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Southern Cameroons Has Reached a Point of No Surrender - Nfor Nfor
|December 5, 2005
| Southern Cameroons Has Reached a Point of No Surrender - Nfor Nfor
Deprived of his freedom for over three weeks, the National Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, Nfor Ngala Nfor who was released on November 30, says the Southern Cameroons struggle for Independence has reached the level of no retreat. He describes life in the dark cells of the gendarmerie detention camp up station and the lessons learnt from such detentions in this exclusive interview.
You were released on bail after three weeks in detention, how do you feel now?
I should say God has been very gracious although the circumstances in the cold and dark detention cells - on a bare floor cannot be anything good for any person, no matter the age. I am feeling very weak with pains all over me. That notwithstanding, my spirit, my will and determination to get on with the struggle are not affected in any way. I am as determined as ever to continue with the struggle.
We learnt you were denied medication and food?
Yes, it took many days before I realised that the medicine I asked my wife to bring were sent back. The gendarmes simply told my son to take them back. Maybe they didn't know drugs were to be brought to me and they didn't know what types of drugs they were. Also, as I later learnt from a gendarme, they had to be very careful concerning what I took in like food and water.
What were your activities from sunrise to sunset while in detention?
When we got up at 6 am, though there was little sleep at night and we sang the Southern Cameroons national anthem, then we prayed before we starting on meditation. Before we were released, the Legion Company Commander cracked jokes with me that they took note when we sang the anthem every morning.
How were the living conditions in the cell?
There is no language to describe them. After three weeks of not seeing sunshine, not having a window to look out, no chair, no table, no bed, and the floor! It is not anything to talk about. Even just to go out and urinate or pooh, you could spend over half an hour knocking for somebody to open the door.
When you were arrested, did the gendarmes seize any valuable documents from you?
They seized mostly pictures and speeches that were delivered in Kumbo, Nkambe, etc. Some of the pictures were of the Black Saturday, in Ndu, where women were killed and molested in the early 90s and the amputees, in the SDF days. They also collected pictures showing the killing of SCNC demonstrators in Bui in 2001, UN PO Geneva pictures and many old ones of Southern Cameroons days.
Did you get back the pictures and speeches when you were released?
I am sure the gendarmes took the pictures to Yaounde after our interrogation that lasted for over four hours.
What lessons have you learnt from this detention?
I have suffered several detentions and torture over the years. But what I have learnt about this particular one is that the authorities in Yaounde are beginning to know about the commitment of Southern Cameroons and the justification of our struggle for restoration. This is because there are certain concepts that seem to ache them a great deal, like annexationist regime and occupation forces.
I explained the facts about the SCNC struggle for independence. Some of them were very blank about the history of their country. I made it very clear to them that we are a separate and distinct people from La République du Cameroun. I also told the gendarmes that since the United Nations-sponsored marriage of parliamentary union has failed because of their bad faith, Southern Cameroonians have the right to restore their statehood. Many of them understood the lectures and were grateful.
What were the charges preferred against you, and what were the gendarmes specifically looking for?
No charges, just the usual questions, and telling us we are out to destroy a country that is in peace. When they saw me with the Australian journalist and researcher, they were really embarrassed to see me with a foreigner who has an interest in our struggle.
Could you tell us what questions the gendarmes posed to Andrew Mueller?
They asked who he was, how he came to be in Cameroon, and what was his mission. I told them he was a friend I met at The Hague. He has visited many other nationalities that are fighting for self-determination. Mueller was happy to know that while other nationalities are using war, we, Southern Cameroonians, are using peaceful means to restore our country.
So, he became interested and decided to visit and see how we are doing it peacefully and the possibilities of how we could attain self-determination. He saw how we were received in Ndu, Nkambe, Binka and Kumbo and so forth and the kind of programmes we had. For example, fund raising. He also addressed Southern Cameroonians, saying people know Africa as a continent of war.
As such any war is taken just any other. So, he was pleased that there are a people who are determined to pursue their struggle peacefully He believed that Southern Cameroons would continue that way and succeed. He held talks with traditional authorities who expressed their indignation with the Yaounde regime.
What if President Paul Biya calls for dialogue after receiving the documents and pictures the gendarmes seized from you?
We have never been opposed to dialogue. But, I want you to understand that dialogue here is not reconciliation. Because reconciliation will mean mending the broken pieces in the house and staying together. No. The sun has set. We have crossed the Rubicon.
The issue now is, any dialogue should take the form of bilateral talks between the two nations (Southern Cameroons and La République du Cameroun). Period. We are not going to retreat. As far as we are concerned, what took place in 1961 was an error and La République has exploited the good faith of our fathers and they have now annexed us, which is a crime against international law. We cannot repeat even the two-state federation, which we asked for in 1993.
This might jar the ears of UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who once prescribed dialogue between the SCNC and Biya.
No. I am pursuing self-determination, which is defended by international law. Any nation and each people have a right to shape their destiny. A people can only shape their destiny if they are in charge of their welfare and if they have their own government.
A government to any people is like a father to a family. Now, we don't have the kind of government that we had in Buea. The government in Buea must be restored and Southern Cameroons must take its seat within communities of sovereign nations of the world.
Do you have a shadow government?
I will say that we have not actually put in place any shadow government. The SCNC is pursuing self-determination just like the ANC did in South Africa, SWAPO did in Namibia and NPLA and other liberation movements. When time comes, Southern Cameroons will establish a transitional government.
What we are crying for now is that the UN should understand and mediate and assist us as they did in East Timor where they had to appoint an administrator. So, let UN send an administrator to work with Southern Cameroonians, put in place a transitional government, then adopt a constitution. An elected government would then be formed to shoulder the responsibility of nation building.
Was your detention connected to the creation of the radio known as Free Southern Cameroons Radio?
Whether it was connected or not, I cannot say. Nothing like that featured as one of the questions the gendarmes asked. But, I know some of my colleagues were questioned on that. So long as any Southern Cameroonian is convinced about the struggle, and wants to restore its statehood, they can organise themselves and make their contributions in different ways.
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