Southern Cameroons Crisis: The Monarch heads to Switzerland while the country spirals out of control
Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, popularly known as the “Monarch” is in Geneva, Switzerland, where he is expected to receive treatment for his heart and prostrate problems. The 85-year-old monarch, who has presided over his country’s destiny for almost 36 years, has been dealing with failing health for more than ten years and his country of choice when it comes to treatment is Switzerland, where it is alleged that he has a horde of young girls who attend to him when he is there on treatment.
The Yaounde Nsimalen International Airport was blocked yesterday for more than five hours just for Mr. Biya and his huge entourage to travel abroad where they are supposed to spend millions of the tax-payer’s money at the Intercontinental hotel which is Mr. Biya’s hotel of choice. A source close to the hotel has hinted that once Mr. Biya and his bunch of kleptokrats are planning a trip to Switzerland, an ATM is set up for them, given their lavish lifestyle and huge appetite for exotic food and goods.
According to a Cameroon Concord News Group source at the Unity Palace, Mr. Biya has a Ghanaian doctor in Geneva who helps Mr. Biya to screen all the girls who attend to him when he is in Switzerland. Our source, which elected anonymity, said that Mr. Biya has a special preference for Ghanaian girls and this has been facilitated by the Switzerland-based Ghanaian doctor whose address and phone number we have elected to withhold for security reasons.
Mr. Biya has been using his country’s treasury for more than three decades as his personal piggy bank to pay for his lavish trips abroad. According to a recent report published on Mr. Biya’s trips abroad, it is alleged that he has spent more USD 64 million ever since he came to power. Costs related to his wife’s expenses are yet to be determined, but it is alleged that Mrs. Biya’s flaming red hair is costing the country a pretty penny. For dresses and shoes, they are costing the tax-payer an arm and a leg.
While Mr. Biya is away in Switzerland basking in other people’s wealth and development, his country is gradually falling apart. The killings in Southern Cameroons are on the rise. Cameroon, a country once touted as an oasis of peace, has finally been caught up in the throes of a huge political and economic crises that are ripping the country apart.
The country’s English-speaking minority has engaged the government in a fierce battle for its independence. An issue that started as a protest by teachers and lawyers has quickly developed into a bloody battle that has already resulted in the death of some 2,000 civilians and 1,000 army soldiers, many of whom have been buried alive in the jungles of Manyu and Indian Divisions. The government, for its part, has kept on selling lies to the families of the dead, stressing that they have simply deserted the military.
The government thought using the military brutality it used in the 1950s and 1960s to quell a rebellion in the country’s French-speaking part of the country shortly after independence, would intimidate Southern Cameroonians into silence. It has, so far, burned down more than a hundred villages in Southern Cameroons, leaving thousands homeless and internally displaced, while hundreds of thousands have fled to Nigeria as refugees.
But this tactic is not working and it is not dampening the determination of the fierce Southern Cameroonian fighters. The strategy has fallen flat on its face. The English-speaking minority is united for a purpose. All attempts by the government and its agents to divide the people have failed woefully. Even money and food have not produced the miracle the government was expecting.
The government that is mostly made up of old and sick people is totally frozen in time. It has failed to figure out that changing times require different strategies. For the government, it only understands one language – an iron fist. But it is hard for old and sick people to deliver any real punches that will destabilize a well-oiled rebellion that is coordinated from abroad. An old person cannot have the right muscles to fight a war that will surely last for years.
The government has failed to understand that the dynamics are totally different. With the advent of social media, its atrocities will be clearly exposed. Southern Cameroonian fighters and the Diaspora are making the most of these technologies of freedom to fragilize a government that has lost its credibility.
But it is the financial role of the Diaspora that is hurting the government’s determination. The Southern Cameroonian Diaspora is large and rich. The Diaspora’s huge war chest is causing the government real nightmares. With some 4 million Southern Cameroonians living abroad, it will be hard for the government to easily wrap up this issue.
The huge fund-raising efforts out there are delivering incredible amounts of money. Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, London – England, Washington, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta have become money manufacturing sites for Southern Cameroonians who have vowed to destabilize Cameroon. The government stands a better chance negotiating than fighting enemies it is not seeing. The Southern Cameroons rebellion is an idea and not a person.
The very first victims of the raging conflict are the innocent civilians, but the Chiefs, Fons and so-called elites have also been made to lose their voices and influence. They have been declared non-grata in their constituencies, as they have been considered as government agents by the people of Southern Cameroons. The wave of kidnappings and drive-by shootings have clearly informed the government-created elite to shut up or else the fighters will come after them and their families.
Many of these elites have clearly been exiled from Southern Cameroons and Yaounde has become home to most of them while a few like Chief Etchu of Bachou Akagbe have simply fled to the United States. Chief Tabetando who doubles as a senator has been clearly advised to stay away from his native Bachou Ntai as there is a price on his head. Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle too is not having a good night’s sleep. He has received clear instructions. He is no longer a native of his village. Woe betides him if he fails to respect this clear warning.
Southern Cameroonians want to walk away from a fake union brought about by Foncha and Muna considered by Southern Cameroonians as traitors. They are sick and tired of being second-class citizens in a union they freely joined. After 56 years of marginalization, they think it is time to walk away. They have had enough and since the government had criminalized any discussion on federalism, they think a clear break from East Cameroon will bring them more peace and prosperity.
Southern Cameroonians will surely not be listening to any other stories from those who have messed up their lives for more than five decades. They have a rich sub-soil and they believe that they can build their own country.
They have been silenced for too long because of their natural resources. The South West region, in particular, is a receptacle of God’s blessings for the country, is very underdeveloped. The country’s oilfields are located in Ndian Division and there are huge gold deposits in Mbonge. Manyu Division has a huge expanse of forest that is the envy of the world and it is alleged that this division, noted for its learned minds, is sitting on huge oil deposits. There was some exploratory work in the region before the conflict broke out. This will surely continue when the guns stop spreading death and destruction.
The region’s waters are also home to large fish stocks. Its forest is home to unimaginable fauna and flora and it is not in error that the world also knows the country because of the Korup National Park which straddles Manyu and Indian Divisions. The South West region is also known for its fertile volcanic soil and this explains why agriculture is one of the many activities that have been yielding huge foreign earnings to the country. Many of the country’s neighbors have their food supply from the south west region.
Unfortunately, this region is one of the poorest in the country. Its people are still living in abject poverty and what passes for medical, school and road infrastructure clearly belongs to another epoch. The South West deserves better, but years of marginalization have left the region in dehumanizing poverty.
While the country has been raking in millions of dollars from the region’s oil, residents of the region have been tied up in degrading poverty. The country’s lone refinery (SONARA) is located in Southern Cameroon, precisely in the Southwest port city of Limbe formerly known as Victoria, but the natives of the region have been reduced to sorry spectators of events in their own region.
The Southern Cameroons crisis is also born out of this injustice. More than 90% of the refinery staff are Francophones and to add insults to injury, staff of the refinery have their own neighborhoods that are well designed and very clean. Besides, petroleum products are more expensive in the South West region than in any other region of the country.
This economic apartheid that has been around since 1977 when oil was discovered in Ndian Division is one of the many reasons why Southern Cameroonians hold that a clear break with East Cameroon will be the ideal solution and they are willing to sacrifice their lives so that future generations will not have to deal with the same issues.
They want to walk away from this ‘political marriage’ that has brought them more pain than gain. They know it will take time to achieve such an outcome. Southern Cameroonians back home, now known as Ground Zero, hold that it is better to die trying than to sit and watch other people enjoy their God-given wealth.
If they succeed to walk away, then Cameroon will be losing about 60% of its wealth. Southern Cameroons is blessed with enormous wealth and the Yaounde government holds that it is by terrorizing the people that it will succeed to keep them in the dark of what is happening to their resources.
For almost 50 years, the Rio Del Rey estuary in the South West region has been the source of more than 90% and at times 100% of all the country’s hydrocarbons, specifically oil. Since 2014, Cameroon has exported more than US$5.88 billion worth of products, of which more than US$2.65 billion, about CFAF 1,650 billion, has been from crude oil alone. This is a significant amount of money and the Yaounde government cannot afford to lose such revenues.
The government is scared, especially as the possibility of a secession is there. All its efforts to lay the matter to rest have been futile. Its divide-and-rule strategy has simply fallen apart as North westerners and South westerners clearly understand that they are united for a purpose that will bring them happiness and prosperity. Not even the government’s military violence has succeeded to take the wind out of the fighters’ sail. The more the government kills, the more determined the fighters become.
The government had underestimated the will of the people of Southern Cameroons to right the wrongs of the past. For many of them, their fate is worse than death and they have very little time to be around this planet. They want to establish their own country and even ensure that future generations do not deal with such time-consuming and energy-sapping challenges.
But it is not only at home that the fighting is taking place. Southern Cameroonians abroad are using all the means available to them to draw attention to the genocide that is unfolding in their country. The United Nations and influential countries such as Canada and the United States are all aware of the mass murder that is taking place in the former West Cameroon.
Last week, Southern Cameroonians in Canada called for the Cameroon government, the United Nations, Canada and the world to investigate so as to help find solutions to the ongoing crisis in Cameroon. The call was made during a joint protest organized by the Southern Cameroons Relief Organization (SCRO) for Southern Cameroonians in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal which took place on August 10, 2018.
The protest began at the Cameroon High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, with protesters singing both patriotic and sorrowful songs with placards in their hands carrying messages like, “enough is enough, say no to dictatorship”, “stop genocide in Southern Cameroons”, “stop raping our women” and many more.
A casket was also brought out as part of the protest materials. Protesters could be seen wailing over the coffin for those who have been killed, raped and jailed unfairly in Cameroon. While the protest continued in front of the Cameroon High Commission, with no official stepping out to talk to the protesters, the protesters brought down the Cameroon flag that was hoisted.
This act caused the officials to come out of the office, with the High Commissioner to Canada, Solomon Azoh-Mbi, taking the lead to frown at the act. There was nothing he could do as protesters kept singing at the top of their voices “no violence”. He walked away from the scene and came out for the second time to witness the Cameroon flag being burnt and the Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) flag being hoisted.
Feeling they had passed on their message – though the officials made no statement – the protesters left the premises heading for the United Nations (UN) representative’s office. While there, a petition was handed to the National Development Director, James D. Lee, who in turn called on the protesters to keep asking for what is right while waiting for a response from the UN. He promised to present their demands to the United Nations. The protest continued to the streets and ended at the Parliament Hill.
Washington, New York and London have all had their fair share of the protests that have clearly given the government of Cameroon a very bad name. Today, the country’s government is being seen as a bloody government that is killing its own people. This has been made worse by the numerous videos that have been published on social media wherein Cameroon soldiers are killing women and children in the country’s northern region. The Yaounde government has come up with a new policy known in French as “rien ne bouge”, meaning nothing comes out alive. And they have been slaughtering Cameroonians in the thousands.
In a video that was released last week, the country’s army soldiers could be heard celebrating after they had burned down the homes of their fellow citizens and killing some 20 young men by shooting them point blank. Amnesty International and other human rights groups are working very hard on these videos and they have been doing a great job at exposing a government that is clearly predicated on corruption and intimidation.
Cameroon is clearly imploding, both economically and physically. All the country’s economic indicators are trending very low and the Southern Cameroons crisis clearly points to the fact that the country is not united and indivisible. But it is the killings in the north that will trigger a new wave of violence once the “Monarch” leaves the political scene. Northerners are already plotting their revenge. They have never been happy with the mass killing of their people after the April 6, 1984, coup d’état. But the recent videos of their people being eliminated by Beti militia and government troops tells them that they have to fight back. And their response might come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
The world must step in to ensure the country is not brought down by these multiple crises that are clearly conniving to ruin the development efforts of the last 50 years. Southern Cameroonians are as bitter as northerners and the people in the Eastern region have also started raising their fingers against a regime that has also robbed them of their resources. Cameroon is in for tough times. The pain and anger are immense. If the world does not step in, Cameroon will implode and it will bring down the entire sub-region with it.
By Kingsley Betek