By Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert, Sunday, August 20, 2017
At war, generals either win or lose battles. And every army either sees soldiers enroll or desert.
A “war” of sorts is raging between La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) and Southern Cameroons. Soldiers have been enrolling “en masse” for the latter and deserting, in droves, from LRC. The stock of any continued “union” with LRC, of federalism, autonomy, or decentralization is in free fall. An overwhelming majority of our people are proudly marching towards the Cliff to Buea; away from the Cliff to Yaounde. One cliff leads to freedom. The other leads back to the LRC House of Slavery – a real Slaughter House. The Road to Buea is impossible without sacrifice – in ghost towns (the closure of shops, courts and schools); mass arrests, abductions, detention, torture, maiming, rape and incarcerations. Campaigners have already paid with their lives. Some will face “long prison sentences”. Our people suffer blind repression at the hand of those my elder brother and journalism mentor, Julius Wamey, appropriately calls “the pitiless gendarmes” of LRC.
The Campaign for Restoration of Independence has been mocked and called names before. But, never before has someone with the credibility, penmanship and name recognition of Mr. Wamey devoted so much time to rubbish this cause. In a series of articles, beautifully crafted as only Mr. Wamey knows how, the former CRTV anchorman is not afraid of hyperbole. That is how come he calls the struggle “completely pointless and ultimately self-destructive”. For him, the struggle has “a goal no one can any longer define”. Mr. Wamey also savagely caricatures others, while advertising his own integrity. While some leaders of the struggle, in his opinion, have been socked in corruption before, Mr. Wamey’s poster of himself is of that citizen who is “not a traitor to the cause” and certainly not a “greedy bribe taker doing the bidding of LRC”.
Beyond himself, Mr. Wamey is not as kind to others in his critique of the struggle; beginning with the leader of SCACUF, Sisiku AyukTabe. Of the August 2 televised address by Sisiku AyukTabe, Mr. Wamey wonders if it was “an Internet joke”.
Without offering an iota of proof, Mr. Wamey charges that schools torched across the homeland have been so hit “no doubt at the direction” of those he calls “our fearless, faceless leaders residing online.” The very people he accuses of “sending young men (and probably young women) to carry out acts of vandalism”. The struggle, he says, is “destroying the economy of our area” and its supporters are “terrorizing our communities with arson and threats of murder”, led by young men “indoctrinated by delusional people motivated by dreams of their own grandeur”. Masse me!
Nothing in the many claims made by Mr. Wamey is more false, disappointing and outrageous than the lines he may have well lifted from the colonizer’s own “bible of lies and propaganda”. He calls the leaders campaigning for the Restoration “unscrupulous glory-seeking” generals who are “weaponizing” children; holding “the future of our kids… hostage”; and “sending them to fight an adults’ war”. These leaders, he claims, seek nothing but “their own selfish and delusional ends”, emboldened by doing so from “the safe anonymity of the Internet”. Well –even LRC’s Propaganda King, Issa Tchiroma, would have trouble finding such colorful tags.
You are right to think that Mr. Wamey must know better. He is one of our most talented journalists. He admits that the “marriage” with LRC is a “union we were misled into”. Bam! Having a preference for a particular political solution blunts Mr. Wamey’s otherwise sharp brain. That is how our self-proclaimed “ardent enthusiast of Federalism” decrees federalism “the only feasibly outcome”. The ONLY… Really?
Obviously, Mr. Wamey does not tax his brain to explain how “ardent federalists” like him will protect federalism against sabotage from the colonialists in Yaounde. History suggests that tyrants tend to win. Two examples: In 1961, the Emperor of Ethiopia revoked the autonomy granted Eritrea by Britain in 1952. The Emperor converted present-day Eritrea into the 14th
province of Ethiopia. That decision led to a 30-year independence and border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. At least one million people were killed. In 1989, Slobadan Milosevic revoked autonomy of Kosovo. A decade of repression followed. It took the NATO War in
Yugoslavia in 1999 to end the recolonization. Our current struggle stems from Ahmadou Ahidjo revoking the autonomy of West Cameroon, converted into two of today’s ten regions of the Cameroons.
The wars in Kosovo and for Eritrea’s independence could have been easily averted if the annexationist policies were avoided and the sovereign people listened to. As the former U.S. President John F. Kennedy explained: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable”. By embracing only legal, non-violent and diplomatic approaches to achieve Restoration, our struggle has frustrated the bloodthirsty colonial army that has been itching and begging for a “war of national unity” – even a war waged on the pretext that a flag was burnt at the diplomatic mission in Ottawa. Our people have drank deep from the wisdom of Sun Tzu, who describes “the supreme art of war” as the ability “to subdue the enemy without fighting”. And the wisdom taught by Alexander Fuller when he declared: “Even a good war – if there is such a thing – will kill anyone old enough to die”.
Millions of Southern Cameroonians would rally today in public squares all across our homeland to voice their total support for Independence, if they could, indeed, enjoy the right to free assembly. However hard Mr. Wamey mocks them, it is thanks to those he calls “Internet Generals” that our people are so well mobilized. Let me, therefore, call on every “online general” to take pride in what you do. Please, show more tolerance toward “Federalism Generals” like Mr. Wamey & Co. First, because everyone has a right to their opinion and should enjoy the freedom to speak truth to power. Second, it is by criticizing this struggle that our citizens help our leaders to take care of our own bullshit – which is the only way we can make real progress. Third, we must sympathize with the dwindling followership of our “Federalism Generals”. The once large army of federalists has so dwindled it is now in danger of becoming all chiefs, and no Indians. Soldiers have deserted this
option almost as fast as they have fled from the poison sold by LRC under the label “one, and indivisible Cameroon”. Besides, the push for independence improves the chances of achieving federalism. It is calls for a return to federalism that are harmful to Restoration; not the other way around.
Also – Mr. Wamey’s profession of “faith” on the future of Southern Cameroons baffles me. “I don’t for one minute believe,” says him “that we can achieve complete statehood”. Waoooh! I did not know that my “big brother” was a man of such little faith. “Our struggle, however justified and legitimate,” says Mr. Wamey, “has little or no support from the international community”. Firm in his belief in federalism, Mr. Wamey says those advocating Independence are merely “shouting” or throwing “Internet tantrums”. He stops short of asking all of us to surrender to the colonizer. Yaounde, he argues, “would not let us get away with it (independence) without a fight”. Helloooo! We don’t expect independence on a platter of gold.
That is why Mr. Wamey must know that we don’t care if the colonizer withdraws all the concessions – better known as bribes – Yaounde pretends to have granted – and only on paper on which the tyrant’s decrees are printed. His suggestion that we are squandering this revolution whereas our people reportedly came close to “achieving regional autonomy” following the two AACs is simply not true. Mr. Wamey even calls on the name of the Dalai Lama – in vain – in painting independence as impossible. We
won’t succeed, he suggests, because Tibet is not yet a country, despite working hard at it since 1912. He knows, of course, that hundreds of countries gained independent after 1912. They include every African country, except Ethiopia and Liberia and no less than 34 new countries created only since 1990.
It would have been more accurate to compare our plight to that of East Timor recolonized by Indonesia in 1975. Unlike Tibet, Southern Cameroons gained independence (UN Resolution 1608) exactly the same way Israel gained independence (UN Resolution 181). Unlike Tibet, Southern Cameroons has a right to separate, if such is the expression of the will of our people. (Principles VII & VIII of UN Resolution 1541). The UN may organize a ballot to ascertain the will of Southern Cameroonians (Principle IX of Resolution 1541). When – not if – that moment comes, our people will vote overwhelmingly for international sovereignty.
Misreading our people can be costly. LRC has hoped that our people would be assimilated; melting like two cubes of sugar in a bowl of water. Hard luck! Yaounde expected lawyers to return to the court once they get hungry. Hard luck with that! As the
failure of school resumption proves, even Mr. Wamey misread the “cheering in the pews” during the Mass he attended in a Kumbo church and children reportedly “jumping up and down in joy and relief” at the prospect of returning to school. Mr. Wamey witnessed the cheering, heard of the jumping for joy but closed his ears to the open rebellion against the bishops coming from some priests and from a majority of our people. A people raised to be polite and not to disagree publicly with their bishops still reserve to do the right thing, even if it involves disobeying their bishops.
Education is an investment and it makes sense if investors can break even or make a profit. There was a time when the education of Mr. Wamey and his colleagues led to gainful employment. A future of joblessness and marginalization made possible by a schooling system that indoctrinates our children to resign as second class citizenship is not worth investing in. Our people owe no apologies for how they choose to survive the control, intimidation, barbarism, recolonization and annexation of LRC – including by boycotting schools until independence is restored. It is a cheaper price to pay than the one million Algerians killed by the 450,000 French troops deployed to help deny them the independence they won in 1962.
Yes, Mr. Wamey is an outstanding general of the pen and ink. He is one of our finest and smartest generals of the microphone and the TV screen, but he has woefully misread our people – even disrespecting them – when he insultingly qualifies their grievances as “manufactured outrage”. Mr. Wamey will find out, as most politicians have, that our people are not the fools they are often mistaken for. My advice to Mr. Wamey, the “ardent supporter of federalism, is team up with other online “Federalism Generals”. The Restoration of our Independence is not a spectator sport. And, even if you prefer the pen and microphone over the Internet, it is clear that the Internet is a very powerful tool for achieving change. We cannot use a cutlass to trim a lawn knowing fully well that it would be better done using a lawn mower.