The fighting in Southern Cameroons has intensified since the extradition of the Ambazonian President, Julius Ayuk Tabe, on Monday, January 26, 2018, to Yaounde. Many young Southern Cameroonians have stepped up attacks on soldiers and gendarmes in a bid to express their frustration and anger.
Early today, two gendarmes – a man and a woman – were attacked in the North Western town of Mbingo by masked men, who shot the uniformed officers point blank, killing the male officer on the spot. The female officer is struggling for her life in the town’s main hospital.
In Bangem, a town in the Southwest region of the country, Amba Tigers have been fighting running battles with Cameroon’s military in the city’s downtown core. Unconfirmed reports indicate that more than four people have been killed in Bangem since the Tigers showed up to carry revenge attacks against army soldiers following the extradition of Mr. Ayuk Tabe who has become the incontestable poster child of the Southern Cameroons struggle.
It has also been reported that civilians in the town of Bangem are heading out of the town in large numbers to surrounding villages in a bid to seek refuge from army soldiers who have been attacking and killing unarmed and innocent civilians.
There have also been reports of violent clashes in Pinyin and Batibo which are small towns in the Northwestern region ever since Mr. Ayuk Tabe was taken to Yaounde where he and 46 others will soon be taken to court for their role in the escalating conflict in Southern Cameroons.
The increasing attacks had been predicted by many analysts and politicians who had posited that the arrest and extradition of Mr. Ayuk Tabe would only exacerbate things as more people would be radicalized. Most analysts based their thesis on the fact that the arrest of Mr. Mancho Bibixy, Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor-Balla and Dr. Neba Fontem in January 2017 only made matters worse.
Many international observers are calling on the government of Cameroon to use this moment to smoke the pipe of peace as military violence and intimidation have not produced the results the government had expected. They contend that the government must change its strategy as the current one is gradually pulling the country towards a bloody civil war that is unnecessary.
It should be recalled that the government of Cameroon which is stuck in the past is using old tactics that had been employed in the 60s against French Cameroon freedom fighters popularly known as Maquisards in the pious hope that the Southern Cameroons population will submit to its will.
Critics point out that it has unfortunately failed to understand that times have changed. People are more educated today and the existence of the Internet have made it hard for such tactics to produce the desired results. Besides, with a huge and prosperous Southern Cameroons Diaspora, it will be hard for the government of Cameroon to obtain an outright victory.
The Diaspora is propping up efforts of the young and determined fighters who sincerely hold that with a little luck they can successfully bring the government of Cameroon to the negotiating table or get Southern Cameroons out of the mess in which short-sighted politicians like Muna and Foncha had dumped the region.
The Southern Cameroons Diaspora will continue to destabilize Cameroon for a long time if the government does not make permanent dialogue a way of life in a country that was hastily stitched together by the United Nations. The Southern Cameroons Diaspora is rich and it has successfully transformed marginalization into a huge opportunity.
The government therefore stands to gain if it changes its policies to recognize the Diaspora as a strategic partner in the country’s efforts to attain sustainable levels of development.
Mr. Biya and his government must now embrace dialogue as the ideal way to pull the country from the brink. From reactions obtained following the arrest and extradition of Mr. Ayuk Tabe, it is obvious that more blood will continue to flow, as Southern Cameroonians are determined to follow through with their threat of splitting the country.
Despite the disappointment their struggle has suffered, many Southern Cameroonians argue that the battle must continue as the revolution is bigger than any single individual. Speaking to a dejected Southern Cameroonian in WashingtonD.C. over the phone, our West African Bureau chief was advised that the revolution was an idea that would not be crushed through intimidation and military violence. The Southern Cameroonian, who elected anonymity, added that things only escalated when Felix Nkongh Agbor Balla, Fontem Neba and Macho Bibixy were arrested and that the current situation would only escalate attacks on the military.
He argued that Nelson Mandela was in jail for over three decades, but South Africans did not relent in their effort to unseat the racist bastion that had reduced them to second-class citizens in their own country. He said Southern Cameroonians would, over the coming days, designate their new leaders and would be informing the boys on ground on what steps to follow.
Also speaking from London, Sesekou Asu Isong, said that Southern Cameroonians should not believe that they could attain their objective without loss of life and imprisonment. He stressed that “freedom has never been attained through courteousness and gentlemanliness, adding that loss of life is and has always been part of such a struggle.”
He called on Southern Cameroonians to pour money and energy into the struggle. “As it is apparent that we are now in an armed struggle, we have a duty to pour money and energy into this cause. We have a duty to arm and train young determined fighters on the ground. If we don’t, the lives of the departed and those in incarceration would have been a waste,” he stressed.
Mr. Isong’s point of view ties in well with what is currently happening in many Southern Cameroons community across the globe. It is worth stressing that huge fundraising efforts are currently underway in most Western capitals. Southern Cameroonians across the globe are making significant financial contributions to support the tough Southern Cameroonian fighters who have become a nightmare to government forces in Southern Cameroons. In California alone, more than half a million dollars was raised last week to secure more aid and arms for the boys who are determined to roll back government forces that have been deployed across Southern Cameroons.
Also writing from Boston in the United States, Mr. EkinnehAgbaw-ebai, a graduate of the prestigious Harvard University, pointed out that “Irrespective of whatever anyone thinks, let it be said again with emphasis that Ambazonia will never die. Ambazonia is a spirit which animates our yearning for freedom and even if Biya kills all eight million Anglophones and raze all our villages, our ghosts shall rise from our graves to seek freedom and demand justice. Mandela was jailed, but the ANC continued until Apartheid was defeated. Bin Laden is dead, but that has not stopped Al Qaeda; rather ISIS was born. If Biya sincerely believes, as he claims, that a majority of Anglophones want to remain in bondage and servitude in a united Cameroon, let him organize a referendum. Voting should take place only in Anglophone regions under international supervision as was the case in 1961,” he pointed out angrily.
It should be noted that Sisiku Ayuk Tabe had said that the struggle was his life and that he was prepared and willing to lay down his life for the total liberation of Southern Cameroons, though he has always advocated non-violence. Many Southern Cameroonians are of that opinion and there are many meetings currently taking place across the globe to step up the pressure on the government.
By Sama Ernest with files from Kingsley Betek and Rita Akana