Cameroon Anglophone Crisis: Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Justice, Jean de Dieu Momo and his demagogy! 0

A few days ago, l was watching some old WhatsApp videos then l came across this one (posted hereabove). In it, Cameroon’s Minister Delegate at the Ministry of Justice, Jean de Dieu Momo is mocking Southern Cameroonians and blaming each an every one of us for the ongoing crisis and suggesting we are all up with arms as terrorists. In fact, loosely translated, he says, “Anglophones have taken up arms (killing themselves). Does that stop me from drinking my palm wine?” 

Coming from a government minister? This to my mind is very insensitive, vile, disrespectful, discriminatory and even inflammatory.

Jean de Dieu Momo is a very shamelessly controversial individual. This is the same man who in 2019, justified the holocaust, saying the Jews were arrogantly very proud for their business acumen and successes, which was the thing that attracted their mass termination in gaz chambers by Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. I remember this caused a diplomatic row until Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations had to apologize to the Israeli Ambassador to Cameroon and all Jews worldwide.

Ever since, I have been thinking … and this reminded me about a story which my grandmom was in the habits of telling us as we grew up as kids. No matter how many times the story was told, each time she sat down to re-tell it, the same sounded as if it was the first time we were listening to her. The story goes viz:

Once upon a time, a farmer suffered lots of loss of his crops to thieves. In order to put an end to this, he set up a mouse trap. Sooner or later, the trap was noticed by a rat. The rat as a matter of urgency ran to the cow to report the case. But the cow moored at the rat saying: “that is none of my concern”. The cow didn’t take the matter seriously because the mouse trap can only catch a mouse and can do nothing to a cow.

The rat informed the goat but the goat didn’t see the matter as a momentous one, so it didn’t put its mind to it.

Then the rat informed the cock and cock crowed in laughter saying “Mr. Ratu, Mr.Ratu, am I supposed to be on the lookout for some trap that has a mouse name attached to it? You and I know that a mouse trap is none of my business.”

The rat went back disappointed that its problem wasn’t taken seriously by the other members of the farm.

When nighttime reached, everyone went to sleep as usual. Suddenly the mouse trap sprang and caught something!

The wife of the farmer went to the trap which was obviously in the dark. But she was bitten by a snake. The mouse trap had caught a snake by the tail. The woman screamed while the farmer came in with a machete to kill the snake. He then rushed his wife to the hospital.

She was discharged from the hospital the next day and was brought back home but with a fever.

Her fever became so severe that she only craved for chicken pepper soup. So the farmer got the cock and slaughtered it for a good pepper soup for the wife. The wife didn’t get better as her health deteriorated. The next day, the farmer killed the goat to entertain those who came to visit his sick wife at home. The farmer’s wife eventually died on the third day and the cow was made to lay down its life for the funeral ceremony of the late farmer’s wife. The rat was perplexed at how events had turned against those who refused to help in times of trouble.

This is the situation of the Cameroons and their citizens. If we do not take each other’s problems as ours, a day will come when we shall all be victimized by the same things we keep sweeping under the rug. We are all walking on broken bottle tops that should not be ignored yet we all pretend not to be seeing them. Right now, any discussion about the Anglophone problem has become a taboo. No matter which side your views tilt towards, someone will find you as a traitor. But my take is that if we continue on this note, a time will come when it will no longer be about who is SAFE but about who is NEXT.

I remember when I was in law school, one morning, when our lecturer for “Introduction to Rights” entered the classroom, the first thing he did was to ask the name of a student who was seated on the first bench: “What is your name?”

“My name is Juan, Sir.”

“Leave the classroom and I don’t want to ever see you in my class. Ever!” screamed the unpleasant lecturer.

Juan was bewildered. When he got hold of his senses, he got up quickly, collected his belongings and left the classroom.

All were scared and angry; however, nobody spoke anything.

“Well, let’s start the class,” said the new lecturer. “What purpose do the enacted laws serve?”

We were afraid, but slowly gained confidence and we began to answer his questions.

“So that there is order in our society.”

“No!” the lecturer shouted.

“So that people pay for their wrong actions?”

“No! Doesn’t anybody here have enough brains to know the answer to this question?!” asked the lecturer, sarcastically.

“So that there is justice,” said a girl timidly.

“At last! One person who is not a complete moron! That’s correct…. so that there is justice. And now, what is the use of justice?”

All of us were extremely uneasy with his rude attitude. However, we continued trying to answer….

“To safeguard human rights.”

“Well, what more?” asked the teacher.

“To differentiate right from wrong and to reward the good.”

“Ok, that’s not bad. However, answer this question: Did I act correctly when expelling Juan from the classroom?”

All were quiet, nobody answered.

“I want a decisive and unanimous answer!” he shouted.

“No!” we all replied in unison.

“Then could you say I committed an injustice?”


Then his voice softened and he asked, “And why did nobody do anything in that respect? So why do we need rules and laws if we don’t have the necessary will to practice them? Each one of you has an obligation to do something when you witness an injustice. ALL of you! Do not stay quiet, never again! Go and call Juan,” he said staring at me.

On that day, I received the most practical lesson in my law school training and for about two decades that I have practiced and taught law now, this has always been a driving force. When we don’t defend our rights, we lose our dignity, and dignity is not negotiable.

I truly wonder how come I didn’t notice this obnoxious and loathsome video of the Minister’s. I found it in my phone gallery meaning if I had checked, I should have noticed the same.

Most of our leaders in Cameroon have taken impunity to a highly condemnable level. I remember when this crisis just started, another government minister, Atanga Nji said there is no Anglophone problem! How can one deny history? This was even after the President himself Paul Biya, in an interview with Mo Ibrahim, had admitted that French Cameroun has tried to assimilate Southern Cameroons in many ways, but their attempts have yielded no fruits. A few years into the crisis, the same Atanga Nji said the crises are over. Yet many people have been kidnapped by separatist fighters and others killed by government-backed forces. Cameroon is now a country where a legitimate agitator is labeled a terrorist and incarcerated while a confirmed enemy of state is given honours in full view of government officials and celebrated in the company of his co- terrorists and allowed to freely return to base. This administration oozes injustice, nepotism, parochialism, tribalism, intolerance and outright incompetence. It will go down in history as the most divisive government ever, apart from its internationally acclaimed position as the best example of how a government should not be run.

This disgusting display of demagogy from a man who is at the helm of the Justice Ministry in the country is very unwarranted. The same is inadmissible and chroniclers of the sorry situation in Cameroon are not taking this lying down. Mr. Minister, I am even ashamed to say here that you are my colleague, a lawyer. This action of yours is bridling with ignorance, founded on a sheer will to deny being fair. Increasingly, it would appear that in Cameroon, it is a crime to dream, hence your pithy affirmation; that we are “sustained by our dreams”. Here, to dream “is a personal invitation to voluntary self-immolation; an indulgently willful, ill – advised and consequential engagement in a life-threatening enterprise, with predictable and assured disastrous ends. The guaranteed result to such adventure is that, both the dreamer and the dream are soon parted, usually tragically and the dreamer’s audacity to engage in such an exercise as innocuous as dreaming is appropriately recompensed, with decapitation of both. Dream not sir; for as one famed philosopher of yore popularized eons ago;” abandon hope, all ye, who enter here”. Woe betides all Southern Cameroonian dreamers, for they dream in vain and provide unmerited notches for the axe man’s belt.

The late Dr. Bate Besong once made an analogy that stuck in my mind since I heard it. It captures the disconnect between our leaders and the true situation of the common Cameroonian: he said that the titanic was a big ship with many floors. It was so luxurious at the top deck that the first-class passengers could easily believe the story that the ship was unsinkable. The lower decks were packed with lower class people that weren’t even counted when planning for lifeboats.

When the titanic started sinking, water started filling up from under the ship beginning with the lower decks where the lower class people were. While those in the lower floors were struggling and dying, those in the first-class cabins on the higher floors had no idea that their end was nearby, they were making merry in the grand ballroom with champagne and fine dining, still living the lie that their ship was unsinkable. As the ship tilted and made irregular movements amidst the turbulence, they looked around them at all the luxurious fittings and despite all the signs that they were in trouble, they just didn’t get it. By the time they realized the danger they were in, it was too late to save themselves.

Cameroon is sinking; those at the bottom know it, while those at the top think its business as usual. With the kidnapped delegates in Ndian and others still in captivity, the crisis is far from being over and until the government decides to truly listen to the suffering people, the crisis is truly far from being over. Initially, some people thought that bad things in this crisis will happen only to a particular class of people until Chief Moja Moja’s crony was shot dead by government forces. Right now, all of us are susceptible to kidnapping, maiming, arson, murder, etc. and the true question is not who is safe but who is next.

By Samuel Tabi Tanyi-Mbianyor

The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Cameroon Concord News Group