There are two types of beings in Cameroon. Humans and Monsters. A monster shot a 4 months-old baby.
On May 20th, while the Cameroon state was busy trying to put up a show called ‘national day celebration’, a four month-old baby was shot death while asleep in herparent’s house in Muyuka, a town in the South West Region of Cameroon.
I just watched a news report from Equinox in which it is reported that the parents of the baby turned down a convocation to go to the police and give a statement.
I would have thought the police should have been the ones to come to the house and treat it as a crime scene, carry out investigations and bring whoever is responsible to justice.
Could it be because they are worried about what such an investigation, if carried out, would reveal?
I see people trying to apportion blame on who might be responsible. Some including the parents and eyewitnesses have blamed the Cameroon military, while the Cameroon state has blamed Ambazonia Separatist fighters. But it is just a simple case here.
Who is responsible for the security of people and property? Who is paid to protect babies such as Martha? Who is responsible for the current carnage and escalation of the crisis in the NW and SW Region of Cameroon? Who is responsible for calling for dialogue to end the conflict?
Whoever is responsible for any of the these, is fully responsible for the killing of that baby, irrespective of who pulled the trigger. The State of Cameroon failed to deal with the ongoing crisis, when it was a simple demand from Lawyers and teachers. It is responsible for militarising the regions and sat back while young boys carried arms in what they classed as ‘self defence’. The government of Paul Biya failed to take care of the minor wound, and now it has developed pus. He and his Regime are responsible for the death of every citizen.
If you make a community unfit for humans to live in, monsters will thrive!
Kah Walla has taken to social media to defend her statements made recently in the USA about the situation in Cameroon’s English-Speaking Regions.
Despite the threats made to her life, the one time presidential candidate, has, in a statement, not only set the records straight but also made it clear to those threatening her that they cannot stop her from standing for the truth.
In this well written statement, Kah Walla blames the Biya Regime for its poor handling of the crisis and also attributes blame to Ambazonian leaders and activists who through lies, manipulation and intimidation, have made a bad situation worse.
There are few politicians and activists in Cameroon who are willing to defend their convictions, even when this puts their lives at risk.
Kah Walla has been one of the consistent advocates of freedom of expression and the rights of all Cameroonians to live in a country free from oppression. From the start of the current crisis in the English Speaking regions of Cameroon, she has not spared a moment to challenge the regime in Yaounde for its high handed and irrational approach to solving the problems.
When journalists and activists have been arbitrarily arrested, Kah Walla has not only spoken up, but also gone out on the streets to demand their release
This brave woman has been attacked, arrested and threatened countless times by the Biya regime. She has shown that she is willing to sacrifice her political ambitions for the sake of peace and prosperity in Cameroon, her recent action being her refusal to stand as a candidate during the 2018 sham presidential election.
Why then is Kah Walla not the people’s favourite? Why is it that Ambazonians are now threatening her for speaking the truth, even when that truth is liberating? Why is it that people who claim to be fighting against oppression, and who should appreciate Kah Walla as a credible ally, rather chose to vilify her?
While I cannot claim to know the answer to all these questions, one thing is clear, Kah Walla is just another victim of a misogynistic society. She is a victim of a society that is still scared of strong, powerful and independent women in positions of leadership.
Had rhe statements made by Kah Walla been made by any other male politician, the vitriolic attacks and threats would have been minimal or nonexistent.
All in all, I cannot fail to express my profound admiration for this woman and all she stands for. She is not only a symbol of liberation for the oppressed people of Cameroon, she represents a symbol of liberation for all women across the world who are still held down by patriarchal and misogynistic norms.
First I want to wish a Happy Easter to all our Christian Brothers and Sisters. Secondly, I wish to extend particular greetings to all who live in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon.
It would seem in the last 72 hours there has been quite a frenzy about a video snippet from the conference I spoke at, at the George Washington University Institute for African Studies. This frenzy has resulted in some persons in the Diaspora calling me an “enabler and declaring me an enemy of Anglophones and demanding that I should be arrested and tried”.
Thank you to all of you who have reached out to me out of concern for my safety and well-being. You are right to be concerned and I thank you for your love and affection.
Please be assured, I am serene and focused on the fight for change for Cameroon, as I have been for decades. There is absolutely no fear in my heart. No fear of visiting the South West and North West regions, which I will do upon return to Cameroon. No fear for my life.
Let me confirm some of the statements made at GWU, once again.
• There is an Anglophone problem in Cameroon which is over 60 years old.
• In the current phase of the Anglophone Crisis which erupted in October 2016, the Biya Regime holds 100% of the blame for the instigation and the escalation of the crisis. The Biya Regime refused to dialogue, refused to address fundamental problems and responded to non-violent protests with violence and killing. The Biya Regime cut off the internet for 3 months to the North West and South West. The Biya Regime radicalized the population and led to the taking up of arms by some groups.
Now let me get to the part of my comments at George Washington University which some have found controversial.
The fact that the Biya Regime is absolutely culpable, does not negate the fact that those who decided to take up arms to fight for independence misled and lied to the population from Day 1 and have continued to do so for the past 3 years.
The Biya Regime has killed Anglophones indiscriminately and committed all sorts of abomination on the population. This does not negate the fact that those who decided to take up arms have also used intimidation and violence from Day 1. It does not negate the fact that their choice to take up arms has created a situation in the North West and South West regions which is catastrophic and untenable for the population.
In fighting the Biya Regime, we are fighting a regime which has lied to us, manipulated us, intimidated us and used corruption and violence on us for the past 37 years. It is inconceivable to me that those who want change would use the same tactics of lies, manipulation, intimidation, corruption and violence on the population while trying to bring about change.
Whether it was the intention of those who fight for the independence of the South West and North West regions or not, that is what has happened and continues to happen on the ground. We can no longer keep silent about it.
A wide variety of political opinions exist among Anglophones. At the very least, there are:
• Those who believe in an armed fight for independence
• Those who believe in independence, but not in an armed fight
• Those who believe in regional autonomy of various types = Federation
• Those who still believe in the unitary state (Yes, Anglophones who are part of the regime are still Anglophones).
Personally, I believe in regional autonomy or what some call federation. However, I qlso believe, all the different opinions have a right to exist and to be expressed. We cannot build change, if we intimidate and are violent with those who have a different opinion from our own.
I strongly and openly disagree with the maintenance of the status quo of a unitary state.
I also strongly and openly disagree with the strategy of an armed fight and have stated clearly since 2016 that I believe this strategy will endanger the lives of Anglophones and will do little to advance their rights. The facts on the ground today, have confirmed that belief.
I will not allow anyone to intimidate me or stop me from expressing my opinion. No threat of violence or arrest will affect me. I have fought one oppressor in the person of Mr. Biya and his regime for decades, I will certainly not be afraid of Facebook oppressors living thousands of miles from the people they say they are fighting for, or any other oppressors in whatever form they may come.
From October 2016 to September 2017 the fight for Anglophone rights was largely non-violent. During that period, we counted less than 100 deaths (all these deaths could be attributed to government forces), ZERO refugees, ZERO internally displaced persons, ZERO villages burned.
The choice to take up arms gave the Biya Regime, which we all know to be violent and repressive, the foreseeable opportunity to intensify its violence.
From September 2017 to date the fight for Anglophone rights has included armed groups. During this period, we are counting at the very least 1000 dead (attributed to government, but also to armed groups), about 50,000 refugees and close to 500,000 displaced persons and thousands kidnapped. The education of an estimated 2,500,000 children is in jeopardy. The economies of the North West and South West are in shambles and fertile ground has been created for extreme violence and criminal behavior. The population lives in poverty, fear and confusion.
In my opinion, it is time to reassess the armed strategy and define new ways of fighting the Biya Regime that do not put Anglophones in the midst of violence, kidnappings, murder and general mayhem. You can agree or disagree with my opinion. What you cannot do is intimidate or threaten me.
Some have issued veiled threats to my life. I am amused. At the very least 1,000 people have died in the North West & South West. My life is not so special. If I lose it, and Cameroonians who remain behind gain freedom and better lives, you can imagine I made my peace with that many years ago.
The Biya Regime has its soldiers, those who are fighting for independence have their armed groups. I am part of that majority of Cameroonians who have no guns and no army. We will however not be intimidated or silenced by those who have arms on either side. We will speak our minds and fight for our freedom without violence.
You have killed many, and you may still kill many, including me. Know that however many you kill, there will still be others to rise up and fight for their rights, without violence and without guns.
We believe in our country, Cameroon. We believe in our future, we are on the ground fighting for our rights.
“On April 4, 2019 as the new ‘Lockdown’ imposed on the people of Fako was just beginning, the impact was being felt across the affected areas, especially by the most vulnerable of the population.
Time and again, many of us have questioned the rationale behind the ‘lockdowns’ or ‘shutdowns’ which basically call for all activities to stop for a period of time, usually 10 days. The last lockdown in February resulted to a hospital being burnt in Kumba and till date, no one has been held to account.
It is therefor not surprising that Justice Ayah Paul Abine took to Facebook to condemn the lockdown, indicating that the actions of those calling for such actions have the exact same effects on the people as the actions of the Regime they claim to be fighting against.
Below is the full text which has generated diverse opinions on Facebook.”
Mrs. Ayah returned from CONGELCAM, Buea, yesterday, after two hours of unsuccessful effort to buy fish. The husband visited the scene in the late evening to appraise the situation. WHAT A CHAOTIC SCENE! Some elderly women had been there all day without as much as entering the building. There was no queue. Entry was by the fittest. Even then, those behind the counter decided whose money to take when…
Anglophones abroad at room temperature often do grossly fail to appreciate what patriots in the war zone go through daily. While they have sound sleep with the police pacing up and down, assuring their security, those back home are under constant apprehension of being killed by direct or stray bullets.
While they enjoy good earnings, coupled, at times, with windfalls, the ‘dogs of war’ back home have lost everything: ascendants/descendants, shelter, access to medical facilities, foodstuffs preserved for the rainy day
While their own children are going to school, excellent schools quite often, the children back home suffer educational privation as the price of war.
Their catch clause is ‘WE ARE AT WAR’. So what? What is the difference between us? You run away from the war. Then, from your safe sanctuary, you seek to induce others to volunteer into all kinds of battlefields. How more valuable are your own lives? And are there any relative values in human lives?
WE ARE AT WAR, YES! Why are you at war if there is no difference between your conduct and the conduct of the other party you are at war with: if the end justifies the means either way?
If, for instance, the other party kills directly and you kill slowly, is the latter killing not more painful – dying after suffering? To put it otherwise, if the one party destroys food preserved for future use, and you prevent the planting of crops for future use, what difference does it make?
The wise teach that leadership is constant introspection so as to avoid repeating mistakes. And that is the mainstay of credibility. Empty boasting (bluff) leads to contempt. After the previous lock-down; after the ban on food leaving or entering the land; did credibility not require proper introspection before venturing into another lock-down: all the worse, such a sudden lock-down? What is the intended objective? What if the festival holds after all? Would the privation of movement and food not have been in vain? Even if the festival did not hold, would the price paid by the people be commensurate to the failure of the festival?
Those questions are of immense importance and relevance. Fighting against someone for doing what you too do is self-infliction. There’s little difference between someone killing a patient on board an ambulance and you preventing the desperately sick, including women under labour, from being taken to the hospital in the name of LOCKDOWN. There is little difference between the one who forces people into the bushes/forests to die from want of food/medicines and you preventing people from planting food crops during the planting season like now.
It is absolutely facetious to shout out that people should ‘STOCK FOOD AND WATER’! There are families here hosting as many as 25 refugees (some prefer to call them ‘internally displaced persons’). The minimum wage in Camerouoon is 38.000 francs. Would any intelligent person call on any such family to ‘STOCK FOOD AND WATER’ to last them 10 days? If such a family bought a bag of rice for 25.000 and some trog-canda, would they eat the rice raw? How much water would the family store for, maybe, 30 persons for bathing, laundry, cooking and drinking for 10 days?
LET US BE MORE SERIOUS – MORE HUMANE!!!
We beg to opine that it is self-defeating to fight against the very people one claims to be fighting for. May we add that true leadership is more than copying and pasting – far more than safeguarding one’s own life while pushing others into self-destruction. Whoever advises, let alone, urges unlimited sacrificing should do so by examples: joining us back home, if only OCCASIONALLY!
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.
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.
He has been one of the most valiant faces since the crisis in the English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon turned into violent conflict. He made videos from an office in a school, which was subsequently captured by the Cameroon military.
In some of his earlier videos, he appeared to be the voice of reason, calling on others to unite and avoid attacking other English-Speaking Cameroonians. However, as would be expected in a situation where he received his orders from a Commander who was many thousand miles, his wishes did not always translate into real action. No unity ever arrived. Rather, rumours began emerging of how ‘General’ Ivo was going around kidnapping other soldiers.
The tales were soon reversed and it emerged that Ivo had also been the victim of an attack from other Ambazonian fighters. In one of his most recent videos, he made the case that since his rifle was taken away from him, there has been an increase in the number of casualties on the Ambazonian forces. He was, therefore, implying that if he had his weapons, things would be much different.
With Ivo constantly appearing on live videos, it was only a matter of time, before his location was exposed. Hence, it came as little surprise when the Ambazonia Governing Council Secretary of State announced that Ivo had been killed. In a short message shared on social media, he wrote:
BREAKING SAD NEWS
This is sad indeed. Unfortunately, our one and strongest ADF General Ivo is no more. He was Killed this morning in KUMBA. I’m short of words to say the least Now and how I feel. He was indeed the greatest soldier Ambazonia ever had.
There’ll be an official statement to this effect soon
May your soul RIP & Rest in Perfect Peace BRAVEHEART
Sec of State
There is as yet, no indication, as to who might have killed Ivo. It could either be the military, or one of the many ‘enemies’ he has made during his short career as a fighter.
Whatever the case, this is just one of many young people who has needlessly lost his life in what is turning to be mayhem for English-speaking Cameroonians. The real architect of the problem and the person with the power to resolve the conflict has been untouched by any of the things happening in the English-Speaking Regions.
85 Year-old Dictator Paul Biya has not engaged with the conflict in any of his official statements. The recent formation of a Commission for Disarmament appears to be as useless as all the other commissions before it. Without a call for dialogue and an effective cease-fire, it is not clear how the disarmament commission can operate.
It should be noted that a number of prisons were attacked and prisoners released in parts of the North West Region of Cameroon when the conflict was still in its infancy. It is, therefore, safe to assume that many of the ex-convicts, joined in the fighting, and became tagged generally as Ambazonian fighters.
As the conflict protracts, kidnappings for ransom have become rampant. Recently it has emerged that some of the ‘leaders’ in the diaspora are colluding with their groups in Cameroon to kidnap people for ransom. Many people who can afford it have either fled the country or gone over to the French-speaking areas of Cameroon.
There appears to be only one solution to the crisis – a political one. And this solution, from every indication, would not come from Paul Biya, who has shown time and again, to have no will to resolve the conflict. It is time all Cameroonians united to demand that the dictator leaves power, to pave the way for a new political dispensation that can resolve the conflict and stop the mindless killings.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The Biya Regime and Ambazonians apparently want completely different things. Their end-games are antithetical to each other, and as such, one would be right to assume that the two camps will rarely find any common ground. Ambazonians have been clear that it is ‘All or Nothing’ in their quest for independence and the Biya regime has been categorical that it is ‘all or nothing’ in their dogmas on ‘one and indivisible’ Cameroon.
Over the two years that I have followed and participated in seeking solutions to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, I have been surprised on many occasions to find that the two camps, despite being polar opposites, tend to have a lot of similarities in their approaches.
An instance would be the ‘No Circulation’ or ‘No Movement’ Strategy that was instituted by the Ambazonian leadership, with the objective to stop all but essential movement within the two English-Speaking Regions. This strategy was further supported by the Biya Regime administrators in both regions, who also issued communiques, banning all but essential circulation. While the objectives of both camps might have been different, one thing they could have agreed on was that they were imposing a burden on the people of the regions and making an already difficult existence, unbearable.
The second instance was the ban on elections within the two English-Speaking regions. The Ambazonians made their position very clear, issued clear warnings and even went on to attack some persons who dared to disobey the orders. What they might not have known, or refused to acknowledge, was the fact that Biya’s declaration of war within the two regions and his refusal to resolve the crisis was aimed at also preventing people from voting. The two regions have historically been the areas Biya and his CPDM party have always struggled in elections. Given the wide discontent of the population and considering the fact that turnout in elections are always very low in other parts of the country, there was the possibility that a decision by the two regions to go out in full support of any candidate would have made the job of Biya’s rigging machinery a million times harder. That is a chance Biya and his team did not want to take. Hence, allowing the conflict to fester and causing widespread dispersal of persons, they ensured that many people, even if they wanted to, would be unable to vote. It would have been sheer glee within the Biya ranks, therefore, when Ambazonians started echoing the same sentiments. The results of the already widely contested elections is one evidence to show that both camps succeeded in one thing – keep the opposition at bay, while giving Biya and the CPDM victory in regions in which they are most hated.
The above cases are simply about strategy and outcomes, but the one thing that both camps have shown a great fear of over the years is the concept of FEDERALISM. The notion of Federalism as a solution to the Anglophone crisis seems to send cold shivers down the spines of both the Biya regime and the Ambazonians. Historically, the Two-State Federation which existed between 1961 and 1972 have on record the most developmental milestones of the English-Speaking regions. Little wonder, that scared of the fast pace at which West Cameroon was progressing economically, the Ahidjo Regime, in collusion with France, abrogated the Federal Constitution of 1961 and ended the Federal structure.
In 2016, with the resurgence of the Anglophone crisis led by Lawyers and Teachers, the concept of a return to the Two-State Federation gained prominence. Led by Barrister Agbor Felix Nkongho, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium made it clear that only a return to Federation will guarantee a long-lasting solution to the crisis. Their message was clear, it was simple, it was appealing. It won the hearts of the masses, to the dismay and chagrin of the Biya regime, whose message of a ‘one and indivisible’ Cameroon could only be imposed on the people with the use of brute force. Efforts to bribe and cajole the pro-federalist movement failed woefully, leaving the Biya regime one option, force. The Consortium was banned, the internet was cut and the leaders were arrested and carted off to Yaounde to stand trial for treasonable offences.
The then Secretary-General of the Consortium, Wilfred Tassang, fled to Nigeria where to the surprise of many, changed the narrative to a pro-independence quest. This was surprising for many reasons, he had chosen Interim leaders in the diaspora, one of whom at the time was a known and avowed federalist. Secondly, taking such a stance seemed to provide fodder for the cannon of the Biya regime to crucify the incarcerated consortium leaders. Their lawyers promptly acted, by distancing them from the new movement. Nigeria, therefore, became the renaissance country for the Ambazonia ideology, which hitherto, had been on the fringes of Cameroon Anglophone society. Ambazonia was rebranded and sold to the English-speaking Cameroonians as the most logical progression in the freedom struggle. Statements such as ‘the train has moved’ ‘we have gone past the stage of Federation’ ‘we cannot federate with monsters’ etc.. gained prominence.
The absence of the internet within the Anglophone regions in Cameroon also helped as the people were unaware of the developments taking place in the diaspora. The formation of a body known as SCACUF, brought dinosaurs of the Anglophone struggle into the heart of leadership of the new movement. As there was no vetting process, it was impossible to ascertain who had over the years, been bought over by the Biya regime. The quest to present a united front in the face of continuous disunity meant that questions were left unasked about some of the most important things.
However, as the newly branded pro-independence train grunted and stuttered along, sometimes bereft of passengers, sometimes in the completely wrong direction, the urgent need for a captain arose. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius was chosen as the Messiah. There were a number of reasons for this; he was relatively unknown, meaning there was bound to be little or no skeletons in his cupboard; Ayuk Tabe had a good job within a university and he was soft-spoken, articulate and appeared overall to be unifying figure. This worked and the people rallied behind Ayuk Tabe and his newly-formed Ambazonia Interim Government (IG). Three reasons made this possible: there was no other viable alternative as the consortium leaders were still in jail; he was closely aligned with Tassang Wilfred, which meant people still saw in them the relics of the Consortium they had come to love and finally, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, in stark contrast to other pro-independence leaders, preached a message that was about hope rather than the doom and gloom that characterised the constant allusion to historical catastrophes that had landed the Anglophone in the current mess.
Realising the power at his disposal, Ayuk Tabe, started steering the train towards what might have led to a resolution of the crisis. Without outrightly echoing the ‘all or nothing’ independence dogma, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe appeared more to be a Federalist than a pro-independence leader. It is, therefore, no surprise that the reason circulating for the ill-fated meeting at Nera Hotel in Nigeria, which led to his and his cabinet’s abduction, has been mainly around the fact that they went there to negotiate on a Federation-outcome which would end the crisis and spare the people further suffering.
What Sisiku and his team failed to realise was that the Biya regime would have left him alone had he been fully pro-independence. Outright independence was a dog with a loud bark, but no bite, with a high potential of biting the wrong people, should it choose to do so. Federalism, however, was something the Biya regime was totally scared of and would do anything to stop it in its tracks. Before the abduction of Sisiku, the Biya regime had done a number of things to ensure that the federalism project would not resurface.
Prior to releasing Agbor Felix and Fontem Neba from jail, they circulated rumours discrediting them in the eyes of the people. When this did not work and upon his release, Barrister Nkongho hit the ground running, they fomented a torrential attack on the concept of federalism, pitching it against independence. This soon gained traction on social media and all attention soon focused on Separatists constantly attacking federalists, despite the fact the latter were practically their closest allies. With this fully in place, when Barrister Nkongho visited London, it was shocking, but not surprising to see the same people who had once chanted his ‘hosannas’, shouting ‘crucify him’. The protest against Nkongho at Chatham House, London, signifies a very low moment for the Anglophone crisis, but one that the Biya regime would forever cherish. The separatists were clearly going to do anything to stop the federalists.
Over the months that followed, many write-ups, Facebook lives and YouTube videos were made, with one focus, attack Federalism. The Biya regime relaxed. As soon as Federalist voices seemed to have been tamed for a while, the regime prodded and taunted the separatists towards the one direction they could easily go – violence. This worked and the whole Anglophone region was thrown into conflict. This, to the regime, was a win-win situation. It gave them legitimacy to wipe out any dissenting voices, while at the same time, ensuring that they (the regime) could easily mask as separatists and attack anything remotely resembling a call for federalism.
Their attack for the Anglophone General Conference initiative of Cardinal Tume and Dr. Simon Munzu amongst others, has been just one of the many ways to ensure the Federalist agenda does not resurface. The attack on Federalists instigated by Boh Herbert’s write-up and subsequent attack at their private meeting in the USA by Eric Tataw, another separatist, who clearly expressed his hatred for the federalists by stating he will not write his name on the same paper as them, even if it meant he will then be able to make his points, further accentuate the level at which they are willing to go to stop the federalists.
As one casts an eye for a sense of progress on the Anglophone, all one can see is the constant attack on Federalists, mainly by Ambazonians and this has been extended to the Francophones, who are easily working with Federalists to heap more pressure on the Biya regime. The hatred for Federalists and by extension, the francophones, has been such that many Ambazonians are openly declaring their support for Biya to stay in power, if only by so doing, they could thwart the efforts of the federalist.
If anything, this is by every indication, a very unusual alliance between the Biya regime and the Ambazonians, whose only point of convergence is their disdain for the Federalist. This, however, is understandable, given that the Federalist stands as the voice of reason within the carnage. The federalist presents the meeting point between two extremes and most importantly, the federalist approach presents the most likely prospect of success in giving autonomy to the Anglophone and bringing a close to the crisis. Why would this be a problem for the Biya regime and the Ambazonian, one may ask? This is simply, the two extremes thrive on power and control, the Biya regime loses its control of the English-speaking regions, unleashing the potential for accountability and growth. The Ambazonian leaders lose their only opportunity of attaining leadership by ascription rather than merit. The Federalist position is one in which the actors have no personal benefits other than a change in the form of the state which will usher in the devolution of power, accountability and a system of fairness where the best and brightest will lead. This, unfortunately, is something that both the Biya regime and most of the current Ambazonia leadership, do not clearly want as it will render them obsolete
There is no doubt that the quest for liberation of the people of the former Southern Cameroons has been riddled with many controversies. The most recent has been the claim of the faction who call themselves “Ambazonians”, that they were boycotting elections taking place in Cameroon. One ought to wonder how one gets to boycott an election of which they are not part, that wonder turns into bewilderment when the Acting Interim President of Ambazonia becomes one of the first people to send a congratulatory message to one of the candidates Maurice Kamto before official election results had been published. I for one interpreted this as a form of propaganda to force the Biya regime to capitulate, hand over power to someone else, who will take a softer and more conciliatory approach to the Ambazonia question.
The above would be good propaganda. But when there seems to be propaganda that is aimed at deceiving the people of Ambazonia, then one must of necessity question what the real motivations of Samuel Ikome Sako and his government are.
“I would love to make that big announcement. Our nation- Ambazonia has been officially invited by the 4th committee of the united Nations concerned with decolonisation…We will be presenting our case in New York before this committee in a few days time.”
As is to be expected, this announcement brought a lot of excitement among Ambazonians, especially those who pay allegiance to the Interim Government led by Sako. I was also very intrigued and my curiosity was piqued. Could this finally be happening? Could the UN have finally decided to grant Ambazonia an audience and hopefully start a process of reconciliation and righting of past wrongs? Could this be the moment that finally brings an end to the conflict that is claiming the lives of English-Speaking Cameroonians on a daily basis?
According to the UN document, a representative from Cameroon had raised concerns about the presence of two individuals on the list of representatives. It, therefore, goes on to state that “Samuel Ikome Sako of Africa Solidarity for Sahrawi and Martin Ayong Ayim of Living Stories and Memories, are listed in the requests for hearings on Western Sahara.” and that “The Committee will take up those two requests later in the week following the informal consultations,”. This, therefore, raises the question of how Sako and Ayim ended up using strange organisations to represent Western Sahara? Why does the name Ambazonia or Southern Cameroons not feature anywhere in the documents? There is the indication in the documents that Sako and Ayim are representing a country without “complete knowledge of the facts,”.
It is my opinion that Sako and Ayim simply used different organisations, so as to get their names on the UN documents, as a way of providing evidence to their followers that they truly were part of the decolonisation committee. What they had not anticipated was the fact that this information would be published and made available to the public.
It is worth mentioning that Western Sahara, is a is a disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially Moroccan-occupied, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the Northeast, Mauritania to the East and South, and the Atlantic Ocean to the West.
Western Sahara or the Sahrawi, therefore have nothing in common with either Ambazonia or Southern Cameroons, safe for the fact that they are both territories clamouring for independence.
When the West Cameroon Movement for Change (WCMC) called on demonstrations to mark October 1 and all it signifies, it boldly decided that followers in Yaounde should go out and march. This was met by a naive conclusion by Cameroon’s minister for defence, which led to a published letter calling for the military to target Anglophone neighbourhoods in Yaounde. Assessing the situation, WCMC called for their followers in Yaounde to pause the demonstrations but encouraged others in other cities and countries to go ahead. One thing WCMC did not envisage was the resilience of the people within the embattled North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
Videos and images began emerging as the day wore on, showing that the people had defied the orders of the Ambazonia Governing Council (AGC), the Ambazonia Interim Government (IG) and the Biya Regime’s representatives in the North West and South West Regions, who all placed a ban on public movement within the regions.
The actions of the people on the ground have shown once more, that all those purporting to be leaders are clearly out of touch with the basic realities and aspirations of their people. I already condemned the strategies, asking people not to go out, as being out of touch with the daily realities of those communities.
The outings that were accompanied in most cases by chantings and carrying of peace plants, were taken a notch higher in others, where the people came out with weapons and some hoisted the Ambazonia flag on some prominent government buildings.
As much as I continue to admire the resilience of the people, I still remain of the opinion that the hoisting of flags, the use of force in challenging the brutal military of Biya, will not take the people forward towards freedom. I maintain the opinion that the only way towards any form of freedom for the people of the English-speaking Regions and by extension for all Cameroonians, is for them to unite and oust Biya from power.
It is my hope that over the coming days, there will be some form of mass uprising as the campaign trail brings up pent-up emotions within all parts of Cameroon and the people gradually come to the realisation that unless they come together as one and demand an end to Biya’s 36 years of barren rule, they may have another 7 years added to it.