The affliction of even more suffering on the people of Southern Cameroons by the Biya regime.

By Gerald Atem Asong
Michigan, U.S.A

Anti-government demonstrators block a road in Bamenda, Cameroon, which has been a protest hub over marginalisation complaints in the largely Francophone country. (Reuters)

Although I have been involved in speaking out and speaking up on social media against the horrendous crimes committed by the Biya regime since the strike action organized by the lawyers and teacher s started; there are no signs of these crimes abating anytime soon. This is causing untold sufferings in the lives of many innocent citizens. I believe I need to join the voices of others forcefully, and fiercely in calling out the brutal government led by this barbaric, autocrat ruler called Biya. It is time to join the others to make my voice heard as a Southern Cameroonian.

It should be recalled that there was a strike action that started in October 2016 in the Southern

Cameroons region led by the teachers and lawyers to express their disgust in the way the inhumane government of Biya has been treating them. These are professionals with qualifications to execute their duties to the public but they have been held back for so many years – more because of the policies enacted by the Biya regime to prevent these people from exercising their duties to the public in a way they are comfortable with. The strike as you may know escalated to something else. It spread like wildfire and became a national and an international outcry especially from the Southern Cameroonians at home and abroad. We have been doing our part (Southern Cameroonians) in one way or the other to draw the attention of a government that sees us as “slaves.” We are all aware of the history of French and English Cameroons; the coming together of two separate nations after the 1961 plebiscite. The agreement on the table was for these two nations to become one but at the same time still practicing its culture, values, language and what have you. But the events that took place after the “rigged” plebiscite in Foumban in 1961 piled up the grievances of the Southern Cameroonians over the years. We have been in this union for over 50 years and all we know is a scheme by the then president Adhijo and the

present president Paul Biya to wipe out or eradicate our culture, language, values from the map. After

the first world war in 1914, Kamerun (under the Germans) separated and became two separate colonies

after the Germans were defeated in the first world war; Southern Cameroons became a British colony

while French Cameroon became a French colony. After independence both colonies had a different

style and culture and the agreement on the table when both countries decided to come back together

was that, each country will maintain its cultures and values. This hasn’t been the case since we entered

into this “marriage” as so many people refer to it. it has been molestation after molestation, it has been

an onslaught to wipe out or better still carry out a “genocide” of our culture and values. A marriage of

no equality, a marriage that has always hung on a thread from day one.

The fact that majority of Southern Cameroonians agree that this marriage hasn’t been working is

evident in the way Southern Cameroonians have been treated over the past 50 years. Why am I going

down memory lane? Why am I bringing history to the present conflict ravaging our region? (Southern

Cameroons) the answer is simple; the strike action was a ticking time bomb, it was a spark to grievances

that majority of Southern Cameroonians couldn’t stomach any more. The maltreatment, the

marginalization, the exclusion, the crack down on anything Southern Cameroonians held so dear to

them led to the strike action which has led to untold sufferings in the lives of many. The most hurting

thing in this struggle to regain our culture and values is that, the government of this strongman Biya is

not willing to engage in our dialogue of any sort. This is demoralizing for a government that should

care about its people. But the government has chosen the wrong side of history to neglect and pay a

blind eye to what has become a “war zone.” Southern Cameroons has turned into a war zone; the heavy

militarization of the region is a testament. Since the inception of the strike action, many people have

been raped, killed, tortured, incarcerated, jailed without trial, silenced, gone on exile for speaking up

and speaking out as I am doing right now. This is clear that the government of this wicked and greedy

man Biya is not ready at all for change. It is safe to say that, the Biya regime is defiant and ready for

war. They are using force each day to solve a problem that is genuine, a problem that is now

international, a problem I believe is bigger than what they think is. Schools have not opened their doors

since the strike started, lawyers haven’t effectively resumed work. Life in the Southern Cameroons

isn’t business as usual. There is burning down of schools, kidnapping and the region is not safe for

anyone. As of now, there is no official documentation of those carrying out the atrocities in our region.

People want to return to life as normal but I believe they are willing to do so only if the government

decides to heed to our demands. While some section of our people want outright independence, some

are for a federated state as it used to be when we entered into this marriage that hasn’t worked in the

first place. History is watching and someday the government of this despot, oligarch Biya will be held

accountable for crimes against humanity. Businesses have been shut down, markets burned down,

people are suffering. Majority of our people back home are relying on some of us abroad for daily bread

and survival; although this has always been the case for our people to rely on the diaspora for sustenance,

this reliance on some of us overseas has reached pitch high. The burden on us “bushfallers” has

quadrupled. We as a people are perturbed, we are hurting, we are in tears because the pain is unbearable.

We are suffering but the perpetrator of violence (Biya regime) is making this hardship even harder for

us. The internet blackout during the crisis, the arresting of our leaders and trying them for obeying their

civil duties of protesting against evil poured down on us is heinous. Many people have lost their jobs,

many people have lost their businesses, many people are living out of Cameroon a nd they don’t know

when they will return just because they choose to do the right thing by calling out a government that i s

so detached from its people. Biya heads a government that has no mercy, a government that careless

about its people, a government as evil as the word itself. We need to continue to fight for our freedom,

like they say “freedom isn’t free” many have already sacrificed a lot in this struggle, many are still

sacrificing a lot in this struggle, we need more people to join the band wagon. We must make our voices

heard, we must reclaim our values and culture from this snatching government . The time is now,

whatever we all can do to keep this struggle alive, now is the time. we can contri bute in one way or the

other to make this fight a dream come true. Remember, our parents, grandparents and great-

grandparents have always wanted a moment like this wherein we could agitate for our rights in this

union or better still ask to end it. The choice is ours, we have to decide if we want to press forward and

be written on the right side of history or let it go and continue to suffer under a government that was

and is so determined to ethnic cleanse us if they have the mean to do so.

My respect to all those who have not put self over this struggle, my respect to those who have selflessly

being involved in this struggle, my respect to all southern Cameroonians who continue to keep the faith

and hold their spirits up high, praying and waiting for that day when home will be home again.

 

Gerald Atem Asong is A political/Business Analyst
based in Michigan -USA.

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