|@Washington Protest, July 2017|
In the second and last part of Dr Ebenezer Derek Mbongo Akwanga’s interview, he states that Southern Cameroonians have been talking to themselves thinking that they have been speaking to the Government of the Republic of Cameroon.
“For 56 years one side has been fighting us and have also tied our hands. They have removed all our teeth and we are thinking that they should remove our nostrils before we start reacting. No, it can’t happen that way,” he argues.
He speaks passionately about the struggle and adds that, the duration for SC to attain its independence, would be determined by how much people invest in the struggle as individuals and as a people.
The freedom fighter, who considers himself as “Sango Na Muna” in the struggle, said he is an extremist for freedom and alleges that President Paul Biya is an extremist for domination and annexation while Cameroon's Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma, is an extremist for lies telling.
To the human rights activist and author, Southern Cameroonian women and girls should consider themselves as partners in the struggle and not just supporters. Dr Akwanga also speaks extensively about his ‘going to the war front’ and contends that the right of SC to defend themselves selves should not be seen from the perspective of going to war. Read on…
We put our discussion on hold when you said you feel for the younger ones. But of recent, social media activists ‘attacked’ you for posting the picture of your own child graduating from school. The same has been said for Cameroonians in the diaspora who are expected to also keep their children home. Are you thinking about that?
|Dr Akwanga, talking Passionately about the SC Struggle|
That was an oversight that can happen in any struggle. The post in question was pulled down from Facebook and needless to return to it.
We must respect the will of the people. This is to tell you that the people are sensitive and seriously involved in the struggle for the liberation of our homeland. Nevertheless, we cannot allow our children to go to school in an unsafe environment or the courts to function, until we get our freedom.
Shutting down schools, the courts and then ghost towns, some keep asking, what next?
What next? We have so many problems and all those problems will not be resolved if only we don’t send our children to school or our courts are shut down. Those problems can only be resolved in a free and totally independent Southern Cameroons where we can practice our way of life which entails our educational and legal and cultural systems, everything that we have, to put together.
There has been stalemate for months as we speak. The Cameroon government is referring to some Southern Cameroonians as ‘extremists’ while the leaders of the liberation movements are maintaining their position to keep up with the civil disobedience and ghost towns alive. Are we not moving towards outright violence in one way or the other?
What do you call violence? It is a very cheap rhetoric. People keep saying that we don’t want violence. You don’t want violence? What are some of us doing in the diaspora? Are we not escaping because of what La Republic is doing violently to us? Those journalists that have been locked up, more than six of them what did they do? Who is instituting violence? Let’s say Balikumbat attacks Bafanji and Bafanji keeps taking the blow. Then when Bafanji needs to retaliate and say, we have taken enough, we need to defend ourselves and take back our land, you would accuse the Bafanji people for violence?
That is not violence. You don’t look at war from the perspective of violence. Do you know why when you kill somebody it is categorized into first degree and second degree murder, homicide and manslaughter? It depends on the circumstances. What I am saying is that we are not a violent people. Our right to defend ourselves should not even be seen from the perspective of going to war.
The problem is that for 56 years one side has been fighting us and that side has also tied our hands. They have removed all our teeth and we are thinking that they should remove our nostrils before we start reacting. No, it can’t happen that way. Most of us are Christians and our culture does not support suicide. Why do we want a general suicide for the entire Southern Cameroons when we fold our arms and somebody is beating us when we know we can untie that rope and fight back to defend ourselves?
|Teargas Canisters, Used in Bamenda Dec 8 2016|
Some have been asking if you have the means to fight back…
How far do you know if we have the means if we don’t try? Show me any army in the world that has won a war against its people. Do you know why they are still fighting in Iraq till date? You never win a guerrilla war. If we decide to become guerrillas would also decide when to end it because we can keep going and going even if only one person is remaining. You prepare and go to the field .
You must enter into peace talks with the guerrillas when we would reach that stage, if that is what they want. You know what happened with the Barth separatists? They were never defeated though they lost some battles in certain places. They were still there.
I am made to understand that Southern Cameroonians are afraid they don’t have the resources for maybe war, they don’t want war… and do not want to die or for innocent people to lose their lives…
Fear of what? How do you know that we don’t have the weapons? You will know whether we have weapons when we start using them or we don’t use them. Just wait, when we start using them the next question would be which type of weapon you have. Are they Chinese, American or Russian? The weak will always find a way to escape from their responsibilities. What we are trying to do is not to find out whether we have weapons or not.
What we are trying to do is to pass the baton to the next generation. Did the guys who got up in the North West and created the largest catapult the world has ever seen aware that they were going to do that? If you try and don’t succeed, try, try…try and try again. We have not even tried and we are asking whether we have resources. It’s La Republic which should be asking what we have to fight them. We can’t make an announcement.
These are questions the ordinary Southern Cameroonian in the struggle can be asking himself or herself…
Who is the ordinary man? The ordinary man who dies every day without Quinine because the government and the regime cannot provide anything? Or the ordinary woman who goes to the hospital pregnant and is forced to give birth on the floor and she dies? Or the ordinary man who dies along the Tiko-Douala road because the roads are death traps and graveyards? Is that the ordinary man you are talking about who is afraid to go to war to defend his homeland?
|Violence on UB Students Nov 2016|
Who is the ordinary man? The one who tries to escape persecution and cross over to Nigeria and is killed or like my junior Jeff Mokake, who wanted to cross to the USA and died between Costa Rica and Nicaragua? Or the ordinary woman or girl who is dying in Kuwait? Are they the people who are afraid to die when they are dying every day? Are they the ones or those who are in China?
With all the knowledge you have you cannot work or do anything. You have to at times beg for crumbs to survive. You tell me how that is different from death. You are a living corpse so you should not be afraid to stand. Those who are down there are never afraid to fall.
Are you going to be at the war front or on your keyboard?
What kind of question is that? (Laughs…) Wait for the appropriate time…
As the SC Youth League chairman, what do you make about the debate and the election of an IPM or Chairman of the Governing Council for Southern Cameroons?
I don’t even see myself as just the leader of the youth league but as the leader of the struggle. Even at my age I am one of the oldest who is in this struggle that have never wavered. I am like that stone they call ‘Sango na Muna’ in the middle of the sea. That stone that the water comes and goes on it and still leaves it there. I am not going to anywhere when it comes to this struggle.
I have given you those dynamics, politics. If people don’t cast away officialising politics into this struggle and realise that this is a matter of the very survival of a people nothing is going to change. I am not a rich man but we have a culture in which our people respect titles and wealth and the younger generation find it so difficult to disentangle themselves from that. People at times accumulate fake titles and they start fighting one another and thinking that God will send someone from heaven to come and fight for them.
If we want freedom, I told our people, write it down that Dr Akwanga said give us independence and take up any position that you want. I am not interested in power. I have been in the struggle from the age of 13. I just want freedom. I can go back home, others can go back home. Those who want politics can play it, then. The greatest thing Mandela did is to have run South Africa for one term. If he tried the second term he would have died in office.
Because if you are really doing your job as a President or PM you would not want more than two terms since it’s a very heavy job.It does not only make you grey but it can make you grow mad because of the pressure that is there. We don’t have a piece of land called our own and so how will it work? I have told our people that we are a people because we are a nation. We are not a country yet because we are not yet a state. You are forming a PM or whatever position to do what? Where do you want to put him?
It’s a government in exile…and in waiting…
No. You just want to create more chaos. Let me ask you. If others create a government I come here as Dr Akwanga and many know and trust me and get Dr Success to be the Secretary of State for Defense. I get you as Head of Communication. I create my own government. Who is going to stop me?
|Dr Akwanga, and H.E. Sisiku AyukTabe (to his left)|
Finally everybody can create his own government…
Good. Let me tell you. If we have our land and put up a flag and create a government and others create their own. Whose government would be respected? That is what we said to the people. Let us do the right thing that is done in such a struggle. When we have a piece of land the rest will follow.. We must be ready to go get the piece of land.
Don’t you think trying to go get a piece of land could plunge the country into a long war like in South Sudan?
No it can’t be a long war. The people of South Sudan fought for a very long time. People of East Timor were not even as sophisticated as us. All will depend on the commitment of those who want freedom.
Aren’t you afraid of being killed in the process? Again are you serious that you will be at the war front or behind the key board as some people are insinuating?
Are you sure that I am still alive to be afraid of death?
are alive and talking to me…
|University of Bamenda Student, Julius Akum, Shot Dead|
No I am a living corpse that is what you are and all of us Southern Cameroonians are, until we take back our land. We are all pretending to ourselves. For 56 years we have been talking to ourselves thinking that we have been talking to LRC.I don’t want to use a very raw analogy. Look, we are all going to die. Death is part of human transition. I don’t know how I am going to die. But I don’t want to die on my knees. I want to die standing.
Let me die for something that would uplift the human spirit than to die for something that would downgrade it. We are not perfect persons, which is why we continue to seek the face of God. We have to decide whether we want to die for something that is upright and righteous or something degrading. I can give you a list of people who have betrayed the struggle and are dead. I went to prison and went through all kinds of torture. God knows why he kept me alive.
I wish to find out at what level you are with your case against the Cameroonian government. (The UN Human Rights Committee had asked the Cameroon government to pay the sum of 1.5 Billion frs cfa to Dr Akwanga as reparations including compensation for torture and imprisonment since 2011.)
Well I have won the case. The UN has asked them to pay compensation but it looks as if the state is scared that if they paid me I will use it to buy AK47s and come after them. But I have said that it is already in the books. Whether I die today and my son or daughters are no longer there my grandchildren will collect that money. Whatever system exists there, would pay that compensation.
|Police Molesting lawyer Muea, Buea (2016)|
Would you want to recall your detention conditions?
I have already explained how I was being fed with human excrement and urine for two weeks, solitary confinement for two years on the ‘balancoire.’ I was sexually molested by female gendarmes and beaten on the soles of my feet and given all types of treatment. I don’t like talking about myself. But if every true Southern Cameroonian who has suffered and decides that I am taking revenge on La Republic du Cameroun, how many people would be fighting?
You will find at least 7.5 million Southern Cameroonians fighting against La Republique. There are different types of war. There is a war to conquer people like what Adolf Hitler and Mussolini did. There is also what is called a war of liberation like what happened in Kosovo where the US sent troops to help the Kosovites. That is not a war of dominating people but a war to save humanity. We don’t want to conquer LRC. Our goal is simple. Take back our homeland. Stay where you are we can come together as neighbours. I see LRC citizens and their system as enemies to us.
Of late there has been much talk about a possible genocide in Southern Cameroons, your take on that?
It has been going on already for a very long time. Are you saying that when we start defending ourselves that is when it would become genocide? People are afraid to do their jobs. How many have we seen in the USA dying without touching the gun? How many have died on the Tiko- Douala or Douala- Bamenda Road. People are not afraid to die but are afraid to take responsibility. The torture and the abuses going on is part of the genocide.
People are saying the struggle is in the hands of the Cameroonian youths. In your view, are they organised to face this challenge?
There is no Cameroonian youth. Cameroon has died in the youths called LRC. They are chicken. But there are Southern Cameroonian youths. The Southern Cameroonian youth are an integral part to this struggle. They play a pivotal role for the struggle for freedom because it is their struggle. What we are trying to build is not just for them. It is for the children that they are going to reproduce and also for their great, great grandchildren.
|(On Phone) with other SC Rights Activists|
Our days are running out that is why they become an integral part of the struggle. It is in the same light that I see our women and girls and keep telling them that they should not just see themselves as supporters of the men in this struggle. They should see themselves as partners, different from supporters. The Southern Cameroonian youths are therefore an integral part of the struggle. For in reality the struggle is to build a better future for them and the next generation and so they must not give up.
We have witnessed killings when the protests started and now we are witnessing destruction of property. Who do you think is responsible?
That should not even be an issue. Those markets and schools cannot be compared to one single Divine Sumbela who was shot dead and those killed in Southern Cameroons. Those markets and institutions that are being burnt down cannot measure to a Julius Ngundi, an Ekang Zacharia, a Philip Tete, or Richard Fomuso. They are nothing. You can replace those things but you can’t replace any of these men who have been killed. So let our people talk about those who have been killed than talk about things that are replaceable.
You are author of more than one book, could we share your inspiration?
I wrote Smiling through Hardship which I am trying to update. There is also Heads Without Hearts written by my cousin Professor Samuel Kale Ewusi. I am expecting that others would be able to write about me. That is what is to happen. Let them not wait for me to die. Those who are brave can write about me.
I was told people are even afraid to meet you. What do you think accounts for this?
I know people are afraid of me and even to take pictures with me. I know I am even worse than the OsamBen Laden who is dead. That is not even a problem. People were scared of associating themselves with Albert Mukong at one time in the Southern Cameroons.
You don’t talk about him. If any child who mentioned that name someone would say that man is very dangerous. Don’t call that name. At the end of the day he became the one everybody wanted to go closer to. People were afraid of Ernest Oundie, Oum Nyobe, Felix Moumie and others. People were scared of talking about Nelson Mandela. That is how the world is.
Now everybody wants to say like Mandela. They forget that Mandela planted bombs. He encouraged even the sabotage at that time because it was needed. I am not worried about that. I know what people would write as epitaph on my grave. But the people will conclude. They are going to say there once lived a very small man, very physically few, but who carries the heart of billions of people.
How soon are we going to have the independence of the Southern Cameroons which majority of SC seem to want restored?
The duration for us to have independence would depend on how much we have invested in the struggle as individuals and as a people. I cannot be precise to say in 3 days or 4 days. If I make that kind of calendar for independence it means I am mad. We can know when to begin if we have the means. You have heard about burnings here and there. Do you know what is going on and where it is coming from?
Activists are accusing the regime and the regime is saying it is the handy work of extremists?
|Making a point to Bar Shey Blaise|
The annexationist regime is accusing the pacifist people of Southern Cameroons as extremist on what bases? Have you not heard that the greatest extremist was Jesus Christ? Have you ever head somebody asking you to love your enemy? Do well to those who despise you.
I am an extremist for freedom. It means I will do whatever it takes even until death to ensure that my people are free. Paul Biya is an extremist for domination and annexation. He is prepared to kill our people, take away our electricity and our water as he took our internet. He is ready to go to anyway to make sure that we know that he calls the shots and that we are his slaves.
Issa Tchiroma is an extremist for lies telling. That is the absolute negative part of extremism. Every one of us has character traits of extremism it depends how you exhibit it. You can have extremism for the better good of the people or for negative things. I always tell our people not to bother on what they would be called but on what they think about themselves. So we should not go and defend our homeland because someone would say they are extremists or terrorists? Another man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.