“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the meek. He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES and the OPENING of the PRISON to those who are bound,” (Isaiah 61:1)
It is not in our culture and upbringing to bandy words with God’s servants for in the process we fear, we may in fact, grieve the Lord. But today we find ourselves obliged to do exactly what we know we should not; answer God’s servants in the public domain, for if we do not, the Church, or part thereof, may derail our struggle for the liberation of God’s people as directed by the scripture above, the very reason for which Jesus Christ came and died.
On Saturday the 29. of April, 2017, the Bishops of Cameroon gathered in Yaounde within the framework of the 42. general assembly of the National Episcopal Conference and issued a message titled: “One People, One Nation”. That message focused entirely on the Southern Cameroons Question, the reason for the ongoing unrest in the North West and South West regions of the country.
In as much as we appreciate the interest the National Episcopal Conference has taken in this matter, we regret that in successive letters to the Christians, the leaders of the Catholic Church in Cameroun have demonstrated that either they do not understand the real issues at stake, or they have simply decided to pay a deaf ear and to take sides with the oppressor against the oppressed people of Southem Cameroons.
However, it is important for national and international opinion to note that the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroun did receive the Executive of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and leaders of Teachers’ Unions in the persons of:Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, Dr. Fontem A. Neba and Mr. Tassang Wilfred for the Consortium on the one hand and Mr. Tameh Valentine, Mr. Kimfon Michael, Mr. Afuh Stephen and Mr. Ayeah Emmanuel for the Teachers’ Unions on the other hand. During the occasion, the Joint Delegation gave the prelates all the education, facts and figures that they needed to know on the Anglophone Problem; from the historical frauds, Constitutional coup in 1972 to all manners of discrimination and oppression; these were in the legal, educational, linguistic and socio-cultural domains.
The Bishops of Cameroon are among some of the finest educated minds that this country can offer, with the sharpest analytical brains and therefore, as living witnesses to all these discriminations and having all the facts and figures at their disposal, being Apostles of the truth and of justice we expected the Church to stand out for justice and speak same without fear or favour.
Our God in His mercy will forgive us, if in the course of condemning the work of the enemy in the Church; we pass judgement on His servants. We only do this so that the people He has given us to lead to freedom land, the very nation He gave our forefathers may not be misled by His servants who have allowed the secular to overwhelm the spiritual. The issues raised in the message of the Bishops of Cameroon therefore require that we get to the roots of some of them in a systematic manner to enable greater understanding
One People, One Nation
Our Bishops titled their message to the Christians: “One People, One Nation”. We consider this deliberate falsehood because we are convinced our prelates know better; that Southern Cameroons is geographically defined, has a separate colonial history from La Republique du Cameroun, that we have a Language of our own (English), that we have a legal system of our own (Common Law), that we have an educational system of our own, that we have different socio-polltico-cultural practices, that we have internationally recognized boundaries different from those of La Republique du Cameroun, that we attained independence on different dates (1. January, 1960 for La Republique du Cameroun and 1. October, 1961 for Southern Cameroons) and much more meaning we cannot be termed “One People, One Nation”, especially as an earlier intention by our forefathers to forge a union with those they passionately referred to as “Our Brothers” failed woefully with these so-called brothers turning out to be predators, annexationist-colonialists who have in fact treated us for 56 years worse than the White-man did. Truth is, where the Germans and the British used our languages and customs and laws to rule us before introducing theirs along the line, La Republique du Cameroun has attempted to completely annihilate us in all these aspects.
The Bishops of Cameroon, we all know, are all philosophers and either sociologists and or anthropologists, meaning therefore that they have a mastery of the situation on the ground. Further, the deliberate refusal of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon by the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province (whose faithful have undergone and are still undergoing all the ills that we have mentioned) to the Head of State, President Paul Biya, outlining the problems and their manifestations, beginning from genesis, tells of a huge disagreement on what the truth is among the Bishops of Cameroun.
The disagreement referred to above, reminds us of the events of the year 2010, leading to activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of our two countries. The National Episcopal Conference unanimously decided to send out an Episcopal Letter to be read in all mission stations on a particular Sunday condemning corruption, tribalism and all negativisms in government, in the Church’s bid to mark 50 years of independence and reunification of the Neo Carneroons Strangely, that Letter was read in the Dioceses except the churches of the Dioceses in the Centre, South and East regions; an indication that the Church in these areas Is satisfied with Cameroun as it is. It is maybe needless to recall that street demonstrations and prayers against multiparty politics (liberty and democracy) in 1990 were led by prelates of, and from these same regions.
The Rule of Law
In point 5 of their Episcopal letter, the Bishops made reference to the rule of law, thereby giving the impression that Cameroun not only has good laws, but respects such laws. In fact, the Bishops are saying Cameroun is a State of law, whereas we all know the contrary. The mere fact that government agents released forces of law and order to unleash torture, harsh brutality and inhuman treatment on armless lawyers during a peaceful march, breaking into their hotel rooms and seizing their gowns and wigs, raping armless university students both on their campus and in their hostels in Buea, dragging innocent students in the mud and opening fire on civilians with live bullets in Bamenda, demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that Cameroun is a barbaric State.
In fact the interruption of internet services in the North West and South West regions for three good months was not enough reason the innocent people had to be exposed to State-sponsored terrorism. Uniform men went on the rampage arbitrarily kidnapping people from their homes at ungodly hours and carting them to Yaounde and unknown destinations, while at the same time extorting huge sums of money from others in exchange of their release. This worsen the situation, it became a crime for anyone in the two regions to communicate on the Internet; that is how scores of young people were brought down from vehicles while travelling either between Bamenda and Bafoussam or Tiko and Douala and carted to Yaounde to be ) judged in military courts on grounds that they were travelling In search of internet signals. These horrible abuses place Cameroun in a category of its own when it comes to the treatment of the human person: the country thereby created a record of its own as no one nation in the world has ever meted such harsh and de-humanizing treatment on a people it pretentiously calls its citizens. And this to our Bishops is a State of law !
The Bishops of Cameroon highlight in their Episcopal Letter that dialogue is important and necessary: pointing out that such a dialogue concerns the State, in its institutional form, which embodies three powers: the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislative. This position leads us to wondering the kind of dialogue the government needs to implement Constitutional provisions which spell out clearly that Cameroun is bi-cultural with two official languages, two distinct legal systems, two distinct educational systems and much more.
Does the government need dialogue to be reminded that magistrates with knowledge of neither the English Language nor the Common Law who practised in the North West and South West regions did not have to be sent to our courts in the first place?
Did the government need dialogue to understand how dangerous it is to send Francophone teachers with no knowledge of the English Language and negligible knowledge of the subject matter to teach in purely Anglo-Saxon schools?
Did the government need to rape, kill, maim, kidnap and abduct, forcing thousands of people into exile in order to have dialogue?
Did the government need to destroy the economy of the two regions by suspending Internet services, suppressing free speech and banning any discussions on the form of the State by Southern Cameroonians, while at the same time allowing Francophones to unleash diatribes on us even on the public media in order to secure dialogue?
Would we be wrong to conclude that the deliberate silence of the Church on all these ills makes of her an accomplice or an extension of the colonial regime, seeing that the Communique of the 29th of April, 2017 could easily pass for something written by the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic, or the Minister of Communication, lssa Tchiroma Bakary?
The aforementioned letter of the National Episcopal Conference comes on the heels of the second visit of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, who after a three-day fact-finding mission, called on government to immediately and unconditionally release all detainees and facilitate the safe return of all those on exile so that dialogue could be resumed. That notwithstanding, our Bishops have rather taken sides with the government by stating that;
“…the destiny of the detainees be clarified according to appropriate judicial procedure, meaning they are in agreement with the contention that Southern Cameroonians are terrorists, that the request for a return to the 1961 Constitutional Provision on the federal form of the state or the restoration of our statehood is a crime.
Resumption of Classes
The Bishops evoke the right to education as Inalienable and call on parents to send their children back to school while urging the State to guarantee the security of the education community and provide a special incentive to the Church. The question that begs for an urgent answer here is, what kind of education are they talking about? Of what use is it sending children to schools where people who are supposed to be teaching them do not understand their main language of instruction or let alone the system of education they are expected to be taught under? We may want to remind our prelates that one of the main trusts of this struggle is the safeguard of the education of our children, a burning desire to see our children acquire the kind of education that guarantees them a better future. In calling on parents to send back their children to school, the Episcopal Conference is in fact, stating that there is absolutely nothing wrong with our children being destroyed and that we have no reason to complain.
Again, we are surprised that the Bishops of Cameroun barely mentioned the cabal of the State in suing our clergy on flimsy and laughable charges. Their worry as far as the unnecessary dragging of our Men of God from all denominations to court is concerned is based on the timing and not the act itself. Hear them: “The Summons of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda to justice is inappropriate and counterproductive, especially at this grave moment when all of Cameroon is mobilized for a quick and peaceful solution to this crisis”. They could not even muster courage enough to call on government to retract the said summons with immediate effect, certainly because it concerned Southern Cameroons clergy,
Decentralization of State Institutions
Finally, the letter of the Episcopal Conference does not borrow even a leaf from the correspondence of the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province addressed to the Head of State in December 2016, which letter was endorsed by the South West Chiefs’ Conference- SWECC, the North West Fons’ Union- NOWEFU, the South West Elite Association- SWELA and several other bodies representing the people of Southern Cameroons. Strangely enough, we observe that the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon is only just realizing today that the decentralization of state institutions
enshrined in the Constitution of 1996 has never taken off, despite the enactment of yet another law in the same vein since 2004.
From the foregoing, it is evident that we have two peoples, two cultures, two nations, and most probably two Gods. That Is why where Southern Cameroonians and the Church In Southern Cameroons have seen vice, les camerounais and the Church In La Republique have seen virtue. Therefore, if the “one and indivisible” Cameroun cannot agree on what is virtue and what is vice, on what is just and on what is unjust, cannot agree on what is the good law and what the bad law is, then it becomes abundantly clear all that this one and indivisible” nation must be divided for peace and justice to reign. This in fact are two countries that God has put asunder and no one should insist on bringing them together, except they are sadists.
The people of Southern Cameroons in their vast majority have made clear and continue to do so daily, that the time now is the for the total restoration of the independence of their nation as contained in Resolution 1608 (XV) of the United Nations General Assembly of the 21. of April, 1961, slating the 1. of October, 1961 as the maturity date for the independence of the Southern Cameroons after an overwhelming vote in favour of the same. That resolve cannot be derailed and we would not allow even the Church, acting on the dictates of the colonial regime to destroy God’s purpose for our people this 2017.
Done in Port Harcourt,
this 2.nd Day of May, 2017
Source: Cameroon Concord