Father Gerald Jumbam in his second epistle to the people of Southern Cameroons continues to weigh into the current crisis in the Cameroons. In this part two of his letter, he spoke about the misconception people have been using to quote Nelson Mandela on the right to Education. Read on
As a teacher of divine mysteries, I am most partial to education. There is, however, one type of education I would rather the world had never known. It is the assimilationist murder machine French Cameroon has hung on the neck of the peoples of the British Southern Cameroons for decades. It ranks in my mind as one of the most miserable, most morally enfeebling learning processes known to the world. The metaphor of Mandela is a fitting one on explaining the narrative going on about school reopening. So much has been said about this proud son of African that my voice would seem to be hard of hearing. Yet, I know I have something of what Mandela represented to his South African people that I do not need to be deceived or distracted by voices that are shallow about the Mandela figure. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, are his most famous words on education. I am absolutely delighted to be at home with this subject. We will do well to recall the noble words of Nelson Mandela on education and the context they took in addressing the predicament of South African scholarship. There is time for everything. Therefore let it be known that those words came not from the Mandela of prison cells or from the Mandela of 1990. It was Mandela the president. He had achieved the grossest of all human rights – freedom from tyranny. Then classroom education could come now since they already educated themselves in freedom fighting of the importance of man’s independence, the human person and human dignity. Seek you first the Kingdom of Freedom from Tyranny and all other human rights would be added onto you. Wherever tyranny is so cruel as is in Southern Cameroon, life is threatened, and the right to life is the greatest of all rights. This because without the right to life the talk about education, classroom etc. is meaningless.
Mandela’s words come in the context of a world that has manifold challenges and that required a modeled excellent tool to answer the multifaceted questions of the African struggle after independence. Mandela as president singled out education, and rightly so. Change in our communities would only come through educated men and women. Yet looking at Mandela’s quotation from another Christian point of view I say that it doesn’t say all that needs be said. Look at the political kleptocrats, the financial thugs, the cabal that rule our government – these are all men and women with what we call education. Yet they are a disgrace to our our country, to our continent. So the most powerful thing in the world, to us believers, is a person. It is Jesus Christ. It is his Gospel; for “the mystery of our religion is very deep indeed: He was made visible in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory. (I Tim. 3:16). Having an educated person without the wisdom that comes from God, from Allah, from Jehovah, is a waste of resources. Men and women need to be educated alright but that education must build the moral and spiritual foundations of the peoples – and we know very well that there are many educated swindlers and tyrants out there. So if you ask me, I will rephrase Mandela’s words thus: ‘Education is one of the powerful weapons which can change the world, but the Gospel is the most powerful of them all’.
After all, freedom fighters and human right activists are the greatest educationists of the world. They are greatest because they are experts in humanity, they are greatest because they teach us what man is, what he is capable of.They teach the world the worth of human flourishing. They teach us the inalienable rights of man, they bring us to the knowledge of the infallible truths of life. The freedom fighter’s main weapon is education. And let me be clear about this: our sons and daughters within these months of struggle have had an education like never had in the history of Southern Cameroon – the education of the worth of the human person, the education of knowing their rights, the education of living by the Law, the education to freedom fighting, the education of standing strong against injustice and oppression, the education to autonomy and sovereignty, the education of seeing their parents beaten, humiliated, abducted and imprisoned and their indomitable spirit to fight back. That is education of the highest worth – education to virility.
These are things they have heard happen in South Africa. They are witnesses to them today in their own land. And therefore our children are in school. They have never stopped going to school. The classroom has changed from colonial emasculating classrooms to decolonizing classrooms building courageous citizenry. And therefore when the Bishops of the Southern Cameroons quote the Second Vatican Council with the benign words on education, they are right. They are right that we would not stop at just classroom talk, we would go after education that mans, education that emboldens, education that speaks of the divine attributes of Truth, Justice, Love, Faith, Hope and Human Dignity. The Church has never stopped teaching these things in pulpits and the personal example of Saints. They have never stopped going to school. So let us give a break to this colonial nonsense called classroom education from LRC educational homicidal education, this murder machine that has assassinated all godly principles in our hearts. I am virulent in denunciation of this murder machine and of celebrating its FINAL FULLSTOP in our land. Let us look up to real things, to real education for our children – and that would come from us, from our kind, from our educated men and woman and not some half-baked nonsense from Francophone forged fries.
By Gerald Jumbam
Kumbo Diocesan Priest
To be continued