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Our Oracle of Truth Is Independence- Father Gerald Jumbam



There is a Country “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”, Desmond Tutu
Your Grace, I have thought long and hard about my place in the plight of my native land and I find myself writing about what I have never written before. The right time for it has come. The story I am to tell. The story is: I am of the British Cameroons. Proud and unashamed. I am composed, a composed British Cameroon priest and glad I am. I say that the British Cameroons is part of my story, part of who I am. Its colonial character is what my countrymen and I have assumed for over a century. We are tired. It was time I come out from the security of the sacred sacristy to the market place of concrete truth and public debate. It was time I come out from quiet to tell those who still doubt, the justice of a State meriting restoration, of course, Independence.

The British Cameroons. But it is just one part of my life: I am a human being. My village is the world. By all means, Christianity loathes violence, attends to the poor, defends the oppressed, embraces peace, esteems the dignity of each human person. These are ideals espoused by the cause for the restoration of the sovereignty of the British Cameroons. Most likely there will be people with personal cruel agendas.

The British Cameroonians have been Mahatma Ghandis. Contrariwise, the ruthlessness of their oppressors, has been registered by the high court of history as they callously emit cruelty on peace loving peoples: Buea/Bamenda, tell me, is this you, this back that is bent, This back that breaks under the weight of humiliation, This back trembling with red scars And saying yes to the whip under the midday sun? But a grave voice answers me: Impetuous son, that tree young and strong, That tree over there In splendid loneliness amidst white and faded flowers, That is Buea/Bamenda, That grows again patiently, obstinately…

The words of the Cameroonian poet comes down to us, warm with weight and wisdom. This adapted version of David Diop‟s poem „Africa‟, addresses Bamenda and Buea. Darkness has descended on the British Cameroons in the killings, imprisonments, abductions, rapes, graves of mass burials and maim. Bamenda/Buea is facing viral alteration of psychic conditioning. In this state of affairs, silence is criminal. The sense of urgency has lagged so much that a month ago I lost my anger on a letter to a compatriot invading media space with the banner, screaming: Homecoming or Homegoing – the Southern Cameroons! It is a wakeup call no more on failed internal religious and political bodies, but on Britain and International Human rights institutions and activists, not to delay, because what happened in Rwanda is at our doors. AU and UNO look up and act! UK look up and speak!

The urgency of speaking for despoiled peoples is so felt that I don‟t really care if this anger breaks the bounds of office. How could it be when a priest is first and foremost a citizen. He owes his community a contribution to its wellbeing for his upbringing. He serves God and recognizes that the cry of the powerless and the voice of the voiceless is the cry and the voice of God. Vox populi vox Dei. Anna Quindlen, said: “Look back, to slavery, to suffrage, to integration and one thing is clear. Fashions in bigotry come and go. The right thing lasts.” God lasts. Independence lasts.

The Church teaches its leaders a preferential option for the dispossessed, for the hoi polloi. Before someone points the finger at me that I am taking the role of Pope to lay down ways a priest should live today, let me say that I do feel Christian ethics and the Holy Bible would be unambiguous that the priest takes sides with the subjugated. Evidently there is no moral compulsion as pastor to pasture the flock in a particular way. But there is, I believe, a moral obligation as a priest, not to allow oneself be used by tyrants to perpetrate spurious propagandas against the defenseless. A clergyman, in my definition of that office, would not be someone who takes sides with colonial governors against the oppressed. I strongly believe that a priest worthy of the name, should go ahead and dare those forces –morally, nonviolently and with determination – that keep millions of constituted people caged in a cruelty so dehumanizing as the yoke over the British Cameroons, our native land. This because, someday history will disclose to him that those who took courage to work for their mother country, those who spoke for the speechless, those who stood for justice, those who listened attentively to the cry of the oppressed, and those who championed the cause for the non-violently restoration of the sovereignty of a nation, have been champions of whom all upcoming epochs will be proud.

Your Grace, The cause for the restoration of the sovereignty of the British Cameroons is a one built on a big idea supported by legality. You don‟t kill an idea with the bullet or prison cells. It is established on a winning banner that debate is stronger than the gun. The power of debate and not the debate of power. This power of debate and legality convinces us beyond all doubt that there is a country. I look out of myself into the struggle of our cause and I see a sight which fills me with appalling sorrow.

The ignorance of those who don‟t see it coming, who don‟t see the plain truth of which my whole being is full. There are two alternatives – the way to Southern Cameroons, and the way to la Republique. Federation is the halfway house on the one side, and New Deal decentralization is the halfway house on the other. I have been gravely disappointed with the federalists (the moderates). „Shallow understanding‟, says Martin Luther King, „from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of bad will‟; that is why the British Cameroon‟s greatest obstacle in the walk towards independence is not even La Republique’s CPDM or Mgr. Kledda‟s Decentralization, but the federalists. Federalists are cowards standing on the fence – neither cold nor hot. They have left substance to pursue shadows.

The federalists do not know that it is their presence which is the triumph of the oppressor; it is the sight of them which is the Southern Cameroon‟s confusion and helplessness. Our oracle of truth is independence, and it looms high and has a reality, and its “Truth can fight its battle. It has a reality in it, which shivers to pieces swords of earth. When we are skilled enough to dance truth‟s music, that truth will set us free. Truth be told: our miseries as a people would accumulate from leaders being afraid to look difficulties in the face, palliate falsehoods which they should denounce and expect truths to spring from fabrications. I speak most earnestly when I say that our great reawakening like great Achilles, has the soft spot of ignorance – ignorance of who our opponent truly is. When we begin to see, all and sundry, that the issue at stake is Independence, we would notice that the enemy is not Paul Biya, but the structures put in place for a Paul Biya (or any other la Republique party chairman like Ni John Fru Ndi ) to cage us inside this prison of despicability forever.

To be continued

By Father Gerald Jumbam
Kumbo Diocese, Southern Cameroons

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