Some random tidbits: I was woken up early this morning by my sister, Ann. She just said three words: Tata has gone. (Tata was the Cardinal). I first met Cardinal Tumi sometime in 1955 at a place called Kaduna Vom (which had a veterinary station where Pa Tumi Tumi the Cardinal’s dad was employed as a worker) in the then Northern Nigeria. The Cardinal himself was a teacher. Nothing to do with priesthood. I remember him being very fluent in Hausa/Fulani. At the time, my father was a Police Officer in Jos (Minesfield Station). I subsequently met the Cardinal at the Bigard Memorial (Senior) Seminary in Uwani-Enugu in the then Eastern Nigeria sometime in 1959/60. Most of the very first Roman Catholic priests in Southern/West Cameroon ( James Toba, Lucas Atang, Ivo Ndichia, Henry Mesue, Francis Lysinge, Clement Ndze, Nicholas Malonge, Louis Nomi, Paul Verdzekov, Pius Awa etc..) were trained at Bigard Memorial. I knew them all as I used to carry food on my head on some Sundays from our home and trek all the way to Uwani where they lived. They in turn visited my parents when they were free. My family goes back a long way with the Cardinal. My mother was the only one I knew who would call the Cardinal by his first name – Christian – no one else did or dared. I was shocked when I found him on one occasion actually sitting in our local kitchen and engaged in some seemingly serious discussion with my mum.
I have also met him times without number at his residence in Douala, his village – Kikaikelaki – and at the Pastoral Centre in UpStation Bamenda where he spent time with my uncle and his brother-in- Christ Monsignor Clement Ndze.
The Cardinal as I knew him was willing and ready to discuss any issue: politics, his alleged désire to stand for elections in Cameroon, réunification, corruption, homosexuality etc. Some local newspapers even alleged he had a girlfriend in Douala. The lady in question turned out to be his late sister, Mrs. Pufong nee Celine Tumi – a stunning beauty in her own right.
In the Cardinal’s presence, you knew you were dealing with a man of vast learning, knowledge and experience, humble and willing to listen. A real good man who loved Cameroon not only in words but also in action.
Ninety years of steadfast commitment to life and priestly vocation is no mean achievement. And anyone who met the Cardinal will tell you he was no hypocrite. He spoke his mind to the high and mighty because he stood by and on the side of the truth and justice. I honestly believe he was one of the rare personalities in this country who, by virtue of their character and réputation, could have secured peace in the current crisis through the inclusive dialogue he so fervently stood and fought for. Cameroon now has to find a man of the same calibre and charisma. Ghan kijung Tata (Go well Papa).
Cardinal Tumi waves his last olive branch at separatists.
Shortly before his death on Good Friday, April 2, 2021, Christian Cardinal Wiyghan Tumi, the Emeritus Archbishop of Douala, Cameroon, paid what was to be his last visit to his home village of Kikaikelaki, Bui Division in northwestern Cameroon, a place he himself describes as “a known fierce battle ground in Kumbo.” There, he appealed to the separatists, who are fighting government forces in a bid to carve out of the State of Cameroon an independent entity they call “Ambazonia”, to lay down their arms and take their place around the dialogue table with the government. To Cardinal Tumi, their struggle is an exercise in futility which has brought much hardship to the ordinary people, who are caught between the brutality of government forces, who accuse them of aiding and abetting separatism, and the separatists themselves, who have resorted to extortion, kidnappings for a ransom, and other acts of brutality against the very people they claim they are fighting to free from oppression. In the report of his visit, he makes a desperate last minute attempt to persuade the separatists to lay down their arms and embrace a dialogue with the government. Below is his report.
By Martin Jumbam
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF MY ANNUAL VISIT TO MY HOME VILLAGE OF KIKAIKELAKI-KUMBO (23/01/2021)
On January 23, 2021, I arrived at my home village Kikaikelaki for my traditional annual visit. On the way, I was stopped and questioned by a contingent of fully armed non-state fighters, who asked who I was and where I was going. I introduced myself and I invited them to meet me later in my house.
The next day, January 24, 2021, I presided over the Eucharist, assisted by my Parish Priest. Drawing inspiration from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 7: 29 – 31), I exhorted the faithful to make good use of our God-given time before it is too late.
During my stay, I received a good number of people and groups who came to visit me and to express their concern about the night I spent in captivity some months back. To all of them, I gave an admonition on the need to live and work in peace so as to enable a conducive climate for progress.
On Tuesday, January 25, 2021, among some of my visitors were the separatist fighters whom I had invited to come and meet me. During my discussion with them, I expressed my worry that they were wasting their time and youthfulness in a fight they could never win. I was, however, very categorical on my two salient points against them, namely:
Their stand against the reopening of schools, thus depriving the children of their right to education; some of them even going as far as to amputate the hands of some children, so that they can no longer in their life be able to write anything. Their lack of respect for others’ opinions and the brutal means with which they repress those whose political opinions differ from theirs, which therefore means that they are not even ready for dialogue. Dialoguing partners are those who hold different opinions, but who are ready to accept the views of others, and the intellectual honesty coming from any opinion, even those they do not share.
Their immediate reaction was to reject what I was saying and even threatened to walk out on me because what I was saying was contrary to their opinion.
Seeing their reaction, I told them that even if we think differently, we should remain calm and continue to listen to each other’s opinion. It was then that calm returned and we continued our discussion. To my utter surprise, they asked me for money to buy arms (guns and bullets). My interpretation of this request was that they wanted to continue with the fighting and the killing of even innocent citizens and their own brothers and sisters and relatives, who have now turned against them. I again categorically affirmed: ‘You will never win this war! The war of different opinions between two groups can only be won where intellectual honesty is requested. That is to say, those dialoguing must be ready to accept and respect the truth, no matter who says it. And sentiments must be put aside in favour of objective reasoning’. I then strongly appealed to them and urged them to lay down their arms. I informed them that a good number of those I had spoken with had told me they are ready to leave Cameroon. As one of them said, “Papa Cardinal, I have to leave Cameroon, I no longer see why we are fighting. I had thought that this misunderstanding among us would last only for one year but now, I no longer see where we are going.”
Even with that, they still persisted, even going as far as to ask me for money to buy arms. I retorted ‘Are you asking me to give you money to buy bullets? That will never happen. What will bring peace to our tribe, to our country and to our homes is that you drop down your guns’. I further called their attention to the miserable state of our village and asked if they were not ashamed of it.
I insisted that they drop their guns, making them understand that they were carrying those guns illegally. I equally made it abundantly clear to them that it was my ardent desire to see the military go back to the barracks, and prepare to fight, not against their own people, but against our common enemy, the enemy of the nation.
Their reaction to my affirmation was also strong. They strongly affirmed that the only people they will listen to are their leaders in prison. I told them that the freedom of their leaders in prison could be a subject for a national dialogue, which could help us know precisely why they are in prison. Are they there for civil offences or for truly criminal activities? I concluded that the just law will decide.
One thing I noticed is that many people have remained in my village in spite of the war. They continue to live in fear all this while from the warring factions. To my greatest surprise, the local population dread and dislike the separatist fighters more than the state military because the separatists torture, exact unjust punishment, inflict pain, kidnap, demand ransoms, maim and threaten, or even kill.
I met some of the separatists, who told me that they are ready to give up their guns in their present situation, but that those with whom they are in the bush will consider them as ‘black legs’ and kill them. Consequently, they can no longer move freely in their country.
Even though I tried to convince them to leave and seek refuge in other parts of the country, like Douala, Yaoundé and other towns, they were still not convinced that that was the right thing to do. I informed them that some of their fellow combatants had already come out of the bush, dropped their guns and have been resettled. I told them I was talking from real experience. That was why I strongly appealed to those of them in bushes to come out and make good use of their youthful days for their own good and for the good of their families. I told them it was not yet too late, and that they could get into touch with me, or with the Archbishop of Bamenda.
In turn, they told me that many of them had taken up arms to avenge the brutality and the destruction they have suffered from the state army. In response, I appealed to them for forgiveness and told them that if they laid down their arms, I would guarantee their safety and rehabilitation.
Though they promised to reflect on my assurance, they nonetheless expressed their worry because of what they said were bad experiences of some of their colleagues who, after laying down their arms, were said to have been pursued and killed.
On January 26, 2021, I received another visitor, who expressed his worry over what he called the overwhelming Muslim domination of the leadership of the separatist fighters in Bui Division.
“Almost all the leaders of this struggle in the bushes,” he said, “are Muslims and they pride themselves by claiming that they have the same quality of weapons as the army.”
Having listened to him, I wondered aloud where they got their arms from which they are able to use with such efficiency! Who provides them the training to enable them use such weapons?
As I was jotting down these notes, I was hearing heavy gun shots and I was told that it was likely an incident that must have led to a confrontation between two belligerents groups.
IDEAS FROM MY CONTACT WITH THE PEOPLE AND MY PROPOSALS ARISING THEREFROM.
The following are some of the things I saw and heard on why the activities of the separatists are still strong in Kumbo.
The majority of the people are fed up with the activities and atrocities of the Amba Boys, and they seem to feel more secure in the hands of the military than of these boys. The Amba Boys have lost focus and have turned against their own people. They exhibit a high level of arrogance, stupidity, and lack of objective reasoning. They are not willing or ready to listen to good advice, or accept any opinion contrary to theirs. Their attitude is characterized by propaganda, illusion, and self-deception. They claim to have the same quality of sophisticated weapons as the army, even if not the same quantity. They even claim to be winning the war against the state. From every indication, it is highly probable that they have taken an oath of not turning back. Hence, they are fully determined to continue this futile struggle. When I told them to lay down their arms and embrace the hand of dialogue and the rehabilitation proposal from the government, they blatantly and arrogantly told me that they were not ready to lay down their arms and that they preferred to continue fighting. There is also the alleged Nso-Mbum divide (i.e., Bui and Donga Mantung Divisions). Contrary to the popular opinion that the people of Bui have made life difficult for those in Donga Mantung Division, by refusing the latter access into and out of the rest of the nation through Bui Division, it is rather the Bui warriors, who have held the two communities hostage. This has led the indigenes of Donga Mantung to generalize this unfair treatment as being perpetuated by all the indigenes of Bui Division, which is not the case.
The Bui Warriors and fighters complain that the lockdown on Mondays is not being observed in Nkambe; school, businesses and other human activities are going on there unperturbed, hence, according to the Bui Warriors, the people of Nkambe are not supporting the struggle. They are therefore considered as enablers and traitors. Consequently, the Bui Warriors have banned the circulation of motor bikes and other vehicles from Bui to Donga, and vice versa. Bikes from Bui as well as from Donga-Mantung end at the boundary in Tatum.
I also realized that some people are cooperating and collaborating with the Amba Boys as informants, thus rendering military operations unsuccessful and ineffective. For instance, they notify the separatists of military movements, thus enabling them to plan counter attacks which usually foil the military operations. These include the mounting of locally-made explosives popularly known as “Manyi.” For their part, the people do not alert the military when they see the separatists mounting explosives along the road to ambush the military.
SOME PERTINENT WORRIES
It is observed that Christian Churches, especially the Catholic Church, have been very vocal in their appeal for school resumption but unfortunately they have suffered the most. The overwhelming leadership of Muslims among the non-state fighters, and the influx of basic military equipment (perhaps from some Arab countries), are equally a cause for concern. The possession of more dangerous and sophisticated arms by the non-state fighters is also worrisome. Some of these non-state fighters have improved their strategy. This has led to their resilience and consequently to more torture and casualties of the civilian population. There are disagreements among the many separatist camps in Bui led by leaders with different ideologies. There are those who are loyal to the “Interim Government” headed by Samuel Sako, head of the care-taker government, who acts on behalf of President Sisiko, who is incarcerated and powerless; there is the Amba Defense Force (ADF) – headed by Cho Ayaba Lucas; the ASC which pays allegiance to McBareta, Eric Tataw and Frankline Verla; the County fighters under Shey Kaavi, Derick. Some of the separatist camps have been infiltrated by armed robbers. This has led to an upsurge in armed robbery because more guns are now in wrong hands. In the days ahead, there will likely be more blackmailing and settling of scores. Some members of the population want the crisis to continue because they are benefitting from it. For example, some business people create artificial scarcity for financial benefits. The international community and non-governmental organizations need to shift away from the attitude of only wishes to concrete action.
MY STRONG PROPOSALS AND APPEALS
There is a need to increase the presence of the military in the area and to organize more constant patrols along the Jakiri – Nkambe section of the Ring Road. Military units and control/check points could be created in the following villages Wainama, Nkar, Sop, Yer, Melim, Kikaikelaki, Ntonge, Takijajah, Kishong, Ngondzen, Kitiwum, Dzeng, Mah and Ndzevru. This would cripple some of the separatist activities such as extorting money from the people. It would incapacitate and weaken their economic power, weaken their resilience and pave the way for vehicles to move freely on the high way, especially between Kumbo and Nkambe. The military should stop extorting money from public transport drivers, a deplorable act that results in the exorbitant transport fare.
The general situation on the ground is still frightening; the future is not promising because the situation has not yet improved as much as expected. We are not yet where we ought to have been: war is still going on and no school is operating formally as such. I am happy that the government is ready to listen.
N.B. The village of Kikaikelaki, where I come from, happens to be one of the areas most affected by the fighting around Kumbo. It is a known fierce battle ground in Kumbo.
+Christian Cardinal Tumi Wiyghan
Archbishop Emeritus of Douala Archdiocese
Nnamdi Kanu-Ayaba Cho Loud Mouth Ça Gâte Ça Gâte Diplomacy? Dcn #TASSANG_Wilfred
There are some level of activists and leaders whose errors can be classified as such, tolerated and forgiven them with time. Such people are considered as “ignorambooses” by large mouth grammarians. It shall not be so when professionals and experts fart in their domains.
At the time (2017) when the leader of The TIGERS armed group, Comrade Nchia Martin was struggling to build notoriety on Ground Zero and credibility with the political leadership of the revolution, he often reached out to us and discretely announced some actions his boys were going to carry out on the territory on specific days and venues so that we could trust him and give him the necessary finances. After a series of successes, he made an error; he confided in the National Telegraph’s Eric Tataw, a journalist by training and profession. On the very day the TIGERS were expected to delete the Colonial SDO of Manyu, Um II Joseph, the National Telegraph blew it up by publishing what was given him in confidence just so his paper could testify that the TIGERS carried out the action. As a trained and professional journalist, Eric Tataw knew exactly what his publication of that information would do, yet he went ahead and did it. Um II Joseph cancelled the scheduled event and has survived to date. That announcement-denunciation and betrayal cannot be forgiven because coming from a professional. I was so furious that morning when I saw Eric’s post on Facebook that I called up Comrade Martin to berate him for such an error. I also told Bro. John Mbah Akuroh who was in touch with Eric Tataw to warn him. John said I should talk to him after all, he was my son, but that single incident registered Eric Tataw in my spirit as a contender and not a militant journalist. I have not been proven wrong.
Some announcements are denunciations. That was what Eric Tataw did in 2017, that also is what the Ayabo Cho-Nnamdi Kanu Facebook proclamation is doing; denouncing themselves and Ambazonia. The one message the Nigerian authorities are receiving from this alliance is this; if they allow the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia to restore their independence, then their territory will serve as a corridor for the IPOB to ship in arms. This message is so unmistakable that even a baby revolutionary will not miss it. While Ambazonia cannot denounce IPOB quest for self-determination, the Struggle must know that Nigeria is the one country we cannot afford to antagonise, not now, not tomorrow.
Another example of loud mouth denunciation diplomacy happened in 2001. I have it on good authority that Justice Ebong, the exiled Southern Cameroons leader in Nigeria had allegedly entered a deal with some “Nigerian authorities” towards the liberation of homeland. Justice Ebong’s secretary, Wesley Tiku, is said to have confided in Akwanga Ebenezer. And what did Akwanga do? He proclaimed it on roof tops. The outcome was that the Nigerian government gave Justice Ebong and his team a 48hrs Quit Notice. It was only thanks to the UN that an extension was accorded while the US government processed their files. Like I said, I have it on good authority. Announcement was denunciation then, but we will forgive Akwanga this error for he was yet green. Shall Dr Akwanga be forgiven this same error if he did it today? Not at all. Such an error will rather be registered as a treacherous crime today on account of his “learning” and “experience”.
That was not all; in 2017, and while we were lobbying the Nigerian government and other diplomatic missions in Nigeria, Akwanga let out another bomb shell. He sent out an audio in which he claimed he had signed an agreement with the Bayalsa Boys to support our struggle. The Nigerian authorities were so concerned that I was summoned to the Commission for questioning. Of course, I did not know what Akwanga was talking about, but I was asked; “What kind of leaders do you have?” There was no truth in the Akwanga Bayalsa declaration as we have lived to see. So why did he do it? To project self? We have not seen it all yet, have we?
In one of my recent notes, I classified Ayaba Cho Lucas as the most informed Southern Cameroonian leader. I am not about to repent from that. I also wanted us to determine whether having the knowledge of what should be done automatically confers one with the ability to do it? The recent loud sounding proclamation from Bro. Ayaba and Maazi Kanu says it all; knowledge is not ability. If Dr Ayaba Cho Lucas had in this, made public what someone else was going to do, I would have classified it as treachery. Can that still be said of the present action though?
Dr Ayaba Cho, master in warfare, should know that utmost discretion is required in such matters. The betrayal of military positions and the movement of troops is a treasonable crime. This press conference falls in that category. In going all out to make public what the code requires to be kept under the carpet, Ayaba and Maazi Kanu have denounced themselves. Why? Are they trying to frighten somebody? Who? Is that individual frightened? What will be the outcome of that fright?
Dr Ayaba Cho, diplomacy guru, should also know that strategic alliances in times of war like ours must be kept secret otherwise their potency is neutralised. If the IPOB were already a sovereign state, one would understand, but they are not. They are not even actively engaged like Ambazonia. Dr Ayaba Cho does know this. Why is he going against the creed? Who is this show of unwanted bravado expected to benefit? Certainly, not the struggle and Ayaba’s movement, but the enemy LRC junta. Why is he doing this?
I don’t want to bother myself about the fact that there is actually nothing on the ground that IPOB can offer AGovC and Ambazonia. I am rather concerned about the political and diplomatic backlash this incident can cause the Ambazonian quest. Is Ayaba Cho deliberately muddying the waters? If so, then he and his group are now reduced to “Ça Gâte Ça Gâte Diplomacy.” I find this difficult to believe, coming from the same Ayaba Cho who schooled me on the connection between military strategy and diplomacy in Nigeria. This is so unfathomable that I must record it in the register of treacherous activities. I don’t want to believe that Bro. Ayaba is giving up on the struggle, but posterity will judge.
Nobody should fret though. Our Struggle is still God ordained, and I have not given up on Comrade Ayaba Cho Lucas. There is something this gentleman has to offer Ambazonia. When he will place his finger on it, it shall be a game changer. For now, that thing is not Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB, neither is it Facebook bravado of any sort. Much more, it cannot be Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB because they have laid claim to the Southern Cameroons as part of their inheritance. Is Ayaba oblivious to this claim?
Definitely, knowledge is not proof of a calling, neither does it confer ability. Peace.
He had the chance to make things right at 100 when he took over the senate floor with his staff of office and ask for a debate on the “Anglophone crisis “ but no one listened to him: He did not do the honorable thing to resign but kept on with the dictatorial regime until his last breath at 103: God gave him many opportunities to make things right especially when he was seriously sick but survived it : Yesterday Prof. Mendo Ze died and CRTV was quick to announce but nothing said about you because you are Southern Cameroonian : We are always nothing to them and even if they will do anything, it is always at the last moment which is not genuine : You have lived a fulfilled life with bonuses ; time to retire with the Lord : As A King, you are my father and boss as well : Fare thee well Mighty Monarch . Shey Tatah (SM)
More casualties should be expected from the battle that just took place in Jakiri now at the check point towards or around the Veterinary school/Junction as at least 2 military lost their lives with several seriously wounded . Jakiri is the chief town of Dzekwa LGA in Bui County.
Early this morning the checkpoint was packed with mixed control of Biya’s military terrorists who are taking advantage of the Ordinations tomorrow in Kumbo to extort money from drivers and passengers flocking in from Bamenda and other villages/towns outside Jakiri: This was planned in a council session last week and some days to go out and force money from civilians . The Dzekwa warriors led by the General stormed the check point and disrupted the extortion and exploitation:
As we write, Biya’s forces called for back up but the warriors had done their job and gone : We are advising those plying that stretch to hold on and make sure it is safe before continuing their journey in and out of Jakiri as they will always come for reprisal to face but the innocent civilians as they can’t face the warriors: This should serve as a warning to those traitors in Jakiri who are working 24hts with the enemies and killing our people : Those councilors and military going out to collect taxes after last week’s meeting will face the law of Ambazonia: Let’s keep assisting the warriors in their sacrifices of defending and protecting the civilians. SM