By Bouddih Adams
It is an established fact all over the world and over time, that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. So, we are trying to reinvent the wheel here.
Going down memory lane, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and even our own Um Nyobe, Ernest Ouandie, Felix Roland Moumie, were all charged with rebellion, inciting civil strife, insurrection, terrorism and all the beefs that go with such accusations.
Martin Luther King Jr., who fought for the rights of Blacks in America, was perceived as a rebel. But, today, he is celebrated as the father of civil rights and proponent of peaceful demonstration.
Even the illiterate American Black Woman, Rosa Parks, who broke the law by sitting in a chair in a bus reserved for Whites, and whose complaint in broken English of “My feet is paining me” is famously quoted, is honoured today for resisting discrimination. There is even a street in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, named after Rosa Parks.
Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi, aka Mahatma Ghandi, who led the fight for the independence of India, was comprehended and apprehended as an outlaw. But, today, he is remembered as the father of non-violent civil disobedience.
Nelson Mandela, who championed the fight against apartheid in South Africa, was arrested, charged, tried, sentenced and he spent 27 years in prison. But, today, he is feted as the father of conciliation. He left prison and became President of South Africa.
While Mandela was in prison and developed sight problems and was almost going blind, the White Government was warned that, if something went wrong with him and a new person replaced him as the leader of the African National Congress, ANC, the new leader might not have a kind heart like Mandela. That in movements like that, there are moderates and extremists. That Mandela, in spite of his strong resolve to get to the end of the end of apartheid, was of the former mindset.
When Mandela contracted tuberculosis, Pieta Bota was again warned that they had better take care of him to get well, because, if something happened to the Madiba, White South Africans will no longer have someone to negotiate with and continue to live their life in that country when the time comes.
One of History’s sterling lessons is that whenever and wherever there is a rebellion and the rebels rally behind one man; let the man maintain his leadership and importance, for it is easier to negotiate with him than with the mob. Hence, if you eliminate him, you have the mob to deal with.
Nelson Rholihaha Mandela’s name was removed from the United States list of terrorists around the world only a few years ago. Meantime, a statue of him towers in London as a great man with a good heart, erected by the very Britons who named him a terrorist because of his fight against their apartheid policy.
Members of the Union des Populations du Cameroun, UPC, which fought for the independence of Cameroon against the wish of the French colonial masters, were branded as ‘maquisards’ (terrorists) and were caught and executed publicly. Even after independence, the first President of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, continued to fight the maquisards ruthlessly and the leaders were cruelly slaughtered.
Today, the UPC leaders, Um Nyobe, Ernest Ouandie, Felix Roland Moumie, among others, are being hailed as the heroes of the independence struggle.
It is likely that, President Biya, then a student abroad and an intellectual, like most students abroad at the time, sympathised with the nationalist freedom fighters demanding immediate independence for Cameroon. We stand corrected!
As far as we can remember, memos from the Anglophone leaders ended with the recurrent decimal of a no-violence plea. They have their following of the Anglophone people, as can be seen in the continuous adherence to the strike they called, even after their arrest and detention.
Their challenge might have been too hard for the Government, but the fact that they are asking for their constitutional rights, a better and all-inclusive structure of the nation, should take the biscuit.