21, March 2018
Whether or not the government paid a ransom to secure his release from captivity is immaterial because the embarrassing video that went viral, of Prof. Ivo Leke Tambo, abducted by Ambazonia militants in their ongoing struggle for independence and resistance against President Biya’s Anglophone war of attrition was an unmistakable act of imbecility and a national embarrassment that is disgraceful and totally unacceptable. The macabre spectacle of a man of Prof. Leke’s stature, hooded, stripped to his boxer shorts and socks; forced to sit on the ground bare-body and taunted like a petty criminal, served no other purpose than traumatize an agonizing nation. The needless show of shame was senseless, unimaginable, unacceptable and devoid of any perfunctory exaggeration. All level headed Cameroonians ought to feel a sense of shame and outrage by such contrived humiliation of a man whose only crime is that he serves in a regime whose authority has all but collapsed in Anglophone regions. Not only did it shred Leke Tambo’s image and impugned his integrity; it brought opprobrium upon the office of GCE Board Registrar which he occupies, and by extrapolation, the entire nation, thereby aggravating the national shame. Viewed along other recent kidnapping incidents; this is a grievous embarrassment taking on a pattern. Of course, nobody but the president bears direct responsibility for this dangerous escalation of the Anglophone crisis.
Beyond the embarrassment to the nation is the weighty censure that the country suffers before the international community as a lawless country with dysfunctional institutions where bizarre things can happen. The public humiliation of Leke Tambo in his native Lebialem signposts the institutionalization of insecurity, and amounts to dereliction of the primary purpose of government, which is to guarantee the security and welfare of its citizens. The unacceptable spectacle of Prof. Leke in captivity approximates the insidious intolerance that has come to define Biya’s attitude towards the Anglophone crisis. The effrontery and brazen rancor with which the militants mocked and humiliated Prof. Leke was brigandage and barbarism taken too far. This is indeed sad; there has to be a better way. The public humiliation was all the more sickening because it was a remotely controlled vendetta against Biya’s anti-Anglophone war. This however should not have precluded the Ambazonia militants from taking the high road by presenting Leke Tambo in captivity without stripping him. There was no justification to be cantankerous.
A paladin of integrity in the corruption-prone education sector, Prof. Leke Tambo remains one of the most illustrious visionaries of the growth and development of Cameroon education. In public service, men like Prof. Leke have been tenacious in their resolve to be truly Cameroonian in all they did, and over the years, taken their callings and done just one thing: service to the fatherland. His exemplary career notwithstanding, it is a tragic irony that men like Leke Tambo have witnessed the grisly metamorphosis of Cameroon from a prosperous nation to one of unimaginable depravity; a nation where political fortune-hunters, rent seekers, sycophants and bigots have colluded to steal the people blind. In the hands of these buccaneers, the nation’s resources have been mindlessly pillaged. All the cherished values of a dignified people have been discarded. This then begs the question: is the individual dignity of men like Leke Tambo not inexorably linked to the present crisis? Yes, the accomplished educationist did his best well enough, but like other Anglophones holding high public office in the Biya regime, they have been complacent in the face of the genocide, unfolding before their own eyes.
Guilty or not; the jury is out already whether Anglophones in authority positions who have maintained a conspiracy of silence, mute indifference and cold complicity amid the campaign of terror that has claimed hundreds of Anglophone lives, are unindicted co-conspirators and should therefore be treated as such, until they muster the courage of their convictions and speak truth to power. At the risk of stating the obvious, how can men like Leke Tambo keep their dignity and integrity intact, by serving a regime that murders their own people? Quite predictably, Biya did not even make a passing condemning of the abduction as he left the country for another sojourn abroad, this time to China. By this show of insensitivity, the regime embarrassed itself and betrayed the trust of Leke Tambo and other self-seeking, insensitive Anglophone elites who parade themselves as leaders.
In a society of manifest stagnation and looming anarchy, why should Anglophones believe in a nation defined by the Leke Tambo generation that cannot truly be exonerated from the national failure? The kidnap and public humiliation of Leke Tambo symbolizes the growing disenchantment with the silence and complicity of elderly Anglophone statesmen in the on-going crisis. And so, lending a voice to the aspirations of all who crave an independent Anglophone nation; it is just right to use the abduction of Leke Tambo to re-direct attention to the road not taken, and how to get back on track with dialogue.
As the Anglophone resistance metastasizes from a low-intensity conflict to a full-blown insurgency, it is indeed a pity that many Francophones have stood on the sidelines merely watching in bewilderment as the crisis gathers momentum, forgetting that the price they’ll pay for this is civil war, in which there are only losers. To the extent that Prof Leke Tambo and others kidnapped so far are all Anglophones, what cannot be denied is that these things are happening under Biya’s watch, and he cannot pretend not to know. And as the nation holds its breadth and ponders the fate of all those now held in captivity by Ambazonia militants, Biya should spare the nation further embarrassment and agony by ensuring that all those kidnapped are immediately released and re-united with their families.