By Colbert Gwain in Bamenda
Images of the lifeless body of one Lukong Francis, identified as a militant of the ruling CPDM Party, who marched last May 20, 2022, in Jakiri, Bui Division, North West of Cameroon, had since gone viral on social media. It has widely been reported suspected separatist fighters who had embargoed such celebrations in the ‘disputed territories’ of the North West and South West Regions, carried out the act.
The part about it that still hungers an explanation, is the fact that his killers didn’t only end at eliminating him but went further to drag the lifeless body along roadsides to the glare of cameras. The Rome Statutes on the rules of war (and especially the need to protect civilians) forbids any further tormenting of dead bodies during conflict.
Since the morphing of the current conflict from bare-hand protests to weaponized killings, Jini Edward, Senior Pastor of the Nkwen Baptist Church, Bamenda, have been speaking of ‘the sanctity of human blood’ and God’s imminent wrath on those take away His creation.
Like Jonathan Edwards, American spirited Pastor who preached the famous sermon: ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’, in Enfield- Connecticut in the 18th Century, Rev. Jini Edward has been articulate on the need to preserve rather than destroy human life created in God’s image.
While some who took part in May 20 activities in other parts of the former Southern Cameroons were lucky to just be Kidnapped and ransomed, luck didn’t shine on poor Lukong Francis, a Cameroonian who only wanted to show patriotism for his country.
After this unfortunate incident, many have dared to ask whether May 20 celebrations must involve civilians and especially political parties, which even have devisive tendencies? Could Lukong’s life have been spared if the state of Cameroon had thought out of the box? Must pupils, students, political parties and other groups march past in front of top-ranking civilian authorities for our national day to be seen to have been celebrated?
Where did the culture of civilian march past come from? Are our military and the police corps not symbolically representative enough of our independence, national unity and diversity? By deciding to raise and keep a standby force for the defense of our territorial integrity, is it not their sole responsibility to march to our glare during such a nationally sanctioned public holiday? By putting them on the country’s priority payroll, did taxpayers not subcontract the aspect of civilian march past to the uniform officers who routinely even carry out march practices? Must youths march on February 11, and march again on May 20, barely three months after?
Unlike those who quarrel with the idea of May 20 as our National Day because Cameroon abandoned federation for unitary state, Canadians proudly celebrate July 1, not as the day of their independence but as the day of the unification of Canada under a Federal Government. The day is marked mostly by fireworks, military march past and live music shows. In the U.S, National Day celebrations are marked by fireworks, cultural parades and military march past with ordinary U.S citizens standing by and waving flags as a sign of their patriotism.
To mark their independence from Spain, Costa Ricans every September 15, simply wear their traditional dress and perform dances in the street parades. In Cameroon, authorities proudly adorn themselves in expensive three-piece suits freshly flown in from the colonial master’s factories and claim to be celebrating independence day.
In Belize, independence day is a public holiday where Belizeans assemble annually at the capital City to shop, eat and drink uniquely made-in-Belize products, drinks and food at the centrally located Expo Belize Market Place. Not like in Cameroon where wine, flowers and even toothpick used during the Presidential banquet, are all imported in the name of national day celebrations.
In Peru, independence Day celebrations every July 29, is a unique opportunity for Peruvians to honour the armed forces and the police of Peru with a Military parade down the decorated streets of Peru.
Rather than insisting that pupils, students and political parties March on May 20 as the surest sign of patriotism, Cameroon authorities could encourage teachers and school authorities to take the brilliant and more sustainable step of engaging Kids from the 18th and 19th of May, on tree planting. The life of trees could be set as an example to explain the concept of unity and diversity. This is more so because the growth of trees is remarkable in clusters, which shows the significance of unity. Similarly, the concept of diversity can also be seen when different kinds of trees support each other, for survival.
This could be a more creative way of inculcating the concept of National Day to children through nature, rather than forcing them to file past three-piece suited administrative officers who are always far removed from the reality.
Would it not be a great idea where each May 20, Cameroonians are encouraged to assemble at National and Regional Expo Markets to shop, eat and drink exclusively made-in-Cameroon products?
*Colbert Gwain is digital rights activist, author, radio host, Commitment Maker at UN Generation Equality Coalition, and content creator @TheColbertFactor
WAIT! BEFORE YOU GO ON about your daily chores, ask yourself: How likely is it that the content you just consumed would have been created by a different news outlet if The Colbert Factor hadn’t done it?
Just think of what the media landscape in Cameroon today would look like without The Colbert Factor thinking out of the box. Who would accompany you in challenging the boundaries of conventional thinking? Who would help you relive John Naisbitt’s paradym’s shift to the effect that: ‘The new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many’?
There’s no gainsaying the fact that the kind of content we create not only helps in putting the right information in the hands of many, but is also necessary for democracy. It emboldens us to uphold our freedoms and inalienable rights.
In these perilous times, a truth-seeking and informative local news organization like The Colbert Factor is essential. But, it’s not easy, cheap or profitable. The Colbert Factor is a solution-oriented, independent non-profit content creation medium. It serves as the ‘first draft’ for newspapers, radio and TV stations, online news outlets and blogs. We don’t have ads and we are independent of corporate and government interests.
You can help us continue creating more investigative, balanced, fair, reliable, credible and educative content, by donating your widow’s mighty mite through MTN momo number: 677852476
…And you would be contributing to a free press.