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“Alternative Facts” of Cameroon Journal on MoRISC. By Lambert Mbom

The publisher of Cameroon Journal, Christopher Anu Fobeneh, has done it again. Out of his hat, he has pulled more dubious claims. Reeling from being fired from the Communications Sub-committee, he is doubling down on his crusade against the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC) peppering this with a collection of half-truths, outright lies, fake news and shenanigans. Probably more aware than anyone else about the lies, he proclaims: “We are about providing all the FACTS to all THE SIDES of every story.” Gee me a break!

In an earlier posting on my blog, www.lambomsvuvuzela.com, I debunked Christopher Anu Fobeneh’s reportage that misinformed the so called Editorial of his journal, as an affront to the ethos of journalism. While everyone welcomes the veritable “watchdog” character and “gatekeeper” role wont of journalism, Cameroon Journal’s pretentious attempt at it, is disgraceful and quite off the mark with respect to MoRISC. So far off the truth is everything Christopher Anu Fobeneh publishes that it would be appropriate to preface every article with the warning: “and now lies from the Cameroon Journal…”.

In its new batch of rumblings against MoRISC, Fobeneh harps on the relationship between the Advisory Council and MoRISC. First of all, let us be clear: no Advisory Council was nominated like Fobeneh claims. This “drive-by” reporting can only yield the kind of calumny, Chris has indulged in. It would be helpful to get the facts right and report without bias: When the general Assembly deadlocked over how to proceed during the June 21st confab, MoRISC’s Steering Committee invited leaders of the different groups present in the hall to come together and concert. This group was made up of the Chair of SCNC NA – Elvis Kometa, Chairperson of SCYL – Dr. Ebenezar Akwanga, Chair of the Ambazonia Liberation Movement – Edwin Ngang, representative of the Confederation of British Southern Cameroonians NA – Jonathan Awasom, representative of South East delegation from Dallas, whose name I cannot recall, Valentine Gana – representative of the Midwest, Sebastien Epah – representative of South West Elite Association (SWELA), Fako Washington DC President: Nathaniel Mosaso and a representative of Houston Delegation whose name I cannot recall. Even Theodore Ngomba, who took the roll call of those present, identified himself as representing his lone self, as an independent. Note that the draft Constitution which was not debated and, therefore, not adopted set out this group to bring together only the leaders of liberation movements. The General Assembly resolved to nominate Boh Herbert as Spokesperson for MoRISC and cleared the leaders of the liberation movements, who were discussing the setting up of the Advisory Council, to work with the MoRISC Steering Committee ahead of the February 11th 2017 conference. These were the two resolutions which were presented to the general assembly and voted by unanimous acclamation. 

If that group arrogated to itself the task of reviewing the draft constitution, they did not inform the noble assembly gathered. The cry on the floor was that many people had not had the opportunity to read the draft constitution and needed more time. This is why those present at that meeting agreed to discuss and adopt the draft constitution at the Feb. 11 conference. Every participant was encouraged to read the draft and send in proposed amendments to the legal team ahead of the meeting in Hagerstown. 

Also uninformed, dishonest and laughable is Fobeneh’s claim that an advisory council was charged to take over management of MoRISC. Does that not fall flat in the face of the council’s own nomenclature: Whom will they be advising then? Nevertheless, that did not happen and even at face value defies any rationale standard. That notwithstanding this can only be rated as “pants-on-fire” in the “Truth-o-meter” to borrow from Politifact’s classification.

I find it ludicrous to imagine that MoRISC organized a conference and mortgaged the responsibilities of taking the meetings’ proceedings to an advisory body. If that had truly happened you would have been crying foul and accusing MoRISC of dereliction of duties. Hearken to your earlier post!

The other resolution that came up from the General Assembly called for the issuance of a declaration at the end of the conference. This suggestion was made on the floor while the conference was in session. Nobody needed to have been consulted thereafter, except, of course, the General Assembly which reconvened during the night session, adopted and disseminated the declaration under the title Washington Declaration. 

MoRISC has a vibrant, dynamic and competent communications team into which Fobeneh was briefly coopted before being fired. It is a shameful lie to claim, as he does, that he was never part of any committee while at the same time claiming that he was one of the founders of MoRISC. Fobeneh participated in conference calls, seating as a member of the same committee he claims he never served on. When you proposed to reach out to Prof. Kofele Kale to be the keynote speaker at the January 21st conference, on what basis were you offering to do that? Is it a matter of selective amnesia? One would forgive that but clearly there are desperate attempts at sabotaging MoRISC.

This is amply borne out in your critique of MoRISC as a “personality cult” even though what you meant to say is that MoRISC is a North Western cult. Spewing this kind of garbage is eloquent testimony of your sworn commitment to kill MoRISC even though hiding behind the cloak of serving as a watchdog. Your acrimonious charge is alarming on three levels. First, the clumsy grammatical construction of that statement evident in your odd mixture of Kom, (a tribe), Ndop and Nkambe (names of towns in the North West Region) and Donga Mantung axis (a division of the NWR) speaks volumes. The lack of parallelism in that sentence structure exacerbates the issue.

Secondly, it is factually incorrect for you to make such a claim. Please be informed that there are many persons from the South West region in MoRISC’s steering committee. How comes you failed to notice that of all the leaders who came out to speak on the floor, only one cultural group leader was present and thank God from Fako. Let me paraphrase the words of Mavis Staples and say “In MoRISC, there is no South West or North West but one Southern Cameroons, one Ambazonia.”

Thirdly, if anyone doubts where your allegiance is, this paragraph clears this out. You are drawing exactly from the playbook of La Republique that has played this tribal, ethnic and regional card for too long. They have used this to divide and rule us. They have played us against each other and successfully held us in bondage and servitude with this philosophy. We have grown accustomed to see things in shades of North West and South West. This is unfortunate. While I regret that you could play this card, I understand why. When you engage in desperate acts of smearing, you end up with such puerile philosophies that feed xenophobia. And you claim to be reporting facts? No, Sir! It passes the smell test of hate speech. This stinks!

One understands you have a personal axe to grind with a distinguished colleague, Herbert Boh! He called you out for propagating violence which is anathema to the mission and goal of MoRISC. Are you trying to get back at him? Good luck and try harder!

Lastly, your reference to MoRISC re-inventing the wheels is shallow and pretentious. Isn’t it outlandish for you to make such claims? It betrays the impression that you get a status report about MoRISC and its contacts with the different leaders at home. There is a lot happening in the background of which you are clueless. Tread carefully, my friend. MoRISC remains highly indebted to the giants who have blazed the trail of the liberation struggle. It recognized them and will continue to build with them. I provided you a list of those giants who are present here in the United States with whom MoRISC made contact. One of MoRISC’s subcommittee is Strategy and Policy which includes some of the persons you referenced and as MoRISC gathers steam and momentum, and becomes functional, more visibility would be afforded this committee.

MoRISC is also not oblivious of the fact that to continue doing the same thing and expect different results is a recipe for madness. This struggle is not at its initial stages and outreach is not something to be accomplished in a day. Consensus building takes time and hard work. Your penchant for hackneyed strategies that have not panned out is just a straw man. Imagine the role social media is playing to further the cause. Is the consortium not new? Is it not serving a purpose? It is counterintuitive to limit engagement of the struggle to the past. Riding on the coattails of the current momentum, there are many who have come from the fringes and have a right to chart a new way. This is not a zero-sum game of “Either…Or” but rather “Both…And.”

We live in the age of “alternative facts” wherein opinions are glorified and facts relegated to the background in pursuit of an agenda. Like I recommended in my last rebuttal, Christ encourages us to let the weed and the wheat grow together. At harvest time, they shall be known by their fruits. Why is Fobeneh fiddling while Southern Cameroons burns?

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ANU’s Recriminations against MoRISC: A Rejoinder. By Lambert Mbom.

Dear Mr. Anu:

Thanks for dedicating the Editorial of Feb. 2nd, 2017 on your coveted online platform, Cameroon  Journal, to denigrate, deride and lambast the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons, aka MoRISC. As one who claims “to have pioneered the initiative that led to the birth of MoRISC,” one would have expected these views to have been expressed in some shape or form while you enjoyed membership with MoRISC but helas. I would grant you the privilege that the scales suddenly fell off your eyes when you were given six months’ leave twice every year from MoRISC Communications Team.

I have struggled to decipher the rationale for your missive but find it hard to put aside the fact that this smells of the sour grapes phenomenon. One would have expected you to preface your remarks with the fact that “You were thrown out of MoRISC Communication subcommittee for proclaiming violence, antithetical to the ethos and philosophy of the movement.” That alone would have given your ranting some credibility.

Your opening salvo, “we have listened to the arguments for and against the group…” sets you up on a high horse as an arbiter and one cannot but wonder whether given the recent brush you had with the group, you could be impartial.

Against that backdrop, I have also toyed with applying the biblical parable to MoRISC of the man who sowed good seeds but while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weed among the wheat. Matthew 13:25 And this “weed” some are already smoking and trying to choke the wheat. Just remember that after the weed dissipates, you will need the wheat! In that parable, Christ asks that the weed be allowed to grow alongside the wheat until harvest time.

The foregoing notwithstanding, I have taken the liberty in my personal name to respond to your charges against MoRISC in the true spirit that brothers fight with elbows and not with fists.

By way of general comments, notice that in your opening paragraph, you set up any initiative for the liberation struggle on an impossible mission when you opine that – “the mission and modus operandi be made for the purpose of unanimity and acceptability among a majority of Southern Cameroonians” Think about it again! No one expects unanimity. We can have unity without unanimity. Unity is not the absence of conflict. In fact, when conflict is handled well, it leads to unity. And by the way, the different groups mushrooming on the Southern Cameroons agenda do not seek unanimity and a majority of Southern Cameroonians.

It is overly overzealous to imagine and expect that unity would have been achieved between November 2016 and now. MoRISC seeks to forge a long lasting unity between the different groups while creating space for those who do not want to be affiliated to the different groups and yet want to be a part of the liberation struggle.

All I offer in response are the words of the revered Englishman Henry Cardinal Newman who said: “Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it.” Desperate times call for desperate measures. The “tour de force” that MoRISC is, is clearly evident in the virulent attacks it has engendered. I just hope you were not insinuating that those opposed to the budding MoRISC are in the majority and even if they were just be reminded that the problem we are decrying in our country borders on the fallacy of numbers.

Let me focus now on the five charges you leveled against MoRISC and attempt an answer. I do so with the firm understanding that your attitude is one of a MoRISC atheist than an agnostic. While the agnostic harbors doubts and is open to understanding, you have already adjudicated and condemned MoRISC. Yet for the sake of information, it is important to clarify.

On MoRISC’s Place as an umbrella organization of all Southern Cameroons Nationalist Movements in the Diaspora: There have been many recriminations against MoRISC with respect to its claim of being an umbrella organization. When the revolutionary volcano exploded in Southern Cameroons last November, many in the Diaspora cried out for concerted effort. There were online appeals for some coordinated leadership and the need for different groups to coalesce and form a united front. That was a tall order and given the rapid turn of events, there was need to make hay while the sun shines.

Chris, for a publisher of your caliber to peddle in half-truths and outright lies is befuddling. Your sourcing for this was poor and worse still biased.

In the United States of America, the three well known groups fighting for the liberation of Southern Cameroons are the SCNC, Ambazonia-related groups most prominent of which is the Ambazonia Liberation Movement (ALIM) and the SCYL.  Each of the leaders of these groups was contacted. There was even a new group created in New Jersey called Confederation of British Southern Cameroons in the US CBSCNA; And many others have sprung up! During the January 21st conference, these groups were welcomed and given the opportunity to introduce themselves.

Let us be clear that this talk of outreach is a smokescreen used to give the impression that MoRISC is not representative. It would be nice to be specific. And here, I like to talk about the Chairman of the SCYL.

As far as I know, the Chairman of the SCYL was contacted and invited to the very foundation meeting of MoRISC. Dr. Ebenezar Akwanga has taken part in a steering committee meeting of MoRISC and even spoke during the town hall meeting organized last December by MoRISC. He is not in support of MoRISC and that is his right and prerogative but that does not mean he has not been contacted and briefed on the goals and mission of MoRISC.

Edwin Ngang, the poster child of Ambazonia Liberation Movement (ALIM) was contacted and you know, he and his ilk have serious reservations against the rest of the groups that call themselves “Southern Cameroons…” They believe any group that labels itself that way is part of the problem. Edwin, has repeated ad nauseam, that pan-Cameroonianism is the major stumbling block. You can imagine the herculean task it is to get them on the table. He graciously accepted to be a part of the conference and was present.

MoRISC does not seek to reinvent the wheel and believes in the trail blazed by giants on whose shoulders it stands. Hence, efforts were made to recognize these. Be informed that Chief Alexander Taku was invited to the conference and he took part in the conference in DC.

Ambassador Fossung originally accepted to be part of the conference on condition that somebody would pick him up. Entre-temps he changed his mind. You wonder why? Folks of your ilk poisoned the swamp.

Retired Justice Alobwede Ebong was also invited and agreed to be a part of the conference and some confusion on transportation prevented him from showing up.

Be informed too that MoRISC in the planning for the conference that took place last January reached out to Fon Gorji Dinka who is currently in London. He was given the opportunity to record a message and send to the group and he originally declined and said MoRISC could use one of the many messages he had sent out. With hindsight, he changed his mind and sent a message which was played in the evening during the “cry-die.”

It is also worth noting that outreach efforts were made to other groups that were known such as the AAG that believes in federalism as the way out of the current quagmire.

As a good reporter, one would have expected that having taken part in the preparations towards the conference, you should have reported that outreach attempts to women and stalwarts of the struggle were made. You even volunteered during the planning of the conference, to reach out to Prof Kofele Kale and get him to be a keynote speaker and we are still awaiting your feedback.

You claim that leaders show up at protest rallies not as organizers but as any other Southern Cameroonian would. This grandstanding must end! Tell those leaders to organize their own demonstrations and invite others. They come to a rally and are recognized and given the opportunity to address the people and it becomes an issue. If they had shown up and not given that attention, they would have cried foul.

I would suggest that those leaders pray this famous prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

Lord Make me an instrument of your peace Lord: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where   there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

May they seek not so much to be understood as to understand!

“The Draft Constitution that Surfaced in DC” is your next charge. MoRISC has a legal team that drafted that Constitution. Again your sourcing was wrong, poor and prejudiced. It is so easy to give a dog a bad name and hang it. Chris, it is shameful that members of MoRISC’s own steering committee did not read the draft constitution. This is the problem with us all. That document was circulated at least 24 hours to the conference. Do not forget that the only way to hide information from a black man is to write it in a book.

I hope you are not insinuating that a constitution is only worthwhile when written by a team. You worked on hearsay and concluded that the constitution was done by one person. There were at least eight fine legal minds that worked on that document. Now that a team prepared that document, you still have issues with it. Every constitution is a working document.

I would agree that may be more time should have been given for people to read through the document. Hopefully, many have had the opportunity to read the draft document and are prepared to send forth proposed amendments for the 11th Feb conference in Hagerstown.

On MoRISC as a political organization – It would be instructive to research on the various ways of registering an organization in the US and the implications not just for donors but for those running it. It is very easy to stoke the flames of sentiments and make outlandish claims. What do you understand by a political organization? Please school yourself on what the options are, the implications of each and the advantages/disadvantages of registering groups in the United States.  How do you for proper tax purposes constitute an organization in the US and blend that with the activism and diplomacy needed to achieve the goal of the independence of Southern Cameroons. What do you suggest as an alternative? How is the SCNC for example registered in the United States? FYI, SCAPO at the recommendation of the African Union Court deposited registration forms as a political party in Cameroon. How about the SCYL? How is it registered if at all in the United States? Be informed too that it took years for the SCNC to be cleared off the State department’s list as state sponsor of terrorism. We must walk a fine line and not just throw words around?

Your insinuation that MoRISC is a monolithic cabal high jacked by Boh Herbert is a cheap shot. Try again! Why is it that of the over 24 persons on the steering committee of MoRISC, you have singled out Boh Herbert and claim he has “vehemently challenged revision of the group’s status?” You ridicule the rest of us members of the steering committee and make us look like dunces being led by the nostrils. The interim leader of MoRISC’s steering committee has been the Chairman of SCNC. The fact that Herbert has been the public face of MoRISC should not invite this kind of vitriolic attack. To use an editorial page to settle personal vendetta against one with whom one harbors differences in opinion is definitely a cardinal sin in journalism.

On the relationship between MoRISC and the Consortium: For the last couple of months, the name on every lip in Southern Cameroons is the consortium. Thanks to this representative body of lawyers, teachers and drivers which took the country as by a storm, the liberation struggle of Southern Cameroons has been reenergized. Given the reality on the ground and with the sound legal minds that led the consortium, they strategically argued for federation as the ultimate solution to the Southern Cameroons conundrum. While MoRISC unapologetically convened on the sole agenda item of restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons, it recognized the leadership of the consortium and paid allegiance to it. There is no doubt that given its reality on the ground, the consortium could only do that much. Many of us had sustained conversations with members of the consortium. As a body, MoRISC recognized its role as a diaspora organ working with external options and exploring international options.

Ivo Tapang, has been invited many times to join the Communications committee and he has elected not to. There were attempts made to have him be a keynote speaker at the last convention. That too fell through.

It is not for want of trying. Do you know the relationship the consortium had with the political leaders of the different groups in the struggle back at home? It would be nice for you to read, re-read and understand where the Consortium was going to and why they did what they did.

Structures on the Ground: Again this charge against MoRISC while valid is premature and presumptuous. Concretely, the only organization that has structures on the ground in Southern Cameroons is SCNC. It would be nice to find out what you mean by structures? Office space? Or did you mean human resources/boots on the ground? If it is about human resources, MoRISC is barely two months old today. It is work in progress. Yet, it is gathering momentum in South Africa, in Europe, in Africa and even here in the United States of America. MoRISC is designed to provide the convening power to galvanize the efforts of SCAPO at the African Union, Ambazonia Liberation Movement at the United Nations and the SCNC. It seeks to serve as a lubricant while at the same time creating space for non-aligned members of any of the current outfits to also participate. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Your reference of Hon. Wirba is yet another desperate attempt at legitimizing baseless claims and sanitizing half-truths. Hon. Wirba has received more phone calls since his courageous speech in Parliament than all his life put together. Yes, MoRISC reached out to him to invite him to the conference last January 21st and he explained that there are too many groups inviting him all around the world and he thinks this is not the opportune moment for him to travel. He clearly indicated that he thinks it is premature and more coordination needs to be done.

You can see how much time one has wasted responding to these gripes that could have been settled inter nos. We must make no mistake: La Republique is not the only enemy Southern Cameroons has. We too, the people of Southern Cameroons are out best enemies. Your editorial was an epic betrayal of journalism, laden with innuendoes, half-truths or rather “alternative facts” I urge you to tighten your role as a watchdog. Just be careful that the dog does not turn and bite its master while the enemy is pillaging and plundering the master’s property. It would be an overstatement to claim MoRISC as it stands is a perfect gem. It is work in progress and we can either let it blossom or at our own peril seek to choke it.

 

 

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