By Awungia Festus AmbaNews24 – Buea
The sons and daughters of Essoh-Attah Fondom in Lebialem, through the Essoh-Attah Development Association – USA branch have rebutted the actions of Oliver Leke, aka “Field Marshall” on October 1, 2019 in the Essoh-Attah Fondom, describing them as an assault on the most sacred and sensitive traditions of the fondom that contradicts one of the very purposes of the Ambazonia liberation struggle – namely, the preservation of heritage as pertains in “anglophone” culture.
It should be recalled that “Field Marshall” who heads a fighting group in Lebialem State known as the “Red Dragons” took over the throne of Essoh-Attah, clad himself in chieftaincy regalia, took upon himself the name of the highest traditional ruler of the land of Essoh-Attah, walked on the most sacred places in the Essoh-Attah palace, and sat on the throne of the Fon of Essoh-Attah as would do the fon of the land himself. Many villagers gathered and cheered him on. Social media is filled with videos and pictures of this event that occurred while the Fon of Essoh-Attah, Foreke Asongtia was out of his palace.
The events have raised a sharp debate within Ambazonian communities. While some have seen it as a challenge against fons who have left their people in the village, fled and taken up residence in places such as Yaounde since the Ambazonian War of Independence started, others have wondered whether the priority of “Field Marshall” is the liberation of Ambazonia from colonial rule by Cameroon or the ascension to the throne of local chiefs. Some have recalled that his actions in Essoh-Attah fondom today are a continuation of his assault on the Lewoh fondom when he attacked the Lewoh palace, seized the scepter of the Fon of Lewoh, and laid the Lewoh palace assunder in many respects. Yet, to some, “Field Marshall” is merely enjoying his “spoils of war” that he has made the traditional thrones one of.
Speaking to AmbaNews24 after a meeting of some sons and daughters of Essoh-Attah in Buea, Callistus B. Akateh said, “Most people think Lebialem is one small road juncture or village. No! As you call it, it is a large ‘County’ with three ‘subdivisions’, namely, Fontem, Alou and Wabane. Fontem ‘Subdivision’ alone is made up of Lebang fondom and Essoh-Attah fondom. For Oliver, aka ‘Field Marshall’ who hails from Lebang to leave Lebang, and come and desecrate the sacred throne and traditions of Essoh-Attah fondom is nothing short of Lebang attempting to colonize Essoh-Attah. This is sacrilege!”
AmbaNews24 reminded Mr. Akateh that this is possible because the Fon of Essoh-Attah has been absent from his people, who are seemingly in need of a ruler in the homeland. Mr. Akateh was quick to respond: “The Fon of Nso stayed in his palace when this war started, braving the constant gun battles on both sides of his palace until his two children were killed and his life was most at risk. He had to leave the village. Here in Bakweri land, chiefs have been killed. The governor here even threatened chiefs in the last 20th May to come and march in front of him. Chiefs fought back, and many of us said the governor by such calls was attacking the sacredness of our culture in colonial style. What ‘Field Marshall’ has done is the same thing the governor did: attack the sacredness of Essoh-Attah culture in colonial style.”
AmbaNews24 squeezed Mr. Akateh further to explain himself on how “colonial style” could apply to the actions of Oliver Leke, aka “Field Marshall.” He responded: “Fontem Asabatong, who is the Fon of Lebang from where Oliver hails has been absent from his palace for a time much longer than the Fon of Essoh-Attah. Oliver’s family house in Mankem is less than 10minutes drive from the Fon of Lebang’s palace in Azi. If this is about taking over thrones of fons who have been away from their fondom for a while, why did Oliver, aka ‘Field Marshall’ not go and take over the throne of the Fon of Lebang, Fontem Asabatong, whom he was a body guard to, from where he hails and who has been out of his palace for over two to three years now? If the men and women of Lebang support this act by Oliver, then it is nothing short of Lebang attempting to colonize Essoh-Attah. Do not assume the consent of our people. These are times of blood and lives at risk. Our local population surrounded him in these acts of cultural rape because of the guns he is wielding over their heads.”
Asked whether the Essoh-Attah indigenes, especially elites outside of the village have been in communication with “Field Marshall,” Mr. Akateh said, “Oliver, aka ‘Field Marshall’ has been hidding in our village, which is much enclaved compared to Azi and Menji in Lebang. We never suspected a Trojan Horse against our culture was in our midst. The ancestors of Essoh-Attah will speak against this manipulation of the fears and anxieties of our people when the time comes. We are all for the struggle, but there are limits. There are red lines no one should cross! The people of Essoh-Attah are not just physical beings; they are spiritual too. Time will tell when the ancestors of our land speak. You all may not understand, but mark my words.”
Mr. Akateh further asked, “Let us assume Ambazonia becomes sovereign – do you want stability after independence or inter tribal wars, or a tribe vs. rebel group war? We have watched in pains, and we are not cowards!”
Above is a measured Press Release from the Essoh-Attah Development Association, USA branch.