The school resumption crusade embarked on by the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon and Archbishop of Douala, Mgr. Samuel Kleda,on Friday, May 5, hit a stone wall at the St. Joseph Metropolitan Cathedral in Bamenda.
Archbishop Kleda, accompanied by the Archbishop of Ngoundere, Mgr. Emmanuel Abbo, were in the Northwest Regional Capital to plead with parents to send their children back to school.
But Archbishop Kleda’s sojourn to the Northwest Region,flopped because participants, who had thronged the Big Mankon Cathedral Hall, categorically tol dhim that what he was demanding from parents won’t work, until the Government addresses the grievances of the teachers and lawyers.
Earlier, in his introductory remarks, the National Episcopal President said he was on a fact-finding mission to the Anglophone Dioceses because he has read varied and contradictory literature from the media about the efforts made by the Government, Civil Society, the Church and politicians to solve the Anglophone Problem.“But despite these efforts, nothing seems to move parents to send their children back to schools.”
The Man of God said they have been delegated by the Bishops of Cameroon to plead with parents to send their children back to school, following the decision of their Kribi Episcopal Conference.
“If after three weeks parents do not send their children to school, this school year will be declared a blank year.
“Yes, we agree with you that the detainees in Yaoundé should be released and the reforms on education put in place, but while this is to happen, let the children go to school. Let all the detainees be released or the court should speed up their trial because justice delayed is justice denied,” he stated.
Concerning the calls for Federalism, Kleda said the Bishops opted for effective decentralisation of the administrative structures, which to him, is the best form of State.
After his utterances on the form of State, the population murmured in disapproval, before he could even finish what he was saying.
While, limiting the intervention of participants to just three, because of other imperatives, Kleda warned that he will not respond to any question out of the educational domain.
Mgr.Kleda Chases Away CRTV Reporters From Event Venue
In the course of the event, the Archbishop of Douala sent away reporters of the State media from the event venue. According to him, the State-owned media has been churning out false information to the public, concerning the real situation of schools in the two Anglophone Regions.
“As we left Douala to Kumba, Buea to Mamfe and today Bamenda, we have realised that schools have not effectively resumed,” the Prelate asserted.
Kleda said if CRTV was allowed inside the hall to cover the event, the State media will not report the truth.
Meanwhile, mounting the rostrum, Hon. Paulinus Jua, said the Anglophone Educational System,which is under crisis today;is the lone surviving offspring from the bicultural and bijural systems, which Anglophones hold close to their hearts and must jealously protect it before it is suffocated.
“We came to this union out of freewill and nobody even Francophones, who claim to love Cameroon more than us can play with this issue that began in 1961. Even if you bring all the soldiers to town without solving problems, schools will not resume,” Hon Jua enthused.
On his part, the Archbishop of Bamenda, Cornelius Fontem Esua, told Archbishop Kleda that if Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province call on parents to send children back to school, the population sees them as traitors and if the same Bishops request Government to release the detainees, Government sees them as anti-Government that is siding with the opposition. “So yousee, we are caught between and betwixt,” Mgr Esua noted.
The Chief Shepherd of Bamenda lauded the efforts of the National Episcopal Conference President for coming to find out what is happening and to know the truth.
He, however, insisted on genuine dialogue as the only way out of the academic impasse. In spontaneous move, Rev. Patrick Lafon, sprinted to heels and took a subtle dig at Kleda; “I am sorry that what I will say might offend you, but why didn’t you Mr National Episcopal Conference President side with the letter which your colleagues presented to the President? That was a letter that dissected the whole problem and proposed solutions to the prevailing situations in the two Anglophone Regions of Cameroon,” he said.
To Rev. Lafon, a clear cut time table for a Federation should be established “and all these problems will automatically disappear, else resumption of schools will remain an illusion.”
Meanwhile, Northwest Governor, Adolph LeleL’Afrique, assured the Catholic Educational authorities that all security measures have been taken to ensure that teachers and students are protected if they return to school.
He recalled that during a recent meeting with proprietors of lay-private schools, it was resolved that schools will resume, “but I am surprised that they never respected their commitments,” the Governor said.
Source: The Post Newspaper