An Open Letter from Fr Gerald Jumbam to Mr Boh Herbert on the Plight of the People of the Southern Cameroons.
AN OPEN LETTER TO BOH HERBERT ON THE PLIGHT OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTHERN CAMEROONS:
I write you because you know it, you have it and you get it. I write you because you talk sense and you, like many, have suffered as a result of you stance. I write you because you have dared the structures of evil back home even in those dark early 1990s. I write you because you are the cream of investigative and genuine journalism in our native land. You have been the spokesman of our troubles and woes in recent times. Now it will be preposterous and officious in me to put myself forward as champion of anything in this struggle, but I know I have space on it because my family has suffered as a result since 1990. My father has been president of SCNC at the heart of the most hazardous portions of Southern Cameroon, Kumbo. My father was in exile in Nigeria in 1998. He left us for two years and we in the family suffered persecution. He was imprisoned last year in the Bamenda military prison, a man in his Seventies, and only came out by the mercies of the intervention of Christian Cardinal Tumi. His life is not safe at this moment as we pray for him. I am priest, but I know what is happening because I have been privileged to be groomed by a man who has been near these things for a very long time, a man who has suffered for our people. Yet my father is my father. I am me and I have my own way.
The Southern Cameroon struggle has proven to be a three-cornered battle. In one corner are those of the restoration of independent stance who posit that there is only one way to end the sufferings of our people and it is to go deep down to roots, to where the rain started beating us. Another corner features the restoration of the federal system and are those who contend that while we request the restoration of autonomy from La Republique du Cameroun, we should keep on with them. Finally, the last corner belongs to a variety of New Deal affiliates who reject the idea of restoration, refuse to believe the past and are content with the status quo and its unitary state (and I lump here even those who mouth federalism of a 10 or 4 state). I like to categorize these things so as to pass my message which is that of maximum vigilance.
The first corner mentioned above are those living in history and therefore are not opportunists. The second corner are those who are hanging on history and still believe in change of heart as regards our Eastern brothers. The last corner are those whose partaking of the menu of the ‘one-and-indivisible Cameroon’ have truncated their thinking and given them the passport for surreptitious betrayal. The first are those of the Akwanga line. The second are of Ivo Tapang. And the third are those within the bounds of Ni John Fru Ndi. These three are players – and they play the game among themselves so well and sometimes it is difficult to know it. But from their fruits we know them. Questions about this categorization are welcome, as I know they are.
Out of these three lines, are two others that I want to identify in a special way and which I feel are those who touch on moral conscience and therefore represent the soul of this struggle. The first is the corner of those whose outspokenness has proven to be more engaging than any of the groups mentioned above in the plight of the Southern Cameroons. To me they are those whose keenness and alertness has reeked the Biya government to recent frustration and to near extinction. They have the weapon that all others lack. They are the men and women of conscience who do not want to bargain their sense of right and wrong and are careless about their life and are direct in their request for the Southern Cameroon’s share in this space in Africa. They are of the Joseph Wirba, Tassang Wilfred and Mancho Bibixy brand. The second in this special line are those who have sold their consciences, taken huge sums and are ready to Judas-Iscariot the subjugated people of Southern Cameroon. They are of the Atanga Nji and the Musonge brand. To me, this framework is a helpful backdrop against which to read the Southern Cameroon’s predicament and further discussion on this issue.
We remember with love how in the aftermath of the arrest of Consortium leaders, Ivo Tapang and Mark Barah enkindled fire in the facebook and assisted focus. But where is Tassang Wilfred? He worked with Agbor Balla and in recent months, they have been that veritable voice of the voiceless, daring and doing and taking risks for us in our native land. Life is not just in the internet – there is another bigger life out there with the masses and the hoi polloi and until you are there you do not know where the shoe bites. So, let it never be said anywhere that Tassang Wilfred is distanced and relegated to nothingness by facebook champions. Among our leaders he is the one who has dared the lion, entered into the very jaws of hell and came out. He needs our highest respect – even in exile.
Many Jews of Saint Peter’s day thought that God preferred them, that God loved them more than the Samaritans and the pagans. It is this spirit that has created slavery, apartheid, colonialism, jingoism, annexation, marginalization, chauvinism, anti-Semitism, anti-Islam, tribalism etc. God is too big to reduce himself to these oddities. And Peter articulates Jesus’ sentiments: “The truth I have now come to realize is that God does not have favorites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-38). La Republique likes to set up dangerous ladders, introduce hierarchies and compartmentalize life. Not with the Southern Cameroon spirit. When I read this message I call to mind the excellent leadership, back home of Agbo Balla Felix, Tassang Wilfred, Fontem Neba, Eyambe Elias Ebai, Bobga Harmony, Che Joseph “MAWUM”, of the CONSORTIUM in the Southern Cameroons. God is like civilian deaths in violent war, he fears no one and has no favorites. Their Consortium has been this too. God has extended his hand to our nation through these heroes of modern Southern Cameroons. To all the voiceless, those victims who for fifty-five years their destination has been the slaughterhouse: FEAR NO ONE, NO HUMAN BEING. The anger of the voiceless is dangerous. Consortium stay on course. You have been the conscience of West Cameroon in your role as mouthpiece of annexed peoples. You tell Pharaoh he is playing into the hands of Hell. One great thing you have shown is an indomitable fighting spirit. And there is the other thing you have carried along – overwhelming numbers. It is these victims and masses that give you power – so don’t be afraid. But we love your strategies – we will win bigly if you keep on with Jesus, with Gandhi, with Jefferson, with Martin Luther King Jr, with Jua, with Mukong, with Gorji Dinka, with Bate Besong, with Epie Ngome, with Ayah, with Fonlon. Agbo and Fontem are still with us even when behind bars. ZERO TOLERANCE – but no violence. Like God – in this divine mission of our burgeoning state – we are no respecters of persons. Look up, only to Him.
Well now. What should I say about the current national mood? A year does comes once, so does opportunity. It’s hard to be cheerful in 2017 when the hopes of a once hopeful people have been trimmed out of existence. When the optimism nest egg has rapidly disappeared. Southern Cameroon. Well I have no idea about what shall happen next, whether the man at the helm of Cameroun is right or not. If yesterday he is to take tomorrow’s place, then there are dangerous days ahead. Times like these do occur at ‘hinge movements’ of history, when God keeps the promise of victory for the oppressed, even when it is the kiss of death! And I do believe that times like these are right times. We can’t calculate what comes tomorrow. We don’t have a barometer to measure up the political temperature. How should we approach Restoration in times like these? Our condition offers us three Pillars of Fire:
1. WATCH YOUR STEP. Here we seek the advice of Saint Paul: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). Each time we take great steps, let us slow down to get God involved: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
2. REDEEM THE TIME. By ‘time’ here, I mean opportunity. Let Saint Paul once more inform us: “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
3. DO GOD’S WILL. I just want to do His will. I am ready for the teeth of the wolf and the claw of the loin, if that means doing God’s will. Saint Paul again: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:17).
God is father of faith and owner of truth, so let us SEIZE THE DAY.
For An All Anglophone Conference (AAC) in the Diaspora
Let us begin to think of a neutral ground, a neutral country, abroad that shall bring all Southern Cameroonians from all the four corners of the world. It will best happen either in the USA or in Europe. Once decided, let us take it up and seriously.
Let us be warned. There are dangers to this cause. They have a right to their stance but they are to be told who they are. They are an infiltration of the business men and women who share immediate borders with us and their task is to destroy this revolution. I prefer an outspoken Beti man whose support for Biya and his cohorts is clear as daylight to the green snakes and brown frogs that are destroying the strike action from within and luring powerful Southern Cameroonians like Ni John Fru Ndi to speak from two sides of the mouth. There never was a device of the enemy so cleverly framed and with such semblance of genuineness. It is a blackmail that is as distant to truth as the night is to daylight. Truth be told: our problem is and will never be Paul Biya. Our trouble is the body politics, structures of political evil in La Republique created and masterminded by their elites and businessmen whose dubious activities since 1961 have rendered us helpless and blocked our progress as a people.
Again and again hard work has been applied in military and civil dispensations to emasculate the fighting spirit of the Bamenda-Buea-man with a military occupation all over the territory that is evocative only of Adolf Hitler’s, on Polish soil. The dark days of Hitler’s militarism on foreign soil has visited us. While the rest of humanity is quickly protecting its citizens and decriminalising state crime and massive censorship, and allowing their people room for self-determination to determine what is good for them, Cameroon is taking brutal steps and cunning to placate the world.
Here is a nation that has been signature to international and continental papers and pacts which champion the good news of freedom of expression. And yet the restrictions on the mouths of its inhabitants on what to say and what not to say has been shameful enough to delegitimize the whole national edifice. They have crucified a whole State of the ‘country’ and condemned them to mere anonymity in internet and cyber matters. This in the 21st century is unacceptable! We know how the kleptocracy that rules this country has subjugated our people to nothingness in their eyes. But let me sound this warning: that if we deprive the people we despise their freedom to speak we do not believe in it altogether. Should we still remind humans in the 21st century that the combat for the right to lawfully assembly, protest, and strike have long been won by the blood of political martyrs the world over? Should we still remind the dynasts of thieving politics that it is wrong to refuse its citizens the right to say no? Should we still remind ourselves we are living not only in post-independent Machiavellianism, but that we have gone so low and back to colonial systems of mass dehumanization and disgrace?
This century has seen a stabbing on a number of beautiful words often emptying the time-honored meanings and giving in to some sheer balderdash. Love became lust, metaphor became a lie, truth became an error. Another such terminology, really missing in this array of contemporary word predicament, is self-determination. To many today self-determination has come to mean terrorism, radicalism and even sometime fundamentalism. Honestly, this corruption of the word self-determination is a disaster almost at the level of the loss of the customary significance of truth in media houses. Political leaders in Cameroon are at their best when they create their own rules of political make-believe based on imposing stupidity to foster cruel thinking. After all, they are products of the same jaded invention. And I see Tchiroma’s political career ending in baskets of tears. Only the other day, and to my personal disquiet, the same man invades the media room with jaded mouthfuls of threatening talk to a constituted people, without any shame, to call a peace loving emollient Southern Cameroon terrorists. He should learn that we know more than he knows about his pharisaic politics of a wasted career. Those politicians who talk one language and mean the other thing, who speak from one side of the mouth while allowing the devil the other part of a reeking opinionated cavity should be warned that the unpolluted voice of the people shall thrash them when the moral ultimate ‘last-fight’ catches fire.
The word ‘Cameroon’ is not Bakossi, is not Bakweri, is not Kom, is not Bali, is not Bayanghi, is not Nso. It is a Portuguese concoction done to cart away minerals and humans for plantations and business in PORTUGAL. So it is ridiculous as an Africanist even to assume this name. For when we talk this claptrap of a one and indivisible Cameroon what are we defending? We are a people and that is bigger than shrimps. And therefore, a ‘one and indivisible Cameroon’ may not accurately be fiction but it is a hollow goliath, claiming muscle it does not have in the face of evident collapse, deception and shocking falsehood. The country has fabricated lies from and to its own heart, demolishing from the very first year of its inception to the present, the edifice of its own existence with wild constitutions, fake referendum and laughable presidential decrees.
There is so much talk among the political class of La Republique du Cameroun to the effect that the Southern Cameroonians are irritatingly problematic. I say they are not. Instead they are the most conscious, the most gifted and the most dynamic. Their greatest gift is that they get it. They know. They sense it. They are capable. They are capable of having their hearts broken by the abuse and rape of a student by a soldier who is suppose to protect her. They are capable of having their hearts broken when a young dynamic lawyer is imprisoned and tried with all sorts of lies by a government that is supposed to teach honesty. They are capable of breaking their hearts when an authoritarian machinery is produced to break their collective will and impede the running of their human spirit.
What they are not facing is the consequence of what they have applied for years in a tyranny so untamed. Cameroon needs to stop being foolhardy and confess its foundation is flawed. In a country where it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an Anglophone to be minister of justice, finance or defense; in a country where they have made election results, appointments and employment the equivalent of an initiation into a Ngumba house; in a nation where, over the course of fifty-five years, the political mafia has courted the worst of our elites through this man-know-man selection scheme: it should be known that, with this brutality run wild, this normalization of apartheid republique, we have reached the farthest point of the road to apocalyptic calamity and there is no going back again to this infectious vomit.
The proverbial tale of the highly overvalued farmer should be well-known to the ordinary Southern Cameroonian. Looking for what to help puff up his overblown ego as to feel he is the best of his companions, he goes around telling those who would care to listen that he has cultivated the farm more than everyone else, forgetting the unbreakable law of life: you reap what you sow. Thus, the farmer discloses he planted fifty suckers of plantains but made so much noise about his large farm of three hundred. Unfortunately, he would hide the truth only for a period. When the reckoning time of the unbreakable law to ‘reap what you sow’ tolls, fifty plantain sukcers would not skyrocket overnight to three hundred. This slightly belittling little saying is also infuriatingly true. When it comes to Cameroon history, there is nothing – nothing – to beat price. In fact, the discreditable attempt of the farmer to deceive himself is what has affected the core part of this country for over fifty five years. We want to reap a – one and indivisible – Cameroon we did not sow. It is shameful, it is disgraceful that a people can mislead themselves to live a lie for all over this length of time.
The Grain of Bobe Ngom Jua
History reminds us of two mighty reasons why we of the Southern Cameroons found ourselves in this chaotic condition. That reason is the exaggeratedly lamb-like leadership of Foncha and the opportunism of Muna, exhibited in the early Sixties and Seventies and Eighties before the preying lions of Ahidjo and Biya. Courage and commonweal were vital from the very beginning, but were found wanting. The tender shoots of the grain of the bold Bobe Ngom Jua were nipped from the bud. Let the up and coming generation know this, that the statesmanlike qualities of Augustine Jua represented the cream of the manhood Southern Cameroon is in need of for their statehood. The youth must go to school on Bobe Ngom Jua! The ancestral spirit of Bobe Ngom Jua should be invoked severally like the litany of saints in Catholic liturgy, in the ears of all freedom fighters of our motherland. On the other hand, let us not judge our forbears (Foncha and Muna) that we be not judged. Let us learn from the errors of the past – that in leadership, the welfare of the public and the courage to stand all are crucial.
I like my dreams to scare me. And if your dreams don’t frighten you then you have no dreams. Leadership is: accept what you are given, grant what you have, get to the ropes when the blows are many, stay cool and quiet when there is trouble, but release fire when you have gathered strength, get the tyrant on the throat when opportunity comes. For 55 years now, East Cameroon leadership has pitted Foncha against Endeley, Muna against Jua, and vice versa and set fighting cocks and dogs against one another. NEVER AGAIN! Buea tells Bamenda in these days of destiny, ‘take hold of my hand, my beloved, they have striven to separate us, but we are back. Close your eyes once more and believe in me. We must come close and believe in ourselves again. Let us remember Foncha and Endeley in 1954, united against Nigeria’s games. Today is undersized La Republique, we shall hold hands and step out as our fathers did in the late Nineteen-fifties.
At this hour, God, give us leadership. A time like this needs Jualike courage, Litumbelike wisdom, Gorji Dinkalike brainpower, Wirbalike intrepidity, Tassanglike steadfastness, Agborlike redemptive suffering, Fonlonlike integrity, Bate Besonglike erudition, Mukonglike stubborn simplicity. Lord we yearn for nothing but victory. You are granting us these things and we are seeing. Keep them focused and add more leaders to their ranks. Leaders who ‘know the way, go the way and show the way’.
I have consulted no one to write this letter. I have done it out of the voice I feel is in me from my Maker. God consulted no one to create me; He consulted no one to grant me that conscience. So when from the silence of my heart I speak, I am representing God even if I am not dogma or pope.
Life sometimes is colored with toxins from backstabbing, tale-bearing, and betrayals. Let us not do it alone. And the trouble is fear. Those who fear and expect miracles are living in a fool’s paradise. God’s miracles work in the terrain of impossibility. The brave and fearless can do the impossible. Only they manufacture miracles. They are employees in the factory of the Lord. When courage steps in, God is at work. The true disposition of a freedom fighter is that of comforting and confrontation. Comforting when you meet other people in the mud. Comforting when misery struggles before you in the faces of subjugated and dejected peoples. Confrontation when your own life is in the mud and you have to get up and clean up. Confrontation when thousands of powerless lives are under the threat of tyranny. God is God because he is bigger than any name. He is bigger than any dream, bigger than any giant. As we journey with the forces of our ancestors and their spirits, let us affirm we will trust God. Let us stand tall with Him because ‘the giant in front of you is never bigger than the God inside you’.