Archbishop of Bamenda, His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua
The Archbishop of Bamenda, His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua, narrowly escaped lynching on December 8, when hundreds of violent protesters pounced on militants of the Cameroon Peoples’, Democratic Movement CPDM, at the Bamenda Commercial Avenue Grandstand.
The Archbishop was invited to the event by the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang.
According to sources, the PM had in his invitation letter to the Archbishop, convinced him that they were bearers of a special messages of peace to striking teachers and lawyers.
Yang assured the Archbishop that they were coming to Bamenda to make certain pronouncements that will end the on-going strike action by teachers and lawyers and that the Archbishop’s presence at the event was indispensible.
But the irate population interpreted the CPDM rally a as provocation, given that, most Northwest elites in Government have repeatedly stated that there is no Anglophone problem.
According to the protesters, the elites were coming to Bamenda to march and show the international community that there is no Anglophone Problem and that Cameroon remains one and indivisible.
However, after arriving the Commercial Avenue Grandstand at midday, the Archbishop was offered a conspicuous front seat among other dignitaries.
But things suddenly turned ugly when some unidentified young men stripped one of the CPDM militants naked and set his party uniform ablaze.
Within a twinkle of an eye, the angry mob descended on the party militants and those who have honoured the CPDM invitation.
They irate youths vented out their rage on chairs, tables, musical instruments among others. In the wake of this fury, the Chief Shepard of the Bamenda Archdiocese narrowly freed himself from the madding crowd and zoomed off.
From the Grandstand, Archbishop Esua later found himself at the Presbytery in Mamfe Diocese, where he sought refuge. He only returned to his territorial circumscription after relative calm has returned.
In a strongly worded message, dated December 10, addressed to the Christians and people of goodwill, the Archbishop said he has followed the happenings in Bamenda with deep pain.
He regretted the loss of innocent lives, those injured and those who have lost their property during this turbulent period and called on Christians to pray for peace and the repose of the souls of the fallen victims.
Mgr. Esua, asserted that the deployment of armed troops in Bamenda have further exacerbated the situation.
“The deployment of elements of the Armed Forces in Bamenda, as a consequence of the unrest, has made Bamenda a militarised zone and has brought with it vices like intimidation, abuse of human rights and dignity, inhuman and unjustified treatment.
This would only incite the population to be more violence and make the situation worse. There is urgent need to give immediate and concrete solutions to these problems.
“I would like to reiterate the appeal of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda that the Government should do everything in its power and within the shortest time possible to engage in an honest and credible dialogue and to restrain the action of the forces of law and order.
The troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible,” Mgr. Esua averred.
While calling on all the citizens of Bamenda to refrain from any acts of violence and provocation, Archbishop Esua said it is the teachers and lawyers who called for a sit-down strike and there is no reason for anyone to come out to the streets and destroy property or upset the peace of the town.
“Our children have been out of school for the last three weeks and there is no hope of their returning to school soon. We are in a difficult and unpredictable situation. How long is this situation going to last and with what consequences?” Esua quipped.
Faced with these difficulties, the Bishop urged Government to “convene a meeting with the stakeholders to discuss and resolve the problems which the lawyers and teachers have presented.”
Mgr. Esua said what marvels him is the passion shown by the people of Bamenda to the point of giving up their lives.
“This shows that there are deep-seated issues which need to be addressed and to continue to pretend and politick that these problems do not exist, is only to sow disaster for the future of this country.
In fact, the problems of the teachers and lawyers are symptomatic of a generalised discontent which we can only continue to ignore to the detriment of peace and the welfare of Cameroon,” Esua noted.
The Prelate appealed to all Christians of the Archdiocese of Bamenda to offer special prayers to God, the Father of Mercy that the situation may not persist and become worse, but that it should be resolved as soon as possible.
“We should pray that truth, justice and peace may prevail.”
Most Christians have heralded this letter from Bishop Esua saying it has come as a “damage control.”.￼