Prison Principale Yaoundé,
10 September 2020
The 75th Session,
THE SOUTHERN CAMEROONS QUESTION: THE MORE WE TRIED, THE WORSE IT BECAME
(An Address Presented to the 75th Session of the UNGA, this 15th September 2020, by TASSANG Wilfred FOMBANG, former Executive Secretary-General of the Cameroon Teacher’s Trade Union, CATTU; former Secretary-General of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front, SCACUF; Present Inmate of the Prison Principale Kondengui Yaoundé, Refugee Violated; Prisoner of Conscience)
Representatives of Nations and of Freed Peoples,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a very heavy heart that I have from prison in Yaoundé, Cameroun, decided to write this message to global leaders this day seated in session, I hope, to finally cause justice to take its course regarding the age old and now burning problem of the former United Nation’s Trust Territory of the British Southern Cameroons, Ambazonia.
The story of the Southern Cameroons is akin to that of an African bride who having gone to school, succeeding brilliantly, was compelled by her foster parent to marry either the foster parent’s son or marry in a manner most incestuous, the brother from whom she had been separated for decades. It was either of these two or she would not come into her inheritance, she was told. The young and accomplished bride wanted her independence but this was denied her. Forced therefore by wicked circumstances, the bride chose to get entangled into the incestuous enterprise. Her decision was informed by the current realities of the ill-treatment from the foster parent’s children who were unable to restrain themselves of their lust each time they came across her. Their persistent rape was one thing the bride wanted to escape from by all means. If the man who wants to marry you expresses and carries out such actions during courtship, what will he not do to you once in his house? She elected therefore to marry the devil she didn’t know her brother had been transformed into by his own foster parent. The outcome of the marriage with her brother has been a curse as befalls all who get caught in such arrangements. Over the years, the young lady did all she could to make the union work to no avail. Today, it has become evident that this marriage must be severed by those who brought it to pass as a crime bigger than incest is being committed; the rapacious brother is in the process of devouring whatever children they had together before acquiescing to any terms of separation. It is called genocide. There is urgency here.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The union, contrived and forced on the Southern Cameroons with La Republique du Cameroun by the United Nations started falling apart as soon as Ahidjo moved in his troops into the Southern Cameroons ahead of Independence Day, October 1st, 1961.
As early as 1964, the first note of caution from the KNDP, the ruling party in the Southern Cameroons, (West Cameroon as the territory became known) was written to President Ahidjo by the late Bernard Fonlon. As feared, the federal edifice was already developing cracks and there was need for a family gathering to evaluate the state of the union. That secret letter in which several areas of the federation needing urgent attention were highlighted, was ignored by President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Not even a note of acknowledgment was addressed to Buea whereas the KNDP scribe had taken the trouble to emphasize on the fact that: “We are making it (complaint) because of our love for this country, because of our faith in its destiny, because of our concern for its welfare and prestige.” It is clear from this letter that the government and the people of the Southern Cameroons had adopted the office of a frightened and much cowed young girl. Though ignored by Yaoundé, Buea hung on in the hope that things would get better, but it only got worse. Yaoundé hatched and accelerated more plans towards the effective ruining of a proud heritage; economy, infrastructure, education, political and cultural institutions.
The first visible action towards the hemming in of any other future attempt at dissent was the 1966 deceit that brought about the one party system of government as evidence that “we had truly become united.” This way, Ahidjo replied the KNDP and Fonlon’s affront. The stage consequently was set for greater rape and abuse, and things naturally became worse.
The Constitutional Coup
Ahidjo on his return from a visit to the Elysée in 1972, announced and rushed a referendum in which the entire country was consulted in a project that sought to wipe away the federal nature of the state, which structure had clearly received constitutional protection never to be tampered with (Section 47 of the Federal Constitution). As this house certainly knows by now, our people were asked to choose between voting “Yes” or “Oui” (where YES meant OUI and OUI meant YES) for the unitary arrangement. Having wangled its way through this Constitutional Coup, the way was open for Yaoundé to visit the most despicable ignominious acts on the people of the Southern Cameroons without any inhibitions whatsoever.
The first assault took place in Ombe, the only public technical education infrastructure at the time. A trade centre, Ombe had infrastructure that was envied by Yaoundé and she set out to dismantle the institution. Not only was Ombe physically dismantled, Yaoundé made sure that educational development on the territory was slowed down to snail pace. Our children upon graduation from high School had only the University of Yaoundé as an option to pursue higher education. Needless to state here that apart from the English language and Letters, all other courses were taught in the French language or at best, had ninety per cent of French speaking instructors. The consequent retardation in appropriate human resources development amongst our people has never been estimated. This is reflected in the retardation of development in all other areas of human endeavour on the territory.
When Yaoundé eventually set up colleges to train public secondary school teachers, she found it fitting for the English speaking learners, Southern Cameroonians, to receive sub standard training. The annex of the Ecole Normal Supérieure (Higher Teacher Training College) in Bambili trained only First Cycle teachers until 2010. This meant that for close to fifty years, colleges in the Southern Cameroons received only teachers trained for the First Cycle, and these taught both cycles.
Infrastructural and Economic Rape and Neglect
Bearly one year into this experience and without prior consultation with the government in Buea, the first act of brutal rape took place; in 1962, Ahmadou Ahidjo unilaterally ordered our people to surrender their stronger currency, the Pound Sterling, in exchange for the Franc. The exchange rate was not negotiated and agreed upon; the people were not sensitised, neither was sufficient time given them to engage the process. The outcome was that our economy was robbed and despoiled of its power. As one would expect from the predatory regime in Yaoundé, Southern Cameroons was shortchanged in the process as she lost 25% of their currency’s worth where the rate fixed by Yaoundé was respected. Most people in the hinterlands were outrightly stolen from. In Bafut, a man was deceived into exchanging £100 for 100Frs, losing over 10,000% of his life long savings in the process. Many more did not even get to hear about the currency exchange before the deadline expired, and because no deadline extension was given by the wicked regime in Yaoundé, all their worth in pounds, shillings and pennies accumulated after years of hardwork became useless. Weakened and devastated, Southern Cameroons was basically reduced to a man whose homestead and harvest had been raised down to ashes by fire.
In our (African) culture, neighbours would come together to help him restart life with a minimum, but it was not so with the Southern Cameroons. The international community watched this happen with total indifference.
The outcome of the 1972 referendum that followed was that it gave the central predating government in Yaoundé complete access to whatever the Southern Cameroons brought into the union as infrastructure and equipment. To make sure that development was driven on the reverse gear on our territory, Yaoundé proceeded in the name of unity, to dismantle the West Cameroon hydro power plant at Yoke in Muyuka, carted away the road maintenance equipment poll to Yaoundé. Rapidly, institutions like the Wum Area Development Authority (WADA) and the Upper Noun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA) were rapidly managed to their ruin from Yaoundé. The Tiko Warf, the Victoria Port and the Mamfe River Port were neglected and commercial activities (import/export) transferred to Douala; the Cameroons Air Transport, CAT disappeared as did the Tiko, Besongabang and Bali airports. To make matters worse, Yaoundé transformed the people’s well managed farmer’s economic survival scheme, the Produce Marketing Board (PMB) into a national corporation and moved the headquarters thereof from Kumba to Douala. In less than five years, the PMB’s buffer stock of cash reserves estimated at over CFA150 billions in 1986, was completely depleted. To crown it all, the only surviving financial institution initiated by West Cameroon, the only in the country at the time able to give out credit lines to businesses and individuals above CFA 500,000 was rapidly ambushed and devastated by Yaoundé. Darkness had fallen over the people of the former Southern Cameroons and this, at midday, under the watchful eyes of the international community that brought this unsavory marriage about.
More recently, the heavy hand of Yaoundé has made sure that all financial startups by our people are quickly brought to ruin before they become too vibrant. This was the fate Amity Bank PLC, and others. A microfinance scheme, CAMTESCOS, initiated by the teacher’s trade union (CATTU) in Bamenda since 2010 got stifled by Yaoundé in spite of the fact that all requirements were met.
Having achieved the above infrastructural and economic ruin, Yaoundé had taken away from our people all corporate possibilities of economic/industrial and infrastructural advancement.
Not satisfied with corporate destruction, Yaoundé moved on to stifle private initiatives, small, medium and big. Having withdrawn taxation and excise duties from Buea to the central government, the Yaoundé regime proceeded manu militari, to inflict heavy taxes and duties on Southern Cameroons indigenous businesses and enterprises. Companies, supermarkets and shops were targeted. Where taxes failed to yield the expected ruin, the Yaoundé regime cornered private endeavours such as Nanga Company Ltd, Longla Company Ltd, Neba Automobiles Company Ltd to name but these few, into doing massive construction works for the state, or as in the case of Neba Automobiles, into importing and supplying hundreds of vehicles to the state, for which Yaoundé would either not pay or refuse to collect upon importation. While Nanga Company built many federal infrastructure including the residential quarters at the national refinery, SONARA, in Victoria, Longla Company built the staff residential quarters at the Etoudi palace. Yaoundé is still owing these companies trillions worth of pre-1994 devalued CFA francs. These enterprises long worn up out of debts, their proprietors out of frustration died, and thousands of families became destitute.
Can there be a visitation more wicked than what Yaoundé has brought upon the peace loving people of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia? Without a viable economy and any hope to develop one, the future became bleak. Yet, in spite of Pharaoh’s wicked projects for Jacob, by God’s mercies and grace, we have survived and expanded in what expansion we could, to see this day of hope. Will the United Nations and the international community kill this hope? Will you stand by and watch our people suffer annihilation?
Representatives of Nations and of Freed Peoples,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The more we tried to make this incestuous relationship work, the worse it became.
Nobody can accuse our people of complacency and inaction regarding what was befalling us and has befallen us. We put what resistance we could at the time, but with Yaoundé’s military might, supervised by France, all dissent was quickly mastered. Albert Mukong, the herald of Southern Cameroons nationalism, went to prison several times because he protested. One of the first things that happened when we were moved into this prison facility from which I am writing, is that the authorities shamelessly, solemnly and proudly presented to us the Wards where this legend and His Majesty Fon Gorji Dinka were caged in, as if to say, this is your lot going forward unless you don’t capitulate.
Following the 1992 electoral ambush during which one of ours was robbed of victory in open court, and in the presence of the international community, our people finally came to the full realisation that we were all but done with if we did not stand up forcefully. In 1993, men and women form the intellectual class, the politically informed gathered in Buea in a conference named the All Anglophone Conference, AAC1. The outcome of this conference was a call made from Mount Mary Buea, to Unity Palace, Yaoundé, for a return to the 1961 federation as an urgent means to avoid disintegration. The Conference proposed a draft federal constitution which was eventually ignored by the 1994 Tripartite Conference. The AAC2 that held later same year in Bamenda gave Yaoundé up to a “reasonable time” to revert to the 1961 federation or we would have no other option than to opt out of this wasteful and wasting union. This was ignored roundly. Rather, Yaoundé multiplied military garrisons all over the territory to the extent that a Gendarmerie Brigade got stationed only a plot away from the residence of the national chairman of the Southern Cameroons National Council, the SCNC, in Ntambessi, an otherwise quiet neighborhood in Bamenda. Even then, our people continued to seek for ways and means to rescue the country ahead of the elapse of that reasonable time. In 2003 therefore, the SCNC and SCAPO (Southern Cameroons People’s Organisation) sued the state of Cameroun at the African Commission at the Banjul, Gambia. The outcome of that matter was a ruling (2009), sustained and upheld by the Conference of Heads of States of the AU, demanding that Yaoundé dialogues with “the people” of the Southern Cameroons through their Representatives as appeared at the Banjul. This recommendation Yaoundé, after requesting and obtaining a little extension to implement, has ignored with impunity. The African Union has since abandoned its own ordinance, leaving our people at the mercy of the genocidal regime in Yaoundé.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What else is the international community expecting from the people of the Southern Cameroons to make this arrangement work other than that which has been done already without any results? Are you waiting for us to commit mass suicide? That is what we, recognised as a people by the 2009 Banjul ruling, have refused to contemplate. Rather, we have resolved that the “reasonable time” given Yaounde by the 1994 AAC2 has expired.
In the meantime, not only was political dissent suppressed, certain lines of communication and thought were criminalised and regular attempts were made to wipe out even the surviving basics of education we had left. Deprived, our people turned to other teething African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya for education. That is also why our children are here in the United States and Europe, even in other African countries in their millions, and will not cease protesting on your streets until justice is done.
We appreciate the love and hospitality you have shown them, the education you have given them, but, as you can see, they want to go back home to mother Ambazonia that we may catch up with 60years of retardation.
Educational Inhibition, Retardation and Suffocation
At independence and reunification, there was clear evidence that the Southern Cameroons came into the union with not only better infrastructure, physical and mental, but much more, with a more robust and productive educational system. The lay private sector had greatly invested in technical and vocational training across the territory. These colleges were for the most part better equipped than anything Yaoundé had to offer. In 1989, Minister of Youth and Sports, Joseph Fofé, visiting the technical workshops in Longla Comprehensive College wondered whether he was on state or private property because of what his eyes saw. “Can an individual own this?” He let out. These colleges were all full because our people were thirsty for knowledge and know how. This thirst, Yaoundé made sure was never satisfied. Rather, everything was put in place to ground these endeavours to a halt and discourage our children from taking up technical education.
In 1972, the first move was taken. London based technical and vocational certification examinations written by the trainees of the Ombe Trade Centre and others were suppressed in favour of the francophone CAP. Evidence of the superiority of the Ombe programmes over the CAP programmes was the fact that the students from Ombe did overwhelmingly better in the translated CAP examination than their francophone counterparts whose programmes were used as setting standards during the first three years. This discovery having been made, Yaoundé moved rapidly to replace the superior City and Guilds, RSA, and other programmes in our system of education with their shoddy retarded technical education programmes. It didn’t end there as she also proceeded to take over public technical education in the territory, appointing her citizens to manage this to ruin. Mr Mongo So’o, a francophone, was appointed to manage Ombe which had been reduced to a first cycle technical college, and within two years, all the equipment were carted away. This darkness continued to grow intense as the international community through their embassies and agencies, ignored all the complaints coming from our people.
Attempt after attempt towards complete annihilation of the remnant of the system were resisted each time by the teachers, parents and students who forcefully took to the streets to protest. These protests and advocacies (at the cost of human lives and limbs) eventually led to the creation of the first Anglo-Saxon University in 1993 and the Cameroon GCE Board in 1994 in Buea. The GCE Board was however not allowed to run technical examinations which Yaoundé has continued to mishandle.
Representatives of nations and Freed Peoples,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The more our people made endeavours towards making this ill conceived arrangement to work, the more Yaoundé made sure that it only grew worse.
In this age and time, education is the only key to any form of advancement. The easiest way to put a people down therefore is to deny them education, or to give them substandard education, slave education as it were. This is what the occupier had, without our knowledge and permission, contrived for our children; that they and their generations become slaves to a culture that we esteem inferior to the values we uphold.
In the Summer of 2004, it was brought to the attention of the Cameroon Teacher’s Trade Union, CATTU, what English speaking learners pursuing technical education and vocational training were being subjected to. From poorly translated examination question papers, the union discovered that our children were actually taking instructions in a language they did not understand.
Ladies and gentlemen, what will a learner say “are the functions of a candle in the engine of an automobile,” for instance? This was required of students sitting in for the Baccalaureate Technique examinations, Motor Mechanics, in 2004. With this discovery, the teacher’s and parent’s unions engaged the government through petition writing and street protests to no avail. Rather, the more we protested and sought for redress, the more things grew worse as the system doubled down in its attempts to completely destroy the love in our people for technical education and vocational training; more French speaking teachers were deployed to these schools.
Political and Geographical Annihilation
Though at every step we tried to make it work, Yaoundé responded with extreme barbarism, making it only possible for the matter to be postponed forward to a later date.
Having unconstitutionally suppressed the only safeguard provided our people in the union, the federation, Yaoundé, through a presidential decree in 1984, reverted to the name she had at independence, “La Republique du Cameroun”, thereby deleting the last inference to any existence of the Southern Cameroons. This move was seriously criticised by the then Bar President, His Majesty Fon Gorji Dinka. He later on released what he called the “New Social Order,” and called for the reinstatement of the “Successor State.” The United Nations and the international community watched this happen; the world stood by and watched Gorji Dinka thrown into jail and committed to house arrest and did nothing; you stood by and watched, waiting for the blood of our people to be shed in the quest for identity and survival.
Subdued and intimidated, we withdrew into our shelves, hoping that one day, Yaoundé and Paris would realise that the path they had chosen would yield nothing but acrimony and resistance, leading to a national disaster, and repent. Our people also hoped that the United Nations that is responsible for this mess would, realising what she did, go back to the drawing board; but like Yaoundé, the highest global institution for world peace and conflict prevention has in absolute indifference stood by and watched genocide happen, from gestation to execution.
Still trying to make things work, the Constitutional Committee of the AAC deposited their Draft Federal Constitution at the 1994 Tripartite Conference. This document was not as much as touched, talk less of examined and considered. Rather, the Constitutional Committee of the Tripartite Conference went ahead to delete all constitutional references to the BICULTURAL, and BIJURAL nature of the country. Things became worse than we could bear. Consequently, our people amidst fire and brimstone, held the second All Anglophone Conference, AAC2 in Bamenda in 1994, issuing the ultimatum for “a reasonable time.”
In 1995, a high powered delegation, constituted of our forebears, founding fathers of the reunification, the Rt. Hon. Solomon Tandeng Muna, the Rt. Hon. John Ngu Foncha and others, visited the United Nations and officially informed this body that the 1961 contraption had failed woefully and that it was time the UN came in to make things right. What has the United Nations done ever since? We have waited for Godot as it were, waited for genocide.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have tried, but at every step, things have only gotten worse.
In the late 1980s, our people decided to initiate political activism that would lead to the return of the 1961 legality, but even this was corrupted and diverted. The outcome of this was the creation of the Social Democratic Front party and the return to multiparty politics in the Cameroons in 1990, at the cost of six Southern Cameroonian lives. In 1992, Chairman Fru Ndi was largely plebiscited by the people as president of Cameroun, but as testified in open court by its president, (Supreme Court) Fru Ndi could not be declared winner because his hands had been tied up (by the French). All of this happened in the presence of the international community represented in Yaoundé. The outcome of the rigging of the people’s will was more carnage, death, house arrest and a wicked state of emergency on the freedom loving people of Bamenda in the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia. It was at this point actually, that the union got irredeemably ruptured, though we kept pretending we could make it work. The fault will never be ours for not trying therefore; no. Yaoundé, Paris and New York are responsible for the present catastrophe and must therefore help us pack out.
The Common Law and the Quest for Statehood
For as long as the common Southern Cameroonian could go to court, seek redress and obtain justice, there was hope. However, the perverting and corrupting influence of Yaoundé did not spare our legal system. The deleting of all references to the existence of two legal systems in Cameroon in the 1996 constitution laid the groundwork for interference and complete takeover. Gradually, Yaoundé found it convenient to issue legal documents, and to ratify international legal instruments in French only, in total disregard of its bilingual and “BIJURAL” nature. In 2014, the joke was carried forward to a point unimaginably provocative; the President of the Republic appointment Civil Law margistrates to sit on Common Law Benches in Bamenda and Buea. Common Law practitioners in their various associations in the Southern Cameroons came together and protested, gave an ultimatum for a reversal to be effected to no avail. Rather, Yaoundé responded by appointing more francophone Civil Law margistrates. When in 2016, the lawyers took to the streets to protest, they were brutalised and treated worse than rioting elephants in the park. To add salt to injury, the colonial Attorney General in Buea reduced the Common Law system to only “two cubes of sugar in a basin of water.” All of these happened under the watchful eyes of the international community whose envoys were deployed to the field to witness. This treatment greatly irked our people; if those from whose hands we have sought and obtained justice even against the state can be so shabbily treated, what laid in store for the commoner?
Yet, even at this time, the lawyers were only asking for the respect of the culture of our people and for a return to the 1961 legality that would provide a minimum guarantee of protection from the marauding legal predators from Yaoundé. In December therefore, another attempt was made by them towards having a solution to the problem; their representatives were invited to a meeting authorised by House Speaker, Cavaye D’jibril, to seek a way out of the crisis with our own members of parliament of the ruling CPDM party. When the outcome of that meeting was made public, the executive arm of government bore down on the members of parliament involved, asking to know who authorised them to consult with members of their constituency, in a matter that concerned them.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If our elected representatives even from the ruling party could not speak for us, who then can except that the people rise up as we have risen? Have we not tried enough? Or do you actually want that we be all exterminated before you step in to render justice?
Enough is enough!
We have had enough!
We are tired of waiting!
Education: the Time Bomb that Refused To Be Diffused
The immediate causes of the present revolution are rooted in what Yaoundé did and failed to do in the legal and education sectors of our lives as a people, but much more in education.
EDUCATION is the foundation on which all modern societies are built. Take away education and you won’t have any profession except of course and perhaps, politicians, criminals and other deviants. That is why education became very important during the 2016 uprising to the point that Yaoundé considered carrying out some pretentious negotiations with the teacher’s syndicates, despising the lawyers.
EDUCATION has been at the forefront of Southern Cameroons nationalism since 2004, since the exposure of those shameful Baccalaureate examinations in which it was required of our children to “Give the functions of a candle in the engine of an automobile.” Every effort carried out by the teacher’s syndicate, CATTU and the Union of Parent Teacher Association, UPTA, yielded no fruits, rather, our advocacies caused Yaoundé to accelerate it’s efforts towards complete assimilation and annihilation.
This notwithstanding, the teachers and the parents did not relent. We used all tactics, including street demonstrations, praise-singing and caressing of the evil junta in Yaoundé. In 2009, at the eve of the visit to Cameroun of the Pope, CATTU finally succeeded to meet with the Minister of Higher Education (still on seat) and the outcome of that meeting was the Minister’s acceptance to take a move towards awarding our system of education the long sought for higher teacher training colleges. The Ecole Normale Supériuere Annex in Bambili was hurriedly expanded to accommodate departments of technical and commercial education, this, to avoid the All Anglophone Conference on Technical Education which the union was convening for Easter that year.
In 2010, the CATTU through political subterfuge, convinced Paul Biya to add a civilian touch to his December visit to Bemenda, to celebrate the golden jubilee of La Republique du Cameroun’s terrorist armed forces. That was how the union succeeded to coerce Paul Biya into issuing a verbal decree creating the University of Bamenda, to add to the two higher teacher training colleges which had been created earlier same year.
We jubilated, thinking that at last, a season of hope had risen for our people, but it was rather the opposite.
The first recruitments of lecturers, administrative staff and student teachers were very indicative of where we were headed. Majority of the teaching staff recruited were of francophone extraction and so were the student teachers, especially in the college of technical education teachers. Worse, the cancer that had hitherto been limited to technical education began to find its way into general secondary education. Mathematics and science disciplines for the first time, witnessed the recruitment of French speaking student teachers. The unions petitioned the various instances concerned to no avail. It became clear to us that we needed something more than the teacher training colleges to bring about sanity in the sector.
In the Summer of 2011, the union held a workshop in Buea to reflect over the situation. The outcome of that workshop was a demand for the holding of an Estates General on Education. This we thought would draw definite boundaries between the interfering education systems. That same year, September, the Prime Minister accorded that demand. In 2012, the same Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, convened the Education Estates-General for 2013, and its organisation was placed under the charge of the Minister of Higher Education (still in charge). That forum has not taken place even as I write this letter. In the meantime, the situation kept growing from bad to worse.
By 2014, it became clear that something more drastic had to be done to put an end to this cultural genocide. That year, a French-speaking student teacher on probation, taught Southern Cameroonian learners in Bamenda that the 11th of February, plebiscite date, was the date La Republique du Cameroun annexed Southern Cameroons. In another instance, another asked a student to “sweep the blackboard.” Science and technical education disciplines in some cases had a hundred percent francophone intake. The Union’s attention was drawn to this. We petitioned the government to no avail.
In December 2015, the unions finally succeeded to have a meeting with the Minister of Higher Education in Bamenda. The litany of problems were presented to him, top amongst them, the recruitment of lecturers, and students of Southern Cameroons extraction in the two teacher training colleges and in the Anglo-Saxon University of Bamenda, and the withdrawal of francophone teachers deployed by Yaoundé to destroy English speaking learners. In response to these, the Minister, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo, stood his grounds, claiming that Cameroun was a bilingual country. Frustrated, the unions declared a strike beginning January 2016, to block the probation exercise of second cycle student teachers.
Several meetings were held during that Christmas vacation to help avoid the strike action. The outcome of a meeting with the ministers of Secondary Education and that of Higher Education helped do that. However, the agreements of that meeting were never respected by the two ministers. Instead of withdrawing francophone teachers from English speaking classrooms, the Minister of Secondary Education added more in August 2016. The inter ministerial committee the Prime Minister had to create to provide lasting solutions to the problems was not created even as matters got worse by the day. The reaction by Yaoundé to our every complaint was the acceleration of their evil agenda through the recruitment and deployment of more French speaking teachers. In 2015, the madness had reached a provocative level where French speaking students were recruited into the department of English Modern Letters.
The teacher’s unions in consonance with the Union of Parent Teacher Associations had no other option than to close down the schools. To show the magnitude of the problems, even confessional and lay private colleges got shut down in protest, businesses and transport syndicates cued in. Education is everybody’s concern in the Southern Cameroons. Yaoundé’s reaction was denials and political rallies organised by the same people from whom we expected solutions, to condemn the union leaders. The outcome of that venture in Bamenda on December 8, 2016 was the slaughter of five young men by government.
Having failed to foil the strike, Yaoundé decided to organise pretentious negotiations with the unions and education community. Having failed to force its agenda on our people, the junta ended the work of the Adhoc Committee abruptly and arrested some of the leaders, pushing the rest of us into exile.
Representatives of Nations and Freed Peoples,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The situation has deteriorated since 2004, and no attempt has been made to redress the situation. Can a government that denies children education be trusted to give them any other thing? Can a government that denies problems exist be trusted to solve them? Can a government that does not listen to its “elected” officials listen to anybody? Can a government that resorts to the physical flogging of lawyers execute justice for the people? Can a government that blocks the internet from troubled areas ever be trusted for reliable information? Can a government that kills babies and pregnant women be trusted to protect the vulnerable?
Today, we are at over 12000 deaths, 400 villages and communities raised to the ground, over a million refugees in neighbouring Cameroun, Nigeria, Ghana and the rest of the world. Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have been destroyed, and Southern Cameroons children have lost four years of schooling. Can things be any worse than they are now?
Ladies and gentlemen,
Where is the United Nations in all these?
Where is the United Kingdom, the consequences of whose unfinished business we are suffering at the moment?
How many people have to be slaughtered and how much carnage do we still have to suffer before the international community that forced this situation upon us steps in?
In which of your statutes and resolutions are these wicked requirements of genocide and carnage spelt out?
How much worse should it get before you step in? Or is this nolonger the organisation whose primary objectives are world peace and conflict prevention? Don’t Southern Cameroonians qualify as human beings or are you waiting for this conflict to consume as many souls as in Rwanda? In that event, where is the Resolution that spells out how many souls should be wasted, and how much carnage should be committed before the UN can step in? Are we not part of the “never again generation?
Ladies and gentlemen,
The time to right the wrongs of history is today not tomorrow, lest by the time you come, you find out that something worst than the Holocaust has taken place. It is a duty owed the our people by this body because: “The failure of the mandate to decolonise the Southern Cameroons and the illegal occupation of the Southern Cameroons has led to genocide…with over 8000 inhabitants brutally murdered and still ongoing. This is a violation of the United Nations Convention on Genocide, Article 2.” (Valentine A. Gana, 2018.) By the above, the United Nations is not only remotely responsible for what has befallen us, but through her further indifference and cynicism, she is directly responsible. In this regard, I bring before this august assembly three clear options:
(1) The respect and implementation of Article 76 (a) and (b) of the UN charter as well as the implementation of Resolution 1514 that instructed all colonial powers and Trusteeship authorities to prepare the territories under them for self-determination and independence.The terms of Resolution 1514 provide no option for independence by joining. Will the United Nations therefore continue to esteem itself a body that ensures the rule of law, and justice if it cannot make sure that its own resolutions are respected even by little countries like La Republique du Cameroun?
(2) The conduct of a United Nations sponsored referendum on the territory to enable the people of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia determine which way they want to go. In the context of (1) above, will a referendum not be a further violation of the UN charter and its resolution? And what consideration has this body given to Yaoundé’s vote against Res. 1608? Was it not a clear intent to annex?
Examples of referendums abound in recent times. Québec, the minority French speaking community of Canada has twice been consulted by way of referendum to opt out of the Canadian Federation or to continue therein; Scotland and Great Britain have recently consulted their citizens to determine their fates within the United Kingdom and the Europe Union respectively; La Nouvelle Calédonie recently voted in a referendum to determine her fate away from France; the French government recently consulted her citizens to determine whether or not to privatise the Paris airports. If the French that have blocked progress on the Southern Cameroons file at the UN can conduct a referendum on an issue as banal as the privatisation of airports, how much more should our people be consulted through the same means. Is the genocide ongoing in the Southern Cameroons less important than an airport in Paris, France? What else is this if it is not racism?
(3) The third option is for this body to initiate, or support and actively participate in an internationally mediated settlement (such as the Swiss Initiative) seeing that we are now in a conflict wherein human lives have been lost in thousands; wherein human rights are violated daily and war crimes are being committed with impunity by the occupying colonial La Republique du Cameroun forces.
Is it not obvious that the easiest and fastest of the three options available is the respect of Resolution 1514 by which the long delayed independence is granted our territory without any further strings attached, and for talks towards rendering justice to our people following decades of rapacious exploitation and the ongoing genocide to follow thereafter? Is there any reason why justice should be deferred to a later date?
I beseech you therefore,
On behalf of the eight million people of the Southern Cameroons;
I beseech you,
On behalf of over a million refugees spread out in La Republique du Cameroun, Nigeria, Ghana and all over the world;
I beseech you,
On account of the more than 12000 deaths, and more than 400 burnt villages and communities of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia;
I beseech you,
In the name of over a million children who have been deprived of schooling for four years counting;
I beseech you,
For the sake of justice and world peace;
And for the fear of the Sovereign God of creation;
I ask that this assembly of respected world leaders gathered here in th name of peace, should do justice now, to the embattled people of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia, for there can be no peace anywhere in the world whilst Ambazonia is in labour.
The United Nations forced this incestuous relationship upon us; you not only have the duty to, but you also have the power to undo it.
May God help humanity,
Short live this struggle,
Long live Justice and World Peace.
And may the United Nations Organisation continue to enjoy relevance.
In pain, but with hope undimmed do I hereby submit.
Done in Yaoundé, this 10th Day of September, 2020 TASSANG Wilfred FOMBANG Prisoner of Conscience
All UN member states,
All Ambazonian liberation movements,
The world media.