By Hope Nda & Eyongeta Eyong
The seven school children who were massacred in Kumba on October 24 have been laid to rest.
The deceased were interred after a State funeral ceremony presided at by President Biya’s special representative to Kumba, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute.
The Head of Government was accompanied to Kumba by Minister Nalova Lyonga of Secondary Education and Minister Paul Atanga Nji of Territorial Administration.
During the funeral ceremony at the Kumba Amusement Park, Thursday, November 5, a college of religious leaders, who preached at the funeral, castigated Government’s Pretence on solving the four-year crisis in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest Regions.
In a striking sermon drawn from the book of Luke 16:22, an Apostolic Pastor, whose only name we got as Pastor Ekang, said the Cameroon Government knows how to end the crisis, but has refused to do so. The Pastor emphasised that death is the meeting point for everyone regardless of status.
The Apostolic Minister, alongside Christian leaders from the Presbyterian, Baptist, Full Gospel and the Islamic faith, said it is time for Government to dialogue with her citizens and find solutions to end the crisis.
“To all the authorities present, we know the solution to our problem. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to sit down and solve the problem in the house… The people suffering more in this crisis are the poor people. They are the ones who are in the bushes. It is the poor who are hiding under the rocks in the forest… and the rich know all what it takes to go to Douala, to go to Yaounde, to go to Bafoussam and sponsor their children,” Pastor Ekang said.
The seven children shot dead by unidentified attackers included Victory Ngamenyi (11); Telma Che Nchangnwi (15); Princess Momene Nguemene (11); Jenifer Anangim Nju (11); Cindy Shienya (14); Rhema Nzakame (9); and Remmy Monge (11).
The city of Kumba was near standstill on Thursday, as hundreds of mourners trooped to the Amusement Park to pay last respects to the seven caskets that were lined up at the funeral ground, images of the seven children, described as martyrs, were displayed before each coffin.
Their faces saddened with grief, sadness and weariness, the Kumba denizens, represented by City Mayor, Gregory Mewanu, said they are willing to embrace peace; they are tired of war and “Enough is enough”.
Speaking on behalf of the bereaved families, Francis Che Ambe, father of Thelma Che, one of the children killed, said their wish is that justice should reign on the perpetrators.
“We totally condemn this brutal killing of our children and we pray the State of Cameroon should track the perpetrators of this act and render justice to them.”
The Kumba people cheered up to peace calls made by their newly-elected City Mayor, and shouted with enthusiasm at the Pastors’ messages against Government’s nonchalance towards the Anglophone Crisis.
Family members of the seven deceased children, dressed in their sorrowful mourning attires, had one wish on their faces, that violence should end and they should be free to live normal lives.
In a message, the Moslem preacher said, despite all calls for peace and change in Cameroon, “God will not change us until we are ready to change.”
Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, read President Paul Biya and Chantal Biya’s condolence message saying they stand in solidarity with the bereaved families and will ensure justice is done on perpetrators of the killings.
“Appropriate measures have been taken to ensure the perpetrators of those despicable acts are apprehended by our defence and security forces and brought to justice,” the Presidential statement read.
The President did not pronounce any specific punishment against the perpetrators and did not make any concrete statement on ending the Anglophone Crisis.
The killing of school children at Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba drew wide International attention on the crisis which had been ranked by the International Crisis Group among the three most neglected crises in the world.