The Sub-Saharan African country, Cameroon is on the verge of a long-term civil unrest. The professional unions of teachers and lawyers from the English-speaking regions of Cameroon presented demands for a reform of the Cameroonian government orchestrated by boycotts and peaceful matches by members of the unions and other supporters.
The bedrock of their issues stem from precolonial times and then enforced by the nation’s two ruling presidents who have ruled since independence in 1961.
Activists and supporters of the civil actions argue that English speaking Cameroon has faced a steep marginalization due in part by the institutions set in place to keep them disadvantaged with limited access to public good and benefits.
The English speaking regions were once autonomous until a plebiscite brought them in a union with French Cameron under a mutual agreement. But English-speaking Cameroonians feel like the terms of engagement have not been respected since then. And this time, they took to the streets under the banner of a peaceful protest with members from both regions – the North West and the South West.
They also complain that official documents are often only published in French, even though English is also an official language. As a form of civil disobedience still their demands are met, the Anglophone teachers strike that have kept schools in the North West and South West Regions closed since November 21, 2016.
This unrest has weighed in on the entire nation and brought in members from respective works of life living at home and abroad whose contributions continue to address the issue in several ways. One of such contributors is Bandy Kiki.
Bandy Kiki is a UK based Cameroonian Blogger who runs and operates the popular blog Kinnaka’s Blog and Kinnaka TV. Kinnaka’s blog is arguably one the most visited blogs in Cameroon (English Cameroon in particular) with over 120.000 monthly visits.
She was highly adored by many for her hardworking career as a blogger and constant post with relevance to current issues. Recently she has been heavily criticized and sent death threats for condemning certain aspects of the strategies put in place by the opposition leaders and for condemning violence which has led to the death of many vulnerable youths.
The same cohort group who have been sending Bandy Kiki death threats for condemning violence just started circulating information that Bandy Kiki is HIV positive, supposedly diagnosed in by a Cameroonian hospital in 2014 which is completely false. This same group also said she is a lesbian and that she has dated more men than a public whore.
In response, and as a means to educate others about the plight while standing up for women who are continuously victimized because of their gender, she published this piece titled, “An Enemy to Free Speech is an Enemy to Freedom”
“In the past few months, the history of Anglophone Cameroon has written several historical pages that will ultimately become keynotes towards the restoration of the nation’s pride realized through the determination of a people to exercise their basic rights to FREEDOM.
Like the famous Soren kierkegard once said, “people demand freedom of speech as a compensation of freedom of thought which they seldom use”. If freedom of thought is an ingredient of change then the right of expression becomes more of a virtue. So, therefore, the freedom of speech is an integral part of change itself – change being a dire need in Cameroon and most countries of Africa.
But the freedom of speech in Cameroon and among Cameroonians, especially those abroad continuous to face resistance not from only its government, but worst case, from the same people who purport to promote change. George Washington once said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”. This is why Cameroonians are continuously being led to slaughter and the few who have seemed to have meaningful contributions remain silent or have been silenced. For some of us, we cry louder, “when will change in Cameroon be realized”?
It is for one of these reasons that the Kinnaka’s Blog was founded – to become a stage for free expression of self, thought and speech as a means to promote the development of an agenda that could be used in several developmental aspects and in less than 12 months, this blog has become one of the most visited sites by Cameroonians. Many Cameroonians alike have anonymously voiced their opinions on sensitive and related issues while protecting their public images/assets. Notwithstanding, its success has not come without so much criticism giving it the essence of what a blog stands for.
But when critics decide to propagate fake and unfounded information as a means to suppress and intimidate a fearless voice, it becomes a cause of concern and a reminder that the journey of economic and mental emancipation is still far fetched in Cameroon. Bandy kiki, says, “I have been insulted with every insult that exists on this earth for the things I do right, I have continuously been sidelined as an odd simply in part because my approaches and realities seem different from many others, and with every baby tactics they present, I have surpassed their threshold and will continue to until Freedom of Speech and the protection of the vulnerable becomes the norm in our present day”.
The most recent of it is a post made by a certain “Political Corruption group” from Cameroon insinuating that Bandy kiki, is supposedly HIV positive backed by a fake medical report from a Cameroonian hospital in 2014 (details on report are not legible to dwell on) however little do they know that she left Cameroon in 2011 and have not been back since then making the report baseless, to say the least. Furthermore, the document is not readable making their whole purpose to be unfounded on sheer ignorance, destitution and an exposure to our idiotic identity – a handicap to Cameroons national progress.
Bandy Kiki says she will continue to stand firm and support the cause of the vulnerable populations – women, girls, children, victimized youths and other target populations such as the sick, stereotyped, stigmatized and handicap. In this free world, we must continue to protect and promote the rights of all in a manner that fosters national pride and unity.
And like Voltaire said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death, your right to say it”. Kinnaka’s Blog stands firm on this premise as well. A precursor of speech is the thought before the speech. Therefore suppressing the speech is suppressing the thought. Our society can only develop through the exercise and existence of thoughts transformed into action.
So, today, she stands with others to say “NO” to any form or action that hinders Free Speech. This is one way we will win this struggle of economic and mental emancipation.”
This attack on Bandy Kiki has opened a debate about HIV in Cameroon, stigmatization and stereotypes.”
According to the passionate blogger, several organisations have reached out to her to find out the culprit behind the sabotage but she has asked for the organization to focus more on educating the Cameroonian community on HIV and how to combat the disease among other social stigma derived from gender-based marginalization. Such will include stigma from terminal diseases, deformities, handicap, cultural taboos and much more.