The Colbert Factor:
Je suis Martinez Zogo
On January 10, 2023, we wrote in The Colbert Factor slot where we were presenting New Year wishes to our valued fans and readers that: ‘Although @TheColbertFactor we anticipate another exciting and yet challenging year, and a push back against press freedom and the important work journalists do…we promised to remain resilient’. We already foretold the increasing pressure press freedom was facing in our society, and resolved to face the challenges of the coming time with courage and positivity.
Just seven days after our outing, that is, last January 17, 2023, news reports emerged of the abduction of Martinez Zogo, a popular Yaounde-based radio talk show personality. As the biological and media family were still grappling with the whereabouts of this popular whistle blower on corruption and embezzlement in high places, pictures of his liveless and mutilated body appeared on social media. He had been assassinated.
Like Samuel Wazizi, the Buea-based journalist who suffered same fate in 2019 (but for the fact that his body had never been handed over to the family for proper burial and closure), Martinez Zogo has finally paid the price of press freedom in Cameroon.
And so, #jesuismartinez#, #iammartinez#. Just like I was Samuel Wazizi in 2019, and many others before them.
The only way one can express empathy, outrage and horror against this one too many atrocious acts would be to subsum ourselves into the victims’ identities. #JeSuisMartinez#.
In doing so, we borrow from an old tradition introduced by one-time U.S President, John F. Kennedy, on June 26, 1963, in West Berlin, on the 15th anniversary of the Berlin blockade, when he made the statement: ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’, which when translated into English would mean, ‘I am a Berliner’. No better way could express his concern and emotional attachment to West Berlin than the statement. In the same vein, no amount of words could capture the muzzling of the press in Cameroon today, and more importantly, the intended message to any journalist who wants to dare the coterie of tropical gangsters who animate the space.
Methinks the only way journalists and non-journalists can continue to honor the memory of Wazizi and Zogo, would be to refuse to be silenced, regardless of the threats of violence and hatred.
Martinez Zogo and Samuel Wazizi’s incidents must rather embolden journalists in Cameroon, as elsewhere, to stand up and declare like Charbonnier in 2012, that: ‘I have neither a wife nor children, not even a dog. But I am not going to hide’. Samuel Wazizi and Martinez Zogo’s killings are part of a series of renewed threats toward journalists and freedom of speech
At The Colbert Factor, we can only affirm that instead of being successful at silencing any serious journalist, the killing of Martinez Zogo (just like that of Wazizi in 2019), have backfired and rather brought more awareness and support to freedom of speech and expression across the board.
As Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer of the Newseum Institute and Senior Vice President of the U.S based First Amendment Center declared after the brutal killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist on 7 January 2015:
‘Such violence directed at journalists, authors and others, ironically, is a strong recognition that free expression and the marketplace of ideas, is a powerful weapon against tyranny’.
He continued by say that: ‘For more than 220 years, in the United States, the 45 words of the First Amendment have defined the nation’s core freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. We have another few words that will serve as a global means of declaring those freedoms: #jesuischarlie#. And I dare say #jesuismartinez# or ‘I am Martinez Zogo’, have become another national and global means of declaring same freedoms for Cameroon.
More and more journalists across the World have been killed doing their job and many executed for simply being journalists and human rights defenders
I am Martinez Zogo. You are Martinez Zogo. We are Martinez Zogo
Like Wazizi, Zogo have just joined the ranks of the numerous martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression and liberty in this triangular patchup called Cameroon
As it is a truth universally accepted that guilt would always recoil on the culprit, the murderers of Martinez Zogo, just like those of Samuel Wazizi and others, have murdered sleep and, thus, would sleep no more (Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act II, Scene II).
The investigations announced by government of Yaounde, may never bring anything to light, as feared by the statement from the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, but journalists and the court of public opinion are unanimous that the killers doth murdered sleep and thus sleep no more. So, whether Thane of Glamis, or possibly future king, sleep would elude him(them). Their lack of sleep would wear on them, physically and mentally.
Bamenda, Tuesday January 24, 2023