OpinionOpinion, Opinion column

Cameroon has always treated us as foreigners, as Nigerians-Boh Herbert

Things Are Falling in Place (a response to Barrister Akere Muna’s “Things Fall Apart”) Sincere thanks to Barrister Akere Muna…

Things Are Falling in Place (a response to Barrister Akere Muna’s “Things Fall Apart”)

Sincere thanks to Barrister Akere Muna for his “Things Fall Apart” article on the Cameroons. It provides not only great reading, but it reminds us all that many peace-loving citizens continue to think through and offer (at least for public debate) what they consider possible solutions.

Kindly allow me to comment on some aspects and highlight what I consider shortcomings in your approach:

First, your diagnosis is to the effect that things are falling apart in the Cameroons. You cite a litany of divisions, indirectly insinuating that these divisions stem from the ongoing crisis. Not true! Long before the current crisis, we were a divided people. We have always been a divided people. The so-called “United Republic” under Ahidjo-Foncha-Biya-Muna has never existed.

Not anymore than you accurately indicated that there is no “one, and indivisible” Cameroon. To be clear, our colonizers did not start calling us names like “les Biafrais” or “les ennemis dans la maison” today or as a fallout from the ongoing crisis. Being born in the English-speaking part of the Cameroons has always been a crime. LRC has always treated us as “foreigners”, as “Nigerians”. Our people have kept faith in the possibility of building unity, hoping for and working hard to build a homeland where all citizens are equal. Alas!

Second, the current crisis is borne of the realization, shared by a vast majority of our people, that such a united homeland – the one Ahidjo sold to Pa Foncha and Hon. Muna- will never see the light of day. We will never be equal in citizenship, in right and/or in dignity in a land where Southern Cameroonians are considered slaves, annexed by colonial La Republique. Accepting to confront that reality of injustice and to boldly seek a more decent solution for our people is not “things fall apart”.

It is “things falling in place”. Our revolution has unveiled Yaounde as the colonizer and annexationist. Our people are the colonized. Everyone knows their place. The re-emergence of Southern Cameroons will ensure that the colonizers and the colonized each take their place; that each is in their own homeland; that each enjoys full citizenship, not the “three quarters of a citizen” status that LRC has imposed on all Southern Cameroonians. The re-birth of our nation; our return to Buea is reason for great hope for “things finally falling in place”. It is not reason to be consumed by the gloom and doom that “things fall apart” hints at.

Third, I was saddened but not surprised to read from you – a very learned lawyer – a piece in which you basically dodged discussing the real issues confronting us. You watered down the ongoing crisis by suggesting that it is somehow about marginalization. You touched on issues such as land and mining rights; along with issues of bad governance and the monopoly of power by a gerontocracy oblivious of a restless majority youth population. Marginalization is a serious problem, but it is not The Southern Cameroons Problem.

You know our problem more than most. So, I ask you: how can one of our most learned lawyers acknowledge the three factions in the ongoing crisis as consisting of those who seek federalism and those who seek decentralization; but you manage to describe the third faction as those you describe as seeking secession? Really?

Fourth, you most appropriately devoted a significant part of your article demonstrating that the colonial regime is running away from the issues or that it is merely resorting to blind repression to address a problem that is real and that should be tackled. Why do you slam the regime about avoiding the problem and then do exactly the same thing by refusing to acknowledge the problem yourself? I refuse to think that Barrister Akere Muna does not know that our people seek restoration of independence which is different from secession. Why describe citizens who have embarked on the campaign for restoration as “secessionists”?

Fifth, and finally, I remain stupefied every time I read a line of defense suggesting that our heroes in jail have somehow committed a crime and should benefit from some kind of pardon or clemency. Why look for and dig out some legislation put together by “big brother, Ben Muna” and present this as likely to offer salvation to our heroes in jail? What became of the outrage we feel and must communicate by emphasizing their innocence and calling for their immediate and unconditional release?

Am I the only one who is very confused by this? It must be about my not being a lawyer. Whatever it is, I join our people in calling, anew, for the immediate and unconditional release of all heroes, abductees and/or hostages. Our heroes, like Nelson Mandela, have committed no crime and must walk free without needing to benefit from some pardon or clemency.

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