“I Refuse to Be Silent” – The Tragedy of Ambazonia

By Jude Mortimer Kehla

The decision by Cho Ayaba to start a military rebellion in the village of Dadi was one of the worse decisions in recent memory. It was not informed as his sycophants tell us everyday on facebook by any strategic thinking, preparation or backing. It was grandstanding for one purpose only: a desperate attempt to remain relevant in the struggle in the face of the emergence of a new crop of anglophone leaders led by Sissiku Ayuk Tabe.

This seems to have been a trend throughout the struggle. After fleeing to Nigeria and finding himself isolated and the centre of gravity shifted to the young men Mark Bara and Ivo Tapang, in desperation Tassang joined the southern Cameroon movement in exile in Nigeria not because he was a fervent believer in separation but because he was isolated and alone.

Having been made interim head of the movement, Sissiku Ayuk Tabe declared independence on 1’st October 2017 not because it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it, nor could he pretend to have any kind of control over the territory or democratic legitimacy but because he was goaded into that declaration by the group around Boh Herbert and Morisc who would have gone ahead and declared independence from the U. S before him.

And in other to counteract the emergence of Cho Ayaba as a warlord in Southern Cameroon with influence in the field and fundraising powers abroad, some members of the IG and old activists like Akwanga declared their military presence in Southern Cameroon which finally became a free for all as they realised the power of the gun in mapping out spheres of influence on the ground by holding the people, the institutions both traditional, civil society and business as well as the government agencies to ransom.

As I have said before citing the case of Algeria, the level of violence in a revolution is related to the emergence of factions within the revolutionary bodies and the competition for attention between them. Southern Cameroon groups in the struggle seem to have worked themselves into a dilemma of their own making as they sort to thwart each other’s advance and name recognition by out-staging one another.

The idea that there was a grand strategy behind it all is one of the biggest jokes that has caused the lives of thousands of people in the last 2 years. Unfortunately, nobody is laughing. But I laugh each time Tapang Ivo reminds us that he has come up with more than 200 strategies for a successful revolution. Although he boasts of having presented 200 strategies, you might have noticed that nobody has ever seen them. Each time the revolution enters a new phase he announces that it was number so and so of his 200 strategies.

Ambazonia Defence Force Fighters

Take Tapang’s recent claim that he has a winning strategy for the war in one year. He points out that Cameroon has an army of 15.000 soldiers and that Ambazonia is divided into 13 counties. According to our world-class strategist, it is simple. If you divide 15.000 by 13 and ask every county in so-called Ambazonia to provide 1150 recruits to amba (And he means the ADF of Cho Ayaba) then you can win the war in one year. for such a brilliant strategist, it does not occur to him that Cameroon too can do the same and put four times as many soldiers in the field as Ambazonia. It has not occurred to him that soldiers from Cameroon will be better led as their officers have access to training in the best military schools all over the world while illiterates run amba camps in villages of Southern Cameroon.

It has not occurred to our ‘strategist’ that Cameroon goes into the field with the backing of the entire budget of the country No matter how much of it is embezzled). while amba has to make do with the ransom they get from kidnapping teachers and businessmen and their children.

The tragedy unfolding at present in the NW and SW regions is because 17 to 20-year-old boys who should be in school accept this childish pronouncement as truth and then go out and get themselves killed for nothing. The idea that the militant uprising was meant to prevent the army of Cameroon from killing innocent civilians is the biggest lie that has been told to our people. Amba has not stopped one house from being burnt or one person from being killed. Right now the greatest revolutionary achievements of amba in the NW and the SW region is that they have succeeded through terror to close the schools, to destroy business activities, to mastermind more than 10.000 kidnappings and ransom payments and to usher in a general state of lawlessness.

We are now reaching a stage where people long for the second class citizenship of LRP than the lawlessness of amba and the fancy of kids playing at revolutionaries. But I don’t think so. I think people now hate both especially when they see the incompetence of the government and the behaviour of the army around them.

Silence is a form of collusion.

Appeal to the Amba Boys (Separatist Fighters) In Nso – NW, #Cameroon

My dear brothers, we have got to talk. As you have seen the devastation of the army operation in Nso land has been terrible. A lot of innocent people have been killed and like I pointed out not even Tchiroma can make a case that those killed were amba sympathisers or terrorist. The 78 -year-old Pa Yuven killed in cold blood near his house cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said to have been an amba supporter. He was just an old man who could not run when soldiers came shooting.

Bridge between Bamali and Ndop
The bridge linking Bamali and Bamunka allegedly cut by Separatists. This is the main link to Nso from Bamenda

As we speak close to 100 houses have been burnt down in Nso and there are signs that neither the burning of houses nor the killing is going to stop soon. This means our people are facing a terrible Christmas period. As you also know each time the army comes to have their fun in a neighbourhood people abandon their houses and escape into the bushes, in other villages and towns with children and sick family members. But not everybody has escaped the burnt towns, villages and neighbourhoods.

There are sick people who cannot go to the hospital and there are old people like Pa Yuven who cannot run each time the army comes calling. These old people will like to leave the towns or villages but they cannot. Some of them have remained as they only person in their houses even though they have no food and cannot even go out to buy provisions.

My dear brothers some of the problems our people are now facing is made worse by the actions of amba soldiers. At the beginning of last week, before things degenerated with the killing of the two princes, the small market at level land went open and women especially came out with their small wares to sell. vegetables, cabbages, beans, potatoes etc. A contingent of BIRS came there and as they approached the market people panicked and started moving away fast. The BIRS actually assuaged their fears and told them to continue buying and selling. Then they left. As soon as the BIRS were gone, amba boys came and fired in the air which attracted the BIRS back who came back shooting and that was the end of the market as people scattered in panic. There was no reason to disrupt this market, just as there is no reason why Kumbo has no portable water today and the roads are blocked making it impossible for medicines and other provisions from reaching Nso.

Your blocking the roads has not stopped the military from entering Nso and doing whatever they want. Instead, I am told by a lot of people that the amba checkpoints in Melim, Sob, Nkar and Wainamah now charge three times more than the amount the gendarmes used to take from drivers. So, my dear Brothers, you are making it even worse for our people, your own people who are trapped in Nso and cannot move because most cannot afford to pay you the exorbitant amounts you are charging for them to get through. Whatever you do please open up the road to Bamenda.

There are thousands of people in Nso who are HIV positive or who need insulin injections for their kidneys who are slowly dying because the drugs cannot come in from Bamenda. Especially for HIV positive persons, they will become resistant to the drugs they are using. Once that happens they cannot get the new drugs against that resistance. They exist but they are 30 times more expensive than what is commonly used now in Cameroon. You might not see this but in the end, your actions will be responsible for killing more of our people than the army has done.

It makes no sense.

As sons of the soil, I am begging you to open up the road to Bamenda and set our people free. Let those who do not have houses now because of the actions of the military leave and go to family members. And for heaven’s sake let provisions and medicines come through. The disruption of businesses serves no military purpose except to instil a reign of terror. What else will you do once everybody becomes impoverished?

Kidnapped Students and the Failure of Governance in Cameroon

After news broke about the kidnap of students of PSS Nkwen purportedly by Ambazonian fighters a lot of rumours has been circulating as to the whereabouts of the students. The video not only showed the face of one of the kidnappers but an attempt was made on Facebook to immediately link the face to one army officer – Mveng Rostand Armel. All of that simply confuses the facts of a case that is beginning to sound even more Kafkaeisk than we are used to from Cameroon.

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I have succeeded in talking to the parents of one of the boys in the Video today and I won’t say which one but this is what seemed to have happened fro the point of view of the parents.
1) The children were not kidnapped yesterday or the day before but had been kidnapped on the 30’th of October.
2)The school had on their own decided to negotiate with the kidnappers and apparently had handed over some money to them. The amount of 2.5 million has been mentioned.
3) The school had apparently not informed the parents of the kidnap and most parents to their shock had simply recognised their kids in the video that went viral and went to the school to demand answers
4) The school had apparently also not contacted the police or the army because it is the experience now of everybody in the North West that once the army is brought into anything, it goes from bad to worse and people die,
5) The Governor of the North West region Mr Lele L’Afrique seemed only to have heard of this kidnap when it went viral on social media and then rushed to the school yesterday afternoon. He ordered the Vice principal, the bursar and teachers to be locked up by the police or gendarmes and all their telephones were seized. The Governor then went further and ordered the army to surround the school and cordon off the area.
6) At the same time the kidnappers holding the students said they wanted to bring them back and deliver them safely to the school as it is not their intention to hurt the students but with the school being surrounded they cannot show themselves around there because they know they will not only be shot but the children in their keeping will be killed too.
7) Contrary to what has been claimed the school was not guarded by the army
8) PSS Nkwen is special in that situated in a hidden area in Ntahsin, which is not yet very populated, the school was housing students from almost all PSS schools in the NW region because amba boys had attacked the teachers and bursars of CPC Bali, PSS Bafut and PSS Mankon. Consequently, they had transferred their students to this quiet area.
9) Having seen the video on social media parents from all over the country rushed to PSS Nkwen to try and collect their children today but the governor and the army will not allow them and was threatening the parents.
10) A bad situation developed there this afternoon with parents challenging the soldiers to shoot them if they want but that they are not leaving without their children. It got so bad that they had to bring in Ni John Fru Ndi to come and plead with the parents to go back home today and they left the school at 5 P.m promising to be back the next day for their children.
11) The parents have pleaded with the governor to send the soldiers away so that the children can be brought back safely but the governor will not hear of it and is determined to use force to solve the problem. The fear of every parent tonight is that the army is going to do something stupid and get the children killed in the crossfire or that somebody responsible for the kidnapping (whether it is amba or the army will kill the children to prevent their identity being revealed. In that case, the seizure of the telephones of the teachers of the school who have done nothing wrong and are now being held in custody speaks for itself.
12) Tomorrow promises to be a very hot day at the school campus, soldiers or no soldiers as parents and grandparents come looking for their children. Governor Lele L’Afrique needs to know that his attempt at high handedness might just possibly cost the lives of those children.