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Men of God

The liberation of a people starts when the people themselves know they are in bondage. For if you cannot realize that we have been caged and the bondage on our neck is bigger than that of the slaves that were ferried across the Atlantic to the Americas then you are not living on this earth. It is needless to write some of the bondages in this paper since my great vine is to take us down memory lane to meet where religion and politics have a cross road.

The social media has been and is still bubbling with the buzz of the lawyers struggle to be listened by the state that was given the mandate to listen to them. Many of us have different views why the state should or not listen to the lawyers and by extension Anglophone Cameroonians. It is not mandatory that we agree on this. By the way we were not born of the same mother and even if we were born together, who says twins don’t disagree? When Bara Mark and Tapang Ivo Tanku urged our religious men and women to lead the freedom match across the Mungo, it dawn on me that this fight should not only be physical but spiritual. After all the struggles for the freedom of many people in history have always have a religious touch to succeed.

In a peered review article in the encyclopaedia of philosophy, it is argued that religions often make strong claims on people’s allegiance, and universal religions make these claims on all people, rather than just a particular community. For example, Islam has traditionally held that all people owe obedience to Allah’s will. Tell me any religion that abstains from political discourses. It is my intention to drive you on some of the main struggles that have taken place in history and we agree or disagree that religion has a place in politics.

It is 1789 in France, the people have been under bondage for so long a time, King Louis XVI and wife Marie Antoinette had taken up the nation hostage and the King had the gods to state that “L’etatcemoi”. This holy matrimony was going on under the watchful eyes of the Bishops and Priest who formed part of the aristocratic class of the day. The role of the church had been to confuse the masses that the King was a God ordained king and had divine rights that should not be challenged by any human here on earth. The moment the state made the error to start taxing the church, the drum beats changed and what happened was that King Louis was ousted and murdered together with his wife. What most history textbooks do not tell us on this occasion is that new Priests had been ordained from Rome who wanted to preach the gospel according to the gospel and not according to the state. When these ideas were taken and well diluted by the people they stood up as one man and sided with the few pure priests who had the guts to tell the people the real essence of the Bible. Today you and I are reading the great French Revolution as a foundation of human rights just because some few pure Priests were able to say the truth.

The presence of Blacks in America was not of their own making but a forceful travel that took them there. When the slave trade was “abolished” these brothers and sisters had nowhere to call home as the “free world” had remained the only abbot they knew. Staying in America as a Black man was never an easy ride. For those who read “Black Boy” by Richard Write or the “Measure of a Man” by Sydney Poitier you will agree with me that in all what they wrote, freedom was the watch word they needed to scale their humanness and live a life that is worth calling a life. For the American Black men and women needed a religious push to take their fight to the table of the great Master. Then came the Man, the man that had been ordained from above and sent to liberate his people, that man was Martin Luther King.

From humble beginning to a mighty fellowship, his words cut across races and classes in America. He could not be judged and found guilty, he resisted the system within the system, remaining within the ambits of the law. When he delivered the “I had a Dream” speech, America was shaking as cold sweats moved down the pants of the captors. They had nothing to do but to murder him just like they did to Jesus Christ. He had accomplished his mission here on earth and despite having the title of a Doctor, King liked the title of Reverend. That is to tell you that religion is mightier than politics and must do everything to suppress politics and let our leaders change and listen to the people.

The fight for freedom in South Africa has also seen a similar move. When the Apartheid government taught they had all that was needed to crush the Black race, Black politicians took the fight from peaceful to arm struggles. But a close read on the struggle to free SA will remind you of the fact that all if not most of the names you can call in the battle for equality in SA ran to that famous Soweto church where they were shielded under the wings of the Almighty and they triumph at last. In exile, Nkonto we Sizwe was formed to take up arms against the white regime in SA, but one man stood up and said he will fight the regime with his cloak and Bible, that man is Emeritus, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. He went down on his knees day in day out and told the people the truth. He led peaceful matches, went around the world to tell them why they needed to condemn the SA regime. At the end that man call Tutu is today being celebrated as an icon of peace around the world.

So when Mark and Ivo urge our priests to support and free the Cameroonian people, it sounded a bell to me. Lately I read that Pentecostal pastors wrote to the Prince asking him to stand as a candidate in the next election. I say any priest who uses God’s pulpits to tell the people lies and call on the Prince to remain in power, is not different from the 18th Century priests who took the Bible news to choke the people. After all Jesus’s coming to earth was also political that is why he did not condemn Ceazer but asked the people to give what belongs to him to him.

My last question is who is going to be our Martin Luther King, our Tutu or the New Priests that will lead Cameroonians to freedom. For even Plato once said, one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
Atanga Belmondo
Political Historian

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