13, August 2019
Nobody could have thought that the Southern Cameroons crisis that started like a joke would last for many years. Even the Yaounde government known for its iron fist thought it would mob it up in a few weeks, but the unity displayed by Southern Cameroonians at home and abroad has given the Biya regime real food for thought.
Southern Cameroonians have not only proven that the size of a country’s military does not really matter when it comes to addressing the legitimate needs and demands of a population, they have also demonstrated that the will of the minority can bring about significant changes in a society.
Although the government is still reluctant to head to the negotiating table, there are promising signs that Cameroon will never be the same again. The Swiss government is working with the Canadian and American governments to get all stakeholders to the negotiating table.
The Swiss, who are adept at negotiations and who understand that most wars are not won in the battlefield, have been talking with all the parties involved, encouraging them to come to the negotiating table without pre-conditions.
Separation, restoration, federalism and decentralization will all be on the agenda. Though there are many shades of opinions, it is clear that no faction will be left out of the negotiation. For many months, the international community has been calling for the talks, but the Biya regime has been adamant in its refusal to sit and talk with the people who have successfully demystified the Yaounde dictatorship.
But that refusal will soon be in the past. The pressure on the fragile regime is simply overwhelming. The aging leader of the Yaounde crime syndicate is gradually giving in. Mr. Biya has refused meeting with eminent and prominent African leaders like Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo who have been mandated by the African Union to take up the issue of Southern Cameroons with the arrogant and disoriented Yaounde government.
Southern Cameroons has triggered something commendable in Cameroon. The courage displayed by its people has earned it lots of commendation. Its young fighters have demystified the country’s Special Forces (BIR). Their use of hunting rifles to kill thousands of BIR soldiers is one thing the Yaounde government will never forget.
The population’s resilience is one thing that also deserves to be commended. Despite the hardship that war brings to a people, the population of Southern Cameroons has stood firmly behinds its leaders and fighters. Hunger and frustration are yet to demoralize the people. While the days ahead look very bleak, the people of Southern Cameroons are still very prepared to make significant sacrifices if only those sacrifices will bring a better life to future generations.
While the people still have faith in the revolution, they want to be certain that the future is not entirely compromised. They want to take on the government and its troops, but they also want to prepare a brighter future for their children.
They know how to chew gum and walk. That is why they strongly hold that their kids must return to the classrooms to acquire the knowledge which will come in handy in the future. A good and promising future requires sound education.
Robbing a child of his education is like robbing a nation of its future. If Southern Cameroonians really want a state of theirs, a state that will stand the test of time, then they must lay a solid educational foundation for future generations.
While the fighters will continue to do what the know how to do best, the children should be allowed to be in class to learn those things that will give them the arms to face the future with confidence and certainty.
Some Southern Cameroonian activists have been arguing that the environment is not safe for education as soldiers have been using the population for target practice. This is not totally true. The government and its soldiers are to blame for most of the atrocities that have occurred in the two English-speaking regions of the country and those crimes have shocked the world.
But Southern Cameroonian fighters are no saints and popes. The situation has been made all the more complicated by the criminal elements financed by the government and some rogues who have become a threat to the local population.
These rogues must be rooted out of our midst. They must be made to pay for their crimes. They are giving the revolution a bad name and this must be addressed forthwith. The people of Southern Cameroons should at no time be associated with the crimes being committed in our territory.
If the government’s stock in trade is killing, we should let it accomplish its mission, after all the more people it kills, the more likely is the independence of Southern Cameroons. Let us give the international community more evidence of the government’s irresponsibility and wickedness.
If activists living in faraway Maryland are calling on those rogue elements who have been marauding our villages and towns to commit crimes in our names, we must know that will be losing the sympathy of the international community that is breathing down the government’s throat.
The government says it wants our kids to go to school. Let us test its seriousness by sending our children to school. Let us stop issuing threat that will discourage most parents from sending their children to school. Let us stop providing the government with the weapons it will use against us, Southern Cameroonians.
By issuing threats and discouraging parents from sending their children to school, we are shooting the revolution in the foot. We are killing the same revolution that was designed to bring happiness to all of us.
We are destroying the future out of blind anger. Children belong to the classroom and not in the bushes. Let the government prove to us that it can provide the security it has been promising. This is the time to prove it. Let us not rob ourselves of the opportunity to provide more evidence of the government’s failure to the international community.
By Kingsley Betek in Yaounde