A speech delivered by Tegha King on the centennial of Mandela July 18, 2018, under the auspices of H.E John Jerry Rawlings.
Cameroon & Ambazonia: A Test of Africa’s Democracy
Your Excellency, President J.J Rawlings,
Members of the media,
All protocols observed,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for taking some time off your busy schedule to be here this afternoon and celebrate with us, the centennial of Nelson Mandela. When we look at the great progress in freedom and democracy that has been made in South Africa and the globe at large, we cannot but applaud the resilience of one who was once a prisoner; his ingenuity as a statesman, and his wisdom as a global icon-the man called Nelson Mandela. His grit changed the world. This hero and patriarch of Africa might probably be the most celebrated human who lived in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries on planet Earth. The role he played as a civil activist, prisoner, statesman, and global leader indubitably highlights the importance of freedom in living our earthly lives.
There were illustrious inventors, glitterati and celebrities; revered religious leaders, distinguished politicians, celebrated royals, and great scholars who lived in his era, but none in the world is fêted as is Mandela. Citizens around the globe resonate with this hero much more than they do with any other legend, to the extent that, on July 18, 2009; the United Nations inserted on its calendar and launched in New York a day it called “Nelson Mandela International Day.” Please rise and let’s salute this hero with one minute of shout of victory.
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which was inaugurated in 2010 by then U.S. President Barack Obama to support an emerging generation of African leaders, was also renamed “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders” on July 28, 2014, to honor this superhero. I don’t think I am exaggerating that, Nelson Mandela’s exemplary model political life is the standard, by which Africa’s democracy ought to be measured. If Our African leaders don’t learn from the model course of Mandela, I’ll wonder what they will leave behind as legacies.
Human beings seem to love the part freedom plays in our lives even more than we love life itself. It is probably the reason why some would choose to die for freedom. The citizens of the world are enamored of Nelson Mandela because he fought for a noble cause. He is honored everywhere not only because he fought an unimaginable Goliath but because of the strategy he used to defeat it. Anyone who lives only for himself dies and will be buried without honor, but when we stand for our family all our life, we will be remembered as filial heroes or heroines. If we do same for our nation we will be patriots.
Like me, you may say that Nelson Mandela was much more than all of these. He was a model person who practiced the true principles for achieving true greatness in an unjust and cruel world. In a world of justice and peace, greatness may be gained through one’s God-given talents, but—as in one of Mandela’s jokes in which says, “In my country, we go to prison first, and then become president,” it seems that, struggling and suffering is the alternative principle for correcting the world’s injustices. Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” For Mandela to gain his freedom, he had to lose it completely, and in regaining it, he freed millions who were in oppression as well.
It’s said that learning to truly love “myself” is the greatest love of all, but this can be adequately achieved only if one practically lives his or her life for a purpose greater than “me.” No one adequately loves “himself” if he has no cause he can readily die for. The security one acquires, whether from health, wealth, or education, means nothing if the person is not happy, and sustainable happiness cannot be found in living for oneself. One needs a beloved to express love. It’s when we pour out our energy for the sake of others that we truly receive joy. If we don’t have an object or partner of love for whom we can live our lives, can’t possibly be beings of true love. True joy comes only when one has died to the sphere of “me and I” and has been reborn in the realm of “we and us.”
Africa’s democracy is going to be tested like never before in a small country in the Western part of the continent that use to be called Southern Cameroons. As a trust territory of the UN, this nation gained its independence in 1961 and was perched on to the Republic of Cameroon a nation found at the central sphere of Africa. If the UN didn’t want these Southern Cameroons to be unique, they would have simply added their numbers onto the population of Cameroon and made them one people. In bringing them together, a confederation was reached to protect the aspect of their being the minority. Of cause, that was great. May be the intensions were good, but unity is only good in justice and equality especially when patrimony is concerned.
I was told a certain sad story when I was a kid, the story specified that a brother and sister went to the mountain to fetch exotic flowers. This was to make them rich. They both searched for long hours and got two beautiful flowers. “We are rich,” they said to themselves. Unfortunately, because of greed, big brother thought, I am more powerful than this small girl. I will be richer if I kill her here and get her ration of flower and top it on my own. I will say that a while animal attacked us and I ran. And so he killed the sister and buried her by a mango tree. The scripture says “Abel’s blood spoke.” Some say, “Nayongo’s bone sang.” Many years later, a hunter who had had no catch for the day was hungry and saw this pale mango hanging lonely on a mango tree. He would try to fetch it using a stick and suddenly stepped onto one of the bones that had protruded from the ground since the grave wasn’t deep enough.
A beautiful female voice was heard singing a sweet sad song and the lyrics were:
Hunter man, hunter man, don’t smash my bone
Hunter man, hunter man, don’t smash my bone
My brother killed me in the bush and took my flower and go
Oh chin Malinga, Chin Malinga, Chin Chi, Chi, Chi
Oh chin Malinga, Chin Malinga, Chin, Chi, Chi, Chi.
This legend does not continue. I grew up in a small village under the highest mountain in Cameroon called Mount Fako. it is the 31st highest point in Africa out of 75, and this horrible story was told in the children circles every time children were to tell stories. This sad story was repeated over and over until I left the village at 11 and I am sure children in Likoko Membea are still told the legend. Few months ago, my kids asked me to tell them a story and I told them this tale of the hunter man and the singing bone. The ballad has been singing in my mind on a daily basis and I just seemed to love it. But when I had finished telling them this horror, I brooded over what I have done. It was the first time ever I sat to think about the meaning of that story. How could I have told them such a terrible story? I asked myself. What is the lesson in this story, in the first place? In my silent moment, I got the picture of my country vividly explained in that legend.
Two nations merged for prosperity’s sake. One confiscated the rights of the other and subjected it to suffocation with impunity. Believe me; our Francophone brothers are shocked by the reactions of many Anglophones in Cameroon because they had very little understanding of our history and how we have been bruise for many years, “suffering and smiling.” If you take a trip to Cameroon and visit places like Douala and Yaoundé; (these are both francophone cities,) you will be shocked by the vast infrastructural contrast you will see when you cross to the side of the mongo, the river that divides our borders. You will not believe that these are two nations that came together as one with hopes of prospering together. We were wrapped in the April fool of- one and indivisible Cameroon, and in the lie of the most peaceful nation in Africa. Now we know that peace is not necessarily the absences of war.
More than 50% of the nation’s resources are fetched from the English speaking side and yet taxes that should have developed the area don’t seem to exist. A francophone journalist made serious investigation once and showed that there are French companies in Cameroon that don’t pay taxes, and also said, if those taxes are paid at all, they are paid to ghost coffers because the people know nothing about the running of those institutions. There were no traces to show how those institutions or companies help to develop the nation of Cameroon.
Ladies and gentlemen, the remnant of colonialism is practiced in its cruelest form and openly in Cameroon against the Southern Cameroons who have now decided to be called Ambazonians. If colonialism was bad because it was practiced by the white people, it cannot suddenly be good if it is practiced by black people. What happened to Southern Cameroons in 1972 was nothing short of colonialism. The reason why a confederation was necessary to run these two nations was because, in principle, the voice of Southern Cameroons was going to suffer a minority syndrome and this was very obvious considering the numbers. The confederation should have protected their rights and ensure some level of justice. Unfortunately, when oil was found in Southern Cameroons during this sad year of 1972, exactly what our forefather from the English side were trying to prevent was applied on us with impunity, and finally, our identity as Southern Cameroons has been gradually erased in principle and in reality. The flag of the nation was changed from having two stars that represented two people to only one star, and later the name that borne the federation was replaced with the name that the French side had had before the confederation with just one strong man issuing a degree on February 4, 1984.
If you ask the regime what had happened, they will tell you that we had gone pass the era of two peoples in a federation and we are now one people. Well, they should let us be the ones to tell them that. We can only feel one and indivisible if they give us a reason to feel as such. They feel it, they really do because the rip the fruit of the union. But the question is, do we feel It too? Do we even have the right to feel it? What was to be done to make us feel that we belong has never been applied. We needed first to be heard and then, to be given our proper place yet, when we want to express ourselves, we are brutalized. We live in a police state that keeps us in fear as if we are in a foreign country illegally. Our Southern Cameroons-the nation that came peacefully to coexist with the Republique du Cameroun was a democratic free country that had held free and fair elections before many African nations ever heard the word democracy. What kind of a nation in the 21st century will suppress her people because of differences in opinions? Catalonians and Spaniards are not more humans than Amazonians and Cameroonians, except that Paul Biya and his regime have made it looked as such. If we were not colonized, they would have maybe dialogued with us. Since this crisis began, the government of Biya tries to impose what it wants to hear and see of us. There is no true dialogue but intimidation. Those are typically traits of colonialism.
It is true that Africa was never prepared for democracy but at least, the English prepared their colonies for self-rule while the French preferred assimilation. The union between the two Cameroons has proven to be complicated because of this factor and many more reasons. One other aspect that makes the union cumbrous is simply because Southern Cameroons by virtue of being English, practices the common law whereas, the French side, La Republique du Cameroun, practices the Civil law. Even worse is when a teacher or a judge will administer French on an English speaker.
In a healthy relationship, this incompatibility will require a high degree of the love for something greater, and that’s patrimony. But in the case of the English speaking Cameroonians, they are ripped off the feeling of belonging in every sector and called names like: Two cubes of sugar in a bowl of water, dogs and enemy in the house even at the highest level of national responsibility. At the common place, you will hear denigrators call them: Biafra, bamenda or even anglofools as a way to belittle their being English speaking.
The greatest tragedy in Cameroon therefore is that the Anglophone youth is disconnected from statehood and patrimony on the nation called La Republique du Cameroun. As a result, we are about two millions or more out of the country although we are the minority in that union. We just want to leave Cameroun and go anywhere; just anywhere. In the naivety of the Francophone common man, they simply think we are trouble makers. They have no idea on how the ruling class has been dishonest to them by hiding our history, and they lived with us without knowing how grievous we are, even against them. That’s why many francophones are shocked on our stance on the secession option. If we must live together, there must be a reason. As it stands now, Anglophones have not found that reason. It is not enough to tell them that we are one and indivisible because our parents brought us together in a union. Let’s face it: the union has failed because the bond that should keep it together has been broken by greed manifested in the evil of colonialism.
You excellency, I will through you, plead with the African union to immediately take serious measures to seeing that both sides first of all, stop all forms of violence and killings. We don’t need to kill anyone because of his opinion. We cannot also talk of dialogue while we perpetrate violence. Both side need to stop the violence immediately. The UN and other international bodies must secure and protect the Southern Cameroons now. They can do that because there are no legally binding documents that make both nations one at the UN. It is under this premise that there can end the violence in Cameroon.
Democracy in Africa is put to the biggest test because we are witnessing another Rwanda in our life time. We need to act now or be prepared to suffer the consequences. Rwanda has remained a judge in our consciences of humanity. I don’t think we want the same thing to happen again. Just few days ago, reports on social showed the images of a certain Ghanaian pastor who was allegedly killed by the Cameroon military. There is another video that has been condemned by many governments of the world including the U.S government. It shows clearly that the military of La Republic du Cameroun guided a mother from the North, carrying a toddle on her back and shoot her mercilessly without sparing the toddle or the sister who was walking alongside the mum. This brutality has sent shock waves all-round the globe.
More people from different nations could be killed because genocide has been activated in that twin nation. The Cameroun military can come to the village of any suspect and burn all houses to dust, and in some cases killing vulnerable people in their homes. It suffices that an activist revenge on an act committed by the regime’s soldier, and his village will be burned down in the spirit of scourged earth police as a punitive measure. More than seventy villages have been burned down in this manner and the residents have been sent out into bushes and forests. International organization talks of about 160,000 people who are displaced and more than 40,000 others who have no option but to live in Nigeria as refugees.
Your Excellency, there is carnage going on in Cameroon as I speak and I will keep pleading that you urge the Ghanaian government to take serious measures that can go a long way to redress the situation as fast as possible. I have always said that the responsibility of a united and peaceful Africa rests more on the people of Ghana because of the legacy of Kwame Nkruamah.
As we celebrate the centennial of Mandela today, we should remember that true African heroes didn’t only understand the importance of unity but worked tirelessly to bond this continent as one. It is because they understood that colonialism will end only in the fringes of a united Africa because, only in such bond can we exercise the authority needed to be adequately be respected as human beings. It is the reason why we included on this program a legacy of peace ceremony.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to say, the test of Africa’s democracy has been set: It is to find and unravel the myth that caused the Cameroon-Ambazonia crisis and kick out colonialism and its shackles for good in Africa because, the white man in the story I told you early, had understood that the big brother killed and usurped the flower of his sister. He would rather offer to buy the flowers cheaper and conceal the dirty secret. Today however, the dry bones are singing songs. The secret is reveal! You all know what will happen to this evil brother.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your kind attention.
Source: Daniel Asomani/Hypercitigh.com/Pentecost University
Tegha King Speech on the centennial of Mandela, under the auspices of Rawlings
A speech delivered by Tegha King on the centennial of Mandela July 18, 2018, under the auspices of H.E John Jerry Rawlings.