The Colbert Factor:
Massacre in Mamfe and Others: Can Desperate Victims Dock Almighty God?
One of the most likable youths in Muteff was Ndongdey. Being an avid traveler, he had friends in virtually all the communities surrounding Muteff. That fateful day, one of his friends from the neighboring Achain Fondom was returning from Fundong, the Divisional capital of Boyo Division in the northwest of Cameroon, on a mission sent by his father. As it was nightfall, he decided to spend the night with Ndongdey, his bosom friend in Muteff. No sooner did he take off from Muteff early the next morning did the news come that he had collapsed and died on Achain’s winding hills. Ndongdey was alleged to have poisoned him overnight.
The boy’s father, Muchua, a dreaded traditional doctor vowed revenge, given that the deceased was the only boy he bore. Rather than going after the Ndongdey, Bobe Muchua went after Ndongdey’s brothers and sisters, mystically eliminating one after the other. When the said Ndongdey himself fell sick and died and the curse still seemed far from over, his remaining kid brother, Pascal (a promising navy officer in Douala) decided to take the bull by the horns and personally reach out to Bobe Muchua for an appeasement, promising to rather become his son. Yet, the deaths continued.
The innocent Pascal became so frustrated with the situation. During a private discussion with this writer, he cursed and wondered why the dreaded mystical juju in the order of Nantang Yoh who claimed to have total control over good and evil deeds in the Muteff village could not frustrate his brother’s evil deed, or its excessive pay-back. He finally decided to place everything in God’s hands having done everything humanly possible (and in vain), to please Bobe Muchua. When after that one of his sisters still died, making four to have already gone in his family, he contemplated challenging God as he wondered aloud whether God was still in control in much the same way as he was taught in doctrine classes in Muteff Catholic Church. No sooner than later, death snatched him away before one could get details of his actual plan to challenge God.
Pascal Wainfen was not alone. In her famous hit song: ‘Hello God!’, Dolly Parton wonders whether God still exists and still listens to His people. She says the world is in pieces as hate and violence just increase. She tells God human beings have become selfish, cruel, and blind; fighting and killing each other in the name of defending God. Emphasizing that humanity has become lost and confused, she questions whether God now loves some people more than others. While wondering whether we are still on speaking terms with God as before, Dolly Parton tells God that humanity has made a mockery of the free will he has given. She ends up challenging God that if he is still listening, He should kindly give humanity a second chance to prove itself worthy to still be called sons of God.
The recent incident in Edgekaw, Mamfe Central in the Manyu Division of the South West of Cameroon has made many contemplate, like Dolly Parton and Pascal Wainfen, whether God is still listening and on talking terms with his children who are fated to live here on Earth before they pass on to eternity. They have wondered whether God is still in control and why he can’t step in to act given that the civilian authorities He placed us under are unruffled about the ongoing carnage. Starting from Ngarbuh to Pinyin, Kumba, and now, Edgwekaw with a stopover in Guzang, there seems to be no end in sight of mass killings.
Some years ago, troubled by God’s silence in the face of terrible disasters, a United States woman by the name of Betty Penrose sued God in the U.S. courts. When her home was struck by a bolt of lightning and she lost everything she had, she cast her eyes on the Heavens from the ashes of her broken life and vowed that God would pay for this, somehow. The lawsuit informed God that He was responsible for “the maintenance and operations of the universe, including the weather in and upon the State of Arizona.” Thus he was responsible for the bolt of lightning that struck and burnt down Ms. Penrose’s house. The lawsuit asked for $75,000 in general damages and $25,000 in punitive damages.
On the date of the trial, the court noted that the defendant – God – did not show up for the hearing, although it did not give specifics on how it determined that the omnipresent wasn’t there; as opposed to merely exercising his right to remain silent – as he often does. With God absent from court, Penrose won the case by default and was awarded $100,000 in damages that she asked for. Finding and pursuing God for the money proved a difficult challenge and it is not known whether Betty Penrose was ever able to extract a single coin from God’s deep pockets.
Betty Penrose was not alone either. Records show that God has found Himself in the legal loup six times. In 2013, a Kenyan lawyer, Dola Indidis, sued two countries for human rights violations against Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. In his petition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), he asked the court to ‘declare that the trial of Jesus Christ and the subsequent nailing on the cross went against the principle of fair trial and should therefore be declared a mistrial.’ To that, a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese in Nairobi, Kenya, had this as a response: ‘Nobody can do justice to God.’
Before him, Ernie Chambers, a State Senator in Nebraska, USA, had sued God in 2007 requesting a ‘permanent injunction against God’s harmful activities’ through natural disasters or ‘acts of God.’ The lawsuit was dismissed by the court because God, not having a permanent address ‘could not be properly notified.’ Perhaps, a more interesting case could be that of a certain Pavel M. a Roman prisoner convicted for murder. He blamed God for it, and while serving a 20-year jail term, he sued the Romanian Orthodox Church, which he believed represented God, with a lawsuit of:
“Failing to keep him away from the devil.’ In the charges against God, Pavel had claimed that ‘God received different material valuables from me, as well as prayers in exchange for a better life. In reality – this did not happen – I found myself in the devil’s hands,’ said the prisoner. He claimed that the baptism he received in the Romanian Orthodox Church was a binding covenant between the Church and God to protect him from the devil.
A Kansas man also once filed a suit against God requesting $1 trillion in compensation when his ship wrecked and the insurance company refused to pay because the insurance did not cover natural disasters or ‘acts of God.’ He argued that since God was in control of the weather and did not stop his ship from wrecking, He would have to pay for the damages. He charged that God was not ruling the world well. The suit didn’t get far at all before being dismissed.
Houston, there’s a problem here! Can Cameroon’s Head of State be sued in a Cameroonian court over negligence in the run-up to the current conflict and even how it is handled? We have jurisprudential evidence that a certain journalist-cum politician, Teche Nyamusa sued President Paul Biya in a court in Mbengwi a few years ago. When the date for the hearing was reached, Nyamusa was informed by the court that it hadn’t jurisdiction to hear the matter. He was tactfully advised to either take the case to Bamenda or to Yaounde where President Biya is a resident. Beyond the issue of Presidential immunity, the matter was still challenging as Teche Nyamusa would have found difficulty serving Biya with a summons. We know of the famous case of Prince Andrew in London who hid himself in Buckingham Palace to avoid being served a summons to appear in court. Besides immunity issues, sitting Presidents have the power to pardon themselves. This also means that God is immune forever. Yet, courts in Cameroon have proven they are likely to entertain cases against the Almighty God. Recently, some parents with cover from the government of Cameroon dragged the pastors of the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Catholic churches in the English-speaking regions to court for encouraging the school boycott sanctioned by separatist fighters. Although the lawsuit was later thrown out, it demonstrated in triumphant details that although one may not succeed in suing Biya in a Cameroonian court, they can accept a lawsuit against the Almighty God.
The question today is whether it is possible to sue God over the happenings in the Anglophone minority communities with over 10,000 deaths. Despite the several unique challenges involved in attempting to sue God in court, including issues of jurisdiction, serving the defendant with the lawsuit, and getting the court to enforce the judgment, putting God on trial is certainly nothing new.
In the Bible, the Book of Malachi is more or less set in the courtroom where the Israelites have, ostensibly, placed God on trial for not living up to his end of the covenant. Malachi opens with the Almighty God on the witness stand, making a pretty good case that it was the Israelites, not God, who had been negligent in fulfilling the terms of the agreement. At the end of the day, God does not offer excuses and explanations. His testimony in the book of Malachi ends with a simple statement: “I have loved you and I love you still.” The same message holds for the grieving people of Edgekaw in Mamfe, South West Cameroon.
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