Cameroon: Embattled Ndian Takes A Long Shot At Peace
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The first All Ndian Peace and Development Conference took place in Mundemba, South West region from Friday 22 and Saturday 23 April 2022, intending to galvanize the sons and daughters of all the clans of the Ndian Division to work together for the return of peace to usher in a new era of prosperity and development.
The representative of the PM, Balungeli Confiance Ebune viewed the conference as a new and bright beginning for Ndian, while expressing appreciation to Ndian youths for the initiative of the Conference, he noted that the conference was a true purveyor of the peace and development that all want to see in their division.
He called on individual Ndian elites to leave aside their divisions and personal issues to work resolutely for this peace that will enable everyone to access their various villages again. He regretted that the crisis has impacted Ndian so broadly with the closure of schools, impassable roads and more.
Minister Balungeli, chief of Cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office representing the PM at the conference, challenged Ndian sons and daughters to seize the momentum of the conference to make a difference in a division that has experienced the worst cases of senseless killings.
With the end of the crisis, he related, Ndian’s resources will begin to be enjoyed by all and the government’s plans and programmes for the administrative unit will be actualized. However, the main applause of the keynote speech was reserved for the announcement that negotiations are ongoing to determine when work can resume on the Kumba – Ekondo Titi road.
Since 2016 the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon have witnessed social and political upheavals that have brought serious hardships to the population of the Regions.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the Crisis has left 3,910 fatalities while there are over 573 900 internally displaced persons in the two regions (OCHA, November 2021). They are over 700,000 children and adolescents out of school (OCHA, 2021) at risk of association with armed groups, all sorts of exploitation presenting high susceptibility to radicalization and other social vices.
Ndian Division is one of the divisions in the South West Region that has suffered some of the most damaging impacts of the crisis. The high internal displacements, kidnapping and stress on already limited resources have caused social tensions and seriously disrupted the normal flow of everyday life.
Persistent acts of violence are causing severe physical, psychological and socio-economic damage to the population, especially women and youths. Disheartening events such as children not attending school for over five years have left the population wondering what the future holds.
The “All Ndian Peace and Development Conference” was also an opportunity for the sons and daughters of the community to showcase their culture through dance. The people hope things get back to normal after more than five years of socio-political crisis.
The coordinator of the Conference, Chief Fritgerald Nasako stressed the fact that the conference is far from partisan. He said whatever is not right, should be fixed by everyone in Ndian.
“Everyone must support the PM who has been holding consultations with the population of the NW/SW to seek a lasting solution to the crisis.”
Needs and interests of Ndian women for positive outcomes
Faced with security, developmental, educational and social cohesion problems, that the current crisis and COVID-19 pandemic poses in the long term, is terrifying,” Ebiaebey Immaculate said in a paper presented during the ANC.
“The State should reinforce its presence in the Division, concentrating on the improvement of public services; the support and facilitation of economic activities as well as present to these gunmen possible livelihood alternatives to permit them completely embrace the peace option proposed by the Head of State.”
The almost six-year-long crisis, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic has distanced these mothers from home and this has created deep inequities that disadvantage the woman/girl in the Ndian division. Crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic often expose the most vulnerable (Women)and they now share the effect of magnifying pre-existing needs and challenges in the areas of Security, education, social (Unemployment, poverty, health), and politics.
In terms of the security challenges, the women have proposed that the government should create more security posts which will go a long way in securing educational establishments from being targeted or even burnt. It will also curb the persistent killings of students and teachers simply for going to school.
The government of Cameroon has also been called upon to support Women’s groups to initiate talks with our children in the bushes, to talk them out to drop their weapons and embrace the peace option proposed by the Head of State and supported passionately by our peace advocate, The Prime Minister and Head of Government.
“The government should create a scholarship scheme for dropouts and enrol them in special adult literacy programs with professional orientation and economic empowerment through the learning of trades. Upon graduation, financial assistance is given to them for start-ups, to be refunded within an agreed timeframe,” Ebiaebey Immaculate added.
“The challenges faced by Women in Ndian Division are a phenomenon unprecedented in Cameroon’s History. Today, we are proud to have many Ndian Women excelling in different spheres of life; as Peace advocates, in Culture, Agriculture, Small and Medium Size Enterprises, Civil Society, Education, Justice and most importantly, the Rural Women who despite the hazardous crisis, have incessantly ensured food self-sufficiency in the Division.”
Brief about Ndian Division
Ndian Division was established by the Federal Cameroon Decree of 1966, carved out of Kumba Division and Victoria Division as concerns the Bamusso Maritime Localities, which were already part of the Bamusso Sub Division created in 1964. At creation, Ndian had four subdivisions viz Mundemba, Ekondo-Titi, Bamusso and Isangele. Districts were later established first at Kombo Itindi, Idabato and Kombo Abedimo and subsequently at Dikome Balue and Toko. All these districts were raised to the status of subdivisions in 1992 for those on the Bakassi Peninsular and in 1996 for the mainland districts of Dikome Balue and Toko. This gave Ndian its present structure of nine (09) subdivisions.
Ndian Division has twelve (12) cultural groups in alphabetical order: Bakolle, Bakoko, Balondo, Balondo ba Diko, Balue, Barombi, Batanga, Bima, Ekombe, Isangele, Korob and Ngolo.
Farming and fishing characterize the economy of the Ndian Division, whether at the individual level or corporate level. Ndian Division harbours two major agro-industrial corporations; Plantations Pamol du Cameroon which has become Pamol Plantations Public Limited Company and Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC). PAMOL, an affiliate of UNILEVER, established estates in 1927 with headquarters at Lobe, and after forty (40) years of operations, Ndian Division was created.