Recently, I watched a documentary on Sierra Leone post- Ebola recovery, the short film centered on thieves pillaging through the graves of the dead stealing valuables such as ornaments, watches, gold, etc. Call what these miscreants did an abomination, sacrilege but its only in Africa where even in death you don’t rest in peace.
Unlike the case of Sierra Leone in Cameroon, you can be alive but “dead”. Because I think as a people we have been dead for 35 years. A number of reasons account for this, we have a citizenry that is completely oblivious to the socio-politico economic situation of the country. Alive and dead, because dead people can’t talk. In Cameroon no matter what happens, we “let sleeping dogs lie », never questioning or speaking up against the government. Maybe so, because there has never been a peaceful demonstration in Cameroon without the military being called to clamp down on protesters.
Fortuitously recently Cameroon has been making headlines for so many reasons. Since the current crisis started last year with a strike by lawyers demanding the application of “Common law” Anglo-Saxon judicial system and the use of English in courts. It was followed by a teachers’ strike over the same language issue. Ever since demonstrations by mainly young people have turned increasingly political and violent with so many young people imprisoned and deaths recorded.
Paul Biya, who has ruled the country since 1982, is not ready to make any concessions.
I am glad the once passive country known only for sports, corruption, and its long serving authoritarian ruler is beginning to receive the spotlight on some activism and protests. Unfortunately a lot of evil has been perpetuated by the draconian regime, yet to me these activism and protests ere dead finding their voices .
But then Paul Biya in a typical draconian fashion handled the issue heavy handed. He put a muzzle on the press ,arrested and killed civilians, cut internet access to the two English-speaking regions of the country, with dire results for the local economy. Heavy police brutality against demonstrators, which only stoked anger. But this instead amplified the voices of the people to speak against a government that has lost touch with reality .
Thus far there is hope in the new generation of young people who have risen to challenge the status quo. Like social media impelled the Arab Spring, so was the Coffin revolution in Southern Cameroon (English Speaking Cameroon). To us, this coffin signifies resurrection of the once docile and inactive youth, and the death of old manipulative repressive policy of governance.
The once submissive young people seems ready to die in what they believe and stand for : justice for those incarcerated and total restoration of the rights and dignity of Southern Cameroons. There is an increase discussion on topics that typically was of no interest to them. An upsurge within young people from the minority forging together in a stronger bond and demanding a revisits of the country’s political and historical events that has not benefitted a portion of the people.
Yes, they call it an end to the unholy matrimony that has bore nothing but pain, frustration ,disillusionment and hardship on them. With those in the diaspora working endlessly in making their once passive voices heard through numerous protest around the world all of this with one mission, to speak against marginalization of Southern Cameroons and calling for total political reforms .
The ethno-political composition of Cameroon is complex and the question of minority status, especially in terms of the non-dominance of particular groups, is complicated by the way in which political elites have exploited ethnic, regional or religious differences for political ends.
As an individual, I am content at the fact that even if we never get our demands like federation or much anticipated independence, yet as young people we have defiled the status quo, question the unquestionable and diverted from the old generation of hand-clapping and bootlicking. Young people now understand they are part of the governance structure and have the duty to demand for good governance.
More so, the attention of the draconian government of Cameroon has been drawn toward this regions and the international community is aware of the plights of Southern Cameroonians. There is optimism in the horizon and surely these dry bones Shall live Again, because a united minority is stronger than a divided majority.
We are aware of the fact that the road in achieving this, is /could be another battle zone .Yet we are winning. « We », because when there is a wounded warrior there is also a wounded family. Because the death are not the only casualties of war. So those of us who can still use our resources, meaning our voices, pen, money and talents should never stop talking because the dead have found their voices.