Scores of traditional rulers reportedly from Cameroon’s ten regions have joined Southwest chiefs to mourn seven children killed in Kumba last Saturday, also calling for a one and indivisible Cameroon.
Meeting at the Buea Reunification Monument, according to the traditional rulers, signifies their quest for unity in the country amidst separatists in the Northwest and Southwest fighting to secede.
In a ritual witnessed only by the traditional authorities, the Chiefs used wine and other libations to entreat their ancestors and God to hear them.
“We stand here to call our fathers from the mountain (Efasa Moto, Nyango Namuna) to help us so that such an incident cannot repeat itself.
“We came to the monument because this is where the problem started. Some people say we should secede but this monument signifies the unitary state,” said HRM Chief Martin Mafany Njie, President Southwest Chiefs Conference, SWECC.
The chiefs poured libations at the reunification edifice, beseeching age-old ancestors and gods to intervene in Cameroon’s crisis and stop any further inhumane acts.
They said the ritual was to cleanse a land that has been desecrated by innocent blood. Only through this can similar happenings be prevented, they said.
“The ritual performed here was to condemn the incident that happened in Kumba a week ago… The tradition is meant to call our ancestors that they should give some strength even touch the minds of the children in the bushes to come back home,” said HRM Chief Richard Ndike, President of Limbe Chiefs Conference.
Although traditional rulers from the grassfield and the Northern regions were seemingly absent from the Buea ritual, the Chiefs said some of their members had been sent to perform a similar ritual in Kumba where seven children were killed exactly one week ago.
Before the traditional ritual, the Chiefs had walked to Southwest Governor’s Ofice where Governor Okalia Bilai saluted their initiative and charged them to entreat various ancestors to restore peace in the two English-speaking regions.
The traditional ritual was being held at a time flags were flying half mast in the country following a National Mourning Day dclared by President Paul Biya in honour of victims of last weekend’s attack in Kumba.
According to Senator Nfon Tabe Tando, one of the oldest Chiefs in the Southwest region, the killing of children in Kumba was brutal and unheard of even in times when inter tribal wars were common.
He lamented that children are unexpectedly becoming targets in conflict, saying last week’s attack was ‘strange’ and ‘unfathomable’.
Last week gunmen opened fire on schoolchildren of Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, killing seven children and injuring 12.
Cameroonian Chiefs are the latest group to stand up against the killings which are the most widely condemned killings since the start of a crisis in the country’s English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions.
Several groups have called for the government to declare a ceasefire and organize dialogue with separatists who have already declared the independence of the two regions under a separate country named Ambazonia.