All Ambazonia Consultative Conference (AACC): How Far – So Far?

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 Ayaba Cho Lucas' View on School ResumptionCouncil (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 A Concerned Ambazonian highlights the current divide among the groupsthrough 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.

 

 

The Paradox of #Anglophone Children Going to Study in French #Cameroon

The last few days have been particularly difficult for me. This is probably because I am very passionate about education and as September approaches, I cannot bear the thought of Anglophone children staying out of school for another academic year.

Importance of Education for Motivation - Jim rohn
Importance of Education for Motivation – Jim Rohn

I was mildly optimistic that the Anglophone leaders meeting in Washington DC over the weekend will make this a priority and pressure the Yaounde regime into some form of capitulation. As this did not happen, I was nursing my disappointment, I came across a Facebook post in which the person jocularly indicated that Anglophones were now going abroad to study in La Republique Du Cameroun.

Making reference to the ultimatum issued by Chris Anu, the Ambazonia Interim Government Communication Secretary, who gave till the end of May  2018, for Francophones to leave and advised Anglophones to come back home, this Facebook post pointed to the irony that the reverse was happening – Anglophones were rather going over to French Cameroon, to ensure the education of their children.

Education leads to Peace
Education leads to Peace

This trend should not in the least be surprising, given the importance placed on education within African societies. Education is seen as the only way out of poverty and the assurance of a better future. For parents, therefore, who have had their kids out of school for two years, this is as much a sacrifice as they can make.

The paradox of the situation, however, is that the Anglophone crisis began in 2016, in part, as a quest to stop the Francophonisation of English schools. By prolonging the school boycott strategy and forcing Anglophone families to send their kids into the French-Speaking zones, the policy is not only depriving the Anglophone region of financial resources, it is achieving the exact thing, the protests in 2016 sought to challenge.

The longer the school boycott strategy is in force, the more Anglophone providers of education suffer; the longer the strategy persists, teachers, especially those employed by the private sector, suffer and the more Anglophone Children find themselves at the heart of a French system of education.

Education is the sure means to a sustainable Future
Education is the sure means to a Sustainable Future

I must state here, however, that this happens to be only the children of well-to-do families. The poorer children, whose parents cannot afford to send them to the French areas to study, will be left uneducated. This, therefore, creates another problem. A class distinction, in which the rich create opportunities for their kids, while the poor suffer the brunt of the school boycott approach. In the not too distant future, the rich will inevitably become richer, while the poor will remain servants thereby broadening the class distinction.

Justice Ayah Paul Contends that School Resumption & Ending Of Hostilities are Mutually Inclusive

As the dust is about to settle on the just-concluded All Ambazonia Consultative Council (AACC) which held over the weekend in Washington DC, some people have been left underwhelmed, not least, Justice Ayah Paul Abine. In a post on his personal Facebook Page, the former Justice in a strongly-worded statement makes the case of why school resumption and cessation of hostilities were absolutely necessary. In my recommendations to the conveners of the conference, I had seven points that they could consider, among which were the declaration of a ceasefire and school resumption.

Justice Ayah Paul Abine
Justice Ayah Paul Abine

In that write-up, I was too optimistic and had treated both the issues of school resumption and cessation of hostilities, as mutually exclusive. I also made an argument that the call for hostilities to end could come from the Anglophone leaders. Ayah Paul has debunked this by arguing that the Cameroon government “cannot declare war and call on the adverse party to lay down their arms unilaterally.” and that the same government “cannot argue the case for a return to normalcy when [they] go killing people indiscriminately, including the most innocent”. After reading these logical arguments, I must admit that I was naive to assume that it was possible for such a solution to have come from the Anglophone leaders. Following therefore on the superior logic of Ayah, I will submit that ending of hostilities remains the responsibility of the Biya Regime.

The issue on which Ayah and I do agree on is the importance of education for the building of a sustainable future. Ayah argues clearly that:

…we owe posterity a collective duty to prepare those growing up to take the relay baton from us. Therefore, I am one with all those who hold that education is too invaluable to be toyed with. None of us would be doing with efficiency what we are doing today without education. It is absolutely self-defeating to prosecute for a better tomorrow and perpetrate simultaneously conduct that mars that very tomorrow.

The importance of education both as a human right and a conditio sine qua non for the sustainability of the Anglophone quest for freedom, having been established, the question remains as to how this can be achieved in an environment of conflict.

First off, we can all agree that school boycott has no impact on Biya, who has not placed any value on quality education in the 36 years he has been in power. If we agree on that, then we can also agree that Biya will never be moved by the declaration over the weekend, from the Anglophone leaders that schools should not resume. On the other hand, should the leaders of the opposing camp take up the challenge and highlight the importance of school resumption, they will automatically heap pressure on the regime, whose duty it is to ensure that children going to school are not put in harm’s way.

While reiterating therefore that the starting point for any calls for school resumption should be the cessation of hostilities, Ayah Paul goes on to declare that the Anglophone leaders have as much a responsibility as the Biya regime in making this happen. He argues that although the responsibility for ending the conflict lies with the regime, it is not a blank cheque for Anglophone leaders

…  at home and/or abroad [to] take refuge under continuing hostilities to stay formally resolute against the reopening of schools. My considered opinion is that we should leave the door open, thereby shifting the blame to those guilty of belligerency.

If the Anglophone leaders truly care about the future of the children at home, if they care about posterity and the sustainability of the quest for freedom, then they will surely be revisiting their resolution that schools should not reopen.

 

 

7 Things that the All Ambazonia Consultative Council (AACC) – Holding in Washington DC, Need to Address

In the invitations sent out for the AACC, the objectives for both days were stated as follows:

First Day August 18th. Will be a global telecast for thousands of Southern Cameroonian/Ambazonian Stakeholders and Friends of Ambazonia worldwide, who cannot travel to the US but are invited to make their voices heard, focusing on The Modalities of Separation of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia from The Republic of Cameroun. Leaders will recommend and vote on a Final Communique based on global inputs. 

Second Day August 19th. Will be highly restricted to Leaders of Liberation Groups, Civil Society, Episcopal Communities, and Human Rights Activists. They will talk about Unity and Collaboration, sign a Unity Declaration, and present a Joint Statement concerning our proposed Terms of Separation after the declaration of the restoration of our statehood of the former British Southern Cameroons /Federal Republic of Ambazonia.” 

I must admit that I clearly do not understand what the two days will achieve in the light of current events happening on the ground in Cameroon. If I am not mistaken, the first day will simply be a day when people across the world will repeat to each other, the same things that have been said from the beginning of time. I will therefore not be surprised if it turns out to be a day of history lessons of what happened and did not happen in 1961. As for the second day, there is some sort of contradiction. It states that a Unity Declaration will be signed and at the same time presentation of a joint statement about the proposed terms of ‘separation’.

If I understand from the invitation and from the confirmation that Dr. Simon Munzu sent out confirming his participation, this event will be both for Federalists and Separatists. Hence, how can a Unity of purpose be achieved? That said, I am going to propose Five Things that should be achieved at the Conference to make it a success.

1. Declare a Ceasefire:

I know that many people will immediately argue that as Biya is the one who declared war, he is the one who should call for a cease-fire. However, I will want to point out that the only reason Biya declared war over dialogue was that he was certain it will be one avenue in which he might have the upper hand. With superior weapons and training, and with support from the US, the Cameroon military has been using spy technology to locate the camps of Separatist fighters, leading to casualties that can be avoided. Let me just point out though, that calling for a ceasefire is NOT the same as surrendering. It is simply that Ambazonian leaders are taking the high ground to show Biya that they care about the lives of their citizens and will be willing to look for other ways of addressing the situation.

2. Announce School Resumption:

It is common knowledge that Anglophone kids have been going to school in many parts of the North West and South West, especially in the urban areas. However, given that there is no official declaration from the revolutionary leaders that schools should resume, everytime a child goes out, they are at risk.

However, some children, especially those from poorer backgrounds, have lost two years of studies. Children from affluent families have been sent over to cities East of the Mungo or sent abroad, where they are studying in peace. The paradox of this situation is that the kids making the most sacrifice – by not going to school – will be the ones who will have no place in a new dispensation. Be it a Federation or a New State, no one is going to employ kids who never went to school. Hence, those who made the sacrifices will remain slaves to the educated ones who made no sacrifices. This approach runs the risk of replicating the South African situation, whereby Freedom arrived but the critical mass of the population was incapable of taking leadership and control of their country, thereby effectively handing it back to the oppressors.

Also, depriving children of education has no impact on Biya’s Regime, as they do not care about the education of children in the first place. Finally, it is only the Taliban or Boko Haram that use the deprivation of children from schooling as a political tool.

3. Denounce in Strong Terms, the Killing of Civilians by Ambazonian Fighters:

I am sure some will again be quick to argue that Ambazonian fighters have not killed civilians. However, video and photographic evidence exist to prove the contrary. On several social media platforms, manned by Ambazonian activists, justification has been provided that the killing of civilians is usually because they are ‘traitors’. One of the key reasons for this struggle was that Anglophones claimed that they wanted to restore their Anglo-Saxon Heritage.

There is, therefore, no place in Anglo-Saxon culture whereby individuals arrogate to themselves the roles of judge, jury, and executioner. If anyone is truly a traitor, then evidence should be gathered for them to be tried in a competent Ambazonian court, whenever they have their independence. Killing people simply because they disagreed with an opinion or position, is exactly the things Biya did that made people stand up against him.

4. Denounce the Scapegoating of Francophones or Members of Political Parties:

Similar to the above, there have been attacks on Francophones, which were necessitated by the utterances of Tapang Ivo, Eric Tataw, and Chris Anu, who started asking that Francophones should leave. There is no mechanism to ensure that such will happen, and there is no tactical benefit from chasing out people who are also victims of the Biya monarchy of corruption and bad governance. However, such utterances, from people who are seen as leaders, have given room for the abduction of Francophones for ransom and for many to flee their homes in fear. Similarly, audios and posters asking that anyone wearing an SDF or CPDM T-short be shot at sight, have been making their rounds on social media. We know that as a result of poverty, many people wear those things simply as forms of dressing, rather than because they support those parties. Putting a target on them is, therefore, a dangerous move, that could lead to many unfortunate civilian deaths. Furthermore, we may not agree with elections, but we cannot force people to accept our views by killing them.

5. Call for an End to Ghost Towns:

I still struggle to see how forcing our people out of work or business on Mondays, has an impact on Biya’s regime. If anything, it hurts our people, and recently, has become an avenue for power-play. A case in point is that of Buea, whereby a few weeks ago, Ekema Patrick went out with thugs are were puncturing the car tyres of taxis that were not working. If the taxi men went out to work, they would have been attacked for violating ghost towns, however, they stayed at home and became easy targets of the monstrous gangster called Mayor of Buea. This struggle is about helping our people break free from bondage, we cannot continue to impose unnecessary ones on them.

6. Call for a Referendum:

That is the only way the voice of the people can truly be heard. I am not a fan of referendums, given the type of results that the Scottish Referendum and Brexit brought up, but in our situation, it seems the most viable option. Should calls for a referendum, however, lead to a negotiated outcome that does not involve the polls, but one which ends the bloodshed and gives Anglophones autonomy, then it will be applaudable. However, constantly talking of declaration of independence, without having any allies among the Fifteen members of the UN Security Council and perhaps none among the five permanent members with veto powers makes it a non-starter. I wrote a few days ago showing why gunning for independence through the UN was something that we might never achieve. The current trends of violence might only lead to UN involvement, which as we know, might only work in favour of the status-quo.

7. Link Up with Other Oppressed People across the World – Especially in Africa:

I made this suggestion during a march on Downing Street on the 2nd January 2017. We need to know that our strongest allies are other oppressed people across the world. We need to start by looking close to home. Francophones in other countries such around us who are also suffering from the shackles of French imperialism, might not have the same objective as us but will have the same goals, – breaking free. Reaching out and building coalitions with these groups will be a sure way of strengthening our bases.

It is my most fervent wish that some of these issues are considered during these two days so that some sanity might come back to our land.