A GROWING INSECURITY
The level of unrest in Cameroun has been growing since 2016 when the country’s English-speaking community began to demand a return to federalism. More than 500 people including a Priest and Seminarian have lost their lives and some 200,000 have been displaced as a result of clashes between the military and the “amazonian boys”, a group of boys fighting for the “cause”.
Auxiliary Bishop Mons. Michael Miabesue Bibi of Bamenda, a mostly English-speaking archdiocese in northwestern Cameroon told ACN that “what began as a matter of translating documents, transfer of teachers and reinstating the English subsystem of education, grew into the request for a two-state federation and finally to a request of secession from French-speaking Cameroon. Since February 2018, there has been a serious loss of human life on the side of the military and the boys fighting for the secessionist cause. Nearly every day in the English speaking region especially from Bamenda where I come from, there are gunshots fired either by the military or by the boys fighting for the cause, known as “Amazonian boys” (short amba boys)”.
This situation has greatly hampered pastoral work in the region as there is little or no freedom of movement. According to the Bishop, “In the North West Region, roads are constantly blocked by the boys, bridges destroyed and trees felled on roads to restrict movement. Most priests cannot go for pastoral work and it has become difficult for the bishops to carry out pastoral visitations since June.”
Commenting on the killing of Gerard Anjiangwe, a Seminarian, the Bishop explained:
“Around 9:30 am, at the end of the Holy Mass, Gerard Anjiangwe and some readers were preparing for the liturgy of the following day. A military van stopped at the entrance of the road leading to the Church. Some of the militaries alighted from the van and started shooting. Some altar servers who were returning home after the mass ran back to the Church and others to the nearby bush. The readers who were with Gerard near the sacristy, seeing the military coming, ran into the sacristy and closed the door whereas Gerard, who was still outside, prostrated on the ground while praying the rosary. They approached Gerard lying prostrate on the ground and asked him to stand up, which he did without hesitating. After interrogating him, he was asked to lie down again. Then, he was shot three times on the neck and he died instantly. His father is a catechist and Gerard was the only son of the family.”
In an attempt to silence the “amba boys”, the military burns down and destroys property and as a result of the Church to has been affected with many Church buildings, presbyteries and other material goods being destroyed. T
Although the Church has been making efforts to foster dialogue, it has been sandwiched between the government and the “amba boys”.
The Bishop makes a heartfelt request to Benefactors of ACN, “During this difficult time, I would like that ACN should keep us in their prayers so that this crisis may be resolved as soon as possible. The amount of human life being lost, properties destroyed and persons displaced is a reason for real concern. ACN can also assist us in caring for the internally and externally displaced persons and also assist some of our parishes where priests suffer greater difficulty in carrying out their pastoral work.”