11, February 2021
The last time the gruesome killing of a Southern Cameroonian shook me to the core was the Ngarbuh Massacre, which I’m pretty sure or at least hope we still remember. When Ngarbuh occurred, there was this same social media outcry, great shows of indignation, solidarity etc etc etc. “We are Ngarbuh”…”I stand with the people of Ngarbuh”… “Enough is enough”…”God where are you?”….
Then, a demonstration was called at a major news media outlet in Downtown DC. Not wanting to deal with DC parking headaches, I took an Uber from Laurel, Maryland to the Downtown DC location of the demo. For those who know the general DC Metro Area, that’s not a short distance. Throughout the drive into DC, I was yapping to the Uber driver about the atrocities that were being committed against my people in my homeland. How the worst had just happened in a locality called Ngarbuh. Women and children killed…burnt alive in their homes. I told him how we, immigrants from Southern Cameroons, were going to have this massive demonstration in front of the news media outlet. Paint the whole place blue & white! A demonstration that had never been seen before and that would force the outlet to tell our story to the world. The Uber driver himself got caught up in my frenzy.
As we approached the location, I almost thought we were at the wrong address. But, I know that part of DC and had driven right by the news media outlet myself several times. The driver, who had been excitedly looking forward to seeing my massive crowd inquired if the address was correct. I was confused and embarrassed. I opened my eyes wider and looked around. Then, as we got closer, I saw some specs of blue & white Southern Cameroons flags. Then a handful of familiar faces. The same faces I’d been seeing at protests and demonstrations in DC, Maryland and New York since 2016. That was it. No massive crowd.
In my embarrassment, I quickly jumped out of the Uber, avoiding any eye contact with the driver, who clearly had many questions for me. Most probably wondering what kind of liar or drama queen I was. To tell such an exaggeratedly false story. I, nevertheless, joined the pitifully small group of Southern Cameroonians who had dropped everything on that day, to come out and tell the Ngarbuh story on the streets of DC. As I approached folks on the street handing out pamphlets to them and telling them what had just happened in our homeland, the realization hit me, that no matter what we say, how much we decry and manifest anger when pictures of these gruesome events are shared and circulated in our social media groupings, truth is, we have normalized these acts. They no longer shake our cores as they should. Truth is, we forget them just as quickly as we forget what we had for breakfast by lunchtime. Truly sad!
These images don’t shake me to the core anymore. They just leave me sad and wondering what it is that needs to happen to bring back that real fire and rational commitment…take us back to where we were at the beginning. So we can get this shit right (excuse my choice of words). So that innocent men, women, children can stop dying…not for anything they’ve done but simply for who they are.
How many more gruesome pictures/videos do we need to see. Or perhaps the question is, do we even need to see them anymore?
Syh Aji-Mvo Ambe
Article published with the consent of Dr. Ebini Christmas