The Colbert Factor:
Why peace-hunting President Biya needs to let the Canada light shine brightly
Muteff had an exciting and enigmatic leader in the 70s and 80s. Bobe Njung Joseph, as village community head for Muteff was one complex and complicated leader who could easily swing from one stance to the other on the same subject. As compound head of the mystical Nantang Yoh order, he would grant permission for youths to organize an all-night dance party. As the party progressed into the night and excitement gained momentum, bobe Njung Joseph would leave his compound and come over to the hall.
Party organizers would spoil him with drinks, and soon, he would request to address the youths. As the youths maintain dead silence, waiting to receive appreciative and encouragement words from the village head for their relentless community service, he would rather killjoy by announcing that as far as he was concerned, the party was over and everyone should return home. Knowing that everyone living on that soil feared the dreaded mystical lodge, he would sound as if the order was coming from that lodge. Imagine the frustration and anger in the eyes and minds of organizers who had earlier given to understanding the village head had approved an all-night party.
When next youth leaders gather courage and get back to bobe Njung Joseph for authorization for a new party, he would do without reservation, and the same scenario would repeat itself. It took the intervention of well-meaning village community councilors and elders to drive home the point to the village head that youths deserved to grow up knowing they could take his word to the bank; for bobe Njung Joseph to allow for all night parties in newly independent Muteff village.
Except for the uniformed, many a Cameroonian who is interested in seeing the conflict in the two English speaking regions come to an end, knew exploratory talks were going on in Canada, at the behest of government of Cameroon. It was even the more clearer when President Biya granted a close to one-hour-audience to the outgone Canadian Ambassador and, when he emerged from the audience he reiterated Biya’s commitment to see a political end to the conflict that has killed over 1000 innocent civilians, an equal number internally displaced, and another taking up refugee status in neighbouring Nigeria.
Not that Cameroonians needed to wait for that particular audience to know Biya has been yearning for a return to normalcy in the conflict zones. On September 22, 2017, while addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, President Paul Biya had projected himself as a ‘beggar of peace’ (le mendeant de la paix). Since then, he has hardly made any public statement without reiterating his stance for a peaceful resolution of conflicts. During the recent US-African Leaders Summit, he was categorical the only way out for Russia and Ukraine in the ongoing conflict was dialogue. He reiterated same during his New Year speeches both to the nation and to the diplomatic corps accredited to Yaounde.
The holding of the Major National Dialogue in 2019, was President Paul Biya’s understanding on how the conflict could be brought to an end. Four years after (and while the recommendations of the MND are being implemented), he must have understood that in matters of resolving long-standing conflicts, no single dialogue was a one-size fit all. That’s why many well-meaning Cameroonians, especially those living on GZ, heaved a sigh of relief the moment they heard secret talks were going in Canada. The choice of Canada (a neutral ground) offered a unique opportunity for Anglophone diaspora community leaders who couldn’t attend the Yaounde meeting because of insecurity), to sign up to the deal.
For a Yaounde government communique to come out claiming no foreign country was ever mandated to mediate in the conflict because it’s an internal matter that could be solved internally, is to ignore the prophetic biblical advice in Mathew 18:15-20, which states that:
‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses’.
Given that the outcome of the 2019 MND didn’t appeal to everyone as even the content of the Special Status granted the two English speaking regions wasn’t welcomed unanimously, it’s but normal and urgent that Biya who proclaimed himself a hunter of peace allow the Canadian light shine brightly. The greatest thing that ever happened to the Canadian initiative is the fact that a majority of the friends of Cameroon, including the Vatican, Britain and America, have welcomed Canada’s decision to midwife the talks.
On the home front, religious leaders in the two English speaking regions have applauded the move and prayed even hardliners within government and the separatists side yield to the voice of Canada, which may just naturally be the voice of God. Inclusive and sincere dialogue addressing the root causes of the problem is today, a ‘categorical imperative’, as German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, would put it.
As President Biya takes his time to bring his government to bend-over-backwards on its position on Canada’s offering of her good offices (just like the Muteff village head, bobe Njung Joseph did in the 80s), each and every Cameroonian hunter for peace would do well to meditate on the following ‘Prayer for Peace ‘ by St. Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
As for The Colbert Factor, we stand resolutely with @Canada