By Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert (Yindo Toh)
Washington, 14 January 2017 – Wilfred Tassang and his colleagues of the teachers’ unions emerged from the second and final day of deliberations with officials of the colonial government of La Republique du Cameroun to chants of praise.
“Winner oh winner! Winner oh oh oh Winner! Winner, you don win ooooh” they sang.
The singing came at the end to another eventful day, marked at one point by an impromptu “word of mouth” and social media campaign urging all of Bamenda town to hurry up the slopes of Up-Station Hill to the Governors Office perched above the city where, as rumor had it, the teachers had been taken hostage, had been beaten and their mobile phones confiscated.
“No such thing happened to us. Nobody threatened us. We were not under any intimidation,” Tassang told his supporters.
The first words out of the mouth of Tassang, the trade union leader, teacher and evangelist were: “In Jesus’ name. In the might name of Jesus!”
For all those who were waiting to hear the outcome of the deliberations and hoping the strike by teachers would not be lifted, Tassang spoke a golden sentence.
“And the strike has not been suspended,” Tassang said, as his supporters erupted in thunderous applause and ululation.
One supporter in the crowd let out, “We are very grateful, Pa”.
Tassang added: “The strike we called was not for teachers to make money. I was for the people and in the days ahead, we will be organizing big rallies to tell them what we have achieved, so that the people will tell us what to do next”.
“All the issues that we raised have been sorted out,” Tassang told supporters adding: “except for those that you know were not part of this committee but we have made some requests”.
He did not clarify what those requests are, inviting the media to a press conference at the Presbyterian Church Center, Bamenda, on Saturday, beginning at 11a.m.
Many spent Friday night celebrating the success of the teachers. These included taxi bike riders (Okada Riders), hundreds of whom noisily escorted Tassang from Up-Station Bamenda to his home.
“He said the issues had been sorted out, not solved,” one Okada Rider could be heard reiterating his words.
A press release from the consortium described the talks as “frank, heated and occasionally cordial”, going on to denounce the continued militarization of the two English-speaking regions, the hypocrisy of the government and the disproportionate use of force against unarmed civilians.
FOUR SHOT AS CONSORTUM CALLS FOR A REFERENDUM
As if to prove the consortium press release right, four youths wee shot late Friday night in Bamenda and are in critical condition at the town’s regional hospital, according to reports, video and pictures posted on social media platforms.
One angry reaction to the shootings by soldiers patrolling the Ntarikon neighborhood of the town read: “The shooting of four people is confirmed and I’m annoyed with these fools calling themselves military men”, adding: “It’s like they just come to Bamenda to shoot”.
Two days earlier, video footage posted on social media had shown soldiers going past the town’s main market and choosing to fire tear gas canisters into the market totally unprovoked and then using clubs and pieces of iron rods to smash the windshield of cars and break the light bulks of taxi bikes parked outside the market.
The consortium press release appealed for calm, encouraging Bamenda residents, some of whom took up the job of ensuring the security of the teachers on Friday, to stay at home with their families.
The Consortium called on the government to “organize a referendum without further delay so that West Cameroonians can effectively return to the Two State Federation” which obtained in the Cameroons between 1961 and 1972.
It added: “Our people are determined to peacefully resist the sadistic military occupation which has continued unabated for half a century”.
The consortium position is at odds with the view taken by the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC) which pleaded Friday for neither the teachers nor the lawyers to trust the Yaounde regime, which according to MoRISC, has never honored any agreements it signs.
The two leading liberation movements in MoRISC, the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) and Ambazonia stood with MoRISC.
“We will not give up until we go back to our national capital in Buea,” wrote Shufai Mbinglo on the SCNC WhatsApp eGroup.
On behalf of Ambazonia, one supporter wrote: “We need a group with people like Mancho Bibixy and other grassroots who started the Coffin Resolution to lead and continue the strike for statehood of Ambazonia on the ground until we get independence even if schools resume or not, if lawyers go to court or not”.
Writing on the WhatsApp eGroup of The Arc of Peace, Nelson Nelson Ajime described the teachers and lawyers as the new, real power brokers of Southern Cameroons, but had a warning for them and other Southern Cameroonians: “if we make any mistake, now that power is in our hands, the oppression this time will be total.”