THE EDITORIAL OF THE SDF PROGRAMME “POLITICAL FORUM” OF 1ST AND 2ND AUGUST 2019 ON CRTV TELEVISION AND RADIO ENTITLED ” THE SEPTEMBER CHORUS OF SCHOOL RESUMPTION IN THE NORTH WEST AND SOUTH WEST REGIONS
Every September of every year since 2017 that the war paralysed academic institutions in the North West and South West Regions, there has been a boring repetitive chorus singing about the need for children to go back to school. This chorus is boring because it ends immediately after the school resumption period and resumes when the next September – the school resumption month approaches. The Social Democratic Front consider those who are singing this chorus as pretenders who have transformed hypocrisy from a national vice to look like a national value. It is pure political chicanery without any interest for the children who are the direct victims of the non operation of schools.
Before exposing the hypocritical intentions of those singing the chorus of “schools must resume”, it is proper to remind viewers and listeners that the Social Democratic Front was from the onset against school boycott as a strategy to fight the oppressor. Our argument was that school boycott disarms the oppressed people intellectually and makes them more vulnerable to the oppressor. We were not listened to and the oppressor was very happy of the situation, albeit, not openly.
Today, anybody still regarding the situation of non school resumption in the North West and South West Regions as boycott is a political sorcerer. Somebody once described Cameroonians fighting for better living conditions as pupil sorcerers – this is the moment to see real political sorcerers. The situation of schools not operating in the North West and South West Regions has long evolved from school boycott to a terrible security problem. The situation can be summarized thus: many teachers and students have been killed in the raging war, many arrested, charged as terrorists and imprisoned, some kidnapped and maimed, making them incur livelong disabilities, many on the run as refugees and internally displaced persons, many hiding in the bushes with their parents for safety, many recruited as armed separatist fighters ferociously combating the military whom they describe as occupational forces.
Many schools have been burned and other infrastructures relating to schools destroyed; whole villages razed down with what sustains the livelihood of the people destroyed. Many children who are being called to go back to school are now orphans, their parents having been killed in the war. As we speak, the war rages on both in the rural and urban centres of the North West and South West Regions. Personalities as high as Government Ministers, Governors and Army Generals circulate in these areas often only in armoured cars, yet, they are still constantly attacked. The armed forces, armed to the teeth, on the one hand, and the armed pro independence fighters, on the other hand, both die on daily basis as casualties of war. The civilian casualties are even worse. This is the macabre situation on the ground in which some pretentiously claim schools can operate. These gruesome facts on the ground show clearly that the non operation of schools in the North West and South West Regions has nothing to do with the decision of parents, students/pupils and teachers to boycott schools. It has to do with life threatening insecurity that no parent of sane mind will risk his child’s life for. Those sitting in their comfort zones in Yaounde and Douala preaching to the vulnerable people on the ground in the North West and South West Regions to send their children to school are real political sorcerers. This is because they know very well that these children are not out of school by choice; they are out of school because of the security situation just described above. Most of these “elite” have transferred their own children to Yaoundé, Douala and other secured francophone towns to school; most of them have asked their relatives to send their children to live with them and school in francophone secured parts of the country. Most, if not all of them, can no longer step foot in their places of birth because of the war, yet, they preach from distant secured towns that schools must resume in these areas. If this is not political chicanery, hypocrisy or demagogy, what is it?
School and war are not and can never be bed partners. How many schools destroyed have been rehabilitated to inhabit the children upon resumption? How many villages burned down have been rebuilt for the children and their parents to return to in order to go to school? What inventory has been made of children who have lost their parents and adequate assistance provided for them to school? How many children and teachers arrested and imprisoned have been freed so that they can go back and start school? What services have been provided to the severely traumatized children, victims of the war, to prepare them for school? What concrete steps have been taken to negotiate for a ceasefire so that guns can go silent for the pens to take over? None of those making noise about school resumption can answer any of these questions. They have rather opted to elevate the call for school resumption to pure propaganda that they are squandering money on and and benefitting from the kickbacks of this squander. Jesus wept! Is it not often said that war is very profitable to some?
The Social Democratic Front puts the total responsibility of the non operation of schools in the North West and South West Regions on the government that decided to use war to handle a purely political problem and has refused to engage in concrete steps to negotiate even a ceasefire with the armed pro independence fighters. The government has refused to engage in a genuine and all inclusive dialogue without preconditions to solve the root causes of the problem that brought about this war. This despite the clarion call to this effect from the Social Democratic Front, other Cameroonians of good will and the International Community. Many now agree that the underlying factors that let to the undermining of Anglophones in Cameroon were a calculated secret agenda. If not, why does it take too many casualties to even start a dialogue to examine the root causes of the matter?
Denis Nkemlemo, National Secretary for Communication of the Social Democratic Front.