Interview by Elie Smith:
Elie Smith: Thank you very much, for having accepted to talk to us. We have heard rumours about your apparently deteriorating health, how you are doing presently?
Mancho Bibixy: Thank you. I will first want to start to talk about the current crisis and thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to say one or two things. I’ve already spoken volumes about it and I want to make it clear that, the government is responsible for this crisis that would have been solved long time ago before it reached this current stage. As concerns my health, it is improving gradually. There is no doubt that my failing health is related to poor prison conditions. Remember, we eat once a day and more, the food is from donors. We’ve never had even a bag of rice from the government, even when the prison receives tons of food aid from donors, it is diverted. Without help from donors, I don’t know how we would have been feeding ourselves.
Elie Smith: Is your failing health related to the allegedly poor detention conditions or is it that, you had prior poor health conditions?
Mancho Bibixy: It is true that, I was not in my best of forms prior to my abduction, that, some call arrest, but our conditions of detention are not the best. Poor detention conditions have certainly exacerbated things for me health wise. The world has to know that, our detensions are not the best and more, we are detained for all the wrong reasons in the world. My questions are: Is fighting for your right and fighting the rights of your people a wrong thing? But God is helping us to survive and my health conditions seem to have adapted to the reality here at the Central Prison. Again, how won’t I fall sick, when I told you that, we eat only once a day and the food comes from donors?
Elie Smith: You have been in detention now for close to one year, what is your moral like?
Mancho Bibixy: My moral is still high. My health may be failing but my moral is very high. Yes I told the president of the Yaoundé military court to free the innocent southern Cameroonian prisoners held at the Kondengui central prison and sentence me to death in their place.
Elie Smith: What was the reaction of the President of the Yaoundé military court?
Mancho Bibixy: I think she was a kind of shock and I was not doing it as a kind of theatrics or court drama. I meant what I said and I stand ready to die for my fellow inmates because I have observe some and I know that, they are downcast and some are not prepared psychologically as I am. Hence, I asked that, I should be sacrificed in order for them to be free.
Elie Smith: Where do you gather such courage to be willing to sacrifice for others?
Mancho Bibixy:My courage comes from God almighty and also from the brutality unleashed on my people. Once my people suffer; I get more courageous to speak out.
Elie Smith: We will like to be a little personal, since your arrest, very little is known about you, what were you doing before you were propelled to global fame?
Mancho Bibixy: I have been a communicator, an advertiser, film actor etc. I worked with private radio and television houses and also reported for some newspapers.
Elie Smith: Could you please, tell us the condition under which you were arrested?
Mancho Bibixy:I was never arrested. I was kidnapped without a warrant by gun carrying masked men shooting in the air, as we were watching a football match.
Elie Smith: Some people claim that, you were betrayed, hence you were arrested, is it true and who do you suspect?
Mancho Bibixy: I was never betrayed. I knew I would be kidnapped. They earlier tried and it was unsuccessful. I think they attempted to arrest me about 6, times and they only succeeded in their 7th attempt. I was ready for it. Everyone asked me to escape, but I refused. Why must we always be running away?
Elie Smith: This is one is a tricky question, but we have to know your position: are you a unionist, Federalist or an independentist?
Mancho Bibixy: I wore Tee shirts calling for a Federation. Pictures of the Tee shirts were brought to court as evidence of terrorism. So by the time of my kidnapping, I was a federalist. The rest, you can imagine.
Elie Smith: Do you think you along with other Anglophone detainees, you are sufficiently supported by the Anglophone community or you have been abandoned?
Mancho Bibixy: We have been supported tremendously by our people. The Diaspora has been supportive also. We can’t expect too much. Our people have been in economic slavery for 56 year and it’s not easy on them, especially now.
Elie Smith: As your trial keeps being postponed, are you sometimes discouraged or do you ever regret what you did?
Mancho Bibixy:I will never regret what I did, even if I have to die. I told my brothers that we should never expect anything from the court. All they do is find reasons to postpone our trials, hoping to get order from above declare us all guilty. But, I am prepared for the worst so all also are a majority of other inmates.
Elie Smith: Are you married and do you have children? If yes, are you in contact with your family?
Mancho Bibixy:I am a family head and I inherited a large family from my late father. I was the sole bread winner for my only son and my wife. Besides them, I had 9 other people depending on me. Now, I don’t know how they are surviving since I was kidnapped. You know I worked in the private sector and I don’t think they could be taking care of them and I don’t think if I were working in the public service they would have had any care after my forceful absence. I also hear that, some members of my family are also facing brutality and they had to escape into brushes, at times with children.
Elie Smith: Now, tell us, where did you get the courage to launch the coffin revolution in Bamenda?
Mancho Bibixy: The courage came from years of prayers asking God to use me to destroy the calabash that held us hostage
Elie Smith: What was in your mind, when you decided to get actively involved into politics?
Mancho Bibixy: I had just one thing in mind. Start a process to free Anglophones from bondage or follow up the process till its ends in our favour.
Elie Smith: There are variations as to why you were arrested, some claim, you are in detention because of the government delegate to the Bamenda urban council, while others claim, it is because of your alleged secessionists stands. Where is the truth?
Mancho Bibixy: I can’t exactly say why I was arrested because nobody ever signed a warrant for my arrest. We live in a brutal dictatorship where anyone can be abducted at anytime.
Elie Smith: Where do you stand in the current political crisis in the country?
Mancho Bibixy: I think the current crisis will generate into a full blown civil war. It’s regrettable but that’s the truth. Whether it is the government delegate of Bamenda Urban Council, Paul Atanga Nji or Philemon Yang, is none of my business.
Elie Smith: What is your take on the arrest of AyukTabe and his team in Nigeria?
Mancho Bibixy:The arrest of Ayuk Tabe is another step to radicalize moderates within our community. It will spur youths to forget dialogue and engage in an outright military offensive.
Elie Smith: If you had a message to address to Cameroonians and the world, what will tell them?
Mancho Bibixy:To the Anglophones, I say, never give up the fight till last man. To Francophones, I say this is the last chance of keeping Anglophones as your brothers. To the international community, I condemn them for being silent on genocide against my people. But we shall conquer, even without their support
Elie Smith:: Thank you very much, for having accepted to speak with me within this court premises
Mancho Bibixy: It is an honour, big brother.