Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Cameroon Government’s initial silence on the Donga Mantung Massacre: Is it really golden?

The news of the massacres in the Donga Mantung Division of the Northwest region has been spreading across the world like wildfire and many people are surprised that the government is not seeking to provide explanations for this ugly situation that is giving the country a very bad name.

Close to 40 persons were killed by the country’s military and the United Nations and many human rights groups are calling on the government to investigate the matter with the objective of punishing those responsible for the carnage.

Despite these calls, the government has remained suspiciously quiet. Could the killings be part of a government plan to decimate the population of the English-speaking regions that account for 20% of the country’s population?

Many political analysts hold that the government’s decision to kill English-speaking Cameroonians and burn their homes is part of a carefully crafted policy to subjugate the population once and for all. This, in its view, will ensure that the vocal minority is hemmed in forever.

If this is really part of a government policy, then it is clear that the government has not really done its homework properly. Times have changed and the world is a different place from what it used to be in the 1960s when rogue governments could get away with crimes against humanity.

Unlike in the past, crimes could be reported in real time today due to the advent of social media and android phones that are enabling citizens to capture some of those crimes as they play out.

Besides, it will be hard, if not impossible, to take down an entire community, especially as half of the community is out of the country. Cameroon’s English-speaking minority is about 8 million people strong and most of the young educated men are professionals living abroad.

The government should understand that most of the opposition it faces comes from abroad and instead of killing children and pregnant women, it should seek to make peace with its English-speaking Diaspora that has made up its mind to change the order of things in Cameroon.

The government might has just issued a press release indicating that the death of 32 women and children is an unfortunate event and that those killed are collateral damage, but its initial silence cannot be deemed golden.

The government is guilty of manslaughter. It has developed a policy of mass murder that will never lead to peace. The government of a well-run country is never in the business of proving a point. A true and honest government listens to its citizens and seeks to come up with solutions that can address the issues raised.

The government’s initial silence is proof of guilt and its belated press release simply speaks to its inability to admit guilt and seek corrective measures. There is dignity in accepting guilty and promising that it would no longer happen is usually a first step towards addressing the issues. Flexing one’s muscles all the time turns off even moderates. The government of Cameroon must start thinking of walking the path to dialogue to save its reputation or whatever is left of it.


By Dr Joachim Arrey in Canada