The Colbert Factor:
Missong-Menchum Massacre: Nine Lives Too Many
‘As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sports.’
Nothing can ever begin to explain the senseless killing of nine unarmed civilians on the night of June 1, 2022 in Missong, a village near Zhoa in Fungom Subdivision, Menchum Division of the North West Region, than the above declaration by Gloucester in Skakespeare’s ‘King Lear’.
A statement from the spokesman of Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense, Col. Atonfack Cyril, attributes the macabre incident to gross misjudgement by some four elements of Cameroon’s elite forces who, fearing their colleaque might have fallen into wrong hands, launched a ferocious search and rescue party on that fateful day.
The statement furthered that when the military came across some villagers who seemed uncooperative, (and fearing for their own lives), they disproportionately rained bullets on them. This resulted in nine deaths; four women, four men, and an 18- year old girl. A baby of 12 months old who was also hit by a bullet was immediately rushed for treatment at the Wum General Hospital, according to a statement read over state radio last June 7, 2022.
While sending words of compassion from the Defense Minister, the spokesman revealed that the concerned military men who acted unprofessionally in disrespect of their Code of conduct, had been detained at the Bamenda Gendarmerie Legion, for further questioning and appropriate sanctions meted.
It is not only intriguing that an incident that took place last Wednesday June 1, could only be acknowledged the following Tuesday week of June 7, but also that Defense authorities are still talking of ongoing investigations. They have not also been in a hurry to tell Cameroonians whether after killing the innocent civilians, the trigger-happy soldiers found their colleaque.
The loss of the nine unarmed villagers in Missong last week is the loss of nine too many. Since the morphing of the crisis into an armed conflict, we have witnessed scene after scene of senseless brutality and abject cruelty. Uniform officers, like armed separatist fighters, take the lives of mortals as thoughtlessly as wanton boys take the lives of flies. So, ‘as flies to wanton boys, so are we to the gods. They kill us for their sports.’ We have all become only sports to those wielding arms as they kill us for their amusement.
Otherwise, how else can one explain the fact that uniform officers who have gone to a market square to refresh themselves on drinks and just because one of theirs have sneaked out to meet a girlfriend, could lead to the loss of nine healthy lives? Otherwise, how would one explain the fact that the Defense ministry’s communique claims that military opened fire because they ‘ran into a group of deviant youths’ in Missong community? If a professional army could not contend ‘deviant’ youth, it would only mean ‘they kill us for their sports.’
The concerned military men in Menchum Division had behaved like the three adventurous boys in William Golding’s novel, ‘Lord of the flies’, who, after finding themselves in an Island, and suspecting the presence of a weird being, began engaging in unimaginable acts of barbaric destructions. Only after the wanton destruction do they realize that they were suspecting but their shadows.
Truth be told: The Missong incident was a real triumph of meaninglessness. It suffered the lack of all meaning as it came barely a week after Cameroonians have tossed up celebratory glasses of wine in honour of the rare feat the Defense and Security Forces had performed in securing the release of kidnapped senator Regina Mundi.
The perception and the mentality of the Cameroon Military at the time of the macabre incident in Menchum Division can best be captured by the Cameroonian-born U.S citizen, Marie Claire Kuja’s book: ‘False Labels’. Just like white supremacists would falsely label any black as a criminal in the U.S, an average Cameroonian uniformed Officer sees in every Anglophone in front of him, an amba fighter that needs to be put out of the way.
It is the same scenario in Harper Lee’s book: ‘To Kill a mocking bird’, where a white American family living in a black neighbourhood accuses a black handicapped young boy bogged down to a wheelchair, of raping their over 30 year-old daughter. Despite proof to the country presented in court by one of the community’s best lawyers, the white supremacist Court sentences the poor boy to imprisonment with hard labour.
That is how, if not of that fact that human ‘blood is thicker than water’, the results of Government’s belated communique on that incident would have been that the ‘deviant’ youths were separatist fighters.
Faced with such mounting and senseless killings from both sides, the only thing left now is to ask the kind of hard question on purpose ace musician, Charles Blackman, asked in similar challenging circumstances: ‘Shall we keep on living this way?’ How many more people must die before the senseless war comes to an end?
That’s the question.
*Colbert Gwain is digital rights activist, author, radio host, Commitment Maker at UN Generation Equality Coalition, and content creator @TheColbertFactor
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