The rather comical decision by Camerounese minister of territorial administration, Atanga Paul Nji, to restrict the sale of machetes, knives and building iron rods has drawn widespread ridicule and condemnation throughout the Southern Cameroons.
While the population say it is an indirect way to completely ground the economy of the Southern Cameroons as over 90% of the population depends on subsistence agriculture using a cutlass as a tool, freedom fighters on the ground rubbished the decision saying they could still produce rudimentary tools to serve the same purpose Atanga Nji is accusing them of using the tools for.
Among those who condemned the decision is Yai Yunji, founder of Unity brothers; a civil society organisation. “How do you expect someone who has lost everything including his personal documents, who now lives in the bush and can barely afford food, to be able to meet the stipulated conditions in order to purchase a cutlass to use on their farm?”, he asked.
In fact, one of the conditions stipulated by Atanga Nji, for the purchase of a cutlass or an iron rod, is the obtainment of prior authorisation from the colonial divisional officers from LRC who are administering the Southern Cameroons. Yai Yunji further reasons that there are remote areas where the transport fare to get to the urban areas to see these administrative officers ranges from 3000frs to 6000frs and more, depending on the period, it he does not see the feasibility of this for peasants who want to just to buy a cutlass worth 2000 or 2500frs.
Others argued that the restriction of the sale of cutlasses, knives and iron rod is not linked to the sophisticated weapons held by the freedom fighters. An expert in defence issues (names withheld), found the measure risible. “From a state whose army was forced to deploy anti-aircraft guns with a 3-km range in the Southern Cameroons, this move seems derisory. One wonders the potency of machetes, even if one were to understand the ban on iron rods which are a very key element in IEDs”, the expert says, adding that it is a cheap publicity stunt by the LRC ex-convict minister who wants to be seen by his boss and their French overlords as effectively acting to kill Southern Cameroonians, even as their options are dwindling to nought. As if to echo this expert, some Southern Cameroons self-defence actors we interviewed in Bum, Kom and in the Ndop, say they already have a large supply of these rods strewn across building sites all over the country while rudimentary machetes can be made, thus dismissing the minister’s actions as not worthy of their comment.
Thus, the action is likely to mostly affect the civilian population in its farming activities. Ayah Paul Abine, former National President of the Popular Action Party-who was imprisoned abusively by La Republique for supporting the freedom struggle, said this decision by Atanga Nji is adding more salt to injury.
However, some Southern Cameroons patriots say they have what it takes to fix rudimentary tools to help the population to go about their farming activities unperturbed.
Even among Francophones, Atanga Nji’s decisions are often seen as stupid and unwise. To many, instead of looking for ways of addressing the root causes of this crisis, Atanga Nji and his Cameroun regime keep on pushing the population to the wall and further radicalises them.
The Southern Cameroons Congress of the People, on its part, sees the move as an act of desperation. In fact, routed and disgraced on the moral and political front, increasingly isolated on the diplomatic front despite cover-up with the aid of France, and facing an unexpectedly stiff resistance from Southern Cameroons self-defence group, LRC is forced to do what every coward would do. Instead of admitting defeat on the grounds that power is not size, they have found themselves a scapegoat to blame for their defeat. This is why they keep attacking civilians who are struggling to rebuild homes for the few who have not been murdered by LRC’s genocidal acts or farmers struggling to scratch the earth for a living. This once again, highlights the urgency for all lovers of peace and justice, from all over the world, to urgently call the colonial regime to stay its genocidal hand in the Southern Cameroons.
Click to read the original publication Think like a SCCOPper Edition 7.pdf