Andre Blaise Essama has put himself on a mission to remove all remnants of France’s colonial presence in his country by removing statues of French glory and replacing them with national heroes.
Essama launched this campaign in 2015 with the beheading of the statue of General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, a French colonial hero. The statue was erected in Douala in the colonial period. He added to this by pulling down a status of an unknown French soldier.
For these acts, he was arrested and sentenced to three months in prison for destruction of public property.
In 2016, Andre again beheaded the repaired statue of the French general, and this fetched him another six months in jail after he refused an offer to pay for its repair instead of a jail term.
This earned Andre large supporters who praised his action.
A statue for a deserving ‘National Hero’
Andrea erected a statue of John Ngu Foncha – a pivotal figure in the unification of the British and French Cameroons, but was pulled down by local authorities. Foncha’s statue was replaced with an effigy of French videographer, Sylvie Blocher.
Sylvie Blocher’s effigy holds a sign with English and French inscriptions that read: “Even If I Do Not Have the Right, I Apologize”.
Andre also pulled this down within 24 hours and he was applauded for his actions by motorists and pedestrians.
He was arrested again after this.
Fight to erase colonial memorial is going on across Africa
Andre Essama’s activism against his country’s colonial heritage is not the only struggle going on in the continent. The call for an abolition of CFA franc has also received support across French-speaking West African countries.
South Africa has also had a fair share of continuous protests calling for pulling down of statues and monuments. The protesters stated that these monuments are reminders of colonialism and apartheid rule.
In March 2015, students of the University of Cape Town (UCT) demanded the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. They stated that its removal would make the campus to become less “Eurocentric” and more African