In his novel No Longer At Ease (1960), the great Chinua Achebe painted the main character Obi Okonkwo as an upright and principled man who was never swayed by prevailing norms and practices. To be sure, when he was sent to London by his village to go and study Law so he would come back and handle their land cases, he chose instead to follow his heart and read English.
At a reception by his village to welcome him from England he attended the event wearing a simple shirt when he knew the expectations were for him to wear the best suit in town. He also addressed them in the ‘is’ and ‘was’ type of English when he knew the expectation was for him to bamboozle them with the ‘English that fills the mouth’-the kind of Bate Bessong English.
Though he was sponsored by his village to study in England, he refused to use his position in the civil service to influence the recruitment of members of his town or ethnic group into the service, regarding such as nepotism. Above all he married the woman he loved – an ‘osu’ (a slave) even though he knew such was an abomination by his people. A man with such a profile as Obi Okonkwo was the least you would expect to take bribe. Yet he did, overwhelmed by systemic pressures to do so and was caught the first time he tried it!
Hon. Joseph Wirba carries with him Obi Okonkwo’s shadow. However, unlike Obi Okonkwo, he rejected bribes from the CPDM crime syndicate of President Biya and made known the sufferings of Southern Cameroonians in La Republique du Cameroun to the world. This is the leader that Anglophone Cameroon has been longing for! This is a true descendant of the Warriors of Nso.
We of the Cameroon Concord News Group are endorsing Hon. Joseph Wirba as the leader of Southern Cameroons and call upon our striking lawyers and teachers including the Anglophone population to rally behind him. The Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo government has been hesitant in implementing the demands tabled by Anglophone lawyers and teachers. The regime has blatantly refused to launch an investigation into the killings and rapes that were carried out by French speaking troops and police officers in Kumba, Kumbo, Buea and Bamenda amid pressure from the media, civil society groups and some international human rights organization.
Then out of the blues came what looked like a fight-back by what we called a “CPDM gang”: Philemon Yang and Paul Atanga Nji. Both had their versions of events justifying that there is no such thing as Anglophone Problem and each version had holes that ought to be seriously interrogated. What seemed fairly established is that money entered their hands and they forgot what we of British Southern Cameroons refer to as integrity.
Dorothy Njuema, Simon Achidi Achu, Chief V.E.Mukete and John Ebong Ngolle have been silent. However, Anglophone history teaches us that “once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.” They killed our children in Mamfe and Besongabang under the watchful eyes of the late Peter Agbor Tabi and Minister Mengot. They have killed several times in Kumbo, Wum, Bamenda and Ndop under the direct supervision of Simon Achidi Achu, Fon Angwafor of Mankon and the late Francis Nkwain. They have murdered consistently in Kumba, Muyuka, Limbe and Buea pretending to protect South West institutions and leaders such as Chief V.E.Mukete and the late Chief Endeley. The recent killings and rapes in Kumba, Buea, Bamenda and Kumbo was an enemy action.
Biya and many Francophone political elites pretend to be deaf, dumb and blind at the revelations of the criminal wrong doings of the army and police forces against Southern Cameroonians. The reason is simple, the Francophone political elites are aware that the “filthy rich” Anglophones such as the Munas, the Halle Nicos, the Tabetandos and the Sama Francis are the powerful and the well-connected in West Cameroon. The Francophone pattern of a fight-back will always be to use the law enforcement agencies to utterly discredit and humiliate Anglophone leaders and by so doing raise questions about the integrity of the Anglophone crusade.
Hon. Joseph Wirba has unmasked the dark forces that are holding Anglophones hostage now is for the lawyers and teachers to join forces with him and neutralized this evil. Nothing will ever come out of this new Anglophone nationalism if we continue to leave it as “lawyers and teachers.” In fact the Francophone tactic is ensuring that lawyers are dealt with separately from the teachers since both groups do not have a centre command system. This policy is design to deceive the international community that Anglophones are simply asking for some slight structural adjustments in the day-to-day running of state affairs.
We are supporting Hon. Joseph Wirba to take command mindful of the fact that this is going to be a very long and difficult battle. Bribery allegations against prominent Anglophone leaders will come up – which will be admittedly serious. However, it will appear to be a mere subplot in a complex political story whose storyline will be unfolding for a long period of time. Having lawyers and teachers holding numerous rounds of talks with representatives of the Biya regime now is less urgent than getting a leader who will unmask and neutralize the dark forces against our Anglophone struggle. There is also a need to have a strong team comprising of lawyers, teachers and most important the Anglophone Diaspora to unearth the Francophone dynamics that often turn otherwise good and principled people into compromised individuals.
There are several instances in our daily life in which the crimes of an individual are tactically overlooked in order not to allow such to get in the way of accomplishing a higher objective. For example, this is not the time to focus on whether Hon. Joseph Wirba is SDF or CPDM. Also, despite being a huge disappointment to Anglophones, we still need the support of the older generation in this fight for a Southern Cameroons state. But for now, we all have to rally behind Hon. Joseph Wirba who is presently our only eye so to say in this scheme of things.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai