Cameroon: Scores Die in Major Road Accident

An accident along the Bafoussam-Yaounde road in Cameroon has left scores of people dead.

State media reports that over 35 people died early Sunday December 27th, when a heavy-duty truck and a public transport bus collided.

A rescue operation is underway, as the death toll remains on the rise. Injured passengers have been rushed to hospital.

The country’s Ministers of Transport and the Interior are rushing to the scene, to take stock of the situation.

Another Sunday morning road accident

Meanwhile, in Buea, in Cameroon’s South West, a man has been arrested after he hit a family of three with a vehicle on Sunday morning.

He is said to have run away immediately after the incident, but was later caught by local police.

The three victims, a woman and her two children are feared dead.

The two accidents come barely two days after the celebration of Christmas.

Cameroon’s President Gives Aid to IDPs, Forgets Refugees in Nigeria

Ahead of the celebration of Christmas, Cameroon’s President has offered material aid to internally displaced persons who fled the armed conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions. However, nothing has been said about Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria who escaped from the same conflict.

On Monday December 21, the country’s Interior Minister Paul Atanga Nji gave goods such as rice, soap, oil, mattresses and other items to some internally displaced families in the country’s capital Yaoundé. He announced that those in other regions will receive their share in the coming days.

President Paul Biya’s offer to the IDPs costs a little over $1 million. Of this amount, nothing has been programmed to provide aid for Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria who have been living under horrendous conditions for about three years now.

The UN estimates that over half a million people are internally displaced in Cameroon, with about sixty thousand others living as refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.

They were forced to flee their areas, because of continuous fighting between state soldiers and Anglophone separatist fighters in the North West and South West regions. Since they left home, life has not been easy for most of them.

Cameroonian refugees and the spate of exclusion

This is not the first time refugees in Nigeria are left out from receiving relief packages from the state. The government launched a humanitarian assistance plan in 2018, to help those displaced and affected by the armed conflict. However, Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria did not benefit from it, even though they were supposed to.

Cameroon’s Prime Minister at the time, Philemon Yang said in part: “this action will include assistance and visits to show compassion to Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria.”

Government, through the interior minister, rather paid more attention to internally displaced persons. The materials distributed under the humanitarian assistance plan were worth over $23 million.

So far, no government minister from Cameroon is known to have visited the refugees in Nigeria to assess their situation. The most recent visit by a Cameroonian official was in November this year, when the country’s Consul in Clabar, Nigeria, visited some refugees in Akwa-Ibom State.

The consul gave aid to 300 people in that state. Nigeria, however, hosts a total of about 60,000 Cameroonian refugees.

Mr. Onana Patrice “distributed humanitarian aid kits to 300 Cameroonian refugees in Akwa-Ibom State (Uyo, Eket, Oron, Ikot Ekpene, etc) as part of a special gift from the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya, to Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria…” according to Cameroon’s Foreign Ministry.

The festive season is very well on course. While some internally displaced persons in Cameroon will celebrate Christmas and New Year with the gifts received from the state, the circumstances under which refugees in Nigeria will celebrate remain highly uncertain.

Cameroon’s First Regional Election Could Change its Governance System

Municipal councillors and traditional rulers in Cameroon, are voting regional councillors, in the country’s first ever regional election.

Voting is underway across the Central African nation, including in the two restive Anglophone regions, where an armed conflict has been raging for four years now.

However, the election in the Anglophone regions is being conducted under tight security, because of threats from separatist fighters.

Anglophone non-state actors had disapproved of Sunday’s election, and imposed a three-day ghost town. This has been observed partially in some parts of the North West and South West regions.

This election could end Cameroon’s centralized system of governance

The regional election is meant to give the ten regions greater autonomy. It will also facilitate local administration in a country where power is highly centralized.

For decades, citizens have had to grapple with the fact that most administrative functions rest in the nation’s political capital, Yaoundé.

The country’s 1996 amended constitution clearly stipulates decentralization as the form of governance. Decentralization prescribes that government devolves powers to local authorities in the different regions. For 24 years, this has not been the case.

Many see Sunday’s vote as a leeway to the decentralization process. Municipal councillors and chiefs will elect regional concillors and traditional rulers into the regional councils and House of Chiefs respectively. Those elected are expected to facilitate local governance, and supervise the decentralization process.

People consulting the voting list in a local polling center (Picture: Municipal Updates)

The birth of a “Special Status” for the Anglophone regions

The government says this election will pave the way for the Anglophone regions to have a special status. This, according to government, will recognize the specificities of the Anglophone system in Cameroon, thereby leading to an end to the Anglophone crisis.

It remains unclear whether the special status can end the four-year-long conflict, especially as hardcore Anglophone separatists continue to oppose it.

Critics say the special status is vague, without any precision as to its content or how it will work. However, government supporters see the special status as a good offer, which could end the crisis.

Over three thousand people have died owing to the Anglophone armed conflict, with close to a million others displaced internally and externally. The hope of most of these displaced people is for the crisis to end, so they can finally return home.

US-based Cameroonian Empowers Communities of Colour with Latest Innovation

The CEO and Founder of EboniGram Communications, Blessed Efilo Ngoe, has launched a new service, EbonigramPlus, meant to connect and empower black and brown communities around the world.

The innovation, according to him, seeks to give people of African descent a chance to grow their own community online.

He says “EbonigramPlus is designed for a group of people that has been very disenfranchised in the media world – people of Afro descent. So, EbonigramPlus is their own niche; built for people of this group.” Efilo believes that the platform gives this group of people an avenue to interact with the rest of the world.

What is it all about ideally?

EbonigramPlus is a platform for professional and social networking, with a mission to enable black and brown people:

  • Build a strong value-added professional presence on the web
  • Build professional communities through networking
  • Learn new skills and meet people who inspire them
  • Take part in grassroots empowerment and the transformation of interactional spaces
  • Rejoin old friends while growing their community online

Make no mistake! EbonigramPlus, is not solely meant for people with African descent. It is also open for all those who sympathize and empathise with persons of colour.

“They don’t necessarily have to be of African descent. But, as long as they sympathize with, and love Africa, they are welcome to be in EbonigramPlus,” the company’s founder underscored.

Features and how they work

For social interaction and networking, users create profiles, follow friends and mentors, and can be followed back as well. This gives them the exposure they need in their communal space.

More importantly, there are professional avenues in the site, where users can freely market their goods, services and ideas which can boost the black community. Users can create their own stores, forums, groups and pages to promote their businesses.

EbonigramPlus equally has an advertising platform which handlers can use to advertise their various brands.

EbonigramPlus is different, but what makes it so?

Many people of colour use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to interact and bond. These platforms have arguably seduced users with their offers. But, with them, comes a price.

EboniGram Communications says it is not out to compete with these giant firms. In fact, it is bringing something much different to the table.

“We are not out to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and all those guys. We are out to live despite them. Ours is not about making a lot of money, it’s not about making billions of dollars. It’s about giving Africans the opportunity to actually express themselves in a space that is actually theirs,” Blessed Efilo said.

“EbonigramPlus is largely free. Most of the features are free, which means that you can create your market place without necessarily paying for it. But that’s not true in other platforms.”

“You can do so many things with EboniGram without necessarily paying for them. But, there are certain added functions that can help you spread your message maybe to a wider audience, for which you pay a very small fee, compared to Facebook and things like that.”

Most communities of colour are faced with economic challenges. The EboniGram team intimates that it has taken this into consideration, reason why it is making the site affordable for this community.

Meanwhile, management guarantees that it will only permit genuine businesses on the platform, to avoid any fraudulent activity on its site. “This is a platform that cares about the image of Africa…We will be very strict with the kinds of things that are marketed on our platform. We are not going to allow people to take advantage of our platform to exploit the same people we are trying to give a voice.”

Empowering grassroots through education, mentorship and training

Cameroonian-born CEO and founder of EboniGram Communications, Blessed Efilo is an instructor in the University of Colorado, USA. He is passionate about seeing the African continent advance in education.

For this reason, he will use EbonigramPlus to create learning platforms where courses will be taught mostly for free, to help black and brown people develop themselves intellectually and professionally in diverse disciplines. Plans are also underway to bring in professionals from different fields to mentor and train younger black people. This, Efilo believes, will empower the grassroots.

Feel free to explore EbonigramPlus

EbonigramPlus, a division of EboniGram Communications, has been commended by many people. Some have already begun exploring the offers of this latest platform.

If you would like to be part of this community, feel free to visit www.ebonigramplus.com and begin your journey.

African Leaders Congratulate Biden, Despite Trump’s Denial To Concede Defeat

Some leaders in Africa have congratulated US President-elect, Joe Biden following his victory in the US Presidential elections.

After the polls showed the Democratic candidate had crossed the threshold of 270 electoral college votes on Saturday, African leaders began sending their congratulatory messages to the new man who will run America.

Their acknowledgement of Joe Biden’s victory comes amid refusal by incumbent President Donald Trump to concede defeat. He claims the electoral process was marred by gross irregularities and fraud, and is taking legal action.

However, Mr. Trump and his campaign have failed to provide any evidence of these claims.

What have African leaders been saying?

Most of the leaders on the continent took to Twitter, expressing their support for Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They also pledged to collaborate with the new administration.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa said in separate tweets, that they were ready to strengthen the friendship between their countries and the US.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said Joe Biden’s election was “a reminder that democracy is the best form of government,” adding that Biden’s “track record gives us hope that he will add value to the presidency and word affairs.”

For his part, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appealed on President-elect Joe Biden, to maintain the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This trade act favours the quota and tax-free exportation of some African goods to the US.

Leaders from other countries like Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Niger, Liberia, Namibia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Somalia have equally sent their well wishes.

What the Biden Victory Means for Africa

A good number of Africans are happy that power is changing hands in America. Some see former Vice President Joe Biden as the man who will bring the desired change.

Some Africans greatly opposed outgoing President Donald Trump and some of his policies. The height of their opposition to Trump came after the US President allegedly called black countries “s…hole” nations in 2018.

He received a lot of backlash in Africa, thereby upsetting his support on the continent.

Trump was also criticized recently, for allegedly calling anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela “no leader.” The allegations were found in a book released by Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Cohen quoted President Trump as saying “Mandela f—d the whole country up. Now it’s a s—hole. F—Mandela. He was no leader.”

These words were enough to pit South Africans against the American leader. To them, it was a denigration of a man considered to be global icon; a hero.

Now, the continent hopes for a morally upright American leader; one who respects democratic principles, and who will recognise the strength of Africa.

Some countries like Zimbabwe hope to see economic sanctions heaped on them by the US, dropped under the Biden administration. Other countries across Africa hope to boost trade, diplomatic and security cooperation between their nations and America’s new leadership.

Well, these hopes can only come to fruition, if President Donald Trump and his campaign team lose their electoral lawsuits in court.

Cameroon’s President Declares Day of Mourning for Victims of School Shooting

After the killing of seven school children by armed men in Cameroon, the entire country will observe a national day of mourning this Saturday.

The tragic episode on October 24 in Kumba, a locale in the restive South West region of Cameroon, remains fresh in the memories of Cameroonians.

Armed men stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, and opened fire on students in a classroom. Five died on the spot, while two others later died in hospital. Meanwhile, the attack left more than ten other students injured.

Since then, the nation has been in grief. However, amid the sorrow, citizens have staged emotional protests in some parts of the country. They have continued to denounce the act, and its perpetrators.

The President wants the victims remembered

On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing of the school children. He, just like many people across the world, expressed his sympathy to the bereaved families.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms, this barbaric and cowardly crime against innocent children,” President Biya wrote on Twitter.

Moreover, he went further on Wednesday, to declare Saturday, 31 October 2020, “a day of national mourning in memory of the victims of the attack, on 24 October 2020.”

“The national flag shall be flown at half-mast all day long throughout the national territory,” Paul Biya declared.

Citizens hold memorials to honour deceased children

In some parts of the country, citizens have held memorial candle lighting ceremonies, to pray for the victims of the “Kumba massacre.”

Cameroonians mourn victims of the Kumba school shooting, in memorial candle lighting ceremony (Picture: @KreativeKwame)
Cameroonians mourn victims of the Kumba school shooting, in memorial candle lighting ceremony (Picture: @KreativeKwame)

Kreative Kwame recently lit a candle at a local memorial site in Buea, in memory of the deceased children. Thoughts of his loved ones compelled him to do so.

“I thought of my junior sister, little cousins, nieces…I thought about the children who had nothing to do with whatever is going on in the country,” he told EboniGram.

Kwame equally “prayed for a permanent end to all the suffering that we have seen for four years today: to the cries that our mothers have left; the families that have been scattered; the people who are nowhere to be found; the bodies which have been buried. I prayed for an end.”

As the country remains aggrieved by the frequent loss of lives in the restive Anglophone regions, the general cry is for the armed conflict there to end. But, at what cost?

Condemnation Rises over Cameroon School Shooting

Condemnation has heightened in Cameroon, over the brutal killing of at least seven school children, in one of the country’s restive Anglophone regions.

On Saturday October 24, gunmen stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, South West region, and opened fire on students in a classroom.

Five students are said to have died on the spot, with over ten others injured. Two students later died in hospital.

The perpetrators of Saturday’s act are not yet known, but both government and Anglophone separatist groups have traded the blame. This is not the first time both actors in the Anglophone armed conflict are blaming each other for atrocities committed in the crisis-hit English-speaking regions.

What has the reaction been like?

Since the act against school children on Saturday, there has been a wave of mass criticism from within and out of Cameroon. The condemnation keeps rising by the day.

On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing in a tweet, calling it “barbaric” and “cowardly.”

Barrister Akere Muna, a Cameroonian politician and international human rights lawyer, was appalled by the news. He tagged the killing as “savagery” and “mayhem.”

Meanwhile, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla could not hold back his indignation. He is a human rights lawyer, and founder of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, which has documented numerous atrocities committed in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

“It is unacceptable for anyone or groups of persons to harass, attack, and or kill children. It is a fundamental right for children to be educated. Hence, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be held accountable. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to their families,” he tweeted.

Moreover, the event on Saturday equally triggered grave international response. In fact, the reactions have been massive and global. The African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat was among those who denounced the attack.

Cameroonian athletes, artists, civil society actors and ordinary Cameroonians have also expressed their anger. On Sunday, Cameroonians in Kumba — where the shooting took place — and in other Francophone regions staged protests, denouncing the killing of the students. They equally demanded an end to the four-year-long armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.

Cameroonian women mourn dead school children in street protest (Picture: 237 Info Mill/Facebook).

International organizations such as the UN, have also condemned it. Many other individuals and groups abroad have added their voices to denounce what is now known in Cameroon as the “Kumba massacre.”

What next?

Amid the blame game, the Cameroonian public is now confused about who the actual killers of the school children are. However, they are unanimous that the perpetrators of the act need to face the law.

The government has announced an investigation, but it remains largely unclear whether the findings will be made public.

Saturday’s killings might just be an indication that the situation in Anglophone Cameroon remains dire, and needs an urgent solution.

Sudan is No More a State Sponsor of Terrorism — US President

US President Donald Trump has removed Sudan from America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Friday’s move by the US was received with joy in Sudan, as it marks a new turning point in the economic development of the African nation.

The US, however, did not delist Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism for free. President Trump promised to take the country off the list, only if it paid $335 million, as compensation for victims of terror.

On Monday, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter, that Sudan’s new government had agreed to pay the compensation levy.

Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok thanked President Trump on Monday, shortly after he declared his intention to expunge Sudan from America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Why did USA include Sudan in its list of state sponsors of terrorism?

In 1993, the US named Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. This was primarily because the country hosted Osama Bin Laden, the then leader of al-Qaeda. He was a guest of the Sudanese government.

Moreover, in 1998 while Bin Laden still lived in Sudan, al-Qaeda bombed two US embassies in Africa — in Kenya and Tanzania. The bombings left more than 200 people dead, with several others injured.

The US government considered Sudan complicit in the act, and demanded that it pay compensation to US victims and their families.

President Trump’s latest move will help Sudan

Since 1993 when US enlisted Sudan in its list, relations between both countries have been rough.

In fact, for 27 years, the US made it hard for Sudan to receive economic aid from major international financial institutions, thereby crippling the country’s economy. Foreign investment in Sudan was also barred to an extent, by the US’ action.

But, Mr. Trump’s new move paves the way for the African nation to receive financial aid and investment.

If Congress does not object to the President’s decision, then Sudan can conveniently secure loans from international institutions.

It will have a chance to revive its poorly-performing economy, and this might open doors for foreign investment.

US-Sudan relations bolstered

On the same day Mr. Trump dismissed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, he equally made another major announcement.

He revealed that Sudan had agreed to normalize relations with Israel. Sudan becomes the fifth Arab nation to accept fixing relations with Israel.

This is a big deal for the US president because, his administration has convinced three Arab nations — UAE, Bahrain and Sudan — to change their negative attitude towards Israel. All three arrangements were done in 2020, which is an election year.

By Sudan accepting to normalize relations with Israel, it has bridged its tense gap with the US.

Many are now eager to see how the country will evolve in the years to come.

Deported Immigrants from USA Arrive Cameroon

81 Cameroonian immigrants who were deported from the United States of America, are back in their home country.

The US government says they — together with millions of other immigrants — entered US soil illegally.

Prior to their deportation on Tuesday, US Members of Congress, Amnesty International, and individuals appealed to the Trump administration not to let the asylum-seekers return to Cameroon.

They argued that most of the immigrants who entered the US fled violence, occasioned by the armed conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, among other reasons.

Cameroon is struggling with three concurrent crises:  the widening conflict between the anglophone and the francophone regions; clashes between the government and armed separatists who are demanding greater autonomy; and a culture of impunity to human rights violations that has been created by the 37-year administration of President Paul Biya.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, USA

Cameroon’s state media reported that the Cameroonian government collaborated with the United States, to repatriate the asylum-seekers.

Meanwhile, some have accused the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of coercing Cameroonian asylum seekers into unwillingly signing their deportation documents. Reports say they used force, and in some cases, torture, to compel them to sign.

As the immigrants arrived Cameroon on Wednesday, they underwent COVID-19 tests. They will be under observation for some days.

The immigrants might have risked their lives for greener pastures abroad, but the grim reality of what they fled from now faces them back home, once again.

Cameroon’s Gov’t in Court for Placing Opposition Leader under “House Arrest”

The Cameroonian government has been taken to court, to answer why security forces continue restricting the freedom of the country’s leading opposition figure.

For close to one month now, security agents have surrounded the residence of Professor Maurice Kamto in the capital, Yaounde. The leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) party and his supporters believe he is under house arrest.

State forces barred Mr. Kamto and his family from leaving their compound. For this reason, Kamto’s lawyers filed a complaint in court, against key state officials whom they accused of being behind their client’s situation.

According to the group of lawyers, the case will be heard on Thursday October 15th, at the Yaounde Court of First Instance. 

Why is Maurice Kamto under “house arrest”?

The CRM party of Professor Maurice Kamto opposed President Paul Biya’s decision to schedule regional elections in December.

The party warned against holding elections without resolving the Anglophone crisis in the country’s two English speaking regions. It also urged government to reform the electoral laws — which it said were faulty — before any elections could take place.

Together with some other opposition parties and civil society leaders, the CRM promised to organize peaceful protests. The aim was to demand President Paul Biya to step down, if the government did contrary to their proposal.

So, government banned the opposition’s protest scheduled for September 22, calling it illegal and “insurrectional.” It promised to crackdown on anyone who would defy the ban.

On the eve of the planned protest, security forces surrounded the premises of the CRM leader, barring him from leaving his home. Since then, he says he has not left his compound.

Any hopes for Mr. Kamto after the court hearing?

Party members and supporters of Mr. Kamto see the restriction on his freedom as against the law. Thursday’s hearing might give them a chance to hope.

However, it is not clear whether or not the court will rule in their favor. One thing is clear, though: Mr. Kamto cannot wait to live as a free man again.