Pict: Angered by killing of friend Sylvester Ndifor brandishes poster calling for independence of Southern Cameroons
By Christopher Fon Achobang
Cameroon has been rocked by public protests since 21 November 2016 leading to a very fisted an irrational reaction from the military and paramilitary police with the death toll set at over a dozen, many raped, tortured and scores of arrests.
Students at the University of Buea and the University of Bamenda are having nightmares remembering their colleagues who were raped and tortured. Students were pulled from their beds and thrown out into the streets where they were paraded as protesters and arraigned in court. Some were raped in their rooms and their property destroyed.
In the University of Bamenda, Julius Akum was shot and killed. His friend Ndifor Sylvester Junior says the spectacle of his friend in a pool of blood still sends shudders down his spine. “I am not sure I would be comfortable sitting in that same amphitheatre where I used to read with Akum. I am traumatized and have nightmares.” Said Sylvester Junior.
Junior’s toe was crushed with the nail pulled out necessitating anesthesia, antibiotics and pain killers. “I am lucky to have left Bambili alive. It could have been me lying in that pool of blood.” Junior lamented.
This is not the first time students have been killed in Cameroonian universities. In 2005 and 2006 student riots were very bloody at the University of Buea. Students had been caught in a web of protests which finally led to the sacking of Dr. Dorothy Limunga Njeuma, the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea who had been in the same position for 13 years. Ambouer Gaous and three others were the price the students paid before the government of Cameroun heeded their calls.
Before Christmas of 2005, body bags and coffins were sent back to families as Christmas gifts. People lost loved ones, who were executed for committing no crimes. Ndive Elvis still remembers how Ambouer Gaous was shot in front of their house in Molyko where he was washing plates.
“Gaous was my schoolmate and childhood pal. He was not even involved in the strike, but was shot. I carried him on my shoulders for more than a kilometer before he died on the way to the hospital. It was a sad day for me. Life has never been the same again. This time, we must drive these barbarians from our country.” Said Elvis.
There was outright grief across West Cameroon. The force used to quell the student uprising was too much and did not match the stones from the students. Instead of apologies from Cameroonian authorities, their agents and assigns at the University of Buea organized a press conference at which they compared the stones from the students to the bullets from the soldiers.
“David killed Goliath with a stone. The students could have killed the soldiers with stones had luck not been with the soldiers.” Opined Herbert Endeley
Dr. Herbert Endeley then served as Registrar of the University of Buea under the Vice Chancellor, Dorothy Limunga Njeuma. He was part of the crack team put together to justify and normalize the crimes against students in the University of Buea. God frowned at his callousness and he died a few months after. Others who treat the oppressed with the same attitude will end in uncharted storms.
Who gives orders for students to be killed?
It should never be heard that students or any unarmed persons involved in a public demonstration of a non-violent nature is killed, tortured or maimed.
Videos have gone viral with students at the University of Buea shouting “No violence, no violence.”
Yet, without provocation, truckloads of soldiers and paramilitary police swooped on the campus of Buea University and started beating the students. Some were meted the most inhumane treatment. They had to escape to their homes where soldiers promptly followed and indiscriminately sacked homes arresting bystanders and defiling young virgins.
Since Common Law Lawyers started their strike action requesting respect of Common Law values, teachers have joined requesting an improvement of their working conditions and some fairness across the board. The populations unrepresented by these professional guilds have their fair dose of grievances that would find other outlets of expression.
The reaction from the Camerounese authorities in Yaounde has been muted or laced with a pinch of sarcasm and arrogance. They behave like West Cameroonians were slaves conquered during a war. Even after the reminder from Hon. Joseph Wirba that West Cameroon was not a conquered territory, Yaounde still behaved like nothing was seething on the ground.
With years of experience watching society and involved in social change, there is something even those protesting now and the authorities fail to capture.
Cameroonians are very angry.
West Cameroonians want their autonomy.
Yet some lawyers believe that the autonomy sought for by 98 percent of West Cameroonians could be negotiated with the oppressor and settled in federal arrangements.
Federalism has never worked in Cameroon and it would not work now.
In a federal system, it would mean control of national defense, security, diplomacy, international trade, and taxes would still be managed by Yaounde. Federation would mean that projects executed in Buea and Bamenda would still be controlled by inspectors from Yaounde who would be requesting 60 percent of the budget for their upkeep and travel. Federation in the Cameroon model would mean that when students start protesting peacefully, troops should be sent from Yaounde to quell a rebellion in Bambili and Buea campuses as national security is threatened.
In a federation, the President of the republic in Yaounde would still appoint State prosecutors answerable to a very corruptible system. Once Yaounde promised an incentive to its appointed judicial officers, they started speaking in tongues swearing that their hands had been tied.
Common Law Lawyers should be saying, even if there were not enough Common Law magistrates trained by the School of magistracy, seasoned common law lawyers could step into their shoes and preside over court sessions, impartially. You do not need any formal training to migrate from a lawyer of the bar to a magistrate of the bench. Your only qualification is a mastery of the Common Law tradition, practice and incorruptibility, which Yaounde authorities frown at.
In all fairness, we must shelf all arguments of bilingualism. As a career translator, I submit that court arguments should never be reduced to an exercise of bilingualism. The court has its idiom and specialized terminology which can never be captured by any bilingual beast. And for Cameroon which has produced some of the best translators in the world to swim against the tide in such a lugubrious manner is despicable and challenges the mettle of their best minds.
I am holding my tears for a country that has lost its soul. We should be ashamed to be part of a country that has normalized rape, torture and killing.
More than ten years ago, in 2005 Pa Fogwe who is above 90 today lamented in my ‘Wreath to a Soulless Nation’ that any country that killed its youths, killed its future. I would add today that any country that raped its youths, raped its future. And any country that maimed its youths maimed its future.
Brains and male genitalia blown out and shredded by bullets have been circulated by social media as the handiwork of Cameroon soldiers. It would seem those who gave orders for unarmed civilians to be killed in Bamenda and West Cameroon ordered the troops to destroy the manhood and minds of West Cameroonians. Cameroon soldiers believe they would forcefully castrate and numb the brains of the alert West Cameroonians. The young girls who were raped were raped in a bid to destroy their womanhood and take away their pride. These are all crimes against humanity.
Biya Speaks after three months of atrocities.
What would President Biya of Cameroun be saying after watching with sealed lips and waxed ears for three months after part of his supposed colony started protests? Would he pretend nothing has happened or nothing was wrong?
As has become a tradition, the speech Biya would present on 31 December 2016 would fail to be a State of the Nation address. He does not understand the problems of Cameroon and has never proposed solutions to these problems. How would a Head of State not make a statement while his people are killed in droves?
We have been commenting on President Biya’s end of year speeches as clear indicators that the man has lost control of Cameroon. If he has lost complete control of Cameroon and has become speechless as he is in the case of three months of protests in West Cameroon, then the vacuum has to be filled.
In my 2015 commentary on Biya’s speech of 31 December 2014, I recommended that unable to control Cameroon, Biya should allow the West Cameroonian to return to her country and manage it the way it did before the pseudo independence by joining the Cameroun Republic.
For Biya to emerge as a visionary in old age, he should set the stage in his end of year speech for a smooth transfer of autonomy back to the West Cameroonian.
Nobody should wallow in thoughts about the difficulties of sustaining an independent West Cameroon.
All oil consumed in Cameroon comes from just one of the counties of West Cameroon. The assets that Cameroun got from Cameroon Bank, Produce Marketing Board, Wum Area Development Authority, Cameroon Development Corporation swelled the reserves of East Cameroun.
If we are let off the hook with no cent, we would be worth billions by January 10 2017. Let Biya cut all revenue to West Cameroon plus electricity and water; we would float new ones within a fortnight.
Let nobody scare us that we would not be able to do it. All our laborers deployed throughout the Cameroun republic should come back and we would turn these seemingly barren hills into fruitful kibbutz. (Orchards and gardens recovered from the Israeli wilderness).
The blood of our fallen brethren will fertilize our fields and heal our raped virgins once we get independence to honour their dreams and memories. Their blood would free us of Cameroun’s deception, dishonesty, incompetence, clannishness, divisiveness and insincerity, amongst other ills.
Fon Christopher Achobang
Social Commentator, Human rights activist