Njenefor (also known as Mberegha) in Nkwen Fondom, Northern Zone of British Southern Cameroon, is the embodiment of British Southern Cameroons’ hospitality. Nkwen indigenes and those of nearby villages of Bafut and Bambui refer to the area as “Ntongtu”, the generic name for Bamileke people from French Cameroun. Most Citizens of the far off village (Njenefor), originated from French Cameroun. Running from persecution from Ahidjo, Biya and the French colonial administration in the late 50s and early 60s, the Fon of Nkwen at the time gave them refuge at this distant forest. The area was cut-off from the entire Nkwen Village; guarded by numerous hills, rivers and streams. It was poorly-accessible until the arrival of the Apostolic Secondary School in the 90s, and of late the Yong Sports Academy Complex. Here, these persecuted thrived and embedded in the local community. Though feeling relatively save for the time being, their fear of the Biya/Ahidjo regime was discernible through their stories.
On the 6 July, 2019, the Biya administration made real the fear these people harbored of the French Cameroun regime. The dreaded French colonial military whom they had escaped years back, stormed the area and assassinated more than seven individuals. Among them was Mangie Ille, whose parents had escaped the Biya and Ahidjo murder machines from French Cameroun during the pre and post-colonial eras. The hardworking lady was pulled out of her home with her two children and executed – memento of the Forchive/Biya/Ahidjo era in the Bamileke Regions of French Cameroun in the early 60s.
One survivor – innocent rock miner on his way to his mine site that morning, narrates how he was caught, tortured and forced to assemble the corpses. The traumatized man describes how, he heard the men planning to kill him after assembling the corpses. ” When I saw an opening, I fled. They fired at me. It is thanks to God, that I am alive”. The battered innocent man narrates. Investigations indicate that the mastermind is a former Okada rider, turn BIR – Mr. Awantang. The former Okada rider from Mbesi quarter in Nkwen, who now resides at Up Station, is versed with the quarter, and knows every home and occupant. Security men around Mawa Hotel in the area equally confirmed the said action was executed by BIRs from Up Station, ordered by the Governor of the area – Mr. Lele Afrique.
The French Cameroun colonial authorities do not give reasons for these extra-judicial killings, but grapevine has it that they assumed Ambazonia forces usually drink at her bar. Assuming this is true, how does killing a woman and her family help Fai Yengo’s Peace and Reconciliation Commission? How does it also win minds? French Cameroun colonial forces can only assassinate Ille and others thanks to the imposed unification that allowed French Cameroun soldiers to move across Matadzem (The boundary between the two territories), when they hitherto could not before 1961.
The Bamileke and Bassa Genocides
In the 1950s French forces were responsible for the massacre and exile of leaders of the dissident independent political party, the UPC, which was banned in 1955. “Cameroon’s independence from France was a bitter struggle,” Cameroonian editorialist Gabriel Mbarga told RFI (Read more). Nationalist unrest broke out at the end of France’s 10-year rule in 1955 and was brutally suppressed by French forces, leaving thousands dead. “It became very violent after the suspension of the UPC independence party and the assassination of its leader Ruben Um Nyobe on 13 September, 1958,” Mbarga said.
Estimates of the death toll, still debated by many experts, range from 100,000- 400,000 people killed between 1959 and 1964. In the Department of Sanaga maritime, largely populated by the ethnic group named the Bamileke,120,000 were killed in 1960 alone.The Bamileke people were a prime target because they were suspected of harbouring UPC separatists, who controlled the western province.This bloody repression lasted until 1971.(Read more…). The 86-year-old frail President Paul Biya, has been at the decision-making level of French Cameroun since the French colonial era. (Read more about him here)