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Father Jumbam New Book ‘Independence or Nothing’: Exclusive Interview









Rev. Fr. Gerald Jumbam Nyuykongmo alias Jerry Jumbam is a priest whose sense of inner freedom allows him to express himself freely and with concision. His huge commitment to the theological enterprise has buoyed up his spirits to fashion out a theology for his African peoples. He calls it theology of self-determination. He has launched this venture with a pioneering book entitled Independence or Nothing. BaretaNews caught up with him to understand his struggle and mind in getting up this new book, amongst which is the news that his Bishop has been on his neck, very angry that he is into politics, Jumbam in his words says if its true then the anger expressed by his Bishop is an act of cowardice. Follow him in this interview to get more gist and how to buy this enriching book.

BaretaNews: How do you feel after bagging a doctorate in Sacred Theology and with the brilliant distinction of Magna cum laude from the prestigious Pontifical Lateran university?

Jumbam: A Phd is not what really matters to me. Rightly it can make you feel good and fulfilled – a feeling which you justifiably deserve since the accomplishment is a result of nerve-racking toil. But I fear it because it can make you complacent or cloak up mediocrity or use it to seek trivial attention or pointless prestige. What is pleasing to the soul, what makes one truly happy in the world is when one is able to win some victories for humanity by serving the weak, by being voice to the voiceless and by pointing out without panic the right way to those in the night of powerlessness. This I seek to do and my real satisfaction comes therefrom.

BaretaNews: Let’s get then to serious business. The title of your recent work INDEPENDENCE OR NOTHING: Self-determination and the British Southern Cameroons is so powerful and pertinent that it has set tongues wagging. How come?

Jumbam: The title of my work states the obvious. It is an ordinary idea among the Southern Cameroonians. It is a title that carries with it the convictions, beliefs and sentiments of millions of people in my homeland: Independence Or Nothing. It has been their dictum, the guiding principle of over 8 million dispossessed people ( a 57 year dispossession) who seek a voice in the international scene, and whose voice is legitimate and statutory. It is about self-determination in its most insightful way. In that book, I have simply told the story of millions of people who rose and declared with defiance: Independence or Nothing! It all happened on 22 September 2017 and 1 October 2017 during civil right manifestations that can only be equaled to (and which I believe even surpassed) the historic Rev Dr King jr’s I have a Dream speech manifestation some decades ago in the United States of America. The one message the people of the Southern Cameroons put to the world is that they shall not sell out their birthright of independence to neighboring African and oversea colonial marauders for a cup of garri.

Book: Independence Or Nothing

BaretaNews: In that masterpiece, you have expertly articulated their message that enough is enough! Do you think this struggle will succeed?

Jumbam: Oh Yes! I am the biggest optimist. Ardently confident. Colonialism is a crime against humanity, an international evil, and an evil which has been condemned by all nations of the world including the United Nations Organization(UNO). The British Southern Cameroons was and is still a colony of Britain and it is the place of Britain and UNO to ensure that that colony is fully independent. As long as they continue to do what they know is wrong, my people will continue to struggle. As God is always on the side of the truth, I have no doubt whatsoever that the British Southern Cameroons would achieve its goal of a full independent State.

BaretaNews: Are you not afraid seeing how wild the government of your country is, they could kill you?

Jumbam: Before I left Cameroon I was already in serious problems with the Cameroon Government because I had ambitions to be a writer. And if as a writer you cannot name the unnamable, that is, to express what other people fear to say as Salman Rushdie said in his novel The Satanic Verses, then you have no business writing at all; in other words, you are already morally dead. According to Christian theology, if you are morally dead and can’t speak the truth, you are really dead. In short, I am saying that I couldn’t be taking the bull by the horns if I were not ready for a bull fight. So those who talk about the death of others shouldn’t be surprised if they die before those others.

BaretaNews: We hear that they have opened a new military command unit in Bamenda to quell down the freedom struggle of the British Southern Cameroons?

Jumbam: You cannot suppress the truth. In the years that lie ahead, the bloody confrontations that would break out in the British Southern Cameroons would shock the conscience of the international community, if they do not become part of the resolution of this problem and facilitate as soon as possible a genuine resolution of the conflict. For if the government of La Republique du Cameroun knew that its presence in the British Southern Cameroons is legitimate, why is the area being militarized? They know very well that the people’s hearts had long left Yaoundé. And you know that this militarization began in 1962 after the Tombel crisis in which without the indication of the West Cameroon government, La Republique gendarmes invaded the area. All that militarization is a clear indication that the annexing power knows that its days are numbered.

BaretaNews: We hear that your bishop is very angry with you for involving yourself in politics.

Jumbam: I have had some people tell me that and rather than dwell on it, I have given the bishop the benefit of the doubt. But if it is true that such anger is expressed, then such is the anger of cowardice. It is the anger of accusing Moses for being political, of accusing the Prophet Amos of being political, of accusing Cardinal Tumi or Archbishop Romero of being political, of accusing even Jesus Christ of being political. I say it is an expression of cowardice because Pericles in his famous funeral oration said that “we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all”. So it is difficult for a serious person to ignore what politics is all about and still carry out his daily civic duties – whether laity or cleric. Already there are whispers around Rome that Archbishop Oscar Romero will be canonized in October of this year. The Church is canonizing Romero so that those who get angry at politics should follow the example of Pope Francis’ words that “Politics, according to the Social Teachings of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good.” My statements about the oppression of the people of my homeland have served nothing but their common good. So those who think they can escape from politics should leave the world and go to another planet altogether – maybe Neptune, Mass or Jupiter.

BaretaNews: This year seems to be exceptionally yours in literally production. In one year you have come out with two internationally acclaimed works. Apart from Independence or Nothing, there is another one on Pope Francis and Africa. In that recent publication entitled Pope Francis Hero of Africa what were you trying to say?
Jumbam: It is a book I enjoy sitting down to reading. It is my own pan-Africanist stand as a man of God; I call it my African Manifesto. I am saying in that book that there are lots of similarities between Latin America and Africa; similarities such as the Ubuntu spirit, fellow-feeling, colonialism, dictatorship and tyranny. This gives both the Africa and the Latin American a common vision of events; a vision already demonstrated in the public pronouncements of Pope Francis, especially in his sympathy for the poor and oppressed people of the world. This is something which has not happened for centuries in the preceding papacies.

So I was saying that the African Church should take advantage of the present papacy to solve some of the teething problems that are militating against the growth of the Church in Africa and the spread of the Gospel.

BaretaNews: In that work, you call Pope Francis hero to Africa. You mean there is no African bishop or cardinal or priest who powerfully represents Africa out there?
Jumbam: There are many, and very powerful ones of course. But to me, there is no one like the Argentinian Pope, especially when it concerns Africa in the global stage. And he openly takes sides with the poor! Where are most of the poor people found in the world? In Africa. He chose Africa when he chose Francis of Assisi as his patron. He is hero not only to the wretched in Africa but to the underprivileged around the globe. You may have your own opinion. This is mine. Francis is a fearless and convincing leader in that role and has no apologies to make to anyone when he plays the role. That is why I admire him…his tenacity.
And so I chose him as hero to my continent not because we don’t have heroes, but because he puts Africa and other suffering peoples at the forefront in the world stage. He speaks in the Universal Church to me and to my continent, in the most intimate ways.

BaretaNews: You have been so involved in these matters. How do you see the future of your priestly vocation?
Jumbam: Priesthood to me is a conviction – a cast-iron certainty. From my childhood I had always dreamt of becoming a priest and it was and still is the one passion of my life. I am strongly convinced like the Prophet Jeremiah that even while I was still in my mother’s womb, God chose me to be his priest. Looking at all the difficulties I have passed through, I can see that God has a great future for me in this vocation. For it is clear that God’s mercies and protection have been with me during the difficult days of my vocation. And knowing as Paul has asked that “If God be for me, who can be against me?” Luckily when I was born my mother gave me the name NYUYKONGMO, meaning God-loves-me; and if God loves me who can be against me?

BaretaNews: Thank you. The appearance of Independence Or Nothing has been greeted with so much enthusiasm. For those who wish to get personal copies and those who want to get many copies, where do they go?

Jumbam: The AuthorHouse Publishers have simplified things for us. Those wishing to get personal copies should get online to Amazon, or Those who wish to get numerous copies can contact the author to help them as middleman contact the Publishing House so they get the copies in a discount.

BaretaNews: It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Jumbam: Me too.

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