Win The Peace, Not The War
By Yerima Kini Nsom ( Culled from The Post)
The grotesque drama of horrendous killings animating the Anglophone Crisis may just be a bite from our museum of bestiality. It is a glaring testimony that the belligerents, who have turned the heat of violence on the civilian population now for four years, are conscienceless mercenaries who are more concerned with their bloated egos than the wellbeing of citizens.
By their arrogance, they insist on winning the war, and not the peace. There is no gainsaying that the Government that has unleashed an elite military force to fight the armed groups could win the war militarily. But, winning peace would be a pipe-dream in the circumstances. And we are where we are because the authorities unleashed disproportionate lethal repressive feats on an issue that could easily be handled in a fireside chat.
By so doing, Yaounde behaved like a carpenter who went straight for the hammer and the nail and quickly nailed a plank that was rather supposed to be smoothened. Like the ace radio commentator, Ebssy Ngum (of blessed memory) once remarked, the Cameroon Government behaves like the carpenter whose only tool is the hammer. In other words, the Government uses repression in every conflict situation with citizens. It guns down every protesting fly with a machine gun. It is sad that, even as the country sinks deeper down the abyss of barbarism, the authorities have continued to use the same repressive methods.
The same situation holds sway of the separatists who believe that ghost town operations, the kidnapping and killing of some civilians which they call “blacklegs” will lead them to independence.
Blame game aside, the current war in the Northwest and Southwest Regions is a useless conflict that only benefits the callous mercenaries who are reaping unduly from the already stressed economy that whimpers soberly in agony. Such a war is also an onslaught against the sacredness and sanctity of human life, good governance, accountability, human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Those who call the shots are riding roughshod over these values in the name of fighting terrorism. These are the values that differentiate human beings from animals.
It is even a sadder irony that those who projected themselves yesterday as the Messiahs who would liberate former Southern Cameroonians from the stranglehold of La Republique du Cameroun's dictatorship, are monsters who take away civilian lives with barbaric ease. The territory they claim to be fighting to liberate has been pushed back to the shackles of medieval underdevelopment. The few roads in the two crisis-hit regions that were very vibrant are now mere footpaths mangled by potholes that have matured into yawning craters. Every now and then, there is a dictatorially-imposed lockdown that stops even sick people and women in labour from going to the hospital. Many die at home.
Unfortunately, the belligerents continue to hold tenaciously the fort of their ideological extremism. While responding to the brutal killing of Comfort Tumasang last week, the army did not behave better than those they call “terrorists”. As reported by The Guardian Post, the military unleashed terror on the already vulnerable Muyuka population by way of arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings and burning down of houses. Do the belligerents have any moral authority to gainsay anyone for extrajudicial killings? A family in Tiko is in consternation after soldiers reportedly opened fire on little children searching for snails in their backyard. One of them, Bessem Blandine, was done to death while two others who sustained deep injuries are battling for life in the hospital. On Saturday, August 15, the separatist fighters added corpus to their repertoire of terror by hacking life out of one retired warder, Jonathan Ngala, in the Mukop neighbourhood in Ndu in the Northwest Region. The separatist fighters simply sentenced him to death on allegations that he was an informant to the military. The Separatist fighters are also accused of gunning down a geography teacher, Nelson Njamshi, who went to pick up his daughter from PSS Mankon in Bamenda last Tuesday. This is the very Cameroon that just four years ago was the envy of the world for being an oasis of peace in the conflict-stricken Central African desert?
Even with the worsening situation, it sounds incomprehensible that the Government has ignored all the calls for the initiation of a frank and inclusive dialogue. It has chosen to remain in its comfort zone by coming out only with half and cosmetic measures that have not been able to even scotch the snake, let alone killing it. Shying away from the issues stoking the embers of the crisis with ridiculous measures like prohibiting the buying of machetes, metal rods, pickaxes, which are mostly farm tools used in the two Regions that are predominantly agrarian, is preposterous. It is a decision that will affect mostly the peasant farmers of the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
Remote-controlling a bench of eight rented demonstrators to protest in front of the US Embassy in Yaounde cannot help us at this moment. Only frank and inclusive dialogue will rescue us at this moment. We have a legitimate right to press for the arrest of anybody who is bankrolling the violence in the two Regions. Yet, that cannot be a be-all and end-all solution. It will rather deepen the crisis.
For one thing, many people had naively predicted that the crisis was going to come to an end following the arrest of Ayuk Tabe and Co. on January 5, 2018. But, here we are in August 2020 with the crisis instead taking barbaric proportions.
This means that only a ceasefire, frank and inclusive dialogue will get us out of this horrendous predicament. Those who are arguing against dialogue are only wasting their time, because, it will eventually come. But, does it make sense if we wait for more people to be killed, more villages to be burnt, and more of the taxpayers’ money to be spent recklessly before we heed the calls for peace? Every war ends with peace, no matter how long it takes. So, is it not better for the belligerents to make haste before the sun fully disappears into the belly of the Atlantic Ocean? It was not for nothing that the former British Premier, Winston Churchill, cautioned conflicting parties to always choose to “talk talk” instead of “war war.”
Would it make any sense if any of the parties wins the war without winning peace? Only dialogue will enable both parties to win both the war and the peace at the same time. In other words, frank dialogue sires a win-win deal that brings back peace and restores the sanity, integrity and honour that our beautiful country has lost to this war.