Killed in Church by A Struggle Ordained by God: The End of Chief Itoh Stephen Esoh

Under the auspices of Deacon Tasang Wilfred, the Anglophone struggle gained a lot of popularity among the naturally religious masses of English-Speaking Cameroon, when it was tagged as a ‘God-ordained struggle’. Over the first few months of the struggle, it might have actually seemed that the struggle was indeed ordained by God, as Biya’s Regime was making a lot of blunders, that all but pointed to its imminent collapse.

Over the last few months, however, since the struggle turned violent, the lines between God and occultism, seem to have been blurred. The same God-ordained Struggle became one in which fighters were increasingly relying on the use of charms and amulets (odeishi) believed to prevent bullets from touching them. Evidence from the gory images coming from Cameroon indicates just how useless these have been in providing the much-needed protection.

To crown it all, on Sunday, August 12, 2018, Chief Itoh Stephen Esoh Paramount chief of the Balondos, chief of Ekondo Titi, Ndian Division, South West Region of Cameroon, was pulled out of the church and shot dead by armed men purported to be Ambazonian fighters. Eyewitness accounts indicate that young boys stormed the church premises while Church service was in progress, forced the chief outside at gunpoint and asked him to accompany them on a motorbike. When the Chief refused and attempts to force him on the bike were frustrated, he was shot twice at point-blank range. There was no chance of survival.

This bold but dastardly act, committed within a Church environment, supposedly by people relying on God to help them overcome Biya’s monstrosity, further points to the paradox of Christianity within African communities.

Talking with sources in the locality, it was confirmed that the dead Chief has been a strong opponent of the Ambazonian fighters (Amba Boys). It is even alleged he had formed a counter armed unit to curb the actions of the Amba Boys. When attempts to abduct the Chief proved abortive, the Amba boys, therefore, decided that the one place he will be most vulnerable will be the one place he goes to ask for protection from his God. Hence the church became an easy target.

This is the second Chief to have lost their lives in a few weeks, both from the South West Region of Cameroon. Another Chief died a few weeks ago, while in custody of the Amba Boys. This led to rising tensions in Buea, which soon fizzled out. Opinions indicate that Chief Itoh’s death might wreak more havoc within the community as he was not only a paramount Chief but also a person of high standing. Among the many positions he held, Chief Itoh was a school head teacher, a Mayor, a member of the CPDM (ruling party) central committee, Former President of the South West Chiefs’ Conference & former Board Chairperson of Pamol.

Despite the Chief’s political affiliations, it is said he was a soft-spoken and pragmatic man, much loved within his family and the community of Ekondo-Titi. It is therefore feared that the repercussions of his murder might be far-reaching.

Sadly enough, should this murder create a rift within the community, the only person who will benefit from it is Biya and his regime. Hence, by going into the ‘house of God’ taking out a Chief and killing him, the ‘God-ordained struggle’ might have just shot itself in the foot.

The Kingmakers Are Unhappy: Biya’s Hold on Power Threatened?

In most countries, democracy loosely translates to a system of government whereby a majority of the populace choose or elect their leaders or representatives. The nascent democracies of Nigeria and Ghana may be among the few one could look at in Africa, but the picture is very bleak when one looks at any country that has French roots. It is time

Anyone with a fresh memory will remember that in 2011, the French Special Forces decided on who became Ivory Coast’s president after Laurent Gbagbo fell out of favour with them. In the same 2011, the French where leaders in deciding that Libya’s Gaddafi had lost legitimacy, and led a bombing campaign that reduced the country to ruins, setting its developmental clock back to about 200 years and leaving it a failed state.

It is therefore interesting that recent reports state that a French parliamentary report says Paul Biya of Cameroon’s continued stay in power has become “illegitimate”. It is stated that it is Elisabeth Guigou, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, presented the report to the the French parliament.

Biya Sakorzy CompIf these reports are credible, it would raise mixed-feelings from Cameroonians and Africans in general. The first feeling would be a sigh of relief that finally the kingmaker has decided it is time for another dictator to leave power. There is no gainsaying the fact that many would be glad to see Biya kicked out of power, by all means possible.

However, if Africans have anything to learn from history, then it is that the French have not been involved in anything in Africa that actually benefited the African. “Former’ French colonies remain the most undeveloped in Africa as a clear testament to the fact that the French never left. Their continuous meddling in African affairs is a real problem and the case of Libya and Ivory Coast makes it more scary. Biya Hollande

It is therefore good news that the Kingmakers have finally lost patience with Biya which might translate in him leaving power, but how the this is done is a cause for further concern for any Cameroonian or African.