Tensions in Cameroon’s restive North West and South West Regions are now increasingly being framed along ethnic lines.
Aside from the general insecurity witnessed in the Anglophone regions since 2016, bringing ethnic considerations into the war threatens national stability and the very foundations of the state.
For the last couple of hours, a video has made rounds on social media showing Chief Ewome Eko John alias Moja Moja, Traditional Ruler of Bwassa Village in Buea subdivision asking non-indigenous Bakweri people to leave within 24 hours.
To put it more clearly, Chief Ewome Eko who is also a soldier of the infamous Israeli-trained Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, left his village, went to neighboring Likoko Membea village, giving a 24-hour ultimatum for people of North West extraction to leave.
The snake-carrying traditional ruler has been on this agenda for so long, acting in impunity under the watch of his superiors, politicians, and state authorities. He has beaten, aggressed, harassed, and probably killed people simply because they are from the North West region.
The actions of this individual soldier risk tearing at Cameroon’s national fabric, with more bloodshed likely if the government takes no corrective action.
Point four of the preamble of Cameroon’s constitution states that “every person shall have the right to settle in any place and to move about freely, subject to the statutory provisions concerning public law and order, security and tranquillity.”
Point 25 furthers that “the State shall guarantee all citizens of either sex the rights and freedoms set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution.”
Moja Moja says armed separatists operating in Buea are all from the North West Region and have an agenda to kill all Bakweri chiefs. It is true that since 2018, three Bakweri chiefs have died in the hands of armed separatists. After Chief Njie Mbanda in 2018, Chief Molinga Francis Nangoh on November 6, 2020, and Chief Ikome Ngale on Sunday.
Moja Moja says whilst traditional rulers in the North West are kidnapped and freed; those in the South West are kidnapped and killed. This is the narrative that has been cooking long before the killings reached chiefs. Memories of the South West Forum of January 2017 and 2018 were aimed at tagging people from the North West, what they call graffi.
Without calling Chief Ewome Eko to order, some Bakweri elite have joined him in saying that there is an agenda by the North West to dominate the South West through the Anglophone crisis.
In fact, Donald Malomba, Member of Parliament for Buea, and Senator Mbella Moki Charles both live in Likoko Membea where Moja Moja went round like town-cryer preaching xenophobia. Several hours after, the lawmakers are yet to condemn the actions and utterances of Moja Moja.
Hon. Donald Malomba instead said yesterday in Mile 14 that Bakweri chiefs are being targeted. He apparently was passing the message that Moja Moja is executing a plan crafted by the elite.
Moja Moja is therefore dancing to drum beats from higher quarters.
The National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism chaired by Peter Mafany Musonge has turned a blind eye to the xenophobia, suggesting that he is in support of the hate against the people of the North West. Not even George Ngwane, a member of the commission has reacted. This is how they have treated the ethnic hate aimed at Professor Maurice Kamto and his CRM party.
Mimi Mefo Info recalls that the Commission was created on January 23, 2017, and is responsible for promoting Bilingualism and Multiculturalism in Cameroon with a view to: Maintaining peace; Consolidation the country’s unity; Strengthening its people’s willingness and day to day experience with respect to living together.
When the national and international community ignores ethnic cleansing, it often ends up with a massive bill. If history teaches us anything about averting our eyes from repressive regimes it is that, sooner or later, we must fund refugee camps, send peacekeepers, host negotiations, accommodate thousands of migrants seeking asylum, and then help rebuild shattered nations. Never mind the stain on our collective conscience for standing by as civilians are slaughtered and displaced.
Cameroon may slide into another Rwanda. The Rwandan genocide was the mass slaughter of Tutsi, as well as Twa and moderate Hutu, carried out between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. The most widely accepted scholarly estimates are around 500,000 to 600,000 Tutsi deaths.
But Dr. Ernest Molua, Registrar of the University of Buea has since taken to social media to beat the war drums, along with other Bakweri elite. In one of several Facebook posts, Molua, whose mother is Bakweri and Father from ibiobio in Nigeria wrote: “The Tutsis thought they were smart! When the Hutus pounced on them they screamed Genocide, calling the International Community!”
The Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics furthered: “Challenging national institutions and ethnic territoriality are deadlier pranks, than practicing farmer-grazier conflicts”, telling North West people that the war the South West plans to wage is deadlier than famer-grazier conflicts known to the North West.
“It’s the responsibility of the few educated ones to caution the multitude not to play with gasoline; yet they all thread in folly!” Molua wrote. “To every ACTION there’s an Equal and opposite REACTION!”
In the midst of the many posts calling for North Westerners to be killed under the guise that they are all separatists, Peter Tieh Nde, SDO for Nyong-et-Kelle in Cameroon’s Centre Region replied to a post by Senator Mbella Moki Charles, insisting that only the state has the power to do and undo.
Mbella Moki said: “SWELA, killers of chiefs must be unveiled and held accountable.”
Tieh Nde replied: “This statement has the protection of the law, unlike what I am reading elsewhere from some cloudy head intellectuals [probably referring to Ernest Molua] calling for revenge of any kind and on who they are still unwilling to name clearly.
“When the state acts, it neither premeditates nor takes vengeance. It only seeks to restore its authority and public law and order.
“No other structure or individual has any rights or powers that come anywhere close to this. That’s why I constantly call on the judiciary to go to work each time a crime is committed without waiting for any particular person to complain.
“Our woes are tripled when the judiciary is unable to act for whatever reasons because no reason can ever be good enough to be a justification.”
Tribal rhetoric has lent itself to stereotyping and hate speech. The Governor of the South West region, the courts, the Ministry of Defense (under which Moja Moja works as a soldier), and the government, in general, has failed to address the xenophobic sentiments hatched by South Westerners against North Westerners.
The world must act now before more blood is spilled. The ongoing carnage witnessed in the Government-separatist war is already too much for the country. Not again!