By Julius Wamey
The current situation in the Anglophone regions reminds me of a military joke I read in Readers’ Digest decades ago. It told the story of a squad of British soldiers whose sergeant had become so confused in his orders that he was marching the squad towards a cliff. Seeing what was to become of the squad, one of the soldiers implored the sergeant. “Sarge, please say something, even if it’s only goodbye,” the young soldier cried.
Ordinary Anglophones have now been placed in the position of the young soldier, being marched towards a cliff, ordered by a sergeant who can no longer say ‘right turn’ or ‘left turn.’ Only in our case, it is not a confused drill sergeant marching our people towards certain doom, but a ever growing group of Anglophone Internet generals, reveling in their new-found power to control the daily lives of their people with the click of a computer mouse.
The latest example is one that should strike terror into the hearts of those who dream of an Anglophone country that believes in strong community spirit, simple human decency and the Anglophone respect for the rule of law.
On Sunday July 30, an announcement from the bishops of the Bamenda Episcopal Province was read in all Catholic churches to the effect that all Catholic institutions of learning would reopen on Monday August 7. In the church where I attended mass that Sunday in Kumbo, there was cheering from the pews. I heard that in other churches children were jumping up and down in joy and relief.
But then the Anglophone generals on the Internet swung into action and Facebook and WhatsApp exploded in manufactured outrage. In Kumbo, someone, no doubt acting at the direction of our fearless, faceless leaders residing online, set fire to the Catholic primary school in Tobin, burning the head teacher’s office and the nursery school classroom. Experts of early childhood education will tell you that children who attend nursery school do much better in the rest of their educational careers than those who don’t, so this assault targeted the very foundation of these children’s futures.
The same act of vandalism was carried out at a second Catholic primary school about a mile away.
For less than the price of a bottle of beer (600 francs for a liter of ‘funge’ the smuggled Nigerian petrol and a box of matches) our great leaders of Anglophone ‘liberation’ succeeded once again in putting the hopes and aspirations of the next generation on hold. For this Monday morning, there wasn’t a uniform to be seen on the streets of Kumbo. The schools remained desperately shuttered as teachers and kids stayed away in droves.
This is the reign of terror our people now live under. This was especially highlighted on Monday as the aborted Catholic school reopening fell on a “ghost town” day, the now completely pointless and ultimately self-destructive shuttering of shops and other businesses for a goal no one can any longer define. We see shopkeepers lurking by their stores, looking like thieves, hoping to dart in and serve one or two customers in order to make enough money to provide a meal for their families. Parents, who know better than most, the importance of education to children in a region that offers them nothing else, are still so scared for the safety of those children that they prefer to keep them home from school. Their fear is not occasioned by LRC gendarmes but their own young men, indoctrinated by delusional people motivated by dreams of their own grandeur. The fear in the Anglophone community now is greater than it ever was during the state of emergency of the 1990s.
Our online ‘liberators’ call these ‘necessary sacrifices’ for the eventual liberation of Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia or whatever other name they shall impose on us next, without benefit of asking our opinion. In this they are like the workman whose only tool is a hammer and who sees every problem as a nail. When you ask them why they cannot find another road to the Utopia they seek, apart from riding on the backs of our children and those of hapless merchants, they challenge you to propose another solution. Why should I propose a solution to a problem you raised? I’m a Federalist and believe the teachers and lawyers gave us an opportunity to work towards another federal system, which the megalomaniacs of the rejectionist front seized and promptly squandered.
Those of us who dare to disagree with them are branded as ‘traitors to the cause,’ or as greedy bribe takers doing the bidding of LRC. Many of these same people have well known histories of personal corruption which they often disclose when the fighting starts about sharing the booty from their numerous fundraisers. They remind you of the profound saying of our people, best rendered in Pidgin as “thief man i farm full up with trap.”
The action of the teachers and lawyers panicked the government into caving to most of their demands and made other concessions that were not even among the demands. The regime in Yaounde might now feel free to take back their concessions, thanks to those ‘liberators’, who think they can throw an internet tantrum, stamp their feet in anger and be handed their own state to play with.
I read the August 2 “address” to Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia by His Excellency Chief Chairman/President Julius Tabe in complete amazement. This our ‘leader,’ whom I hear is an IT professional of high standing, seemed completely unfamiliar with such basic computer tools as grammar and spell check, as the address was so riddled with errors as to sometimes be incomprehensible. Coupled with the astounding illogic and the evident rambling thought process behind it, I was left wondering if this was an internet joke.
These are the people who want to lead us by sending young men (and probably young women) to carry out acts of vandalism that could lead to their deaths at the hands of pitiless gendarmes or to long prison sentences; who are destroying the economy of our area by terrorizing our communities with arson and threats of murder.
The most painful part of this whole exercise is that the regime in Yaounde no longer seems to care whatever is happening to the Anglophone area. Once they realized their mistake and restored internet service to our territory, the international community lost any interest in whatever our ‘liberators’ are shouting about. If the leaders and believers of Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia think they shall gain us independence by recruiting the international community to their cause, they need to sit down with the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet, who have been clamoring for their own right to self determination and their own country since 1912.
Enforcing illiteracy on our children and turning our small merchants into paupers does not ensure a sustainable future for Anglophones. On the contrary, it is the surest way to make sure that we remain second class citizens, only poorer and more uneducated. May be that’s what our liberators want, since such a community would be even easier to control, intimidate and exploit.
*Julius Wamey was one of the pioneer reporters and an anchorman at CRTV. Before immigrating to the United States in the mid 90s, he was editor-in-chief of the Cameroon Post.
He worked at the World Bank as an editor of several of the Bank’s publications from 1999 to 2015 when he left to pursue other interests. You can respond to his opinion piece via our email address.