Yerima Kini Nsom, Author Of Issues At Stake
By Kini Nsom
The victims and potential victims of the Anglophone Crisis are so intricately linked that what happens to me today is likely to happen to you tomorrow. That is why I was hard-hit by a feeling of disgust and horror when those four children and one teacher of Government Bilingual High School, GBHS, Ekondo-Titi, were savagely bloodied to thy kingdom come. Every parent in this country ought to have been conquered by a raging combination of grief and anger. The evil forces had hurled the night on the morning of Ekondo-Titi. They had hurled the midnight on those young children who were still enjoying the morning of their lives, hoping to have a long earthly sojourn and contribute their quota to nation-building.
It is sad because those were harmless children who could not comprehend the barbaric insanity and the enigma of the ongoing useless war of bloated egos. There is a saying in most African societies that a child who belongs to one person is the one that is still in the mother’s womb. This means that, once born, the child becomes the collective upspring of society. Thus, I was virtually devastated by the demonic indifference some social media jonahs exhibited towards the killing of those children. The agony of my disappointment was rudely driven home when one of them asked if the Ekondo-Titi school children were different from those that have been killed elsewhere in the two Regions. I shivered with apprehension as I sour-facedly read the comment. As I read more comments, my body was chilled with sadness. For, it shows how much of inhuman oafs some of us have become.
Cameroon has become the proverbial he-goat that cannot hide its stink because it has been walking the road of blood for the past five years. I keep asking myself if the Anglophone Crisis has become an infanticide-stricken juggernaut in which the lives of innocent kids should be abridged and wasted. No palliative euphemism can cushion the potency of infanticide in this crisis. Otherwise, how do we explain the fact that since last year, school-going kids have been victims of targeted killings from Kumba to Buea and from Buea to Bamenda and now Ekondo-Titi? We are carrying more curses because we kill the saints in their prime, expecting to live on. For one thing, threats on children anywhere are threats on children everywhere. I saw my sons and daughters in the children that unidentified gunmen killed in Ekondo-Titi. The killing of that French teacher, Celestina Song Fien, scored a direct hit on my bleeding heart because she was somebody I knew personally.
One thing is clear: that the authors of that cowardly act have murdered sleep. So, they too will have no sleep. There will be no hiding place for them, even if they escape from earth to seek refuge on another planet. Shedding the blood of innocent children and women carries the potency of suicide. I have tried to fashion out all forms of logic, including callous sophistry, but have not been able to figure out any element that can explain why those children were killed. Already, circumstantial evidence is pointing accusing fingers at one of the Separatist groups that called for a total school boycott, following the killing of a pupil, Brandy Tataw in Bamenda. In a voice note circulated on many social media outlets, the spokesperson of that group unleashed a plethora of thinly-veiled death threats to proprietors, teachers and parents who would dare send their children to school. In the circumstances, substantive evidence is needed to ascertain the accusation raised by other Separatist factions against that particular group. In a war situation, no issue should be treated with prejudice. For, every scenario is possible. The killers can come from any ideological end of the war, including left, right and centre. If it is true that that group killed the children, what would be their motive? How were these children an obstacle for those who are fighting for independence? After having killed those children, can we say the road to independence now is very smooth? Given claims by state officials to the effect that military and security elements have been deployed all over in the two Regions to protect schools; how then did those killers have easy access to that school? Where were the soldiers on guard? Were any soldiers deployed to guard the school at all? These are some of the questions that the local authorities should answer so we seek to avoid such sad incidents. From every indication, that incident is a blemish on the ability of the State to provide security to schools in certain areas. Some vicious administrators have been scapegoating government teachers on claims that they have abandoned their jobs because of the fear of being killed by the Separatist fighters who have been calling for school boycott. How can such teachers conquer fear when the State has not provided enough security for them? Instead of providing enough security, some administrators have continued to victimise many teachers in the two Regions by suspending their salaries. They are creating more frustrations and destroying families by such callous acts.
The irony is that the administrators, who threaten teachers every day, wear bullet-proof vests, move in the cordon of well-armed phalanxes of military guards, and are transported in armoured cars. What else is witchcraft? Some of them bench and cowardly “die” many times while waiting for their real death, once they hear the sound of a gunshot.
Are they saying that the lives of the teachers and other civil servants do not matter?
It is incumbent on the administrators to provide enough security instead of just threatening teachers. Otherwise, they should assure the teachers that the government will give them another life once they are killed by armed groups. Will Celestina Fien Song and teachers who have been killed ever have their lives back? The authorities should spend more mental energy on how to reinforce security in schools, instead of suspending salaries and calculating what percentages they would get when the teachers come on bended knees, begging them to re-instate their salaries.
The best way to provide security is to mainstream peace in their decisions and actions. As of now, the declarations for peace are empty hypocritical incantations and mere pacific inanition because they are at variance with their deeds. The belligerents should stop killing our children, parents, soldiers, friends, and relatives. I am Ekondo-Titi. I am the four slain children, I am Celestina Fien Song.