Southern Cameroons: Women Protest Military Brutality, Reject Governor’s Order to Sing Cameroon Anthem
Southern Cameroonians across the board have continued to express shock and consternation following the shooting to death of some 6 school children at the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy on Saturday, October 24 by yet to be identified gunmen. Condemnations are still flowing in from all over the world, with shouting calls for an internationally-backed commission of inquiry to investigate the matter, fish out the culprits and bring them to face the law.
On Tuesday, October 27, thousands of women took to the streets in Bamenda, one of the main cities in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons to wail and mourn victims of the Kumba massacre as well as the loss of loved ones as a result of the ongoing armed conflict, now mostly classified as a genocide. They marched through the main streets of the city in sackcloth, their numbers increasing as they progressed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMPHXK4Sr5U (Bamenda women protesting through the streets of the city)
In the end, the women converged at the esplanade of the Governor's Office Up-Station to pour out their anger against the continuous killings, especially of women and children saying the military should put down their guns. They sang funeral songs all the time and sobbed each time military offered to say a word. They displayed peace plants and chanted songs of freedom as the Governor emerged from his office.
The shock and disbelief on the faces of the Governor, his entourage and the military men who surrounded the women was visible when they turned down Mr. Lele l'Afrique's order to sing the Cameroon national anthem. The women chorused in broken English that, "We no gree oooh, we no go sing", adding “na we own anthem dis,” referring to the funeral dirge they were chanting.
(Bamenda women reject Governor's order to sing Cameroon national anthem)
In yet another move to show their total disconnection with Cameroon government structures, the aggrieved women snubbed an offer from the ‘City Mayor’ (He is not recognized by the people because 98% of the population boycotted the poll that ushered him in on February 9, 2020, calling it a colonial election), Mr. Paul Achobang, to lead them in Prayer. They made clear they were just “Bamenda women worried and angry at the rampant killing of women, children and vulnerable civilians in our city, we are neither a political party nor an NGO”.
The women called on Mr. Lele l’Afrique to instruct the military to stop harassment on the population. They faulted and accused the military of multifarious acts such as the wanton extrajudicial killing of civilians, among them children, women, and vulnerable old people, breaking into homes and looting, rape, and outright extortion.
“We the mothers are calling on the authorities to stop the war on our people. We do not want to keep burying our children. Both Amba (a reference to pro-independence armed groups) and the military are our children,” one of the mourners told Timescape Magazine.
In response, the Governor joined the women to call for the putting down of guns, though he insisted that all pro-independence armed fighters must come out of the bushes and drop their weapons. To him, the military is on self-defence and nothing more. He called on the women to be peace ambassadors, starting from their homes.
The Kumba massacre comes on the heels of others like Valentine’s day murder of 23 people, including children and a pregnant woman in Ngarbuh, the slaughter and burning of 30 young men in Bali, the killing of 13 people in Babanki, the brutal assassination of 28 young men in Pinyin, the shooting to death of 7 people in Bangem and numerous other incidents all in Southern Cameroons.
Pandemonium in Victoria
There was fear and panic in the seaside resort of Victoria (also known as Limbe), still in Southern Cameroons, after unknown gunmen opened fire in the campus of Government Technical High School (GTHS), Ombe wounding two students slightly. News of the incident left students and pupils in all other schools in the city running helter-skelter home to safety.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W_b6Ksqsrw (General pandemonium in the city of Victoria)
Eyewitness accounts in Victoria indicate that at the end of the day, it was more of fear and panic than real trouble as no one ended up with life-threatening injuries. But as students struggled to run out of the campus, jumping over the fence with sharp edges, they exposed themselves to risks of injury. In town, people boarded commercial motorbikes and taxis to get home, while students who could not get to the main roads could be seen running through the bushes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig2L7OzHDuY (Survival of the fittest at GTHS Ombe)
By late evening, calm had returned to the city, though a good section of the population preferred to stay indoors. No one or group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_gj-2F3Oa0 (School children using the bushes to run home)
Enter the Global Campaign for Peace and Justice in Cameroon
The Global Campaign for Peace and Justice in Cameroon has again urged all sides involved in the genocidal war in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons to halt hostilities and consider moving to the negotiation table. All 33 local and international rights and advocacy groups that make up the Campaign signed a call to action in which it says the attack in Kumba on Saturday, October 24 was not the first of its kind in the region.
It wrote: “We urge the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to obtain immediately from the warring parties, notably the Cameroonian government and separatist groups, signed or public declarations committing to a ceasefire and inclusive peace negotiations conducted by a credible third party”.
The Global Campaign for Peace and Justice in Cameroon also commended the efforts by all bodies to see that the four-year armed conflict knows a quick end.
“We jointly plead with all Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon to take action Now for a ceasefire and peace negotiations to #EndAnglophoneCrisis”.
The Global Campaign for Peace and Justice in Cameroon is an informal group of academics, activists, journalists, lawyers, students, and other concerned citizens around the world who believe in the urgent need for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in the Cameroons.