AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
OF THE NATIONAL EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF CAMEROON (NECC) – Archbishop Samuel KLEDA
When I yielded to the earnest desire within me that I should write you, a friend encouraged me to do so. I consented with something of the reluctance which I developed when I thought of the huge and exalted task of writing you. I rejected the thought of writing. After a little moment, I went on deep thought, meditation and personal prayer about this issue. When I felt the call, I held my pen and began writing until I arrived at this letter before you. It may happen to some persons to feel surprised that it is a priest who is writing an Archbishop. I do so with the happiness and conviction of speaking my own mind, in conscience, about a situation which touches us all in Cameroon. These are my own thoughts and solutions to our recent predicament – welling from unshakeable convictions. I have written them freely without coercion from anyone but only being guided by my conscience – a small voice telling me, „Gerald tell the archbishop and the world your own convictions about the crisis bedeviling your homeland. Do so freely without any fear knowing that you and the Archbishop are just citizens and Christians seeking to know and serve God‟. It is this voice in me that has enabled me send you this letter in its entirety and helping the world also – by addressing it an open letter – to learn from its ideas. I am happy to embrace this challenge.
I wish to begin straight away by informing Your Grace of the raison d‟être of my letter. I share the conviction of the Cameroonian who has recently commented about your letter that “It is discernible from an anxious reading of the first letter of the Bishops of Cameroon, that of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and the present letter of the Bishops of Cameroon that the latest letter of the Bishops of Cameroon is actuated by political rather than Christian motivations.” To me the tone and spirit of your recent letter is not only Pontius Pilating your brother bishops of the Southern Cameroons, but the silence over what you were supposed to have done and have not done, is an impeachment of your brother bishops West of the Mungo. What were you supposed to do? I fear to expose my own ignorance of Episcopal policies and proceedings, but I had thought that as leaders who feel for their suffering brothers of English speaking Cameroon, you bishops of French speaking Cameroon would write a public letter condemning the act of taking whole bishops to court. We know who is behind these things; not so Archbishop? Why are we pretending to call a spade a spade when we have been given the mandate as Apostles of Jesus (who is The Truth) to defend the truth even on to the cross. To me it has been a betrayal which the Church leaders of East Cameroon ought to hang their heads in ashamed.
Your silence has given the impression that the Bishops of our Church province have been disobedient to the country. Our Bishops have not been unfaithful to the State. They have been united to the State very much like a believing wife to a husband who is about to commit suicide and so as a Christian wife holding to the relationship, the Bishops have struggled recently to save not themselves, but the government from the crime of political apostasy.
We of the Southern Cameroons, if we act consistently with our history, we cannot be loyal subjects to the despicable and tyrannous Yaoundé government. Archbishop, you speak of Decentralization and you offer us it as the best gift you think fitting for the resolution of this crisis? We are determined to decline a gift so laden with spurious promises and deceitful propensities. And who can blame us for so doing? Who should be surprised that Yaoundé would still do to Buea what it did after the Foumban constitutional conference of 1961 – turn traitor to the very constitution that bound them together as brothers with two equal strengths (and not that spurious decentralization you are talking about that wants to equate Buea with Garoua as if you do not know that Buea is the capital of a country and Garoua is a mere region of another country) or turn Cain against his brother Abel by killing everything we (Abel) had as culture, economy, jurisprudence, education, politics, military etc.
The Church is the joy and happiness of all of us, and therefore, when justice cries out as it did in the Southern Cameroons (with rapes and killings and abductions and military bestiality over defenseless civilians), it is the duty of the Bishops to speak out loud for the poor and the underprivileged. You spoke but we never got that loudness and that weak voice gave the Yaoundé political cabal encouragement to go ahead. Our Bishops of the Southern Cameroons took the bull by the horns and spoken out loud for the poor and used history, scriptures and the Church‟s social teachings to state their case because they love the Church which is people and not money.
To be continued
By Father Gerald Jumbam