Cameroon can tap from how South Africa resolved its apartheid conflict to solve the current crises especially the Anglophone conflict.
The Anglophone crisis that started in 2016, is trailing humanitarian, socio-political, economic and cultural scars.
Recent statistics show that more than 4000 people have died, about 75,000 refugees are in Nigeria and about 750,000 internally displaced persons within the country.
HE Roelf Meyer, Minister of Constitutional Development under Presidents Federick de Klerk and Nelson Mandela, Chief Negotiator for the National Party Government to end apartheid in South Africa has this to say about the Anglophone crisis. “We have learnt that there is on-going conflict and killing of people on a weekly basis, the crisis is not stopping, rather escalating and that is a big concern for us and for the people of Cameroon.”
However, he stresses that everybody should focus on what should be done to bring the conflict to an end.
The man with a mission to broker peace around the world maintains that there is no conflict that cannot be resolved. He highlighted three key issues which South Africa, 30 thirty years ago did, that could be helpful for Cameroon.
“To have an inclusive approach; build trust across the divides and take the responsibility to look for peace within and not wait for other to do it”.
If these basic principles are in place, Cameroon can also address its conflict (s) successfully, Meyer emphasized.
Meyer and his delegation are on a mission to inspire the Cameroonian people to find their own solutions to the Anglophone conflict.
In his talk on the theme, “Sharing Experiences in Negotiation, Mediation and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts,” he emphasized to students of the Heritage Higher Institute of Peace and Development Studies that each conflict is unique and has to be respected as such.
Taking students down apartheid (-a white regime) history lane, he said it started longer than quoted, right from the first white settlers that set foot on African soil and later became institutionalized. This white segregation finally ended in 1994, replaced with democracy and Nelson Mandela the first president.
The fight against apartheid started as a non-violent conflict, and it was not until the 1960s that the African National Congress, ANC party started a military wing to fight apartheid. A similar situation with the Anglophone crisis that started peacefully.
Meyer who has brokered a score of peace deals talked of how the late Nelson Mandela offered exceptional friendship to the whites in South Africa. “The white people put him in jail for twenty-seven years, yet he came out and showed generosity.”
Going by the peace crusader, the starting point of any conflict resolution lies in the willingness of the people to talk to each other, to establish dialogue.
Analyzing what dialogue means, he said, it can actually start with two people, one on one, then to groups of people meeting each other, discussing and dialoguing.
In the case of South Africa, “talks started at a couvert level, not in the public space by intelligence unit. We knew the conflict could not be solved through military or security means and talks with Nelson Mandela started while he was in prison.”
Meyer maintained that there might be a window of opportunity, and Cameroon should ready to use it, or it might slip off as has happened with some conflicts which have dragged on.The reality he said, is that negotiations should be with people with divergent views.
Going by him, “when there is a complete breakdown in negotiations, it is because people do not share the same vision for the future. It is only possible to find a common vision, if people sit and talk about it. And once the vision is there, then the details can be worked out.”, he stressed.
He also posited that the youths should be given the opportunity to come forward to exercise their capabilities, taking an example with himself in his 40s negotiating peace in South Africa.
“The past is important but not the vision for the future, concentrate on the future. The South African solution which Cameroon can tap from is to draft a new constitution as South Africa did,” he concluded.
Prof. Willibroad Dze-Ngwa, Director of the Higher Institute of Peace and Development Studies organized the talks for students of Peace and Conflict Studies on April 20.
Carolaise, a child of four years was shot dead in Buea, in the crisis Anglophone region of Cameroon this morning by a gendarme officer on patrol.
The angry population is said to have descended on the officer had him well beaten and stoned to death.
According to the Lekunze Barbara, sister to late Carolaise’s mother, the sister was sitting behind the car with three of her children. All she heard was gunshots and the child sitting closest to her was in a pool of blood and died on the spot.
According to a Lawyer, Agbor Balla, “two gendarme officers on patrol at Molyko-Bwitingi stretch of road, directly behind the Molyko-Omnisport Stadium, opened fire at a car carrying a 4 years old school child and unfortunately, the child died.
It is not very clear who was taking her to school the driver or the mother of the deceased girl was driving past the gendarme on patrol when she was stopped by the two officers.
The driver hesitated and drove past the post informing them that she was running late as she was taking her daughter to school.
One of the gendarme officers opened fire at the shield of her car and the bullet hit the child on the head, shattering her skull and she died instantly”.
Agbor Balla maintains that this action brought an uproar as the angry mob took hold of the gendarme and pounced on him, killing him with stones, while his colleague escaped the scene.
“We condemn the impunity with which the military acted, and call on the state to investigate the matter and ensure that the baby is given a befitting burial and the family compensated.We equally condemn the mob Justice meted out to the gendarme officer resulting in his death”, Agbor Balla stated.
Speaking to the angry crowd, the Governor, Okalia Bilai begged them to take the remains of the mortuary, but they have been parading the corps in whole of Buea.
In a release, Defense Ministry spokesperson said the driver refused to obey the officer and this led to the shooting. Defense Ministry regrets the incident and promised to investigate.
Meanwhile social media has been awash with imaged of the child without a skull on the streets of Buea. The Grand mother of the little baby stripped naked on the street when she saw the lifeless body of her grand child.
The mother of the child is in a state of trauma and can be seen in a video asking if the child has been given her Yogourt.
A safe haven for women to bond, look out for each other and become financially independent in the crisis ridden Northwest village-Fungom Farms
Odette Fin, 32 years, mother of four, is proud to have been trained to be the first woman sweet potato bread baker in Menchum Division, Northwest Cameroon.
Like most women in the area, Fin made a living from farming but now she sees her life differently.
Her story to becoming the first woman sweet potato baker stated in 2019 when the Fungom Farms set its base in her village.
First, with other women, she farmed potatoes, harvested, cleaned and transformed to flour, stocked it in bags.
Then, an opportunity came knocking to train in baking. Fin and two other women enrolled but they preferred farming, so she was the only person completed the training.
Fungom Farms, a family business that owns the IR company- a sustainable development cooperative, working together to ensure food security in the village, brought in a baker who trained Fin.
Today she is the pride of the community as the first female sweet potato baker.
“I learnt baking for three months and now I am happy with my new life”, Fin said.
“My day starts with preparing my kids for school. When they are gone, i also head to the bakery. I sweep and keep the environment clean, clean the baking kit, measure and weigh the quantity of sweet potato flour that I mix with wheat flour”, she recounts.
On a typical business day, Fin can bake about 10,000 loaves ranging from FCFA 100, 250, and 500.
“The population are marveled because they did not know bread could be made from sweet potatoes. They love the bread”, she said.
As a baker, Fin says her life has changed, that she is living a good life compared to when she was farming.
“I pay school fees and buy books for my kids, I am grateful to Fungom Farms for investing in me, giving the new skill.
If there are any women interested, I advise them to learn baking.
The company which started in 2019, baking normal bread turned to sweet potato bread thanks to the research carried out by the manager.
Besides sweet potato bread, Cameroonian bakers are trying their skills in baking bread from cassava, cocoyam, plantain and yam to seduce customers.
In a way, they transform farm produce, for the population to eat organic food and reduce post-harvest losses.
The Fungom Farms , produce about 25 tons of potatoes every year and buy more from the villagers, one of the farm hands, Tchinda stated.
Fungom Farms based in Mekaf village, covering 25 villages does not only farm potatoes, but also vegetables, maize, groundnuts, soya bean, palms, cassava.
The farm sustains 370 families, 80 contributors, supplies five villages, and many customers.
With the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the idea of a cooperative has been a survival strategy as people could not go to their farms individually.
“Working as a group, a cooperative has built a bond among the members”, the Manager, Henry Bung stated.
Though women work as a cooperative where they are paid, they also own individual sweet potato farms, Bung added.
The Buea Military Tribunal has today , September 7, sentenced four accused persons of orchestrating the Kumba killings to execution by firing squad.
On October 24, gunmen killed seven school children of the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba Southwest region.
Following arrests, four people were standing trial at the Buea Military Tribunal, on charges of acts of terrorism, hostility against the father land, secession, Insurrection, murder and illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.
They have ten days to appeal the case.
Timeline of Kumba Killings
- October 24: Shooting, families grieved as dead bodies of their children were taken to the mortuary, Doctors Without Borders treated the wounded
- October 25 : Rene Emmanuel Sadi, Government spokes person accused separatists of carrying out the school attack
- October 26: Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute announced a condolence mission to families of the deceased children
- October 27: Women marched in Yaounde decrying the Kumba killings, calling for an end to the Anglophone crisis
- October 27: President Biya condemned the Kumba killings, ordered investigations, promised punishment to the killers
- October 27: Three ministers, territorial administration, basic and secondary education visited families in Kumba with condolence messages
- Bamenda women marched to the governor’s officers to say they are tired of the killings
- October 28: Samuel Ikome Sako separatist led group gave reasons they have no hand in the kumba killings and blamed government
- October 28: Pope Francis said the killings in Kumba should never happen again
- October 28: President Biya decreed national mourning day
- October 28: Government said separatists killed the students and they were in search of ten suspects.
- November 5: Burial of Kumba students