By Gerald Ndikum, June 21, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – The Hon. Joseph Wirba, Member of Parliament for Jakiri Constituency of the SDF Party today made a powerful re-appearance in the National Assembly after staying away for a season. Wirba was among several Anglophone activists who were earmarked for arrest for a strike action started by lawyers and teachers.
According to accounts from the National Assembly, Wirba was interrupted from speaking when he took to the rostrum. But he managed to make a quick point before being forced to take his seat. “Wirba is back. I’m back for the same purpose. You cannot shut the mouths of a people,” the courageous Wirba fired to an irate House Speaker Cavaye Yague Djibril who repeatedly tried hushing down Wirba to leave the rostrum.
In an audio recording that was surreptitiously recorded and posted on social media by another committed activist of the Anglophone cause, Tapang Ivo, Wirba can be heard with Cavaye, House Speaker. Wirba speaking in English is heard responding to Cavaye (trying to hush him in French) that he (Wirba) was “chased through the bushes for three months.” He then ignores attempts from Cavaye to silence him by adding that “Our children are out of school and our lawyers in West Cameroon are in jail and all this means nothing to you? I am now telling you and the person who ordered for my arrest that I am here. He can come and take me from this National Assembly” the fearless Wirba thundered to French-speaking Cavaye in English.
“The representatives of the people have the power to say it as it is at any time…If we cannot talk about these things here, then where can we talk about them?” He asks rhetorically to 70-something year old Cavaye who avoids answering him.
“Every time it is the same thing. You keep intimidating us like this. We get to the church leaders, you intimidate them, we get to the lawyers, you intimidate them. We come here to represent our people and you tell me that I cannot talk about my people? Then you will need to shut my mouth with death. It cannot be done. If you have no space for that here, then it means that the country completely excludes us from its programs.”
Wirba then turns to speak to the Minister of Territorial Administration who happened to be in the House saying; “Mr. Minister, I said here in December that the reign of terror over West Cameroon is bringing down this country and nobody seems to be listening and then I come here and am told that we cannot talk on behalf of those people?” Wirba asks the Minister in bewilderment.
He continued, “It is the right of the MP to represent his people Mr. Minister,” adding “I am not wasting anybody’s time. Let us discuss our problems because I have a full file here to discuss about the problems of my people so can you give me space to talk about it? If I don’t have it, then you are saying that I should be arrested for representing my people and you are saying that the last remnant of anything called democracy has died in this country. If an MP for the country cannot talk, who else? And if an MP for the country is not safe, who else is safe?” Wirba asked.
After insisting to talk on behalf of his people whom he referred to as West Cameroon (the name of the territory between 1961 and 1972, when Cameroon was organized as a federation of two states), Cavaye finally caves in and gives Wirba room to speak, but starts slurring something else in French. Later when Wirba asks him if he can go on, Cavaye says “Je n’est repond pas,” meaning “I am not answering that.”
Wirba came to the limelight last December after delivering a rousing speech which dug courage into the hearts of English-speaking Cameroonians on their sufferings. This was shortly after soldiers brutalized students at the University of Buea for protesting increase in late registration dues.
Speaking at the time, Wirba said the uprising in the South West and North West was the result of years of oppression and the refusal of the central government in Yaoundé to address Anglophone grievances. Citing an expression often attributed to US politician Thomas Jefferson, he said: “When injustice becomes law; resistance becomes a duty.” A sentence since adopted like a slogan by all Anglophone Cameroonians.
“The people of West Cameroon have a duty to resist your oppression,” he said.
Later in the speech, he added: “We the people of West Cameroon will resist you and if you want to take that territory by force, you will kill to the last man before you take it. And, you can start with me.”
It should be recalled that Hon Wirba was absent during the last session of parliament but appear to have solidarity from other SDF MPs in spite of controversial statements from John Fru Ndi, National Chairman of the SDF who appeared to have unleashed the outspoken MP to his supposed oppressors- dissociating himself and the party from a rally Wirba held in Kumbo shortly before the delegate general for national security issued a warrant for his arrest.
SDF MPs rioted during the previous session of parliament and repeatedly blocked the election of a new executive bureau of the National Assembly, in protest of parliament’s lukewarm attitude towards the warrant issued for an MP who is protected by parliamentary immunity.
The elections, however, took place with Cavaye Yeguie Djibril re-elected Speaker of the National Assembly, a post he has occupied since 1992.
Hon. Wirba for his part has reinvigorated the waning hopes of Anglophone Cameroonians after taking the tough decision to come out of his hideout and surrender himself for arrest on behalf of his people. At present, church leaders of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and the Catholic Church are supposed to reappear in court on July 24 to face charges of “not calling for school resumption” while Anglophone activists and others will reappear after several adjournments on June 29th.