We are currently in the throes of very off-putting moments in the history of Cameroon. This is because what started just over one year ago as benign recrimination against the Biya regime, relating to perceived marginalization and alienation of Anglophones by teachers and lawyers, has wittingly or unwittingly morphed into mutual savagery!
This criminal disregard for the sacrosanctity of human lives has begun reaching very dreadful proportions. To that extent, Cameroon has lost its allure of peaceful oasis in a Central African desert that has been perpetually at war with itself, ever since negotiations collapsed between Government and aggrieved Anglophones on account of surreptitious supplanting of leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium to Yaounde and their eventual incarceration for seven months, which circumstance forced some of them to flee into exile.
In their absence, therefore, the lack of effective and efficient coordination of the Anglophone vision for a more transparent and accountable governance that ensued has disposed inhabitants of the Southwest and Northwest Regions to reliance on a utopian elixir derivable from a yet to be established Ambazonia Republic. This rather puerile attraction to propaganda spewed by exuberant Diaspora youths has, in any case, been fuelled by the regime’s espousal of the delusion that lousy proclamation of state authority and ruthlessness in quelling protests is what is needed in these trying times. The lacklustre disposition of elected and appointed high-ranking Anglophones, who in any case, have been disavowed by their kinsfolk and, by that token, lost legitimacy to represent their interest, has not been helpful in charting a conciliatory course for the now incensed youths.
In the event, unwary observers could not have conjectured that we would find ourselves in circumstances akin to the early 1960’s in East Cameroon wherein traveling to certain areas of the country was analogous to executing a project with its sidekick of carrying on board design and feasibility studies right up to monitoring and evaluation. The horrors that used to adorn Bamileke and Bassa land are still with us. From the killing of gendarmes in the Northwest Region in the wake of the September 22 and October 1, 2017 clashes between soldiers and protesting youths during which many civilians are alleged to have been felled by live bullets, to the vengeful and gruesome murder of soldiers and policemen in Manyu Division, we have been witnessing a gradual descent into callousness, and to that extent, implantation of a hate culture that must be halted at all cost and by all means, if we are to avoid the Rwandan experience of 1994. We, at least, have the advantage of hindsight that can be effortlessly gleaned from the Nigeria/Biafra experience and more recently Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Central African Republic.
Indeed, it is unfathomable that travelling to Mbonge Sub-Division and, eventually, Ndian Division has become nightmarish for a people known to be among, if not, the most hospitable Cameroonians. Penultimate Friday, it was the Chief of Ngongo-Bakundu, Ekebe Johannes who was lured by his own subjects out of a colleague’s funeral in Kwakwa, where he was officiating as coordinator, into a gruesome murder actualized by bullets being sprayed into his stomach at close range. Barely a week before that horrendous occurrence, a policeman had been decapitated with only skin holding his neck at a checkpoint in Kombone Bakundu. As if such savagery and despicable decline into psychosis were not mindboggling enough, a soldier driving his family from Mundemba to Kumba was only two days following the murder of Ngongo Chief, pulled out of his car and rough-handled to death in the full glare of his wife and children, by irate youths said to be exhibiting retribution against the destruction and paranoia inflicted on their kinsfolk by marauding soldiers who had invaded their village in the immediate aftermath of the murder of a policeman.
Prior to this obtuse display of superior force and vengeance along the Mbonge/Kumba road, the battlefield had been Manyu Division. Apart from the gruesome murder of soldiers, retaliatory expeditions of the forces of law and order had also, wreaked despicable havoc on mostly innocent and harmless villagers, causing many of the able-bodied persons to flee into the bushes, leaving the dead without indulgence of even a token burial. The same overdrive reaction has been noticed along the Mbonge/Kumba road where no fewer than 10 houses have been burnt – some with the unfortunate repercussion of loss of lives of unwary inhabitants. One is forced to question the correlation between the action of irate youths and the incineration of the abodes of mostly innocent villagers.
Be that as it may, this is not the time to apportion blames. On the contrary, such deleterious circumstances as we are currently experiencing call for very profound introspection. We should search ourselves very, very deeply, and be asking if this were to be the pattern of governance we are anticipating as legacy for our unborn children, how would posterity evaluate us? With this character as guiding principle, we will definitely come to the realization that all what we are killing ourselves for amounts to emptiness. From the Head of State, Paul Biya to the local villager in his native Mvomeka or Erat in heart of Korup Rainforest in Ndian Division, all of us are sojourners on this earth and one day we shall die, and thereafter, be subjected to the inescapable ritual of account rendering to our creator, the Almighty God. If we would have only given some time to this incontrovertible essence of life, no matter the side of the dichotomous divide of Anglophones and regime goons we happen to find ourselves, we would certainly have come to grips with the necessity to tread softly and, invariably spare families the irritant represented in premature deaths.
We are Cameroonians for crying out loud! What has been the stumbling block in having recourse to our customary gathering under shade trees to discuss whatever palaver is affecting the commonwealth? It can, indeed be very ‘pleasurable’ to sit back and watch how the tragedy that has sprung from indiscretion of regime headship and blinkered youths has been wasting the lives of valiant Cameroonians- that is if your close relative has not been hit and killed by a bullet or the coarseness of summary execution by knife cuts. Oh yes, that is the level to which we have degenerated. Regime apologists are so encrusted in their quest to ingratiate themselves to their masters in Yaounde that they forget that some of their actions are not only detrimental to the collective security of the people they are supposed to protect as representatives of the state but more significantly, they run counter to the aspirations of citizens they owe the responsibility of ensuring prevalence of peace and tranquillity that are necessary ingredients for self-actualization.
We are certainly above the lunacy that seems to pervade the national territory. Whether from the aggrieved party or the Government, the killings are getting to a point where a ceasefire has become imperative. Let the powers that be, too, seek the face of God and realize that nobody wins a war against their own people. We are Cameroonians. That is a fact! On the flip side, we cannot side-track the quintessence of our existence because of the myopic view of potential new era to be ushered by some obscure force or organization, notwithstanding the zeal and correctness of our recriminations. As a parting note, too, let those promoting the idea that some inhabitants of this geopolitical expression are more Cameroonian than others rethink their current stance and wear a different mind-set that will conduce to a new Cameroon where peace with justice and progress with stability reign supreme.
By Ngoko Monyadowa