Rhema V.A. Etiendem
In the matter of the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia, the Vatican listens to the position of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda and generally follows this position as it has in many other cases involving the self-determination of peoples around the world. With this consideration, what must inform the policies of the local bishops of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, the Diocese of Mamfe, the Diocese of Kumbo, the Diocese of Kumba, and the Diocese of Buea that make up this Ecclesiastical Province?
The answer cannot be the fear of the Yaoundé regime, for fear is of the devil when it comes to standing up for what matters most in the lives of millions of people. As John Paul II said during his first trip to Poland on June 10, 1979, “It takes courage to walk in the direction nobody dared to walk before.” And as he repeated so often, “Do not be afraid.” The moral arm of the universe turns towards justice and truth, and the virtuous cannot be afraid of standing up for these virtues.
For over two hundred and fifty years, many countries have had enshrined in their constitutions the separation of Church and State. When it comes to the Catholic Church, that line is most blurred. The seat of the Catholic Church is the Vatican. The Vatican is an autonomous state in Italy. The Vatican has diplomatic missions headed by ambassadorial nuncios in many other countries in the world just as countries have ambassadors in the Vatican.
This apparent non-separation of Church and State in the Catholic Church has both historical and theological foundation. Historically, the Catholic Church was so powerful to the point that it appointed kings over nations in Europe. Theologically, the Catholic Church, drawing from the biblical letters of St. Paul to the Corinthians and the Ephesians, teaches in its Catechism that the “Church” is the People of God called by the Father, gathered around the Son, Jesus Christ, under the action of the Holy Spirit, and bounded by the law of Love (CCC No. 753 to 777). The Catholic Church likewise teaches that the citizens of a country are the People of God. It is in this regard that Christian Cardinal Tumi in 2011, in Yaoundé, during the launching of his book titled, “My Faith: A Cameroon to be Renewed,” said, “The Church is the People of God and it is erroneous for anyone to attempt governing the people of God without God.”
In consideration of the Church as the People of God and the citizens of a country – individually and collectively – Catholic teaching does not only deal with matters such as baptism, the Holy Eucharist, the profession of faith, and the Ten Commandments. It also focuses seriously on matters of morality and ethics in a body of authoritative teachings deeply grounded in Scripture, which also relate to political theology. This body of teachings are called, “The Social Doctrine of the Church,” which touch on such issues as truth, justice and peace in the political life. Ambazonia and Cameroon are today locked in a bloody Ambazonian independence revolution war in which thousands have lost their lives, including priests, seminarians, pastors, women and children, and a catastrophic humanitarian crisis affecting more than half a million people is on a steady rise.
The Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda are caught in the mix: they hear deep in their consciences the voices of infants such as baby Martha killed in Muyuka seeking for peace; they hear the screams of Mami Appih burnt alive by Cameroon soldiers in Kwakwah crying for justice; they hear the teachers and the students who are unable to go to school crying for truth; they hear men in anguish as the Cameroon military burns down family houses fathers and mothers have labored for years to build; they hear local populations wailing under the vices of kidnappings and rape; and they see their own Church buildings turning into ruins as Christians in parishes flee from the gun battles into bushes. As the men in crosier and miter kneel and pray to God for a solution, and exhort the religious and lay faithful to do same, they must also – like the great philosophers of the medieval age caught in the quest for truth and divine guidance – ask God for a permanent and sustainable solution policy. Such a policy, the Vatican, submitting itself to truth, cannot fail to embrace.
This permanent peace solution shall not fall from the sky. It is already written in the teachings of the Church – and I should dare say, it is there seeking to be discovered by its episcopal teachers like Michael Faraday in 1831 discovered the electric dynamo that has produced electricity, dispelling the physical darkness of this world.
“Peace and Justice are Inseparable” – Pope Francis, Feb. 4, 2019
The Second Vatican Council put it that peace is “the fruit of that right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society and which must be actualized by man thirsting for an ever more perfect reign of justice” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 78). Drawing from this, John Paul II stated emphatically in his Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2002, that “The pillars of true peace are justice and that form of love which is forgiveness.” In this regard, to put an end to senseless violence, to restore the social and political order of our now shattered communities and achieve peace, we must seek justice and forgiveness. In other words, without justice for the Ambazonian people against the injustices they have suffered for over six decades under Cameroon’s rule, and without the people of Ambazonia and the people of Cameroon declaring mutual cordiality in which they can relate with each other not out of vengeance but love, especially in the context of respect for each one’s state, there cannot be permanent peace.
I talk of “the people of Ambazonia and the people of Cameroon” separately – two distinct people – because the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in 2006 determined and ruled that the Ambazonian people meet the definition of “a people” under international law, and therefore deserve all the rights of “a people” in the system of relations between peoples – that which we call the international system.
Speaking of international law, St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, defines “law” as “a rule and measure of acts, whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting…” (Summa Theologica II-i, q. 90, a. 1). In this regard, international law induces us to take certain actions with respect to the Ambazonian people, because they constitute “a people”! Aquinas also defines Justice, or Justitia as “a habit whereby man renders to each one his due by a constant and perpetual will” (Summa Theologica II-i, q. 58, a. 1); and “it is proper to justice, as compared with the other virtues, to direct man in his relations with others: because it denotes a kind of equality, as its very name implies…for equality is in reference of one thing to some other” (Summa Theologica II-i, q. 57, a. 1).
In light of Justice, therefore, the Bishops must ask themselves: what is the “due” of the Ambazonian people as a people, and to which they as Bishops, the government of Cameroon, the Vatican, and the international community as a whole are to direct themselves “in [their] relations with [the Ambazonian people]” under the current situation of the ongoing armed conflict, and in search of a permanent solution?
Catholic Teaching on the Rights of the People of Ambazonia to End the Current Armed Conflict and Restore Peace
God is the supreme author of peoplehood, nationhood, and sovereign statehood. He calls the Israelites, sets them apart as a special people in salvation history, gives them specific laws by which he shapes their way of life individually and collectively, establishes in them a system of governance consisting of elders, priests, etc, and settles them in a specific demarcated land – a territory of their own. God reared a people as a nation that is today, in the context of the modern world, a sovereign state of Israel. In this regard, peoplehood, nationhood and sovereign statehood are intrinsically connected in the Divine salvific plan that brings peace to the world. Despite opposition from the Amalekites, Hittites, Canaanites, Jebusites, and the horror of the Holocausts, etc, the self-determination of Israel could not be stopped because self-determination is divinely ordained as an immutable principle in the very establishment of any group of persons as a people.
The Catholic Church teaches elaborately on the rights of “a people” as “a due” or what they deserve. This teaching is well spelled out in Chapter 3, Section IV(d) of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. There, speaking on the “Rights of Peoples and Nations,” in the very first paragraph – as if to say this is the open door to all else, the Church postulates, declares, affirms, convicts and commits itself unto, and so teaches:
“The field of human rights has expanded to include the rights of peoples and nations: in fact, ‘what is true for the individual is also true for peoples’. The Magisterium points out that international law ‘rests upon the principle of equal respect for States, for each people’s right to self-determination and for their free cooperation in view of the higher common good of humanity’. Peace is founded not only on respect for human rights but also on respect for the rights of peoples, in particular, the right to independence.”
Do our Bishops want peace? Does the Church want peace in Ambazonia? Then here, in the doctrine of the Church, faced with an armed conflict between Cameroon and Ambazonia, is the way to achieve this true peace permanently: “Peace is founded not only on respect for human rights but also on respect for the rights of peoples, in particular, the right to independence.”
It is important to note that the resting of peace on “the principle of … respect for each people’s right to self-determination and for their free cooperation in view of the higher common good of humanity” is a direct quote from a letter by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, published in L’Osservatore Romano on September 4, 1989. The saintly Pope understood that wars, just as the Second World War, so often result from the failure to respect the rights of a people to determine their own future and to live freely and happily in their own sovereign country according to their own values. It is by respecting this right that the violence and destructions of war can be avoided in the Ambazonia independence revolution. In fact, by failing to respect these rights, the floodgates of violence and senseless killings continue, despite the fact that at the end the Ambazonian people by their courage and determination shall still attain sovereignty.
In fact, a year earlier, on January 9, 1988, addressing the Diplomatic Corps in the Holy See, Pope John Paul II was emphatic: “justice travels the road of respect for the right of peoples and nations to self-determination. Lasting peace cannot be imposed upon peoples by the will of the strongest, but must be agreed to by all, with respect for the rights of each, particularly the weak and minorities….There are still peoples who do not see their right to independence being recognized.”
Once we admit in truth that Ambazonians constitute “a people,” we must realize that the only way to achieve peace under the current dispensation is to respect the right of the Ambazonian people to self-determination, “in particular the right to independence.” This is a matter of human rights and by extension the rights of peoples. The Church is summoned by its own teaching under the Divine Hand of the Holy Trinity, to be “aware that her essentially religious mission includes the defense and promotion of human rights,” which are “Inalienable insofar as no one can legitimately deprive another person, whoever they may be, of these rights, since this would do violence to their nature” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, no.159 and no.153).
Without the defense and the advocacy of the rights of the Ambazonian people, individually as human beings and collectively as a people, “in particular the right to independence” from rule, oppression, domination and suppression by Cameroon, there can be no permanent solution and no sustainable peace.
Before I am stoned like Stephen the first martyr in the Acts of the Apostles for making this declaration, let us be reminded that Christian Cardinal Tumi, retired Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Douala, recently stated in an interview with Oriane Donkeng of Equinox TV that in the survey that the “Anglophone General Conference” under his leadership conducted, an absolute majority of the people said the only way out for the “Francophones” of Cameroon and the “Anglophones” of Ambazonia to live in peace is for them to separate! Vox populo, vox Dei! Do you want peace? If yes, then seek separation and know that in doing so you are acting in line with the doctrine of the Church!
The Cardinal, however, fell into an error in his opinion of holding onto federation – maybe because in federation he sees the “respect for States”. This opinion of the prelate probably reflects a position contained in “A Reflection of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of America on the Tenth Anniversary of the Challenge of Peace” issued on November 17, 1993: “Self-determination, understood as full political independence, should neither be dismissed as always harmful or unworkable nor embraced as an absolute right or a panacea in the face of injustice. Rather, efforts to find more creative ways to uphold the fundamental values embodied in self-determination claims are called for; peoples have a right to participate in shaping their cultural, religious, economic and political identities. Self-determination does not necessarily entail secession or full political independence; it can be realized through effective protection of basic human rights, especially minority rights, a degree of political and cultural autonomy and other arrangements, such as a federal or confederal system of government. While full political independence may be morally right and politically appropriate in some cases, it is essential that any new state meet the fundamental purpose of sovereignty: the commitment and capacity to create a just and stable political order and to contribute to the international common good.” While I respect the right of the Cardinal to hold that opinion, I state firmly that if one were searching for a case which “full political independence is morally right and politically appropriate,” the case of Ambazonia, based on truth as shall be expounded below, is an indisputable example. I pray fervently that the Cardinal, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, the Nuncio in Yaoundé, the Vatican, and all peoples shall know what this truth is and shall give it their “real accent” – to use the concepts in the Grammar of Accent of St. John Henry Newman. “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
No Viable Solution without Freedom and Truth Grounded in Addressing the Root Causes
Today, one hears of a disarmament commission set up by Mr. Paul Biya. Noble as the laying down of arms by both sides must be, it should be pointed out that even if those arms were laid down today in the quest for peace, they will be picked up by future generations on the same matter of the independence of Ambazonia unless the laying down of arms is founded on justice, freedom and truth. John Paul II in no.12 of his earlier mentioned 9 January 1988 address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See aptly called our attention to the fact that “peace is inseparable from justice, from freedom, rightly understood, and from the truth.” In this regard, only a solution that is founded on justice, freedom and truth can guarantee permanent peace in resolving the Ambazonia conflict.
In BAPEC/PRES/2016/30 of 22 December 2016, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda wrote an elaborate Memorandum to the President of Cameroon in which they expounded on the history of this conflict. I am aware that they asked for an audience with Paul Biya. Mr. Biya, President of Cameroon, threw that document aside and opted for injustice and a military solution. He never granted the audience, but has used his military to threaten the Bishops not to proclaim, defend, and advocate truths contained in the Social Doctrine of the Church: that Ambazonians, because they are a people, have a right to self-determination, “in particular the right to independence,” and without which there can be no peace!
Speaking of truths in that Memorandum, the Bishops in discussing solutions to the “Anglophone Problem” stated that “we need to examine, in a dispassionate manner, the root causes of the unease and unrest in the Anglophone Region of Cameroon and, if these causes are connected to injustice in any form, do all we can to root out those injustices.” In proposing a way forward, however, the solutions put forth by the Bishops were those that essentially address the “symptoms of discontent,” which the men of God had said in the same Memorandum that constitute “what some people mistake for the Anglophone Problem.” In other words, they were not solutions that focused or sought to address the root causes that the Memorandum itself said should be examined and rooted out.
The root causes of the current Ambazonia independence revolution is the non-granting of the fully deserved independence, sovereignty and self-rule to the erstwhile UN Class B Mandate Trust Territory of the Southern Cameroons under British Administration (now Ambazonia) under faulty claims by Britain of the economic unviability of the territory. This was a violation of UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, which affirmed, “all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory.” In this regard, the very organization of the plebiscite of 11 February 1961 was itself a violation of this United Nations adopted General Assembly Resolution and Charter. This faulty decolonization process opened the floodgates of the subsequent illegal annexation and occupation of the Ambazonia territory by Cameroon without a union treaty ratified by the parliament of the Southern Cameroons (now Ambazonia) as it were – all in violation of United Nations Charter, UN General Assembly Resolution 1608 of 21st April 1961, precisely Operative Paragraph 5, and other international laws and principles.
Any solution that fails to realize, address and incorporate the fact that the Ambazonian people, in justice and truth, deserve to be independent, exercising self-rule in their own sovereign territory is a whitewashed tomb solution that focuses on causa remota and forgets about the essentiality and necessity of causa proxima!
Positing a way forward that seeks to address the issues of marginalization, domination and suppression of the “West Cameroon” Patrimony in such formula as “decentralization” or “federation” is simply to be blinded by remote causes, which are not proximate causes. The root causes of the current conflict are proximate causes – they are causes of necessity that must be known, expounded, integrated, and made the ultimate bases of finding a lasting solution to the Ambazonia conflict. It will be erroneous totally to think that addressing the causa remota (remote causes), a sustainable solution that restores peace and stability can be found, because as the philosopher Marsilius Ficinus says, “From the remote cause the effect does not necessarily follow.” All the horror we see going on today is fundamentally and principally the effect of the proximate cause, not of the remote cause, for as Joannes Versor posits, “Nam posita causa remota non ponitur effectus, sed ipsa remota removetur” (Quaestiones Super Novam Logicam, I Ar. Post.)
To seek the proximate cause and to affirm a solution that is based on it is to seek knowledge and to seek knowledge is to seek the truth. Had Pilate yielded to truth and held firmly to it, Christ would have been spared crucifixion. The total repudiation of truth opened the way for the greatest injustice the world has ever known – man condemned God; the creature killed his Creator in a barbaric act of violence! When the Bishops fall prey to the intimidation of the Biya tyranny and repudiate truth about the status of Ambazonians as a people and what they deserve in justice because of their existence as a people, the Bishops likewise inevitably repudiate truth like Pilate, wash their hands off the people of Ambazonia who are the people of God –thus, the Church – and the consequences include barbaric violence on this people, continuous killings, rape, and suffering as it were with the Christ.
In John Paul II’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he writes in reference to the trial of Jesus as “that tragic proceeding in which man accused God before the tribunal of his own history and in which the sentence handed down did not conform to the truth.” The court of law as a place of justice is where the judge relies on truth to render a verdict. The word “verdict” comes from two Latin words, verum and dicere, which mean “to tell the truth.” In this regard, there can be no justice without truth!
Therefore, we have arrived at three propositions:
- The attainment of a permanent solution that guarantees peace in the ongoing Ambazonian revolution armed conflict requires justice and love;
- The attainment of justice requires real accent to truth
- Real accent to truth requires that we must respect the right of the people of Ambazonia to self-determination, and “in particular the right to independence.”
The Dilemma of Sovereignty of Cameroon and the Independence of Ambazonia
The Cameroon government believes that the Ambazonia self-determination cause is a threat to the sovereignty of Cameroon, and so it must fight to protect it. And here then lies the dilemma: how can the Church respect the right of the existence of Cameroon as a State and the right of Ambazonians to be independent from Cameroon, and thus sovereign? The answer lies in a truth well-articulated by Pope John Paul II in Zagreb in 1994:
“The precondition for reconciliation among nations is recognition and respect for the rights of each nation. Primarily, it is the respect of the right to existence and self‑determination, the right to culture and its development…. The sovereignty of the state is inextricably linked to its ability to promote freedom of the People i.e. develop the conditions that will allow the people to express their entire historical and cultural identity, to be sovereign with the help of the State.”
These words of JPII must be taken very seriously. They imply that for there to be reconciliation and thus, peace, between the people of Cameroon and the people of Ambazonia, there must be “the respect of the right to existence and self-determination” of each by the other. They imply that by failing to promote the freedom of the Ambazonian people, to “develop the conditions that will allow the [them] to express their entire historical and cultural identity, to be sovereign,” Cameroon is putting its own sovereignty in jeopardy.
The truth of the existence of Cameroon as a state and the existence of Ambazonia as an independent and sovereign country do not contradict each other – because one truth never contradicts another.
What are the fundamental propositions of this non-contradictory truths? There are three:
- In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no.157 the Church teaches the truth that:
“The rights of nations are nothing but ‘human rights’ fostered at the specific level of community life. A nation has a ‘fundamental right to existence’, to ‘its own language and culture, through which a people expresses and promotes … its fundamental spiritual ‘sovereignty’, to ‘shape its life according to its own traditions, excluding, of course, every abuse of basic human rights and in particular the oppression of minorities, to ‘build its future by providing an appropriate education for the younger generation.’ The international order requires a balance between particularity and universality, which all nations are called to bring about, for their primary duty is to live in a posture of peace, respect and solidarity with other nations.”
From the findings of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in 2006 that Ambazonians are a people, the international justice system basically declared that “Anglophone” Ambazonians constitute a nation and “francophone” Cameroonians constitute a separate nation, with each having a right “to shape its life according to its own traditions,” and each having the duty to “respect” the other! This is the first truth, namely, the affirmation of Ambazonia and Cameroon as distinct and separate peoples and nations!
2. As the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda expounded in their earlier mentioned Memorandum on the causes of this conflict, there is no legal union between the people of Cameroon and the people of Ambazonia, because there is no union treaty between the people and nation of Cameroon, and the people and nation of Ambazonia. As Christian Cardinal Tumi put it in one of his interviews, there has been no marriage between British and French Cameroons. This implies that the State of Cameroon remains legally distinct from the nation of the erstwhile Southern Cameroons under British Administration (now, Ambazonia). In other words, the State of Cameroon is distinct from Ambazonia.
This is the second, and one of the most important consequential truth in the current conflict!
Therefore, in the matter of the Ambazonian self-determination cause, one cannot advocate internal self-determination formulae such as decentralization, regional autonomy and federation because in truth, these can only exist when there is already a “marriage” between the two peoples. In the absence of any union treaty as the “marriage certificate” between and binding Cameroon and Ambazonia, it is illogical, self-contradictory, and the propagation of falsehood, as opposed to truth, to advocate these internal self-determination models.
This second truth demands and commands the Bishops, the Nuncio in Yaoundé and the Vatican to respect and advocate on the one hand for the right of Cameroon to exist as a State from its boundary with Tchad down to the Mongo and Matazen; and on the other hand, to respect, defend and advocate for the right of the Ambazonian people to self-determination, “in particular the right to independence” with its own territory stretching from the Mongo and the Matazen to Ekok in accordance with the Milner-Simon Agreement and the Anglo-French treaties that established these boundaries.
- UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 states: “all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory.”
This is the third truth, namely, that the people of Cameroon – separate and distinct as a people from the people of Ambazonia – have a right to exist in complete freedom, to exercise their sovereignty, and to maintain the integrity of their boundary from Tchad to the Mongo and Matazen; and the people of Ambazonia have the same right to complete freedom from dominion, oppression, rule and suppression from Cameroon, to the exercise of their own Ambazonian sovereignty and the integrity of their territorial boundary from Mongo and Matazen to Ekok. The people of French Cameroon had no greater right to be independent and sovereign in 1960 and to uphold same today, than the people of Ambazonia – for, as stated in the above UNGA Resolution 1514(XV), the right inalienable right to complete freedom, exercise of sovereignty and territorial integrity is applicable to “all peoples”. The realization of this right for each of the two peoples is the sine qua non for the reign of the era of peace strengthened by justice and built on truth.
These are the three evident and non-contradictory truths to which the Church has to give its real accent and to advocate and defend for the attainment of peace and a permanent solution to the Ambazonian Revolution conflict. In so doing, the Church is not caught in a faulty liberation theology grounded in humanistic temporality but is fulfilling its mission to go to the ends of the earth and teach the truth and is living up to its own teachings.
Where truth is denied, there is no justice; where justice is denied, there is no peace; where there is no peace, there is violence, war, hatred, rape, kidnappings, torture, maiming, no effectively functioning schools, empty Church buildings, destruction, and death – and these are the ills that plague today the territory of Ambazonia. It is no coincidence that the boundary of the Ambazonian territory matches exactly with the boundaries of the Episcopal Province of Bamenda.
Where truth is denied in the attainment of justice, there can be no permanent solution to the Ambazonian Conflict; where justice is denied in the attainment of peace, there can be no sustainable solution to this armed conflict. To deny these truths is same as Peter denying Jesus who is Absolute Truth; to fail to stand for these truths is to promote, unconsciously, a state of continuous bloodshed as it were in the scorching of Christ at the pillar.
John Paul II understood this when on January 13, 1992, two days before the European Union acted same, he made the Vatican the first State in the world to recognize the independence and sovereignty of Croatia after a bloody four years war that killed over 20,000 people and created 500,000 refugees. France stood against it, and he told France that the Vatican will act unilaterally and will place the responsibility of all deaths going forward on the shoulders of France. Here was the Church being a true Mother, a shepherd taking the bold steps in truth to save lives. The Bishops of Croatia expounded similar truths as above in the relationship between Croatia and the Serb controlled Yugoslavia. The Bishops of Croatia in standing for truth in firmness and boldness brought permanent peace to Croatia; the people of Ambazonia are expecting same from the Bishops of their land.
A Solution Policy in Conformity with Church Doctrine
For a Church solution policy position in the ongoing Ambazonia liberation struggle to be appropriately in line with truth, justice, and peace, and founded in the social doctrine of the Church, such policy should:
- Understand that the “anglophone” people of Ambazonia and the “francophone” people of Cameroon are all people of God, members of the one universal family of the Church whom God, Himself has permitted in the course of history to become and develop as two distinct peoples in the context of nationhood, and thus deserve the rights that are due each other such as the right to statehood and sovereignty, and territorial integrity in conformity with UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, which provides that: “all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory.”
- Uphold the right of the Ambazonian people to self-determination, “in particular the right to independence” as provided in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
- Promote, as John Paull II said during the Angelus prayer on June 29, 1991, that “force cannot be used to stifle the rights and legitimate desires of the nations.”
- Recognize that the continuation of an armed conflict between Ambazonia liberation fighters and the Cameroon military will constitute a useless catastrophe that will, nevertheless, have debilitating consequences on the relationship between the two peoples of Ambazonia and Cameroon, and will forever risk hindering forgiveness, and scar mutual peace and love between the two peoples; therefore, advocate the speedy end to the use of arms.
- Demand the respect of legitimate rights and desires of the people of Ambazonia, and who should be capable of freely exercising such desire democratically without biased interference by the Cameroon government.
- Exhort the Supreme Hierarchy of the Church to recall and adopt in the Ambazonia self-determination cause the position consistent with the words of Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4, 2019: “Justice is the second wing of peace. No one, therefore, can believe in God and not seek to live in justice with everyone, according to the Golden Rule.” In accordance with the Golden Rule, what is good for the people of Cameroon (complete freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity) is likewise good for the people of Ambazonia. In this regard, the Vatican has the moral obligation to take recognition measures consistent with the words of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on January 1, 1992: “the peoples have the right to choose their own way of thinking and coexistence. It is up to them to provide the means to help them fulfill their legitimate longings . . . determined freely and democratically. Besides, the community of peoples created texts and legal instruments that determine the rights and obligations of each people and, at the same time, envisage various methods of cooperation to harmonise the necessary relationships between sovereign states both regionally and internationally. One definitely cannot shape the future of any country or any continent using bombs.”
- In line with the doctrine of the duty of the international community in conflict resolution, vehemently support neutral parties mediated negotiations between all parties in accordance with international law and principles.
- Invoke the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, and advocate the same. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in no.506 states: “The international community as a whole has the moral obligation to intervene on behalf of those groups whose very survival is threatened or whose basic human rights are seriously violated. As members of an international community, states cannot remain indifferent; on the contrary, if all other available means should prove ineffective, it is legitimate and even obligatory to take concrete measures to disarm the aggressor. The principle of national sovereignty cannot be claimed as a motive for preventing an intervention in defence of innocent victims.” Over 3,500 people have lost their lives- most of them unarmed children, women, youth and elderly – and over 300 villages burnt down. How many more must die, and many more houses must be razed before this becomes a priority in the defense of the sacredness of human life?
- Shun fear-induced whether by words or actions from any party and assume the full responsibilities of prophets (teachers of the truth) and shepherds (leaders for justice and peace) in providing a final, permanent and sustainable solution to the Ambazonia self-determination cause, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity” (2Tim.1:7). If Bishops who by prayer, anointing and laying of hands bring down the Holy Spirit of Courage to fortify men and women as bearers of peace rooted in justice and truth were to be afraid of that which is just and true, what shall the laity do? When the lives and future of millions of God’s children are on the line, such cannot be the time for mediocrity that can become complacency in the disrespect of human and peoples rights. For as John Paul II told the Church at the dawn of the new millennium: “Since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity.” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 31). Shall we only watch St. Oscar Romero in movies, and hear sermons about him while the Lord Jesus seeks such a man in our midst today?
Dr. Cho Ayaba, President of the Ambazonia Governing Council recently asked in a public address: where is our own John Paul II? Finding him begins with Bishop Immanuel Bushu of Buea, Bishop George Nkuoh of Kumbo, Bishop Andrew Nkea of Mamfe, Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba, and Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Bibi of Bamenda. Shall they burry truth and justice, thus promote war, or shall they become bold in the defense and advocacy of truth, and thus find a permanent peace? One day, the books of history will document the role of the Church in the ongoing-armed conflict. Will it be actively redemptive or mediocre? The answer is in these six chosen servants of God at a time as this when the flock looks up to them in the hope of a smile like the one the Bishops of Croatia finally gave to the women, children, and men of Croatia in their quest for freedom and peace!!