A video clip began making rounds on social media on June 11,2002 in which the voice of Cameroon’s first daughter, Brenda Biya, was heard behind the camera, showing what appears to be her ransacked chambers at the Unity Palace. It also showed the presidential security picking up scattered pieces of various broken items inside and outside of the private quarters. A lot of wide speculation followed the video clip as Brenda made several daunting statements suggesting she feels she is a prisoner at the Unity Palace in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.
In the clip she questioned why a senior minister of her father’s government was able to be evacuated with his family for medical leave while she was denied the right to travel. President Paul Biya has been president of Cameroon since 1983 and typically rules the country by direct presidential decree. The video triggered Barrister Ignatius Ovat Mathew, to submit a formal letter to Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration, Atanga Nji, urgently requesting an inquiry into the incident.
The letter revealed that Brenda Biya suffers from a health condition and is in urgent need of medical attention. Brenda Biya had prior taken to her Instagram handle in May, 2020 to briefly reveal her eye affliction which was supplemented later with reports revealing the first daughter suffers from “exophthalmos”, one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism which causes protrusion of the eyes. The condition is listed as being incurable and if not managed regularly, can lead to blindness.
The recent June video clip can be counted as an incident in which the first daughter became completely exasperated with her health and the healthcare system of Cameroon. Losing her temper, she took her anger out on her personal items among them in the video two flat screen televisions. In equal frustration since 2017 the minority Anglophone population which also decries the excess infrastructural lapses and marginalization of Mr. Biya’s 38 year reign has also taken to insurrection.
The COVID-19 pandemic which has held the world under siege since December 2019 has revealed the unpreparedness of the most sophisticated healthcare systems and the extreme frailty of the medical infrastructures of African countries. Recognizing their incapacity to deal with the infection’s rate of spreading, most African countries, Cameroon among them, was forced to shut down their airports and borders totally which has proven to have significantly contributed to preventing the spike in deaths originally projected. It would seem the first daughter’s anger indirectly was prompted by the presidential orders from her father to close down the airports and borders to restrict travel.
Brenda Biya’s Country: Cameroon.
Cameroon, a former United Nation Trusteeship territory has been faced with an insurgency since 2017 brought about by long-standing political and historical grievances erupting into street protests. Activists supporting the movement for the restoration of the former British Southern Cameroons as “Ambazonia” who were living abroad collaborated with several local civil society leaders to form a stiff lobby to force dialogue with the Cameroonian government on the violation of Article 47.1 of the 1961 Federal Constitution which guaranteed the integrity of the separation in a federal republic of English and French Cameroon, the root of the conflict.
The government immediately cracked down on all lobbyists leading to representatives of areas embattled by paramilitary forces to form militias to fight government forces. A video showed how resistance fighters recorded themselves monitoring two armored military vehicles entering the Bui Division of the North West Region on Monday June 15.
In the most recent event, there was serious fighting between resistance forces seeking to restore the violated sovereignty of the former British Southern Cameroons and the military forces of the government of Cameroon in the Jakiri Subdivision near the village of Dzekwa around 9am Thursday June 25.The resistance fighters in the video used remote control to detonate an explosive that destroyed the first vehicle in the motorcade while the second vehicle immediate fell under fire in an ambush. An official casualty report was not released concerning the battle with the restoration militants by the state media.
Reports from independent media reported ten (10) Cameroonian soldiers were killed in the attack alongside the destruction of four (4) armored military vehicles. In a different locality on the same day private media reported another forty five (45) soldiers were killed in another armed encounter between Cameroon’s military and resistance fighters along the Bali-Widikum road.
State media disputed the claims of casualties which were later verified revealing the administration of Cameroon has been suppressing knowledge of the civil war which has been ravaging the English-Speaking regions of the country. Cameroon’s military has perpetrated use of extreme force against English-speaking civilians systematically as a scare tactic to deter sympathy for the resistance movement. Since the year 2016 over 7,000 people have been killed with 679,000 displaced from the former Southern Cameroons state which was assimilated as the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon in 1972.
For years the regions have been in a state of insurgency with separatists wanting to form a state called “Ambazonia” fighting with Cameroon’s unitary government military. Schools have been banned in the embattled regions leaving over 855,000 children without education according to a 2019 UNICEF report. The conflict despite being a humanitarian crisis has received limited global awareness causing the Norwegian Refugee Council in June 2019 to refer to the civil war in Cameroon as “the most neglected crisis in the world currently”.
On Wednesday June 24 2020, the military was accused of abducting a nursing mother named Mokoro Emmanuela Amundam and her infant, Forkam Bright in the Bome village situated in Meta Menemo of the North West Region. Despite the intensification of fighting, the government has embarked on a “Reconstruction Campaign” which has seen appointed delegates visiting the embattled English Speaking regions to coerce support for the endeavor. The online news source, Mimi Mefo Info revealed the French Ambassador to Cameroon, Christophe Guilhou has offered 40 billion cfa (approximately39,515,762 GHS) to support the reconstruction project said to have been initiated by President Paul Biya. Opposition party leaders like Mme Kah Walla Edith, head of the Cameroon People’s Party and initiator of the Stand Up For Cameroon movement have stiffly criticized the government’s decision to ignore the fighting and attempt to reconstruct while its soldiers butcher innocent civilians.
Press Freedom under Siege.
Twenty one (21) civilians were killed on February 14 in the village of Ngarbuh. In the shooting and arson attack, thirteen (13) children were killed causing international mediators including Human Rights Watch to denounce the act. Minister of Territorial Administration, Atanga Nji Paul in a press conference after the Ngarbuh Massacre proclaimed the military was innocent and threatened the local media for referencing reports from Human Rights Watch with the statement, “He who sells eggs should never engage in a fight”, after denying the role of government in the act.
The presidency of Cameroon on Tuesday May 19, 2020 announced findings by an independent inquiry revealing the military actually carried out the act. In Cameroon, press freedom among English speaking journalists with regards to the conflict has been stifled. Journalists like Njoka Kinsley Fomunyuy who was arrested in Douala on May 15 2020, and discovered by his lawyer in Yaounde on June 8 adds to the number of a growing list of media professionals jailed to suppress reporting on the civil war in the former “West Cameroon.”
In the last 4 years over twenty (20) Anglophone journalists have been arbitrarily arrested with scores of others abducted for objectively reporting on the atrocities committed by both resistance and Cameroon military forces. In the most horrific of the arbitrary arrests, Samuel Wazzizi, a journalist CMTV who was taken into custody for criticizing the government’s handling of the crisis on August 2 2019 was declared dead early June 2020 after state officials had claimed he was alive over months. Official reports from the military stated he died from severe sepsis on August 17, 2019 but report on his death was released only at the beginning of June 2020.
Another journalist, Paul Chouta who was arrested on May 28, 2019 has recently been brought into reports with intense focus on the trumped defamation charges keeping him in prison to censor his criticism of the government handling of the crisis.
By: Nkanwi Fokwa Ambe|zamireports.com|Ghana