I took advantage of my right to peaceful protest as a citizen of the world and went up to Buea for the thousand-man-march. Here are 5 things I learned during my sojourn at the forefront of the latest outcry from the marginalised people of Southern Cameroons.
1. The Government is Scared
For those of us who came into Buea from out of town specifically for protest, the surest sign that things were going to be interesting was the high number of police and military personnel that had been deployed to greet us. They were everywhere. Any inkling that our voices are not being heard “up on high” should go out the window.
2. The Population is Determined to Be Heard-One Way or Another
By 10:40 am there were rumours that the parliamentarians and senators who were supposed to speak to the people and lead the march had been restrained from leaving their hotel (I wonder by who)
Much more than being a confirmation of point 1 above, this ploy proves that the powers that be have no idea how determined the people of Southern Cameroon are to have their voices heard.
When we learned from a credible source that the rumours were, in fact, true, we took to the road, determined to get those parliamentarians free by any means necessary.
3. Dr Sley is a True “Man of the People”
A leader leads from the front. We were soon joined by one of Southern Cameroon’s finest: Dr Sley. He quickly took over the singing. Thanks for the pics Doc! We see you, and we appreciate.
4. Our Strike Still Lacks A Common Focus (And, thus can still not be called a movement)
During the march, our faces were set hard as flint in one direction…if only so were our hearts! While some held placards with bold messages demanding for a federation, others held those that called for a complete independence. While others had made up their minds for peaceful protest, borrowing from great examples left by Ghandi and the late great Martin Luther King, others had to be forcefully reminded to leave the GCE Board gate and CUIB gate alone and standing on their hinges.
Strikes are blips on the radar of time, it is movements that change the landscapes of history, and if we are going to taste success, then we require not so much a joining of steps, as a joining of hearts! Neither independence nor Federation are an end in themselves; what we want is a better, more inclusive society for us and our progeny, guaranteed by solid democratic frameworks. I suggest from now on we take up a unified call for a referendum. One Voice, One Message: It’s time, once more, for the people of Southern Cameroon to decide their fate. Peacefully, of course.
5. The SDF, and by default Ni John Fru Ndi, Does Not Have the Solutions
Beware the power of a unified people. It did not take long before the news of an angry, singing, militant mob marching towards the Governor’s office saw our leaders restored of their constitutional rights to freedom of movement.
By Bonduma Gate we were marching back, with them at the forefront mostly, singing songs of victory.
With all that I have described up to this point, you will be able in some way to imagine my disappointment when these same leaders tried to turn their talking platforms into a CPDM/SDF affair!
The first signs of the impending anti-climax was their immediate denouncing of those who carried placards (If I was given to swearing, I would inserted a choice four letter word right here)
After we quickly shot down an attempt to make us sing the National Anthem, they tried to bring up talks of Biya’s CPDM regime and various political coalitions very few people actually care about.
In other words, it was the same hollow rhetoric that we have grown accustomed to listening to every 7 or so years.
Ni Fru Ndi himself (to be fair he was by far the most in touch with the people among the entire SDF cohort present) came up to the pulpit and failed to address the one question burning in everybody’s mind: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I left soon after, disappointed, but without regret.
The struggle is real and Southern Cameroonians are ready! Now if they would only get their act together!