I remember the worst night of my life. I was in my friends' hostel room in the student residential area by the University of Buea, Cameroon. I planned on having a sleep-over at her place. Little did I know that I was in for a sleepless-over. My friend called me to say I must leave her room immediately. She was a member of the student union and the students of the university were on strike. She heard that armed forces were planning on visiting the rooms of members of the student union to create havoc that night. So to keep her life safe, she chose not to return home and called me to run for my life.
It was the most confusing thing I ever heard. I heard gun shots so close to her room that I felt a step outside, will send a bullet right into my head. With each sound of the gun I died inside. I could not leave and I could not sleep. I spent that night in great terror knowing I could take my last breath any moment.
I remember what that season was like for students of the University of Buea at the time. Gun shots. Tear gas. Rape. Running. All stores locked. No place to buy food. Wounds. Beatings. Conflict between the students and armed forces ensued.
I remember how my pot of Jollof Rice decayed because I ran away from my room in my hostel to go seek solace in my pastor's house for many days. That's because police men invaded my hostel on a cool evening when I was trying to keep my room clean.
I remember seeing a lot of blood. Blood on the cheek of my neighbour who met face to face with military men. Blood on my neighbour's head because armed forces broke into his room while he was asleep and he jumped from his balcony upstairs to the ground downstairs and as a result, broke his head.
I remember how I had to graduate in April 2007 instead of December 2006 because the strike delayed everything.
I remember how some students lost their lives in the fight and the student community had to declare a "Black Friday" to mourn them.
I remember that this began as a protest from students who wanted the school administration to look into their grievances. I remember how it deteriorated into a bad situation between students and armed forces that came into Buea in big trucks.
I have relived all of this today as I watch on social media, videos of students being tormented in like manner in the recent strike at the University of Buea.
I have read and watched in sadness as on October 21 2016, a train carrying people from the country's capital city Yaounde to the economic capital, Douala derailed at Eseka in the centre region of the country. This derailment resulted in what has been described as the deadliest accident in Africa after the Benaleka train accident in August 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over 70 people lost their lives and over 500 were injured. People in my country, Cameroon.
I have watched as lawyers and teachers in the English speaking section of the country protest against the dominant use of the French language in their institutions.
I have watched how Anglophone (English-speaking) Cameroonians are pained by the system. How we feel marginalised. How we feel used and abused. How we are filled with anger against a system that has repressed, suppressed and oppressed us.
And I'm thinking, this is NOT the Cameroon I want.
I do not want a Cameroon where protests, strikes, arguments, tear gas and gun shots, blood shed are the order of the day. I do not want a Cameroon where one partner in the union between the English and the French constantly feels cheated. And I do not want a Cameroon where hate reigns.
Hate is too big a burden to bear. Hate doesn't drive out darkness. Hate is evil. I want a Cameroon where all God's children, regardless of their ethnic differences or the languages they speak can dwell together in unity. A Cameroon where we celebrate our diversity from Foumbot to Foumban. A Cameroon where there are equal opportunities. A Cameroon where there is zero tolerance to corruption. A Cameroon where God dwells. A Cameroon that is truly a "land of promise" as the national anthem stipulates.
That's the kind of Cameroon I want.
In our quest to be free, we must not allow our anger turn into hate and bitterness. We cannot overcome evil with evil. We must overcome evil with good. We must not feed the blood thirsty. We must fight for what we believe in but we must fight while upholding the values of dignity and discipline.
This is not a time to buy guns. This is not a time to resort to barbarity. This is not a time to throw insults at each other. Our anger must not be turned to hate.
I want a Cameroon where we speak the language of justice as we speak the language of love. Because nothing is as strong as love.
I want a land of promise and glory.
God bless Cameroon.
Lizette Tarke says
God bless Cameroon indeed. The very thought of the situation is horrifying. As you pointed out the past Meshi, it is almost like I am re-living the moment given I was one of those who got beaten up during that period, by some men of the military who simply sought to hurt any youth they saw around the premises. We were beaten up and made to sit in the dirt. It traumatised me for months. And each time I hear of any chaos happening again, it is like I am right back in that moment. But I am grateful to God that His peace will prevail for I personally believe He so loves this nation. So, my sis, I say a big "Amen, and it is so" to all you mentioned you would want to see about our beloved country.
Amen and amen.
Thank God you survived.
I didn't know there was marginalization against Anglophone Camerounians or that Cameroon even had English speaking areas. Somehow I always thought it was French speaking.
Also in Nigeria, and In a lot of other countries,there persists some group of people or ethnic groups who feel that they are superior and marginalize others with the belief that everyone else has to fall in line with what they want.
The horrors of 2006! I remember how I was beaten in my room!!! It will only take the grace of God not to hate. It hurts, it really does! When I see the same thing happening again, I am like God how can this be??? These people do all and still get away with it. I know God will hear us from His holy hill and come to our rescue. Amen
Horrifying. Sorry about your experience. We need to pray for our dear nation.
Oyeniran Adeyinka says
Uh...I was almost gun down by a soldier at Ahmadu Bello University,Zaria, Nigeria too. It was during a political crises of 2011. Curfew were imposed. There were no trader In the school market, myself and my friends went outside the school to get ourselves some food,since it been a while we ate a balanced diet. I could remember running as fast as I could that day. Violence is inhumane. Dear, thank God you survived yours too. I am obligated to the support of Human Rights and Nonviolence in Africa. Yes,nothing is as strong as love. Nice post dear. God bless our Continent.
i remember 2006 as though it was yesterday.I was relating this same story of the first ever strike action i experienced to a friend the other day.Truly hate is not an option and it is very difficult to convince people who feel abandoned by the system that love should triumph.My dear i join you to say that let justice and love reign in Cameroon and we would continue to pray for our Country. As a former University of Buea student i understand what the students in Buea are going through with the presence of the men in uniform, as someone who was never accepted for unpaid internship after my post graduate diploma, i understand what the the unemployed are going through.The truth is violence and hate is not the solution. The truth is that where corruption reigns, there are bound to be grievances.I remember when i finally succeeded to study in one of the "prestigious" administrative schools in Cameroon, i did not only feel frustrated by the representation of students from the other regions which of course was unequal, i was surprised by the fact that about seven of my class mates where from the same village (a village in the North West.region)....In fact the list can go on and on.Let me end here. My prayer is that the same way we were interested in the United states election, we would also join our voices to see to it that Cameroon becomes the Land of Promise not a land of discrimination and hate.It would be better if those of us who are still receiving salaries from our former jobs while we are out of the country understand that we are also part of the problem.Praying for my fatherland
Father Lord, let there be peace in heart, in our homes, peace in every nations of the world. In Jesus' name. Amen
We also had a period of strike around 2000 when lecturers refused to teach for a combined period of three months. Extended holidays and zero violence. What happened in 2006 and now is just horrifying.
Ashia for your ordeal sis.
That must have been really traumatic.I pray for our countries because filth has eaten deep into the roots.It is only God that can deliver us.