By Paul J. Lysinge
The Retired Arch Bishop of Douala, Cardinal Christain W. Tumi has said vehemently that there can be no schools return if there is no peace in Ambazonia. The prelate spoke recently following the heated debate as to the resumption of schools in the Ambazonian territory that has been heavily militarized by the Yaounde dictatorial regime as part of its overall campaign to continue its colonial expansionist policies on the territorial space of Ambazonia. The policies of French Cameroun that provoked the ongoing war of independence in Ambazonia has instilled an atmosphere of fear and insecurity that has grounded the entire educational system in Ambazonia to be shut down for the last three years, raising serious concerns in the international community about the future of a whole generation of Ambazonia children.
The question of whether schools should or shall resume in Ambazonia has become a matter of public debate pitting the Cameroon government on one side against the Ambazonian people on the other hand.
The Cameroon government has engaged in “Back to School Campaigns,” which it intends to use as a ploy to claim to the international community that it has successfully defeated the Ambazonian people in the later’s struggle for sovereignty, and normalised the situation in Ambazonia.
The Ambazonian people, on the other hand, have argued that there is no enabling environment for schools to resume effectively in September 2019 because the streets of Ambazonia have been militarized by Cameroon, the Cameroon army is shooting and killing unarmed civilians rampantly in neighborhoods and streets, Cameroon soldiers are raping young girls at will, and many schools have either been burnt down by the Cameroon military or are standing as abandoned buildings amidst tall grasses and trees that make them uninhabitable. Many school children have run away from their school environment into the bushes, fleeing from the war declared by Cameroon on the Ambazonia people. To create an enabling environment for schools to resume, the Ambazonian people have demanded that the Cameroon government withdraw its army from the streets of Ambazonia to barracks in Cameroon’s territory. On August 21, 2018, Christian Cardinal Tumi, the Emeritus Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Douala and the highest-ranking prelate of the Catholic Church in Cameroon took on the debate. Cardinal Tumi was reacting to the impact of the sentencing to life jail of Seseku Ayuk Tabe and nine other leaders of the Ambazonia self-determination cause by the Cameroon kakistocracy. Speaking to the press, the Cardinal said, “We have said that the government has a very important role to play. If there is no peace, there will be no going to school.”
In the above words, Cardinal Tumi placed the responsibility of creating an enabling environment for schools resumption on the Cameroon government, which really does not care whether Ambazonian children are educated or not. The right to life is primordial to the right to education because corpses cannot attend school. Insofar as Cameroon continues its war against the Ambazonian people’s right to self-determination, a war in which Cameroon has killed priests and pastors, there cannot be peace. And in the absence of peace, children cannot study in schools with stray bullets taking on school children on their way to school or piercing through classroom doors and windows. If the Cameroon government truly wants Ambazonian children to go to school, it should withdraw its military from Ambazonian streets, rather than sending hypocritical schools resumption crusaders to Ambazonia who cloth themselves in bulletproof vests while speaking to the people because they fear for their lives in an absolutely unpredictable war environment which root cause remains unaddressed.
Just at a time when there was some possibility that schools could resume, the military tribunal in Yaoundé sentenced ten Ambazonians of repute to life hail in a nocturnal trial characterized by the greatest miscarriage of justice that history has ever known. This action has fueled existing anger in the Ambazonian people and served to justify the decades-old assertion that the Ambazonian people can only enjoy justice and the blessings of happiness and safety in their own country – in a sovereign Ambazonia.