(Reproduced from The Messenger, Vol. 1, No. 008, Thursday, June 17, 1993, p.2).
It was only when we arrived at the All Anglophone Conference (AAC) Secretariat that many of us learnt of the new venue for the meeting. It was said that Yaounde had warned the University of Buea authorities not to open their doors to the AAC convenors as had previously been agreed between the parties. I remember someone likening that situation to the story of the Arab and his camel. The Arab took pity on his camel that was standing out in the desert cold, invited it to share the warmth of his tent with him, and before he knew it, the camel had already comfortably ensconced itself in his tent and he was now the one out in the cold.
In the Cameroonian context, Francophones came to Buea and we welcomed them as our ‘brothers’. Today, we cannot even use a hall in our own historic city without their permission; a permission they even refuse to give us! And who can still claim that we don’t have cause to complain in this country?
That was why everyone had glowing words of praise for the Catholic Reverend Sisters who had damned the consequences and allowed us the use of the Mount Mary Maternity Centre.
“What greater prayer could the Catholic Church have said for our cause than to allow us the use of their hall?”, asked Lawyer Charles Taku, beautifully articulating the general feeling of the participants.
Humble surroundings, no doubt; but, as Dr Carlson Anyangwe, one of the organizers, asked in his tribute to the Catholic authorities, what is in a building? He pointed out that many a great historic event had indeed been created in even humbler surroundings. What of the British Magna Carta that was written in a field? Did the French, in their revolutionary zeal, and for want of better surroundings, not meet on a tennis court to declare their revolution? Was the American Constitution, to which so many freedom-starved people the world over aspire everyday, not written in some down-to-earth house in Philadelphia?
That is why all freedom-loving Anglophones of this country turned their eyes to the humble precincts of the Mount Mary Maternity hall to admire the emergence of a rainbow of hope that is so beautifully empurpling the sky of their aspirations.
When the authentic history of this nation does come to be written, the positive action of the Catholic Church West of the Mungo in favour of those yearning for freedom and justice in this land would surely be highlighted for justifiable praise. Some people did not fail to recall that had it not been for the Catholic Church, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) party would never have held its convention in Bamenda a few years earlier.
I salute the courageous stand taken by the Reverend Sisters that enabled us to meet in Buea.