enough to warrant a Nineveh-type showdown with God? Or has the faith of all Christians also fallen under some cultic spell?

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply