Traditional Cameroon Rulers Refuse to Return to Crisis Zone

VOA | Cameroon’s government this week called on hundreds of traditional rulers who have fled separatist conflict areas to return, assuring them that the palaces, markets, schools and roads destroyed by separatists would be reconstructed. But the traditional rulers have refused, saying they are still threatened by fighting between government troops and anglophone rebels.

Deben Tchoffo, governor of Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest region, said by messaging application from the regional capital Bamenda that the government will ensure the rulers’ protection from separatist fighters from the moment they return.

“They should not be afraid. Instead of running, they should come back to face the realities,” Tchoffo said. “The population are there, eagerly waiting, longing to see them. Some of them have gone [been out of their palaces] for many years. They are awaited on the spot. We are there, and we are there to secure them. Whatever will happen, we are there to stand by them, to support them and accompany them.”

This week, Cameroonian Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute said the government had raised $14 million of the $150 million it needs for the reconstruction of 350 schools, 115 hospitals, 40 bridges, 400 wells and water taps, 600 kilometers of rural roads, 45 markets and 17,000 private homes he said were destroyed by separatists fighting to create an English-speaking state in the majority French-speaking country. Ngute called on traditional rulers who had fled for safety to French-speaking towns to return to their villages.

Fon Lekunze, traditional ruler of the Mundani tribe of the English-speaking southwestern Lebialem district, who has been in Yaoundé for two years, said by telephone that peace has yet to return to the English-speaking regions. He said several of his peers were attacked when they returned home in July to preach peace, and are still threatened by fighters via social media and by telephone.

“We have implored traditional diplomacy to sensitize populations to shun away from violence and embrace development, and we have used the dialoguing method by pleading with our children [rebels], and we are very hopeful that calm is going to return as soon as possible,” he said.

It is only when that calm returns that they will be assured that their lives will be spared by separatist fighters, he added.

Accusations against chiefs

Traditional rulers started fleeing English-speaking regions when they were accused by separatists of supporting the military and disclosing their hideouts to troops. At least nine were killed and dozens abducted and freed only after ransom was paid. Two dozen palaces were partially or totally torched. Some chiefs were accused by the military and arrested for supporting the separatists.

Jonathan Baye, a historian at the University of Yaoundé, said the chiefs need to assure their populations, separatist fighters, and the military of their neutrality before they can be safe in their villages.

“The chiefs should give confidence about their neutrality because it is usually on those things that they are attacked or they are accused,” Baye said. “They should begin by making their people to know that they [the people] can count on them [the chiefs]. They should begin by creating this confidence.”

‘Bumpy road’ ahead

Jean Luc Stalon, Cameroon representative of the United Nations Development Program, who was invited to the ceremony to launch reconstruction of the English-speaking regions, said the initiative is a good one, but that it will be difficult to carry out with bloody clashes still rampant between the military and rebels.

“We know it is going to be a bumpy road rebuilding social cohesion, rebuilding the local economy that has been damaged by the crisis, to facilitate access of the population to basic services, education, health, water and so forth,” Stalon said. “It is not going to be easy to implement this program in those two regions.”

Separatists on social media have insisted that the reconstruction will not take place unless the central government in Yaoundé withdraws its troops from the English-speaking regions and organizes what they describe as sincere dialogue.

The separatists?have been fighting since 2017 to create an independent, English-speaking state in Cameroon’s western regions. The conflict has cost?Cameroon more than 3,000 lives?and displaced more than?half a million?people to French-speaking regions or neighboring Nigeria, according to the U.N.

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  1. Let those irresponsible diasporans fanning the ? flames from thier old tied appartements taken in credit for 15 20 25 years solve the problem. This particular crisis has shown us how alienated our so called aleads are. They are all emotional and irrational, ideologically driven. no Calm thoughtful rational thinking base on reality before action.a five minutes observation of the geography of the region would have helped them understand military confrontation with younde would be disastrous as it is.did they even think about what the reaction of younde would be before advising youths to take arms against younde? Without rational and cretical thinking base on power balance followed by a decesion. Many will die, but for nothing. Can they win? And how?

    • What was the “good” government thinking when they shot down unarmed demonstrators and locked up citizens out on the streets legally requesting change and called them terrorists? The misgiving of this whole fiasco is the tendency for pro-supporters to point fingers instead of addressing the root cause of this disaster. The government is the ruling body and if you look through the history of humanity, bad governance has always instigated uprisings. Citizens hardly ever stand up to disobey a government that creates a fair and equitable distribution of the national cake. The government is responsible for the malice that has plagued Cameroon. Leadership is about leading, not about sitting in a crystal palace and being worshipped like a demigod, never to be held accountable. Learn from Rwanda

      • pro-government supporters…

        If you do not hold your government accountable for the problems of the country, they won’t do anything about it. Suppress change, maintain the status quo! Power corrupts and absolute power like the one Biya has is damaging and weakens the creativity of the people, as productive turn over controlled by freedom of expression, entrepreneurialship is compromised. To invest in Cameroon as a Cameroonian is more difficult than investing in other countries. Why is this so? This is one of the fundamental reasons why the Cameroonian diaspora has turned against Biya (both amabazonians and francophones). These are the true patriots, those wanting meaninfgul change, rather than those encouraging the status quo! The diaspora is not the devil. Biya and his thieves are!

    • Biya came on with Rigor & Moralization, then the 1984 coup & the 1985 economic crisis happened. Biya was inept, had no real governing skills, he was a puppet of the French (meilleur eleve de Mitterand) to oust Ahidjo who was the mastermind behind the Anglophone assimilation with Biya being the chief adviser on behalf of France.
      Biya tested his popularity in the ’92 & ’97 elections and lost in a landslide. He was bereft and he had only France to his rescue.
      The Amba direction may hardly solve S. Cameroon’s problem because the self-appointed leaders would easily fall prey to western influence as they seek their support just like Biya.
      Love of country is key. Biya is evil.
      Too bad for the chiefs, your authority was hijacked since colonial times. You are politicians now and the game is tough.

    • Camerbeleiver (Colby)

      Mmmmmm I really like this write-up @Bah Acho this time I agree with you don’t mind the short sighted who wrote this trash below common sense is not common we all know that slang.

    • @Bah Acho is writing nonesence as usual. What geographical situation of Southern Cameroon is he talking about? He even goes ahead to describe the apartments where the diaspora lives oversea without considering that some of these people have more wealth than the so called ministers in L a Republique. Apparently,he was very drunk at the time of this write-up because his spellings are disastrous.

  2. Patients do not get well by taking the wrong prescription!!!

    Even if relatives are obtuse enough to take the prime Minister’s prescription of “reconstruction”, is timing not important? Go ahead and construct first, and then ask the people to move in.

  3. The gov`t, is only exposing more of the stupidity that it used to run the country.
    Recontruction with loans at this time, only shows that much of the projects, will
    become white elephants and the excuse, will be `oh the separatists have done ….`
    and much of the money, disappearing. Already, those schools, palaces etc etc as
    we know it, were not `destroyed` by only separatists. If the writer is not lying,
    then it is gov`t fanning her bad habbit of lies telling here. We are living it and truth,
    must be told. What the chiefs should never forget, is that gov`t doesn`t respect
    them. Can any chief, be given uniform officers to guide them and their properties?
    There is no assurance anywhere in that country. Who is running it? Biya or a
    governor or a dead man?

    • It began with the Berlin/West Africa Conference of 1884 for the colonization of Africa. Today, it has had dire consequences. It led to WWI&II as the Scramble of Africa raged on. This was after slavery & slave trade had been abolished but it tells you the Europeans’ mindset, never to walk away. They then educated & indoctrinated a bunch of Africans who would do their bidding, persecute their own people and make sure the goal of extracting raw materials and cheap labor at no cost continues. It worked.
      The French who never won a war mastered the plan and executed it strategically; make sure the CFA was kept in French Central Bank, hold on to 40% of Africa’s foreign exchange earnings and be the first choice for contracts in Africa. For a president to be in power loyalty to the plan is key.

      • Quite on point. And the long line of `africans who would do their
        bidding`, is still very much present and in the waiting. This war to
        end the foreign {French} plan, must be fought collectively. In
        patches, there would be no victory.

        • @ joshua, You are finally coming to your senses. Ambazonia can never win this war. Cameroonians need to unite and form a strong opposition . That is the only way we can defeat Biya and free ourselves. All the Western countries are on Biya’s side and it’s only we the people that can take out Biya. The Ambazonians need to join with the Kamto group and other opposition groups. That is the only way out.

        • @bobjazz,

          kikikiki, when visionaries were breaking it down for all to swallow chums thought some of us were numb in the mind.

          And what Joshua is projecting is just a small paragraph in a huge novel. Meaning, sending FR away will just be part of the foundation, we’ll have to sacrifice to complete the rest which is not going to happen in our time—we have nothing less than 50yrs to right our own wrongs and those of FR, and/or Oyibo.

          The more we keep on fighting each other the more that time frame is pushed ahead. VERY SIMPLE as that!

          We have got to wake up or we allow sharks to squash our bones in their mouths.

          The choice has always been OURS tho…

  4. The crime syndicate ruling the so-called “one and indivsible” LRC will never cease to amaze me. WHY?????

    because the crime syndicate, by design or omission, does not realise that she is INSANE. How?????

    the crime syndicate ALWAYS does the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.Où sont les preuves????

    1. The crime syndicate created the commission on bilingualism. It failed PANTS ON FIRE
    2.The crime syndicate then created the commission on disarmament. It also failed PANTS ON FIRE
    3. The crime syndicate then created the commission on reconstruction. Of Course, this WORTHLESS commission will also fail PANTS ON FIRE.


    The INSANE crime syndicate has inadvertently facilitated the creation of ANBAZONIA by destroying the INFORMAL VIVRE-ENSEMBLE.

  5. Historians and documentalist have a rich story of the irony of our times to tell, how the SUCCESSES under a DICTATORSHIP turned into FAILURES under an (advanced) DEMOCRACY, how a robust green revolution during five-year development program became empty sloganeering, bloated governments, extensive “needs sejours”, routine bloodshed, woes, goes, bloated Kondenguie, etc.

  6. A lion Never runs away when a small dog is backing, Except it knows the dog is a bate. Chiefs are like Mammals were largely creatures of the night until the dinosaurs were killed off by an asteroid some 66 million years ago. I wondered whether ancient mammals may have been primarily nocturnal because dinosaurs dominated daytime activities an idea known as the “nocturnal bottleneck hypothesis. Nocturnal Animals would render you dumbstruck.(1)Even the lion, the king of the forest, protects himself against flies. (3) No matter how beautiful and well crafted a coffin might look, it will not make anyone wish for death. (4) He who runs after good fortune runs away from peace . The Chiefs Are out Darkness.

  7. Look at the so called educated fool talking about neutrality, whats there to be neutral about ?! The rulers have rejected the secessionist ideology and are not apolegetic about , if the population want they can remain on the fence , regardless we will flush out all terrorists .period

    • @ pinguiss
      I strongly agree with you bro. To hell the terrorists ambazozos. We’ll flush them all from our beloved Kamerun. We’ll kill also those that are yet to be born. They say “we’re ready to die all if necessary” so to show kindness it is our duty to help God answer their prayers. Kamerun belongs to neither the French nor the British but our ANCESTORS WHO NEVER BEGGED THOSE PEOPLE TO COME HERE.

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