Consortium Responds to the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroun
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the meek. He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES and the OPENING of the PRISON to those who are bound;” (Isaiah 61:1)
It is not in our culture and upbringing to bandy words with God’s servants for in the process we fear, we may in fact, grieve the Lord. But today we find ourselves obliged to do exactly what we know we should not; answer God’s servants in the public domain, for if we do not, the Church, or part thereof, may derail our struggle for the liberation of God’s people as directed by the scripture above, the very reason for which Jesus Christ came and died.
On Saturday the 29th of April, 2017, the Bishops of Cameroon gathered in Yaounde within the framework of the 42nd general assembly of the National Episcopal Conference and issued a message titled: “One People, One Nation”. That message focused entirely on the Southern Cameroons Question, the reason for the ongoing unrest in the North West and South West regions of the country.
In as much as we appreciate the interest the National Episcopal Conference has taken in this matter, we regret that in successive letters to the Christians, the leaders of the Catholic Church in Cameroun have demonstrated that either they do not understand the real issues at stake, or they have simply decided to pay a deaf ear and to take sides with the oppressor against the oppressed people of Southern Cameroons.
However, it is important for national and international opinion to note that the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroun did receive the Executive of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and leaders of Teachers’ Unions in the persons of: Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, Dr. Fontem A. Neba and Mr. Tassang Wilfred for the Consortium on the one hand and Mr. Tameh Valentine, Mr. Kimfon Michael, Mr. Afuh Stephen and Mr. Ayeah Emmanuel for the Teachers’ Unions on the other hand. During the occasion, the Joint Delegation gave the prelates all the education, facts and figures that they needed to know on the Anglophone Problem; from the historical frauds, Constitutional coup in 1972 to all manners of discrimination and oppression; these were in the legal, educational, linguistic and socio-cultural domains.
The Bishops of Cameroon are among some of the finest educated minds that this country can offer, with the sharpest analytical brains and therefore, as living witnesses to all these discriminations and having all the facts and figures at their disposal, being Apostles of the truth and of justice we expected the Church to stand out for justice and speak same without fear or favour.
Our God in His mercy will forgive us, if in the course of condemning the work of the enemy in the Church; we pass judgment on His servants. We only do this so that the people He has given us to lead to freedom land, the very nation He gave our forefathers may not be misled by His servants who have allowed the secular to overwhelm the spiritual. The issues raised in the message of the Bishops of Cameroon therefore require that we get to the roots of some of them in a systematic manner to enable greater understanding.
One People, One Nation
Our Bishops titled their message to the Christians: “One People, One Nation”. We consider this deliberate falsehood because we are convinced our prelates know better; that Southern Cameroons is geographically defined, has a separate colonial history from La République du Cameroun, that we have a Language of our own (English), that we have a legal system of our own (Common Law), that we have an educational system of our own, that we have different socio-politico-cultural practices, that we have internationally recognized boundaries different from those of La République du Cameroun, that we attained independence on different dates (1st January, 1960 for La République du Cameroun and 1st October, 1961 for Southern Cameroons) and much more, meaning we cannot be termed “One People, One Nation”, especially as an earlier intention by our forefathers to forge a union with those they passionately referred to as “Our Brothers” failed woefully with these so-called brothers turning out to be predators, annexationist-colonialists who have in fact treated us for 56 years worse than the Whiteman did. Truth is, where the Germans and the British used our languages and customs and laws to rule us before introducing theirs along the line, La République du Cameroun has attempted to completely annihilate us in all these aspects.
The Bishops of Cameroon, we all know, are all philosophers and either sociologists and or anthropologists, meaning therefore that they have a mastery of the situation on the ground. Further, the deliberate refusal of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon to endorse the letter written by the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province (whose faithful have undergone and are still undergoing all the ills that we have mentioned) to the Head of State, President Paul Biya, outlining the problems and their manifestations, beginning from the genesis, tells of a huge disagreement on what the truth is among the Bishops of Cameroun.
The disagreement referred to above, reminds us of the events of the year 2010, leading to activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of our two countries. The National Episcopal Conference unanimously decided to send out an Episcopal Letter to be read in all mission stations on a particular Sunday condemning corruption, tribalism and all negative isms in government, in the Church’s bid to mark 50 years of independence and reunification of the two Cameroons. Strangely, that Letter was read in all the Dioceses except in the churches of the Dioceses in the Centre, South and East regions; an indication that the Church in these areas is satisfied with Cameroun as it is. It is maybe needless to recall that street demonstrations and prayers against multiparty politics (liberty and democracy) in 1990 were led by prelates of, and from these same regions.