It has been just over three weeks since the All Ambazonia Consultative Conference (AACC) took place in Washington DC. Many hailed the conference and the match in front of the White House as being the watershed moment for the Anglophone revolution. They were right, but not for the reasons they had in mind at the time.
As the dust settled on the conference and many were trying to analyse all that was said and done during that weekend, one thing that many hailed as progress, was that for the first time in a long time, the Anglophone leaders were united and focused on the one issue that made them leaders – the liberation of their people from the barbarism of Biya and France.
A few days after the conference, things began to unravel, beginning with the resolutions that were taken. Some people, like me, had hoped that this conference will be a time of deep reflection on the pain and suffering of the people within the English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon. It was hoped that resolutions that will be taken will be geared towards, not only alleviating the pain of the suffering masses, but also making sure that focus is taken away from the people and placed where it should rightly be – on the Biya Regime and France.
The first contentious issue was that of school boycott. The Washington DC conference resolved that schools should not resume in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, despite mounting evidence that this was counter-productive. Prominent persons such as Ayah Paul added their voice in calling on the leaders to consider the issue of school resumption seriously. The debate went on to social media and raged on for a few days, while the fate of children hung in a balance.
The Ambazonia Interim Government (IG), through its Communication Secretary, made a surprising turn-around, and in a live broadcast, announced that they were not against school resumption. They, however, said they could not guarantee the security of children going to school. This statement was interpreted differently, depending on what side of the divide a person was. For those in favour of school boycott, the fact that the IG could not guarantee security was a clear indication it was not in favour of school resumption. To those in favour of school resumption, it was interpreted that the IG was happy for parents and guardians to make the judgment and decide for themselves if it was safe for their kids to go to school. Many parents and children, tired of staying at home for over two years, decided to take to the second interpretation. Many children went to school and many schools opened on the resumption date.
The anti-school campaigners decided to step up their campaign to prove a point. Within a few days of school resumption, students and their principals were kidnapped from a number of schools. Some were tortured, some died. The point was made, there was insecurity in the country and so anyone going to school did so at their own risk.
More crucially, however, Ayaba Cho Lucas, the leader of the Ambazonia Governing Council (AGC) and Commander-in-Chief of the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF) announced on his Facebook page that schools will not resume until 2019. His reason was simple. Many of his fighters were students. The question of whether these students are of the right age to be involved in a military campaign, is that of another discussion. What however was clear from Ayaba’s message was that there was no agreement among the big stakeholders of the Washington Conference on the issue of school resumption. While the IG favoured the parents making the decision, Ayaba had made his decision and communicated it to everyone.
While this was clearly an area of disagreement between the major leaders of the Ambazonia revolution, it did not appear to be significant enough to be a call for concern. Everyone was still mildly optimistic that the other issues on which they agreed will carry the revolution forward and that within a short period of time, one will begin to see some signs of this unity, manifesting in the betterment of the situation on the ground for the suffering masses.
Over the weekend of 7 September 2018, rumours began circulating that there were disagreements on what to do with some money that had been raised in Washington DC. One Facebook account operating under the name of ‘Kemita Ashu’ posted a poll asking friends and followers to vote on what they wanted to be done with the money – share among groups or operate as a common fund.
By Monday 10 September, Chris Anu released an audio, in which he attacked some of the other leaders and challenged their views on the issue of the $50.000 raised in Washington DC. The following day, there was a rebuttal from Boh Herbert in which he also cast serious aspersions on the personality of Mr. Anu and others such as Sako Samuel, the Acting Interim President of the IG. To make matters worse, this was picked up by the local newspapers in Cameroon, with one publishing the damagine frontpage headline “Fight Over Money tearing Diaspora Ambazonia Leaders Apart – Suspected embezzlers to face Court Action.”
While the veracity in the headline, especially the aspect of court action could be a matter of conjecture, it, however, highlights the plight of the Anglophone people. It clearly paints a picture of leaders who are out of sync with the realities and sufferings of their people.
It would have been thought that with the growing number of deaths inflicted by the Biya regime, with the astronomical rise in the number of internally displaced persons and with uncertainty looming over the very existence of English-Speaking Cameroon, a unity of purpose among the leaders will be of utmost priority.
As supporters and worried citizens were trying to come to terms with all these developments, and as some activists have gone on the defensive to mitigate the damage through a reinterpretation of the issues, a new contentious issue has emerged. There is now the growing argument over dates on which some actions are being imposed on the people on the ground. The actual implication of the action, which seems to call for a month of inactivity, is unclear. However, what seems clear is that the leaders are again at loggerheads as to what date it should start. While some are of the view that it should start on the 16th of September, some are of the opinion that it should be 25th of September. This in itself has left the people who are facing the brunt of such discord, in a more dire situation. Some have concluded that this is a fight for dominance between the AGC and the IG. Whatever the case, this raises serious concerns about the future of the anglophone quest for freedom and further casts a gloomy spell on the future wellbeing of the whole of Cameroon, especially in the light of upcoming presidential elections.