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O’Sam Lives Forever 

By Chief Charles A. Taku*

In his very last email to me on the 24/06/ 2014 at 6: 45 am, O’Sam signed off with a tribute to our favoured highlife musician, Cardinal Jim Rex Lawson “Rex lives forever”. I respectfully adopt that tribute as the title of this unusual tribute to another soul brother gone so soon.

When I received the news about the passing on of O’ Sam, I rushed in disbelief to make a posting titled “My shrinking world”.  A video recording of Sam’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary to his dear wife, my esteemed friend and classmate Immaculate, featuring our favoured Cardinal Jim Rex Lawson’s highlife music forwarded to me by Professor Joyce Ashuntangtang changed my focus.

O’Sam was a towering commander in the battle against the mental slavery of the Southern Cameroons and humanity at large.  Dr Bate Besong, our esteemed soul mate captured the essence of this battle for which Sam lived and died in a poem dedicated to me on August 26, 2006, titled “Why we laugh at politicians and give them names”.  He stated inter alia:

Many southern Cameroonians have been misled by
their opinion;

their wrong ideas have warped
their  judgement

They want to count the raindrops or
the sand along
Victoria beach
They refuse to change, to be converted”.

The mental enslavement which was the subject of this poem preoccupied O’Sam.   O’Sam asked critical questions concerning this self-deprecating condition in which our people found themselves.  He, like many of us found that absent a strong challenge to this criminal policy of mental slavery, the risk was great that our people;   the youth that hold the promise of a better future for us in particular would be irreversibly doomed.  Standing between us and our resolve to free our people from this state of mental slavery were the negative forces of colonial and neocolonial economic vampirism. We were aware that without mental freedom, our individual and collective struggle for freedom and survival would be lost.   O’Sam, I respectfully submit, was among the very first to come to the University of Yaoundé  where we were facing tremendous challenges of complete assimilation, to rally us to the battlefront  of the struggle to  assert, protect and promote  our internationally recognized legal and cultural identity.  By the time Fon Fongum Gorgi Dinka, Albert Womah Mukong and others came calling, we were ready, thanks to O’Sam.

Sam embarked on this struggle, conscious of the many obstacles to the attainment of our objectives.  Some Southern Cameroonians benefited from the sub-human class status to which we were relegated.  Among them were the supposed power elite within the fringes of con-colonial administration. These were assigned or took upon the role of spying and aiding in the annexation, assimilation and humiliation of their own people.   To this category of individuals, O’Sam was their nightmare.

Some of the most effective political tools of control and domination in Cameroon are poverty, corruption, propaganda, blackmail, intimidation, tribalism, torture, judicial terrorism and the politicization of ethnicity.      Of all these mechanisms of control and domination, mental slavery stands as the most effective. It has a potential enduring dehumanizing effect that extends to generations unborn.

Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV, was for long, the acknowledged mouthpiece by which these criminal policies were communicated to and enforced on the regime’s intended victims.  Sam-Nuvalla Fonkem was a field General that took the battle against   the mental enslavement of our people and others to this paradise of deception.  To supplement his individual efforts, O’Sam and a group of friendsformed the Free West Cameroon Movement, which they relied on to educate the masses on the values of mental freedom, liberty, self-recognition, self-esteem and human dignity.  Based on the ideological perspective we obtain from O’ Sam, Professor Tatah Mentam, Professor Kisob, Professor Carlson Anyangwe, Gideon Taka,  Fon Gorgi Dinka and others, we were able to survive the  calculated onslaught of mental slavery unleashed on us in our early university life by the Aujoulatist crime syndicate in power.

At significant risks to his life and that of his esteemed family, he fought and conquered fear and inspired us to do so.  Our pathfinder Marcus Garvey urged that we must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, and that none but ourselves can free our minds.  O’Sam’s address at the AAC1 in Buea on behalf of the Free West Cameroon Movement strongly endorsed this path to freedom. O’ Sam lived up to that promise to the very end.

Like Bate Besong before,  O’Sam has left us in time of great expectation and anxiety.    Confronted with similar questions and anxiety, Bate Besong in his poem dedicated to me advised:

No one should ask why things are as they are;
these questions will be answered at the right time.”

Could the senseless war afflicting the sub-region drawing in superpowers finally be that “right time” to comprehensively put an end not only to the senseless ongoing slaughter of civilians but also provide a just enduring solution to the potentially explosive Southern Cameroons problem for which O’Sam and a majority of Southern Cameroonians are firmly committed?  The basis for this query is informed by the fact that more than fifty years of unprovoked aggression, mental enslavement, distortion of history and international lawlessness have not and will never break the resolve of Southern Cameroonians to assert their external self-determination.  By word and action, O’Sam has left us and posterity with an unimpeachable reality that if given sufficient weight can resolve the lingering conflicts consuming the sub-region and which force alone cannot resolve. That truth is that war can never ever defeat an ideology, in particular a liberation ideology founded on international legality for which mental freedom is an indispensable cornerstone.  That international legality is the Southern Cameroons cause.

*Chief Charles A. Taku previously Lead Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is currently Lead Counsel at the International Criminal Court at The Hague