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.

Cameroon Military Allegedly Capture Base of Separatist Fighters

Images being displayed by the Cameroon military indicate that they have captured one of the bases of operations of the Ambazonian Separatist fighters. According to an update posted on their Facebook Page Honneur et Fidélité – Armée Camerounaise.,  the operation led to the killing of one Ambazonian fighter, one captured, and several wounded in the forest. These claims are difficult to verify, given that the pictures do not show any dead or wounded fighters. There is, however, one young person sitting in mud, who apparently has been captured. However, there is no indication in the picture that he was caught at the scene where other items are reported to have been found.

Captured Ambazonian fighter
Person claimed by Cameroon Military to be a Captured Ambazonian Fighter

Among the other things reported to have been recovered from the fighter’s base, are 03 Ak47 + 06 other firearms; 520 rounds of ammunition, 29 hunting rifles plus 1137 matching rounds of 12 calibre ammunition; 2 defensive grenades, 1 electricity generator, a solar plate, 3 motorcycles, 1 heavy gear battery, 1 ADF T-shirt, 1 Camouflage pants, 1 canal+ antenna, a dozen bags of rice, Kitchen utensils and hundreds of bottles of dry-Gin.

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The Cameroon Military has been in a long drawn out conflict with Separatist fighters, following Biya’s declaration of war against activists. Activists who were hitherto peacefully demanding that the Anglophone problem be resolved either through a Two-State Federation or through a Separation of the Country, feel their actions are justified as they are merely defending themselves from Biya’s brutality. Huge casualties have been recorded on both sides of the warring factions, but the most casualty has been suffered by the ordinary citizen, faced with the challenges of a war situation.

 

 

Carrying the Cameroon Flag: Patriotism or Self-Preservation?

Growing up in Cameroon, the one thing I knew for sure about the Cameroon Flag, is th.at if one were passing by a police or military base while it was being hoisted and failed to stop and show respect, they will be in trouble.

I never understood the rationale behind being forced to show respect to the flag-actually, I still do not understand. Some will argue that it is a sign of patriotism, but I will content that patriotism should be something that comes from a deep sense of love for one’s country. On the other hand, I know for sure that the one reason I did stop for the flag, was always the fear of what would be done to me if I didn’t.

Looking, therefore, at the images of these Cameroonians holding the flag, with armed personnel standing nearby, I had to wonder what could be the motivation behind the “patriotic” act.

Could it be that these people, who clearly are living in a rundown, poverty-stricken neighbourhood, have suddenly discovered an upsurge of love for a country that takes away everything from them and gives back nothing in return? Or Could it be that they know that it is either they feign respect for the flag or run the risk of being killed and their villages burnt down by the military?

Anyone familiar with the Cameroon military’s recent record of killing unarmed women and children or killing young men and burning down their villages will surely decipher what the real situation is.

It does not require a rocket scientist to decode that these people are carrying that flag just to avoid being riddled with bullets and having their village burnt. It is a survival mechanism that some of us learned when we were youngsters, but which seems to be gaining relevance in a more ominous situation. Either respect the Cameroon Flag or face dire consequences.

Cameroon: Anglophone Elites Raise Funds to Prop Up Biya

In the heart of the worst massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians by the Biya regime; in a period which will go down in history as the bloodiest and saddest moments for all Anglophone Cameroonians, one would expect that their elites would stand up to the regime and ask some questions.

Unfortunately, this is not to be. Starting with Atanga Nji Paul, an ex-convict who believes that everything he does or says must have been inspired by Paul Biya, to Philemon Yang,  a Prime Minister whose role is a good as that of a statue in an unpopular museum, the Anglophone elites have completely let their people down.

As war rages across the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, as Biyas soldiers kill, rape, maim civilians and burn their villages, and restoration forces, under the banner of self-defense carry out counter-attacks both on the military and anyone whom they class as a ‘traitor’ or ‘blackleg’, the ordinary person is left at the mercy of the warring factions. The collapse of government and failure of the security apparatus spells doom for the country once known as ‘Africa in Miniature‘.

As if operating in a vacuum, Biya has gone ahead to announce presidential elections for which he is a candidate, seeking another 7 years in addition to the wasted 36 years during which the country has known nothing but misery.

As young Cameroonian activists from across the Francophone and Anglophone spectrum denounce either the holding of elections or Biya’s candidature during this time of chaos, the elites have again decided to add salt to the already festering wound.

As one of them was being taken out of a Church and killed on Sunday 12 August, others, particularly from the North West Region were gathering in Yaounde to fundraise for Biya’s campaign. Led by Philemon Yang, the North West Permanent delegate for the CPDM central committee, is purported to have raised a total of FCFA 154.589.000 million. Baba Danpullo, who is renowned for stating, at the start of the crisis that there was no way the regime will heed to the demands of civil society (which at the time, were very basic) came out on top as the highest donor, giving FCFA 30 million.

Praising the success of the fundraiser, Yang is quoted to have said that the North West elite are extraordinary people who are known for doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

Philemon Yang - Cameroon Prime Minister

Philemon Yang – Cameroon Prime Minister

Unbeknownst to Yang, he was spot on. Only extraordinary people will be silent while their people are being killed daily. Only extraordinary people will be supporting an 86 year old man to be president when available evidence indicates that he has neither the political will nor ability to govern. Only an extraordinary people, will continue to support a regime that has done nothing to ensure that kids go back to school despite being out for two years.

Such extraordinary persons, such as the Anglophone elites, will do ordinary things such as the need for standing up for their people, in an extraordinary way – supporting the very machinery that is oppressing their people.

As they go ahead to plan for their campaigns, the question worth asking is whether these elections are going to take place only within the Eight Regions of Cameroon where there is no conflict. It is worth asking whether should elections actually take place, anyone with a conscience will be able to acknowledge that Biya has the mandate of the Anglophones living in the forests, afraid for their lives, or those living as refugees in Nigeria, begging for crumbs to survive.

When the dust settles on this era of Cameroon’s history, some names will not be worth writing on sand. The names of the current Anglophone elites will be best forgotten. These will be the names that will be used as curse words, in remembrance of a time, when people, meant to look out for their own, decided to support a dictator, whose only quest, is the extermination of those people.

The UN and Ambazonia: The Case of Missing Files or Misfiling?

Many citizens of the self-proclaimed state of Ambazonia would have been taken aback upon reading a short piece purportedly written by Professor Martin Ayim. Ayim in his write-up claims that all documents sent to the United Nations (UN) by Ambazonians since the 1990s have been shredded, without being looked at. Anyim presents this as a discovery that appears to have been a victory achieved by the Ambazonian Interim Government (IG). He therefore quickly goes on to state that the same IG will soon be reaching out to the UN Secretary General.
La-Republique-and-Ambazonia

As this short write-up made its rounds on social media, I read with fascination as many latched on to the optimistic parts, which provided them with a reason to cling to their hope of having a new nation. The truth is that Prof. Anyim, like many erudite persons from Cameroon, West of the Mungo, have for a long time, excelled in the art of deception. This deception paradoxically has been of their own people.

Let us be clear about something, the UN has no legal obligation to a state called Ambazonia. As far as the UN is concerned, Southern Cameroons voted in 1961 in a plebiscite to join The Republic of Cameroon in a Federation. Resolution 1608 of April 1961 confirmed the results of this plebiscite and in the Foumban Conference, the representatives of both Southern Cameroons and the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon agreed on the form of state they wanted.  On October 1, 1961, Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon.

The contention today, which has some legal basis, is how West Cameroon disappeared in 1972, as the state mutated to the United Republic of Cameroon and what happened to the supposed ‘unity’, when Paul Biya in 1984 changed the country’s name back to The Republic of Cameroon.

Maybe, taking the issues regarding the disappearance of West Cameroon to the UN for discussion might have given them something to talk about. However approaching the UN with the quest for the recognition of a new state, was a nonstarter.

The UN clearly has NO MANDATE to recognise a new state. It makes this clear when it states that:

The recognition of a new State or Government is an act that only other States and Governments may grant or withhold. It generally implies readiness to assume diplomatic relations. The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government. As an organization of independent States, it may admit a new State to its membership or accept the credentials of the representatives of a new Government.

The procedure is briefly as follows:

  1. The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and a letter formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.
  2. The Security Council considers the application. Any recommendation for admission must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Council, provided that none of its five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America — have voted against the application.
  3. If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State.
  4. Membership becomes effective the date the resolution for admission is adopted.

So contrary to what Prof. Anyim and many claim, the UN did not grant independence to Southern Cameroons in 1961, it merely recognised the outcome of a public vote. In the same manner, the UN has no mandate to grant independence to Ambazonia.

So instead of sending papers and petitions to the UN asking for the recognition of a new state, Ambazonians might think of courting at least 9 out of the 15 members of the Security Council, while making sure that the Five Permanent members are among these.

This, of course, would be a herculean task given that, with the apparent exception of the Russian Federation, the other permanent members have been instrumental in different ways in propping up the Biya Regime’s 36 years in power.

Ambazonians have also been known to tender petitions to the Commonwealth, of which Cameroon is a member. Under the same rules of engagement that the UN has with its members, the Commonwealth is under no obligation to respond to Ambazonia, as it is not one of her members.

It is my view that the best way for English-Speaking Cameroonians to get any form of freedom or respect within their country, is to challenge the system from within. It is obvious that elections will never guarantee this, as the rigging machinery is effectively controlled by Biya. Making the case for the Restoration of the State of West Cameroon, which has a legal argument starting with the violation of the constitution in 1972, remains the best option.

A return to a Two-State Federation within Cameroon will give Anglophones, the autonomy to build the right institutions that can attract diplomatic relations with other states. Such can be the start of any talk of independence. Within a federal structure, the people of the English-speaking regions can effectively talk with the UN or Commonwealth, as sections of a Country that is their member.

In a nutshell, English-Speaking Cameroonians will need to gain some degree of autonomy before they can think of approaching the UN. As an organisation of independent states, the UN deals with independent entities, not help them gain independence.

Cameroon: Biya’s Regime Accuses Dead Soldier of A Crime Committed One Year After His Death.

The regme of Paul Biya has been known for corruption, winning the Global Gold medal for it twice. The same regime has been known for different strategies of rigging elections among which has been the use of dead persons on electoral registers. Biya has been found on a number of occasions to have appointed dead persons to public positions.

Communique

In the wake of Biya’s regime’s monstrosity being exposed by videos of soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings, his spokesperson Issa Tchiroma Bakary has been under pressure to show the world that something was being done about the situation. Further videos have since emerged of Cameroon soldiers killing unarmed civilians and burning down their homes.

Despite the initial denials by Tchiroma, credible evidence from Amnesty International indicated that the videos were actually from Cameroon and that the soldiers were of a special unit of the Cameroon military.

Tchiroma has in the characteristic manner of the Biya regime released a dubious Communique indicating that the regime has now arrested some of the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.

This would have been welcome news, but for the fact that it has been uncovered that the very first name on the list of soldiers arrested belongs to a man who died in 2017. Fobassou Ettienne apparently died in 2017 but Tchiroma’s communique dated 10 August 2018 lists him as one of those arrested for crimes committed a few weeks ago.

While there is the possibility that more than one person can have the name Fobassou Ettienne, the Yaounde Regime’s history of making such gaffes in appointments, makes it plausible that they could do the same in such a situation.

 

Cardinal Tumi Confirms that All Anglophone Conference is going ahead as Planned: Just on a Future Date

FB_IMG_1533927095149Despite some initial challenges and reservations expressed within some quarters, Christian Cardinal Tumi has today confirmed that the All Anglophone Conference is going ahead as planned. However, instead of taking place on 29th and 30th August as initially scheduled, the event will take place on 21st and 22nd November 2018.  This, the organisers say, is to ensure adequate preparations.

In a Press Release following a meeting that took place today in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, the retired cardinal expressed satisfaction at how plans were going towards the realisation of the conference. He also confirmed that there has been overwhelming support from across Cameroon.

It is hoped that this conference will start the discussions that could lead to a peaceful resolution of the Anglophone Crisis. The current phase of the crisis, which began in 2016, has been the bloodiest since the two Cameroons came together in 1961.

Below is copy of the full Statement by the Cardinal.

PRESS RELEASE

The Conveners of the Anglophone General Conference (AGC) met in Douala on Wednesday, 8th August 2018, to review the situation and identify the necessary actions to be taken towards the holding of a successful AGC. They noted with deep satisfaction that the Government welcomed the initiative while expressing reservations on some requests that were addressed to it. They appreciated the enthusiasm with which Cameroonians of all the ten regions and all political leanings at home and abroad received the announcement of the forthcoming conference, while taking cognizance of the scepticism, doubt and hostility expressed by some voices. They re-affirmed their determination to pursue, as politically neutral servants of God concerned solely with the welfare of the people, this initiative which is intended to lay the ground for finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the Anglophone crisis and for a return to normal life in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

The Conveners reviewed the various tasks to be accomplished in preparation for the conference and to ensure that this important gathering of the people of the Southwest and Northwest regions achieves its noble objectives. They concluded that more time would be needed to prepare for the conference. They, therefore, decided to postpone the holding of the Anglophone General Conference in Buea, initially scheduled for 29th and 30th August, to the 21st and 22nd November 2018.

The Conveners call upon the people of the Northwest and Southwest regions, wherever they may be, to continue preparations for their Individual attendance and effective participation in the conference. They invite all Cameroonians to pray daily to the Almighty God for the success of this conference and for the early return of peace and harmony to the two Anglophone regions.

+ Christian Cardinal Tumi

Douala, 8th August, 2018

For further information, contact:
Dr. Simon Munzu, Spokesperson, College of Conveners (e-mail: anyopeuh@yahoo. co.uk; tel: +237695256460); or
Mr. Elie Smith, Head of Communications (e-mail: eliesmith@yahoo.com; tel: +237 699108387)

 

UNHCR Takes Action to Increase the Misery of Anglophone Refugees in Nigeria: Stops Ayah Foundation

It is not news that the international community has been doing very little to end the bloodshed in Cameroon which has resulted in thousands of Anglophones killed and many more to flee to Nigeria. What seems to be news is that the United Nations High commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nigeria appears to be actively engaged in making the plight of refugees worse.

When Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and many others were abducted in Nigeria, on January 5 2018, many people went to the UNHCR for some answers. The argument was that those abducted were refugees in Nigeria and  repatriating them to Cameroon was a violation of their Convention Rights. The UNHCR at the time released conflicting information, one of which claimed their representatives were in contact with the abducted persons, whom they claimed were still in Nigeria.

It turned out later that this was false, as the Cameroon minister for Communication confirmed in a Press Conference that those abducted had actually been taken to Cameroon. No official condemnation of the Biya Regime’s actions came from the UNHCR at the time and over 8 months later, there is still no clear indication on what might have happened to all those taken from Nigeria.

To add salt to injury, the UNHCR has today prevented the Ayah Foundation from delivering mich-needed humanitarian assistance to the refugees in Nigeria.

In a statement released by Ayah Ayah Abine, the Director of the Foundation, the UNHCR asked them to seek permission from Abuja.  This came as a surprise given that the said foundation has been one of the very few that has been consistent In their support of  the injured, internally displaced persons and refugees across the border.

The Ayah Foundation confirms that this visit is the 5th in 7 months to Nigeria. They also confirm that the only time in the past when they have faced difficulties had been when the Cameroon government tried to stop them from going in to Nigeria, a situation which they overcame when the regime came under severe criticisms.

The question worth answering is what exactly is the UNHCR afraid of? Could it be that the work of the Ayah Foundation is exposing their weaknesses as an international relief agency? Could it be because the Ayah Foundation has been doing more to document the actual living conditions of the refugees than the UNHCR? Or may be it is because the UNHCR has colluded with the Regime in Yaounde to ensure that Biya’s plans of exterminating Anglophones is successful.

Whatever the case, the UNHCR has once again shown that most international community organs are totally useless in performing the basic functions they were created to realise.

 

 

17-Year-Old Raped by a ‘Security’ Personnel in Cameroon

Between uncontrollable sobs, she tries to recapture the gory moments. As her interlocutors film her and encourage her to tell her story, every single detail, she has no choice but to relive the horrible moments she is raped by someone who is paid by the State to protect her and keep her safe. This is the tale of many young girls in Cameroon.

This is one of the many tales of woe that streams every day from Cameroon, West of the Mungo. After a few hours of outcry on social media, a communique will be released indicating that the perpetrators have been arrested, and everyone will happily move on to the next gory story.

What has particularly struck me with this young girl’s story is that no one got to know her name as it is not mentioned in her video, yet everyone knows her face. Few people will remember her after a week when other events will overtake this, but she will live her whole life scarred by the incident.

She narrates how, she was stopped, asked for identification, which she did not have, and was subsequently raped, but her biggest fear, is that she could have been infected with a disease. The nursing mother of 17 pleads with her assailant hoping that it might deter him to know she is breastfeeding. That falls on deaf ears. The place is identified as Africa Petroleum at Veterinary Junction.

This case is symptomatic of the many unreported cases of teenage pregnancies and wanton rapes that have pervaded the English-Speaking regions of Cameroon. When the first batch of refugees fleeing the country arrived in Nigeria, it was reported that many of the teenage girls were pregnant. At the time, no one thought to ask the question. Could this have been through forced intercourse, due to the volatility of the situation?

As clearly indicated by the girl in our video, the reason there were no people to deter her assailant, was down to the fact that there was ‘Ghost Town’ on that day. This mandatory boycott of all activities on specified days of the week, far from having any impact on the government, has been affecting the very people it purports to be fighting for. Small businesses have gone burst and while citizens are indoors afraid to go out, the streets are manned by either state ‘security’ personnel or armed groups of ‘separatist fighters’ looking to enforce ghost towns. Another group, not reported are armed robbers who have taken advantage of the security vacuum to operate in broad daylight.

Unless the regime of Paul Biya takes active measures to engage with the current crisis, we will continue to see such images coming from Cameroon. We will continue to have kids being killed or raped, we will continue to live and wonder if that little girl has been infected by a disease, which she might ultimately pass on to her baby.

One act of sexual violence can have a lifetime of repercussions for the victim. And simply telling the world that the assailant has been arrested, without any information on whether the young girl in question has received any medical attention, does not resolve the problem. Simply arresting one rapist, does not provide protection for the millions of other girls who are at risk. Urgent action needs to be taken by the regime of Biya to address the situation. One of such actions does NOT involve calling an election for which the 86year old demagogue is also a candidate.

Agbor Nkongho Accepts Nelson Mandela Memorial Award

When the recent crisis in the English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon began in 2016, Human Rights Barrister, Agbor Nkongho (Balla) was one of those at the forefront. It came as no surprise that he became the first president of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, which became the unified civil society organisation championing the demands of teachers, lawyers and trade unions.

When the Biya regime banned the Consortium in January 2017 and arrested Agbor Balla and others, it was assumed the quest for freedom will die. Things have unfortunately spiralled out of control. After several months in Cameroon’s maximum security prison in Yaounde, Balla was released.

He came out to a completely changed struggle for freedom. The Consortium was no more, and in its place, were several groups, all claiming to be fighting for independence, yet not united in purpose, in any shape or form. Balla soon became a victim of the derailled struggle, as he was branded a ‘sellout’ for daring to continue advocating for the same things he had stood for, before going to jail.

Undaunted and unfazed, Balla forged ahead, working in his capacity as a Human Rights Barrister and under the auspices of The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, to continue to challenge the gross violations of human rights perpertuated against the people of Anglophone Cameroon by the Biya regime.

It therefore did not come as a surprise that on receiving the prestigious Mandela Memorial award, Balla dedicated it to the Southern Cameroons struggle. Below is his full acceptance speech.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

It is a source of great pride to be present at this event and to receive the Nelson Mandela Memorial Award from Nkafu Policy Institute. We are deeply honoured to receive an award which incarnates the values that President Nelson Mandela stood for.

We accept this award at a moment when 8 million Southern Cameroonians are engaged in a struggle to end the long years of marginalisation, oppression, human rights abuses and assimilation. We accept this award on behalf of a movement to establish freedoms, rule of law, good governance and recognition of a people with a unique culture, history and system within the diversity of a bicultural, bilingual and bijural nation.

I am mindful that only yesterday civil disobedience swept over South West and North West, and as of yesterday we have 50,000 Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria, 200,000 internally displaced people living in the rainforests of Meme, Ndian, Momo and other divisions, we have 1500 Southern Cameroonians in maximum security prisons in Yaounde, Buea, Bamenda and Douala. I am mindful that 78 villages have been burnt down, over 50 schools burnt down, dozens of administrative buildings burnt or destroyed, more than 3000 civilians have died, over 150 soldiers have been killed, several chiefs and civilians kidnapped and daily fighting between armed groups and government soldiers.

Therefore, I must ask myself why this prize is awarded to a movement of people who were called terrorists, to a struggle that has not won the freedoms, justice and recognition it is fighting for.

After much reflection, I conclude that this award I receive on behalf of the Southern Cameroons struggle is a sincere recognition that nonviolent resistance is the answer to fight against marginalisation, violence and oppression. I reject the notion that a nation must spiral down towards yearlong armed conflict with human and material casualties before leaders sit down to talk to each other.

Accepting this award is accepting a pledge to continue till we overcome and in the words of Mandela, “We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.”

I will like to dedicate this award to the people of Southern Cameroons, the girls and women living in refugee camps, shelters and forests, children prevented from pursuing education, the unjustly detained, hundreds in exile hiding from persecution and the amazing lawyers who have dedicated their legal services in defending the rights of those affected.

While we continue resisting oppression, fighting against marginalisation, assimilation and bad governance, the answer doesn’t reside in kidnapping chiefs, civilians or people we disagree with.
The solution is not tribalism or ethnic division. Attacking Anglophone Bamilekes, Bassas, Ewondos or Francophones, goes against the very model of freedoms which we seek. We must end hate speech against North westerners or South westerners for we are one people. To our Francophone brothers, the Southern Cameroons struggle has never been Anglophones versus Francophones, rather it is Southern Cameroonians against the current system of government and institutions which have provided little opportunities for the Anglophones while eroding our culture, system, language and rights. You are not our enemy, you are our ally.

1 Corinthians 16:14 tells us, “Let all that you do be done in love.” Like the grandmother who gave me 2000 FCFA in court while I was facing trial for terrorism at the Yaounde Military Court. Following the example of the young boy who met me in a restaurant, took my phone number and surprisingly sent me 2000 FCFA airtime. That is love without boundaries and if we love each other hate will have no place in our society.

I congratulate my fellow nominees for the work you have done to impact our society and your sense of leadership. May we continue working together for the journey ahead is still long and we will need each other during our various obstacles and successes.

I will like to thank the Fako Lawyers Association for their sacrifices, all Common Law Lawyers for the dedication to defend justice, all Cameroonians from both sides of Mungo including the diaspora who supported the movement and fight against marginalisation and oppression, we recognize your sacrifices and support as we ask you to continue for us to arrive the finish line. To all organisations, supporters and citizens of the world who continue advocating for us, we are very grateful for your voices. Thank you, to my family, friends and to the brilliant staff of Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, you sacrificed your time, families and lives to advance the work we have done so far. To all with views different from ours, we hear you and we hope to work together on issues of common interest to advance democracy and peaceful coexistence.

The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa has provided a clear view of the human rights, socio-political and economic implications of the Anglophone crisis during consultations and recommendations to our local, regional and international partners, diplomats, world superpowers and belligerents of the crisis. It is in our best interest to see a quick end to the conflict through meaningful negotiations and for this to happen we need a ceasefire and measures in place for confidence building on both sides. As Mandela said, “Negotiation and discussion are the greatest weapons we have for promoting peace and development.” I think Madiba will know what I mean when I say that in the spirit of humanity, justice and peace, I accept this award. In the spirit of peace emulated by our people who protested with peace plants despite confrontations with armed soldiers, I humbly accept this award. I believe that we shall overcome.