UK Cameroonians & Sympathisers Deliver Petition at French Embassy; Demand Response From CommonWealth Secretariat

Friday 20 January 2017 was a very chilly day in London, with temperatures just about 2 degrees or less. Even more chilling were the images and messages carried by Cameroonians and their sympathisers from across the United Kingdom. The messages were similar to those carried in previous demonstrations, decrying and denouncing the marginalisation of English-speaking Cameroonians. There was also a petition that was signed by all present and handed to a representative of the French government.

One noticeable difference, however, were the images and messages demanding the release of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium leaders – Barrister Agbor Balla and Dr Fontem Neba.

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Their first destination was the Embassy of France in Knightsbridge, London. Among the many songs chanted, most notable, was one asking the question ‘how many people will Paul Biya Kill?’ – the appropriateness of the question is reflected in the silence of the international community to the violent crackdown going on in Cameroon. One cannot there help but wonder with the protesters – how many people does a dictator have to kill before there is an international outcry?

Another notable song was a dirge from the slavery days:

Oh, my home! Oh, my home!
When shall I see my home
When shall I see my native land
I will never forget my home!

By this song, the demonstrators were implying they were slaves in their own country. Another interpretation could be the barbaric conditions that had made some of the demonstrators to flee their Cameroon.

Why Embassy of France?

Many people might wonder why the protesters went to the French Embassy and Commonwealth Secretariat instead of going to the Cameroon High Commission. The reason is simple – they understand that the problems in Cameroon are directly linked to France’s continuous domination in Africa. In 1916, the French and British, after taking Cameroon from the Germans, arbitrarily divided the country between them. France had 80% of the Country, while the UK had 20%. These two regions, therefore, evolved with two distinct colonial structures and cultures.

Upon independence in 1960, the French staged a false independence after a war that had killed about 120,000 Cameroonian Nationalists. The UK however, in 1961, quickly left Southern Cameroons, following a sham plebiscite that amalgamated the two regions in a manner that created the conditions for a political osmosis. Given the French control of the Cameroon economy, and her inglorious history of intervening in the affairs of many African countries, it was only natural for the protesters to stop at France’s doors to demand that their country be left alone.

What seemed to be a simple demonstration almost spiralled out of control when the French Embassy refused to receive the signed petition from the demonstrators. The anger of the crowd was only assuaged when a contingent of British police officers, explained to the French Embassy that they could not refuse the petition. Audience was finally granted to the representatives of the West Cameroon Movement For Change (WCMC), UK. The petition was handed, with a promise that protesters will return if it was not acted upon.

Return to the Commonwealth Secretariat

On Friday, 09 December 2016, Cameroonians handed a petition to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, in which they demanded the suspension of Cameroon from the intergovernmental organisation. As no noticeable action has been seen from the organisation, protesters, therefore turned up at the Secretariat to demand a response to their petition.

Despite being a very peaceful protest, the large police presence was an indication that the demonstrators’ reaction to the French hesitation to collect their petition, had sent a clear message to the Met Police. The message was simple: this was not a joke!!!

After an agonising wait, the WCMC chairperson and another representative emerged fromimg-20170120-wa00441 the Secretariat with a letter which was read to the crowd. The letter had been hastily put together and did not respond directly to the petition. The crowd expressed their disappointment, but promised a return unless some decisive action was taken soon – at least beginning with an official statement from the Commonwealth, denouncing the killings, rape, torture and arbitrary arrests taking place in Southern Cameroons.

 

West Cameroon Movement for Change Petition French Embassy, London

On Friday, 20 January 2017, the West Cameroon Movement for Change, UK, led protesters to the French Embassy where they handed a petition.

The petition had five requests for the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, to pass on to her country. It asks France to:

  1. Stop its support for the dictatorial regime in Cameroon
  2. Condemn the rape, torture, acts of violence and arbitrary arrests of innocent citizens.
  3. Stop the proliferation of arms within Cameroon and the French African Region
  4. Stop its continuous dominance and exploitation of Cameroon through non-existent or extinct ‘bilateral deals’.
  5. Recognise that her continuous lopsided interference in Cameroon is likely to lead to a genocide similar to that of Rwanda.

Below is the full English version of the petition:

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The petition ended by reiterating the demands of WCMC and their sympathisers.

Below is a copy French Version of the petition

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An Open Letter to Akwanga Ebenezer by Walter ONEKON ANGWERE

An Open Letter to Akwanga Ebenezer by Walter ONEKON ANGWERE

EDITOR’S NOTE:

As anyone familiar with the current struggle raging in Cameroon will testify, it is not a new problem. It is one that has been raging for many decades. It is a struggle that has consortiumhad its fair share of martyrs and traitors.

However, considering the legitimacy of this struggle, one is apt to wonder why victory has seemed so elusive for so long. If you are among those wondering, look no further than the actions of many who have sought to undermine the great work being done by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium.

It is therefore not surprising that when Ebenezer Akwanga, who prides himself to be a great champion of the struggle and who carries on his body the evidence of the brutality of the Cameroon regime, made a voice message in which he criticised, the

walter
Walter Onekon Angwere

Consortium, some critical thinkers like Walter Onekon did not spare words in telling him how they felt.

Below is the letter Walter wrote to Ebenezer.

Dear Sir,
It is with disappointment that I address you on the verge of the New Year 2017. I have observed that instead of you being for the struggle to liberate the Anglophone Cameroonians from their present predicaments, you seem to be sowing seeds of discord and discouraging the masses. Why this show of egoism? Why do you think that you are more Southern Cameroonian than any other Southern Cameroonian?

It is morally wrong to take credit for what you have not done. Come to think of it: What have you done for this struggle that you want everybody to listen to you? I remember you had a failed strike in the university of Buea in 1997, if I am not mistaken. That failure seems to have frustrated you till date. You need not vent your frustration on us and this does not in any way mean that you have been leading the struggle for years.

Every Southern Cameroonian, be those in the Regime or in the opposition understands that the Anglophones have a problem and just like you, they have been quiet until the lawyers and teachers spoke out, more than two months ago. Have you ever had a rally to educate the people like the lawyers have done this time around? The answer is NO. You wrote a few books while in prison on the ‘Anglophone Palaver’ but that does not mean you are the only one who has written on this issue. Let me quickly remind you that a great part of your book talks about your person and not necessarily the Anglophone problem.

I have observed you very keenly since this current strike started and noted with dismay that you are not happy that people, other than Akwanga could awaken West Cameroonians to stand for their right. That is why you have opted to discredit and insult them. You even went as far as insulting online journalists for informing the population. The reason you give is that independence is better than a Federation. May I remind you that any liberation is a process and all steps (in this case the federation) counts.

You are an epitome of discord and it is my humble advice that you desist from that unpatriotic attitude. It is because there was an SCNC that you formed the SCYL. Unfortunately, you have never paid allegiance to the SCNC. Why this ego? That’s why you insult Mola Litumbe with no remorse. The fact that you never became a pastor of the PCC, or a civil servant of Cameroun does not mean you must become the president of Southern Cameroons to prove a point to your enemies. How dare you insult the Consortium and call its members ‘old fools’? Are you younger than the consortium members and what makes you think West Cameroonians consider you useful? And even after you shun your citizenship and adopted an American citizenship?

Even that Bible that you claim to read should have told you that you may start a cause, but must not necessarily take that cause to the expected end. You will be at peace with yourself if you accept that you no longer have a role in this struggle and enjoy your new citizenship and take care of your health.

Yes! President Agbor-Balla is a Human Rights Activist/lawyer. How does this make him not capable of handling a cause aimed at giving back the people their rights? We have to remember to chew our words before we say them. Yes! Mola Litumbe and Cardinal Tumi are old, but they seem to reason more that you, who is almost 60. You are the one to redirect your anger and be objective in the way you demand serious things. You have failed from the beginning and yet to convince me that you can succeed. You asked us to stay focused but you left the cause and settled in America.

Yes! Litumbe never matched when he was young and you too never did. You have to learn to respect the views of others. You insult the Consortium and the populace of Anglophone Cameroon but forget quickly that it is thanks to them that you are talking today. Worst still, you talk without any concrete plan of actions. I cannot count the number of promises you have made which never took effect. Every day I hear you say “…I am coming soon…” but that soon is taking forever. Are you for real? Don’t you think it is time we rallied all our efforts behind the Consortium?

Yes most of us do not have a resume like you do. But also tell us that a bigger part of your resume for this struggle has been trying to amass wealth (political or economic) for yourself. That is why in Banjul you were interested in La Republique paying you royalties for standing against them. Is that feasible? Stop fooling yourself and bullying Southern Cameroonians.

There is a saying in pidgin English “if you nor touch bitter leaf, your hand nor go bitter”. Your hand is bitter, and your last audio message says this all and it is in your place to prove me and the rest of English Cameroon to the contrary. To do this you must come to Cameroon to lead your struggle and stop posting useless audios and videos on social media that you don’t want the Consortium to be given the mandate to lead.

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation in UNITING THE ANGLOPHONES BEHIND THE CONSORTIUM AND THE CURRENT STRUGGLE.

We are, we can and we must be stronger together.

The Consortium Calls for Caution; The UK Gains Momentum

Everything seemed to be set for the Cameroon worldwide peace walk that had been scheduled on the 2nd January 2017. Cameroon president Paul Biya’s speech on 31 December in which he insinuated that protesters were ‘extremists being manipulated’ did more to inflame the already precarious situation.

The President’s speech was a further example of how out-of-touch the man at the top was, about affairs in the Central African Nation of Cameroon. Riddled with a lot of contradictions, one thing that was clear from the end-of-year address was that protesters were clearly being threatened by the president. Hours following the address, this became evident as most of the strategic towns in the West Cameroon region, which were already militarised, got additional troops.

In the light of all these, it was therefore not surprising when the Civil Society Consortium issued their 11th Press release in which they assessed the situation and called off the protests scheduled for 2nd January.

CONSORTIUM PRESS RELEASE NO. 11
CONSORTIUM PRESS RELEASE NO. 11

This action was received with mixed feelings. While some persons were of the opinion that the Consortium had acted responsibly by thinking of the potential loss of lives, there were some persons like Mark Bareta who felt they did not have the mandate to call off the demonstrations. Others like Jet Newton felt that such an action will only embolden the regime in Cameroon.

 

This notwithstanding. the Leader of the West Cameroon Movement for Change, UK, Mike Takie, quickly reassured members that the Consortium had simply called off the demonstrations in Cameroon and not those planned in other places. He was very emphatic that this was rather a clarion call for the diaspora to understand the need to take the struggle abroad.

This call was hearkened by many who turned up at 10 Downing street, despite the freezing January weather. The banners and placards carried a variety of messages, all leading to one conclusion – West Cameroonians were ready for a long struggle and were not going to give up until Biya made some much-needed reforms that will guarantee the restoration of their lost dignity.

After several messages either addressing the protesters, addressing the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, addressing the Biya Regime or simply addressing the general public, the protesters, walked through Whitehall to Trafalgar Square where more speeches and exaltations were made.

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When the London protesters finally gathered in a local pub for some refreshments and deliberations, one thing was certain – they were poised for a long, bitter struggle. None of them was under the illusion that this was going to be an easy walk. Nonetheless, they seemed in agreement on one thing – it was either this walk was taken to its logical conclusion or West Cameroonians would see their gradual extermination by Biya.

An address from Mr. Takie further informed the group of many planned activities including upcoming demonstrations in and around London. The next destination was a revisit to the Commonwealth Secretariat to get a response to the petition handed to them a few weeks ago.

The response from all gathered was unanimous – THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!