“Every day I leave my house…my family knows…for the past twenty years…when I leave my house I know I will not come back home. Every play I write, Any poem I write, I write as if it is my last poem, as if it is my last book”. Bate Besong
The launching of the Independence Revolution of the Southern Cameroons has been like the umpire’s whistle blow for which Southern Cameroons’ freedom fighters have been waiting on the sports’ ground. In one short generation a massive package of new feeling has spiraled into being from all over the country and, for the first time since 56 years, The Southern Cameroons’ present generation begin to picture in their mind’s eye not some green-red-yellow thing, but have imbibed how to see a dove/eagle as symbol and heavenly blue and immaculate white as colors of their much esteemed nation. The enthusiasm that has stimulated this national feeling has been great indeed. I hate to make mysteries out of nothing, but I am seeing a new powerful nation state come to being. I say that the enemies of our progress should know that their obsession with seeing the burgeoning Southern Cameroons destroyed by all means possible is a big waste of time and akin to waiting for the ship at the airport. And therefore, like Dylan Thomas once said of writers, I say today that there is only one position for the Southern Cameroons’ freedom fighter anywhere; that is, upright. This uprightness is the fruit of a self-determination that is legal, forthright and God-ordained.
There comes a time when man must shy away from fear and speak out his mind for a generation and for institutions that he owes allegiance. My allegiance to the Church (as one of those institutions ) is allegiance to the truth and not to unreflective persons. Christ is truth and his Body is truth’s bulwark and dispenser. It is my contention that the Church (and not that of clericalism or that aligned to State power) has always been the staunchest defender of the Southern Cameroons’ culture and statehood; that the golden eras of the Southern Cameroon history have also been high tides of Southern Cameroonian Church; and that the Southern Cameroon nationalism only would become disordered and perverted when it strays from the guidance of the wisdom of the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ and that of the fear of the Lord. But confusion has visited the Body of Christ the Church today as a result of the problem of school attendance. While a majority of Church faithful are crying foul at the Church’s hierarchy for persisting to open school, some have engaged in stopping this by burning parts of some schools. Because of the recent attacks on schools owned by the Church, it is not clear to the Church hierarchy in British Cameroons whether they should open their schools or not come September 2017. But as a son of the Church I would like to make my own statement about the prevailing situation and thus clarify the Church on this issue of school attendance.
Will the Church Make or Mar?
When the Catholic Church in France stood in the way of the French Revolution of 1789, the French philosopher Voltaire said this of the Church: “Crush the infamous thing”. The Church in France by taking sides with the oppressor had made itself so unpopular with the French people to the extent that a moral and spiritual institution like the Church became ‘the infamous thing’. The peoples of the former colony of the British Cameroons are today asking for their freedom and independence just as the peoples of the French Cameroon had organized and fought for theirs.
If there is anything which Jesus Christ came into the world to fight for, it was for human freedom. Hear Him: “I have come that ye may have life and have it more abundantly”. If the Church is to remain faithful to her mission of saving life, she cannot be on the side of the oppressors of the human person. Man is made in the image of God and anybody who oppresses man is therefore oppressing God.
The attitude of Amadou Ahidjo and Pual Biya towards the peoples of the former colony of the British Cameroons have been consistently diabolic and has been recorded in the writings of such eminent Cameroonian Catholics as Bernard Nsokika Fonlon( The KNDP Memorandum of 1964, Will we Make or Mar) and Cardinal Christian Tumi (The Political Regimes of Amadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya, My Faith: A Cameroon to be Renewed). From the evidence provided by these two eminent Catholics, it is clear that in the struggle for the independence of the British Southern Cameroons, the Church cannot be neutral. She must be on the side of the suffering and oppressed people of the British Cameroons whose sudden clamor for independence and freedom is seriously turning world over the attention of freedom lovers, to this part of the world.
The Catholic Church has taught dogma for centuries. But a profound study of this dogma reveals that it is a liberating and saving dogma. To be dogmatic on the side of evil and oppression cannot therefore be the right attitude of the Church. Already the Second Vatican Council by insisting on reforms in the Church gave the right attitude the Church hierarchy should adopt towards the so many changes that are taking place around us today. The Church’s social agenda proclaims human freedom and democracy by strongly opposing any encroachment on human dignity and freedom. The Catholic Church in the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province should therefore desist from supporting the evil and oppressive regime of La Republique du Cameroun.
The struggle to liberate a people has always been fought around the issue of education.
It is the enlightened minority that has always led the masses to freedom. Hence the growth of the Western school in Africa gave rise to the struggle for African freedom and independence. It is indeed around the Ngugi wa Thiongos, the Wole Soyinkas, the Leopold Sedar Senghors and the Denis Brutuses that African freedom was fought.
That the freedom of the British Cameroons should today be fought around the issue of the school is a reflection of history.
Why is it that LRC is insisting that schools in the British Cameroons should reopen? So that they may continue to destroy the young minds of our children in their so-called schools. What is today called schools in the British Cameroons is a destruction machine put in place by our enemies from LRC. When the British ruled here, the school system produced the likes of Bernard Nsokika Fonlon, Kitts Mbeboh, Bate Besong, Siga Asanga, Kenjo Jumbam, Asonganyi, Ngoh Nkwain, Charly Ndichie, Bole Butake, Augustine Ngom Jua and Albert Mukong. All these were systematically targeted and killed or silenced by the evil regimes in LRC.
To what kind of schools then do we want our children to return to? Is it not a wise act to call the attention of the world to the horrible situation in the British Cameroons by keeping our children at home? Is it not proper that we should let the world know that the Ahidjo and Biya regimes have killed all the leading Anglophone intellectuals in Cameroon? And the worst of all after completing the so-called schools, how many of our children are ever employed? Why are our children, in desperate need of jobs, pushed to have sex with dogs and serpents in Kuwait while Francophones are feasting themselves fat on SONARA oil in Limbe?
Our children today are distressingly immoral and the situation is becoming even more alarming. Which school system is producing these reprobates if not of the school system that our Bishops are calling upon our children to return to? Are marks not bought and sold in our schools today? Are examinations questions not made known to the children of the high and the mighty before examinations are written? Do our so-called teachers not transmit marks sexually to our female students? Is mediocrity not rewarded and excellence punished in our school systems today? Is immorality such an important component of our school’s curriculum today that we are unable to see the colossal damage we are doing to the Southern Cameroon youth of today? The answers to these questions are blowing in the wind.
Our school system in the British Cameroons is so sick that one cannot but take sides with the School Revolution occasioned by the irrepressible Tassang Wilfred and his colleagues Teachers’ Trade Union. To do otherwise would be to sell one’s conscience for a cup of garri.
To be continued
By Father Gerald Jumbam
Diocesan Priest, Kumbo