Writings by Ruben Um Nyobe: Political Constant of Unity Practiced by Ruben Um Nyobe – 1959

Ruben Um Nyobé
Ruben Um Nyobé

In celebration of the life of  Ruben Um Nyobé, I chose to share with you his writings below on this day, 13 September, the day of his assassination in 1958 by French troops in Cameroon. These writings by  Ruben Um Nyobé, leader of the UPC, were published in 1959. The book was published as “Constante politique d’unité pratiquée par Ruben Um Nyobe – 1959,” by Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC). The text below by Ruben Um Nyobe served as a preface to the book, and has been translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com . For the original, go to gallica.fr

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Flag of the UPC
Flag of the UPC

Political Constant of Unity practiced by Ruben Um Nyobe – 1959

 Author: Union des Populations du Cameroon

Inform to Enlighten by Ruben Um Nyobe, General Secretary of the Union the Populations du Cameroun (UPC), Leader of the National Resistance for the Liberation of Cameroon

The national aspiration, which has just cumulated in the recognition of our independence, Is the concrete and objective expression of the result of the struggle of our people. No one can claim that independence has been granted to us, we have conquered it. All those who fought for this national liberty, whether dead or alive, have sealed their names in the history of our motherland, their glory will be immortal! But now at the term of a crowned struggle, instead of concord uniting all members of the coalition, a storm of jealousy and hatred, still sweep over our poor little country. Until when obscene passions and the most execrable hypocrisies cease to brave virtue and honesty! Why will cruel selfishness and blind ambitions not recoil before the honor and national dignity? In this flood of provocations and hatreds, where is the future of our children, the tranquility of our homes, the future of the country? Is it possible to build a country without its population? Is there independence without independent citizens? Answer! Yes answer! All those who oppress our people and those who aim to exploit it.

I say that we must give the people the means to hope and the opportunity to have confidence in them. To reach that goal we have some preliminary work to do.

  1. Present the people with clear options for his future.
  2. Prepare for the people a climate of cordiality and put an end to insecurity.
  3. Train the people’s judgment through civic and political culture / instruction.

All this is feasible/possible, so long as it is wanted. No need to dodge the work by creating tribal oppositions.   

Kamerun_Map 1901-1960
Map of Kamerun from 1901 to 1960 (Wikipedia)

I add that all those who sow hatred and call for crimes, throw the boomerang, which unfortunately does not clarify the future. In politics, there is good sense and virtue, notwithstanding the apprentices of Machiavelli! In politics, truth is also necessary, even if it hurts and displeases because we do not define the future of the people in lies and slanders! Yes, we have to be realistic! To all my compatriots, I formally repeat this: our enemies in this crucial hour of our history, are those who divide us, because they expose us weakened to the solicitations and appetites of the foreigner…

When one reflects on current events, one reaches a first observation: it is the conception of power and sovereignty which is at stake. If it is true (and it cannot be otherwise) that power comes from the people, is it not up to the people to freely designate their interlocutors? Why pretend to take the place of the people? Why seek to abuse and deceives the masses? To get elected and impose a dictatorship, isn’t it? Finally, we believe that the events of the past should make the darkest adventurers retreat. It is only in ignorance that a dictatorship can be imposed, even if it is subtle. In these conditions our task is clear: to enlighten the people. We must do it and we will do it against all adventures. Our goal is to safeguard the national dignity and sovereignty of Kamerun.

Fossi Jacob: A Cameroonian Hero and France’s Genocide in Cameroon

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Chutes de la Metche (Metche Waterfalls)

I have to talk about Fossi Jacob, the Chutes de la Métché (The Metché Waterfalls), and the Bamiléké genocide perpetrated by France in Cameroon (French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon). Fossi Jacob is a hero, and should be celebrated throughout Cameroon. A monument should be erected at the Chutes de la Metché to celebrate his memory and those of countless others who lost their lives there, just outside Bafoussam on the way to Mbouda, in the Western province of Cameroon.

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The top of the Chutes de la Metche

When I visited the Chutes de la Metché, I finally understood the magnitude of the entire thing. Picture this: you are forcefully pushed from a 20 m tall waterfalls, with giant sharp-edged volcanic boulders at its bottom; there is no way anybody thrown down those waterfalls can come out alive; either you die from the fall, or your head hits one of those giants sharp boulders. This is what French officials did to so-called ‘rebels’ between 1950 and 1970 in Cameroon; in reality, most of these ‘rebels’ were simple peasants. During my visit, I was speechless! It was like visiting Gorée island, or Elmina Castle, it felt so sinister, yet so beautiful! Sinister, because it was as if I could feel the souls of all those who had been pushed there. It was as if I could hear their screams, feel their pain! Beautiful because the paths were covered with salt and palm oil, and you could tell that this was a place of pilgrimage, a place where people came to commune with their ancestors, who disappeared there, without sepulchers.

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Chutes de la Metche, view from the top

Why should we celebrate Fossi Jacob? Jacob Fossi had been imprisoned like countless others in the prison of Bafoussam during the dark days of Cameroon; he was a member of the UPC. Every night, the French officers would fill trucks with ‘rebels’ (from accounts, at least 350 every night), and drive them to the edge of the Chutes de la Metché, where, with a gun in hand, they would push the ‘rebels’ one by one down the waterfalls. Those who did not die from the falls were shot!

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Chutes de la Metche, at the bottom

On that fateful day of 12 September 1959, when it was Jacob Fossi‘s turn (he was second to last), he called for the French official and told him to get close and that he would tell him where all the other ‘rebels’ were hiding. He promised to tell him everything. When the French official came close, Fossi Jacob held onto him, and jumped with him into the waterfalls. They were killed instantly. This caused the French colonial government to stop taking people to the Chutes de la Metché to be killed. The story of Fossi Jacob is known because on that fateful day, Fo Sokoudjou, the actual King of Bamendjou, who was going to be the last one to be pushed down the fall was not pushed in because of Fossi’s courageous act. Lucky one! Imagine the many lives saved because of one man’s selfless act!

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Salt and palm oil offerings to commemorate the ancestors at the Chutes de la Metche waterfalls

Today, the Chutes de la Metché has become a place of pilgrimage for countless people, particularly Bamiléké people. During that dark era of the history of Cameroon, many lost their sons, husbands, fathers, relatives, and this is the only place where they can come and pray to their ancestors. Salt and palm oil strew the path as people come to make offerings to commemorate their long-gone loved ones. A monument should be erected there to celebrate the courage of Fossi Jacob who, thanks to his actions, stopped the horrendous actions of the French colonial government in those waterfalls. The Chutes de la Metché should be a place of pilgrimage for all Cameroonians, and beyond!

Cameroun_Chutes de la Metche_1.jpg

 

Ernest Ouandié: Cameroonian Freedom Fighter and Leader

Ouandié1
Ernest Ouandie on the day of his execution

A while back, I published an interview of Ernest Ouandié: A Cameroonian and African Hero and Martyr,  on the murder of  Félix Moumié. In this Rare Interview, which he gave with Marthe Moumié, the wife of Félix Moumié, in 1960, he said:

When you have chosen the struggle, the path of struggle, for a true independence, you must necessarily expect to receive anytime the hard knocks that the imperialists will give you. But we are used to say that it is because the imperialists are beating us so much that we have become and are becoming stronger in our daily struggle.” [“Lorsque vous avez choisi la lutte, la voix de la lutte, pour une indépendance véritable, vous devez nécessairement vous attendre à tout moment aux coups durs que vous portent les impérialistes.  Mais nous avons l’habitude de dire que c’est parce que les impérialistes nous portent beaucoup de coups que nous sommes devenus et nous devenons chaque jour un peu plus aguerris pour la lutte.”] Ernest Ouandié.

Rare Interview of Ernest Ouandié on the Assassination of Felix Moumié

Ernest Ouandié, Marthe Moumié, and Abel Kingue in Geneva after Felix Moumié's death
Ernest Ouandié, Marthe Moumié, and Abel Kingue in Geneva after Felix Moumié’s death

Here is an interview of Ernest Ouandié, leader of the UPC, on the Assassination of a fellow leader of the UPC, Félix Moumié. As you can see, this was a brilliant man who was fighting for the independence of Cameroon from foreign colonial powers; he was fighting for One Kamerun! One can also watch Marthe Moumié, the wife of the deceased Felix Moumié, and watch her dedication not just to her husband, but to the great cause of the freedom of her country. Enjoy!

Ernest Ouandié: People tell the story of his last days

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Ernest Ouandie, a few minutes before his execution in Bafoussam

On 15 January 1971, Ernest Ouandié, the leader of the UPC, was publicly executed in the capital of the Western region, Bafoussam, his natal province.

In reality, three people had been executed. Those 3 were: Gabriel Tabeu, aka “Wambo, the electricity“, Raphaël Fotsing, and Ernest Ouandié. The three were tied to a pole, facing a firing squad. The first two fell first. Ernest Ouandié, who had been accused of attempting to create a revolution, the organization of an armed bands, assassinations and other things, refused to be blindfolded. This led to a dispute between the authorities and him. Finally, they granted him his final wish, and as he was falling through the weight of the bullets, he shouted “Others will continue the struggle” staring death in the eye.

Up until the last minute, we did not think that the government was going to execute Ernest Ouandié and his comrades. People thought that they could be condemned for life. It was for us a big surprise. They made us get out of school to go watch the execution of the nationalists. In the crowd, we disapproved of what was going to happen, even kids like us. There was in reality, a strong current of sympathy for the rebels. That is why as soon as Ernest Ouandié and his companions were shot, it was as if I had been wounded in the depths of my heart.  The gust had wounded the head of a person who was at the parish of the evangelical church,”  says Wanko Tchonla, a trader in Bafoussam. On the day of the event, he was a student at the Saint Joseph school of the cathedral.  He still keeps in memory that sad day of 15 January 1971.” [“Jusqu’à la dernière minute, nous ne croyions pas que le gouvernement allait faire exécuter Ernest Ouandié et ses camarades. Les gens pensaient qu’on pouvait les condamner à vie. C’était pour nous une grande surprise. On nous a fait sortir de l’école pour voir l’exécution des nationalistes. Dans la foule, on désapprouvait ce qui allait se passer, même les enfants comme nous. Il y avait en réalité un fort courant de sympathie pour les rebelles. C’est pour cela que dès que l’on a tiré sur Ernest Ouandié et ses compagnons, c’est comme si j’avais reçu une blessure au fond de mon cœur. La rafale avait blessé la tête d’une personne qui se trouvait au niveau de la paroisse du plateau de l’église évangélique ”, raconte Wanko Tchonla, commerçant à Bafoussam. Au moment des faits, il est élève à l’école Saint Joseph de la cathédrale. Il garde en souvenir la triste journée du 15 janvier 1971.]

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Ernest Ouandie, on his way to his execution

It is no coincidence that the government of Ahmadou Ahidjo had decided to execute Ernest Ouandié in Bafoussam even though his conviction had been pronounced by the military court of Yaoundé. It is was important to create a collective psychosis in the minds. That is why people are always afraid to demonstrate for their rights. People are even afraid to join a political party by fear of being killed.” [“Ce n’est pas par simple hasard que le gouvernement d’Ahmadou Ahidjo avait décidé de faire exécuter Ernest Ouandié à Bafoussam alors que sa condamnation avait été prononcé par le tribunal militaire de Yaoundé. Il fallait créer une psychose collective dans les esprits. C’est pour cela que vous voyez que les gens ici ont peur de manifester pour revendiquer leurs droits. Les gens ont même peur de s’engager dans un parti politique parce qu’ils craignent d’être tués.”] Jean Michel Tékam, candidate for the Cameroonian Social Democratic Party (Parti social démocrate camerounais) in 1996.

Map of Cameroon from 1919 to 1960, including both Cameroons (French in Blue, and British in red)
Map of Cameroon from 1919 to 1960, including both Cameroons (French in Blue, and British in red) – Ouandie was fighting for One Cameroon and its freedom from colonial powers

Martin Kapnang, retired communal agent, remembers the staging around Ouandié’s execution. “ We knew that they had arrested the rebel chiefs. The administration had brought people, even from surrounding villages, to watch the execution of rebels. But the conditions under which their trial had unfolded always seemed very confusing. Because as soon as the arrest of Ernest Ouandié and others had been announced, we knew that they will be executed even if the greatest attorneys in the world intervened in their favor.” [“Nous savions que l’on avait arrêté les chefs maquisards. L’administration avait fait venir les gens même des villages environnants pour voir comment on devait tuer les maquisards. Mais les conditions dans lesquelles leur procès s’était déroulé semblaient toujours floues. Car dès que l’on avait annoncé l’arrestation de Ernest Ouandié et autres on savait qu’ils devaient être exécutés même si les plus grands avocats du monde intervenaient en leur faveur.”]

As soon as the first salvo is fired, he shouts: “Long live Cameroon” and then falls to the ground. A European officer detaches himself from the group of spectators, walks toward the dying man, puts his hand on his holster, leans forward and shoots…
[cited in Jean Ziegler, Les Rebelles: Contre l´Ordre du Monde: Mouvements Armes de Liberation Nationale du Tiers Monde, Published 1983, Editions du Seuil ]

Ernest Ouandié: A Cameroonian and African Hero and Martyr

UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié
UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié

15 January 1971 marks the day of the execution of a Cameroonian and African hero: Ernest Ouandié! Outspoken, and brilliant, Ernest Ouandié is considered by many in Cameroon as a national hero. However, he has never been celebrated the way a hero should. He was a martyr! Ouandié was the last leader of the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC). The other renowned leaders of the UPC were Ruben Um NyobéFelix-Roland Moumié, Abel Kingué , and Castor Osendé Afana who, except Abel Kingué, were all assassinated by France or its puppets.  Like those three, Ernest Ouandié was also assassinated, and paid with his life for his passion for the freedom of Cameroon, and Africa, from colonialism.  So who was Ernest Ouandié?

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Ernest Ouandie, during an interview, talking about the assassination of Felix Moumie in 1961

Ernest Ouandié was born in 1924 in Badoumla, Bana district in the Haut-Nkam region of the Western province of Cameroon . He attended public school in Bafoussam, and then l’Ecole Primaire Supérieure de Yaoundé where he obtained a Diplôme des Moniteurs Indigènes (DMI) in November 1943 and began work as a teacher. In 1944 he joined the Union of Confederate Trade-Unions of Cameroon, affiliated with the French General Confederation of Labour (CGT). From 1944 to 1948, Ernest Ouandié taught in Edéa. On 7 October 1948, he was posted to Dschang. A month later, he was posted to Douala as director of the New-Bell Bamiléké public school.

Flag of the UPC
Flag of the UPC

In 1948 Ouandié became a member of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (Union des Populations du Cameroun – UPC), and 4 years later, was elected vice-president of the UPC. In September 1953 he was assigned to Doumé and Yoko in Mbam-et-Kim. In December 1954 he was posted to Batouri, then Bertoua. Finally, in January 1955 he was assigned to Douala again. He attended the World Congress of Democratic Youth in China in December 1954, and also traveled to Paris and Moscow.

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Les leaders de l’UPC: Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie, et Ernest Ouandie

In April and May 1955 the UPC held a series of militant meetings, circulated pamphlets and organised strikes. On 20 June 1955 the UPC leader, Ruben Um Nyobé, was sentenced in absentia to six months in prison and a large fine. On 13 July 1955 the French government dissolved the UPC by decree. Most of the UPC leaders moved to Kumba in the British-administered Southern Cameroons to avoid being jailed by the colonial power. Armed revolution broke out in Cameroon. The UPC nationalist rebels conducted a fierce struggle against the French, who fought back equally ruthlessly. The insurgents were forced to take refuge in the swamps and forests. Ruben Um Nyobé was cornered in the Sanaga-Maritime area and killed on 13 September 1958.

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Ahmadou Ahidjo, first president of Cameroon

Ouandié had taken refuge in Kumba in 1956. In July 1957, under pressure from the French, the British authorities in western Cameroon deported Ernest Ouandié and other leaders of the UPC to Khartoum, Sudan. Ouandié then moved in turn to Cairo, Egypt, to Conakry, Guinea and finally to Accra, Ghana. After Cameroon gained independence in 1960, UPC rebels who had been fighting the French colonial government continued to fight the government of President Ahmadou Ahidjo, whom they considered to be a puppet of the French. Ahidjo had asked the French to lend troops to keep peace during and after the transition to democracy. What followed is a campaign of pacification of the Bamiléké territory, and some regions in the Centre and Littoral provinces; this is one of the greatest genocides committed by France, with the death toll in the hundreds of thousands (French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon)!

Ernest Ouandié, Marthe Moumié, and Abel Kingue in Geneva after Felix Moumié's death
Ernest Ouandié, Marthe Moumié, and Abel Kingue in Geneva after Felix Moumié’s death

In 1960 Ouandié, Félix-Roland Moumié, Abel Kingué and other UPC leaders were exiled, isolated and desperate. Moumié was poisoned by French agents using thallium on 13 October 1960 and died on 4 November 1960, leaving Ouandié as head of the UPC. On 1 May 1961 the military tribunal in Yaoundé condemned Ouandié and Abel Kingué (in absentia) to deportation. That year, Ouandié secretly returned from Accra to Cameroon to work towards the overthrow of the Ahidjo regime. The Southern Cameroons (now the Southwest and Northwest regions) gained independence from the British and joined a loose federation with East Cameroon on 1 October 1961. Abel Kingué died in Cairo on 16 June 1964, leaving Ouandié the last member of the original leadership. President Ahidjo then declared Ouandié public enemy number one.

A post-colonial struggle by UPC rebels opposing the new Cameroon army (trained and armed by France) continued until August 1970 when the last battalion of the UPC, commanded by Ernest Ouandié, was arrested.  Ouandié was sentenced to death and was shot by a death squad in the market on 15 January 1971, in Bafoussam.  That day was a historic day in Bafoussam, as the populations were forced to witness the execution of their leader: my mother witnessed the event, she was just a child. The civil war, resulting in the destruction of villages and use of napalm is estimated to have resulted in at least 30,000 to 500,000 deaths.  It has been conveniently removed from official history, both in Cameroon and in France (French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon).

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Ernest Ouandie, on the day of his execution

On that fateful day, 15 January 1971, three people were executed in Bafoussam, the capital of the Western region. The three were Gabriel Tabeu, alias “Wambo, the electricity“, Raphael Fotsing (condemned to capital punishment 10 days prior, by a military tribunal) and Ernest Ouandié. The three were tied to a pole, facing a firing squad. The first two fell first. Ernest Ouandié, who had been accused of attempting to create a revolution, the organization of armed bands, assassinations and other things, refused to be blindfolded. This led to a dispute between the authorities and him. Finally, they granted him his final wish, and as he was falling through the weight of the bullets, he shouted “Others will continue the struggle” staring death in the eye.

Check out the website Grioo.com where there is a good biography on Ernest Ouandie’s life. Don’t forget to check out the website of Dibussi Tande. The great Cameroonian writer Mongo Béti wrote the book Main basse sur le Cameroun, autopsie d’une décolonisation (about the Cameroonian resistance led by the UPC) which was banned in France in the 70s, which led to him to write Remember Ruben in honor of Ruben Um Nyobé’s memory, in which he describes the firing squad to Ouandié’s execution.

 

French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon

Francois Hollande, President of France
Francois Hollande, President of France
French flag
French flag

It took over 70 years for a French President to finally admit the genocide perpetrated in Cameroon by France between 1950 and 1970, a genocide which claimed over 400,000 lives, and displaced countless others. In his visit to Cameroon last Friday, French president François Hollande acknowledged that French forces had tried to quash colonial separatists in the 1950s and said he was ready to open up the history books. He said, “I recognize that there have been extremely traumatic and even tragic episodes.” Should we jubilate?

Ruben Um Nyobé
Ruben Um Nyobé

I say NO. It is true that this is somewhat a step forward: recognition of wrong done. However, I call it arrogance to wake up one day, and finally say, “Oh, yes, I killed your fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters, … I showered many of your cities with Napalm, … I decapitated so many of your freedom fighters and hung their heads in the villages’ square, … I killed Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix-Roland Moumié, Castor Osende Afana, Ernest Ouandié, and so many others, … I forced some of you into exile, … and I displaced countless others inside and outside your borders.” And so what? Should we clap for you? where is the apology? Didn’t you think we knew you did that? Where is the reparation?

Decapitated Heads during the genocide in Cameroon
Maquisards’ heads during the genocide in Cameroon

During the Maquis years, many lost a loved one; is there a reparation for that loved one? that father who never saw his children grow up? that mother who never saw her son again? What about those who kept waiting, and waiting, hoping that after so many years the loved ones would come back home?… What about the pain of that young girl walking to school who had to watch the decapitation of ‘maquisards’ on the public place: she was scarred for life! What about those entire villages burnt with napalm? And those who were displaced internally from French Cameroon to British Cameroon, running for their dear lives and leaving behind their lands? What about Ruben Um Nyobé and his family? Felix-Roland Moumié, and his widow who suffered years of imprisonment in the harshest places? and Ernest Ouandié… and all the children who had to watch in horror as he took his last breath under the firing squad’s shots? What about the remaining population whose history was erased from textbooks, those who now have a gap in their past?

UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié
UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié

And to stand up there, and say “yes I recognize that we killed you”… it’s like Hitler waking up today, and telling Holocaust survivors and their descendants, “I killed you, jailed your parents, forced you into exile, brought fear into your souls, and decimated every part of you… what can you do?” It is simply arrogant! It is just too easy. Until there is a clear “I am sorry”, until there is a clear “here is what we will do to correct the wrong”, until there is a clear “arrest of all perpetrators”, until there is a clear “story in the history textbooks, opening of all the classified documents”…. until there is a clear “respect for those killed,” until then, there will be no respect for arrogant presidents of the hexagon in our dictionaries!

In 2013, the British government apologized for the massacre of the Mau-Mau in Kenya. We are waiting for France’s apologies for the Cameroonian genocide, and while we are at it, we will also expect France’s apologies for the Algerian and Malagasy massacres too.

Lapiro de Mbanga in his own words

Lapiro de Mbanga
Lapiro de Mbanga

I decided to make a compilation of some of Lapiro de Mbanga’s words in his interviews.  The full interview to Daniel Brown from Freemuse can be found here; for the interview Lapiro gave to Le Messager, click here; and lastly the interview to Phoenix Gauthier can be found on RFI.  The video below shows Lapiro de Mbanga’s proudly expressing himself at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2013.  Enjoy!!!

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About life in prison: … There is no hygiene here and we must share our most intimate moments with the other cellmates. … I should have been taken to hospital for a consultation but my status as a political prisoner has meant I have not been allowed to go once in these two years. I somehow survived the typhoid attack in December by taking the antibiotics my wife Louisette brought me. It’s fortunate she comes every few days. It’s a five-hour round trip from Mbanga, it’s taking a toll on her, too. …  I wake at 7 to 8 every morning …. I keep informed about the outside world thanks to TV5 [France’s international station] or Radio France International. I eat, chat with the others in the cell, play Ludo, scrabble, draughts. It’s impossible to compose in such an atmosphere. I need calm, serenity. Here, I cannot concentrate and write the thoughtful songs people expect of me.

Pius Njawe in jail
Pius Njawe, a Cameroonian journalist and martyr in jail

We have penal rations twice a day. At 1pm we are given boiled corn and at 5pm there’s rice in some warm water. It’s the same every day. It’s way below minimum requirements. My wife brings me food every two days, I couldn’t survive otherwise. I’ve seen people die of hunger. It happens every day in Cameroonian prisons.

Normally, I should have no contact with the outside world. Telephones are illegal here. I’m speaking to you because we have to scheme like common crooks. In prison there are all kinds of trafficking going on, including this one. You pay guards to turn a blind eye. You know, in Cameroon you can buy everything. This country has been world champion in terms of corruption.  It’s everywhere and filters down to here. (Source: Daniel Brown, Freemuse)

On being scared for his life because of his outspokenness: It’s all part of my struggle. If I was the scared type I would never have started singing in 1985. I’m not going to start getting scared after all these years. My struggle has always been to denounce inequalities and danger is part of that mission. The only thing that has changed for me since 1985 is I’m at the head of a family with six children. I can guarantee my own security, but not theirs. I’m scared for them. But I have no choice. If you start such a struggle, somebody must pay. Still, my family is unhappy with such risk taking. That’s why I think if I don’t go into exile after this prison term, I won’t survive very long out therethey’ll kill me. Because it’s obvious people in charge don’t want to be confronted with somebody who stops them from just getting on with things. (Source: Daniel Brown, Freemuse)

On going to exile: For starters, I am not in exile; I am political refugee in the USA. I needed a social security and an insurance for the future of my children; I refuse to manufacture unemployed people full of diplomas who will retire without ever having worked.  [Pour commencer, je ne suis pas en exil; je suis réfugié politique aux USA. J’avais besoin d’une sécurité sociale et d’une assurance pour le futur de mes enfants; je refuse de fabriquer des chômeurs bardés de diplômes qui vont aller à la retraite sans avoir jamais travaillé.] (Source: Le Messager 04 April 2013)

Flag of Cameroon
Flag of Cameroon

About the way he spends his days now in the US: I dedicate myself to my children’s education. I have, during 3 decades, focused my life on my struggle, the fight against social inequalities, forgetting that I was first a head of family. Despite what the Um [Nyobé], Ouandié, Moumié, and all the known and unknown freedom fighters have done, nobody knows what has become of their offspring. For me, it is very serious. It is as if they had fought for nothing. [Je me consacre à l’éducation de mes enfants qui sont ici avec moi. J’ai pendant 3 décennies focalisé ma vie sur mon combat, à savoir la lutte contre les inégalités sociales oubliant que j’étais d’abord un chef de famille. Malgré tout ce que les Um, Ouandié, Moumié et tous les autres combattants connus et inconnus ont fait, personne aujourd’hui ne sait ce que sont devenues leurs progénitures, Pour moi, c’est très grave. C’est comme s’ils ont combattu pour rien …].  (Source: Le Messager 04 April 2013)

About his rupture with Biya and Fru Ndi: Paul Biya, even if he listens to my songs, does not count on my very short list of friends. So no need to break up with him even though I never voted neither for him, nor for Ahidjo’s party which he hijacked in Bamenda in 1985. Fru Ndi, whom I now call “CHIENMAN” and not Chairman, has ceased to be worthy of my respect, given his multiple reversals and changes. … I cannot be in good terms with an individual who plots against the people, it is as simple as that.  [Paul Biya même s’il écoute mes chansons, ne compte pas sur la liste très restreinte de mes amis. Donc pas besoin de rompre avec lui encore que je n’ai jamais voté ni pour lui-même, ni pour le parti de Ahidjo qu’il a détourné à Bamenda en 1985. Fru Ndi que j’appelle désormais “CHIENMAN” et non Chairman, a cessé depuis bien longtemps d’être une personne ayant droit à mon respect, compte tenu de ses multiples virements, revirements et retournements de veste. … Je ne peux pas être en bon terme avec un individu qui complote contre le peuple, c’est aussi simple que cela]. (Source: Le Messager 04 April 2013)

On his dream for Cameroon? I dream of a Cameroon where the power will belong to the people.  Where the wealthy will not use the misery of the poor by giving them some rice, fish, beer and 1000 FCFA to stay in power and plunder the country’s resources.  [Je rêve d’un Cameroun dont le pouvoir appartiendra au peuple. Où les riches ne vont pas se servir de la misère des pauvres en donnant aux démunis du riz, du poisson, de la bière et 1000f pour aller au pouvoir piller les ressources du pays.] (Source: Le Messager 04 April 2013)

Lapiro de Mbanga
Lapiro de Mbanga

On his struggle: The fight continues. I got out of jail only three months ago. And I need to continue the fight at a greater level. … You have seen my environment. Here in Mbanga, it is 7:30PM and it is already dark everywhere. Without electricity, you can be attacked. Yet, there are people who fight at work all day. And at the end of the day, there is no light, no health, the children cannot go to school. There is no escape. That is my fight, my struggle. It is for that Cameroon that I am fighting. And I want the Americans and Europeans to understand. I come to tell them: thank you for fighting for Lapiro de Mbanga [release] , but there are 20 millions of Lapiro de Mbanga in Cameroon who experience the martyr daily. Wake up and do something. [Le combat continue. Je suis sorti de prison il y a seulement trois mois. Et je dois continuer le combat au niveau des grandes instances. … Vous avez vu mon environnement. Ici à Mbanga il est 19h30 et partout il fait noir. Sans électricité vous pouvez être agressé ici. Pourtant, il y a des gens qui se battent au travail toute la journée. Et, à la fin, il n’y a pas de lumière, ni de santé, les enfants ne peuvent pas aller à l’école. Il n’y a pas d’issue. C’est ça mon combat. C’est pour ce Cameroun-là que je me bats. Et je veux que les Américains et les Européens comprennent. Je viens leur dire par ma voix : merci d’avoir combattu pour Lapiro de Mbanga, mais il y a 20 millions de Lapiro de Mbanga au Cameroun qui subissent le martyr au quotidien. Réveillez-vous et faites quelque chose.] (Source: RFI, P. Gauthier, 12/07/2011)

11 Feb 2014 : Cameroon’s National Youth Day

Flag of Cameroon
Flag of Cameroon

Today happens to be the Cameroonian National Youth Day.  I have been thinking about the true meaning of a youth day.  For as long as I can remember, it has always been a speech from the President, and marches/parades from children across the nation.  But is that really what the National Youth Day is all about?  Well, for starters, I must admit that growing up, I was always really proud of marching on that day.  It was as if somehow, I suddenly mattered to the country… as if, from my child’s world, I could somehow influence changes in my country: bring clean water, stop the electricity cuts, build bridges, make better roads, build airports, etc.  It was as if, by marching, I had a say in the direction of my country, I was important; I mattered!  11 February was not just a day off to watch the parade on TV, it was a special day, a day dedicated to me, to my needs as a youth, to my well-being, to my inner desires, and to my potentials.

Youths during the parade celebrating Cameroon's National Youth Day
Youths during the parade celebrating Cameroon’s National Youth Day

As a teenager, the thought started to thaw a little bit, was 11 February only about the President’s speech?  was it just a time to cajole me as a youngster into thinking that I was important? that there was light at the end of the tunnel? that I was the future of the country, when around me, adults were feeling like the future had been beaten out of them? How was I supposed to make changes, when looking at big brothers ahead, I could only see unemployment looming in the horizon?  How was I supposed to concentrate into doing well in school or achieving all these great things I was asked to, when the future looked so grim?  What was the future going to look like with me in the picture?

Today, I see that it was actually necessary to acquire all this education, to read, and to focus, because in reality, even if the president’s speeches were empty words… I have the obligation, no the duty, to think of my elders: Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix Moumié, Abel KinguéOsendé Afana (who was Cameroon’s first PhD in economics), Ernest Ouandié, and countless others who sacrificed themselves so that I could be better.  Yes… it sounds so easy, but to think about it should bring fire, no, rage into our hearts.  Just thinking about all the great minds we have, all this great potentials, talented musicians who influence the world (like Ekambi Brillant who produced Angélique Kidjo who is now a world star), footballers, writers (Mongo Beti), comedians, doctors, scientists, journalists (Pius Njawe), who live and die like paupers, should give extra, ten times, 100 times more fire into our hearts, and really make us realize that we are the indeed the future of our country, and nobody else will build it for us, not even 80 years-old ministers.  I live you here with K’naan hymn to the youth which was sung during the 2010 FIFA World Cup: “Out of the darkness, I came the farthest, … Learn from these streets, it can be bleak.  Accept no defeat, surrender, retreat.  So we struggling, fighting to eat, And we wondering when we’ll be free ... we patiently wait for that fateful day… it is not far away… when I get older, I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom just like a waving flag“.

Cameroun: Autopsie d’une Pseudo-Independance

Pour continuer sur la même lancée, je voudrais vous faire part de cette vidéo: “Cameroun: Autopsie d’une pseudo-indépendence” par Gaëlle Le Roy et Valérie Osouf.  Cette vidéo porte sur les années noires du Cameroun, les années de repression, les années du maquis, les années du génocide en pays Bamiléké, et les techniques utilisées par Roland Pré, alors Haut-commissaire muté au Cameroun en 1954.  Pour en savoir un peu plus, visiter le site: Kamerun-leSite qui fait état de cette guerre cachée qui sévira au Cameroun pendant plus de 20 ans et qui fera plus de 300,000 morts.