By Boris Esono in Kumba
The seven school children killed by armed men in Kumba have been buried. The deceased was interred after a State funeral ceremony presided at by President Biya's special representative to Kumba, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute November 5, 2020, at the Kumba Amusement Park.
|PM Dion Ngute, others pay last respect to "Fallen Angels|
The seven children shot dead by unidentified attackers included Victory Ngameny 11 years; Telma Che Nchangnwi 15 years; Princess Momene Nguemene 11 years; Jenifer Anangim Nju 11 years; Cindy Shienya 14 years; Rhema Nzakame 9 years; and Remmy Monge 11 years.
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.
My heart bleeds a lot because her death was so tragic,” said Rhema’s weeping mother, Manyi Tita. “My daughter never committed any crime. The only thing she did was go to school for a better future and ... to be a better lady.”
The outdoor ceremony represented an outpouring of grief but also anger that a conflict between separatist insurgents and the Cameroonian army had spiralled so far that a group of men with rifles could walk into a school and open fire indiscriminately.
During the state funeral in which the caskets of the fallen school children were draped in the flags of the country, Prime Minister Dion Ngute placed a funeral wreathe sent by the President and wife. Before the official funeral got underway, the PM visited survivors of the attack at the District hospital in Kumba.
Speaking to the press Prime Minister Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute said: “… to console with the parents of the young students who were killed and also to visit those who were injured in the hospital. The President is extremely saddened by what happened here, and we are as parents also touched by it. The president asked me to come and give solidarity with the people of Kumba and the people of the North West and South West regions who have been going through a lot of adversities throughout this year. We are hopeful that things will come to an end very soon, and the perpetrators will be apprehended.
The inter-ministerial delegation featured some six Ministers amongst them the Minister of Health Mamaouda Malachie, Minister of Secondary Education Prof Nalova Lyonga, Minister of Basic Education, Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji, members of both houses of parliament.
Speaking on behalf of the bereaved families Che Francis Ambe said there is no development in any particular country without education. This as the children were killed simply for going to school. He went on to condemn the killings while praying for peace to return to Kumba.
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 that it takes to go to Douala, to go to Yaounde, to go to Bafoussam and sponsor their children,” Pastor Ekang said.
The emotions were riding high amongst those in attendance. Many were visibly shaken while others could be seen crying, indicative of the fact that the killings of those school children have touched not just the bereaved families but the entire Kumba populace.
The new City Mayor of Kumba Gregory Mewanu has tagged the killings as Kumba's "September 11". According to him, it is time to give peace a chance. "Our future, our economy, is all dying, and our livelihood is at stake. The perpetrators should give peace a chance. Kumba should be the light others should follow," the Kumba City Mayor Gregory Mewanu said.
He went on to add that it is time for reconciliation, looking at the fact that the Region has and continues to suffer due to the ongoing crisis. "Kumba stands for love, peace and development," He said. "Kumba stand for Children to go to school."