Today November 21, 2021, remains significant in the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. It was on this day 5 years ago (in 2016), that Anglophone activist Mancho Bibixy Tse staged the famous ‘Coffin Revolution’ in the city of Bamenda in the North West Region.
Many Cameroonians see this event as that which marked the beginning of the Anglophone manifestation against what they have considered as “prolonged marginalization” from the Francophone majority government.
The iconic image of Mancho Bibixy standing inside a white coffin, surrounded by the population made several rounds on social media and gave the activist immediate popularity amongst Anglophones, which made the Yaoundé regime feel threatened.
Months after the iconic protest, Mancho Bibixy was violently seized without a warrant, from his friend’s place by the military, beaten up, and incarcerated under inhumane conditions. Mancho was later tried at the Yaoundé Military Tribunal, where he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for; “Terrorism”, “Secession”, “Rebellion”, “Inciting of Civil war”, and “Propagation of false information through social media”.
Two years later, Bibixy’s sentence was increased by 3 years, following a protest which had broken in prison, reportedly led by the activist.
Mimi Mefo Info spoke to Mancho Bibixy now at the Yaoundé Kondengui Maximum Prison, 5 years after his memorable protest. The activist has remained as defiant as ever and more determined than before, 5 years after he led the people of Bamenda out on the streets.
With Mancho’s image now popular and one of the symbols of the Anglophone crisis, the activist told us that his actions that day were divinely inspired.
“When I decided to lead a protest, I thought of a symbol which could quickly rally the population. The speed with which the idea of a Coffin ran into my spirit, am still convinced till today that it was Divine,” Mancho said.
The idea of the activist was to create something that would resonate around the world to signify the plight of Anglophones in Cameroon. As a member of the outlawed Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, Mancho said: “I kept telling my leaders that we needed to do something big. That I have a vision of rallying the price and I was not happy with the steps taken by various organizations.”
Despite being now in jail, Bibixy has reiterated that he feels no regret over what he had done and that he would do it over and over again if the chance presented itself. “If I had to do it again, I will make sure we don’t give the Cameroon Government an early chance to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on our people.” Mancho boldly told us.
With a prison sentence of close to 18 years slammed on Mancho, the activist nevertheless believes he did nothing wrong, and should not be in jail. “No evidence was ever presented against me in the various kangaroo courts I was dragged to. Several local and international organizations have called for my release. The only reason I’m still locked up now is that I have refused to bend.” Mancho said.
Talking to us about his condition at the Kondengui Maximum Prison, the activist revealed an almost hellish picture of the dreaded prison. He told us that “In the Yaoundé Central Prison, you don’t struggle to live. You struggle not to die… If I suffer a malaise, a family member will have to come from Bamenda to meet the prison doctor who will give a document to get an appointment from another doctor, and return it to the prison doctor before I can be taken out for treatment…”
Nevertheless, Mancho Bibixy says his time in jail has given him a better understanding of the situation. He said “I get the chance to talk with diverse persons. In courts and here, I meet so many Diplomats, opposition leaders, regime supporters, etc… I also have time to analyze certain revelations…”
With the Anglophone crisis now in its fifth year, which has garnered thousands of casualties, Mancho Bibixy joined his voice with thousands of others in calling for a dialogue. According to Mancho, “There is only one way forward. Both parties have to sit and talk under a neutral mediator. I have made it clear to Cameroon officials that they can’t win this war. I started enlisting fighters for self-defense in December 2016. I saw the fire in the eyes of those boys and girls. Today, the fire burns even brighter.”