On June 25 His Exc. Mgr. Cornelius Fontem Esua, Archbishop of Bamenda, was returning from a pastoral tour when his car was blocked by a group of secessionist rebels (Amba Boys), near the village of Belo-Njikwe.
He tried to explain to the separatists that he had to return to the archdiocese after five days of absence. He then tried to physically remove the barrier placed on the road, as he had done with four other rebel checkpoints.
‘Evil can only lead to evil’
In an interview on Cameroon’s national television, Mgr Esua explained what happened next. ‘Suddenly a group of secessionists on motorbikes came screaming and started to threaten,’ he said. ‘They wanted to brutalise my driver. I told them not to touch him and that if they wanted to take it out on someone, they would have to take it out on me.’
The Archbishop was then kidnapped, but said that he was treated well. ‘I spent the whole night reciting the Rosary’, said Mgr Esua, who was released the next day after having had a telephone conversation with the ‘general’ who led the rebel group. ‘I told him that they cannot achieve their goals by practising evil, because evil can only lead to evil. And God will not be able to hear their prayers if they continue to do evil, because we must not do to others what we do not want to be done to us.’
The situation in Cameroon
Since 2016, areas in the west of Cameroon have been suffering a secessionist crisis. This was born from the request of the local English-speaking populations to be able to use the English language instead of French at school and in courts.
Eight of the country’s ten regions have French as their national language, and two have English. The central government of Cameroon is located in the Francophone part of the country.
Tensions between the Anglophone regions and the rest of Cameroon have been growing. For years, there have been complaints about the marginalisation of Anglophone areas. Matters came to a head when citizens protested about the increased number of French-speaking teachers and judges being sent to their areas. Protests erupted and military forces responded with disproportionate violence, terrorising communities, burning villages and murdering the vulnerable and innocent.
How you can help
The violence in Cameroon has led to hundreds of families having to flee their homes. Last year, Fr Cosmas Ondari, a young Mill Hill Missionary was tragically murdered in front of his church. So the situation is undeniably bleak.
But Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries are doing everything they can to bring hope and help to people who are frightened, homeless and in desperate need. Please help by:
- Donating to Missio, so that we can help wherever the need is greatest
- Praying with Missio, that God’s light will shine with hope and peace in a time of darkness and fear.
Update via Fides News Service
Featured image via screengrab/Youtube