Southern Cameroons Crisis: President Ayuk Tabe says Ambazonia and La Republique are divinely bound to be neighbours
The leader of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe has called on Southern Cameroonians to be strong, determined, courageous and steadfast. The jailed Ambazonian leader in an interview with a French Cameroun newspaper Emergence also noted that freedom and the independence of Southern Cameroons is priceless.
“The road may be dreary but the end is in sight. For the sake of future generations, we rose up in 2016 and made our stand. There is no turning back now. We must defend our emancipation with determination, commitment and courage. With God being our helper, we will emerge victorious and join the community of prosperous nations” President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe added. Below is the full conversation
Emergence: How are you feeling after all this time spent in prison.
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: In the context of this crisis, all Southern Cameroonians / Ambazonians have been denied justice by La Republique du Cameroun. Our imprisonment is in violation of International and local laws. Given the fact that La Republique du Cameroun is the judge in its own case and in her own court, we know we can’t get justice from its less than independent court system. As refugees and Asylum-seekers resident in Nigeria, we are not supposed to be here. Feelings are expressions by the body, as a translation of the physical, psychological, mental and social wellbeing. However, we have been here now for 3 years and counting. We are physically, psychologically, mentally strong and positive as we pay the price for the freedom of our homeland – Southern Cameroons/ Ambazonia. But we are socially troubled because we are in an environment that is suffering socially from decadence, moral bankruptcy, academic backwardness, developmental deficiency, poor economy, and socio-political stagnation. This, however, gingers us to work harder for the emancipation of our people, the people of Ambazonia, so that the eyes of others will open.
This sacrifice will make sense in future when people will stand in awe looking at the rapid political, economic and social transformation of Ambazonia. It is our desire, planning and strategy that within as little as 3 years, post-restoration of our independence, the building-blocks and impeccable foundation of our institutions will be evident. Daily, we are driven by the ambition to go and implement these developmental changes to become like America, Israel or Japan in a relatively shorter time. We know freedom comes with a price and we are ready to pay for it. Development is a mix of many in a continuum. We will deliver our best and our children will continue.
Emergence: Negotiations had been engaged between you and the power in Yaoundé. Since then nothing is said of them anymore. Where are we on that?
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: We must be very careful when we use the word “negotiation”. You use it loosely and inaccurately. However last year, following the UN SG’s call for a global Ceasefire in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, in April and July 2020 Mr Biya’s government consulted us on the possibility of a Ceasefire. We highlighted and gave them four Confidence-building Measures to facilitate a Ceasefire. These are:
⮚ Release of all prisoners and detainees in all the prisons and detention camps in both Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun imprisoned or detained in relation to this conflict;
⮚ Withdrawal of all La Republique forces of occupation from our streets in the Southern Cameroons;
⮚ Allow a safe travel of all Southern Cameroonians in the diaspora to return home without fear of death, arrest, harassment;
⮚ Commit to an Independent Internationally Mediated Negotiations in a neutral venue agreed to by both parties.
Since then however, we have not heard from them. It is our thinking that Mr Biya wanted to use that faulty strategy to buy time, hoping to get victory otherwise over our Ambazonian resistance.
You know as much as everyone that this is a farfetched dream. This war cannot be won militarily and this issue cannot be wished away. Ultimately, its root-causes must be addressed. As a peace loving people, we have always been and are open to talks. Given the hurt and pain in our people, the Confidence-building measures have to be enforced. Our people are saying it loud and clear that this be truly resolved now, for we are prepared to resist this black-on-black colonization forever!!!
Emergence: Today the international community is also taking note of abuses of the secessionists. To you is that a reversal?
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: Point of correction! There are no Secessionists in the conflict between the people of Southern Cameroons and the system of La République du Cameroun. Let it be clear again that we are not “Secessionists”. Secessionists are people who want to break a part of one country.
Ours is a history of two nations; one got its independence on the 1st of January 1960 and the other on the 1st of October 1961 – 21 months later. These two have never been one, for there is no “Act of Union” between them. The Constitutive Act of the African Union charter is abundantly clear on this issue. Each country’s boundaries were frozen as at the date of its independence. When La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) got its independence on 1st January 1960, the Southern Cameroons was not part of it – on the 1st of January Buea was not part of La République du Cameroun, neither was Bamenda a part of it. By law we have never been part of it.
Unfortunately, it has become clear that we were simply invaded and occupied on the night of the 30th of September 1961. Thereafter, a foreign Constitution and governance was imposed on us!!! We are restoring our nationhood and not seceding from our nation of Southern Cameroons. How can we be seceding from La République du Cameroun to which we’ve never belonged?
Emergence: Since 2016, there has been an end to schooling in the NoSo, murders, arsons, economic failure. Are you satisfied with this record? Aren’t you tired of the blood that flows continuously while your demands are not even recognized by the state?
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: We don’t like this hurting reference to us as “NoSo”, it is one of those dehumanizing colonial name tags labelled on our people.
For the records, LRC military has been committing genocide in the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia since Mr Biya declared war on our people on the 30th November 2017. The atrocities the LRC military is causing are alarming. The “No School” Principle is a logical response to the mayhem caused by this declared and enforced war. How can we encourage people to go to school when a war is raging? Who would take responsibility for any life cut short in a cross-fire? What is the urgency of going to school when teachers and pupils/students are being arrested, tortured and killed by Cameroun Government forces!!! Come and do a head count of all the Ambazonians incarcerated, displaced and killed and see for yourself the reality!!! When the time is right, we shall make up for lost time. It will all be worth it when we put in place the World class system of education we are designing for our people to replace the existing neocolonial contraption designed to keep us psychologically, politically, economically and developmentally subjugated to an unprogressive and decadent system!!
Diabolically there’s a lot of torture, maiming, rapes and forced disappearances of our people … so far this war has caused:- 32,500+ civilians killed, the burning of over 500 villages, the displacement of over 1.4 million people and more than 3,000 people including children and pregnant women are in various prisons, detention and torture centres in our Homeland and LRC. Notwithstanding the pain they are inflicting on us as a people, nothing will deter us from the quest for a free and independent Ambazonia. When the time comes for us to roll out our educational plan, you will understand. When we shall pickup, Ambazonia will be a hub for education, technology and trade amongst other things. You will testify what your eyes will see and your ears will hear. Our education shall make Life decent.
Emergence: The new American administration has promised to be more involved in the Anglophone crisis. What are your expectations from this new administration?
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: We congratulate President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for their victory during the November 2020 elections. We envy the people of America for having built strong Institutions. They have proven to the world that strong Institutions are the bedrock of democracy. Without cultivating lion men, we shall emulate America in building our democracy. We appreciate President Biden’s Administration for taking note of our plight and the gross Human Rights abuses/genocide being meted on our people. Self determination is a Fundamental Right that can’t be denied a people.
The people of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia have spoken. We want a free and independent Ambazonia – checkout the Tumi survey of 2019 in which 69% of our people people said they want out, the CDN 2020 survey in which 86% of our people opted out of this unfortunate cohabitation. We appreciate the American Congress and Senate for the bilateral Senate Resolution 684 that was passed on the 1st of January 2021, interestingly sixty-one years to the day after the LRC independence. We pray that President Biden’s administration should match words with actions by unilaterally evoking the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the Never Again Promise! We also expect the USA to harness support for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Mandated Independent International Fact-finding Mission to the Southern Cameroons as a necessary first step to addressing the root causes of the conflict. We need to establish responsibility for the atrocities in our land and sanction them accordingly.
Emergence: The secessionist camp is also profoundly divided. Does this not weaken your cause?
If by “Secessionists” you are still referring to Ambazonians, then my elucidation earlier should make you now understand and know that we are “Restorationists” and not secessionists as you and others want us to be seen. If you have any treaty or convention which sanctioned Southern Cameroons as part of La Republique du Cameroun kindly brandish it. Until then, we have not been and will never be part of La Republique du Cameroun.
Now to answer your question, all Ambazonians have a common goal which is to restore the Statehood of the Southern Cameroons. We may have differences in opinion or approach in this our journey to Buea; so were Moses, Miriam and Aaron in Israel’s March to their Promised land. However, we are united in purpose, determined, focused and steadfast in our goal. This unity of purpose is unbreakable and incontestable. Don’t be deceived to focus on the division within us. Difference of opinion is the pivot of democratic culture within our people since 1953, with attendant checks and balances. When the time comes the people of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia will have one delegation made up of Representatives chosen by the people. These delegates will reflect the goal and aspirations of all the various shades of opinions of the good people of Ambazonia.
In Ambazonia, we will not eliminate the voices of opponents. We know that constructive criticism makes for better nation building.
Emergence: Do you not think that the best option would have been to denounce violence and to engage yourselves to continue your fight through nonviolent methods as it was the case with SCNC?
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: The people of Southern Cameroons / Ambazonia are uniquely peace loving People. By our birth, nature and culture, we are a non violent people. Our patience with LRC for 60 years is a testimony of our incredible tolerance, understanding and patience. The coward of the country bore it for 20 years and it all bottled-up inside him. Continous provocation and injustice leads to eventual resistance. Those who reject peaceful resolution of issues make violent redress unavoidable. For your records, we are not and have not been violent at any time in our history as a people. When we are dissatisfied, we culturally and civilly will carry peace plants to demonstrate our protest, as was the case in 2016 and 2017. Instead of listening to our grievances, the LRC system declared war on us on the 30th November 2017. The army was let out to unleash arson and genocide with war weapons and helicopter gunships on us! Mr Biya’s declaration of war was well directed and it is being executed as we speak. In October 2020 after the Kumba Massacres, we heard his Minister of Territorial Administration, Mr Paul Atanga Nji say it clearly that “the government has monopoly of violence” and they have remained consistently violent despite worldwide calls for ceasefire and a Mediated Dialogue. LRC Military have commit numerous massacres; Ngarbuh, Muyuka, Ekona, Pinyin, Mautu, Ekondo-titi and Mbonge of recent, to mention but a few.
We are a peace loving people and are barely acting in Self Defense against an occupier committing genocide on our territory. The SCNC is still active. It has existed and expressed an opinion which was the wisdom of its time. Their mantra of “the force of argument; Not the argument of force” has always been met by violence and killings!!! The record of abuses on our people speaks for themselves. Evidently LRC’s mission was to exterminate the Ambazonians and claim their territory. The day Mr Biya declares a Ceasefire; he would have decided to stop this genocidal campaign in Ambazonia. If he orders his army to stop the war, the war will end!! However, if he continues, our people shall defend ourselves and our territory to the last man standing …this is as sure as “day following night”!!!
Emergence: What do you think is the role of France in this crisis since she is being accused of supporting the regime in Yaoundé in this war.
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: Testimonies of French involvement in the Rwandan Genocide abound and more are still being revealed. These have forced France to open her archives to the public. Let’s wait and see. In time, the evil of the country that is abode to the Notre Dame Cathedral will be revealed. A few days back, a Chinese official indicted France for its role in Genocides across the globe. Review the history of all French colonies and their current relationship. It is all marked with regrets, grief and melancholy. We know France and Britain were active in the misfortune that befell our people in 1961. Are they accomplices to the genocide and ethnic cleansing being meted on us today? Time will tell! There are undoubtedly some invisible hands behind our plight. An April 2020 Oxford University Faculty of Law Research paper, indicts France, Britain, China, Canada, the World Bank and IMF as direct accomplices to this genocide for economic reasons. French colonised nations seem to be amongst the most backward and dependent in Africa. Ambazonia shall have diplomatic relations with France based on mutual regard, like with all other nations guided by respect for each other’s dignity and requisite international norms! Ambazonia shall not do vendetta!!!
Emergence: It is known that the Cardinal was very involved in the resolution of the crisis in NW/SW Regions. What memories do you have of him?
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: Cardinal Christian Tumi is a brother who served the Catholic Church and his Community with total devotion and Commitment. Like him, many of our people are serving the same Church in various capacities all over the world; go to Tchad, Nigeria, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, France, USA, Rome itself and you will be amazed at the dedication and sacrifices of these men and women of God. Yet his demise sent shock waves across the world because of the ignominy and humiliation with which his mortal remains was treated. This is similar to what happened to the remains of another brother, Hon Mbah Ndam who was Member of LRC Parliament and Vice President of the CEMAC Parliament!! If these high-profile brothers are treated in this cavalier fashion, what fate is reserved for the rest of our people? The measure of a country is also seen in how the life and remains of its citizens are handled. We have not forgotten the shabby treatment they gave our forefathers like Augustine Ngom Jua, Pa Nanga, Dr EML Endeley, Hon Fonka Shang, Luke Ananga and even S T Muna and Dr J N Foncha posthumously!!! The LRC system has consistently exposed her pettiness to the weak, poor and dying. Look at the pitiful sight of Prof Gervais Mendo Ze in hospital. How the mighty fall and are forgotten! Cardinal Tumi was and is a noble Ambazonian, Spiritually sound, well cultured, learned, and successful and an erudite priest who died in simplicity. He spent most of his final years attempting, to the best of his will and conscience, to help bring an end to this crisis. He served people, some of whom are comparable to the Chief Priests in the Passion of Christ Jesus!! We love him but God loves him most and needs him now. May his soul rest in peace. Ambazonians and people of the world miss him. Maybe his role in this would have been more evident. We wish he lived long enough to see the end of this crisis! Like Christ, he died on “Good” Friday. What message does this tell us? We believe that he is now with God our Father. Adieu Cardinal Tumi.
Emergence: Any last words? :
President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe: All conflicts end where there were supposed to begin – on the Dialogue Table. It will be the same with this one. It is rather unfortunate that immediately we were brought from Abuja with all of us still bleeding in our arms from handcuff wounds, we called for dialogue and an immediate end to the war Cameroun had declared, and nobody listened. During our unenviable, sometimes nocturnal, encounters with the investigators and interrogators since the infamous SED, we have maintained our stance for a dialogue as the only way out of this impasse!!! Mr Biya has the power to stop this baseless, senseless Genocidal war. There is no military victory in sight for LRC. We are divinely bound to be neighbours. There is no need to continue to nurture bitterness, the memory of which shall condition our relationship tomorrow.
To the International Community, the Responsibility to Protect and the Never Again promise should not only be lip service. We need action now to avoid the worst. As a first step to resolve the conflict based on its root causes, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should Mandate an Independent International Fact Finding Mission to the Southern Cameroons as a matter of urgency. The world should rise against LRC as it did when Iraq invaded Kuwait!!!
To my fellow people of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia, where ever they are; in the bushes in the homeland, in refugee camps, IDP/EDP camps, or diaspora, our condolences go to all those who have lost loved ones. We encourage everyone to be strong, remain determined, courageous and steadfast. Our freedom and the independence of our homeland is priceless. The road may be dreary but the end is in sight. For the sake of future generations, we rose up in 2016 and made our stand. There is no turning back now. We must defend our emancipation with determination, commitment and courage. With God being our helper, we will emerge victorious and join the community of prosperous nations. Amen.