By Michael Sone
AmbaNews24 Correspondent, Canada
For the first time since the Ambazonian Independence Revolution intensified three years ago, Christian Cardinal Tumi the Ambazonian citizen who is the retired Arch Bishop of Douala has said that the “secession” option of the Ambazonia people must be on the table in any dialogue that is organized to resolve the ongoing war between Cameroun Republique, and the Ambazonian people.
The prelate spoke to Equinox TV journalist, Oriane Donkeng in the program, “The Inside”. This interview took place recently as the entire Camerounian people grapple with the call from their President, Paul Biya who recently made a speech in which he called for a ‘Grand National Dialogue’ to discuss the armed conflict.
Cardinal Tumi who has been championing the organization of an Anglophone General Conference (AGC) as a way to resolving the conflict said his call for consideration of “secession” was based on a survey done in preparation of the said conference. In this survey, sixty-nine percent of respondents said categorically that “secession” was the best option to bring peace between the Ambazonian people and their Camerounese counterpart.
This revelation from Cardinal Tumi marks a sharp turn in the very nuanced positions of the prelate as to the independence quest of Ambazonians who have mostly considered Tumi as being complacent to the genocide of the Yaoundé regime against the Ambazonian people. Ambazonian critics of Tumi have accused him of not using his moral authority to speak out forcefully in support of the legitimate aspirations of the 8 million people of Ambazonia who are fighting for their survival from the brutal tyranny of Cameroun Republique led by dictator Paul Biya.
When pressed about his call for the “secession” option to be included on the dialogue table, Cardinal Tumi was very categoric in saying “Yes!” He added, “if [the separatists] convince us, we should take it.” He went on that even though his own personal position was for federalism, the issue of “secession” should be an option because according to him that is what Ambazonians are saying.
The prelate said while the organizers of the Anglophone General Conference had tried to influence the outcome of the questionnaire by asking 1000 respondents what they would prefer between “federation and decentralization” as the form of the Cameroon state to resolve the current conflict, they were taken aback by the fact that very few people accepted the two forms. In fact, only 4 or 5 persons opted for federation or decentralization.
This has caused many doing the math to say the Cardinal most probably misspoke. He probably wanted to say 99.6% of the Ambazonian people support the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia, because 4 persons in favor of “federation or decentralization” out of a thousand make up only 0.4% of the sample.
When Donkeng further asked the Cardinal if this suggestion will be acceptable to the Paul Biya regime that has often said that the “secession” option is a taboo subject that will never be entertained, Cardinal Tumi said it should be on the table, because according to him Ambazonia and Cameroon had been separate before. If separation will bring peace, he added, then “they should listen to the Ambazonian people.”
Christian Cardinal Tumi also stated that the form of the state is a human creation and can be changed if the people want.
During a recent fact-finding visit by Cardinal Tumi and members of his AGC team to his hometown of Kumbo, in the northern zone of Ambazonia, the Cardinal saw first hand the reality of the power dynamics that have changed in the region where large portions of the territory is being controlled by the pro-independence forces of Ambazonia.
A journalist Elie Smith, a member of the Anglophone General Conference leadership wrote the experience in his traveler’s diary and concluded that 98% of the Ambazonian territory is being controlled by the Defense Forces of Ambazonia. This watershed reporting was based on factors such as the number of roadblocks controlled by Ambazonia militias, and the complete abandonment of the Camerounian occupational forces from most of the territorial space of Ambazonia.
When the team finally arrived Kumbo, they went to see the colonial Divisional Officer of Bui, where Kumbo is the main city, who revealed to Cardinal Tumi that “this is the heart of Ambazonian country.” In his conversation with the Cardinal Tumi led team, the DO who was wearing a military bulletproof vest as a sign of the constant threat by the independence-seeking militia to his life, said the area has been completely cut off from the rest of the country because of the strength and control of the Ambazonian forces. “I cannot even get the supplies of my medication for my diabetes,” he told Tumi.
This development from Christian Cardinal Tumi on the current war situation is coming following a couple of months during which the retired priest has been coming under sustained attacks and criticism from the independence movement leaders. Dr. Cho Ayaba, President of the Ambazonia Governing Council, for example, recently said that the failure of the Cardinal to stand up fully for the independence of Ambazonia despite knowing there is no union between Ambazonia and Cameroon is enabling the occupation of Ambazonia by Cameroon, which is causing the continuous killing of the Ambazonian people by the Cameroon government.
In the above-said speech, Dr. Ayaba used a list of church prelates the world over who time and again have stood up to defend the people. He cited Pope John Paul II and his stance against Adolf Hitler. He mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King in the fight against racism in America. He drew attention to Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu against apartheid in South Africa. He pointed to Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador who stood up against the El Salvadorian government tyranny and accepted martyrdom for it. These men all rose up to defend the humanity of their people guided by truth and justice when their people were under attack. Dr. Ayaba asked this rhetorical question directly to Cardinal Tumi: “where is our own John Paul II, where is our own Martin Luther King?” Speaking to Equinox television, key issues of the colonization and marginalization agenda of the Ambazonia people by the Cameroun regime were highlighted. The journalist mentioned the current protocol standing of the highest government official who hails from Ambazonia in the present dispensation and said the current Prime Minister is fifth position in state protocol rank. The Prime Minister comes after the President of the Republic, President of the Constitutional Council, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the National Assembly, who are all francophone Cameroonians.