Today marks the 65th anniversary of the assassination of Ruben Um Nyobè, a leading figure in the Cameroonian independence movement. Um Nyobè was killed by French colonial forces on September 13, 1958.
Who was Um Nyobé?
Ruben Um Nyobé, a Cameroonian freedom fighter and anti-imperialist leader, played a significant role in advocating for the rights and liberation of his people. Um Nyobé, born in Song Mpeck in 1913, was an exceptional student who grew up in a humble farming family.
Um Nyobe was introduced to the Bassa culture by his knowledgeable father. At a young age, he became acutely aware of the numerous injustices perpetrated by the colonial administration against the indigenous people. These crimes included practices like indentured servitude, forced labour, dehumanisation, as well as physical abuse such as spanking and beating.
This made him later write: “la colonisation, c’est l’esclavage ; c’est l’asservissement des peuples par un groupe d’individus dont le rôle consiste à exploiter les richesses et les hommes des peuples asservis.” ( “Colonisation is slavery; it is an enslavement of the populations by a group of individuals whose role is to exploit the riches and the men of the enslaved populations.”)
The Union des Populations du Cameroun (Cameroon People’s Union, or UPC) was founded on April 10th, 1948. Initially, it was led by Leornard Bouli, but later Um Nyobé was elected as the general secretary. The primary objective of the party was to achieve independence and reunification for both British and French Cameroon. The symbols of the flag consisted of a red background with a black crab depicted on it. The colour red represented the sacrifice of patriotic individuals who lost their lives. The crab symbolised the reunification of Kamerun, while the colour black represented Africa, often referred to as the Black continent and considered the birthplace of humanity.
The UPC rapidly gained popularity, with Um Nyobè emerging as a prominent figure in the independence movement. Despite being repeatedly arrested and imprisoned by the French, he remained steadfast in his pursuit of Cameroonian independence.
The Assassination of Um Nyobè
On September 13, 1958, Um Nyobè was assassinated by French colonial forces in Libelingoï, near Boumnyebel, precisely from Nyon-et-Kelle in the centre region of Cameron. His death was a major blow to the UPC, and it led to a wave of violence and repression in Cameroon.
Despite his death, Um Nyobè’s legacy lives on. He is remembered as a martyr for Cameroonian independence, and he is considered one of the most important figures in Cameroonian history.
Since morning, there has been an outpouring of eulogies on social media for Um Nyobe. These messages come from both individuals who knew him personally and those who only learned about him later. Um Nyobè’s courage and determination in the fight for Cameroonian independence are being widely praised by many.
“Ruben Um Nyobè was a true patriot who dedicated his life to the liberation of Cameroon. He will never be forgotten.” – Ngo Jean, a native of Boumnyebel
“Um Nyobè’s death was a great tragedy, but his legacy will live on. He will always be remembered as a hero of the Cameroonian people. We study his story in history, and it is a great inspiration.” Leslie Kamsi, a lower-sixth student from a private institution in Douala.
“Um Nyobè was a man of peace who fought for the freedom of his people. His death was a great loss to Cameroon, but his legacy will live on.” -Martin Chancelin
“Um Nyobè was a true inspiration to me. He showed me that it is possible to stand up for what you believe in, even in the face of great adversity.” – Political leader, Paul Ngobleck on Twitter
“Um Nyobè is a hero to all Cameroonians. He will never be forgotten,” wrote Marie-Claire Ngono on Facebook.
The tribute to Ruben Um Nyobè was a reminder of his importance in Cameroonian history. He was a courageous and dedicated leader who fought for the independence of his country. His legacy will continue to inspire Cameroonians for generations to come.
Ruben Um Nyobe is not the sole martyr who sacrificed his life for Cameroon’s independence struggle. During the struggle for Cameroon’s independence, many exceptional leaders tragically lost their lives due to cold-blooded assassinations carried out by either French or German colonial forces.
There are other heroes like Félix Moumié, Abel Kingue, Osende Afana, Ernest Ouandié, and many others.